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Speech by Ambassador Zou Xiaoli at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the CCS Mediterranean Committee

Dear Mr. Sun Licheng, President of the CCS,

Dear Captain Karnessis, Honorary President of the CCS Mediterranean Committee,

Dear Mr. Simeon Palios, President of the CCS Mediterranean Committee,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Good evening!

I would like to start by thanking the CCS Mediterranean Committee for inviting me to attend its annual meeting and address the banquet. I take it as a good opportunity to share with you views on the current situation and to discuss how to strengthen further cooperation.

In the past few days, the eyes of the world have been on Greece. China is no exception. As Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said during his recent visit to the EU headquarters, although the Greek debt crisis is an internal issue of the EU, it bears on China and the world. China is ready to play a constructive role. In this era of globalization, no country can rise above the crisis and every member of the international community should make due contribution to deal with the crisis. This is an important lesson that we Chinese and the world have learnt from the 2008 global financial crisis. China has always viewed the Greek debt crisis from the perspective of China-Greece friendship and cooperation and the large picture of China-EU relations. We want Greece to stay in the Eurozone. We hope a deal can soon be reached between Greece and the international creditors. This will safeguard unity and prosperity of the EU, and will be beneficial for sustainable economic recovery and growth of the world.

From the history and the course of social development in China, we have come to the understanding that for a country to realize social fairness, justice and progress, the key is to promote economic development, improve the living standard of the people, and press ahead with various reforms in a sustainable manner in order to establish and consolidate a modern governance system. China is where it is today because of reforms that started in the early 1980s. Mr. Deng Xiaoping once said, “Development is of paramount importance”. President Xi Jinping has pointed out that reform is an ongoing process that should never stop. In order to realize the Chinese dream of the great renewal of the Chinese nation, the Chinese government and people will firmly stick to our own path of development, while learning from the good experience of other countries and nations. We will promote worldwide cooperation with our own development and seek better development of ours through win-win cooperation with the rest of the world.

I noticed that some time ago there was a commentary on the media that China is one of the few countries willing to take the risks to expand investment in Greece. I hope this can be taken in a positive light. In recent years, China and Greece have made progress in cooperation in ports, shipping, shipbuilding, logistics, renewable energy, agriculture, science and technology, education and culture, and other areas. In particular, last year, President Xi Jinping’s transit visit to Greece and Premier Li Keqiang’s formal visit here created broad prospects for the comprehensive and strategic partnership between our two countries. Since the last general elections in Greece, the governments of our two countries have maintained communication and exchanges at various levels. Premier Li Keqiang and Prime Minister Tsipras have had several telephone conversations and exchanges of letters on issues of common interest. Vice President of the Greek Government Dragasakis visited China and the China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Year was inaugurated during the visit. The Chinese government continues to encourage Chinese companies to expand investment in Greece to seek equal, mutually beneficial, and win-win development and to better serve the interests of the two peoples.

The PCT of Cosco, a dragonhead project of our practical cooperation, increased its container throughput to 1.48 million TEU in the first half of this year, higher than the same period last year. Expansion of Pier 3 has been going on smoothly. Just over a month ago, Chinese delegations attended for the first time the “European Maritime Day” and the “Posidonia Sea Tourism Forum” held in Athens. The two countries also jointly held a Seminar on Sea Tourism Cooperation, which was also for the first time. Over half a month ago, HEMEXPO (Hellenic Marine Equipment Manufacturers and Exporters) made a successful visit to China, and signed cooperation documents with China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCMB), which has over then thousand members. The Chinese side expressed the wish to use more maritime equipments produced by Greek enterprises. Last week, a delegation from the coastal city of Zhoushan, Zhejiang Province, visited shipyards in Perama and was warmly received by the mayor. I was told that the two sides expressed strong interest to conduct cooperation. What I want to stress here is that all these exchanges aim to build and consolidate confidence in this time of extreme difficulties. They also pass confidence to Europe and the world. Confidence is more valuable than any currency or gold.

Admittedly, we have been following closely the possible risks and negative impact of the unfolding crisis. While meeting with relevant Greek ministers, I have also conveyed to them concerns of Chinese businesses in Greece and those that want to invest here. We hope the Greek government will reach agreement with the international creditors as soon as possible, which will help companies establish confidence, develop the economy, and create more jobs and wealth for the society.

Greece is the birthplace of European civilization. Besides a unique geographical location, Greece enjoys excellent talents, knowhow and expertise. Greece is a natural friend and partner for China, representing an important bond and bridge linking China with Europe. China and China-EU relations need Greece, just as Greece needs the EU and China.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The CCS Mediterranean Committee is a symbol of cooperation between China and Greece and between China and the region. This annual meeting took place at a crucial moment, reflecting the strength of solidarity. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my highest regards and sincere thanks to those who have supported and participated in cooperation between our two countries over the years. Looking into our common future, I wish the family of the CCS Mediterranean Committee more prosperous and ever stronger!

Thank you!

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