Proclaiming that China prefers a strong euro and united European Union, China’s Foreign Ministry on Wednesday told Greece and its creditors to keep talking.
Greece on Tuesday defaulted in its scheduled 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund.
“We hope that the relevant creditors can keep talking with Greece to try and reach agreement as soon as possible and appropriately resolve the crisis now faced,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular press briefing. “From China’s point of view we hope to see that the EU and euro zone can appropriately resolve this issue and Greece can continue to remain in the euro zone. This accords with the interests of all sides. China will continue to play a constructive role in this regard.”
This reiterates comments Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said during a visit to Brussels earlier this week.
China has a lot riding on Greece staying in the EU. China is a major investor in Greek infrastructure, in euro bonds and in the EU economy as a whole. The European Union is already China’s largest trading partner, and China is the EU’s second-largest trading partner.
Greece is expected to be a major portal for China’s “One Belt One Road” strategy for distributing Chinese products into Europe and Africa by land and sea. In this plan, Greece is China’s southern gateway to Europe. Already, China’s Cosco manages two piers at the Piraeus port and is trying to buy 67% stake in the port.
“Already some observers are suggesting a Greek exit from the euro could provide China with the opportunity to move its strategic agenda several paces up the board by buying more Greek assets at rock bottom prices,” suggested the BBC. “It’s a tricky equation: on one side the soft power benefits abroad for Beijing of riding to the rescue where Brussels won’t, and on the other side, the bottom line cost of being saddled with a lot of unrecoverable Greek debt.”