Streaks of Red

The Economist reports on China’s increasing economic influence throughout Europe, accompanied by a graph showing that popular opinion there is not falling for China’s soft power efforts:

London’s black cabs are made by Manganese Bronze, which is part-owned by Geely, a Shanghai-based carmaker that also owns Volvo, a Swedish company. China Investment Corporation (CIC), a sovereign-wealth fund, has the third-largest stake in Songbird Estates, which controls Canary Wharf Group, the property firm behind the towers that dominate the city’s eastern skyline. CIC may soon become an investor in the Citigroup building, another landmark skyscraper, which is for sale.

The Bank of England is not yet Chinese-owned but it is increasingly encircled by Chinese banks, which have bought or leased about 300,000 square feet (28,000 square metres) of office space since the financial crisis. Bank of China, which has been in London since 1929, has recently moved into plush new headquarters that overlook the central bank. Down the road, in King William Street, the builders are at work inside the future home of ICBC, another state-owned giant.

Such visible signs of Chinese encroachment will feed the worries of many Europeans. A poll conducted for the BBC World Service in March found rising concern about the eastward shift in economic power: a majority of Germans, Italians and French people view China’s rise negatively (see chart 1). Americans and Canadians feel similarly. These proportions have gone up since a similar survey in 2005.


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