Xi's visit to Greece to raise bilateral partnership to new heights

By George N. Tzogopoulos
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, November 12, 2019
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A general view of Athens, Greece, on Nov. 6, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

Only a few days after his meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on the occasion of the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, President Xi Jinping is visiting Greece. 

It is certainly a historic moment for the two countries. It shows the importance China attaches to its relations with Greece. The bilateral partnership can be elevated to new heights indeed while the Belt and Road Initiative is being successfully rolled out. 

Discussions will certainly concentrate on the involvement of COSCO in the port of Piraeus. The flagship project is on track. The Chinese company will multiply its investments and further develop the port and the surrounding areas. There are some technical difficulties in the realization of the so-called "Master Plan" of COSCO, but it is surely in the interest of the Greek government to remove obstacles. 

An aerial view of the Port of Piraeus, Greece, on Jan. 16, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

An ordinary visitor of the port can easily realize already made changes, especially in piers II and III which contribute to a continuous increase of turnover. International media regularly cover this economic miracle.

China played a constructive role during the European debt crisis. It publicly advocated Greece staying in the eurozone through difficult and delicate times, for example in the first six months of 2015. 

And it sincerely expressed its will to contribute to Greece's recovery by making investments in a period during which trust in its economy was low and "Grexit" fears were high. Greek politicians, the media and the society will not forget this wise advice. 

It is not a coincidence that the image of China is positive in Greece. China is regarded as a partner and Chinese citizens as friends. The cultural proximity between the two countries representing ancient civilizations facilitates the strengthening of ties in the modern era.  

President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, for instance, attended the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations (CDAC) organized under the auspices of his Chinese counterpart last May. Greece can function as bridge between the West and the East, not only in culture but also on politics and economics. 

New investments are on the agenda of talks. According to a relevant memorandum of understanding signed last month in Beijing, there is joint interest of the two countries to proceed together in the fields of energy, transportation, telecommunications and scientific research. 

Likewise, the banking and financial sector provides synergy opportunities. Greece has joined the Asian Investment and Infrastructure Bank while the Bank of China is opening a branch in the Greek capital. 

Performers dance at the Greece pavilion during the second China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, Nov. 7, 2019. [Photo/Xinhua]

It's not all about investments though. People-to-people exchanges should not be sidelined. More Chinese tourists will possibly visit Greece next summer. The Air China's direct connection between Athens and Beijing will be complemented by new flights linking the former with Shanghai. 

Chinese citizens feel at home when visiting Greece. The traditional hospitality and the deep respect for the Chinese civilization and the current technological achievement of China safeguard an unforgettable stay. 

Furthermore, common education initiatives deserve special attention. China values the importance of exchanges in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative. This connectivity platform can bring more students from Greece and other EU member-states to China and vice-versa. 

Education is the key for a better understanding between the West and China. This author has become involved in several cooperation programs between European and Chinese institutions and believes they have the potential to shape the approach of young participants by enriching knowledge and eliminating stereotypes. 

Last but not least, original schemes where China and Greece participate, such as the "17+1" Initiative and the Forum on Dialogue of Ancient Civilizations, demonstrate the two countries are able to do more together beyond the bilateral level. Multilateral cooperation is thus guaranteed and fostered. Greece will enjoy political stability until the next national election of 2023 and is determined to collaborate with China on all fronts. Continuity matters. 

The sky is not the limit. Expectations are natural. The visit of President Xi Jinping in Athens fuels optimism for the years to come by setting the way forward. 

George N. Tzogopoulos is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


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