Is Europe’s crisis China’s opportunity? - China’s new economic presence in Europe and what it means for our future

"Seminar on China's and Chinese companies' economic presence in Europe"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011 - 16:00 to 17:30

A kind of “scramble for Europe” is now taking place as China purchases European government debt, invests in European companies and exploits Europe’s open market for public procurement. Crisis-hit Europe’s need for short-term cash is allowing China not just to strike cut-price deals but also to play off member states against each other and against their own collective interests – replicating a strategy it has already used in the developing world. The expansion of China’s presence in Europe is creating new fault lines within Europe and making it much harder to implement the more coordinated and tougher strategy towards China that the EU was beginning to develop. As Europeans compete with each other for Chinese business, they are reducing their chances of collectively negotiating reciprocal access to Chinese markets.

This brief argues that Europeans should not blame China for taking the opportunity to expand its economic foothold inside Europe and leverage its financial and commercial influence with cash-strapped member states. Nor should they resort to protectionism. Instead, they should unify around their collective interests and take steps to create a rules-based and level playing field on which European firms are able to compete in China in the same way that Chinese companies can in Europe. In particular, they should create a coordinated system for government debt purchases and a system for vetting direct investment, and encourage fair competition in public procurement.

The brief ( ) has already created large debate in Europe and been presented on CNN, Economist, Guardian, China Daily and numerous other press quotes.


  • ECRF Senior Policy Fellow Jonas Parello-Plesner

  • Former Governor of the Danish National Bank Jens Thomsen

  • Professor Ari Kokko, Department of International Economics and Management

  • Professor Kjeld Erik Brødsgaard, Asia Research Centre (Moderator)


Registration can take place by emailing Asia Research Centre.  All are welcome.

Arranged by Asia Research Centre, CBS and the European Council for Foreign Relations

The page was last edited by: Communications // 09/26/2023