by Wang Bowen
BEIJING, July 4 (Xinhua) -- Cooperation with China will bring massive opportunities for Greece and many other countries, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras told Xinhua on Monday.
The Greek head of government is in Beijing for a five-day visit to boost bilateral cooperation and lure more Chinese investment to help revive his country's flagging economy.
"Greece serves as the portal into Europe both by land and by sea," the Greek leader told Xinhua, adding that Greece would like to conduct practical cooperation with China in various areas, following the "dragon head" project of the Piraeus Port.
Just days before Tsipras's China visit, Greek lawmakers ratified the acquisition deal between China's leading shipping company COSCO and the Piraeus Port Authority.
Under the deal, COSCO will pay 368.5 million euros (402.4 million U.S. dollars) to buy 67 percent of the shares of the port and take over the management.
Noting that his ongoing China trip aims to "build the body of the dragon" for future cooperation, the Greek leader said he would explore cooperation prospects in the fields of tourism, transport, culture, high-tech and such, with the Chinese side.
"We received 6 million foreign tourists last year, but Chinese tourists made up only a small proportion of that figure," the prime minister said. "Hopefully two-way tourism could be boosted through such measures as direct flights."
On Sunday, Tsipras met with Wang Jianlin, president of Wanda Group, a leading Chinese real estate developer who has in recent years invested heavily in the leisure industry, including cinema chains and theme parks.
According to media reports, the Chinese businessman expressed interest in the mass promotion of Greece's tourism among Chinese consumers. They also discussed the possibility of setting up movie production studios in Greece.
After his meeting with Wang, Tsipras visited the technology park of Huawei, China's largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment.
During the visit, he proposed the creation of a technology park in Athens in collaboration with Huawei and suggested the Chinese tech giant reach out to the Greek technology city of Thessaloniki.
Coming to China with a large delegation of government ministers and business leaders, Tsipras is expected to witness the signing of an array of contracts.
When asked about the ongoing bidding process for the country's second largest port of Thessaloniki, Tsipras said the successful cooperation in the Piraeus Port makes China a desirable partner.
"We want to get a good offer. But China's interest is also on our mind," the Greek leader said.
The port of Thessaloniki is a major gateway into the Balkans. So far, several international shipping groups have expressed interest in the tender, including China's COSCO, Denmark's container terminal operator APM, and Philippines-based port operator ICTS.