[Marxism] Fwd: Chastised by E.U., a Resentful Greece Embraces China’s Cash and Interests - The New York Times

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Aug 27 09:53:43 MDT 2017

‘A Kind of Neocolonialism’

Along more than 20 miles of coastline outside Athens, a forest of cranes 
at the Piraeus port load and unload thousands of containers from China 
and around the world. An ultramodern floating dock is scheduled for 
arrival in November from China. A planned new Chinese-financed passenger 
hub is also in the works.

China has transformed Piraeus into the Mediterranean’s busiest port, 
investing nearly half a billion euros through the state-backed shipping 
conglomerate Cosco. It hopes to make Piraeus the entry point to Europe 
under its One Belt, One Road project.

Chinese goods would travel along a new network of railways and roads 
radiating up through Central European nations, with the prized 
destination being Germany, where China invested $12 billion last year alone.

In the middle of the port, Chinese, Greek and E.U. flags flutter in 
front of the headquarters of Cosco, which now controls the entire 
waterfront through its 67 percent stake in the port.

“It’s a kind of neocolonialism without the gunboats,” said Mr. Douzinas 
with a chuckle.

Greek officials note that, unlike democratic nations that change 
politicians every few years, the Chinese have a long and steady 
strategic view.

“They know what they want,” said Stergios Pitsiorlas, the Greek deputy 
economics minister and one of the government’s point men dealing with China.

Cosco has brought around 1,000 jobs to the area, but it has outfitted 
cargo docks with cranes made in China, not in Greece, and expanded the 
docks with building materials from China. And as Greece struggles 
through record joblessness, the company has used subcontractors to hire 
around 1,500 workers mostly on short-term contracts at wages far below 
what unionized Greek dockworkers are paid.

“There are more workers, but they earn less income,” said Giorgos Gogos, 
the general secretary of the Piraeus dockworkers union.

Yet Greece needs any jobs, and leaders are counting on more Chinese 
investment. Fosun International Holdings, a Chinese conglomerate run by 
Guo Guangchang, often referred to as China’s Warren Buffett, is spending 
billions of euros with a consortium with Greek and Arab investors to 
convert an abandoned former airport on the seaside outside Athens into a 
posh playground three times the size of Monaco for moneyed tourists. The 
project, Hellenikon, is part of a bigger plan to bring over 1.5 million 
Chinese tourists to Greece during the next five years.

Mr. Tsipras has swept aside regulatory hurdles, clearing two large 
refugee camps installed in the former airport, and quashing attempts by 
members of his own party to delay construction because of concerns the 
project might pave over ancient archaeological sites.

“That also has been unstuck,” said Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, the Greek 
economy minister.


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