Looking at the Chinese model

Our problem is not that the Left is in power. Our problem is that we have a leftist party whose officials, MPs and ministers are stuck on the notion of bygone Soviet socialism. These people believe in a non-existent production and growth model. They abhor profit, despise the private sector and balk at the mere idea of privatizations. What’s even worse is that they have no clue how the world has changed over the decades.

SYRIZA would benefit from taking a closer look at the successful model of their Chinese comrades.

But they can’t.

Look at how a major strategic relationship between Greece and China, launched during the premiership of Costas Karamanlis, stumbled on SYRIZA’s inner obsessions. China is running a massive investment program in Europe. Beijing is interested in strategic investments like ports, trains, airports and real estate. The Cosco investment at Piraeus is among its top priorities. As the Chinese say, Cosco is “the dragon’s head, if you allow it to pass, the rest of the body will follow” – meaning more investors with big projects.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras does not dare move ahead, however, because he is afraid of reactions within his party. This is why Greece is in danger of losing out on a huge investment opportunity. We believe the Chinese and the rest of the world will be patient enough to wait for SYRIZA’s inner workings to reach a point when the party will finally accept that privatizations are not anathema. But there can be no patience when countries like Serbia, Hungary and Britain are rolling out the red carpet. We think we are so unique and believe that foreign investors who survive the Greek red tape and corruption will wait for the state to mature politically and accept the obvious.

Tsipras should follow in the footsteps of the Chinese communists: Take the party and its culture off sterile rejection and turn it into a party of realistic power management. Otherwise, the unemployed, the young and those who don’t profit from clientelism will pay the price. People voted for the Left because they grew sick of the old political system. But they were not trying to reward those wishing Greece to go back a few decades. If I were in Tsipras’s shoes I would put the members of the party’s central committee on a plane and take them to Shanghai for a month, for them to see how the world is changing. Of course this is something he should have done back in his opposition days because now neither he nor the country have the time.

On a different note, in a country where conspiracy theories abound, let us explain that Kathimerini, its owners and staff, have nothing to gain from Chinese or any other investment. The newspaper’s position is that any investment generating employment and acting in a positive way must be supported against petty interests and perceptions.