Beijing: China is looking to expand its trade and investment in various sectors including high-tech, energy, maritime and life sciences and health sectors in Europe, especially in the Netherlands, according to a media report.

China is attracted to the Netherlands for investment in various sectors, despite the fact that Amsterdam is not a formal signatory of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),

From 2012 to 2017, the number of Chinese companies located in the Netherlands nearly doubled from 245 at the end of 2012 to 470 at the end of 2017, according to Statistics Netherlands (CBS), Postal Plus reported.

As per the latest update, Chinese companies have established some 570 operations in the Netherlands and the country is the third biggest investment destination for Chinese enterprises in the EU.

Chinese companies have invested in the Netherlands in a wide range of areas including ICT, agri-food, chemicals and energy. The number of Chinese nationals residing in the Netherland increased from barely 7,500 in 2000 to 36,500 in 2019.

Out of every 10 Chinese firms operating in the Netherlands, 4 are involved in wholesale trade mainly in non-food, ICT equipment and industrial machinery - more than 10 per cent of them are Chinese companies engaged in manufacturing. The presence of Chinese entities in strategic sectors like energy is viewed with apprehension in the Netherlands.

Apart from Kuwait Petrol Netherlands, owned by China, Jereh, China's largest privately-held listed integrated oil and gas company, agreed to establish its subsidiary in the Hague in 2016.

Notably, an agreement was signed between the Deputy Mayor of The Hague Karsten Klein and the CEO of Jereh Group, Weifie Sun.

Recently, there is increasing caution against Chinese companies on the suspicion of their penetration in advanced technology sector of the Netherlands and stealing patents and copyrights,

"The biggest threat to the Netherlands by far in the field of economic espionage comes from China," an annual report (2018) of the Dutch external intelligence agency (AVID) had said.

The report explicitly pointed out that "the espionage is fuelled by Chinese economic policy plans, such as 'Made in China 2025' and the 'New Silk Roads', with which the country can increase its economic and geopolitical influence".

There is an increasing cynicism seen in the Netherlands about enhancing economic engagement with China, especially since 2019 when the EU published its EU-China strategic outlook.

Following the year, the Dutch government also presented its own China strategy.

Meanwhile, the previous Chinese strategy published in 2013 emphasized the importance of attracting Chinese investments to the Netherlands.

Six years later, Chinese investments in Europe and the Netherlands started to be seen as security threat.