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After buying 51 percent of Greece’s Piraeus Port Authority in August 2016, China’s state-controlled Cosco shipping company has taken another 16 percent, the Financial Times reported.
The deal has fanned anxieties about China’s deepening involvement in Europe’s infrastructure and drew outrage over environmental, financial, and social concerns surrounding China’s ownership.
Cosco pledged to make investments in the port but has not met its commitments so far, the FT said. It has five years to do so before Greece reclaims ownership of the facility.
“The deal with Cosco is concerning,” Raphael Glucksmann, a member of the European Union’s (EU) parliament and chair of a committee that scrutinizes foreign influence and interference in the union’s democratic processes.
“Not only do we now have a much clearer view of the risks that such Chinese investments in strategic infrastructure entail for the EU,” he said, “but we also know that Cosco is not living up to its contractual obligations.”
The Piraeus port is a key part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (“Follow the Yellow Silk Road,” 7 Dec 2017) in which the country is investing in infrastructure projects in Africa, Asia, and Europe to create a trade web with China at its center.
China sees the port as a crucial distribution center in its web.
Greece has defended China’s involvement, noting that Beijing has put €1.2 billion into the port, which now can handle five times as many containers since China became involved.
In 2020, the EU tightened rules governing contracts with, or investment by, companies controlled by foreign national governments.
TRENDPOST: As we have been saying for more than a year, the 21st century will belong to China because the business of China is business, not war. Read our numerous in-depth coverage, Trendposts, and Trend Forecasts regarding this long-term trend in “China 2021: The Chinese Century” (8 Dec 2020) and more in “China 2021: The Chinese Century” (9 Mar 2021), among other articles.
China is using economic weapons, not drones and bombs, to shape international alliances and world affairs to its advantage. As it buys more and more footholds in countries and regions around the world, and extends its belt and road initiative, China cements its market power and, with it, its geopolitical influence.