Pablo Zalba Bidegain, a Spanish MEP from the centre-right EPP group, preaches trade and investment as key tools Europe should deploy in its struggle to emerge from the current financial crisis. In the above statement, he seems to be quoting an official fact sheet published by the Commission.
Right from the start, it is worth pointing out two areas of inconsistency which make the analysis of this statement a bit of a jigsaw; namely: divergences between European, Chinese and independent sources as well as distinction usually made between mainland China and Hong Kong as sources of outward direct investment (ODI). Mr. Zalba does not specify what was on his mind when quoting his figures and neither does the fact sheet.
Secondly, it is known that much mainland Chinese ODI is routed via Hong Kong (for structural reasons), which is why (where possible) we will take two scenarios into account when looking at the numbers.
For starters, the provisional Eurostat data for 2012 indicates that indeed the FDI flows from China to the EU accounted for 2.2%. This figure however excludes Hong Kong, which as mentioned above, is a frequent intermediary for Chinese FDI. Together the Chinese and Hong Kong's FDI in the EU amounts to 6.7%. In both cases, Mr. Zalba is therefore correct that it exceeds 2%, but could potentially make a better case for his argument if he explored the data a bit more in depth.
When it comes to the other part of his claim, we only managed to trace data back to 2011. As fleshed out by the report by the EU Chamber of Commerce in China, the Chinese Government data confirms that the EU accounted for around 20% of investment into China. In 2011, it amounted to €17.5 billion and Chinese ODI flow to the EU totaled €3.2 billion (or 1.4%, roughly corresponding to 1.3% as reported by the Eurostat).
All in all, direct Chinese investment in the EU continues to grow at a dramatic pace. A paper in China Economic Journal published in February specifies it went up from about $150 million per year from 2004 to 2006 to roughly $7.6 billion in 2011. Already by the end of 2010, Chinese firms had investments in all of the 27 member states of the European Union and are expected to invest more due to many business incentives. Especially so in wake of talks on the bilateral investment treaty between China and the EU, as reported by the Financial Times.