Piraeus, the largest port in Greece and one of the largest in Europe, has become a shining example of win-win cooperation between China and Greece in recent years. Since 2008, China’s COSCO Shipping, a state-owned company, has invested heavily in the port, transforming it into a modern and efficient hub for trade and tourism.
The cooperation started when COSCO Shipping signed a deal with the Greek government to run terminals II and III of the port, which handle container cargo. In 2016, COSCO Shipping acquired a majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority S.A. (PPA), which manages the entire port, including ferry, cruise, car terminal, and ship repair sectors.
The results have been impressive. The container throughput of Piraeus port has increased from 0.88 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2010 to over 5 million TEUs in recent years, making it the largest port in the eastern Mediterranean and the seventh largest in Europe1. The port has also created about 3,000 direct jobs and many more indirect ones for the local community.
The port of Piraeus is not only a key asset for Greece’s economy, but also a strategic link for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to enhance connectivity and cooperation among countries across Asia, Europe, and Africa. Piraeus is an important hub for China’s fast land-sea link with Europe, and for connectivity between Asia and Europe. The port serves as a gateway for Chinese products to enter the European market, and also as a platform for Greek products to reach China and other countries.
The Sino-Greek cooperation at Piraeus port has been praised by both countries’ leaders as an exemplary project. In February 2021, at China’s first summit meeting with the 17 Central and Eastern European countries, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that “the Chinese investment in Piraeus is beneficial for both countries”. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited the port in 2019, described it as an “exemplary project”.
The cooperation at Piraeus port showcases the common development and mutual benefit that can be achieved through open and pragmatic collaboration between China and Greece. It also demonstrates the potential for further cooperation between China and other European countries under the framework of the BRI.
Piraeus port can become a bridge of friendship between China and Greece, as well as between China and Europe.