Sunday

25th Sep 2022

Interview

'China is not like what you read in the media'

  • A stainless steel dragon in Nottingham. (Photo: Adam Clarke)

Europe and China need each other as business partners, but they also need to improve their understanding of each other, a Chinese business leader has told this website.

“Once communication is in place, it will enhance the understanding of each other”, said He Ruying, vice-president of Baosteel Stainless Steel.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

“As one of the largest Chinese steel companies, we really cherish the European market, and we're really hoping to have a long-term strategy here in Europe”, he said, through an interpreter.

He was attending a hearing of a European Commission anti-dumping investigation, on Wednesday 11 February.

Dumping is selling a product at a price that is below the cost of production to increase market share.

The EU, like many other regions and nations, has anti-dumping rules in place. The European Commission investigates claims of dumping, the majority of which now involves Chinese companies.

Eurofer, the Brussels-based association of the European steel industry, accuses Chinese and Taiwanese steel producers of dumping. It claims Chinese steel producers are “flooding the markets” with stainless steel products.

Eurofer filed a complaint to the European Commission in May 2014.

Misunderstandings

But the Chinese state-owned company is innocent, He Ruying said. “We have orders first, then we produce. We don't overproduce”.

The vice-president said there is a common “misunderstanding” in Europe that the Chinese government firmly controls its companies.

“It's not like what you read in the media. The market is so competitive. The domestic Chinese steel market is very competitive.”

Baosteel reported a ¥10.2 billion profit, and ¥303.6 billion in sales revenue in 2013. It has about 130,000 employees and is one of the largest steel companies in the world. Last year, it ranked 211 in Fortune's Global 500 list, which ranks the world's corporations measured by revenue.

According to the World Steel Association, the Baosteel Group produced 43.9 million tonnes of steel in 2013. Only three other companies produced more steel that year. (The world's largest steel producer, Luxembourg-based ArcelorMittal, produced 96.1 million tonnes.)

“We are criticised from Europe that we might have subsidies from the government, helping to sell, but actually the reality is that in the domestic market, we hundred percent rely on ourselves.”

He noted that a company in China also needs to make a profit, and that Baosteel would not sell its products for a price that is lower than the cost of production.

“You have to take your own profit margin. That's the key. If you cannot taken care of it, you are out of the market directly”, He said according to his interpreter.

“When a negotiation is way too hard, … when we cannot cover our costs, we say no.”

Whether or not other Chinese steel companies were guilty of dumping, He would not say. “I believe that there might be some statistics or data floating around, but we don't have an official source of data, so at the moment we can only talk about Baosteel.”

Respect

He was also careful in his answer when asked whether he believed the EU Commission is an objective arbiter in a case that was raised by the European steel industry.

“We respect the Commission. For us, at this moment, we cannot say too much as whether they are objective or whatever. For us it is more that we want to [do] our part well. We coordinate well with the Commission. Of course we can hope that everything is objective.”

“In trade there will always be conflict. … There is cultural difference, mindset, mentality, everything can be very different. Only the communication, only with open communication, for example with Eurofer, we believe this kind of misunderstanding can be – we cannot say hundred percent removed, but it will be better.”

Baosteel Stainless Steel sees itself as a front-company, trying to bridge a gap between China and the EU.

“We want to be a pioneer among all Chinese companies to improve our communication with the Commission. At the moment I don't think there is a lot of Chinese focus on that.

China ignores EU, offers to help Russia

China has joined India in helping the Russian economy, but closer to home Belarus and Kazakhstan are hedging their bets on future relations.

Analysis

Why Chinese investment is soaring in Europe

Today, it is the EU – not the US – that is Beijing’s most important technology partner. As the euro weakens, Chinese investments in Europe will increase.

Opinion

How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes

A Special Tribunal on Russian war crimes in Ukraine must be convened, because no permanent or existing international judicial institution is endowed with jurisdiction over Russian high-ranking officials, writes the head of the Ukraine delegation to the Council of Europe.

Opinion

Losing on the Ukrainian battlefield will not unseat Putin

Notwithstanding the remarkable Ukrainian advances, a Russian defeat would not necessarily translate into regime change in Moscow. It is likely Putin will try to spin his military setbacks as evidence of the existential threat facing Russia.

News in Brief

  1. More Russians now crossing Finnish land border
  2. Report: EU to propose €584bn energy grid upgrade plan
  3. Morocco snubs Left MEPs probing asylum-seeker deaths
  4. EU urges calm after Putin's nuclear threat
  5. Council of Europe rejects Ukraine 'at gunpoint' referendums
  6. Lithuania raises army alert level after Russia's military call-up
  7. Finland 'closely monitoring' new Russian mobilisation
  8. Flights out of Moscow sell out after Putin mobilisation order

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  3. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  5. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling

Latest News

  1. Ireland joins EU hawks on Russia, as outrage spreads
  2. Editor's weekly digest: Plea for support edition
  3. Investors in renewables face uncertainty due to EU profits cap
  4. How to apply the Nuremberg model for Russian war crimes
  5. 'No big fish left' for further EU sanctions on Russians
  6. Meloni's likely win will not necessarily strengthen Orbán
  7. France latest EU member to step up government spending in 2023
  8. Big Tech now edges out Big Energy in EU lobbying

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us