Can foreigners invest in China and register for self-employed businesses

No.
Only Chinese citizens (including Chinese citizens in the permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Macao Special Administrative Region) and Taiwan residents can apply for registration as individual industrial and commercial households.
Basis: “Regulations on Individual Businesses” (Order of the State Council No. 596)
Foreigners investing in China can host: foreign-invested enterprises, Sino-foreign cooperative ventures, Sino-foreign joint ventures, partnerships
Relevant laws and regulations:
Law of the People’s Republic of China on Foreign Investment Enterprises
Law of the People’s Republic of China on Sino-foreign Cooperative Enterprises
Law of the People’s Republic of China on Sino-foreign Cooperative Enterprises
The Partnership Enterprise Law of the People’s Republic of China
Administrative Measures on the Establishment of Partnership Enterprises by Foreign Enterprises or Individuals in China

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