|Ambassador Xiao Junzheng Accepts a Written Interview with the Greek "Political Anecdote"|
Recently, Ambassador Xiao Junzheng accepted a written interview with the Greek newspaper "PARAPOLITIKA" and answered questions on the Ukraine issue and China-Greece relations. On April 19, the official website of "Political Anecdotes" published the content of the interview. The full text of the interview is as follows:
Q: The Biden administration and other western leaders have raised concerns over China’s assistance to Russia, while the latter is conducting a military operation after having invaded Ukraine. How do you respond to that?
A: Recently, some countries have been spreading disinformation on China regarding the Ukraine issue. The China-Russia relationship is based on non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party. China and Russia conduct normal economic and trade cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. The Chinese side has been taking concrete actions to promote peace talks ever since the conflict broke out. China has also put forth a six-point initiative on easing the humanitarian situation and has provided emergency humanitarian assistance to Ukraine. China is ready to work with the international community to make an effort for easing the situation, resolving the crisis and rebuilding peace.
Q: Do you see a new world order emerging after the war in Ukraine?
A: The world is far from being tranquil. Profound changes unseen in a century are unfolding before our eyes. The Ukraine crisis showcases that Cold War mentality and stoking bloc confrontation will only fuel instability and division and the right way forward lies in greater solidarity and cooperation under the banner of multilateralism and joint efforts to build a community with a shared future for mankind.
First and foremost, we must preserve peace. It is important to review the underlying cause of the Ukraine crisis. To resolve the current crisis, we must settle disputes through dialogue and negotiation. And we must adhere to the principle of indivisible security and keep in mind the long-term peace and stability of the region and put in place a balanced, effective and sustainable European security architecture. Second, we must embrace openness. Economic globalization is the trend of the times. We must oppose protectionism and isolationism, and firmly uphold a free, fair and non-discriminatory multilateral trading system. Third, we must strengthen cooperation. We must enhance communication and coordination on COVID-19, terrorism, climate change, cybersecurity and other global issues, build maximum consensus, and pursue convergence of interests wherever possible. The construction of the community of shared future is the right direction toward which the world order should be evolving, and we should work jointly to facilitate this evolution.
Q: What are the prospects for the further development of relations between Greece and China? In which sectors and in what particular projects do you see the most opportunities?
A: China and Greece are comprehensive strategic partners. Pragmatic cooperation between our two countries is mutually beneficial and has yielded win-win results and contributed to common development. In recent years, in the context of belt and road initiative and China—CEEC cooperation (Cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries), China and Greece have conducted fruitful cooperation in various fields. COSCO’s investment in Piraeus and the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line are flagship projects. During President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Greece in 2019, China and Greece agreed to push forward the China-Greece 2020-2022 Cooperation Plan on the Key Areas, strengthening cooperation in areas like energy, technology and finance. Two weeks ago, China and Greece signed Joint Action Programme for the Period 2022-2024 in the Field of Tourism and the 4th meeting of the steering committee for China-Greece 2020-2022 Cooperation Plan is under preparation.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of China-Greece diplomatic relations. China and Greece will hold a series of activities and we should take this opportunity to further develop key projects like Piraeus port and China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line, and deepen cooperation in transportation, energy, green economy, tourism, etc. More cooperation projects and opportunities will spring up in the future.
Q: Regarding Greek exports to China, do you see an upward trend and what can be done to further boost it?
A: Economic and trade cooperation between China and Greece is mutually beneficial and has overcome difficulties like Covid-19 pandemic. Greece’s exports to China has seen an upward trend in the past several years, rising from 562 million US dollars in 2018 to 973 million US dollars in 2020. China is committed to promoting high-standard opening up and sharing market opportunities with the rest of the world. China has a population of over 1.4 billion and a middle-income group of more than 400 million people, offering a huge market.
The world is experiencing combined impacts of major changes and a pandemic both unseen in a century. Unilateralism and protectionism are on the rise, and economic globalization is facing headwinds. China and Greece, as well as EU as a whole, should work together to oppose unilateralism and protectionism, stick to free trade and multilateralism. The China-EU investment agreement is in the interests of both China and EU. Unfreezing the approval process of the agreement will certainly inject new impetus into China-EU economic cooperation. The Greek side could also make full use of platforms like China International Import Expo and Canton Fair. The future for China-Greece trade cooperation is bright and encouraging.
Q：Greece’s highest administrative court recently blocked several projects in the port of Piraeus. How does this affect China Cosco’s Shipping investment in Piraeus?
A: The great success achieved in the past several years by Piraeus port relies on joint efforts made by both China and Greece, and also on the support of Greek government and society. The future development of Piraeus also requires China-Greece cooperation, as well as support and contribution of Greek government and all sectors of Greek society. The Chinese side believes that it is our common goal to make the Piraeus a greater success. The future development of Piraeus will benefit our two peoples. The Chinese side believes that disagreements and disputes could be solved in a proper way.
Q: You have served for four years in China’s embassy in Ankara. What is your take on the constant tension between Greece and Turkey? What is the way forward in your view?
A: It is China’s consistent position that all countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and defended. The escalation of tension in the eastern Mediterranean region serves no party’s interest. We hope parties concerned can resolve differences through dialogue and consultation, avoid making moves that may raise tension, and jointly safeguard peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean region.