The Czech Republic is well-positioned in Central Europe and with strong industrial capability. As relations with China warm up, the country is looking for more investment after long lagging behind neighbors such as Poland and Hungary.
Televisions are being made in a Chinese factory 50 kilometers outside Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic. This is the European base of Sichuan Changhong, one of the biggest TV companies in China. The factory, which mainly supplies the European market, provides job for over 300 locals.
These are Changhong's assembly lines in the Czech Republic. They can produce over 4000 televisions every day. And you can see here all the workers are locals. Changhong chose Czech Republic to build its factory not only because it's in the heart of Europe, but also because of its strong industrial capability, as well as skilled but relatively cheap workforce.
"The European Union is an integrated market. Products from the Czech Republic can be distributed tariff-free in European countries. This makes the Czech Republic a bridgehead for manufacturing companies to enter the European market," Lian Yongping, general manager of Changhong Europe Electirc, said.
The Czech Republic seems to be enjoying a golden moment in relations with China. Last year saw the first direct flight route between the two countries, and a new Bank of China branch in Prague.
China's sixth largest private company, CEFC, has also invested in property, a football club, and a Czech beer company.
"For a couple of years, the Chinese are roughly below CZK 500 million. Last year, it basically doubled. And I think it will also double this year. we are going for more than one and half billion CZK this year. So the Chinese investment are growing, especially in manufacturing business, of course there are capital investment buying of assets, and companies, and we are monitoring it as closely as we are cooperating with our Chinese partners," Czechinvest CEO Charles Kucera said.
Europe is a diverse mixture of approximately 40 countries that are very different from each other. Experts believe, in the center of Europe, there is an economic hub centering on Germany. It includes Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, all very closely related to the German market.
"Chinese investment into these part of Europe. I mean Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland are negligible. So we see there is enormous potential, and the visit of your President Xi will show somehow how much we would like to establish, excellent relationships, and use One Belt One Road initiative project to strengthen mutual advantages of those countries," Vladmir Benacek with Charles University in Prague
The One Belt, One Road Initiative has a strategic importance between China and Europe.
As the Czech Republic draws closer to China, it may compete with Poland and Hungary for the position as the new Chinese "bridge to Europe".