European Parliament Vice President Dimitris Papadimoulis and Chai Xiaolin, the head of economic and commercial counsellor’s office of China’s mission to the EU, praised on Friday during a conference on EU-China’s relations, at the European Parliament, Greece’s strategic role in the Euro-Chinese relations.
“We consider today’s event a very important one. And it is even more important because it is held at a period of intense geopolitical upheaval, at global level. From East Asia to Latin America, but also from the US to the Middle East, developments are rapid. And they require constant alertness and setting of new priorities and policy choices for the EU, the member states, and other important countries such as China. EU-China relations are of strategic importance for both sides. EU and China are two of the world’s four largest economies – along with the US and India. Their bilateral trade and investment relations are steadily increasing, gradually and often impressively. The further strengthening of these relations is necessary and must be based on the mutual interest but also on the respect of both labour relations and environment,” Papadimoulis underlined.
Papadimoulis also referred to the Paris Climate Change Agreement, saying: “The EU and China have signed the Paris Climate Change Agreement. This is particularly important, as a letter was sent by the Trump administration a few hours ago excluding the US from the Paris accord. Both the EU and China have to seek common solutions to major global problems through dialogue. By deepening multilateral co-operation, with transparency, effectiveness, and open discussion on issues of disagreement.”
Papadimoulis praised the Chinese government’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative which he described as particularly important as it can help to strengthen global growth and enhance regional security. “The global economy needs new development initiatives, not policies of isolation, protectionism and regression. China’s investment plan should contribute to sustainable development, respecting international law, fairness, and building on a transparent system of rules for international trade and investment.”
Papadimoulis made an extensive reference to Greece saying that “due to its geographical position, it is a gate for developing Euro-Chinese relations as it is a crossroads and a connecting link to this new “One Belt-One Road” initiative. He also noted that “China’s investment interest in Greece and in southern Europe is rather significant lately, it is steadily strengthening and is aimed at developing and linking ports, railways and transport, shipping and tourism, through large-scale investments in infrastructure, but also in the development of telecommunications and networks. “The port of Piraeus,” the Greek MEP stressed, “has, with the contribution of Chinese investments, turned into a major link in the chain of the new silk road. A place where the belt and the road meet. It constitutes an important gate to Europe in the plan for the silk road, with significant mutual benefits for both trade and infrastructure.”
On her part, Xiaolin said at the beginning of her speech: “I agree on most Papadimoulis said and you will find many common points in my speech. A strong message I want to convey to you is that the OBOR initiative(One Belt, One Road) is an important lever for mutually beneficial cooperation with all participants. It will create new opportunities for both China and the EU to agree on a joint effort in the 21st century. China and the EU are at the two ends of the new silk road and are important links in the chain for the 21st century sea route. This is an important initiative, which is also an important platform for both sides, China and the EU, to develop cooperation among them. Today China is the world’s largest developing country, while the EU is the largest developing economy. The fact that these two sides can cooperate despite their intense differences says a lot about the strategic importance one side has for the other.”
Talking about the geopolitical situation globally and this part of the region in particular, the Chinese Minister noted: “Everyone is aware that the global shipping industry has been shrinking lately. But the transfer of containers in Piraeus increased by a two-digit figure in 2016 and is expected to bring 2.6 billion euro revenue to Greece as well as a significant increase in job positions.”
Finally, she referred to the Chinese Prime Minister’s visit to the EU: “Our Prime Minister will be in Brussels tomorrow. And he has already announced at the High-Level Forum on Silk Road that China continues its export trade efforts and we are talking about commodities of 2.3 trillion dollars. An amount of 150 billion dollars will be invested over the next few years in the countries where the silk road passes.”