The increasingly close relationship between Athens and Beijing has caused bewilderment and consternation in many western capitals. Hosting one of the most visible BRI investments in Europe, the COSCO-managed port of Piraeus, Greece has been called China’s “Trojan horse” in the EU – particularly since June 2017, when Athens blocked the EU statement on human rights in China. However, for Greece the true nature of this “romance” is actually transactional, a mix of an expectations-driven stance in view of Chinese investment and a diplomatic gamble in the current government’s tense relations with western creditors in the midst of a severe socio-economic crisis in the country.
Mr Plamen Tonchev is a Senior Researcher and Head of the Asia Unit of the Institute of International Economic Relations (IIER), Greece. He has published books as well as monographs and articles in academic journals on political/economic co-operation between Europe and Asia. Plamen has given lectures at a number of universities and think tanks in Europe and Asia.Mr Tonchev has specialised in Chinese studies since the late 1990s, when he co-authored the monograph “China in East Asia: From isolation to a regional superpower status” (IIER, 1998). His institute is a founding member of the European Think-Tank Network on China (ETNC) and has contributed to all the four annual reports to date. The list of Plamen’s latest publications on China includes “China’s Road: Into the Western Balkans” (EUISS, 2017), “Chinese Investment in Greece and the Big Picture of Sino-Greek Relations (co-authored, IIER, 2017), “Along the Road: Sri Lanka’s Tale of Two Ports” (EUISS, 2018), “China’s Image in Greece, 2008-2018” (co-authored, IIER, 2018).