BEIJING -- Foreign auto companies have expressed optimism about the Chinese market and consider China to be among their most important overseas markets, Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Shu Jueting said on Thursday.
In reference to a recent symposium attended by representatives of 17 foreign-invested auto and auto parts manufacturers, Shu said attendees were optimistic about China's long-term stable economic prospects and market potential.
China has lifted foreign ownership restrictions on the auto manufacturing sector, which the representatives said provided broader development room for foreign auto companies, Shu said.
The representatives also expressed willingness to increase investment in new-energy vehicle manufacturing and technology research and development in China, in a bid to seize the opportunities presented by China's transition toward innovation-driven and green growth, Shu said.
Despite challenges such as chip shortages and the resurgence of COVID-19 cases, China's auto production and auto sales respectively rose 3.4 percent and 3.8 percent year-on-year in 2021.
The new-energy vehicle market saw a particularly stellar performance, with both production and sales exceeding 3.5 million units.
Recent COVID-19 flare-ups in certain parts of the country and related quarantines have complicated auto manufacturers' efforts to procure materials and ship products.
Shanghai and Jilin, the two regions of China most heavily impacted by COVID-19, are major manufacturing bases for auto part makers and automakers, with each occupying 11 percent of the national auto output, data from the China Passenger Car Association shows.
Facing supply strains, China has taken steps to facilitate logistics to ensure the supply of industry necessities.
A Ministry of Transport circular issued on Tuesday prohibits the obstruction of road transportation and the turning away of vehicles or personnel, irrespective of circumstances, and ordered more efficient COVID-19 screening along transportation routes.
A special coordination platform was launched by the Ministry of Industry and Information technology on Monday, pledging to help auto and supply chain companies solve practical difficulties in a timely manner.
In a bid to spur car consumption, a State Council executive meeting on Wednesday said that no new restrictive measures on car purchases shall be set at the sub-national level. Localities with purchase restrictions already in place should increase their new license plate quotas step by step. The consumption of new-energy vehicles and the construction of battery charging facilities will be supported.
Amid a challenging environment, authorities are advised to introduce more measures to stabilize car consumption, such as halving car purchase taxes, said Chen Shihua, vice-secretary of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.