Support for PM’s China visit

As Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis prepares to leave on Wednesday for his four-day trip to China, a visit to which much diplomatic and commercial importance has been attached, he is likely to be encouraged by the fact that almost four in 10 Greeks say they would prefer closer ties with the Asian country than with the USA. A poll conducted by VPRC on behalf of Sunday’s Kathimerini suggested that Greeks on the whole feel positive about moves to create a closer relationship with China. Two thirds of those questioned said that they liked the Chinese to some degree. Karamanlis is expected to sign a bilateral trade agreement during his visits to Beijing and Shanghai, where he will be accompanied by a number of Greek businessmen. Britain and Spain are the only other countries to have signed similar deals with the Chinese. The agreement is seen as a vital boost for the Greek economy. Officials will also examine the possibility of creating hubs in Greece for Chinese exports that will be making their way to Europe. Greece is also keen to increase the flow of Chinese tourists, who first came to Greece in considerable number during the Athens 2004 Olympics. The two sides will also discuss the possibility of some Chinese products being manufactured in Greece. The latter may help the ruling conservatives overcome the problem that much of the Greek public seems to be wary of the influx of Chinese products because some fear that cheap and inferior products are flooding the domestic market. Almost half of those polled said they have bought Chinese products. A third of the 598 people questioned said that the import of Chinese products into Greece should be banned. Yesterday’s poll indicated that 39 percent of Greeks have a positive image of China but that exactly the same percentage have a negative one. When asked which country Greece should cooperate more closely with, 35 percent chose China and 31 percent picked the USA.

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