US Ambassador Says China Using Cash-Hungry Greece

The National Herald Archive

Geoffrey Pyatt, the United States Ambassador to Greece. (Photo by TNH/Anastasis Koutsogiannis)

ATHENS - With China wanting to step up investments in Greece - after President Xi Jinping and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis swapped visits - US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt warned that China has a "history of luring cash-starved nations into lopsided deals."

Speaking at the 2019 Greek Economic Summit in the Greek capital, he acknowledged that Greece "has a significant relationship with China, one of the world's largest economies."

"We do too in the United States," he said, although American companies were reluctant to put money into Greece because of political volatility before New Democracy won July 7 snap elections, ousting the Radical Left SYRIZA that raised the corporate rate to 29 percent.

He said Greece’s economy, after a near-decade long economic crisis that took 326 billion euros ($361.04 billion) to fix, is coming back partially thanks to Chinese investments, especially the shipping giant COSCO operating the port of Piraeus.

He also noted some American investments that haven’t been on that scale and added that the US government can "see the immediate benefit to Greece," the Chinese government could be preying on Greece as it has other countries, reported Newsweek.

Asked by the magazine at a round table discussion during the meeting how he felt about the warning, Adonis Georgiadis, Greece's Minister of Development and Investments, said it wouldn’t deter working with China more even as the New Democracy government has been trying to tighten ties with the US that ironically improved under the formerly anti-American SYRIZA which changed course.

"We have explained to our American friends that we will continue to have economic relationships with China," said Georgiadis with Greece walking a tightrope between two countries it needs although he added the tilt is toward the US and the West.