A welcome ceremony is held for the visiting Chinese naval fleet at Piraeus port. (Xinhua/Marios Lolos)
A Chinese naval fleet arrived on Sunday at Piraeus port for a four-day friendly visit to Greece, conveying a message of friendship and cooperation.
Missile destroyer Changchun, missile frigate Jingzhou and supply vessel Chaohu docked at Piraeus, Greece's largest port, receiving a warm welcome by Greek and Chinese officials as well as over 1,000 Chinese living in Greece, as the Philharmonic band of the Municipality of Piraeus performed.
"I want to welcome you and your ships in the port of Piraeus. The recent relationship between our countries is in a very high level due to commercial and cultural cooperation and we are looking forward to be better," Commodore Georgios Agrafiotis, Commander of the Naval Command of Aegean, said during the welcome ceremony.
"The Naval Task Group 150 of the Chinese People's Liberation Army departed from Shanghai on April 23 and during the mission we will conduct maritime training and goodwill visits to Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania," said Rear Admiral Shen Hao, Commander of the Chinese navy fleet, while addressing the event.
The Chinese officer expressed confidence that the goodwill port call in Greece will help further advance bilateral cooperation.
The Escort Task Groups of the Chinese Navy have been offering protection to Greek commercial ships since 2008, while the Greek Navy has helped the Chinese side evacuate overseas Chinese from war-torn areas in recent years, Gao Wenqi, Charge d'Affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Greece said in a speech at the ceremony.
As this year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Greece, the visit of Task Group 150 will reinforce the friendship between the armed forces and ties between the two countries and peoples, he said, highlighting that Piraeus is a great example of win-win bilateral cooperation in recent years, since Chinese giant Cosco Shipping has taken over the management of Piraeus Container Terminal and Piraeus Port Authority.
"The Piraeus port, which the Task Group 150 is visiting, is a pearl of the Mediterranean, the pride of Greece, the lodestar of China-Greece cooperation, and a place where our joint dreams come true," Gao stressed.
"China and Greece are promoting the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line in which Piraeus is a key port. Our two ancient nations, inheritors of illustrious civilizations, are marching hand-in-hand towards their common goal of rejuvenation," the Chinese diplomat added.
After the ceremony, the Greek Navy officers, Chinese embassy officials and Chinese living in Greece visited the ships which will depart from Piraeus on Wednesday.