Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his wife Cheng Hong have been paying a visit to Greece, a similar ancient civilization to China, for a landmark three-day official visit, during which the two prime ministers talked about friendship, cooperation and civilization, stirring interest in the development of Sino-Greek ties. Li Keqiang attended the China-Greece ocean cooperation forum held in Athens with Samaras on June 20.
"We are friends who can look into each other's eyes"
The Chinese Premier was welcomed at the Athens International Airport by Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. Samaras spoke with emotion: “Prime Minister Li Keqiang and I are friends who can look each other in the eye."
From the perspective of Samaras, the reason that he and Premier Li could look each other in the eye without misunderstanding is that they “trust each other." He believes that this personal trust also represents mutual trust between our two peoples.
"We will never forget that China selflessly stood together with us in the most difficult period of the Greek debt crisis." Li Keqiang also recalled that Greece helped China with three large-scale overseas Chinese evacuations.
“13,000 Chinese people successfully withdrew from Libya. This is deeply engraved in the hearts of the Chinese people," Li said. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you and through you to express our sincere gratitude to the Greek people. A friend in need is a friend indeed. The friendship between our two countries should be cherished. "
Sino-Greece's win-win situation good for Europe
The two leaders visited the facilities of Chinese firm Cosco, which controls the two main container terminals at Piraeus Port.
Containers of world-famous shipping companies such as COSCO, Maersk, and Evergreen, piled up tens of meters high at the No.3 terminal at the port.
Li Keqiang and Samaras mounted the bridge of the port control center and took on board a detailed explanation of the current situation of the Port Development Plan and its future prospects. The two prime ministers also jointly issued instructions to a train which was loaded with Huawei equipment. The train then set off for destinations in eastern Europe.
Piraeus port has unique natural and geographical conditions. "It could become a gateway for China into Europe," said Li. "It is like a pearl in the Mediterranean Sea." It will greatly reduce transport lead times if Chinese goods are shipped from eastern Asia via the Suez Canal and then enter the heart of Europe through Piraeus.
Piraeus is a model of mutual benefit and win-win co-operation based on market and business-oriented concepts shared by two countries in the ship-building sector.
More importantly, this kind of cooperation benefits business, Sino-Greek economic ties, and wider China-EU cooperation. Large volumes of Sino-EU re-export trade can be done through the port to reduce costs.
Moreover, Greece might become a global leader of transport economies by developing Piraeus Port, offering the country the means to extract itself from its mire of debt and achieve a better future. It is also good for balanced and long-term prosperity in Europe.
Shortly after the Chinese Prime Minister arrived in Athens on June 19, the two prime ministers held talks. Observed by the two premiers, bilateral agreements were signed concerning maritime protection, the financing by the China Development Bank of Greek-owned small and medium-sized enterprises operating in China, and the provision of services to Greek-flagged ships by the China Classification Society, a specialized inspection and certification body .
Handshake of two ancient civilizations of East and West
China and Greece are representatives of the civilizations of the East and the West. Both are countries with a long history and ancient civilizations. The world-famous Acropolis and the Great Wall form part of the world's cultural heritage.
Throughout the visit, the two prime ministers have shown respect for each other’s civilizations in their interactions.
On the Greek maritime cooperation forum, Samaras spoke of Lao Zi, Confucius and other Chinese philosophers. He said that Lao Zi’s ideas and Confucianism have had a profound influence on humanity, the value of which is the common wealth of mankind.
At the same time , Li Keqiang referred to a series of Greek thinkers and philosophers in history: Plato, Socrates, Aristotle... "Many Greek fables are well-known throughout China," he said, "while Greek people enthuse about Chinese legends." The handshake between China, the ancient oriental civilization, and Greece of the West is not only of great significance to enhance mutual understanding and trust between the two peoples, but also sets up a positive role model of dialogue, tolerance, and mutual learning among civilizations.
The article is edited and translated from the Chinese version of 《李克强总理访希掀“三股热潮”》，written by Ming Jinwei.