West skeptical of investment from China: survey

Chinese investment is causing disquiet in a number of places, particularly in the US and Europe, according to a new survey. The sentiment poses a problem for Chinese firms seeking to expand their global footprint.

Investment from China is a source of anxiety in many parts of the world, especially in the West. That's according to a new report released Monday by the Germany-based Ifo economic research institute. Over 1,000 analysts from 81 countries took part in the survey.   

While two-thirds of respondents in the European Union saw Chinese investment as "slightly" or "evidently" negative, the figure in the US was 78%, the Munich-based institute found. But in many emerging and developing economies like Pakistan and Turkey, Chinese investment enjoys a better reputation.

Respondents in Europe and the US said technology transfers and fear of influence exerted by the Chinese government were the main reasons for their negative view.

Read more: EU fears divisions as China woos Eastern European nations

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Business | 12.04.2019

EU wary about Chinese investment

Massive investment flows

China's investments worldwide, particularly in infrastructure projects, have expanded dramatically over the past decade.

As part of Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing has been pumping billions of dollars of investment toward infrastructure development spanning countries in Asia, Africa, Oceania, Europe and South America.

The ambitious program is expected to involve over €1 trillion ($1.1 trillion) in investments, largely in infrastructure development for ports, roads, railways and airports, as well as power plants and telecommunications networks.

But criticism surrounds the initiative, with some saying that opaque financing arrangements are leaving poor countries with unsustainable debt.

Uneven access

In recent years, Chinese investment flows into Europe and the US have also drawn close scrutiny because of Beijing's Made in China 2025 initiative, aimed at turning Chinese companies into world leaders in advanced fields like robotics and artificial intelligence.

Read more: Investing in Africa's tech infrastructure. Has China won already?

Critics say China is trying to meet its aspirations by cheating — stealing trade secrets, forcing foreign companies to hand over technology, subsidizing its own firms and burying in red tape foreign competitors that want to compete in the Chinese market.

The EU and the US have become increasingly frustrated at what they view as a lack of a level-playing field for foreign firms in China, even after years of granting China almost unfettered access to their markets for trade and investment.

The discontent over investment terms is part of the reason why the US and China are currently embroiled in a conflict over trade, resulting in both sides imposing tariffs on each other's goods worth billions of dollars.

The tit-for-tat tariffs and rising protectionist tendencies have hurt business sentiment worldwide and stoked uncertainty.

sri/rt (dpa, AFP)

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