Beijing.- (ANA-MPA, Xinhua)
Chinese President Xi Jinping in his meeting with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday stressed that the cooperation between the two countries was strengthened thanks to Tsipras and invited him to visit China more frequently.
Greece has a key role in the international arena and it is one of China’s most trusted partners, the Chinese President said and added: China’s priority is cooperation in the fields of trade, telecommunications and infrastructure as well as the financial sector.
He made special mention to the port of Piraeus saying that the goal is to render it the largest port of the Mediterranean, attract new investments from China and further develop it.
Xi made his remarks at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which started Saturday – a Chinese initiative aimed at expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe through multi-billion-euro infrastructure investments.
Describing Greece as a vital part of Beijing’s vision to revive the Silk Route, Xi said the cooperation between the two countries “continues to glow with new dynamism,” adding that their cooperation in matters of energy, infrastructure and telecommunications must be “deep and solid.”
He also pointed out that the European Union is a key partner of China, and is keen to keep the EU prosperous, stable and open adding that it seeks the further deepening of cooperation with the EU.
Xi stressed the need to boost the cultural relationship between the peoples of Greece and China who share the tradition of important ancient civilizations, one of the East and the other of the West.
On his part, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras referred to the strategic importance of strengthening cooperation with China. Moreover, he pointed out the investment opportunities in a number of areas such as infrastructure, telecommunications, energy, the financial sector and trade.
He said Greece is at a crossroads of three continents and it constitutes an important hub in the economic, energy and cultural sectors and can serve as a bridge between China and Europe. Tsipras underlined that Greece has worked hard over the last year to upgrade the relation between the two counties which is based on the two ancient civilizations. He added that Greece is overcoming the crisis, has returned to positive growth rates and will soon tap the markets. The prime minister said that Greece aims at further strengthening the cooperation with Beijing as China’s strategic vision coincides with that of Greece.
Tsipras hailed the “very significant” deals on energy, telecommunications, shipping and tourism signed with the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China. Seeking to build further on the momentum, Tsipras said, “It is Greece’s strategic choice to strengthen ties with China on all levels.”
On Friday, the Greek infrastructure development group Copelouzos announced it had signed a deal with China’s Shenhua Group to join forces in green energy projects and the upgrade of power plants in Greece and other countries. According to a company statement, the deal will involve investment of 3 billion euros.
Beijing and Athens have been on the same page in recent years with regard to the ambition to transform Greece into a major hub for trade between Asia and Europe, with Chinese shipping giant Cosco purchasing a majority stake in the Piraeus Port Authority last year. Also last year, China’s State Grid became a strategic investor in Greek power grid operator ADMIE.
Greece is keen to expand strategic relations with China in the telecommunications, culture, cinema and the audiovisual cultural industry, as well as through economic cooperation and investments, Greek Digital Policy Minister Nikos Pappas said told senior officials in the Chinese broadcasting authority and Chinese industry and IT ministry on Friday.
Pappas met Chinese Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) Chen Zhaoxiong, noting that the strategic relationship between Greece and China is greatly supported by cooperation in new digital technologies and telecommunications. This was reflected, Pappas added, in the expanding activity of Chinese technology and telecommunications equipment firms, noting that this was more than a business collaboration but the result of a “strategic choice by Greece.”
Greece’s geostrategic position offered Chinese firms greater access to many neighbouring markets and, as Greece emerged from the economic crisis, it could play an important role for China’s connectivity and networks in its region, putting emphasis on related Chinese investments, he said.
The expansion of such international cooperation, in addition to fiscal benefits, will also provide tangible benefits for consumers through the import of corresponding regulatory policies, while the promotion of related policies is supported by the political determination of governments in both countries, the Greek minister added. He also invited the Chinese minister to visit Athens.
Chen Zhaoxiong referred to the great progress that China has made in the telecommunications, digital technology and IT sector in recent years, placing the country in the top positions for research, development and technological innovation worldwide. In terms of quantitative data of users and consumers of related services, China ranked first in the world, he noted.
Highlighting the benefits of the “One Belt – One Road” policy, the Chinese official noted the common understanding between Greece and China regarding the opportunities offered by Greece’s infrastructure and geographic position. He expressed his confidence in the prospects of expanding Greek-Chinese cooperation in the above areas and thanked Pappas for the Greek government’s support of related Chinese investment programmes.
Pappas also met the Deputy Director of China’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television Tong Gang, discussing the central role of cooperation in cinema, radio and television and their importance for promoting a good image of Greece and China. He also outlined the ministry’s efforts to establish an innovative legislative framework that aims to bring foreign film productions to Greece.
Among others, he referred to the momentum created by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ visit to Beijing and Shanghai last July, with the signature of a Memorandum of Cooperation between China’s CCTV and the Greek state broadcaster ERT.
Tong Gang accepted an invitation to visit Athens and further promote bilateral cooperation in these areas.