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By Philippe Escande

Paris - Frédéric Vincent is one unhappy CEO.The Chinese are invading us, they do not comply with our basic rules for doing business. This was the essence of the message Vincent, the chief of French cable maker Nexans, sent in a letter to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso. In question is the arrival of the Chinese group Xinmao's €1 billion bid to acquire Dutch cable maker Draka, an offer that trumps those made by Nexans and Italy's Prysmian.

Even if the French cabling giant was clearly trying to use the case to soften up Brussels in the face of a potentially heavy fine for allegedly obstructing competition, Vincent does raise an interesting question.It is not a matter of criticizing the Commission's reaction, which has little foundation on either ethical as economic grounds, but rather a question of the nature of this latest Chinese invasion: it is no longer toys or televisions, but capital.

First it was China, the world's workshop, then China, the world'smarketplace, and now it's China, global predator.The new wave of Chinese investment activity has reached Volvo, Club Med, United Biscuits, the Greek port of Piraeus, Australian mines. China is hungry for a piece of the world's know-how, trademarks, resources.And this is just the beginning!Rather than continuing to sink their surpluses into U.S. Treasury bonds, Chinese entrepreneurs are increasingly looking to sink their teeth into Western companies.The appreciation of the yuan will only strengthen this tendency.The Japanese, whose market is more closed than the Chinese, took the same approach in the 1980s.

This new wave seems inevitable, unless you decide to somehow shut down the borders.And policymakers should think twice before taking such a step.Over the past year, the Chinese have invested only 300 million euros in Europe, while European companies have spent more than 5 billion euros in China in the same period.

Moreover, when Chinese companies -- or Indian, Turkish or Mexican firms for that matter – arrive in Europe, it forces them to operate under the common business practices of the Old Continent. And while it is not perfect,the European approach to business requires transparency and respect for the law, property and open competition.

In the end, the Japanese experience, and even the American one, show the fundamental limits of a capital "invasion."You need more than a fistful of yuan or yen to buy Hollywood or Brussels.

Read the original story in French

Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via Flickr

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The Guiyang Zero-COVID Bus Crash: A Chinese Tragedy In Three Acts

The city in southern China was put under harsh lockdown earlier this month after just a few positive COVID tests. Then a bus carrying quarantined residents crashed, killing 27. The senseless accident left residents more fearful and suspicious of each other than ever.

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GUIYANG — Two weeks before the tragic Sep. 18 bus crash in this southern Chinese city, a local resident named Jin was anxiously driving out of her neighborhood. The police officers on duty were blocking the intersection and the area was closed off. Even though her employer had demanded she come to work, the local neighborhood committee had forbidden her from going out. That same evening one of Jin's colleague had been asked twice to get out of a taxi, and had to walk home.

The details of how China's latest lockdown disrupted Guiyang residents sound pointless after Sunday's crash of a bus transporting quarantined residents crashed, killing 27, and sparking a new round of outrage over the country's strict zero-COVID policy. And yet it is worth reviewing what had already happened to life in the city of 4.3 million after just a few cases of the virus were detected.

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