China looks to Greece to jointly develop Africa trade

China’s ambassador to Greece has joined the increasing clamour for developing closer ties between Beijing and Athens, proposing the two countries cooperate across the wider Mediterranean region and especially in developing trade with Africa.

China has been expanding its interests in Africa and has not only become a big investor in the continent, but a key trade partner with a growing number of African countries.

In comments made thanking Greece for the Greek frigate Salamis’ evacuation of 79 Chinese nationals from Libya at the beginning of the month, ambassador Zou Xiaoli noted the long friendship between the two countries and the potential benefits of closer cooperation.

“Greece extended a helping hand in evacuating Chinese nationals from Albania, Lebanon and Libya in 1997, 2006 and 2011, respectively. The fourth evacuation on 2 August 2014, once again added a significant page in the history of China-Greece friendship,” said Zou. “China feels proud and lucky to have such a good friend as Greece.”

Noting China’s major investment in Greece – Cosco’s container terminal in Piraeus – is “the fastest growing one in the world,” the ambassador stressed his country’s long cooperation with Greek shipowners. Greeks are key customers of the country’s shipyards and leading cross-trader in the transport of China’s much needed commodities of iron ore and coal.

“Greece is not only a gateway for the flow of capital, commodities, and people between China and Europe; with joint efforts, China and Greece will be able to extend their cooperation to the whole Mediterranean region and the African continent,” said Zou.

“Greece enjoys geographical advantages and good relationship with many African countries. China has been Africa’s largest trade partner for the last five years, with the bilateral trade volume over $200bn in 2013. China has also been investing and constructing important projects in the fields of transport, communications and energy in Africa, injecting vitality into Africa’s efforts to achieve self-sustainable development.

“As common friends and partners of Africa, China and Greece can jointly play an important role in promoting stability and prosperity in Africa, a tremendous market with the greatest potential in the world,” said ambassador Zou.