Report: The China Challenge – Impact of the politicised business environment on Dutch companies in China


China Circle and Krijger & Partners conducted a joint study, commissioned by the LeidenAsiaCentre, examining how the highly politicised Chinese economic climate is influencing Dutch companies that are doing business in, and with, China. Dutch businesses prefer to avoid navigating sensitive political waters, leaving this to the political establishment. It has become clear that this is no longer possible in the current Chinese context.

China’s rise, and its increasingly assertive attitude in the political and economic spheres, have repercussions for Dutch businesses. Moreover, in the era of the current president and Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, politics and ideology are no longer easily disconnected from economic affairs.

The research report is based on a comprehensive review of scientific studies, business papers, and journalistic sources, as well as a series of individual semi-structured (often confidential) conversations with senior Dutch business representatives. After analysing the geopolitical, Chinese and European Context, authors Ardi Bouwers and Alex Krijger discuss concrete experiences of Dutch companies in China, adding a new dimension to existing literature. The central argument adopted by this research paper is that a separation of business and politics has become untenable when doing business with China. In the Dutch proverb, the merchant prefers to leave politics to the preacher. However, this approach is proving increasingly difficult with regards to present-day China. Furthermore, the authors conclude that that Dutch business would welcome additional coordination, guidance, and support from government, employers’ organisations and other professionals.

This report offers many concrete examples of the experiences of Dutch business people in China and concludes with a China Checklist which might serve as a guide for Dutch companies that operate in China.

An interview with the authors in which they discuss their main findings in Dutch can be viewed here:


For more information, please contact author Ardi Bouwers:

+31 6 2323 4404

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Published On: July, 2020