MADRID, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese investors have earned trust and respect in Spain over the past decade, according to Borja Ribera, professor at the prestigious EAE Business School in Madrid and an expert in sponsorship and branding.
Speaking to Xinhua, Ribera explained that after 2007 Spain saw "some years of testing the waters because Spaniards didn't know the commitment of Chinese investors".
"However, after these early years, Spanish businesspeople have realized that the Chinese are totally trustworthy, and consequently we can say that Chinese investment has become respected in Spain," he said.
Ribera explained that the efficiency and reliability of Chinese investors in respecting payments have won over any doubters in Spain, and that businesses are now "willing and delighted" to collaborate with Chinese investors.
According to data published by Baker McKenzie consultancy, which has its head offices in Chicago, Chinese investment in Spain grew by 162 percent in 2018 from 2017 to a total of 1.17 billion U.S. dollars.
This increase means that Spain is the 6th largest European recipient of Chinese investment, behind the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, Luxembourg and France.
"Chinese investors know that Spain offers stability, while Spanish people realize that Chinese investors have codes of behavior, which guarantee their reliability. They work hard and pay well," explained Ribera.
Chinese investors are interested in a range of areas, although their favored sectors are the car industry (17 percent of investment); the services sector (15 percent); and technology and communication (14 percent), according to Baker McKenzie.
Carlos Sentis, founder and chief executive officer of Henkuai, a consultancy that specializes in communication and relations between Spain and China, explained to Xinhua that other important areas also receive Chinese money.
"Infrastructure -- such as the port of Barcelona -- has enjoyed a change since the arrival of Chinese capital, which allowed for modernization projects," he said, adding that Chinese investors were also "gaining strength in other ports, such as Cartagena and Valencia, where they have generated added value and helped create jobs".
According to Sentis, other sectors, such as renewable energy and tourism, are also looking for Chinese partners.
Even relatively small cities, such as Oviedo in the north of Spain with around 260,000 inhabitants, have included the question of Chinese investment in the campaign for the forthcoming municipal elections on May 26.
One of the candidates for mayor of Oviedo, conservative Alfredo Canteli, told Xinhua that he aims to build a powerful business center to help attract investment from China.
"The arrival of Chinese capital is very important for the city and we will be there to help (the investors) in what they need and help them get to know the region and find potential markets," said the candidate.
Chinese investors have also found their way into Spanish sports, with Chen Yansheng's purchase in 2016 of Liga Santander football club RCD Espanyol, whose profile he has raised by signing Chinese superstar Wu Lei in January.