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Chinese investment in Europe: A country-level approach

A Report by the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC), December 2017

Chinese investments in Europe have surged in recent years, and have become a critical feature of Europe-China relations. Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the European Union traced back to mainland China hit a record EUR 35 billion in 2016.  In a historic shift, the flow of Chinese direct investment into Europe has surpassed the declining flows of annual European direct investments into China. As China continues to grow, develop, and integrate into the global economy, its overseas investments expand in quantity and quality, reflecting both the growing sophistication of the Chinese economy and broader Chinese commercial and policy goals. Going beyond FDI, Chinese investment is creating new realities for Europe-China relations.

This report by the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC) was edited by John Seaman, Mikko Huotari and Miguel Otero-Iglesias. It brings together original analysis from 19 European countries to better understand these trends and their consequences for policy making and Europe-China relations, including at the bilateral, subregional and EU levels. As in all ETNC reports, it seeks to do so using a country-level approach. Through these case studies, including an introductory explanation and analysis of EU-wide data, the report aims to identify and contextualize the motives for Chinese investment in Europe and the vehicles used. However, the originality of the report also lies in the analysis of national-level debates on China, Chinese investment, and openness to foreign investment more generally. 

This report is the third in an on-going effort to dissect and reassemble Europe–China relations from a European country-level perspective. The ETNC was first launched on the initiative of the Elcano Royal Institute and the French Institute of International Relations (Ifri) in Brussels in November 2014. 

The network's main aim is to enhance European expertise, knowledge and networking capacity on China’s foreign policy and its foreign relations with the EU member states and the EU itself, by focusing on all the different levels of interaction. Learn more about the European Think-tank Network on China here.