transit ultra-high voltage line in Binzhou, Shandong Province
China Global Competition Tracker
34 min read

Post-Covid momentum for China's global ambitions

No. 1, March 2023

What you need to know: China's new global momentum in 2023

In the first quarter of 2023, China has emerged from almost three years of Covid-19 isolation. Chinese government and business delegations are again becoming a global presence, bringing new momentum to their political, economic, corporate and technological ambitions across the world.

This edition of the MERICS China Global Competition Tracker focusses on three topics with potentially massive implications for European policy makers and companies. In the Key Player section, MERICS Senior Analyst Jacob Gunter takes a close look at the world’s largest utility company, the State Grid Corporation of China (State Grid). The company has serious global ambitions when it comes to highly innovative types of equipment and software, particularly its Ultra-High Voltage (UHV) and smart grid technologies. Europe should pay more attention to State Grid to avoid ending up in a position similar to where it is now with photovoltaic cells, where China has become the dominant supplier of a key piece of equipment in electricity generation.

In the Regional Spotlight, MERICS Analyst Aya Adachi explains the phenomenon of “Singapore-washing”. As OECD countries intensified their criticism towards corporate China, Chinese companies are confronted with navigating rising geopolitical tensions. Singapore has emerged as a key hub for Chinese corporates to “de-China” and dilute their association to China in their operations. Politically neutral and dubbed “Switzerland of Asia”, Singapore is increasingly becoming a safe haven for many Chinese companies.

MERICS Analyst Francesca Ghiretti analyzes how the EU has accelerated efforts to build deeper ties with India as a piece of the broader effort towards de-risking away from China as an economic partner. India’s growing population and market potential make it an excellent candidate for European exports and investments. EU has re-opened the negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) and created a Trade and Technology Council (TTC). However, India’s own strategic dependencies on China in sectors such as rare earths and active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) may hinder the EU’s de-risking strategy.