Greece, China forge closer ties

Greece and China committed on Friday to strengthening their ties as Prime Minister Antonis Samaras continued meeting top officials and business representatives in Beijing on the second day of his visit to the Asian country.

The two countries put out a joint communique covering everything from trade to cultural and diplomatic relations after Samaras met with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The two men expressed a desire to explore greater cooperation, saying that this “serves the fundamental interests of both countries and peoples.” Greece agreed to play a “positive and constructive” role in the development of relations between China and the European Union.

Sources said Samaras had a productive meeting with Xi, who accepted an invitation to visit Greece and said he was committed to encouraging Chinese firms to do business with Greek companies.

“(We) look forward to closer cooperation between the two sides on trade, shipping, culture and tourism,” Xi said according to the Xinhua news agency.

Samaras also continued his meetings with business contacts in China. He met on Friday with officials from China Minsheng Bank, China Development Bank, the Export-Import Bank of China as well as Piraeus container port operator Cosco and telecoms companies ZTE and Huawei, which signed agreements on Thursday to set up transit and logistics hubs in Greece. The prime minister also held talks with the representatives of another eight Chinese companies said to be interested in investing in Greek airports, sea ports, railways, tourism, real estate and metals.

As on his first day in China, Samaras talked up Greece’s chances of overcoming the economic crisis. “Until recently, many analysts believed that Greece was a lost cause,” he said at a business forum where there were more than 270 business-to-business meetings between Greek and Chinese entrepreneurs. “We proved them wrong. Most of them now witness not a ‘Grexit’ – an exit from the eurozone – but a ‘Grecovery’ – a recovery of the Greek economy.”

On Saturday, the prime minister is due to speak at the World Cultural Forum in Hangzhou before traveling on to Shanghai, where he will take part in another Sino-Greek business forum and meet local and government officials.