As talks between Greek officials and members of the IMF and European Union approach their conclusion before a potential exit of the Hellenic nation from the eurozone, Chinese officials are suggesting they could play a role in helping Greece pay back its debts. The Greek crisis has negatively affected the Chinese economy, which has invested millions in Greece.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, on a visit to Brussels this week, told reporters that he believed China may be able to play a role in keeping Greece in the euro, and that the Chinese government hoped to see the EU stay together. Speaking next to European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker, Li stated that China “would like to see Greece stay in the euro zone and is willing to play a constructive role in efforts toward that end,” according to Chinese state media. “China always supports the European integration process, and is pleased to see a prosperous Europe, a united EU and a strong euro,” he added.
Following Li’s comments, Reuters has reported that Greek officials have made plain they do not intend to leave the eurozone, despite a public referendum scheduled for July 5 in which the Greek people are expected to vote on whether Greece should accept a deal with the EU and IMF that would require significant reforms to the Greek welfare state. A “no” vote would force Greece to either default on its loans or find an alternative solution. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Tsipras attempted to find that alternate solution, requesting a third bailout of the EU to pay back its debts for the next two years. German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the EU cannot accept or reject this deal before the July 5 referendum.
The bailout request corroborates a statement Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias made to China’s Greek ambassador that the nation has no intention of leaving the euro: “Greece will not leave the euro zone, and is willing to work with China to further develop bilateral relations and practical cooperation in all areas.”
What exactly Chinese participation in keeping Greece in the euro would entail remains unclear. Some have speculated that China would lend Greece money the European nations are refusing to give, a scenario similar to those Greek protesters have feared coming true with Russia, holding signs reading “yes to the euro, no to the ruble.” Russia has officially refused to lend Greece money, however, with Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stating that Greece’s debts are “a matter … between Greece and its creditors and not ours.” Russia has continued to nominally support the leftist government of Alexis Tsipras, however, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stating that he had “expressed his understanding of the actions by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government” to Greece.
China has invested billions in the Greek economy; the BBC reports that China has invested $18 billion in deals in Greece in 2014. As a result, the Greek financial crisis has hit the Chinese stock market, prohibiting it from rising above its current bear state. A quick rise in the stock market on Monday morning was immediately met by a steep fall as news broke of Greece’s worsening financial woes.