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Chinese, Greek FM Discuss Economic Ties10/27 06:09

   

   ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Greek 
officials Wednesday during a visit to Athens expected to focus on furthering 
Chinese investments in Greece.

   Greece recently emerged from a brutal decade-long financial crisis that 
wiped out a quarter of its economy and has been eager to attract international 
investments.

   China, which is constructing ports, railways and other infrastructure in 
dozens of countries around the world under its Belt and Road Initiative, is 
already heavily involved in Greece. The Chinese company Cosco Shipping now owns 
67% of Greece's Piraeus Port Authority, one of the largest ports in Europe, 
after Greek lawmakers ratified the sale of a 16% stake in the company on top of 
the 51% Cosco already held.

   Wang met Wednesday with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and then 
with Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. Mitsotakis' office said the meeting 
examined "the prospects of further developing the Greek-Chinese economic and 
investment plans" following the ratification of the Piraeus stake sale.

   As part of the sale, Greece granted a five-year extension to the investments 
Cosco had undertaken as part of its original purchase of a majority stake in 
Piraeus.

   "We look forward to new investment projects in the largest port of the 
Mediterranean, one of the largest in the world," Dendias said after his meeting 
with Wang.

   "We have repeatedly said Greece can be a gateway from Asia into Europe, an 
energy hub," Dendias said, noting the two had discussed deepening economic 
relations between the countries, as well as increasing cultural and tourism 
ties.

   Wang described China's involvement in Piraeus as an "emblematic" project as 
part of the Belt and Road Initiative and a model for mutually beneficial 
cooperation.

   Labor unions, however, have criticized the working conditions at the 
shipping terminal, saying profits are put above safety, jeopardizing employees' 
welfare. A worker died this week in an accident at the Cosco-run container 
terminal in Piraeus.

   Greece's opposition Syriza party slammed conditions at the port, saying such 
labor accidents were caused by "the constant exhausting rates of work (at the 
container terminal) which cause long-term exhaustion and work-related 
illnesses."

   Cosco acquired the 51% stake in the port of Piraeus in 2016, under a 
Syriza-led government.

 
 
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