Hong Kong (Agencies): China will start reviewing merger and acquisition (M&A) deals struck by foreign firms in the country next month in a bid to ensure national security, the cabinet said on Thursday.

Starting from March, foreign investments in military, agriculture, energy and resources, infrastructure, transport systems, technology sectors and other "important equipment" manufacturers may be subject to reviews, the State Council, the Chinese cabinet, said in a statement published online.

The government will launch a "foreign investment security review board" under the cabinet, of which members will come from the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Commerce and other agencies.

"The State Council said reviews will scrutinize factors, including the impacts on China's defense technology research and development, the country's economic integrity and people's daily life," said Li Hong, a columnist for the official People's Daily.

Under the new regulation, Chinese government agencies, trade associations, competitors, suppliers and other related parties will be allowed to apply for reviews of M&A deals involving foreign investors.

In the past, China had blocked a number of foreign attempts to buy into its local companies.

Coca-Cola Co.'s USD 2.4 billion bid for the country's top juice maker, Huiyuan Co., was rejected in 2009.

In 2008, buyout giant Carlyle Group's $375 million bid for Xugong Group Construction Machinery Co., the nation's biggest construction equipment maker, was turned down, while
Russia's Evraz Group failed to take control of Delong Holdings Ltd., a Chinese steelmaker listed in Singapore, in a $1.5 billion deal.

Luxembourg-based steel giant ArcelorMittal Group was not successful in gaining a majority stake in China Oriental Group in 2007.

Meanwhile, the world's second-largest economy attracted $105.7 billion in foreign direct investments in 2010, up 17.4 percent from 2009.