The new era of Sino-Greek relations

coscoSino-Greek relations have entered a new era since the outbreak of the European debt crisis. Greece constitutes a special case for China for two main reasons. First, this country is the epicentre of the European debt crisis. And second Greece’s geographical position – being a gateway to Europe as well as a key transport link – offers the opportunity for significant investments on real estate and privatizations.

Beijing has offered support to Greece in many different ways. To start with it has bought Greek government sovereign bonds in order to help the country overcome the crisis and facilitate recovery. As it also happens with all Chinese bond purchases in the eurozone no specific numbers have been announced. Moreover, Chinese investments in Greece deserve particular attention. That is mainly because the country’s state owned enterprise COSCO Pacific has bought pier II and III of the port of Piraeus since 2009. The €4.3 billion agreement signed includes a 35 year lease. Piraeus is the biggest port of the country and in the view of COSCO it is regarded as the ‘most important container hub port in the Mediterranean area’.

Along with its bond diplomacy and the privatization of the Piraeus port, Chinahas announced plans to increase its trade with Greecealready since 2012. Former Chinese Ambassador to Greece Du Qiwen, for instance, gave a speech in Athens in January of that year asserting that China would attempt to double the bilateral trade to $8 billion within five years. He also said that Greek exports to China had already increased by 83,5% including  products such as olive oil, wine and marble products. Subsequently, both sides have signed accords promoting cooperation in shipping, telecommunications, technology, tourism and real estate.

Good relations between the two countries are continuously reaffirmed and China’s aim to further develop economic ties with Greece is steadily outlined. Economic motivations are leading Beijing to become actively interested in Greece and follow a policy grounded on a win-win platform.

Theano-Damiana Agaloglou