Although many countries, such as Iraq, Algeria, and Syria, continue to underline the positive outcomes of their relations with China, the search through the media outlets of the wider Mediterranean also showed that there are raising concerns over a rising Chinese political presence in the MENA region, especially where Beijing’s interests seem to clash with the local balance or with the interests of other superpowers.
As reported by the Greek economic newspaper NewMoney, the Greek government and the Chinese state-owned company Cosco have reached an agreement on their dispute over the Port of Piraeus. This agreement sets a new timeframe for the completion of Cosco’s “first compulsory investments” and grants the transfer of the remaining 16% share of the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA) from the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) to the Chinese company, for a value of 88 million euros. At the same time, some provisions have been introduced to protect Athens’ interests: if Cosco would fail to complete the compulsory investments–whose legal permits are now guaranteed by the Greek State–within the new timeframe, the transferred shares will return automatically to the HRADF, that has gained veto power over the decisions related to the PPA. However, at the present time, the citizens of Piraeus, represented by the association “Piraeus for all,” continue to show great concern over the environmental implications of the development of the PPA, claiming that the Greek government and the HRADF have been turning a blind eye on Cosco’s violation of national and European environmental laws.
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