China will make it easier for foreign investors to start businesses in the country, especially in its western provinces, the government said in a statement on Wednesday.

It said China would open a wider range of sectors to foreign investors and would encourage them to establish labor-intensive businesses in the west, the State Council, or cabinet, decided at a routine meeting.

The statement on the government's website ( gave few details. The cabinet's decision will serve as a guideline for local governments to develop specific policies for implementation.

China drew $77.9 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in the first 11 months of 2009, 9.9 percent less than in the same period of 2008.

Inflows, which surged in the years after the country joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, are in the midst of recovering after being hit hard late last year by the global economic slowdown.

(Reporting by Zhou Xin and Simon Rabinovitch; Editing by Chris Lewis)