Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe paid an official visit to Greece on Monday and met with his Greek counter Nikos Panagiotopoulos and President Katerina Sakellaropoulou.
However, this was not an individual visit by the high-ranking Chinese official, but a mini tour of Europe which included visits to Serbia, Hungary and North Macedonia.
The timing of Wei’s visits to Europe is not accidental.
It is taking place at a time when the United States is making a dynamic return to Europe, as shown by the participation of US President Joe Biden in the teleconference of the EU Summit last week.
In addition, at a time when European countries like France, Great Britain and Germany are sending warships to the South China Sea, the Chinese government is sending its Defence Minister to Europe.
In fact, Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, commented on Wei’s trip, saying to Europe that “If they can come to the South China Sea, we can also go to the Mediterranean.”
It is obvious that the countries chosen as part of Wei’s European tour is where China has a business presence.
China is looking for ways to strengthen its presence in Europe and in the military field – not necessarily through arms sales that would be difficult to do in NATO countries – but through exchanges or training of military personnel.
With this agenda, the Chinese Defence Minister talked for about an hour with Panagiotopoulos, while in his meeting with the President he pointed out, among other things, that Greece is the friendliest country to China in Europe.