Category Archives: Investment

11th
Nov 2017

Why we are entering a new era in China-Europe relations

US President Donald Trump’s ‘America first’ announcements and policies are alienating his Western allies. This coincides with the United Kingdom beginning its departure from the EU, now set for 29 March 2019 at 23:00. In these circumstances, China has been quietly reaching out to Western nations. Both Beijing and Brussels hope to move ahead with economic globalization, and during the annual EU-China Summit held in Brussels on June 1–2, 2017, the two sides forged a new green alliance to combat global warming, a clear nose thumbing at Trump. With the EU and the United States increasingly divided, this moment may mark the beginning of a new China-EU axis in global politics.

One of the areas in which China and the EU have developed strong ties is in the monetary field. Beijing has traditionally supported the euro, which is the only serious alternative to the dollar, and has diversified its foreign exchange reserves—the world’s largest—so that it now holds over one-third in euros and just slightly more than half in dollars, a decrease of around 30 percent since 1999, when the European common currency came into circulation. What this means is that in the last several years, Beijing has swapped dollars for euros, a trend that is likely to continue in future.

China’s diversification strategy signals that the dollar is no longer the world’s only reserve currency, and this is important to Beijing, which is trying to internationalize its currency as it weans itself off of its dependency on the United States’ economic cycle and monetary policy. Europe has, in turn, supported many of China’s monetary ambitions. The Europeans unanimously backed the decision by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in December 2015 to include the renminbi in the basket of currencies making up the Special Drawing Right (SDR), an international reserve currency that includes the U.S. dollar, the euro, the British pound, and the Japanese yen. The decision was clearly political. The EU wanted to send a friendly message to China, the world’s second-largest economy, as well as to recognize what Beijing had done to support the euro during the euro crisis of 2009–11, when the European common currency became the target of speculative attacks mainly stemming from Wall Street–based banks and hedge funds. At the time, Chinese leaders intervened on various occasions to reassure the financial markets by buying eurozone bonds.

Today, the old continent is home to the largest number of renminbi bank clearings or offshore hubs where the Chinese currency can be traded. The fact that offshore renminbi hubs have also emerged in Budapest, Frankfurt, Luxembourg City, Madrid, Milan, Paris, and Prague indicates Europe’s willingness to promote the use of the Chinese currency. In the same vein, most of Europe’s central banks have accepted—or are considering accepting—China’s currency as a viable reserve. Although London is currently the most important offshore market for renminbi trading, once the United Kingdom leaves EU, significant shares of renminbi trading in London will most likely move to the continent, in places such as Paris, Frankfurt, and Luxembourg, thus strengthening the China-EU monetary axis even more.

When it comes to trade, relations between China and the EU are more rocky, although Trump’s derision of global trade certainly provides an opening. Between 2002 and 2016, total EU-China trade has risen dramatically, from 125 billion euros to roughly 515 billion euros. Today, China and the EU trade more than 1.5 billion euros in goods each day, and total bilateral trade in 2016 was 514.6 billion euros according to the European Commission—nearly equivalent to what China exchanges with the United States. In fact, the EU is now China’s most important trading partner, although China ranks number two for the EU, after the United States.

In addition to buoyant commercial relations, Beijing is trying to charm Europe through investments. Europe is now the top destination for Chinese foreign investments, surpassing the United States. According to the China Global Investment Tracker, a joint project of the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, China invested nearly $164 billion in Europe between 2005 and 2016. During that same period, it invested $103 billion in the United States.

These dynamics indicate that Europe-China relations are entering a new phase. Make no mistake, however. A China-EU alliance would be more a marriage of convenience than a solid partnership—one that is facilitated by Brexit and that revolves around a shared antagonism for Trump. We must wait and see whether the new dynamics within both the United Kingdom and the United States transform this axis into a more permanent one as new possibilities for China-EU relations open up, unthinkable only a few years ago.

An earlier and expanded version of this article was published in Foreign Affairs.

08th
May 2017

How Trump is reconnecting Europe with China

China is on a charm offensive in Europe, a move facilitated by U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies and his declarations since taking office. Beijing is eager to find allies willing to stand up for open trade amid fears Trump could undermine it with his protectionist, so-called America First measures. Sensing a low tide in Transatlantic relations, Chinese leaders are reaching out to the European Union — China’s leading trading partner and an important source of investment and technology. Beijing seems willing to set aside differences over bilateral trade and investment in order to draw the Europeans to its side.

In recent months, Beijing has toned down its public campaign to obtain EU recognition of market economy status for China. The case is now being dealt with at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, a move that allows the European Union and China to avoid giving the question too much publicity. If China obtains its coveted prize, it will be more difficult to adopt anti-dumping measures against Chinese companies. Neither the European Union nor the United States has yet recognized China as a market economy, and Western unity on this issue has so far prevailed.

The issue of market economy status marred Sino-European relations throughout 2016 and could have tainted relations this year too, had the election of Trump not changed priorities for Brussels and Beijing. Both stand united against protectionism, and on March 10, the European Council issued a conclusion document underlining that “trade relations with China should be strengthened.”

China-EU-US trade

EU policymakers have accepted Beijing’s request to bump up the annual China-EU summit from its usual July date to June. This is intended to send a unified message President Trump. Brussels and Beijing want to press ahead with economic globalization and free and fair trade in order to better tackle domestic problems. China is rebalancing its economy from one based on exports to one focused on domestic consumption, while the European Union is trying to recover from a long recession. However, it is not only the economic dimension that is bringing China and the European Union closer, but also their support for multilateralism and international organizations — in contrast with Trump’s preference for power-based bilateral relations.

China stands to gain from divisions among Western allies — even at a moment such as this, when there are a number of frictions in Sino-European relations, including the question of growing Chinese investments in the old Continent. A report by the Rhodium Group, a research firm, and the Mercator Institute for China Studies, a think tank in Berlin, found that Chinese direct investment in the European Union surged 76 percent to around €35 billion in 2016. Chinese purchases are growing rapidly in sectors that remain restricted to foreign investors in China, and this inflames debate about growing imbalances between the two sides. Those imbalances draw particular concern from Germany, where Chinese acquisitions soared to 11 billion euros in 2016, surpassing for the first time German mergers and acquisitions in China.

In February, France, Germany, and Italy asked the European Commission to rethink rules on foreign investment in the European Union. This was a message to Beijing to enforce reciprocity in market access, and at a time when the two sides are negotiating a bilateral investment treaty. It is unlikely, however, that a pan-European screening mechanism similar to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States will see light in the near future. Europe is now the top destination of Chinese investments abroad, surpassing the United States. According to the China Global Investment Tracker, a joint project of the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, between 2005 and 2016 China invested nearly $164 billion in Europe. During that same period, it invested $103 billion in the United States.

With negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in limbo, and the Trump administration’s focus on America First, Europeans feel they have been left alone to deal with an increasingly powerful China. The latter is luring EU members with the prospect of increased investments in their countries. Should President Trump not change course, the European Union and China are bound to get closer, despite their differences.

An earlier and expanded version of this article was published in RealClearWorld

14th
May 2016

Chinese firms investment spree favours Europe over America

Chinese companies made record bids for foreign acquisitions in the first quarter of 2016, focusing especially on agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. But while such investments have been met with open arms in Europe, regulatory resistance is stiff in the United States. With Chinese firms eager to gain Western technology, brands and customer bases, the European Union is likely to benefit.

Chinese investment abroad was almost nonexistent. Today, China is one of the world’s top three sources of foreign investment. According to financial data provider Dealogic, Chinese firms put up some $102 billion to buy foreign companies between the beginning of the year and mid-March 2016. This includes the mega-bids for Swiss agrochemical firm Syngenta by China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina) and for Starwood Hotels & Resorts by a consortium led by Chinese insurer Anbang. Anbang’s $13 billion bid ultimately failed, but the numbers are still eye-popping. For comparison, Chinese companies spent $106 billion overseas throughout the whole of 2015.

The value of Chinese firms’ offshore assets is set to triple from about $6.4 trillion in 2015 to nearly $20 trillion by 2020, according to a joint report by the Rhodium Group, a research company, and the Mercator Institute for China Studies. A growing share of these offshore assets will be in Western countries. China’s global stock of investment abroad, which includes corporate mergers, acquisitions and spending on start-ups, is expected to grow from $744 billion to $2 trillion by 2020. There is plenty of room to grow. Today China’s stock of outbound investment represents only about 7 percent of gross domestic product. In Germany, the proportion is 47 percent, in the US it is 38 percent and in Japan it is 20 percent.

Chinese companies undertake cross-border deals for many reasons, including access to resources, expertise, technology and brands, as well as to move up the value chain. A classic example is Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM’s personal computer business, which allowed the Chinese firm to gain global distribution, operational expertise and brand value. Chinese companies are increasingly eager to learn from their global competitors and absorb best practices in areas such as risk management, quality control and information technology.

Chinese firms

After having relied on investment from other countries for years, China has begun encouraging domestic companies to invest and operate overseas. This is all the more important for the Chinese firms saddled with debt, overcapacity and losses – the so-called “zombie companies” – many of them SOEs. Their situation is partly the result of huge investments Chinese authorities required them to make to stimulate the economy after the 2008 global financial crisis crimped international demand. Acquisitions abroad address these problems by offering a better return on capital – which is declining inside China – and by allowing firms to offload some of their debt onto newly purchased companies. The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has designed loan schemes to support companies that invest overseas.

There is, however, risk of a backlash from regulators, especially in the US, where the Committee on Foreign Investment could block deals – such as the recent Syngenta mega-bid – if it is deemed to endanger the country’s food supply, and thereby its national security. In February, Fairchild Semiconductor International rejected a $2.5 billion takeover offer from a Chinese-led group, opting instead for a smaller offer from an American rival. The company cited concerns that US regulators could block the deal with the Chinese. The unsuccessful offer was one of at least 10 failed Chinese bids in the last year, according to the New York Times.

The winner in the battle between American regulators and Beijing-backed companies will be Europe, which has clearly become the preferred destination for Chinese investors. According to the China Global Investment Tracker, a joint project of the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation, between 2005 and 2016, China invested nearly $164 billion in Europe (including non-European Union countries). During the same period, it invested $103 billion in the U.S.

The Rhodium Group found that between 2000 and 2014, Chinese companies spent 46 billion euros ($52 billion) on 1,047 direct investments (greenfield projects and acquisitions) in the EU-28 countries, with the vast majority of the transactions coming after 2009. The United Kingdom received the biggest share of that amount, with a total of 12.2 billion euros ($13.8 billion), followed by Germany with 6.9 billion euros ($7.8 billion) and France with 5.9 billion euros ($6.7 billion). In 2015, however, ChemChina’s acquisition of Pirelli put Italy in the top position.

Chinese companies show no sign of slowing their investment push. More big deals can be expected in coming years. If the American politicians and regulators continue their stiff resistance to Chinese investment, Europe will see even more money flowing in.

An earlier and expanded version of this article was published by the: austriancenter.

14th
Feb 2016

Issues shaping agenda of Sino-European relations

In 2015, Sino-European relations continued to improve. Yet, the two sides tend to focus on different issues. China has continued its policy of ‘upgrading’ (shengji) relations with the EU, initiated after the landmark visit by Xi Jinping to EU institutions in Brussels in April 2014. Beijing has committed itself to increasing the political and security elements of the partnership with Brussels, while continuing to foster economic and trade relations.

Europe has responded to this by stepping up its relations with Beijing in the monetary and financial fields of policy. Such upgrading was best epitomised by the decision by Europe’s four biggest economies – Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy – to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as founding members in March 2015 – despite opposition from Washington. In 2015 we also witnessed a trend towards the re-nationalisation of the political and security elements of the partnership with Beijing. Away from Brussels, it is the most important capitals, in particular Berlin and – to a lesser extent – Paris, that are now driving forward the politico-security dimension with China.

Jean-Claude Juncker and Xi Jinping

Jean-Claude Juncker and Xi Jinping

The most important issues of the common agenda are: (i) China’s initiative called ‘One Belt, One Road’ and its possible synergies with Jean-Claude Juncker’s European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI); (ii) The bilateral investment treaty currently under discussion; and (iii) The decision by the EU as to whether – and how – grant China market economy status in 2016. There are also political and security elements of the partnership under discussion, including the prospect of joint peacekeeping operations, the stability in Africa and the Mediterranean, the fight against terrorism, cooperation in nuclear non-proliferation.

An expanded version of this interview was published in Chinaandgreece.com

12th
Dec 2015

More than ever, all roads lead to Rome

As China’s Belt and Road Initiative unfolds, Rome has a pivotal role to play. In fact, the Mediterranean Sea, with Italy at its centre, sits at the end-point of the maritime Silk Road. Combining a land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and a sea-based 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which connects China to Europe through Southeast Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, the Belt and Road Initiative aims to boost connectivity and commerce between China and 65 countries traversed by this grand project.

China’s total financial commitment to the project is expected to reach $1.4 trillion (1.3 trillion euros). Beijing has already committed about $300 billion for infrastructure loans and trade financing in the coming years, a sum that includes a $40 billion contribution to the Silk Road Fund for infrastructure development and the $50 billion initial capital (to be raised eventually to $100 billion) allocated to the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. In March 2015, after the UK lead, Germany, France and Italy joined the bank as a founding member.

The People’s Bank of China, through the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, which manages foreign exchange reserves, has invested more than 3.5 billion euros ($3.9 billion) in stakes of about 2 percent each in 10 of Italy’s largest companies: These include Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Unicredit, Saipem, Mediobanca, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Telecom Italia, Prysmian, Assicurazioni Generali, ENEL and the state-controlled ENI (oil and gas operator). This has made the People’s Bank of China the 10th-largest investor in Italy’s stock exchange.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi shake hands

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi shake hands

Alongside the bank, Chinese state-owned enterprises have been active in the Italian market. For example, in May 2014 Shanghai Electric Group bought a 40 percent stake in the power engineering company Ansaldo Energia for 400 million euros. This was quickly followed by China’s State Grid’s acquisition of a 35 percent stake in the energy grid holding company CDP Reti for 2.1 billion euros.

In March 2015, China National Chemical Corp bought a stake of 16.9 percent in Pirelli, the world’s fifth-largest tire-maker, in a deal worth 7 billion euros. Beijing has so far invested more than 6.5 billion euros in listed companies on the Italian stock market, a sum that corresponds to about 10 percent of total Chinese investments in European stocks.

In the past 12 months, Italy has been the top destination in Europe for Chinese outbound investment, surpassing the UK. The ancient motto “All roads lead to Rome” has never rung more true.

An extended version of this article (written with Rita Fatiguso) was originally published in the China Daily Europe

23rd
Sep 2015

Greek port is spearhead of Chinese investment push in Europe

China’s investment outflows are growing fast, and Europe is one of their main destinations. Over the past year, China has targeted Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), which has received almost US$7 billion. The Balkan Peninsula, including the Greek port of Piraeus at its southern end, is now the new frontier for Chinese outbound direct investment. In the coming weeks, China will start building a high-speed railway connecting Budapest and Belgrade; it will later be extended to Skopje and Piraeus, where the China Ocean Shipping Company, or COSCO, has a 35-year concession to run two container piers. The new transport route could cut shipping times from China to inland cities of the European Union by one-third, to 20 days.

Signing of high-speed railway connecting Budapest and Belgrade. Source: German Press Agency

Signing of high-speed railway connecting Budapest and Belgrade. Source: German Press Agency

The investment foray into Eastern Europe and the Balkans is part of Beijing’s broader strategy to export capital and political influence along the planned Silk Road Economic Belt, and the complementary Maritime Silk Road.

At the third meeting of heads of government of China and 16 Central European countries, held in Belgrade in December 2014, Prime Minister Li Keqiang highlighted the role that the region would play in the transport corridors, pledging to inject more investment to boost infrastructure and improve sea and land connections between China and the region. During the Belgrade meeting China, Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia agreed to build a land-sea express route linking Piraeus – one of Europe’s largest container ports – with at least six Central and Eastern European countries, turning the facility into a Chinese hub for trade with Europe. The US$2.5 billion project is financed by soft loans from China’s Export-Import Bank, and will be built by the state-owned China Railway and Construction Corporation. Works on the line are scheduled to begin by the end of 2015, and should be completed in 2017.

The 370 kilometre railway between Belgrade and Budapest will significantly improve transport of passengers and goods, cutting travel time between the two capitals from eight hours to less than three. After further investments in the Greek and Macedonian portions of the line, a double track between the Mediterranean and the Danube will enable trains to run as fast as 200 kilometres per hour. By reducing shipping times, the new line will make Chinese products more competitive in the European market, helping to offset rising production costs.

Chinese goods are currently shipped through the Suez Canal, then in a wide loop through the Mediterranean, the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel to ports on Europe’s north-western coast, from where they are dispatched by road and rail to inland cities. Once the Balkan projects are completed, Chinese products will go from the Suez Canal – which recently doubled its capacity – directly to Piraeus to be loaded onto trains, cutting transit times from roughly 30 days to 20.

Piraeus is central in Beijing’s strategy of linking China with Europe. The Greek port is, in fact, the gateway between the Middle East, the Balkans and European markets – from a Chinese perspective, it is a unique entry point into the EU. Growing investment into the Greek port together with the overhaul of the transport system in the Balkans could make of Piraeus as big and strategic a container port as Hamburg, Rotterdam or Antwerp.

An earlier version of this article was published in World Review

09th
May 2015

40 years after: the road ahead for EU-China relations

On May 6, 1975, forty years ago, in the wake of the thaw in relations between Washington DC and Beijing, and without much fanfare, Brussels and China established diplomatic relations. It was certainly a different period in history. The European Community was in its infancy, China was a poor country, in the midst of a power struggle for the succession to Mao Zedong who, already very sick, died the following year.

Today, the relations between Europe and China are among the world’s most important, having taken on such a strategic importance that they are the object of close scrutiny – and sometimes apprehension – by the United States. Just think of Washington’s disapproval when four important EU countries – Germany, France, Great Britain and Italy – joined as founding partners the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the multilateral bank promoted by Beijing.

Source: www.rtcc.org

Source: www.rtcc.org

The turning point between Brussels and Beijing goes back to 2003 and the signing of a strategic partnership: the various parties reached an agreement on the joint development of Galileo, the European satellite navigation system and alternative to the American GPS, and the foundations were laid for improved relations in the field of security and the defence industry. Germany and France took the lead, but Italy and Spain were with them, and they proposed to begin discussions to lift the embargo on arms sales to China.

While the European Union was enlarged to include Central-Eastern European countries, Brussels became the most important trading partner of Beijing, while China climbed to second place as the most important trading partner of the EU, just behind the United States. The Europeans were, however, unable to agree on the embargo issue, and the European Council in June 2005 decided to postpone indefinitely the solution, leaving the Beijing leaders with a bitter taste in their mouth.

Even the euro played an important role in the relationships between China and Europe. In 2003 the European Central Bank and the Chinese one signed an agreement that led Beijing to diversify their basket of reserves, increasing in a gradual but constant manner in the coming years their exposure to the common European currency, while reducing their exposure towards the dollar.

China supported the euro during the sovereign debt crisis to accelerate the shift against the dollar when, in August 2011, Standard & Poor’s downgraded the sovereign rating of the United States: the growth in the share of reserves held in the common European currency went from approximately 26% in 2011 to approximately one third at the beginning of 2015. What’s more, two years ago, for the first time, the European Central bank signed an historic contract with the People’s Bank of China that opened a swap line in renminbi between these two areas of the world to facilitate investments in both directions, despite the non-convertibility of the Chinese currency.

China is investing heavily in European companies to acquire know-how and technology that is necessary to modernize Chinese industry. At the end of 2014, it made purchases through SAFE (State Administration of Foreign Exchange, ed.’s note), the administrative agency governing foreign exchange market activities, for about $ 54 billion in listed companies on European stock markets, ranking fifth for the size of the investment, just behind Japan.

The 40th anniversary of Europe-China relations coincides with an important note on the strategic agenda of cooperation between the European Union and China valid until 2020, signed in Beijing in November 2013: the possible closure of European Union-China bilateral negotiations on investments. A turning point that could open the way, as expressly requested by Xi Jinping during his first visit in Europe and to the European institutions last year, to a free-trade agreement that would introduce a new dynamic in the Sino-European relations. It would create an equally significant Euro-Asiatic axis, both economically and commercially, to the Atlantic and Pacific one.

An earlier version of this article was published in Italy24

29th
Jan 2015

China’s investment spree in Europe

China’s investment outflows are growing fast and Europe is one of the main beneficiaries of this trend. By the end of 2014, China had invested $54 billion in the stocks of European companies, becoming the fifth largest investor in the Old Continent – after the United States ($3,23 trillion), Canada ($155 billion), Bermuda ($77 billion) and Japan ($56,5 billion).

China’s financial rebalancing towards Europe is part of Beijing’s broader strategy to export capital and political influence. In 2014, China became a net exporter of capital for the first time as the country is implementing legislation that reduces restrictions on outbound investment and encourages companies to look overseas for mergers and acquisitions. In 2013, Chinese outbound investments were at a high of $108 billion, up 23% from a year earlier, bringing total direct offshore investment to $660 billion.

In November 2014, China’s President Xi Jinping announced that Chinese offshore investment will reach $1.25 trillion over the next decade, nearly tripling current Chinese outbound direct investment. This sum includes a $40 billion contribution to the Chinese-led ‘Silk Road Fund’ aimed to invest in infrastructure to support Xi’s vision of a ‘new silk road and maritime silk road’ to link China with Europe and the Mediterranean. Chinese officials have repeatedly declared that Europe is one of the primary destinations of capital outflows, a trend which became evident in the second half of 2014.

Source: www.cctv-america.com

Source: www.cctv-america.com

While Germany, France and the United Kingdom have long been the preferred destinations of Chinese investments, in 2014 interest for Eastern and Southern Europe has soared, in what has been dubbed as the dawn of a second Marshall Plan for the continent’s troubled periphery. Since Spring 2014, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) – through its investment arm, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) – has invested more than €3.2 billion on stakes of about 2% each in eight of Italy’s largest companies: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Telecom Italia, Prysmian (world’s top cable maker), Generali, Mediobanca, Saipem and state-controlled Eni (oil and gas operator) and Enel (utility). This has made the PBOC the 12th largest investor in Italy’s stock exchange. On top of it, in May 2014 Shanghai Electric Group bought a 40% stake in power engineering company Ansaldo Energia for €400 million and in July, China’s State Grid acquired a 35% stake in energy grid holding company CDP Reti for €2.1 billion.

By the end of January 2015, Beijing had invested more than €5.8 billion in Italy, a sum which represents around 7% of China’s total investments in Europe. The Italian government has supported unwaveringly Chinese investments, a move mirrored by other austerity-hit peripheral countries of the eurozone. In June 2014, Greece and China signed a ship-building deal worth €2 billion, financed by China Development Bank. In Portugal, Chinese investors swept up 45% of the total assets – mainly infrastructure – put up for privatisation under the Economic Adjustment Programme inspired by the EU and the IMF.

Project financing has emerged as one of the most promising areas for Chinese involvement in Southern and Eastern Europe. At the Third Meeting of heads of government of China and the 16 Central and Eastern European Countries (CEECs) held in Belgrade in mid-December 2104, Li Keqiang, the Chinese Premier, pledged to inject more investment to boost infrastructure and sea and land connections between China and the region, in addition to the 69 cooperation projects between China and the CEECs implemented after the second meeting in Romania in November 2013.

The Balkans have become China’s new frontier for investment. On 17 December 2014, China, Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia agreed to build a land-sea express route by expanding the Budapest-Belgrade rail line to Skopje, Athens and the port of Piraeus in Greece – one of the largest container ports in Europe – where Chinese shipping giant COSCO has a 35-year concession for two piers. Needless to say that the corridor will be built and financed by Chinese companies.

A more friendly investment environment – compared with other developed economies such as the US and Japan– and the slower than expected recovery from the debt crisis has made Europe – in particular the periphery – a valuable destination for China as it constantly looks for global opportunities to preserve and increase the value of its reserves.

A longer version of this article is published by ISN Security Watch with the title: China’s financial footprint in Europe