This year marks the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Greece. It is also the first year of the second decade of our comprehensive and strategic partnership.
In this year of special significance, the fact that China has been invited as the honored country of the 82nd Thessaloniki International Fair demonstrates our shared wish and firm determination to build on traditional friendship, strengthen cooperation and jointly build a better future.
There are over 160 Chinese companies participating in the fair, which include not only large state-owned enterprises such as COSCO, State Grid and Shenhua Group, but also successful private enterprises, covering a wide range of areas including, inter alia, transport infrastructure, telecommunications, energy, aviation, artificial intelligence, electronics, pharmaceuticals, light industry and handicraft. This is China’s heaviest involvement in an exhibition in the Balkans and Southeast Europe in recent years, both in terms of scale and quality.
As the honored country of the 82nd TIF, China is willing to convey the following messages:
First, China is willing to work with Greece to expand mutually-beneficial cooperation and elevate our economic relations to a new height on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit.
Second, China is ready to work with countries in the region to smooth channels of communication and build platforms for cooperation so as to facilitate regional connectivity and economic integration.
Third, China is going to work with Greece and other countries in the region to promote economic globalization that is open, inclusive, balanced and beneficial to all, oppose trade and investment protectionism through its action, and explore a path of innovative, coordinated, green, open and sustainable development in an effort to build a human community of shared destiny.
As cradles of Eastern and Western civilizations, China and Greece have made special contributions to the progress of human civilization. Both China’s “Belt and Road” initiative and the Greek initiative of “Ancient Civilizations Forum” have their roots in history, draw wisdom and strength from ancient cultures, and aim at addressing global problems and challenges, which demonstrate our sense of responsibility as ancient civilizations.
It must be pointed out that the “Belt and Road” initiative is not a geopolitical tool, but rather a platform for practical cooperation. It is not a plan of foreign aid, but a development-oriented initiative that features joint consultation, collaboration and shared benefit.
In recent years, China has always had high confidence about economic recovery and development in Greece and regards Greece as a long-term and reliable strategic partner. Strengthening cooperation between China and Greece will not only serve the interests of our two countries, but will also prove beneficial for the development of Europe and the East Mediterranean.
With mutual understanding and mutual support, China and Greece have made important achievements in our cooperation. The development of the Port of Piraeus has attracted world-wide attention and become a paradigm of mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Europe.
I am deeply convinced that the 82nd TIF will become another milestone in the development of our bilateral relations and inject new vigor in the common development of the region. Just as its important role in the exchanges between Eastern and Western civilizations and in enhancing trade ties in ancient times, Greece, and Thessaloniki in particular, will play a crucial role in the development of the 21st Century Silk Road and achieve their own prosperity and revitalization in the meantime.
* Zhou Xiaoli is China’s ambassador to Greece.