China / Government

Hopes voiced for next five years

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-02-29 07:35
Hopes voiced for next five years

Vassilios Costis, Greece's ambassador to China [Photo/China Daily]

A1 Overall, and despite the decline in the Chinese economy's rates of growth, by the end of 2015 (which marked the end of the 12th Five-Year Plan-2011-2015), we have seen significant progress in several economic fields, amid a complicated international environment. The Chinese economy has continued to grow steadily at rates close to 7 percent, and has achieved average GDP growth much higher than the global average, while contributing more than one-quarter of global economic growth. Apart from growth, there are several other impressive aspects of the Chinese economy, such as the continuing transformation of the country's economic model towards a greater reliance on quality and innovation, a new record of investment abroad and the fact that the urbanization rate has exceeded 50 percent, to name a few.

In addition, a very impressive development is the deepening of the Belt and Road Initiative, bringing together countries in Asia, Europe and even Africa, through infrastructure construction, two-way trade flows, financial cooperation and cultural exchanges. In this respect, we have seen various initiatives and synergies, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund, the China-EU Connectivity Platform and others.

A2 Promoting reforms and policies designed to raise living standards, with an emphasis on environmental protection and preventing income disparity, as well as addressing demographic and urbanization challenges will obviously be priorities in the new Five-Year Plan (2016-20). Also, creating healthier and stronger forces within society and the economy, increasing openness and transparency, restoring stability to the markets and handling growing levels of internal debt, are some of the main challenges that need to be addressed, so stable and sustainable economic growth can take place.

A3 I believe that China's leadership will aim for stable economic growth again this year, at levels above 6 percent, so the mid-term development goals are met. However, quality growth issues need to be addressed. This may happen with the stimulation of domestic consumption, the emphasis on innovation, the expansion of the service sector and the promotion of policies that address environmental concerns. Economics is not just about numbers, but about people and their needs. Long-term restructuring and adjustment goals should be balanced by short-term growth so the economy is moving ahead. In this respect, the Chinese government will most likely continue to use fiscal spending and stimulus packages.

A4 Greece stands at the crossroad of three continents-Europe, Asia and Africa-and obviously transportation and logistics constitutes an important service sector (that) Greece offers to all those wishing to access these regions. The logistics sector accounts for almost 10 percent of Greece's GDP. Thanks to China COSCO Shipping Corp, Piraeus port was the fastest-growing European port in 2013 and 2014, and a significant node in the new Maritime Silk Road linking China with Europe. China's development and closer ties to Europe cannot help but pass through Greece.

At the same time, the Greek government has initiated the modernization of the existing logistics infrastructure and the targeted development of new areas, such as railways, ports and motorways. Yet logistics and infrastructure is just one of the main areas Greece would like to develop over the next few years: energy projects, the creation of new technological and research centers that utilize our highly trained and skilled workforce and scientists (especially younger people), are just few of the fields we would like to develop further with Chinese investment from State and private companies who would like to replicate Cosco's success.

Of course, tourism is another important sector: the traditional Silk Roads always had an important cultural element; that is the interaction of cultures and exchanges between people. I strongly believe that our tourism ties may provide significant benefits, and I am looking forward to seeing more Chinese friends exploring Greece via new air routes.

A5 I had the honor of overseeing Premier Li's visit to Greece in June 2014. Li is undoubtedly one of the busiest heads of governments today, but if I had the opportunity to meet him again as an ordinary person, I'd like to invite him to Greece as a simple traveler and a true friend of Greece, and encourage him to enjoy again the unparalleled beauty, culture and warm hospitality of the country and its people!

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