Asia Europe Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 1–2, pp 179–197 | Cite as

Chinese investment and European labor: should and do workers fear Chinese FDI?

Original Paper


The rapid increase in Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) into Europe raises important questions about the implications of such for workers and organized labor in Europe: (1) does Chinese FDI flow more or less to regulated labor markets than do other investment sources?; (2) what are the strategies of works councilors and union representatives in dealing with real or expected investment from China?; and (3) how do individual workers view the propriety of Chinese FDI given China’s low-wage, labor-unfriendly profile in the global economy? Quantitative and qualitative data on Chinese FDI, individual opinions about China and globalization, and on strategies of labor representatives provide some leverage to preliminarily answer these questions. First, Chinese FDI does not seem to be more (or less) focused on investing in the least regulated labor markets than other sources of FDI. Second, interviews with works councilors and union representatives in Germany, France and the Netherlands affirm a cautiously optimistic view of Chinese investors as no more or less threatening to organized labor than other investors. Third, analysis of attitudes about Chinese and European interests in managing globalization suggest that less-skilled, more vulnerable, pro-labor-union workers in Europe tend to be more rather than less enthusiastic about Chinese management than their fellow citizens. These patterns suggest a surprising, if tentative, embrace by workers and their representatives in Europe of that investment.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AmsterdamAmsterdamNetherlands
  2. 2.University of GenevaGenevaSwitzerland

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