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China’s Offensive in Europe

By Philippe Le Corre and Alain Sepulchre

A portrait of China’s new economic passion toward Europe

For years China’s international investment interests focused on a search for natural resources in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Recently China’s focus has shifted to Europe as well as the United States, and to new fields as diverse as real estate, energy, hospitality, transportation, and heavy industry.

Chinese foreign investment is expected to grow throughout Europe in the years to come.  For instance, the financial crisis centered in Greece and the fall of the euro have helped China and some of its corporations create a new partnership within the European Union, working to expand the country’s power through finance and infrastructure.

China’s Offensive in Europe studies the trends, sectors, and target countries of Chinese investments in Europe. It looks at cases of outbound investment trajectories and journeys by some key Chinese private and state-owned companies. It also takes a look at European perceptions of China, a country with a very different history and very different traditions from the Western world.

Philippe Le Corre and Alain Sepulchre examine how China’s presence in Europe can serve as a benchmark to other developed economies—especially the United States, which is also seeing a rise in Chinese investments.


Praise for China’s Offensive in Europe

After 38 years of the “New Open Door,” China’s growth and, now, it’s direct investment abroad are reshaping the world economy. Philippe Le Corre and Alain Sepulchre have done an excellent job describing and analyzing the European investment dimension of this “globalization with Chinese characteristics.” The book ranges widely — from business aims, corporate styles, and financing to the role of the Communist Party, culture, and soft power. “China’s Offensive in Europe” offers
an artful blend of illustrations, data, and suggestions. The book is current and timely, informative and reasoned, and perceptively thoughtful.
—Robert B. Zoellick, Former President of the World Bank, US Trade Representative, and US Deputy Secretary of State

As China’s commercial foray goes global, the European market is increasing attractive to China’s multinational corporations and investors. In this meticulous study, the authors have unearthed fascinating new details of China’s rapidly expanding economic footprint across Europe, which will come as a surprise to most readers. Their careful study further contextualizes the business dimension by considering China’s parallel cultural offensive in the EU. This excellent volume should be read not only by those interested in Sino-European relations, but by everyone who needs to know about China’s growing global roles
—David Shambaugh, George Washington University, and author of China Goes Global: The Partial Power

This highly readable book manages to provide a thorough and in-depth look at an increasingly important subject:  China’s expanding economic relationship with Europe.  With Beijing’s involvement in the Greek financial crisis, Britain’s celebration of its “very special relationship” with the Asian powerhouse, and Beijing’s grand “One Belt, One Road” project to link China with Europe, we are seeing the early steps on what is sure to be a fascinating and historically significant journey.  As we enter uncharted territory, Le Corre and Sepulchre have provided us an indispensable guidebook.
—Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution and author Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order

It amazes me every time when it comes to China, we possess improbable naivety. It must be that this country fascinates. Le Corre & Sepulchre have created a wise book. They succeed in exposing a fairy tale. As they follow China’s trail of bread-crumbs into the heart of the European Union, they try to make sense of China’s plan and we, as the readers, get to see just how far China has gotten. Cleverly said; ‘spread its tentacles, opportunistically.’ And they spread far. From the energy sector to that of transport to telecommunications to even buying-up Pizza Express. China has thus huffed and puffed to gain an ‘in’ to the EU’s ginger-bread house.
—Karel De Gucht, Former European Commissioner for Trade

This book could not come at a better time. Chinese investment into the EU rose by 40% in 2015, China’s steel overcapacity has forced the recent closure of three plants in Britain, sending 5,000 protestors onto the streets of Brussels and ChemChina is in the process of the largest overseas acquisition by a Chinese company with the purchase of Swiss-based Syngenta for more than $40bn. A timely must-read.
—Jörg Wuttke, President, European Union Chamber of Commerce in China

Philippe Le Corre is a visiting fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, where he specializes in China-Europe relations. He is also an adjunct lecturer at Johns Hopkins University. His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Financial Times, Foreign Policy, Le Monde, and Wall Street Journal. He is a former foreign correspondent in China and served as senior adviser to the French Minister of Defense. He also acted as a consultant and lecturer in China for several multinational companies.

Alain Sepulchre is a senior adviser with BCG in Hong Kong, formerly with McKinsey Company. He specializes in M&A activities for Chinese companies abroad. He is also a lecturer at the University of Hong Kong and at Paris-Dauphine University. He was previously a senior executive with the energy group Total in China for fifteen years.


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