The Chinese authorities have pledged to improve operating conditions for private enterprises, according to a statement published on Wednesday, signaling a softening in attitude towards private business after a years-long crackdown. The announcement came two days after the country posted weaker-than-expected economic data for the first half of 2023, while youth unemployment lingers at record highs. Private firms shall be treated equally and not be discriminated against compared to state-owned companies, the guidelines said. The State Council, China’s chief administrative body, committed to better provision of legal protection to private enterprises while supporting their participation in major national strategies, though few details were provided. [Xinhua news agency, in Chinese]