China eyes more joint projects with Greece

Updated: 2014-06-19 14:04

By FU JING in Athens (China Daily)

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Premier Li Keqiang has told Athens that Beijing will support Chinese enterprises becoming involved in privatization schemes and infrastructure projects to help balance the books and generate much-needed jobs in the European nation.

"Greece is accelerating privatization and infrastructure construction. China will encourage its well-established enterprises to play an active part in this process," Li said in an article for the Greek newspaper Kathimerini on Wednesday.

China eyes more joint projects with Greece

He is scheduled to arrive in Athens on Thursday afternoon to begin a three-day tour of Greece after a visit to Britain.

Following Chinese shipping giant COSCO's successful management of two container piers in the port of Piraeus, Li said China wants more cooperation with Greece on infrastructure development, including airports, railways and roads.

To benefit from privatizing its state-owned assets and public utilities, Greece has opened up dozens of projects including ports, airports, tourism resorts, real estate development and energy to international bidders.

To date, COSCO has been shortlisted with four other bidders to obtain a major stake in the port of Piraeus. The result is expected to be announced before the end of this year.

"Piraeus Port, where the Chinese company is involved in its operation, is performing well, contributing to local economic development and employment," Li said in the article. "We will work with Greece to make the port the best of its kind in the Mediterranean."

Li also said in the article that China will expand marine cooperation with Greece, highlighting the China-Greece Marine Cooperation Forum being held in Athens on Friday, the first time the two governments have organized such a high-level event.

Both sides should use this opportunity to deepen cooperation on maritime transportation, logistics and shipbuilding, Li said.

They should also boost cooperation in new areas such as marine science and environmental protection. "Such cooperation will inject a strong impetus into the two nations' economic and social development," Li said.

Referring to the fact that last year 100 million Chinese traveled overseas, Li said tourism will become an important growth area for bilateral cooperation.

"Greece boasts rich tourism resources, and many Chinese people long to visit the Acropolis in Athens, the Temple of Apollo and other cultural sites," he said.

During Li's visit, the two countries will sign an agreement on establishing cultural centers.

In the article, Li said that Greece, a European Union member, will make a greater contribution to the sustained and healthy development of Sino-EU relations. Greece will be the fifth European country visited by Li since he became premier in March last year, following Switzerland, Germany, Romania and Britain.

Chinese ambassador to Greece Zou Xiaoli told China Daily, "This arrangement indicates how high Greece is on China's foreign relations agenda." Zou said Li's visit comes at a critical time for Greece's economic recovery, adding, "This will be a landmark event for bilateral relations."

Referring to the many European leaders who have visited China this year, the ambassador said: "It is rare to see such a high frequency of mutual exchanges. I think the momentum will continue in the second half of the year."

Both China and the EU have "new strategic visions", areas of shared interest are increasing, interdependence is growing and the desire to work together has strengthened, he said. "Both sides will have an even bigger impact on reshaping the world."

Zou said he hopes Greece's economic recovery will quicken.

He said that in 2010, Greece introduced structural reforms to reduce its hefty debt. "The progress the country has made with reform is recognized around the world," Zou added.