Everything Is for Sale in Cyprus, and Chinas Buying

The large scent of citrus blossom put up outside the Hilton Park hotel within Nicosia, Cyprus, where about hundred small-business owners, lawyers, accountants, plus their partners packed into the ballroom to mark the Chinese Brand new Year. Guests were treated to some fan dance and a performance simply by drummers clad in red man made fibre costumes.

But the symbolism went much beyond celebrating the Year of the Dog’ s arrival: This was about cementing a burgeoning relationship between 2 unlikely partners.

One is an increasingly  assertive worldwide powerhouse of 1. four billion people, the other an tropical isle nation of 1. 2 million that will boasts a strategic location and a popularity for a no-questions-asked approach to financial matters. That makes for a compelling match because China seeks to expand the footprint inside the European Union.

“ We now have investments right across all areas of the economy, ” Christodoulos Angastiniotis, president of the Cyprus Holding chamber of Commerce and Industry , said before joining the other visitors to hear speeches extolling the excellent condition of China-Cyprus relations. He stated there were “ some very interesting funds” from China, lured by a good “ attractive tax system. ”

Welcoming the  Year from the Dog  at the Hilton Park resort in Nicosia.
Photographer: Andrea Frazzetta just for Bloomberg Businessweek

As U. S. Leader Donald Trump builds barriers in order to Chinese trade , Cyprus is certainly throwing open the gates. The particular Mediterranean country’ s stance can also be at odds with those of a few of the EU’ s bigger economies, which usually, alarmed by China’ s urge for food for acquisitions, have become more aggressive in vetting deals. It may be an instance of too little, too late: China is currently deeply embedded in Europe, buying everything from ports in Spain, Greece, plus Belgium to a The german language airport , stakes in Northern Sea oil rigs, and soccer night clubs in England and Italia.

Such is the problem confronting governments across the globe as they consider the question of how to manage China’ s i9000 growing clout. Few countries can pay for to shun investment from China’ s $11 trillion state-run economic climate, especially one such as Cyprus, in whose per capita gross domestic item, at $27, 000, is a little more than half that of Germany.

It may not be immediately visible, yet Chinese money is everywhere in Cyprus, from real estate to shipping, finance, tourism, and renewable energy. The only exclusions may be olive oil and halloumi mozzarella cheese, though these are now being exported to China.

On the event in Nicosia, Chinese Ambassador Huang Xingyuan spoke of the “ huge potential” offered by China’ h Belt and Road effort to double zwei staaten betreffend trade to more than $1 billion— equivalent to about 5 percent of Cyprus’ s annual economic output.


Chinese-language billboards on the island promote luxury properties.
Photographer: Andrea Frazzetta intended for Bloomberg Businessweek

Lawrence Ho, the billionaire owner of Hong Kong-based Melco Major resorts & Entertainment Ltd. , frequented Cyprus in January to construct his plans for what’ ersus being billed as Europe’ s biggest incorporated casino resort , a $670 million project. China’ s JimChang Global Group is investing hundred million euros ($122. 9 million) in a five-star hotel and casing development near Ayia Napa, using a joint venture with Cyprus property team Giovani .

And at Larnaca, site associated with Cyprus’ s main airport, state-owned China Communications Building Group Ltd. any of two bidders shortlisted to consider control of the port and nearby marina. There are also plans to start direct flights in order to Beijing after Cypriot airline Cobalt Air received the capital injection from Aviation Industry Corp. of Cina .

Writing within the at the end of March, Ambassador Huang positioned all this activity firmly in the umlaufbahn of the Belt and Road effort, citing the economic opportunities this opens to all “ regardless of their particular size and wealth. ”

Standing in the crossroads of Europe, Africa, as well as the Middle East, Cyprus has dropped under Greek, Byzantine, Ottoman, plus British influence through the centuries. Recently, it became the destination of preference for Russian money before succumbing to the European debt crisis that will forced the Cypriot government to consider an international bailout in 2013. The particular economy has yet to return in order to its size before the crisis.

Part of Cyprus’ s frequency is that the island has a European lawful and institutional framework that’ s i9000 familiar to Chinese investors through Hong Kong, says Christos Scordis, someone at Scordis, Papapetrou & Company., whose clients include Melco. Additionally, it has that geographical advantage. “ Cyprus is the first European interface as you exit the Suez Channel and enter European waters, making use of the proximity of the Middle Eastern, ” says Scordis, who lately organized a seminar in Beijing on doing business in Cyprus. “ China tends to see Cyprus like a gateway. ”

1 person’ s gateway is another’ s backdoor, according to reports in recent months around the nature of China’ s participation in Europe. The most comprehensive, known as , from the European Council on Foreign Relationships (ECFR), asserted that Beijing is attempting to divide the EU to help its interests. China “ grabbed the opportunity of the euro crisis to get massive takeovers in southern European countries, ” where the economies were many ravaged, it said.

“ We see an increasing Chinese language interest in Europe, and there’ h a discussion among European leaders— matters are not black and white, ” Danish Excellent Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen stated in a Bloomberg Television interview recording. “ We also have to protect yourself to some extent. ”


German Chancellor Angela Merkel plus French President Emmanuel Macron take the lead on tackling China’ s attempts to take advantage of Europe’ s open economy while it keeps barriers to foreign investment in your own home. They back EU moves to tense up screening of outside Chinese assets.

The wake-up demand Germany was the $4. 5 billion dollars acquisition of robot maker Kuka AG by China’ s Midea Group Co. in 2016. More recently, Chinese billionaire Li Shufu ’ s purchase of a $9 billion dollars stake in Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler AG has stoked  government concerns the balance of national interests towards those of outdoors investors is measured in China’ s favor.

Berlin is faced with Cina getting its hands on “ the particular jewels in the crown of The german language industry, ” says Franç ois Godement, the Paris-based director from the Asia program at the ECFR as well as the report’ s lead author. The chance for smaller EU economies like Cyprus “ is more about real influence and lobbying rather than reliance. ”

Cyprus’ t ally Greece has already pivoted in order to China, which bought the country’ s government bonds during the Ancient greek debt crisis. In recent years, Chinese traders have acquired control of the interface of Piraeus, along with a major risk in the national power grid. A year ago, Greece blocked an EU statement at the Un that was critical of human legal rights in China.

Laying adjacent to Turkey, Lebanon, Syria plus Israel, there’ s long encounter in Cyprus of being on the front side line of geopolitical power plays.

Turkish forces invaded the particular northern part of the island in mid 1970s, and UN troops still patrol the buffer zone that bisects the country. Later it was Russians running the Soviet Union who started arriving in numbers, lured by sun, the taxes, and, consequently, the opportunity to procure an EU passport in exchange for an investment associated with 2 million euros in a Cypriot business or real estate.

The same promise is now proving well-liked by wealthy Chinese. While just a few 100 strong, the fledgling Chinese local community in Cyprus is making the presence felt on an island that will takes barely two hours in order to traverse by car. Many of those emerging have settled in Paphos, exactly where Greek legend has it that Aphrodite surfaced from the sea. On the coastal street, ostentatious villas occupy the hillsides overlooking the city. Billboards advertising excellent property stud the highway, within English, Russian— and now Chinese.

Panicos Kaouris, president from the Cyprus China Business Association, shrugs off concerns that the onetime Uk territory may wind up becoming a customer state of China. Cyprus will be small and open, and its individuals are survivors, so why not welcome the new influx and make some money along the way? “ There’ s an ocean associated with investments from China, ” he admits that. “ We would be drowned along with just a drop of that. ”