On February 23, Chinese Ambassador Zou Xiaoli attended the Symposium on China-Greece Higher Education and Research Cooperation held in the Technological Educational Institute of Athens (TEI). Over 300 people attended the symposium including Mr. Pantis, Secretary General for Education, Research and Religious Affairs, President Bratakos of TEI, representatives of over 10 Greek universities, research institutions, and relevant organizations, as well as administrative staff and scholars of over 30 institutions of higher learning from Zhejiang Province.
In his address, Ambassador Zou said that both China and Greece have a long tradition of honoring education and research. Ancestors of the two nations made splendid contribution to humanities and science, with great influence on the development of human civilization. History has told us repeatedly that higher education and research is an important foundation for a country's vitalization and prosperity, and a crucial yardstick for its international competitiveness and influence. Today China is doing its very best for its economic transformation and upgrading and to realize, through innovation, medium-to-high level of economic development from medium-to-high growth rate, for which institutions of higher education and research shoulder important responsibilities. Reforms are being carried out in various areas to bring Chinese higher education and research to an international level and to meet the demands of changing circumstances and tasks. During my two years in Greece, I have witnessed the most difficult period for this country for the past 40-plus years. However, I have never lost confidence of Greece, for it is a country with a full-fledged educational and research system, large numbers of world-class institutes and businesses with great innovation capacity, as well as high-caliber engineers and technicians who represent the hope and future of Greece.
The ambassador pointed out that during the period between 2012 and 2015, China and Greece had implemented 37 inter-governmental research projects, covering Nano materials, agro-bio technology and food, health and bio medicine, information and communication technologies, renewable energy and energy-saving, environmental protection, space technology, cultural heritage protection, etc. Last year, under the framework of China-Greece Maritime Cooperation, bilateral cooperation was expanded to marine economy, climate change, bio diversity, volcano and earthquake, marine tourism, etc. At the beginning of this year, the Palace Museum of China and FORTH of Greece signed a cooperation agreement to set up a joint research office devoted to the application of laser technology on the cleansing and protection of cultural heritage. After the introduction into China of greenhouse technologies of Athens Agricultural University by China Agricultural University, the two sides reached agreement on cooperation in organic agriculture, environmental protection, and agriculture-related technology training. Next month the Jiangxi Academy of Science will send people to Greece to discuss potential cooperation on energy-saving buildings. In addition, the Athens University, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, the Piraeus University, and University of Yoannina are training Chinese professionals in Greek language, history, maritime affairs and port management.
Ambassador Zou called on the two sides to further improve the level and scale of cooperation in higher education and research. He put forward the following proposals: first of all, the scale of inter-university exchanges and exchange of students should be boosted to promote mutual understanding. He expressed the hope that initiatives will be taken by the Greek government to attract more Chinese students to study in Greece on their own expenses. Second, the two sides can jointly cultivate high-caliber professionals of application technologies. He believed that with more Chinese investment and tourists in Greece, more job opportunities would be created for Greek technicians. Greece has international competitiveness in technological education, with rich experience in shipbuilding, shipping, trade, tourism, agriculture, food, art and cultural heritage protection. They can well pursue win-win cooperation with their Chinese counterparts and enterprises to jointly carry out human resource training. Third, the two sides can enhance joint R&D and accelerate the application of research findings. The institutions of higher learning and research of the two sides have comparative strength and are complementary to each other in research areas, equipment and funding, market development, and international exchanges. China is ready to provide market and funding for research findings of Greece and help Greece to export more quality commodities and services to China. The Chinese side is also ready to discuss with Greece the possibility of setting up joint labs, scientific parks, and joint ventures; carrying out commodity research and manufacturing catering to Europe, the Balkans, North Africa, and Middle East, and jointly exploring third-party markets. Fourth, governments of the two countries should coordinate overall planning to build platforms for higher education and research cooperation. This year marks the year of cultural exchanges and cultural industry cooperation. The Asia-Europe Scientific Innovation Conference will be held in Athens. He called on the two sides to seize the opportunities, draw reference from advanced international concepts and practice, take into consideration our national conditions and realistic needs, improve inter-governmental cooperation mechanisms on education and research, and guide the active participation of various communities for educational exchanges and cooperation.
Ambassador Zou stressed that the comprehensive and strategic partnership between China and Greece is entering the second decade. Cooperation in the Port of Piraeus is having an encouraging momentum and broad prospects. We should take a strategic and long-term perspective, and push cooperation on higher education and research to a new high so as to provide strong intellectual and personnel support for the development of bilateral relations, serve socioeconomic development of the two countries with more fruitful results of innovation and build a new bridge of friendship and cooperation between China and Europe and between Asia and Europe.
The Greek side expressed the support of the Greek government for international exchanges and cooperation in higher education, and for the development of institutions of higher learning with an international vision and compatible with international practice. China has made world-recognized achievements. Greece is ready to work with their Chinese counterparts to give full play to their competitive strength, expand channels for cooperation, and set up regular cooperation mechanisms for common development. The symposium was a first step in this direction. Universities of Zhejiang Province and TEI are pioneers and will certainly attract more universities and research institutes to join them.
At the symposium, 8 universities including the Zhejiang University of Media and Communications and Hanzhou University of Electrics and Technology signed MOUs with TEI on inter-university exchanges and cooperation. Traditional Greek dancing was presented to welcome the Chinese guests who came from afar.
Before the symposium, Ambassador Zou met with President of TEI Bratakos. The two sides exchanged views on further promoting cooperation in higher education and research.
The Zhejiang delegation of higher learning is composed of 66 people, who represent 30 universities and colleges.