China Expands Reach in East Europe

Asia Times reports on China’s efforts to improve ties with countries in the former Soviet bloc:

The countries formerly under the Soviet umbrella – well inclined to forget the communist ideological heritage that links them to China – are finding now that those bonds are coming in handy. After years of looking to their Western neighbors for investment and business opportunities, the Eastern European economies are now turning towards China. Sitting atop US$2.5 trillion foreign exchange reserves, China emerged from the financial crisis
almost unscathed.

Bulgaria’s poor infrastructure, inefficient courts and rampant corruption have put off serious Western investors. But its relative fiscal stability and corporate taxes of 10% – the lowest in the European Union, are deemed attractive to Chinese investors.

A snapshot of Chinese companies’ involvement in Bulgarian post-communist economy shows presence in all range of areas.

Telecommunications champions Huawei and ZTE are upgrading Bulgaria’s nationwide network. Great Wall Motors has completed an 80 million euro (US$112 million) automobile factory in the northeast of the country. China’s Insigma Technology has signed an agreement to build de-sulfurization facilities with Bulgaria’s biggest power plant, Maritsa East Two.

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