China’s successful development experience is inspiring for other countries as it has made absolute poverty a thing in the past, said former Greek Foreign Affairs Minister George Katrougalos in a recent interview with People’s Daily.
Katrougalos, who’s also the Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs from the main opposition SYRIZA Party, said he read news about China almost every day, and learned that Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China’s eradication of absolute poverty on a grand gathering to mark the country’s poverty alleviation accomplishments and honor model poverty fighters in February this year.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) adheres to a people-centered philosophy, and strives to deliver reform and development outcomes to all Chinese people in a fair way, the Greek politician said, adding that’s what he calls real development.
“When I visited China for the first time in the 1990s, I found it full of hope and energy, nothing like what was depicted by the Western media,” Katrougalos told People’s Daily.
Both the SYRIZA Party and the Greek politician himself have been paying close attention to China’s progress, and are exhilarated by the country’s huge achievements, according to him.
After Katrougalos took office as the Greek Foreign Affairs Minister, he chose China as the first country to visit in March 2019.
On that trip, he noted that both Greece and China boast ancient civilizations, and Greece cherishes its friendship with China. He expressed his gratitude to China for giving a helping hand when Greece suffered its financial crisis, saying Greece always takes China as a trustworthy strategic partner and a sincere friend.
Despite a hectic schedule of the trip, he managed to attend the opening ceremony of the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress of China. “The report on the work of the Chinese government delivered at the session had a rich content and included a huge amount of information. I studied it thoroughly when I returned home,” he said.
A month after the trip, Katrougalos came to China again for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing.
In August 2018, China and Greece signed a memorandum of understanding to further promote cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), making the Mediterranean country the first developed country in Europe to ink such a deal with China.
Greece actively supports the joint construction of the Belt and Road, and is willing to further deepen cooperation with China under the framework to build Greece into a bridge connecting China, Europe and Africa, and better benefit the people in the two countries and even the rest of the world, Katrougalos said.
The Port of Piraeus, Greece’s largest port, has become one of the fastest growing container terminals in the world under the operation of China COSCO Shipping Corporation Limited. In 2019, its global ranking of throughput jumped to the 25th place, from the 93rd place in 2010.
China’s investment in the Port of Piraeus has significantly increased its scale and throughput, Katrougalos pointed out, who considers the investment a huge success and a win-win opportunity.
The Port of Piraeus has also created enormous social benefits, and provided sound working conditions for local employees, which is of great significance for Greece, he told People’s Daily. “After the debt crisis, we not only want to improve economic indicators, but also hope to bring tangible improvement to people’s livelihood,” he said.
Katrougalos is confident in the future of the port. The BRI serves as a bridge on which countries pursue common development, and has effectively facilitated international trade, he remarked.
In 2017, Xi delivered a keynote speech titled Jointly Shoulder Responsibility of Our Times, Promote Global Growth at the opening session of the World Economic Forum annual meeting held at the Davos Congress Center in Switzerland.
Katrougalos said he still remembered Xi remarks on adapting to and guiding economic globalization, cushioning its negative impact, and delivering its benefits to all countries and all nations in his speech. What Xi said demonstrated a sense of responsibility of the CPC and the Chinese leadership, he said.
The Chinese leader’s keen insight into the general trend of the world and sincere concerns for the future of mankind is also observed in the book Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, said Katrougalos, who has been reading the book recently.
The book not only helped him gain a better understanding of “the primary stage of socialism,” “a moderately prosperous society,” “two centenary goals,” and other concepts, but also made him more aware that Xi’s thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era is a fully systematic, highly logical and science-based theory system that heralds a brighter future of China.
Xi’s thought and vision are conducive to world peace and development, as well as the economic and social construction of many countries, he added.
Katrougalos also sent his wishes to the CPC for its centenary, which falls on July 1 this year. “I have great faith in and admiration for the determination and ability of the CPC to continuously reform itself, and I believe the CPC will burst with vitality and bring more surprises to the world in the next 100 years, just like it did in the past century,” he said.