Greece a valuable partner in BRI growth
Over the past 70 years, China has been adhering to the path of peaceful development, pursuing an opening-up strategy for mutual benefit, and is committed to working with all countries to build a community with a shared future for mankind. As a platform for building such a community in the new era, the Belt and Road Initiative has won positive response from many countries, including Greece, and international organizations apart from attracting worldwide participation.
The development of the Belt and Road Initiative, therefore, is of great significance to China-Greece and China-European Union cooperation.
New high-quality development stage
President Xi Jinping said at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April that "going ahead, we should focus on priorities and project execution, move forward with results-oriented implementation, just like an architect refining the blueprint, and jointly promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation".
In the past six years, thanks partly to the efforts of the international community, the overall layout of the initiative has been completed, and cooperation in various fields has made remarkable progress, laying a solid foundation for the high-quality development of the Belt and Road.
The initiative upholds the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. It follows the Silk Road spirit featuring peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit. China has signed 197 cooperation agreements with 137 countries and 30 international organizations. The Belt and Road has expanded from Asia and Europe to include more participants in Africa, Latin America and the South Pacific.
From 2013 to 2018, the value of trade between China and other Belt and Road countries surpassed $6 trillion, with China's direct investment in such countries crossing $90 billion. And the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank initiated by China, the BRI Public-Private-Partnership mechanism and the third-party market cooperation mechanism are providing constant financing for Belt and Road projects.
Import expo to propel the initiative forward
The second China International Import Expo that concludes on Sunday, and the new Foreign Investment Law that aims to set up a "pre-establishment national treatment and negative list" management system will open up the Chinese market wider for foreign investors. Which shows China is determined to promote a higher-level opening-up in pursuit of common development with other countries. And the Belt and Road will help make that pursuit successful.
The Belt and Road Initiative has turned ideas into actions and vision into reality, and it incorporates the development concepts of the new era. In October 2015, President Xi proposed the new concepts of innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development, in order to promote China's development toward higher-quality, more efficient, fairer and more sustainable development.
The high-quality development of the Belt and Road fits the urgent needs of global sustainable development. The implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the removal of global imbalances are not only the common goal of all countries, but also the mission of the initiative. And the high-quality development of the Belt and Road conforms to the common expectation of the international community to share development opportunities. No wonder developing countries have actively supported and participated in the initiative.
Sino-Greek ties based on mutual respect
Although China and Greece are located at two ends of the Eurasian continent, the friendship between them has a long history, and their exchanges have increased and cooperation has become closer. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties 47 years ago, the two sides have developed bilateral relations based on the principles of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, and established a long-standing friendship.
Being an ancient civilization like China, Greece can understand the rich content of the Belt and Road Initiative from a historical perspective, and that's why it has supported and participated in this initiative from the very outset. In fact, Greece is the first developed European country to sign a memorandum of understanding on Belt and Road cooperation with China, and a model for other European countries to carry out mutually beneficial cooperation and jointly build the Belt and Road with China.
In recent years, Sino-Greek coordination and cooperation under the Belt and Road framework have strengthened. In April, Greece became a member of the China-Central and Eastern European Countries' Cooperation mechanism, injecting new impetus into the mechanism.
The two sides also signed the"2020-22 cooperation plan on key areas", which expanded the areas of cooperation from transportation, energy and telecommunications to manufacturing, science and technology, and finance. In particular, the Piraeus Port project invested by COSCO has become a shining example of Belt and Road cooperation. In 2018, the container throughput of the port reached 4.9 million 20-foot equivalent units, about 5.6 times that of 2010. And its global ranking jumped from 93rd in 2010 to 32nd in 2018.
Working together to meet global challenges
Today, we are facing a complex international situation as populism, racism, unilateralism and trade protectionism have spread to many countries and regions. This is a formidable challenge to the high-quality development of the Belt and Road and the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.
As ancient civilizations, China and Greece shoulder the responsibility and have the wisdom to promote exchanges and mutual learning among different civilizations, facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation among countries, and provide solutions to global problems.
The two countries should also seize the opportunities created by high-quality development of the Belt and Road, enhance political mutual trust, reinforce public opinions, strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, and continuously push the China-Greece and China-Europe comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level, and make greater contributions to world peace, stability and development.
Hopefully, all experts and scholars will focus on the key issues and the difficulties of the Belt and Road construction for in-depth discussions and open-minded dialogue, and contribute to the high-quality development of the Belt and Road and Sino-Greek cooperation.
The author is president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The article is an excerpt from his speech at an international forum on Belt and Road and China-Greece Cooperation on Nov 8. The views do not necessarily represent those of China Daily.