Kiribati's Ministry of Commerce Industry and Cooperatives says there is growing concern that locals are being exploited by foreigners for business purposes.
The ministry's permanent secretary, Ietaake Teekoa, who is also the chairperson for the Foreign Investment Commission, says she is aware that some Chinese nationals marry locals to allow them to register new businesses.
She says these Chinese businesses enjoy advantages over local operators because their networks in China allow them to import goods at more favourable rates.
She says the government is investigating how widespread the practice is and how best to deal with it.
"The reason why they're being investigated is because they have set up business but they didn't go through the foreign investment act which by right is they way which they should go through so they've bypassed the legal system."