China, Greece help each other in need: ex-ambassador
BEIJING - China and Greece know they can count on each other during difficult times and hold hands in building a prosperous future, a veteran Chinese diplomat told Xinhua prior to a landmark visit by China's premier to the Mediterranean country.
Du Qiwen, former Chinese ambassador to Greece who spent most of his diplomatic career weaving the China-Greece ties, offered his insights into the rarely boasted, yet deeply rooted friendship between the two countries and the much-anticipated visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
"Greece is one of China's best friends in Europe and in the European Union, which has always shown support, understanding and compassion on matters concerning China's core interests," Du said, recalling the mass evacuation of Chinese nationals from Libya in 2011 and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, to which "Greece gave its unreserved support and assistance."
China, in return, has strongly backed Greece's efforts in recovering from the European debt crisis, increasing imports of Greek goods and promoting investment and tourism to the country.
During the darkest days of the crisis, China continued to voice its confidence in and support for Greece on different occasions, Du said.
A great example of China's support for Greece is its biggest port Piraeus, which has been operated by China's COSCO for four years. It is the first time a Chinese corporation has been given a long-term concession to operate a large port in Europe.
Hiring over 800 people, with only eight of them from China, the wharf has seen multiplied cargo flow and brought considerable revenues to the European country, the former ambassador said.
At a time when Greek economy continues to recover and is ready for more vigor from overseas investment, Premier Li's visit next week will boost bilateral cooperation and ink business deals in various areas including logistics, shipping, infrastructure, culture, ocean, wine and olive oil imports, Du said.
Noting that the China-Greece ties have solid political foundation and public support, as well as the deeply rooted mutual trust, the senior diplomat said he is confident that bilateral cooperation will be broadened and strengthened by Premier Li's visit, which leads to a win-win result for the two "true friends."