Visiting Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang has said Greece's main port of Piraeus could become the Asian country's gateway to Europe. Beijing said it was interested in expanding its presence there in the years ahead.
Continuing his three-day tour of Greece, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang expressed his nation's interest in beefing up its presence in Greece's main port of Piraeus, as it would reduce "by between seven and 11 days the time it takes to transport Chinese exports to the European Union" and cut operational costs for firms.
Li said China would encourage closer cooperation among Chinese and Greek companies in the shipbuilding sector. China's Cosco group already has a concession to operate container terminals at Piraeus. The company's investment in Greece has already created about 1,000 jobs.
Li described Piraeus as one of the most competitive ports in the world. He noted that 80 percent of China's import and export trade with Europe is transported by sea, and said the Greek port already plays a pivotal role.
The minister said Beijing was also prepared to invest in modernizing and maintaining Greece's railway connections to Europe in order to improve the efficiency of transporting goods.
In addition, China expressed interest in buying a new international airport on the island of Crete near Irakleio.
Beijing and Athens signed a total of 19 accords worth an estimated 4.7 billion euros ($6.5 billion) in shipping, infrastructure, transport and energy.
hg/nz (dpa, AP)