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Why China is investing heavily in Europe

For long a laggard, Europe has become a preferred arena for China’s outbound investment in the West. Over the past few years, it has consistently attracted both state-run and private Chinese enterprises looking for investment opportunities, despite the historical, geographic, legal, linguistic, societal and cultural complexities of such a move.

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Unlike trade and tourism, investment is about a long-term commitment best associated with a stable and legally secure environment. Whereas during the first decade of the 21st century, there was little significant Chinese investment in Europe, the figures since 2010 show a real surge. According to a report published jointly by the law firm Baker & McKenzie and the New York-based Rhodium Group, the total stock of Chinese investments in Europe went from US$6 billion in 2010 to US$55 billion in 2014. Bruegel, a Brussels-based think tank, estimates the distribution of Chinese outbound foreign direct investment flows as follows: 19 per cent of total Chinese foreign direct investment took place in Europe (stock: US$13.9 billion) and 13 per cent in North America (stock: US$11.4 billion), which has also become an important recipient.

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