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  • Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipiras pictured with China's Xi Jinping.

    Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipiras pictured with China's Xi Jinping. | Photo: Xinhua

Published 15 May 2019

Greece and Italy are the only major European economies to have engaged with the project due to the West's concern over China’s growing strength as illustrated by BRI.

The Greek economy has benefited from joining China’s Belt And Road Initiative (BRI), says Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Chinese analysts. Though Greece remains of the few EU countries to join the movement.

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During a state visit this week, Pavlopoulos told China that his country “highly appreciates” cooperation with the BRI, China’s project to invest in international infrastructure development. European analysts in China have concurred, Chen Xin, a fellow at the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said on Wednesday.

"China's investment in Greece under the BRI, marked by COSCO's investment in Piraeus Port, has become an important driver of Greek economic growth," Xin said.

The investment of the Chinese state company COSCO in the Greek Piraeus Port has been highlighted as a success story. Since COSCO began investing the ‘container handler ability’ ranking of the port has jumped from Number 93 globally to number 36.

Other Chinese investments have come in infrastructure and renewable energy, although the tourism industry has also boomed over night. Since joining the BRI, Greece has become one of the top ten destinations for Chinese tourists, with numbers doubling since 2018.

Xin said, "Chinese tourists' increasing presence in Greece could strengthen the country's tourism and services sectors, where it already has advantages, and accelerate the development of related sectors such as hospitality and insurance."

However, Greece is one of the only EU countries to have joined the initiative. Greece and Italy are the only major European economies to have engaged with the project due to the West's concern over China’s growing strength as illustrated by BRI. Guy Verhofstadt, the EU’s lead Brexit negotiator, said in March that the Italian government’s decision to join China’s BRI is ‘antithetical’ to European interests.

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