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Facetime with Victor Chu

  • Story Highlights
  • Victor Chu is CEO of Chinese investment firm, First Eastern Investment Group
  • Gulf needs Chinese engineers and construction companies, says Chu
  • There are now 200,000 Chinese residents in the U.A.E.
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(CNN) -- Victor Chu is chairman and CEO of Chinese investment firm, First Eastern Investment Group. He is also the chairman of FE Securities and First Eastern Investment Bank, the first Chinese bank to be licensed by the Dubai International Financial Centre.

Previously, he served as director and council member of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and member of the Hong Kong Government's Central Policy Unit.

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Victor Chu: China has a lot to contribute in terms of the reinvention of the Gulf

He is also a Foundation Board member of the World Economic Forum and he co-chairs the WEF's International Business Council.

Victor Chu met CNN's John Defterios in Beijing to talk about the deepening economic relationship between China and the Middle East and the motivations behind it. Video Watch the video. »

Defterios began by asking Chu why China is so interested in the Middle East.

Victor Chu: There are strategic and commercial reasons. Strategically, China needs to be friendly to make sure that it is a long-time sustainable partner in terms of energy resources. But China also has a lot to contribute in terms of the reinvention of the Gulf. The Gulf, as you know, is probably the richest area in the world. But in terms of infrastructure development, many parts of the Gulf are still in the second world.

If the Gulf wants to get up to speed in the quickest time possible it will need Chinese engineers, construction companies and equipment companies. And with China's 30 years' experience in developing its own infrastructure and the standard of Chinese engineering, there's a lot going for Chinese companies.

John Defterios: So what are the hot areas of investment for Chinese money going into the Middle East?

VC: Right now it is in terms of infrastructure. We already have Chinese companies winning contracts in Saudi Arabia on railway constructions, on plant constructions, and down the road it will be services. Because the Gulf is expanding so quickly they need service too.

And in the past there were a lot of people from the Indian sub-continent helping them but now there are a lot more Chinese.

JD: So China is exporting labor as well?

VC: Professional as well as labor. When I first went to the U.A.E. 15 years ago there were only a few thousand Chinese residents. Today the number is 200,000.

JD: What's your projected growth for investment going into the Middle East?

VC: The figure I hear today is that there could be as much as 20 billion of direct investment from the Middle East going to China on an annual basis. So if half is recycled the other way we're talking about a very big number indeed.

JD: Is this a one-way street, Chinese money going into the Middle East or is it coming back as well?

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VC: There's enormous interest from the Gulf to look into China and that's partly because of the trend of the fund flow from the West to the East. In the past the petrol dollar tended to go to Europe and America for safe havens. Today there's still a lot of that. A huge part of it is going back to the Gulf for infrastructure development and also for investment into the East.

And historically the Far East stopped in Singapore. It's only really in the last ten years that the Middle Eastern capital has found China. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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