A rising tide of economic nationalism in China is a "growing concern" for foreign investors and companies, an EU body has said.

The concern was raised in an annual report by the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, published today (9 September). It comes as Coca-Cola prepares to submit a US$2.4bn takeover bid for China's largest juice maker, Huiyuan Juice Group, to competition authorities in the country.

Joerg Wuttke, president of the European Chamber, said: "Strong economic growth continues to help the business environment, but trade barriers and investment hurdles are getting more sophisticated."

He said the Chamber and companies would be watching developments in the Coca-Cola case carefully.

Coca-Cola's takeover bid for Hong Kong-based Huiyuan, announced last week, is considered one of the largest foreign takeover attempts in China's history. Huiyuan is estimated to have a 40% share of the Chinese juice market, according to market research group Datamonitor.

Chinese state media has cited officials as saying that the Coca-Cola deal will be subject to the country's new Anti-Monopoly Law. The law, drawn up last year, remains relatively untested.

Separately, the China Securities Journal reported today that several rival juice firms may lodge protests against the proposed deal. However, it also reported comments from China's vice-premier Wang Qishan, who said at an international trade fair in Fujian Province on Monday that the country would open its doors further to foreign investment.

A number of public websites in China have already been filled with nationalist rhetoric against Coca-Cola's bid.

Three Huiyuan shareholders, including French firm Danone, have publicly agreed to sell their stakes to Coca-Cola, amounting to 66% of the juice firm's shares.