Blog

07.24.2019

Strategic partner or systemic rival? China’s investment in Europe could be a one-way street

By: Maxar Technologies


Read Time: 3 minutes

Economic integration between China and Europe has accelerated dramatically since the announcement of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2013. China now has bilateral relationships with nearly every European nation (as well as with the EU itself), and more than 350 European companies have been acquired by China or its surrogates in the last decade.

In Eastern Europe, much of the political and financial influence once wielded by the former Soviet Union has been assumed by China. Across the continent, there is growing concern that close relationships between China and European business and political elites will make it easier for China to wield its influence in impactful new ways.

For policymakers and commercial entities with an interest in China’s Belt and Road Initiative goals, Maxar can help visualize and conflate critical data for powerful and actionable geospatial intelligence. By combining our best-in-class high-resolution satellite imagery with an analysis of the 60-plus human geography data layers contained within our Human Landscape datasets, we’ve put China’s European activity in the Spotlight.

Take a look at how China is upsetting longstanding economic relationships and bolstering its strategic interests across Europe.

One Maxar.

Unlocking the promise of space to confront challenges on Earth—and beyond.

Fill out the form to access the latest edition and subscribe to the Spotlight:



Sneak Peek: (excerpt from Maxar Spotlight)

Mapping Chinese investments across Europe

Although China is a major investor in Eastern Europe, the vast majority (roughly 97%) of its foreign direct investment (FDI) to Europe is directed towards the more developed economies in Western Europe. Chinese investment is typically hard to identify because it is routed through notorious tax havens like Hong Kong, the Channel Islands and others.

To help overcome this lack of Chinese transparency, European economic and FDI feature classes from Maxar’s Human Landscape datasets were compiled and analyzed. Each dataset and feature class is an aggregate of specific investments and acquisitions reported in news media and other open data sources; it is not a comprehensive list of all Chinese investments and acquisitions because of the complexity and opacity of China’s investment strategy.

The map below provides a density analysis of Chinese investments and acquisitions in the automobile, construction, manufacturing, technology, and transportation industries across Europe. The density analysis shows that Western Europe’s industrial heartland is a major investment focus for China, and that Chinese companies have also invested and acquired ownership stakes in major shipping ports.

One location of particular importance to China is Duisburg, Germany. Located at the intersection of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers, Duisburg is the world’s largest inland port. While the city has some of Germany’s worst unemployment numbers, its status as western Europe’s main rail hub and its proximity to the major ports of Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany have made Duisburg one of the most important cities in China’s BRI.

Back to Blog

Email Subscription