Jason Subler’s Profile
Expo diplomacy and the Greek rescue
My colleague Edmund Klamann offers this dispatch from the Shanghai World Expo:
Outdoors at the sprawling Shanghai World Expo site on opening day, ubiquitous loud-speakers warned the afternoon crowd of hundreds of thousands that the line to enter the German Pavilion was three hours long and they should visit other pavilions.
But inside the Greek Pavilion, where Deputy Prime Minister Theodoros Pangalos spoke to a small group of staff and dignitaries at an opening ceremony, the impatience was palpable as his country’s larger European neighbours deliberate over rescue measures.
“We are big enough to face our own problems,” he told a brief, informal news conference after the ceremony.
“We cannot face global speculation. This has to be faced by European policy, which is lacking.”
The harsh remarks for his fellow Europeans contrasted sharply with the warm words reserved for his hosts in China.
Even in touting the pavilion, which Pangalos hoped would present Greece as an attractive place to visit, he praised Chinese tourists as “interested in culture — they don’t over drink and they don’t go around naked, unlike other Europeans”.
He said his own socialist PASOK party was close to China’s Communist Party and he would be back in China again in a month for a conference among political parties.
“Both China and Greece have a mixed economy,” he said.
He did not answer directly about whether this trip to China, which runs from Thursday to Sunday, included a plea to buy Greek bonds, although he said discussions with Vice Premier Li Keqiang included economic relations between the two countries.
With tongue in cheek, but clearly acknowledging China’s clout, he also proposed a tourist exchange with China of 10 percent of each country’s population — which would translate into some 130 million Chinese visiting Greece and just over 1 million travelling in the other direction.