China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corp. (CIC), which is well known for staying out of the media, showed itself adept at corporate communications and messaging today.
Two separate pieces from CIC today appeared in the FT and WSJ criticising Europe. It seems that there was a coordinated PR effort as both articles were ‘on message’. The WSJ article, titled “China Fund Sours on Europe”, was an exclusive and the first time in five years that Lou Jiwei – Chairman of CIC – has given an interview to a Western media organisation.
An op-ed also appeared in the FT, co-written by Jin Liqun, who is Chairman of CIC’s supervisory board. The focus of the latter was summed up in the title: “Europe should stop squabbling and look to Asia”. CIC, with an estimated $440 billion in assets, is the world’s fifth-largest country fund. The articles appear as new research, from Rhodium Group and Chinese bank CICC, shows China direct investment in Europe is expected to double to $20 billion this year, from $10 billion in 2011.
On the surface, the message may appear to be a stern lecture to Europeans from an important stakeholder. As one investment professional pointed out earlier in the day to us, it’s “…more about CIC trying to work with Europe to resolve the Eurozone crisis before looking to step-in to buy further European assets on the cheap”.
Regardless, we are seeing China play a larger role on the world stage and using PR tactics as an effective tool to deliver their message.