Aerial photo taken on Feb 15, 2019 shows the COSCO Shipping Pisces approaching Piraeus port, Greece. (PHOTO / XINHUA)
Beijing has criticized the United States' attempts to alienate Greece from China, warning that meddling in or sabotaging friendly ties between other countries "constitutes not only disrespect, but typical hegemony, bullying behavior".
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi issued the stern warning in a written interview with leading Greek newspaper Ta Nea on Wednesday during his visit to the southern European country. He was asked whether Washington's policy toward China will affect China's relations with Greece, according to the text of the interview released by the Foreign Ministry.
Some US policy insiders, including think tank members, officials and lawmakers, have publicly urged Greece to drop its cooperation programs with China.
The programs include those involving the Belt and Road Initiative and the upgrading and expansion of the Port of Piraeus over the past decade under Chinese management.
Every country has its own right to develop friendly ties with other nations independently.
Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Minister
Spiros Lambridis, Greece's permanent representative to NATO, told CNBC television in June that in terms of the BRI, "all that we are getting out of this is the benefits of a healthy and very legitimate commercial relationship".
In response to the Greek newspaper, Wang noted that "everyone has his own freedom to choose friends "and "does not allow others to interfere in their own circle of friends "and this also applies to countries.
"Every country has its own right to develop friendly ties with other nations independently," he said.
Wang noted that both countries have great ancient civilizations, and he believes the two nations "have both the wisdom and capability to rule out disturbance and successfully advance their two-way ties on an independent basis".
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By doing so, they are expected to "play a greater leading role in advancing unity and friendship among countries across the globe", he added.
From January to September Greek exports to China totaled $755 million, a year-on-year increase of 43.2 percent, according to the General Administration of Customs.
Chinese Ambassador to Greece Xiao Junzheng told local media on Monday that Greece is "a role model European country" in co-building the Belt and Road. The China-Europe Land-Sea Express route, which starts at the Port of Piraeus, will boost the "efficiency of commodity circulation between China and Europe", he added.
Wang was also asked by the newspaper about the recently formed security alliance of the US, the United Kingdom and Australia, known as AUKUS.
This partnership has prompted concerns among many Asia-Pacific countries as Australia seeks to purchase nuclear-powered submarines, posing a threat to nuclear nonproliferation in the region.
When asked if this trio will affect global collaboration on shipping, Wang said "the negative influence is more than obvious".
The partnership will add to risks of nuclear proliferation and seriously damage the buildup of the non-nuclear zone in Southeast Asia, Wang said.
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"It can't be ruled out that there will be another round of the arms race, casting a shadow over the region's peace and stability," he added, urging the global community to make joint efforts to oppose it.
During the interview, Wang voiced his hopes on China and Greece's collaboration on sports and the Olympic Games.
"From the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008 to the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in 2022, Greece has always earnestly supported bilateral cooperation in the Olympic Games, and they have been jointly opposed to moves politicizing sports," Wang said.
He said that standing in the birthplace of the Olympics, he hopes that China and Greece treat Olympic cooperation as a bond, practice the real Olympic spirit and work together to promote world peace and development as well as exchanges and mutual learning of cultures.