ATHENS, Oct. 3 (Xinhua) -- China is ready to intensify cooperation with Greece and help the country tide over its current difficulties at an early date, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said here Sunday.
"We applaud the efforts taken by the Greek government to tackle the international financial crisis and the debt crisis. And we support the measures taken by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in this regard," Wen said during a speech at the parliament.
The premier, who arrived in Athens on Saturday on a three-day official visit, said "we hope that by intensifying cooperation with you, we can be of some help in your endeavor to tide over difficulties at an early date."
Since the beginning of this year, the two countries have signed 20 cooperation agreements and business contracts, he said, adding that Greek exports to China in the first half of this year doubled compared with the same period last year.
Wen suggested that the two countries expand cooperation in four fields.
China and Greece, he said, should broaden bilateral trade, actively explore new areas of trade, and strive to double their bilateral trade volume to 8 billion U.S. dollars in five years.
China would like to import more products that meet the demand of the Chinese market, such as olive oil and wines, so as to "make our bilateral trade not only bigger, but also more balanced," he said.
The two countries should deepen maritime cooperation as well, Wen said, adding that China will work with Greece to manage well the Piraeus Container Terminal and increase its capacity to 3.7 million TEUs by 2015. TEU stands for 20-foot equivalent unit.
Beijing encourages Chinese businesses to conduct logistic cooperation with Greece and Chinese financial institutions to provide financing services for small- and medium-sized Greek ship-owners for the building and repair of ships in China, he said.
China also supports the establishment of a research center on emission reduction and energy conservation of ships, the premier said, noting that these measures would give a boost to bilateral cooperation on navigation safety and exhaust emissions reduction of ships.
China and Greece should promote investment cooperation, Wen said, adding that the two nations should push forward trade and investment facilitation and create better conditions for cooperation between their enterprises.
China encourages capable enterprises to set up businesses in Greece and would like to send a trade and investment promotion group to Greece as early as possible to seek cooperation projects in infrastructure and new energy sources, he said.
The premier also called on China and Greece to expand tourism cooperation. China welcomes greater tourism promotion efforts by Greece in China and hopes to jointly explore measures to facilitate tourism cooperation, he said.
Wen regarded Greece as a glamorous country which he always longed to visit, saying that "Although this is my first time to set foot on your soil, Greece is not unfamiliar to me. I read stories about ancient Greece when I was a boy."
The Greek civilization has left invaluable assets to humanity, he said, adding that "Arisototle's famous line 'Plato is dear to me, but dearer still is truth' has given me constant inspiration."
When Greek civilization was at its height, China also was at a time "which called for giants and produced giants." During that period a hundred schools of thoughts including Confucianism, Taoism, Mohism, and Legalism flourished, heralding an era of intellectual prosperity in Chinese history, Wen said.
The Chinese civilization and Greek civilization had made major contributions to the development of world civilization, he said.
"The Greek people encountered many vicissitudes in their long history and won numerous glories through strenuous efforts. I believe that a nation like yours is invincible," Wen said.
"In the once-in-a-century financial crisis that has battered the world economy in the last two years, both China and Greece have stood the test," he said.
"We are pleased to note that Greece is coming out of the shadow of sovereignty debt crisis. Your financial market is stabilizing, fiscal deficit is fast coming down, investors' confidence is returning and the prospect of recovery is encouraging," he said.
China and Greece enjoy a long-running friendship. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1972, the Greek government and people have been steadfast in support to China on issues concerning its major interests, which the Chinese people would never forget, Wen said.
As a friend of Greece, China is firm in supporting Greeks and will contribute through strengthening cooperation to help the country through its difficulties, Wen said.