16:45 GMT28 May 2020
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    China has signaled its readiness to expand ties with Greece in the face of the UK's decision to withdraw from the EU.

    With Britain voting for the withdrawal of the EU, China expressed its intent to develop relations with Greece, something that was confirmed during the Sino-Greek high-level talks in Beijing.

    During a meeting with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras earlier this week, the Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang welcomed Athens' active role in promoting relations between the EU and China. He signaled China's firm support for the EU integration process, saying that a prosperous and stable EU meets the interests of all parties.

    Tsipras, for his part, tweeted that he came to Beijing to deal with the modernization of Greek-Chinese relations, including in the political and economic fields.

    Following the talks the Prime Ministers signed a spate of agreements on trade and economic, scientific, technological and tourism cooperation. The documents stipulate China investing in Greece's railways, shipbuilding, as well as finance and innovation sectors.

    In an interview with Sputnik, Su Hao, Professor in the Department of Diplomacy at the China Foreign Affairs University, said Greek-Chinese relations should be assessed in light of the UK's move to leave the EU.

    "After Brexit the status of Greece turned out to be specific. As for China, it wants to see Europe as a single political and economic mechanism. And if Greece can remain in the EU, it will be of great importance. China bolsters political and economic relations with Greece, as well as helps Athens to remain within the EU," he said.

    Alexei Maslov, of the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics, for his part, touched upon China's willingness to cooperate with Greece on turning the Greek port of Piraeus into the leading logistics hub of the Mediterranean.

    In a separate interview with Sputnik, he said that this project, which may become a major logistic link between Europe and Asia, is of strategic importance to China.

    "This is part of a global project developed by China, which sees the project as a mechanism to help control transcontinental maritime shipments. If China injects hefty investments in the project, it will eventually become a maritime part of the Silk Road's economic zone," Maslov added.

    In July 2017, Fan Mingtao, member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, affiliated with China's State Council, told Sputnik that with the Greek crisis showing no sign of abating, China may help Athens through EU instruments or directly, through its new financial mechanisms.

    Fan added at the time that the crisis is not likely to be an overbearing problem in the long term, although China will suffer losses in trade with Greece as a result.
    According to him, China has the financial ability to aid Greece if needed, because of its existing Silk Road Economic Belt project and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

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    European Union, agreements, support, relations, withdrawal, Brexit, Li Keqiang, Alexis Tsipras, Greece, China
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