Chinese auto company Geely has recently acquired a 9.69-percent stake in German carmaker Daimler AG for $9.2 billion, making the Chinese investor the single largest Daimler shareholder.
The cooperation has won relatively positive overseas media and market responses, a sign of a closer economic bond between China and the rest of the world.
The Wall Street Journal described Geely's investment in Daimler as a "milestone for China," saying "a closer association could be a boon for Daimler, too."
The German government also maintained a relatively open attitude, saying that the purchase was a business matter and Germany is "an open economy that welcomes investments."
Yet when Geely paid $1.8 billion to buy Swedish automaker Volvo from U.S. auto manufacturer Ford in 2010, many Western media outlets expressed doubts and fear, viewing the Chinese firm's takeover as an opportunistic move at the height of the euro debt crisis.
Behind the change of rhetoric are several years of successful overseas ventures by Chinese enterprises that have helped gradually gain a more favorable reputation for Chinese investors. Geely's investment in Volvo is no doubt one of these examples that have benefited all parties involved.
In 2017, Volvo Cars has reported a strong 27.7 percent increase in operating profit, earning a record $1.8 billion, and the company itself, which was struggling when Geely took it over eight years ago, is thriving. As for Geely, it has seen substantial improvements in technologies and management after buying Volvo, and quickened its progress in making itself a global brand, which has set the stage for its investment in Daimler this time.
However, as Chinese companies are going increasingly global, a sentiment of suspicion is growing in some Western countries, and occasionally, Chinese investments are still unfairly rejected and smeared as being opportunistic and merely geared towards short-term profit.
Though in some Chinese overseas projects investment risks are indeed underestimated, yet the bigger picture is that most of the Chinese investors are rational enough to conduct business with their foreign partners in a mutually beneficial way with a long-term view.
Today, as trade protectionism is on the rise, China is, through investment, playing an active role in promoting international cooperation, which has brought real profits to local businesses and populations.
Let's reexamine the example of the Volvo investment. With Geely's take-over, Volvo has in recent years seen its sales rebound, and that has led to the creation of thousands of new jobs for the local workers in its Gent factory in western Belgium.
Nowadays, more and more people around the world have begun to see that Chinese entrepreneurs do have long-term visions and are serious about creating profits for all partners involved.
It is believed that as China becomes increasingly connected to the rest of the world, Chinese investors are going to play an increasingly active role in an increasing number of sectors and help promote a more robust global economic growth.
(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2018)