HO CHI MINH CITY – With the streetlights warming to a low glow outside as dusk turns to dark, Trang Hoang Yen is still running t-shirts through a sewing machine as most of her staff leave for home. “Normally we have a lot more workers, but the past year has been very hard for our sector,” she says, stopping work for a few minutes to talk.
DUBLIN – Europe is becoming a new horizon for China’s business-based diplomacy, less than a year after the European Union overtook the US to become China’s second-largest trading partner. Chinese investment expansion is increasingly turning to Europe, and it is finding a grateful audience. Last September, before the arrival of the International Monetary Fund and an €85 billion bailout offer-you-can’t-refuse for the economy once known as the Celtic Tiger, Ireland Prime Minister Brian Cowen tried to sell Chinese investors on the proposition that the country could be a low-tax Anglophone gateway to Europe. After meeting with a Politburo delegation in Dublin, Cowen said that China’s representatives had vowed to be “as helpful as they can to a friend like Ireland in the difficult times that we have.” That friendship appears to include a consortium of Chinese investors who are starting work on “an investment gateway to Europe” – an industrial park in central Ireland.