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Greece seeks to deepen cooperation with China

Greece is a bridge between Europe and China, and China-Greece cooperation could develop much faster and to a greater extent, said Greek Parliament speaker Nikos Voutsis, who has just spent a week in Beijing and Shanghai, cultivating relations between the two countries.

From the off, 19 June, when he met in Beijing with China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu and the country’s vice president, Wang Qishan both sides hailed the traditional friendship between the two nations.

Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), said all-round pragmatic cooperation under the guidance of leaders of the two countries has produced fruitful results, with joint construction of the Belt and Road playing a leading role. He said China’s NPC is willing to cooperate more with the Greek parliament to create a better legal and social environment for building the Belt and Road and to promote the China-Greece comprehensive strategic partnership.

Belt and road initiative

Voutsis appreciated China’s rapid development and said Greece is keen to actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative, expressing the hope both sides will have more legislative exchanges to promote friendly exchanges and pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.

“China and Greece are traditionally friendly countries,” Wang said, noting both understand and respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and are working to consolidate their strategic trust. Wang said China attaches great importance to its ties with Greece and is willing to make joint efforts to strengthen exchanges of various levels.

Voutsis said the countries have “excellent relations as peoples and countries especially in recent years in the financial, trade sector”. “We believe we are a bridge between Europe and China for the economy, as well as for culture," Voutsis told Xinhua news agency.

Strategic partnership

Noting that in the context of the China-Greece strategic partnership as well as the Belt and Road Initiative, Greece and China have made significant progress in recent years in their cooperation in many sectors, Voutsis believes more can be achieved.

"The course and the effort Greece is making for its relations with China are not uninterrupted. There are some obstacles which are inherent in EU (European Union) rules and which on a number of occasions are enlarged in proportion to the 'threat' that some Europeans feel of China's role," he said.

Very optimistic

Regarding the Belt and Road project, the Greek official is "very optimistic".

"I'm very optimistic Europe and especially the Balkans and our country will be open and supporting this major strategic plan, which concerns also other continents, so that there will be an agreement on the terms of trade, but also cultural products and people-to-people exchanges," he said.

"I try to retain this optimism, not because there are clouds from the Greek or Chinese side, but because of what is happening on the wider map, like the looming possible trade wars. Who would have imagined this could happen, but such issues arise between the big poles, the United States under Trump, the G7, Russia and the European Union," he said.

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