Former Finance Minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis gave recently a TV interview saying that the Greek government came to an agreement with China for financial assistance in the first months of 2015. This agreement, he asserts, was finally blocked due to Germany’s intervention. Varoufakis’ reference reminded Greek citizens the dramatic uncertainty of that period as well as the then cultivation of illusions by the government about finding alternative financing sources.
China, however, had not been prepared in playing a leading role during the Greek crisis. By contrast, the country was continuously supporting Greece’s stay in the eurozone seeking to expand its investments without political uncertainty and economic risk. As far as the supposed intervention by Berlin is concerned, this would not have been required. Beijing could alone assess the impact of a hypothetical loan to Greece on both Sino-European and Sino-German relations.
The good news is that the journey back to the nightmare of the first months of 2015 did not last longer than the interview given by the Herostratus of modern Greece, Yanis Varoufakis. A few hours later, one of the most important deals for the recovery of the Greek economy was reached. The Greek Privatisation Fund announced that COSCO is the preferred bidder to buy the Piraeus Port Authority. The relevant statement of the Fund asserts that profits could reach 1,5 billion euros in the next years, including investments to be made by the Chinese company in the port of Piraeus.
The sale of the Piraeus Port Authority and its acquisition by COSCO is a model investment agreement and will bring benefits for both Greece and China. On the one hand, Greece – as a eurozone member state – will have the possibility to further improve its relationship with China without putting its Euro-Atlantic orientation into question or cultivating false hopes. At a particularly difficult point for its national economy, the deal in Piraeus will lead to the creation of new job positions boosting trade. Moreover, Piraeus will become a significant international hub linking Europe to Asia.
The sale of Piraeus Port Authority marks the beginning of the improvement of Sino-Greek relations. Approaching China, the Greek national strategy could be based in three pillars. First, new Chinese investments can be launched not only around the port of Piraeus but also in relation to other sectors, such as construction and real estate. Second, imports of Greek products by Chinese customers might be increased. And thirdly, more Chinese tourists will potentially visit Greece. Beijing has already shown an interest in these three pillas and is prepared to discuss them in detail with the Greek government. On these grounds, the co-operation between Greece and China will be based on a «win-win» logic.