European Chamber calls for equal law enforcement after German auto parts maker Schaeffler cries for ‘help’

Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/19 13:38:39

An official of the EU business lobby in China called for equal law enforcement in China's environmental crackdowns on Tuesday, commenting on a plea letter issued by the Chinese branch of Germany's Schaeffler Group, the world's leading auto parts maker.

The plea letter began to surface in Chinese media reports on Monday. It stated that a recent shutdown by environmental law enforcement teams in Shanghai has caused the Shanghai-based Chinese manufacturing unit of Schaeffler Group to face a severe shortage of needle bearings, vital parts for Schaeffler to proceed with its productions.

And as the Chinese-run factory is the only supplier to the Schaeffler facility, the situation could cause production stoppage starting from Tuesday of over 200 models, affecting as much as 49 automakers, according to Schaeffler.

In response to the plea, European Chamber of Commerce President Mats Harborn told the Global Times at a press conference in Beijing on Tuesday that he does not know the separate case. "But I assume that all member companies of the European Chamber live according to the [environmental] law and are even actually performing better than what the regular law is demanding," Harborn said, noting that this is also a matter of social responsibility.

Taking environmental law as the very basis of business operation, he said, "And what's important for us is the equal enforcement of law [for Chinese and foreign companies]."

As the matter is urgent, and its impact is amounting to potential losses worth 300 billion yuan ($45.53 billion), Schaeffler has called on the Chinese government to grant a three-month-long buffer period for the company to allow it to switch its supplier after a compulsory accreditation process.

However, later on Monday, the company issued another notice on its Weibo account, saying that, after talks with its clients, the Chinese government and suppliers, it has decided to pull its global resources to make up the supply vacuum caused by the Chinese factory and that the impact toward automakers is "manageable." 

Since the start of 2017, China has intensified its crackdown on industrial firms that violate its environmental regulations and many plants and factories have been told to stop their production and instead rectify their practices. 

Newspaper headline: EU lobby calls for equal law enforcement after German auto parts maker Schaeffler cries for ‘help’ worth $45b

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