Where economy and security meet
: How Chinese Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) have become a security threat in Europe (2016-2020)

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Between 2017 and 2021 European actors have transformed Chinese FDI from an economic means into a security threat. Yet very few scholars interrogated how the nexus between Chinese FDI and security have emerged in Europe. This thesis seeks to answer the question of how actors and stakeholders have transformed Chinese FDI from a purely economic matter into a security issue. Although not a theory-led thesis, securitisation theory has been adopted here to understand the process of transformation of Chinese FDI into a security issue in Europe. Securitisation theory offers the necessary tools to trace the process of securitisation in the three case studies selected: the EU, Italy and the UK. The working hypothesis argues that if views of Chinese FDI as a threat emerge, then they induce the transformation of FDI from an economic to a security issue, and it is confirmed by all three case studies in this doctoral thesis. In exploring the three case studies, the thesis demonstrates empirically that security considerations related to traditional security were not the only reasons driving the process, but that economic considerations also played a central role in the securitisation process. Therefore, this thesis’ contribution is both empirical and theoretical. Empirically, the thesis sheds light on the dynamics of the process that led Chinese FDI to becoming a security issue in Europe and clarifies the drivers of such a shift as not exclusively related to traditional security but also to economic considerations. Secondly, through the analysis of a specific development in the relationship between the EU and China the thesis contributes to better understanding of EUChina relations between 2017 and 2021. Thirdly, the research sheds light on increasing interconnection between security and economy in Europe. Theoretically, this thesis contributes to clarifying the role of the economic sector in the securitisation theory, a sector which has been largely marginalised and criticised in the development of the theory.

Date of Award1 Jun 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorNicola Leveringhaus (Supervisor) & Jan Knoerich (Supervisor)

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