Greece blocked a common EU statement at the United Nations that criticized China’s human rights record, Reuters reported on Sunday.
That statement included objections to the death penalty and called for media freedom.
Athens had warned it would block the EU communique two days ago. The Greek objection means that the EU fails to come up with a common statement for the first time in the UN Human Right’s Council history.
The statement was described by Human Rights Watch as “appropriately strong,” but Athens countered that it was merely “unconstructive criticism of China,” urging for Chinese engagement outside the U.N.
The Greek stand appears to be a sign of increasing Chinese “soft power” leverage over Greece, following Chines strategic investment in the port of Piraeus in 2016.
Towards the end of May, President Xi of China offered Greece a wider scope of cooperation in infrastructure, energy, and telecommunications, while Beijing is defying an overall negative investment climate to emerge as the single biggest foreign investor in the crisis-afflicted country.
Recently the Greek Copelouzos and China’s Shenhua groups signed an agreement for the development of green energy infrastructure in Greece and beyond, worth approximately €3bn; China’s state-owned energy grid will buy 24% of the Greek grid (ADMIE) for €320 million, while COSCO Shipping has bought a 51% share of the Port of Piraeus.