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The Warsaw Voice » Business » March 29, 2012
Business & Economy
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Looking at the Baltic Sea from the Chinese Highlands
March 29, 2012   
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“During the Baltic Business Forum, we would like to start discussing how to include China in the development strategy for the Baltic Sea and ponder the role Poland should play in the process,” says Jacek Piechota, former economy minister, president of the Baltic Business Forum Association.

What strategy should Poland adopt in its business relations with China?
We need to prove to the Chinese authorities and Chinese business that Poland is a good base for doing business in this part of Europe. Hungarians came up with their “Black Sea Strategy for China” in which they argued that investment in this part of Europe was best done via Budapest. Beijing liked the document a lot. During the Baltic Business Forum 2012, we would like to start a serious discussion on how to include China in the development strategy for the Baltic Sea. Poland has all it takes to be a springboard for Chinese investment in the Baltic region. However, Polish policy-makers are still convinced that Poland should not help the Chinese get in touch with other countries, in case we disappear among this international crowd. I, on the other hand, believe that Poland’s economic and personal relations with Chinese investors allow us to safely introduce them to markets in Eastern Europe. That is how we could change the view from the Chinese highlands: you can see Northern, Central and Eastern Europe from up there, but you cannot see Poland.

Aren’t you concerned that Chinese capital might go on the offensive?
China is a country far away from here and there is no difficult history underlying our relations. Chinese investment could stabilize Poland’s situation by ensuring a more diversified mix of investors on the market. What is worrying is that Poland is doing nothing to become a major player in the competition for Chinese assets.

Nothing? Didn’t President Bronisław Komorowski’s recent visit to Beijing stimulate Chinese interest in Poland?
Before President Komorowski, the only such high-ranking Polish official to visit Beijing was Aleksander Kwa¶niewski and that was many years ago. China has since been visited extensively by the heads of other states. The truth is that Polish politicians failed to realize the potential in China. When I was economy minister in 2002, I flew on an official visit to China. My itinerary included meetings at the highest level, but then my visit was cut short when Prime Minister Leszek Miller summoned me to an urgent Cabinet meeting, arguing that I needed to return to Poland in conjunction with social unrest in Silesia. I remember how Ksawery Burski, the Polish ambassador in Beijing at the time, said to me: “Minister, the Chinese won’t forget this for the next 2,000 years.” When a minister cuts short an official visit and Poland is not struck by a disaster, revolution or civil war, the Chinese take it as an insult.
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