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GE to invest two billion dollars in China

BEIJING, Nov 9 – US conglomerate General Electric said on Tuesday that it plans to invest more than two billion dollars over two years to improve research and development in China and to fund new joint ventures.

GE Chairman and Chief Executive Jeff Immelt said during a visit to Beijing that the company would spend 500 million dollars on its China R&D operations and setting up new customer support facilities.

"China is the world\’s fastest-growing market for aviation, energy, transportation, health care and financial services," Immelt said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

"These initiatives will create jobs in both China and the US," he said, adding it would lead to 1,000 new jobs by 2012.

In addition, GE also pledged to invest more than 1.5 billion dollars in funding new joint ventures with Chinese state-owned enterprises in areas such as technology and financial services.

The company has signed four new joint venture agreements with Chinese state-owned firms in the energy and railway industries, it said in a statement.

Immelt told a news conference that GE felt welcome in China and was committed to the country, but protectionism in the world\’s second-largest economy remained a concern.

"Indigenous innovation concerns us as a policy," he said, referring to China\’s policy of encouraging innovation by local firms.

He added he was concerned about protectionism worldwide, including in China.

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The heads of major foreign firms such as BASF and Siemens have been complaining more openly in recent months about what they say are unfair business policies and market restrictions in China.

Immelt reportedly told a private dinner in Italy earlier this year that China was becoming more protectionist and that Beijing was hostile towards foreign companies, but the group said those comments were taken out of context.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged in September that foreign businesses operating in China will be treated fairly, one of Beijing\’s most direct responses yet to concerns about its policies.

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