Gov’t mends fences with China

Gov’t mends fences with China

One of the government’s aims in conceding the majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority (OLP) to China’s Cosco Pacific was to restore trust between Greece and China, after major delays in the privatization over the last 12 months, and the Chinese duly appear to have responded warmly to news of the agreement.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras phoned Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to inform him of the state sell-off fund’s (TAIPED) decision to accept Cosco’s bid for the 67 percent OLP stake. Athens is eager to see Chinese involvement in a number of projects in this country, with the Thriasio Freight Center, which Cosco is also a suitor for, being the next in line.

Government sources point to a number of other projects that could deepen the Greek-Chinese commercial relations: The development of assembly lines for Chinese products in Greece is one and Chinese support in the effort to upgrade the country’s railway network is another. Chinese funds could also have a vital participation in future Greek bond issues.

Sources from the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry said the Asian country’s premier told his Greek counterpart that Greek-Chinese relations are acquiring a momentum of healthy development and that cooperation has recorded progress in various sectors.

The Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry added that “it is hoped the Greek government will provide greater ease, support and protection for Chinese enterprises to invest and grow in Greece.” In effect, Beijing is asking that there be no more obstacles, delays and reversals such as those seen or attempted in the last year, or even as recently as this week.

Market sources described Merchant Marine Minister Theodoros Dritsas’s move at around midnight on Wednesday to ask TAIPED for all the documents on which its decision to make Cosco the preferred bidder was based as “non-constructive.” In doing so, he was seen as attempting to express his disapproval at the decision approved by the prime minister himself which is destined to fetch some 1.5 billion euros into the state coffers.

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