China: rescuer or rival?

Alexia Barakou

Major Chinese Investments in Europe


rise of China to an economic superpower poses a strategic dilemma for
European governments. The 1.4 billion-people empire in the Far East has
become an indispensable part of its economy, as a sales market as well
as investor. But with an increasingly bitter trade war between the US
and China, Europe is finding itself caught in the middle without a clear
and united policy on how it deals with Chinese investment.

For this the Chinese in Europe wisely exploit the failures of our
governments and actually help regions and countries in need. Chinese
foreign direct investment (FDI) in the European Union has increased by
almost 50 times in only eight years (see above map).

But to what extent is this economic interdependence used by the
Chinese government to serve, not only economic but also geostrategic
purposes, buying political influence through investment.

As Chinese globalisation continues apace, IE asks, is this good for Europe or does it come at too high a price?

IE reporters travelled Europe from Portugal up to the nordic
outskirts of Norwegian Kirkenes and found answers that might contradict a
few of your expectations.

Stay tuned for publications from all over Europe in the coming weeks.

China eyes Norway as first port of call in Europe on ‘Arctic Silk Road’

What do you get if you mix a fervent
mayor, a shipping pioneer, a melting Arctic, China’s interests and the
world’s third largest container company? Plans for an “Arctic Rotterdam”
in Kirkenes, northern Norway. IE member Ingeborg Eliassen travelled
north to find out more.

Read her article: China eyes Norway as first port of call in Europe on ‘Arctic Silk Road’

Don’t speak out!

Part of our investigation on Chinese
investors in Europe looked at how China is silencing critics of its
human rights violations (labelled as “internal affairs”) through
economic and political pressure – even in Europe.

IE member Nico Schmidt documented how
politicians get unpleasant visits, how minorities are spied on and how
CEOs of global companies have to bow to pressure.

Read his article: Don’t speak out!

Europe’s Hypocrisy

During the euro crisis, EU governments put pressure on countries such
as Greece and Portugal to sell critical infrastructure to Chinese
companies – and now preach the opposite.

Read the op-ed by IE member Paulo Pena on this hypocrisy – and his related scoop on the shady circumstances of the sale of Portuguese electricity companies to Chinese investors.