Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • On this episode of China Uncensored,

  • how the Chinese Communist Party is infiltrating Greece.

  • Hi, welcome to China Uncensored.

  • I'm Chris Chappell.

  • What do you when you're burdened by debt

  • and on the verge of bankruptcy?

  • You move back into your parents' basement.

  • Or if you're a country, you ask China for help.

  • And that's exactly what Greece is doing.

  • But when you're feeling desperate,

  • do you really make the wisest choices?

  • Shelley Zhang reports from Athens.

  • Thanks, Chris.

  • Greece.

  • The cradle of Western civilization.

  • Home of gorgeous islands,

  • big fat weddings,

  • and a pantheon of gods

  • straight out of a daytime soap opera.

  • And also the worst government debt crisis

  • in any developed country.

  • One that led to 13 rounds of spending cuts,

  • a new government,

  • and 30,000 euros of debt for every Greek citizen.

  • Greece needed a hero.

  • And an unlikely one emerged to save the day...

  • sort of:

  • the Chinese Communist Party.

  • For decades,

  • the Party has wanted to get

  • a political foothold in Europe.

  • But it's been difficult because of

  • the European Union's powerful influence.

  • But in late 2009,

  • Greek entered an era best described as

  • Holy Zeus, we have no more money.”

  • It became clear the Greece might not be able to pay back

  • those billions of dollars it had borrowed from the rest of the EU.

  • So it was basically a situation where,

  • after the Greek financial crisis,

  • nobody wanted to swipe right on Greece anymore.”

  • Nobody wanted to lend money

  • to the Greek government anymore.”

  • John Psaropolous is an independent journalist

  • who has covered Greece for two decades.

  • He says that as the EU backed off from Greece,

  • China started to move in.

  • Think of it as a friendship within the generation of people

  • who go back at least 3,000 years.”

  • Mmmm. Yes. Let's be friends,

  • becauseWe have so much in common, babe!”

  • Like we haven't heard that one before,

  • am I right, ladies?

  • The CCP's courtship started in about 2009.

  • But it got serious in 2015,

  • after the Greeks elected Alexis Tsipras as Prime Minister.

  • At first the CCP was concerned,

  • because Tsipras's party was radical leftist.

  • They were afraid Greece might not be

  • open to Chinese investment anymore.

  • And the CCP knows better than anyone:

  • never trust a communist.

  • But it turned out there was mutual affection.

  • Tsipras was very interested in Chinese investment.

  • Hey, Just because we're both communist

  • doesn't mean we can't make a little profit, right?

  • Prime Minister Tsipras immediately bent over backwards

  • to be friends with China.

  • Just 24 days after taking office,

  • Tsipras welcomed a Chinese warship to the Greek port of Piraeus.

  • He told Chinese officials that he wants Greece

  • toserve as China's gateway into Europe.”

  • Tsipras even flew to China twice.

  • Once in 2016, and then again in 2017.

  • I know it looks like the same trip.

  • But Tsipras only owns one nice outfit, ok?

  • Greece is short on cash.

  • Behind me is Piraeus Port,

  • just outside Athens.

  • It's the largest port in Greece,

  • and one of the largest in the Mediterranean.

  • In 2016, the Greek government allowed

  • Chinese state-owned shipping giant COSCO

  • o buy a 51% stake here

  • for 330 million dollars.

  • Within 5 years, they will own 67%.

  • COSCO had already been renting part of the port since 2008.

  • Now, they effectively own it.

  • The Chinese government is building Piraeus into a key gateway

  • to move Chinese products into the rest of Europe.

  • They call it a “dragon head

  • for the One Belt, One Road Initiative,

  • the series of massive infrastructure projects

  • that aims to export Chinese goods around the world.

  • I visited the dockworkers union,

  • and sat down with Giorgos Gogos.

  • They took the management of a very profitable organization

  • in a very strategic place in Mediterranean Sea

  • for a very low price.”

  • Yes, Chinese people know a good deal when they see one.

  • But Mr. Gogos is concerned that letting

  • a Chinese company take over the Greek port

  • was maybe not such a great idea.

  • Sure, things are a lot more efficient,

  • from COSCO's perspective.

  • They've cut salaries dramatically,

  • and moved a lot of full-time workers

  • to being on-call.

  • But the work is more demanding,

  • with less job security.

  • “I think it's a big mistake from European Union

  • and the Americans that are leaving space

  • for Chinese companies to enter.

  • But we are too small to deal with these things.

  • Even Captain Fu Cheng Qiu

  • the Chinese guy who runs the port

  • admitted that selling Piraeus Port to COSCO

  • maybe wasn't such a smart move on Greece's part.

  • He said that in China,

  • we wouldn't privatize such a port,

  • because it's a big asset.

  • But Chinese investment doesn't stop at the port.

  • COSCO has opened the door.

  • It's a state owned company,

  • it has deep pockets,

  • it has a close relationship with the government.

  • That signals to other Chinese companies

  • that if their investment does well,

  • Greece is ok to invest in.”

  • In December last year,

  • China bought a 24% stake

  • in Greece's public power grid operator.

  • While Prime Minister Tsipras was in Beijing in May 2017,

  • he signed an agreement with a Chinese firm

  • that will invest half a billion dollars over seven years

  • to build a fiber optic telecommunications network in Greece.

  • And in September,

  • Greece honored China

  • at the Thessaloniki International Fair.

  • 6,000 square feet of pavilion space

  • was dedicated to Chinese companies.

  • From an economic standpoint,

  • the relationship between Greece and China

  • over the last few years

  • has been mostly positive.

  • Who doesn't love cheap handbags...

  • made in China?

  • And millenia of Greek history...

  • made in China?

  • Even Mr. Gogos's union,

  • which has had issues with COSCO in the past,

  • is willing to work with the Chinese,

  • as long as they are willing to adapt.

  • “I think now if they want to have a better face in Greek society

  • they have to respect certain things,

  • and among these things are labor relations,

  • environmental issues,

  • and national sovereignty of the country.”

  • So could this become a friendship

  • that's mutually respectful and beneficial?

  • Well, like every friends with benefits relationship,

  • it eventually gets complicated.

  • Well, the political ramifications

  • of China's investments in Europe

  • remain to be seen.

  • At the moment it's just business.

  • But business is never just business, forever,

  • particular when it is state-condoned.”

  • There's growing concern in Europe

  • over Greece's relationship with China.

  • It's kind of like watching your best friend

  • start dating this guy.

  • Let's just say,

  • the CCP might not be the best influence.

  • For example, in July 2016,

  • Greece was one of only two EU countries

  • that sided with the CCP

  • after a controversial South China Sea court ruling.

  • And in June 2017,

  • Greece stopped the EU from condemning

  • the CCP's human rights abuses,

  • and then opposed the EU doing tougher screenings

  • of Chinese investments in Europe.

  • There is a European concern now about

  • what the pattern of Chinese investment is going to be,

  • how much power Chinese investment will have taken

  • as a whole, as a sum.

  • Ironically, it was the EU

  • that had forced Greece to privatize

  • to sell off some of their state-owned assets

  • as part of their debt repayment.

  • But now that the buyer is the CCP,

  • the EU is having seller's remorse.

  • China isn't just investing in Greece,

  • but in many Eastern European countries as well.

  • And that's causing enough alarm for the EU

  • to take a closer look at these deals.

  • Meanwhile Greece is still a little upset at the EU, s

  • o they're not exactly taking the EU's warnings seriously.

  • “I don't think the Greeks are afraid of

  • too much Chinese influence at the moment...

  • They're happy to have a country,

  • a major country,

  • an up-and-coming superpower in the world

  • that is interested in them

  • and sees Greece as a promising place.”

  • Yeah. It's always nice to be liked.”

  • It's always nice to be liked,

  • particularly when your old friends have dumped you

  • or criticized you severely.

  • And the Chinese have seen that opportunity.

  • They've seen the changing psychology in Greece

  • and that isn't lost on them.”

  • Look, I understand;

  • it's been a tough few years.

  • You've lost a lot of jobs.

  • You're going through a big recession.

  • You've gained a few million extra pounds... of debt.

  • And here comes this exciting new guy.

  • He definitely wants a strategic investment partner

  • with benefits kind of relationship.

  • And you have a lot in common.

  • Like, you're both ancient civilizations.

  • And everything's going fine.

  • He doesn't care about your bad reputation.

  • He's showering you with investments.

  • And ok, your friends are trying to warn you

  • about this guy,

  • but they don't know him like you do.

  • And no, he didn't ask you to stop them

  • from pointing out his human rights problems.

  • That's just what you do when you're in a relationship, right?

  • Look, I'm not telling you to break up with him.

  • That's your business.

  • I'm just saying, you're like 3,000 years old.

  • It's time to pull yourself together.

  • You gotta figure out if this is

  • the kind of relationship you really want.

  • Just think about it, ok?

  • Or, not.

  • Thanks, Shelley for taking time out of your vacation

  • to do this story.

  • Looks like you had a really marbleous time.

  • Haha, I just crack myself up.

  • So what do you think of Greece's relationship with China?

  • Friends with benefits?

  • Or something more?

  • Let me know in the comments below.

  • Thanks again for watching this episode of China Uncensored,

  • once again I'm your host Chris Chappell,

  • see you next time.

  • Thanks for watching.

  • China Uncensored is supported mostly by viewers like you.

  • I mean, we could ask COSCO to fund this.

  • But then we've have to give them 51% of Chris.

  • So go to patreon.com/chinauncensored and contribute a dollar or more per episode

  • to keep this show independent.

  • Click here to check it out.

On this episode of China Uncensored,

Subtitles and vocabulary

Operation of videos Adjust the video here to display the subtitles

B1 US greece chinese china eu greek port

How China Is Infiltrating Greece

  • 4