China committed to peaceful settlement of maritime disputes
ATHENS - China is committed to settling maritime disputes through dialogue and negotiation on the basis of respecting historical facts and international law, says visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
Li made the statement on Friday when addressing the China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Forum in Athens, where he called for stronger maritime cooperation between the two nations and expounded China's viewpoints on maritime affairs.
SEA OF PEACE, COOPERATION, HARMONY
Pledging to jointly build a "sea of peace" with other countries, Li said China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development and firmly oppose any act of hegemony in maritime affairs.
"China is a signatory state to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and has made active efforts to safeguard the principles of the convention," he said.
China is willing to strengthen communication and cooperation with related countries and improve bilateral and multilateral mechanisms, so as to jointly safeguard free and safe navigation, fight piracy and terrorism, respond to disasters and construct a maritime order of peace and tranquility.
He added that China is resolute in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is conducive to regional peace and order as well.
Proposing to build a "sea of cooperation," Li said China is willing to work with maritime states to actively forge a cooperative partnership to build sea lanes, develop marine economy and utilize marine resources, among other endeavors.
He also proposed to build a "sea of harmony" and shared his vision on protecting the marine environment.
The organic coexistence of mankind and oceans is the right way to deal with nature, he said, adding that all countries should properly treat the marine eco-environment to preserve oceans as mankind's reliable and inhabitable home.
MODEL FOR MARITIME PARTNERSHIP
On China-Greece cooperation, Li pledged to continue cooperating with the southern European country and supporting its efforts to revive its economy.
The two countries, which have already forged a comprehensive strategic partnership, have a great prospect for maritime cooperation, Li added.
He proposed that China and Greece make good use of the "China-Greece Marine Year" program in 2015, establish an intergovernmental committee on cooperation, and enhance cooperation in such fields as marine technology, environmental protection, disaster prevention and management, and maritime law enforcement.
He suggested that the two countries make the Piraeus Container Terminal project, jointly operated by China and Greece, a highlight in their cooperation, and build the Piraeus port into a most competitive one in Europe and even in the world.
To that end, Li proposed to develop such industries as ship building and repairing, and reconstruct the rail linking the Piraeus port to inland Europe.
He called on China and Greece to further cooperation in the shipping industry and expand cooperation in trade and investment.
The premier also urged both countries to make unique contributions to forging a modern marine civilization.
The Piraeus port, the largest in Greece, is jointly operated by Chinese state-owned shipping giant COSCO and the Greek port authority under a 35-year lease agreement signed in 2009. COSCO is the first Chinese corporation that 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 its cargo flow grow significantly and brought considerable revenues to the European country.
Also speaking at the forum, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras said Greece is ready to strengthen maritime cooperation with China and jointly boost the construction of the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road.
The Chinese premier's views on China-Greece maritime cooperation resonated with many Greek experts.
Vassilios Lukousis, vice president of the Hellenic Center for Marine Research, said that "blue growth" has brought new expectations for economic development, with new job opportunities created thanks to the unexplored potential of oceans, seas and coastal areas.
"There is no doubt that both Greece and China have the potential in blue growth and should promote cooperation on marine research, shipping, technology and innovations," he said.
Vassilis Digalakis, rector of Technical University of Crete, said that the China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Forum provided the opportunity for his university to sign a research agreement with a Chinese institute, which will enhance their cooperation on marine science and technology.