Xi visits Greece ahead of BRICS Summit

Cheryl Sanders
November 13, 2019

Xi pointed out that China and Greece have maintained a high level of development in their relations over recent years, as witnessed by frequent high-level exchanges, constant deepening of political mutual trust, and fruitful cooperation results under the Belt and Road Initiative that is marked by the Piraeus Port project.

The EIB loan is guaranteed by the Exports - Imports Bank of China, and the guarantee facility contract between PPA and CEXIM was also signed today in the presence of CEXIM Chairwoman Ms HU Xiaolian and Mr Thanos Liagkos from PPA.

The agreement, part of 16 trade deals signed between Greece and China, came during an official visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Athens on Monday.

The Greek prime minister traveled to Shanghai last week to meet Xi at the 2019 China International Import Expo.

Xi said that China also wanted to expand its investments in the energy, transportation and banking sectors.

"We would like to mesh the Belt and Road initiative more closely with the development strategy of this country".

Chinese President Xi Jinping said he resonates with his Greek counterpart, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, every time they converse, and that China resonates with Greece every time the two sides communicate.

"The prime minister is fully aware of the EU's concern over China's intentions, and he is not going to go against it", said the person, who asked not to be named without explaining how Mitsotakis could do both.

Elected in July, Mitsotakis has made foreign investment and privatisation a linchpin of his administration's policy to restore Greece's sluggish economy to growth after a gruelling 10-year crisis.

Xi Jinping will also go to Piraeus, the Mediterranean port controlled by the Chinese state shipping company Cosco.

Cosco has already invested some 600 million euros ($660 million) in Piraeus, creating 3,000 jobs, and the total could reach one billion euros, Mitsotakis said during his Shanghai visit.

Over 5,000 Chinese have purchased property in Greece, taking advantage of a five-year "Golden Visa" residence programme launched in 2013. The common goal of both countries is for half a million Chinese tourists to visit Greece in 2021, he added.

The two countries have drawn closer since 2009 when COSCO won a 35-year concession to upgrade and run container cargo piers in Piraeus.

China has said before it wants to use Piraeus as a gateway into the European Union and the New Democracy government has given the okay for a 612-million euro ($674.36 million) modified overhaul of the port that had been stymied under the former ruling anti-business Radical Left SYRIZA.

Xi will attend the closing ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum, the closed-door meeting of leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, as well as a public meeting, and issue a joint declaration.

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