In 2018, Chinese investment in the Western Balkans shifted from infrastructure towards mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Two such M&As took place in the mining and rubber sector while a Chinese-owned steel mill in Serbia jumped from bankruptcy in 2016 to the 66th biggest company in Southeast Europe in 2018. Speedy loan procedures and the revitalization of “lost” cases characterize the Chinese involvement in the region. But Chinese companies are absent from regional cooperation thus limiting the expansion of “China Inc.”.
Moreover, when compared with investment volumes by the EU in the region, China’s resource commitment still remains small. The “Berlin Process” in the region focuses on connectivity and regional cooperation. This may provide the launching pad from which “China Inc.” and corporations in Europe can connect. It could be a win-win- scenario starting from the Western Balkans.