Wednesday, January 11, 2012

"Welcome, best friend from Europe"

Chinese Lantern
Image by Ulrich Thumult via Flickr
Today we noted an interesting dispatch from the Chinese state news agency Xinhua, reporting on a recent trip of "top Chinese investors" to Europe. The crunch of the article was the summary of a statement issued earlier today:
The decision to open joint headquarters in Denmark follows a working visit by some 25 Chinese investors to European countries in December 2011. They represented up to 500 Chinese companies who are members of the Aigo Entrepreneur Alliance, which helps Chinese firms build overseas operations.
Fun detail: Denmark did win from other European countries like the Netherlands, the UK, Belgium and others. I reposted this with a short remark on Google+, and got an instant remark with a link to this Belgium success on the vote.
An earlier example of this strategy is the giant electronic firm Huawai, who has been announcing the opening more European headquarters, R&D centers and even global centers than we can count on the fingers of two hands. It is mostly part of justified Chinese politeness towards their European friends.
Unfortunately, those European friends might take the promise all too literally. It is part of the Chinese culture where you try to tie the knot with your potential friends as close as possible; similarly, it is part of the European culture to take it all too serious and use it too early as serious fodder for their respective electorates.
It is not only happening in Europe, also different states in the US and countries in other parts of the world are vying for the status of "best friend of China". And of course, some might get something out of those promises, but the race is only starting.
Mostly, those citizens do not read each others newspapers, so both Chinese companies and European politicians can just ignore the fact that the same promise is do to so many other countries.
Now, just thinking loudly: would coordinating this kind of 'promises' on a public website not be a cute idea for the newly formed EU foreign affairs department? Or could that hurt the intra-European relations too much?

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