ATHENS – Visiting Premier Wen Jiabao said on Saturday that China has been holding Greek government bonds and will buy new ones to help the country recover from the financial crisis.
To bring closer the two countries which have such great philosophers such as Socrates and Confucius, Wen also made five proposals at his meeting with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, including deepening cooperation in shipping industry, doubling bilateral trade volume in five years and encouraging Chinese enterprises to invest in Greece.
"A special fund will be established to provide a basket of financial help to Greek ship owners who will buy Chinese vessels," Wen said, adding that China’s investment in Piraeus, the biggest port in Greece, will help increase its turnover capacity and build it into a transfer center for goods traveling between China and Europe.
COSCO, leading Chinese shipping giant, successfully won a container operation project at Piraeus in 2008. Under the contract, COSCO will manage Pier II and Pier III of Piraeus Container Terminals for 35 years. The container movement volume from January to April 2010 has already increased by 43 percent compared with the same period last year, despite the financial crisis that hit Greece hard.
"China will work together with Greece to face challenges of all kinds," Wen said, noting that Athens has taken positive measures to lessen impact from its sovereign debt crisis.
The Greek parliament passed the Economy Protection Bill in March, which aimed to save 4.8 billion euros through a number of austerity measures. In May, Greece, other Eurozone countries and the International Monetary Fund have reached a loan agreement of 110 billion euros in total.
Positive measures already produced more promising data. The country’s budget deficit fell 32.3 percent from January to August 2010, exceeding its target of a 26.5 percent decrease for the same period. Papandreou said that Wen’s historic visit is a symbol of friendship and brings strength for Greek people to overcome difficulties.
"To support Greece is to support European Union," he said.
The Greek prime minister also said that EU should acknowledge China’s complete market economy status and that the EU arms sale embargo should be lifted.
Wen chose Greece as the first stop in his four-nation tour, which also brings him to Belgium, Italy and Turkey. He will leave Athens for Brussels on Monday, where he will attend the eighth Asia-Europe Meeting on October 4-5 and the 13th China-European Union Summit on Oct 6.