Workshop: EU Responses to Chinese Investments in European Strategic Sectors

April 11-12, 2024

📍Location: Faculty of East Asian Studies, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), Bochum, Germany

The workshop titled “EU Responses to Chinese Investments in European Strategic Sectors” was conducted on April 11-12, 2024, at the Faculty of East Asian Studies, Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), Germany. This event was jointly organised by the China Europe Research Network (CHERN), COST Action, and the Centre for EU-Asia Connectivity (CEAC), a Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence. It convened a distinguished group of researchers to deliberate on current developments concerning Chinese Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in European critical infrastructure.

The areas specifically addressed included Chinese investments in European seaport infrastructure, 5G networks, and industrial infrastructure, alongside EU-level and member state-level policy responses. The workshop began with opening remarks by Dr. Nana de Graaff from VU Amsterdam and Prof. Sebastian Bersick from RUB, who also outlined the key themes and objectives of the workshop.

The initial session, chaired by Mrs. Mireia Paulo, focused on Chinese investments in European industrial infrastructure. This session featured presentations from Dr. Samuel RogersProf. Giles Mohan, and Dr. Ágnes SzunomárDr. Alexandr Svetlicinii then discussed EU responses to these investments from a legal perspective. The subsequent session delved deeper into strategic infrastructure investments. Dr. David Styan discussed the UK’s policy responses, while Mr. Yuqiao Li explored Duisburg’s role as a hub in the China Railway Express. 


The third session, chaired by Ms. Johanna Rust, provided insights from Prof. Francesca Spigarelli on Chinese investments in Italian seaports and a comprehensive examination of Chinese investment in German ports by Prof. Bersick. The final session of the day began with Dr. Nana de Graaff presenting on 5G networks and the revision of concepts such as techno-nationalism. This was followed by a discussion on EU-China relations with Prof. Jörn-Carsten Gottwald and Dr. Niall Duggan, focusing on role changes. Mr. Stanislav Gubenko concluded the session with a presentation on human rights and CSR policies in Chinese investments in Balkan energy projects.


The second day featured a roundtable discussion on the challenges and prospects of Chinese investments, chaired by Dr. Niall Duggan, with contributions from senior researchers including Prof. Bahri Yilmaz.

The discussions underscored the complex interplay between economic interests and political considerations in shaping European responses to Chinese investments. A recurring theme among the researchers’ findings was the conceptualisation of Chinese FDI in terms of securitisation, linking to economic security and the European economic security strategy, which influenced laws and regulations assessing foreign investment projects and strategic sectors in the EU. Moreover, the U.S. factor was noted as a significant element impacting EU-China relations, including Chinese investments in the region and EU responses.



In addition to the productive and stimulating academic discourse, the workshop will result in communication and dissemination outcomes such as publications in the Policy Brief Series of CEAC and a special issue. These publications aim to disseminate expert insights on the discussed areas, generating critical thinking and debate.

The workshop not only advanced academic discussions but also strengthened the network of researchers, promoting further joint-cooperation in research projects, and research dissemination. All thanks to the European Commission fundings supporting this activity.

A cultural highlight of the workshop was a visit to the Botanic and Chinese Garden at RUB, facilitating informal discussions and networking among participants. The Chinese Garden was built in 1990 as a partnership gift from Tongji University Shanghai to Ruhr University Bochum for their 25th anniversary. The Chinese Garden name “Qian Yuan,” which means “Qian’s Garden,” is an allusion to the famous Chinese poet Tao Qian (365-427 AD).



🔜  Deadline for abstract submission: February 12, 2024

📌  Requirements: Please submit your extended abstract (500-600 words) to 

Subject line: “Abstract CHERN-CEAC Workshop SURNAME_Name_Date

📌  Results: Based on the research, participants are invited to turn their findings into:

a) A short paper (3-5 pages) that is to be published in the Policy Brief Series of CEAC

b) A full paper to be included in a proposal for a special issue of the Asia-Europe Journal

❗️ Important note:
In order to submit your abstract, please ensure that you have become a member of CHERN (membership is free). For additional details, refer to the section on “how to join CHERN” and explore information about “CHERN WG1



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