Game changers

Updated: 2012-12-07 09:02

By Fu Jing, Zhang Chunyan and Li Xiang (China Daily)

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MG Motor UK, a wholly owned subsidiary of Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC), China's largest automaker, in Longbridge, Birmingham, is another British company that has created strong links with the local community through investment and job creation, says company managing director Wang Hao.

Seven years ago, the historic car manufacturer MG Rover went bankrupt, and its assets were purchased by the Nanjing Automotive Company that later merged with SAIC.

At that time, the deal had created sour feelings in Brtiain, as many feared that it would lead to massive job losses. All of that has changed and there are frequent outreach programs aimed at building even more strong links with the local community.

In 2011, MG Motor and Birmingham Airport signed a formal corporate partnership agreement, highlighting their long-term commitment to the development of trade between Britain's second- largest city and China.

Bank of China London is another Chinese company that has made waves by adding more than 300 local jobs and having predominantly local employees.

Apart from Bank of China, there are many other Chinese companies in the UK like the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Telecom that have been slowly, but steadily increasing the quantum of local hiring.

 Game changers

A view of Volvo cars Gent factory. Most Volvo production facilities are in Gent, a northwestern city in Belgium. Photos Provided to China Daily

Other destinations

According to the Eurostat data, the unemployment rates in Spain and Greece have climbed to 25.5 percent and 25.4 percent respectively by the end of September 2012, making it the first and second-highest among the 27 member states. Slightly better than the situation that one out of every four persons is jobless, the figure for Portugal stands at 15.7 percent, closely followed by Ireland's 15.1 percent.

It is these countries that are fast emerging as alternate locations for Chinese companies looking to expand their geographical presence.

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Portugal has been one of the big movers and the country has so far attracted investment from more than nine Chinese companies, says Wang Yun, the third secretary of the economic and commercial counselor's office at the Embassy of China in Portugal. Prominent among the Chinese companies are the State Grid, China Three Gorges Group, Huawei, ZTE, National Development Bank, ICBC, ECADint Group, the Bank of China Portugal branch (under construction), and Wuhan Zhongye Group (under construction).

In accordance with their global strategies, Huawei and ZTE, the two Chinese ICT giants have continued to add more employees locally. In Huawei Portugal, 23 out of the total 74 employees are Portuguese. There is an even higher ratio of localization in that 25 Portuguese employees and 15 Chinese colleagues work together at the ZTE Lisbon office.

Proportionally, the job chances created by Chinese investors in these nations are relatively far less compared with that in Germany. But on the other hand, the opportunities have always been in line with the economic crisis. If Chinese companies are able to firmly grasp the opportunities, then it would create a win-win situation for both European employees and Chinese enterprises, experts say.

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Liu Jia contributed to this story in Brussels.

(China Daily 12/07/2012 page1)

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