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UK business optimism about China operations wanes amid tougher conditions

U.K. businesses' optimism regarding their operations in China waned over the last year, and while initiatives to open up the Chinese economy helped improve sentiment, nearly half of British companies reported tougher business conditions in China, a survey by the British Chamber of Commerce in China showed.

The survey, which gauged sentiment from 249 U.K. companies in China, showed that 54% of them are optimistic about their sectors in 2020, down from 65% last year.

Forty-eight percent reported increased concerns about doing business in China, with 64% of businesses saying they would increase investment if greater market access were granted.

"Navigating cybersecurity and IT restrictions remains the most pressing challenge for British businesses operating in China followed by accessing or moving company finances and increasing competition from state owned enterprises," the British Chamber of Commerce in China said.

A quarter of the respondents said that foreign firms are treated unequally compared to domestic entities, while nearly two-fifths of companies said that a new Chinese law to address those concerns, due to take effect in January 2020, will have no impact on their operations.

However, one-third of the respondents acknowledged market opening in their sector over the past year, with steps taken to improve the intellectual property environment improving investor sentiment.