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Chinese Ambassador Zou Xiaoli Holds Chinese New Year Reception for Overseas Chinese Community and Chinese Institutions in Greece

On January 17, the Chinese Ambassador Mr. Zou Xiaoli held a Chinese New Year's Reception in honor of the overseas Chinese community and Chinese institutions in Greece. More than 50 representatives of the overseas Chinese community, Chinese businesses, the Confucius Institute, China-Greece Times, European Times, and Chinese language teaching schools attended the reception. Political counselor Gao Wenqi presided over the reception.

Ambassador Zou first conveyed New Year's greetings to all and recounted the 10 most important events in China-Greece relations in 2016: Prime Minister Tsipras visited China in July; H.E. Mr. Liu Yunshan, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau and the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, visited Greece in October; COSCO Shipping and HRADF (ΤΑΙΠΕΔ) signed agreements for the transfer of PPA's majority stake; the State Grid of China has won the bid for the IPTO project; the First Session of China-Hellenic Cities Forum was successfully held in Athens; the Europe Coordination Office of ASEM Cooperation Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation under the joint initiative of China and Greece was established in Athens; the China-Greece Laser Technology Joint Laboratory on Cultural Heritage was set up in the Palace Museum of China; a promotional event for the book The Governance of China by President Xi Jinping was organized in Athens; the Chinese Embassy in Greece held a reception to celebrate the 67th Anniversary of the PRC and the 10th Anniversary of China-Greece Comprehensive Strategic Partnership; the "China Cup", a Chinese language Talent Competition was hosted.

Ambassador Zou pointed out that the central task of the Embassy is to foster the development of the country and the resurgence of the nation, part of which is to make overseas Chinese and institutions feel prouder and more fulfilled. He thanked the Chinese expatriate community and Chinese institutions for their positive contributions to the growth of China-Greece relations.

Ambassador Zou commented that although the last few years have been most difficult for Greece, China-Greece relations continue to flourish, even under these complicated circumstances.

First, the two countries have succeeded in aligning their development strategies. President Xi Jinping pointed out that China and Greece should join hands to render the Port of Piraeus an important pillar of the "Belt and Road" Initiative. Prime Minister Tsipras expressed the wish that Greece will become a hub linking East and West in the sectors of energy and transportation as well as a bridge connecting the maritime Silk Road with the Silk Road on land. This strategic alignment has provided an unprecedented, tremendous boost to bilateral cooperation in several areas.

Second, China-Greece economic and trade relations have undergone transformation and upgrading. Large Chinese corporations in the sectors of shipping, energy, telecommunications, and finance, following COSCO . The focus of economic relations has moved from pure trade to investment cooperation, demonstrating good prospects for future development.

Third, cultural and people-to-people exchanges have been enriched. Two sessions of the Maritime Cooperation Forum and the 2015 China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Year were organized with great success. The first session of the China-Hellenic Cities Forum bore rich results, while busy preparations are underway for the Chinese Cultural Center in Athens. The number of twin cities or provinces between the two countries is on the rise. Cultural exchanges in areas where Greece can offer unique perspectives, such as underwater archaeology, the Marathon, and the Olympic Games are blossoming. The number of Chinese students in Greece on state scholarships has doubled. More importantly, mechanisms for cultural, scientific, and local-government cooperation have been established, which will promote sustained cooperation in the relevant areas.

Fourth, the overseas Chinese community in Greece has taken on a new look. In the face of severe difficulties, our compatriots in Greece have not been intimidated or shown discord. Instead, you have demonstrated qualities such as strength, unity and enterprise. The number of overseas Chinese organizations has increased from 8 to 11. Yet another Chinese language school has been set up. The Chinese expatriate community and the Embassy have been jointly and successfully organizing the "China Cup" Chinese language Talent Competition for two consecutive years. China-Greece Times began publishing a Greek edition. The website of China-Greece Times is being continuously improved. The European Times has set up a journalist mission in Athens. It is worth mentioning that apart from enhancing unity among their ranks, the overseas Chinese community is also making donations to Middle East refugees and vulnerable groups in Greece and providing humanitarian assistance, which has been warmly welcomed by the Greek society.

Talking about what is in store for 2017, Ambassador Zou pointed out that 2017 marks the 45th anniversary of the commencement of diplomatic relations between China and Greece as well as the first year of the second decade of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries. China-Greece relations should "climb high and look far". "Climb high" means that bilateral relations will be elevated to a higher level and will have a new starting point. "Look far" means the two sides should focus on the second decade of the comprehensive and strategic partnership, creating new prospects for bilateral cooperation. To this end, we must make concerted efforts in the following areas. First, we will deepen bilateral cooperation to develop the "Belt and Road" project. Second, we should ensure the success of the 2017 Year of China-Greece Cultural Exchanges and Cultural Industry Cooperation. Third, we should take full avail of the fact that China being the country of honor in the 2017 Thessaloniki International Fair. Fourth, we will facilitate more Chinese businesses wishing to develop a presence in Greece. Fifth, we will work towards ensuring that the Chinese Cultural Center in Athens opens its doors earlier. Sixth, we will make the second session of the China-Hellenic Cities Forum an even greater success and work to achieve substantial progress in underwater archaeology, Marathon, the Olympic Games, etc.

At the end of his speech, Ambassador Zou said that the world today is facing many uncertainties. 2017 could bring many changes or even chaotic situations. The international community expects China to demonstrate more responsibility and leadership. President Xi Jinping delivered an important speech at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting lately, in which he put forward the "Chinese solution" for promoting global economic development. He called on various parties to commit to opening-up and win-win cooperation and to jointly build a community of common interests and a shared future; this has drawn intense interest and positive responses by the Greek and global Media. The 19th National Congress of the CPC will be held in the second half of this year; this is expected to have a substantial impact on China and the world. We are positive that China will overcome its various domestic and external challenges, and will march proudly towards the two-centenary goals under the strong central leadership of comrade Xi Jinping. China-Greece relations will yield even more fruitful results. Overseas Chinese communities and Chinese institutions will embrace an even brighter future.

A video recording of President Xi Jinping's New Year's address was also played at the reception. Representatives of the overseas Chinese communities in Athens and Thessaloniki and Chinese institutions gave speeches expressing their hopeful optimism for the growth of the motherland and the advancement of China-Greece cooperation.

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