The Chinese Are Coming

Photo: Chania Museum

We learned from an article in Ekathemerini on 24 February 2011 that Greece has committed to evacuating 15,000 Chinese from Libya, which is south of Kommos across the sea. This is another sign of the intergovernmental cooperation that is so pronounced at Greece’s primary shipping hub at Piraeus, where the Chinese have already been given control of 2 of the 3 container terminals, with the intention of their investing $300 million to upgrade the facilities over their new 35 year contract.

Controversial investment by the Chinese at Tymbaki west of Phaistos and north along the shore of its ancient port may conflict with recreational, ecological and heritage tourism goals. This impact combined with the relocation of the airport from Heraklion to Kastelli and possible passenger shipping port relocations from Heraklion to ports several kilometers east and west of Heraklion, could out distance tour operators from the rich cultural heritage of the Mesara’s Minoan triangle.

Photo: J.C.Stratis

Lessons not learned are repeated

With the violence reported 24 February in Athens, we need not look very far back to see the potential for history repeating last summer’s events as reported by Nick Maloutzis, Unrest Hurts Tourism in Tough Year. Last year Greece and Libya signed a broad ranging bilateral economic co-operation agreement involving energy and tourism projects. More recently the protests in Libya will undoubtedly defer cooperative benefits for the two countries, as the Libyan people and government adjust to pressing changes.

The Chinese have agreed to provide a $5 billion credit line to Greek shipowners to help boost the purchase of COSCO built vessels. Three Greek olive oil traders also signed agreements last summer, “with Chinese importers aimed at boosting sales of the country’s signature product in an almost untapped market”.

The economic future of this region

A study of the prehistory of Kommos and the history of Crete informs us that there has always been foreign influences impacting the island’s development. A critical concern for the Kommos Conservancy lies in the answer to the question: What is to happen to the Mesara? With a debt burden beyond the control of Greece – will agriculture, recreational and heritage tourism adequately serve the economic future of this region of the country?


Is there a conflict or benefit between the COSCO behemoth on the horizon and the combined values of ecology, recreation and science/ education, accessed through archaeological park heritage tourism of the Minoan Triangle?

The downside concerning Italy

The down slide economies of other parts of Europe and the financial crisis in Italy is adversely effecting the Italian School’s budget and continuance causing detrimental impact to the significant work at Phaistos and Hagia Triada, as reported in Petizoni Online “The other major focus has been the Messara Plain in south-central Crete where some of most important events in the island’s history unfolded. The famous ancient city of Gortynia and the Palace of Phaistos are located here. Without the work at Phaistos, which is nowhere near completion, our understanding of Minoan civilisation, especially its early phases, would not be what it is now.”

Who uses the beaches? Tourist, locals and…

An on line article from earlier this month disclosed a grim statistical reality- tourism is down: Visitors to archaeological sites in the first ten months of 2010 have decreased 7.1% and a drop of 8.8% in revenue compared to the corresponding period of 2009. Tourist and locals are not the only beach users. Will the super cargo ships of China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) cause a detrimental impact on the annual birthing migration of the sea turtles to Kommos beach?

Map: wikipedia, click for larger size (in assorted languages)

Less bureaucracy, more jobs

There are difficult decisions to come for the future of the Kommos excavation →Archaeological Park, the Great Minoan Triangle and the Mesara. Prime Minister Papandreou has stated that the government will follow through with efforts to stamp out bureaucracy and change the tourism industry. The minister of investments Haris Pamboukis has stated that the Tymbaki port rehabilitation will result in 800 new jobs. Heritage tourism and interconnections between the sites of the Mesara can be part of the small business rebound for many of the existing Mesara hotels, restaurants, shops and tour operations, as reported in December. When and how deleterious or well the individual Chinese and Libyan interests fit into the Mesara, remains to be seen.

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17 comments on “The Chinese Are Coming
  1. James Stratis says:

    dennyrs4 has sent you a message:
    Απ.:Cosco Guangzhou south of Crete

    sorry for my delay reply. i was with this cosco vessel in china for the hole winder. From my side there is no problem to use this video to your blog or webside. If you need anything alse from my side send me mail to

    Again sorry for the delay.
    Have a nice summer
    Dionysis Drakogiannopoulos
    Chief officer Cosco Guangzhou

  2. James Stratis says:

    First Greek-Chinese Entrepreneurship Conference
    by (ANA-MPA) 14 Jun 2011
    The ambassador of the People’s Republic of China in Greece, Luo Linquan, noted that substantial margins exist for further development of commercial transactions between the two countries, and cited Cosco and Folli-Follie as “successful business examples” that, in the coming years, could develop up to 4,000 shops in China.

  3. James Stratis says:

    John Wright sent us an article from the Economist, which I have excerpted and posted again herein.

    “We ate it up together.” A quote from Theodoros Pangalos from 2010 in El Mundo, a Spanish daily newspaper said that ordinary Greeks, as well as the political elite, had wasted the loans and subsidies that rained down on the country. This year Flights were disrupted by a stoppage of air-traffic controllers, and tourists were prevented from boarding ferries to the islands because of a picket by the communist labour movement, PAME.

    This will be only a small dent, perhaps, to the confidence of Greek tour operators, who say arrivals are slightly up this year, albeit not as much as in destinations like Turkey and Cyprus. The mood on popular Aegean islands remains quite upbeat, despite a rise in panic sales of gaudy new second homes which had drawn the attention of tax collectors. Still, there is only so much tear-gas that visitors to the museums and ancient sites of downtown Athens can be expected to ingest.

    Nikos Mouzelis, a sociologist, points out, Greece’s two big parties have become machines for dispensing patronage and pork on a scale that is amazing even by the standards of Mediterranean democracy.

    Can anything be done, apart from economic plans designed to stave off short-term disaster? George Papandreou, the prime minister, has floated the idea of constitutional reform that would put an end to old-time patronage politics by cutting the number of legislators and altering the electoral system. If such changes were approved in a referendum, it would mean Mr Papandreou had successfully appealed to citizens over the heads of his own parliamentarians. That may be his last, best hope of regaining the political initiative.

    But it is also possible that many Greek citizens are disappointed with politicians not because they reject the old patronage system, but because it has run out of money and is now failing to provide for them. If Mr Pangalos is right that everyone ate at the trough, then some people may still be craving handouts. In that case, the people responsible for Greece’s fate—at home and abroad—will now have to cope with the politics of hunger.

  4. James Stratis says:

    Sinovel to use Greece as launchpad into Europe

    By Chryssa Liaggou

    The recent three-day visit to Greece by a 15-member mission from Chinese company Sinovel, the world’s second-largest wind turbine maker, confirmed Chinese interest in investing in this country’s renewable energy sources (RES) sector, originally expressed in April with the memorandum of cooperation it signed with Public Power Corporation (PPC).

    Sinovel Wind Group Co Ltd is the biggest firm in Asia in its sector and is aiming at a dynamic entry to the European market. The memorandum it signed with PPC, during the visit by the latter’s chairman and CEO Arthouros Zervos to China, originally concerned Sinovel’s participation in the wind park at Rhodope in northeastern Greece, with a capacity of 210 megawatts and a budget of 220-250 million euros.

    Now this interest is expanding to other investment in wind parks, including offshore parks too, as the Chinese mission to Greece showed during its meetings with Environment and Energy Ministry officials, the management of PPC and that of the PPC subsidiary for RES. The Greek side is seeking the inclusion of a wind turbine production unit in this country too, in the package to be agreed on.

    “At the moment China is looking for a point of entry to Europe, and Greece could play that very role,” Yiannis Tsipouridis, the managing director of PPC Renewables, told Kathimerini, confirming Sinovel’s initial interest in such an investment.

    Besides Greece, Sinovel also has agreements for investment in wind parks with Ireland, Great Britain, Spain and the Netherlands. In the context of its strategy for a dynamic entry into Europe, Sinovel is also promoting the certification of the engineering equipment it uses.

    During the three days it spent in Greece, the 15-member mission also visited the two wind parks PPC has at Rethymno on Crete and discussed with PPC Renewables the main details for the two sides’ cooperation. Negotiations will continue for the signing of an agreement in the near future.

    Sinovel has a particularly weak presence in Europe and aspires to pave the way so as to capitalize on the expansion of the RES market on this continent. A production unit in Greece would also cover its needs from investment in the broader region of Southeastern Europe, not just in Greece. , Friday September 9, 2011 (21:49)

  5. James Stratis says:

    China names Aristides Alafouzos Friendship Ambassador

    Kathimerini SA President Aristides Alafouzos (c) receives a medal and the title of Friendship Ambassador from Chinese Ambassador to Greece Luo Linquan.

    Aristides Alafouzos, president of Kathimerini SA, was awarded the title of Friendship Ambassador by the government of the People’s Republic of China at a recent ceremony at the Chinese ambassador’s residence in Athens.

    The distinction comes as a recognition for Alafouzos’s contribution in promoting bilateral ties with the Asian giant.

    The presentation, which was attended by a select group of friends and business partners, was made by Chinese Ambassador to Greece Luo Linquan.

    “I feel great pride and pleasure at the honor of being recognized as a friend of the great people of China,” Alafouzos said at the ceremony.

    “The distinction is an honor that I will treasure for all my life,” said Alafouzos, who was accompanied by his wife Lena.

    The president of Kathimerini praised the character and generosity of the Chinese people and their achievements in the areas of science and technology.

    Speaking at the ceremony, the Chinese ambassador described Alafouzos as a good friend of the Asian country, who has worked toward strengthening ties between the two nations.

    “He loves the Chinese people and Chinese culture — and he has helped to spread that culture,” Linquan said of Alafouzos.

    The Chinese ambassador praised Kathimerini newspaper and Skai television for their objective reporting on China. The Faliro-based news organization has repeatedly collaborated with Chinese media, playing a key role in cultivating ties between the two peoples.

    Among the people present at the ceremony were Yannis Alafouzos, president and executive director of Skai television, Themistocles Alafouzos, executive managing director of Kathimerini, Alexis Papachelas, Kathimerini’s editor-in-chief, Nikos Konstandaras, chief editor, and several members of the Kathimerini board.

  6. has jumped from the 34th-biggest market for Greek exports to 13th. China has made big investments in Greece during the debt crisis and several trade deals were signed when the head of China’s National Consultative Assembly, Jia Qinglin, and Deputy Trade Minister Zhong Shan visited last year. The Piraeus port authority (OLP) has a concession agreement with Chinese global shipping giant Cosco which runs two of the port’s container terminals. The Greek government, which is struggling to reduce a huge debt burden, has announced plans to sell a major part of its 75-percent stake in the company.
    (Update 04 January 2013)
    The effects of the COSCO agreement are being felt as observers compare the “Chinese way” and the “Greek way” at the port as seen in this New York Times Article.

  7. R.C.Bigelow says:

    There is or should be a real concern about COSCO, as outlined in the New York Times article. COSCO is an arm of the Chinese Government which would create a serious problem in case of hostilities between China and the West. While this seems unlikely today, it certainly wasn’t in the past and, sadly, might not be in the future.

    The need for efficiency at Piraeus port is quite real. It is almost impossible for the Greek Government to run the port efficiently because it is very vulnerable to political pressure. It may be necessary to find a Greek, European or even American company that is not a branch of a foreign government to run the remainder of the port.

  8. alexthegreat488 says:

    R.C. Bigelow mentioned in his 10 January 2013 reply that efficiency in running the port was needed. It seems that the COSCO portion of the Piraeus port operation is now under review and the signs appear from this Greek News Agenda 08 April 2013 article to be positive. Today another story in e-Kathimerini indicated significant increase in added value due to the Greek / Chinese competitive operations. I have not heard about the previous COSCO Cretan Tymbaki port and wonder if discussions are still happening there.

  9. Jame Stratis says:

    Found by James Stratis on the web:

    What the Chinese are looking for at Tymbaki?
    30 April 2013 (in Greek)

    Proposed Chinese port at Tymbaki

    (Google Greek-English translation with minor editing)
    It was summer 2006, while Greece was still living in the post – Olympic euphoria, Chinese and Korean investors coveted a port based on Tymbaki of Crete. A commercial station, because of its proximity to the Suez Canal, the fastest shipping route from Asia to Europe, could be developed into a leading hub in the Mediterranean. A base that could unload large containerships and smaller handing their cargo to any European port, achieving cost savings and time, ie competitiveness.

    This immaturity of the proposal something the (prevailing) reactions, the inhabitants of Messara, which the change of government a few years later, and the project came in the “fridge”. The Chinese took Piraeus and so Timpaki forgotten. At least in the capital. Because the Chinese and local factors, like the MP Heraklion Manolis Kefalogiannis, do not ever forget.Surfaces again and now the drawer the proposal, with the economy the country is in need of investment and growth.

    So Manolis Kefalogiannis, as the went to Shanghai with opportunity ‘fourth Chinese-European meeting of political personalities and political parties “and found his old acquaintance of this proposal. Thus spoken with the managing director of China Shipping, Li Shaode. Mr. Li, according to Mr. Kefalogiannis showed particular interest in this investment, and said they would recommend immediate committee to evaluate new data available on this topic.
    The Greek MP was accompanied by the Secretary of International Relations and European Union New Democracy John Smirli and party leaders even called for that purpose in Greece the head of China Shipping. And so, in the midst of Holy Week, Tympaki “resurrected” and reenters official manner on the map to the concession-exploiting Greek assets.

    But there is enough interest that can sustain and Crete and Piraeus The answer is yes, under certain conditions. But not everyone agrees. It is characteristic that the study of University of 2007 indicates that there will be consequences to Piraeus from the Tymbaki port because “it is closer than the route to Suez-Gibraltar from Piraeus, and if there large open container terminal, perhaps distract the lion’s share of traffic transhipment of PPA ‘.
    Since 2007 a lot has changed, however, including the volume of Asian manufactured goods, but the raft of Asians. Transit trade continues, but the Piraeus preparing to become entry point after the railway of interconnection to European networks. Be competitive in China Shipping Cosco; The answer is also yes, but never mind, note those who know how it works in Beijing and the fact that both main shareholder is the Sasac or otherwise Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.

    The Secretary General of Ports and Port Policy K. Moutzouris is certainly cognizant of all developments recently revealed in a statement that the government is considering the construction of a port in Tibaki considering that, despite the effects are already known from the studies, it a large development project that needs it the island. In any case, many are those observers who believe that the timing for the return of the investment plan for Timpaki perhaps a bit “misplaced” since osonoupo starts the process of realizing PPA and OLTH.

  10. From the rostrum of the conference “Crete Meets China”

    Conference Attendees
    Attendees at the “Crete Meets China” conference

    (Google Greek-English translation with some grammatical editing)

    Invitation to Chinese businessmen to invest in Crete sent today, the Region of Crete Stavros Arnaoutakis from step conference “Crete Meets China”. The conference was organized to commemorate the exhibition of Cretan products, the building of Tae Kwon Do, in the region of Crete.

    Crete remains one of the safest destinations, said Mr Arnaoutakis. He also said that tourism is a privileged field of investment in Crete, given its geographical location the island and the high level of hotel capacity. Tourism on the island is the main pillar of the local economy, he said the prefect.

    In the same vein, the Minister of Tourism, Olga Kefalogiannis in her greeting, invited Chinese to visit Greece. She noted that relations between Greece and China have now entered into a new context after the official visit of Prime Minister in Beijing and Shanghai.

    Moreover, the president of the Association of Greek Tourist Enterprises, Andreas Andreadis noted that if there were professional marketing to China, there are prospects of 2.5 million tourists descending on Greece from China in the next decade.

    Turning, finally, Mr. Andreadis program employment of unemployed in tourism, for which, as pointed-today was the deadline for applications, informed that they amounted to 50,000 when covered positions amounted to 10,000.

  11. R.C.Bigelow says:

    Posted on behalf of James Stratis:

    The following video illustrates one reason why the environment of Kommos beach must be maintained:–opos-auto-sunteleitai-stin-paralia-komos-sti-mesara-61748.html

    An approximate English translation of the Greek text above the video is:

    “The beach at Kommos is one of the most beautiful that can be visited by someone going to the plain of Messara. On this beach there occurs a small miracle that highlights the greatness of Nature.

    The beach, stretches over 2 km, is 40 meters wide, is full of natural dunes and Tamarisk trees, and is ideal for guests … all kinds of guests.

    Bathers should know that Caretta – Caretta or loggerhead sea turtles use this beach to spawn, and for this reason it is protected and audited annually by ARCHELON (a sea-turtle conservation society)

    See here a really touching video starring small turtles:”

  12. “It’s an honor to be here at this museum,” said Lee Ketsiangk
    translated by Bing
    The inauguration ceremony of the new archaeological museum of Heraklion were the next stop of the Prime Minister of China Li Ketsiangk after his visit to the archaeological site of Knossos noon Saturday. “It is a great honor for me to be in this museum that has everything precious cultural assets. Also, I want to say thank Cretans for the help we received in return 13,000 compatriots in February 2011 with the unrest in Libya. I agree with Mr Samaras that Greece and China have similar values ​​in philosophy, “said Mr. Li Ketsiangk. Earlier in his speech Antonis Samaras said that the Minoan culture was a brilliant chapter in the timelessness of Greek culture and emphasized to Mr . Ketsiangk Lee that “I greet you as the first guest in the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion.” Alongside Mr Samaras said on 61 cultural projects carried out in the island and expect to change the cultural map of Crete. Meanwhile emphasized cooperation between Greece and China saying that “we look forward to this cooperation will contribute to the development of Greece and reminds China that the country is Greece girlfriend influential throughout the Mediterranean and Europe. Friends pull down barriers and build bridges, reiterated from Crete Prime Minister adding that a strategic meeting point of peoples and continents.

    Soon you will see the results (increased heritage tourism) of the Chinese visit proclaimed Samaras.

  13. The title of this article is The Chinese Are Coming, is this a related story?

  14. More on the potential loggerhead turtle threat related to the proposed COSTCO shipping port creation north on the same beach as Matala and Kommos.

  15. 27 January 2015 Thodoris Dritsas Alternate Minister of Shipping and the Aegean under newly elected Prime Minister Tsipras has different opinion than previous administration about Piraeus contract.–Greece-halts-port-sale-to-China-19771761/

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