China pledges support for cash-strapped Greece
China's Premier Wen Jiabao pledged badly needed investment to Greece on Saturday, during a state visit to Athens. Following talks with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou, Wen announced increased Chinese co-operation on trade and finance with Greece as the country struggles to recover from its worst ever debt crisis.
As well as signing bilateral agreements on investment and tourism, the two leaders announced the creation of a 3.6-billion-euro fund to help Greek shipping companies buy Chinese-made boats.
Sources indicate that deals for the purchase of six ships worth several million euros were concluded during Saturday's talks, including two cargo vessels and a tanker.
The shipping industry is seen as one of the biggest opportunities for Chinese investment in Greece. Notably, in 2009 China's state-owned shipping company Cosco took over the operation of Greece's main Piraeus port outside Athens, in a deal worth 3.4 billion euros.
During his visit, Wen also pledged to buy long-term bonds from Greece when it next holds an issue.
Greece has struggled to attract investors to its long-term bonds since having to seek a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund earlier this year.
Wen is due to address the Greek parliament on Sunday, before meeting with President Carolos Papoulias.
After a three-day visit to Greece, the Chinese premier will continue his European tour in Belgium, before visiting Italy and Turkey.
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