EU split on China trade as ‘dependent’ Greece urged to be ‘bridge’

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis arrived in Beijing on a mission to reposition Greece as a crucial “bridge” between the European Union and China, but concerns about Greece’s economic dependence on China have taken centre stage during this visit.

In the middle of the fragility in EU-China relations, Mitsotakis met with top Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Qiang.

A government source, quoted by Greek media, emphasised the need for Greece to act as a bridge between the EU and China to achieve a more balanced relationship.

The visit is crucial to address concerns regarding Greece’s growing economic reliance on China, particularly with the high-profile investment in the port of Piraeus by a Chinese state-owned company.

Greece has been grappling with its economic dependence on China, as it has seen limited investment diversification beyond the successful venture in the port of Piraeus.

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The Greek government’s assertion that China is not a major investor in Greece may not fully address the concerns raised by EU member states and external observers.

Dutch Foreign Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher has been a vocal critic of Greece’s economic ties with China, pointing to the lack of comprehensive screening mechanisms for foreign investments in some European member states.

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She cited the Dutch Security test for investments, mergers, and acquisitions (Vifo) as a crucial tool that checks foreign influence in strategic sectors.

Schreinemacher warned: “Not every European member state has such a test yet. We want them to because otherwise, you get a waterbed effect: then investors go to those countries.

“Take, for example, the Greek port of Piraeus, owned by a Chinese state-owned company. That also makes an effective China policy more difficult in the European context because, in this case, Greece is dependent on China.”

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