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    通過一座碼頭拯救一個國家,中遠集團是怎么做的?

    Vivienne Walt 2019年08月05日

    當中國的船運巨頭中遠集團搶購下具有歷史意義的比雷埃夫斯港,也就是給希臘經濟扔出了一條救生索。如今,這一港口的成功運營正在重塑希臘的政治格局,也為中國在歐洲的投資布局掀起波瀾。

    比雷埃夫斯港的一個集裝箱碼頭。自從中遠集團在碼頭安裝了最先進的吊機,這個港口的年吞吐量增加了五倍都不止。圖片來源:Alfredo D’Amato—Panos Pictures for Fortune

    初夏一個潮濕的夜晚,一千多人涌入雅典的一處廣場,為左翼政治領袖阿萊克斯·齊普拉斯歡呼。齊普拉斯已經到了他總理生涯的末期,在大選中也落后于一位重商派的競選對手。

    他跳上一個臨時搭建的演講臺,身后的旗幟上寫著“我們有能力”。他對著人群大聲說道:“這是一場兩個世界之間的戰爭,是精英與大眾的戰爭!”隨后他把話題轉到了那些瞄準希臘投資機會的外國公司,在歐洲漫長的金融危機期間,希臘是受傷最深的國家之一。“在連續8年的蕭條后,我們成功地回到了增長通道。”齊普拉斯喊著,“電力、健康、教育、水和能源,這些東西是不能賣的!”

    把國有的財產保留在希臘人的手中,這樣的承諾引來了民眾震耳欲聾的歡呼。但是,齊普拉斯并沒有提到希臘財富中最寶貴的部分:比雷埃夫斯港。該港口就在雅典的邊上——是通往中東和非洲的捷徑——2500年來這個港口一直是戰略寶地,最早可以追溯到雅典和斯巴達為了地中海的霸權,在附近海域的一場戰斗中擊敗了波斯國王。盡管如此,廣場集會的人群明白,正是齊普拉斯的政府多年前賣掉了比雷埃夫斯港,賣給中國。

    當中國國家主席習近平在2013年首次提出雄心勃勃的一帶一路倡議(簡稱BRI)時,他腦中想的是商貿,而不是征服。習近平稱,中國將在數千英里的距離內,構建一個公路和鐵路(“一帶”)以及海路(“一路”)的網絡,將亞歐和亞非連接起來。這個想法是要重建曾經的絲綢之路——一條東西方的商貿通道,是真正意義上的全球貿易的基石。而中國最終的戰略目標是:擴張并穩固一個貿易關系網絡,以此來強化未來數十年中國在全球經濟和政治格局中的主導地位。

    比雷埃夫斯港成為了一帶一路開發的展示窗口——這個港口項目不但會改造港口本身,也可能會改造整個希臘經濟。這也是中國最大的公司執行一帶一路項目并從中獲益的一個范例。自2016年以來,該港口的大股東就是中國的中遠集團(實際運營始于2009年)

    中遠進入時,比雷埃夫斯港“只是一個沒人認真關注的落后的集裝箱裝卸區。”說這話的是奧拉夫·默克,他是經合組織(OECD)國際運輸論壇的港口和海運專家。“中國看到了一個未被開發的機會。”新的管理層帶來了令人炫目的各種變化:據港口管理機構稱,今年這個港口的貨物吞吐量將是2010年的5倍。比雷埃夫斯港也正在成為地中海最大的集裝箱港口,或許在今年就能夠超越西班牙的瓦倫西亞港。

    與此同時,中遠集團自身也獲得了迅猛發展,這主要歸功于一帶一路計劃和中國政府的堅實支持。在合并了幾家運輸公司后,按運輸量排,中遠已經成為世界第三大的海運公司,年收入達430億美元,并在環繞歐洲的其他港口也有不少股份。

    近幾年,中國一直把比雷埃夫斯港宣傳成一帶一路成就的樣板。這種影響力在雅典隨處可見:港口提供了更多的就業機會,當地房地產的中文廣告,以及要把比雷埃夫斯港再造成一個旅游目的地,讓中國的旅客蜂擁而來。

    On a steamy night earlier this summer, about a thousand people poured into a public square in Athens to cheer on Greece’s leading left-wing politician, Alexis Tsipras. Tsipras was in the waning weeks of his term as Prime Minister—and trailing in a race against a pro-business opponent.

    Leaping onto a makeshift stage in front of a banner reading “We have the power,” Tsipras shouted over the crowd. “This is a battle between two worlds, the elites against the many!” Then he took aim at foreign companies eyeing investment prospects in Greece, one of the countries hardest hit by Europe’s long financial crisis. “We have managed to get back to growth after eight straight years of recession,” Tsipras said. “Electricity, health, education, water, energy—they are not for sale!”

    The promise to keep the country’s state-owned assets in Greek hands elicited a deafening roar. And yet Tsipras didn’t mention the most prized Greek asset of all: the port of Piraeus. Situated at the edge of Athens—a short sail from the Middle East and Africa—the port has been a strategic jewel for nearly 2,500 years, ever since the Athenians and Spartans defeated the Persian emperor in a nearby sea battle for Mediterranean supremacy. But as the crowd in the square knew, Tsipras’s own government had sold off Piraeus, years earlier, to a modern-day empire intent on expanding its own power: China.

    When Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the ambitious vision he called the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI, in 2013, he had commerce, not conquest, in mind. Xi announced that China would build a network of highways and rail lines (the “belt”) and sea routes (the “road”) across thousands of miles, linking Asia to Europe and Africa. The idea was to re-create the old Silk Road—the trade routes between East and West that were the foundations of the world’s first truly global commerce. The ultimate strategic goal: to expand and solidify a web of trading relationships that would cement China’s position as a dominant economic and political power for decades to come.

    Piraeus has become a showcase display of the BRI in action—a project capable of transforming not just one port but perhaps an entire economy. It’s also an object lesson in the ways China’s biggest companies both execute and benefit from the BRI. The port has been majority-owned since 2016 (and operated since 2009) by China Cosco Shipping.

    When Cosco stepped in, Piraeus “was a pretty backward container terminal that nobody took seriously,” says Olaf Merk, the ports and shipping expert at the International Transport Forum at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). “China saw an opportunity that was underdeveloped.” New management has brought dizzying change: This year, the port will handle five times as much cargo volume as it did in 2010, according to the Piraeus Port Authority. And it’s on track to become the biggest container port in the Mediterranean, perhaps as soon as this year, overtaking Valencia in Spain.

    Cosco, meanwhile, has undergone its own rapid growth, thanks in large part to the BRI and to substantial Chinese government support. After several mergers with other transport companies, Cosco is now the third-biggest shipping company in the world by volume, with $43 billion in revenue—and significant stakes in other ports that ring Europe.

    In recent years, China has trumpeted Piraeus as a model for what the BRI can achieve. And its impact is visible throughout Athens: in more jobs at the port, in Chinese-language advertisements for local real estate, and in plans to remake Piraeus as a tourist destination for the burgeoning Chinese upper classes.

    ****

    當西方人談到與中國的競爭,話題常常是先進科技——比如人工智能或者5G互聯網。但其實一帶一路計劃特別強調貿易基礎建設的重要性:鐵路、公路和港口。而在這個網絡中,或許最重要的銜接點是港口。大約90%的國際貨物貿易是通過海路完成的。控制了海運航道和港口,就能夠在全球經濟中掌握極大的影響力。“習近平主席會想,‘我的政治遺產會是什么?’”提出這個設問的是尼古拉斯·維尼科斯,一位第四代的希臘船主,也是總部位于中國的絲綢之路國際商會的副主席。“他決意成為21世紀的馬可波羅。”

    一旦成功,一帶一路將是史上最大的基礎設施建設工程。中國的公司早已行動,鋪設公路、運作碼頭、建設鐵路線,這些工程覆蓋60多個國家比如斯里蘭卡、馬來西亞和哈薩克斯坦。中國政府的支出和補貼讓這些工程不斷開工。美國外交關系委員會預計,中國已經在一帶一路項目上的投入達2000億美元,而據摩根士丹利預測,到2027年總投資額將達1.2萬億美元。習近平在2015年說過,一帶一路最終將帶來“所有沿線國家的真正的大合唱,而不是中國的獨角戲。”

    在這曲大合唱中,歐洲還只發出了一點微弱的聲音:最大的一帶一路項目都在亞洲和非洲。但一帶一路之外,中國在歐洲的投資也在快速增長。金融危機后歐盟國家的經濟停滯不前,沉重的債務負擔束縛了政府開支,中國公司于是來填補了真空。

    事實上,由于中美貿易關系緊張影響了中國對美的投資,現在中國的直接投資約有四分之一是去歐洲——據律所貝克·麥堅時統計,2018年上半年投資額達220億美元。國有的中國化工集團在2017年以431億美元的價格收購了瑞士農業巨頭先正達。2016年中國的美的集團出資53億美元收購了德國機器人廠商庫卡,這事讓大眾汽車耿耿于懷。被特朗普政府認為是國家安全威脅的科技企業華為,在中國之外最大的物流中心就設在匈牙利,那里雇傭了2000名員工。

    When Westerners think about competition with China, the conversation often involves advanced technology—think artificial intelligence or 5G Internet. But the BRI underscores the importance of the infrastructure of trade itself: railways, roads, harbors. Ports may be the most vital link in that network. Roughly 90% of goods traded internationally makes its way around the world by sea. Control the shipping lanes and ports, and you wield great power over the global economy. “Xi thought, ‘What will my legacy be?’?” says Nicolas Vernicos, a fourth-generation Greek shipowner and vice chairman of the Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce, a trade organization headquartered in China. “He decided to be the Marco Polo of the 21st century.”

    If completed, the BRI will be one of history’s biggest infrastructure projects. Already Chinese companies are laying highways, operating ports, and creating railway networks in as many as 60 countries as varied as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Kazakhstan. Chinese government spending and subsidies keep the shovels moving. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates that China has spent about $200 billion on BRI projects so far; that investment could reach $1.2 trillion by 2027, according to Morgan Stanley. The result, Xi said in 2015, will bring “a real chorus comprising all countries along the route, not a solo for China.”

    European voices make up only a small share of the chorus so far: The biggest BRI projects are underway in Asia and Africa. But outside of the BRI, Europe has seen Chinese investment rise quickly. With most EU economies still sluggish in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and heavy debt loads restraining government spending, Chinese companies have filled a void.

    Indeed, as trade tensions impair China’s ability to invest in the U.S., Europe now accounts for almost a quarter of China’s direct foreign investment—about $22 billion in the first half of 2018, according to law firm Baker McKenzie. State-owned ChemChina bought Swiss agribusiness giant Syngenta in 2017, for $43.1 billion. In 2016, China’s Midea spent $5.3 billion to buy German robotics manufacturer Kuka—which, among other things, keeps Volkswagen’s factories ticking. Technology player Huawei, which the Trump administration has branded as a national-security threat, maintains its largest logistics center outside China in Hungary, where it employs 2,000 people.

    新舊帝國的交疊,雅典居住著1萬名中國外派人員。圖片來源:Photograph by Alfredo D’Amato—Panos Pictures for Fortune

    一名中國人經過街頭,推著一個裝有幾箱服裝的小推車。圖片來源:Photograph by Alfredo D’Amato—Panos Pictures for Fortune

    中遠希望將比雷埃夫斯發展成一個旅游目的地,像衛城那樣接待大量中國游客。圖片來源:Photograph by Alfredo D’Amato—Panos Pictures for Fortune

    一名中國男子在當地市場購買水果。圖片來源:Photograph by Alfredo D’Amato—Panos Pictures for Fortune

    前財政部部長、希臘左翼人士揚尼斯·瓦魯法基斯說:“金錢不喜歡真空。”揚尼斯曾經參與2015年國際貨幣基金組織和歐盟救助希臘的談判,他批評歐盟領導人,把希臘的公司搞得很脆弱導致被收購。他說:“歐盟的決策者把投資弄到歷史最低水平,讓中國公司進來后發現沒有其他競爭對手。”

    中遠就悄悄地成為了這些投資者中最忙碌的一個。在一帶一路倡議提出前,中遠就已經開始在多個主要港口進行股權收購,環繞歐洲編織一個終端網絡。(中遠與當地政府簽署長期的特許權;比雷埃夫斯港是其唯一擁有控股權的歐洲港口。)中遠的布局包括擁有荷蘭鹿特丹巨大的Euromax終點港47.5%的股權;100%控股比利時澤布呂赫集裝箱港;占股西班牙瓦倫西亞和畢爾巴鄂終點港。在歐洲之巔以色列,中國正在海法和阿什杜德修建港口。

    中遠的崛起也顯示出,國資公司把自己的發展戰略納入政府的宏大計劃,將獲益甚多。增長和利潤幾乎可以確保——這樣的優勢沒有一家美國或歐洲的公司可以與之并肩。“中遠的運營虧損可以由政府補貼彌補,而信貸的寬松讓大額投資成為可能。”經合組織的分析師默克解釋道。

    中遠派駐比雷埃夫斯港的主管傅成秋拒絕了多次的采訪請求;中遠在歐洲和中國的高管也沒有回應采訪請求。但在公開場合,公司的高管并不諱言其全球擴張的計劃。今年4月,中遠的港口部執行總裁張偉說:“擴大規模將仍然是我們這個行業的長期趨勢。”

    “Money does not like a vacuum,” says Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s left-wing former finance minister, who helped negotiate the country’s bailout with the International Monetary Fund and the EU in 2015. Varoufakis blames EU leaders for leaving companies vulnerable to takeovers. “European decision-makers [are] keeping investment at the slowest level in history and leaving the Chinese to come in as the only investors,” he says.

    Cosco has quietly become one of the busiest of those investors. Even before the BRI was unveiled, it began acquiring stakes in numerous key ports, piecing together a network of terminals around Europe. (The company signs long-term concessions with local governments; Piraeus is the only European port where it owns outright a controlling stake.) Its holdings include 47.5% of the huge Euromax terminal in the Dutch city of Rotterdam; 100% of the container port in Zeebrugge, Belgium; and stakes in terminals in Valencia and Bilbao, Spain. In Israel, on Europe’s edge, it’s building ports in Haifa and Ashdod.

    Cosco’s rise also shows how state-owned companies benefit when they subsume their strategy to the government’s grand plans. Growth and profitability are virtually assured—an advantage no U.S. or European company can match. “Operational losses of Cosco are compensated by state subsidies, and capital investments are made possible by generous credit lines,” explains Merk, the OECD analyst.

    Cosco’s Chinese executive in Piraeus, Capt. Fu Cheng Qiu, declined multiple requests for interviews; Cosco officials elsewhere in Europe and China did not respond to interview requests. But publicly, the company’s officials aren’t shy about their plans for global growth. “Scale-up will still be the long-term trend for our industry,” Zhang Wei, executive director of Cosco’s port arm, said in April.

    ****

    如果你從雅典市區驅車5英里進入比雷埃夫斯港,途徑一些汽車修理店和小咖啡館,你不會感覺到你進入的是一個爭議焦點區。盡管鎮上及周邊住著45萬人,比雷埃夫斯港給人的感覺是這個郊區也曾經過過好日子。午餐時間,港口咖啡店的塑料桌邊坐滿了碼頭工人,抽著香煙討論著5美元的沙丁魚餐,這正是他們所經歷的十年艱苦歲月的縮影。

    一位64歲的留著胡須的強壯男子吉奧格斯·阿萊維索普勒斯說起了他的經歷,他17歲就在港口開始工作,那是1972年,當時造船業是希臘的強國產業。他最終成為一名焊工,在干船塢和浮船塢的船只上進行維修工作,數十家小公司在那里干著一些零工。

    但到了本世紀初,比雷埃夫斯港的工作量急劇下降,因為許多公司在其他國家尋求更低的維修價格,或者去光顧更現代化的碼頭。多年的勞工運動也削減了港口的吸引力。阿萊維索普勒斯說,在2005至2014年間,他每年只工作約50天。“我的整個生活都變了,我的人生觀也變了。我甚至想過自殺。”他說,“有些日子里,我們只吃點面包。今天該吃點什么這個問題,答案永遠都是什么最便宜吃什么。”

    多年來,希臘政府似乎滿足于將比雷埃夫斯港運營為一個通勤港,渡船送數百萬當地人和游客往返于愛琴海的島嶼間。但這里的船塢和貨物港的狀況,一年不如一年。由于債務纏身,又受制于政治分裂和官僚叢生,政府忽視了港口的升級改造,它本可以讓比雷埃夫斯港適應快速發展的大型集裝箱船運業。到了2010年,用20尺柜這一衡量集裝箱吞吐量的標準方法算,港口的年貨物吞吐量跌到只剩88萬——是歐洲最大型港口吞吐量的零頭。

    2008年時中國行動了。中遠,全稱是中國遠洋運輸公司,與希臘政府簽署了特許證,獲得了比雷埃夫斯集裝箱裝卸港35年的運營權,這份協議價值12億歐元(約合14億美元),包括租金和設備升級,以及另外27億歐元的收入共享。頗有分量的碼頭工人工會,對于被外資控制的前景表示擔憂,他們舉行了長達6周的罷工。在中國公司正式入駐那天,他們在比雷埃夫斯港的岸邊樹起了旗幟,上面寫著“中遠滾回去!”然而,彼時全球經濟衰退正值谷底,希臘沒有更多的選擇,罷工人群很快就回去工作了。

    中遠快速地對比雷埃夫斯港的其中一個碼頭進行了大修,并對吊機進行了重大設備升級。這極大地擴展了比雷埃夫斯港的吞吐能力,幾乎一夜之間將該港變成了對集裝箱船只富有吸引力的目的港。中遠對港口的運營也更有效率。“以前,員工都是公務員。”船主維尼科斯說,“每天工作8小時都不到,大部分時間在釣魚。”

    更重要的是,中遠現在把自己公司的巨量集裝箱船只導向比雷埃夫斯港。古希臘人就已經明白,比雷埃夫斯港的地理位置讓其價值連城。對于從蘇伊士運河出發來歐洲大陸的船只,這是最近的主要集裝箱港口,也是通往廣闊的東南歐地區的門戶。“中遠到來之前,中國貨物需要去漢堡或者英國,然后才能進入比如巴爾干地區,而現在可以縮減10天航程。”《希臘中國時報》的所有人吳海龍告訴我們。他的報紙主要面向在雅典的約1萬中國讀者。

    When you drive into Piraeus, five miles from downtown Athens, past auto-body repair shops and small cafés, there is no sense that you’re entering a flash point of controversy. Though some 450,000 people live in the town and its surrounding neighborhoods, Piraeus has the feel of a suburb that has seen better days. At lunchtime, the plastic tables at the café on the pier fill with dockworkers, smoking cigarettes and discussing their lives over $5 plates of sardines—offering a window into the tumultuous decade they have endured.

    Giorgos Alevizopoulos, a burly man of 64 with a mustache and beard, says he began working in the port at 17, in 1972—when shipbuilding was Greece’s powerhouse industry. He ultimately became a welder, working on vessels under repair or maintenance on dry and floating docks where dozens of small companies operate on piecemeal jobs.

    But by early this century, work in Piraeus had slowed to a crawl, as companies sought cheaper repairs in other nations or patronized more modern shipyards. Years of labor strife also reduced the port’s appeal. Alevizopoulos says he worked only about 50 days a year between 2005 and 2014. “My entire life changed, and my outlook on life changed. I even contemplated suicide,” he says. “Some days we just ate bread. If there was a question about what we eat that day, the answer was always whatever is cheapest.”

    For years, the Greek government seemed content to run Piraeus largely as a commuter port for the ferryboats that take millions of locals and tourists to islands in the Aegean Sea. The shipyards and cargo port, meanwhile, deteriorated year by year. Laden with debt and bogged down by political schisms and bureaucracy, the government neglected the upgrades that could have retrofitted Piraeus to serve the rapidly growing large-container shipping industry. By 2010, yearly cargo traffic had fallen to 880,000 TEUs, or twenty-foot equivalent units, the standard measurement for container throughput—a paltry fraction of the capacity of Europe’s biggest ports.

    In 2008, China made its move. Cosco, then known as the China Ocean Shipping Group, signed a concession with the Greek government to operate Piraeus’s container terminal for 35 years, in a deal worth about 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in rent and facility upgrades and another 2.7 billion euros in revenue sharing. The powerful dockworker unions, anxious at the prospect of foreign ownership, went on strike for six weeks. They hung a banner on Piraeus’s waterfront on the day the Chinese company took over that read “Cosco go home!” But with the global recession at its nadir, and few other options, the strikers soon returned to work.

    Cosco quickly overhauled one of Piraeus’s piers and implemented a major upgrade of its loading cranes. That vastly expanded Piraeus’s capacity, turning the port almost overnight into an attractive destination for container vessels. Cosco also ran the port more efficiently. “Before, the employees were public servants,” says Vernicos, the shipowner. “They were working less than eight hours a day and fishing most of the time.”

    Most important, Cosco now directs more of its own huge container-vessel traffic to Piraeus. As the ancient Greeks understood, Piraeus’s location makes it potentially invaluable. It is the closest major container terminal on the European mainland for ships emerging from the Suez Canal—and a gateway to a huge swath of southeastern Europe. “Before Cosco arrived, Chinese products had to go to Hamburg or Britain, and then they would go perhaps to the Balkans,” says Wu Hailong, owner of the Greece China Times, a newspaper catering to the 10,000 or so Chinese residents of Athens. “Now it saves about 10 days on the route.”

    船體焊接:中遠已經與勞工達成了和解,與比雷埃夫斯港出了名任性的碼頭工人和造船工人和平相處。圖片來源:Photograph by Alfredo D’Amato—Panos Pictures for Fortune

    即便比雷埃夫斯港運作得不錯,希臘仍然在債主設置的嚴峻緊縮條件下艱難前行。債主們要求希臘政府大幅縮減公共開支——導致成百數千早已深受緊縮之苦的希臘人走上街頭抗議。阿萊克斯·齊普拉斯和他的激進左翼聯盟贏得了2015年的大選,在競選中他們承諾絕不售賣某些公共資產。但最終,為了符合國際貨幣基金組織和歐盟的救助條件,他們還是不得不賣了一些家當。看看吧:希臘把鐵路線賣給了意大利國有鐵路公司,售價僅僅是微不足道的4300萬歐元,比有些體育明星一年賺的都少。天然氣的控股權賣給了一個私有集團;另一家國有公司中國電網,收購了希臘國家公用事業的部分股權。曾經主管希臘議會預算辦公室的經濟學家帕納吉奧蒂斯·里亞格瓦斯說:“希臘有幾個選擇,但希臘沒有選擇破產。”

    2016年希臘同意將比雷埃夫斯港的51%的股權賣給中遠,包括其集裝箱裝卸港100%的股權,協議價格是3.685億歐元,另加7.6億歐元的升級改造費和收入共享。比雷埃夫斯港實際上成為了中國永久擁有的港口了。2018年該港口的吞吐量是490萬個20尺柜,成為了歐洲第六大的貨物港。

    焊工阿萊維索普勒斯說,從那以后他的生活急速好轉。他說去年他賺了差不多2萬歐元——是政府賣出港口前他收入的4倍。即便如此,希臘經濟的苦難歷程還是留下了一些疤痕。“心理上,我們還沒有復原。”他說,“像其他人一樣,我們還是有擔憂。”

    Even as Piraeus got healthier, Greece labored under heavy austerity conditions imposed by its creditors. Its lenders demanded that the government make deep cuts to public spending—prompting hundreds of thousands of already-suffering Greeks to flood the streets in protest. Alexis Tsipras and Syriza won elections in 2015, campaigning on promises never to sell certain public assets. In the end, however, Greece had to do just that as a condition of a bailout by the EU and the IMF. Consider this: It sold its rail lines to Italy’s state-owned railway company for a tiny 43 million euros, less than some pro athletes earn in a year. Its natural-gas holdings were sold off to a private group; China State Grid, another state-owned company, bought a stake in Greece’s national utility. “Greece had choices, and it did not choose bankruptcy,” says Panagiotis Liargovas, an economist who headed the Greek Parliament’s budget office at the time.

    In 2016, Greece agreed to sell 51% of Piraeus to Cosco, including 100% of its container terminal, for a bargain price of 368.5 million euros, plus 760 million euros in upgrades and revenue sharing. Piraeus became Chinese-owned, effectively in perpetuity. And in 2018, it processed 4.9 million TEUs, making it Europe’s sixth-largest cargo port.

    Alevizopoulos, the welder, says his life has drastically changed for the better since then. He says he made nearly 20,000 euros last year—about four times as much as his earnings before the government sold the port. Even so, Greece’s economic ordeal has left its mark. “Psychologically, we have not recovered,” he says. “Like the rest of the people, we are still afraid.”

    ****

    到了2018年8月,希臘終于擺脫了長達8年的緊縮計劃。盡管2017年希臘經濟獲得了增長,但在2008至2016年間希臘的GDP令人瞠目地縮減了45%——這是和平時期對一個國家最大的經濟打擊。希臘的項目融資要讓投資人有信心,還需要更多的時間,希臘銀行行長雅尼斯·斯托納拉斯認為,“所以我們需要股權投資。”這些資金的進入,不僅是為了提升經濟,也是為了在實質上重振希臘,行長解釋說。金融危機期間成千上萬的受過教育的年青人離開了希臘,留下來的也不愿意組建家庭。“只有提供好的工作崗位,年輕夫婦才會愿意生小孩。”斯托納拉斯說。

    中遠說它正在創造這些就業機會。許多希臘人擔憂中國控制了港口,意味著很多中國工人會進來取代希臘員工,可實際上港口的中國員工數量很少,都是一些經理層的人,也很少在船只和集裝箱堆場上見到他們。中遠的董事長許立榮最近對中國媒體說,中遠為希臘創造了3100個工作崗位,為希臘經濟提供了3.37億美元的產值——對于GDP約為2000億美元的希臘來說,這個數目是有價值的。去年該港口的收入約為1.51億美元,比2017年上漲19.2%,中遠稱其目標是將比雷埃夫斯港的吞吐量再翻一番。

    中資擁護者們,還看到了中國資金在經濟低迷時支撐了其他行業。希臘最大的房地產開發商之一V2總裁瓦吉利斯·克特尼亞蒂斯稱,過去10年他在雅典的海邊高檔物業,只有5個希臘買家。克特尼亞蒂斯協助說服了希臘政府在2013年啟動了一項“黃金簽證”項目,外國人只要在希臘投資25萬歐元的房產,就能獲得希臘居民身份。

    克特尼亞蒂斯估算,從那時起中國買家在雅典搶購了超過4000套住宅和公寓,而僅經他手賣出的就有450套,買家一般是用作第二套房或者短期租賃。如今V2的中文廣告遍布雅典機場的取行李區,買房就能快速獲取歐盟居民資格——這對生意人來說是極大的優勢。“中國人拯救了希臘房地產。”克特尼亞蒂斯說,而他也在四個中國城市設立了辦公室。

    僅憑中國資金,就能重塑比雷埃夫斯的房地產市場。某個下午,比雷埃夫斯港管理局的發言人奈卡塔里奧斯·德門諾普洛斯帶著記者繞了港口一圈,他指向一片巨大的廢棄大麥筒倉地,說中遠想要把它變成其計劃中的五家高端酒店之一;中遠還計劃建立一個奢侈品商場。中遠的想法是要投資約6億歐元,把這個沉睡中的小鎮變成一個旅游港口,服務于把比雷埃夫斯作為一站的巡洋船只(包括中國船只)。目前在這個小鎮無事可做,游客如果在這下船,只會蜂擁而去6.5英里外的雅典衛城。“中國人對古希臘文化是有敬意的。”德門諾普洛斯說,“但在成千上萬的中國富有人群中,來我們這兒的還是少數。”

    In August 2018, Greece finally exited the eight-year austerity program imposed by its creditors. Although the economy returned to growth in 2017, Greece’s GDP had shrunk an astonishing 45% between 2008 and 2016—the largest depression ever to strike a country in peacetime. It will take years more for outside lenders to feel secure about financing projects in Greece, says Yannis Stournaras, governor of the Bank of Greece, “so we hope for equity investment.” Such an influx is needed not just to boost the economy but also to literally rejuvenate Greece, the governor explains. Thousands of educated young people fled during the crash, and those who stayed have been reluctant to start families. “Only by producing good jobs will young couples produce more children,” Stournaras says.

    Cosco says it is generating such jobs. While many Greeks worried that Chinese control would mean that imported workers would displace Athenians, only a handful of the port’s staff is Chinese, and those are managers, rarely seen amid the ships and stacks of containers. Cosco’s chairman, Xu Lirong, recently told Chinese media that the company has created 3,100 jobs for Greeks and added about $337 million a year to the Greek economy—a meaningful sum in a country with GDP of about $200 billion. The port’s revenues were about $151 million last year, up 19.2% from 2017, and Cosco says it is aiming to more than double the container volume Piraeus handles.

    Boosters see Chinese money also bolstering other sectors that suffered during the dark years. Vaggelis Kteniadis, president of V2, one of Greece’s biggest real estate development companies, says he has had only five Greek buyers for his properties in Athens’s upscale seaside suburbs during the past 10 years. Kteni?adis helped persuade Greece’s government to launch a “golden visa” program in 2013, offering foreigners resident status in exchange for investing 250,000 euros in Greek property.

    Kteniadis estimates that Chinese buyers since then have snapped up more than 4,000 houses and apartments in Athens, about 450 from him alone, bought as second homes or short-term rental properties. Today, V2’s advertisements, in Chinese, are plastered across the baggage-claim area in Athens’s airport, offering home ownership as a rapid path to EU residency—an invaluable advantage for businesspeople. “The Chinese have saved Greek real estate,” says Kteniadis, who now has offices in four Chinese cities.

    Chinese money could reshape the real estate of Piraeus itself. Guiding a reporter around the port one afternoon, Nektarios Demenopoulos, spokesman for the Piraeus Port Authority, points out a large abandoned wheat silo, which Cosco wants to convert into one of five high-end hotels; the company also envisions building a luxury shopping mall. The idea is to invest some 600 million euros to transform the sleepy town into a tourist hub, catering to cruise ships (some Chinese-owned) for which Piraeus is a stop. There is little to do in town currently, and passengers, if they disembark at all, make a beeline for the Acropolis 6.5 miles away. “The Chinese already have respect for ancient Greek culture,” Demenopoulos says. “But we still have a very small number of Chinese tourists compared to the thousands of Chinese millionaires.”

    ****

    2017年,中國在歐洲更是急劇地擴大影響力。今年3月,習近平主席到達羅馬,對意大利進行國事訪問,意大利的總統衛隊馬背列隊歡迎他,如同歡迎教皇。之后,男高音安德烈·波切利在正式宴會上為他高歌一曲。意大利的公司與中國簽署了價值28億美元的協議,而且意大利原則上同意加入一帶一路計劃,成為西方主要經濟體G7集團中首個加入的國家。在意大利,如同在比雷埃夫斯,中國的海洋雄心發揮了作用:意大利有四個港口在尋求中國投資,包括的里雅斯特,其鐵路直通比利時和德國,代表著歐洲最有價值的貿易線路。

    在希臘,局勢發展也對中遠有利。齊普拉斯的激進左翼聯盟在7月初的大選中敗北。飽受多年增稅和勒緊腰帶之苦的選民,選擇了新民主黨。新民主黨黨魁基里亞科斯·米佐塔基斯成為了新任總理,他現年51歲,哈佛畢業,曾經是風險投資家,他承諾為希臘吸引大投資者。大選前幾周在雅典舉行的一帶一路會議上,新民主黨的副主席阿多尼斯·吉奧吉亞蒂斯說,新民主黨“歡迎中國公司來希臘投資和發展”。

    走在比雷埃夫斯的港口,碼頭上堆積如山的集裝箱讓人覺得這個國家的繁榮可期。在十年的衰退和苦日子后,比雷埃夫斯的碼頭工人感知到了收入增長的機會。當地碼頭工人工會的秘書長吉奧格斯·高格斯說:“我們不想總是這么掙扎著過日子,我們需要平靜的生活。眼下,對和平的渴望超越了民族自尊。”(財富中文網)

    本文另一版本登載于《財富》雜志2019年8月刊,標題為《碼頭上的集裝箱》。

    譯者:Min

    This year, the stakes rose dramatically. In March, when President Xi landed in Rome for a state visit, Italy’s presidential guards lined up on horseback to greet him, as they do for the Pope. Later, tenor Andrea Bocelli serenaded Xi at a formal dinner. Italian companies signed deals with China worth $2.8 billion, and Italy agreed, in principle, to join the BRI, becoming the first member of the G7 group of major Western economies to sign on. Here, as in Piraeus, China’s maritime ambitions play a role: Italy is courting Chinese investment in four of its ports, including Trieste, a city whose direct-rail connections to Belgium and Germany represent some of Europe’s most valuable trade routes.

    It was Xi’s splashy Italy visit that jolted EU officials into issuing their warning about China as a “systemic rival.” The EU plans to more rigorously monitor investments by state-owned companies like Cosco. It has begun rolling out guidelines to prevent countries from ceding control of strategic infrastructure or sensitive technology—an attempt to mirror the U.S. Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., or CFIUS, which examines deals involving American companies. Closer examination of security threats and unfair competition “could severely affect China’s investment footprint in Europe,” concludes a recent report by the Rhodium Group and the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin. Indeed, data on Chinese investment in Europe shows that its pace is already slowing.

    On a walk through Piraeus, worries about China’s influence seem dwarfed by the towers of containers on the dockside—bulky symbols of the port’s prosperity. Giorgos Gogos, general secretary of the local Dockworkers Union, says the era of strikes and protests is over—for now. That harmony could end if Cosco threatens union workers’ incomes. Still, after a decade of recession and pain, Piraeus’s dockworkers sense the chance for growth—or, at least, stability. “We are tired of struggling all the time,” Gogos says. “We need a period of peace.” For now, that desire for peace seems to outweigh national pride.

    A version of this article appears in the August 2019 issue of Fortune with the headline “Boxed in at the Docks.”

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