Premier Li Keqiang has wrapped up a three day visit to Greece, his first official visit to the country since taking office last year.
On June 20, 2014, the Premier addressed the China-Greece Maritime Cooperation Forum in the Greek capital, Athens. He called for stronger maritime cooperation between the two nations and outlined China’s standpoint on maritime affairs.
“The Aegean Sea has nurtured the great ancient Greek civilization, and has also shaped the Greek spirit of inclusiveness, optimism and the character of courage and reason. The Greeks also created an advanced maritime culture and navigational technology. The seas have always been part of China’s civilization. It was via the seas that China and other countries carried out exchanges of goods, and created the ancient maritime Silk Road, which echoed the Silk Road on land,” Premier Li Keqiang said.
After the historical comparisons, Premier Li Keqiang moved onto the present, and the current sea disputes with some of China’s neighbors.
Li said that China has always followed the principles of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“We are dedicated to solving bilateral maritime disputes through direct dialogue and negotiations, based on respect for historical facts and international law. We will firmly support and carry out maritime peacekeeping actions, and firmly oppose those who disrupt maritime peace and order. We are willing to strengthen communication and cooperation with relevant countries, to improve bilateral and multilateral mechanisms, and together we can ensure safety and freedom of navigation, fight piracy, terrorism and maritime disasters, and create a peaceful and harmonious maritime order,” Li said.
Li insisted China will stick to a path of peaceful development and firmly oppose any act of hegemony in maritime affairs.
But he warned that China will be resolute in safeguarding its national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Then it was onto the future, and the Premier’s vision of an “ocean of cooperation”.
“China is willing to actively build maritime partnerships with other countries, jointly create navigational routes, develop the maritime economy, harness maritime resources, and probe the mysteries of the ocean. Together we can contribute to expanding global maritime cooperation,” said premier Li.
“The unity of the ocean and humanity is the path for the harmonious coexistence of humankind and nature. All countries should treat the ocean ecology kindly and protect the ocean environment while exploiting the ocean, and let the ocean be the ever-lasting beautiful homeland that humankind can depend on, inhabit, and cultivate,” Premier Li said.
Premier Li says China and Greece can contribute towards the building of a modern maritime civilization -- rooted in tradition but open to the future.
To view that concept being put into practise, he later went on a tour of Greece’s biggest port, Piraeus.
The port’s Container Terminal project is being jointly operated by Chinese and Greek companies. Li called it a “pearl” in bilateral cooperation.
The Premier is now back in Beijing, after a six-day trip that also took him to the UK.