by Maria Spiliopoulou
DELPHI, Greece, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can benefit all countries, all peoples, and Piraeus port project in Greece is a good example, two Chinese experts told Xinhua on the sidelines of the fourth annual Delphi Economic Forum running to Sunday here.
More than 60 political leaders, academics, bankers and global financiers from Europe, Asia and Africa attend the four-day forum that opened on Thursday at Delphi, 120 km northwest of Athens, which ancient Greeks considered the navel of the world.
The challenge of inclusive growth is the main theme of the annual forum this year.
Xu Zhanchen, director of the Strategic Research Department of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, and Shi Zhiqin, Executive Dean of the Belt & Road Initiative Institute and Vice Chairman of the Center for China-EU Relations at Tsinghua University, participated in a session under the title "Constructing China's Belt and Road Initiative in Southeast Europe", presenting China's proposal for a shared future of development and prosperity for humanity.
During the event both experts presented some of the remarkable progress achieved so far under the BRI in this part of the world, noting the vast opportunities for further collaboration to the benefit of all from the sectors of infrastructure, trade, energy and agriculture to tourism, culture, education and peoples to peoples exchanges.
In the eyes of the two experts, Sino-Greek cooperation at Piraeus port, where China's COSCO Shipping has investment, helping create 10,000 jobs in a period when debt-laden Greece is suffering from unemployment, is an exemplary case of win-win partnership.
"The topic of the Delphi forum is inclusive growth. I think that the Belt and Road Initiative represents this idea. For everybody, for every country, for every class in the countries, this initiative can benefit all," Xu said when speaking to Xinhua.
"More and more countries and more and more peoples think the initiative is important to the future, to the world, because the Belt and Road is the right direction for the world, for globalization," he added.
Although the China-proposed initiative faced some concerns and skepticism in some European countries, Xu sees no obstacles in the course ahead.
"I think the important thing is dialogue between the West and the East. Globalization is a trend that couldn't change. Belt and Road I think is in line with the trend; it can get more people come together and benefit all countries, all peoples," the expert said.
Shi agreed, believing that now Europe views China as a great trade partner.
"A lot of progress was made. The first I think is that the idea is from unknown to well known. Many countries now know the B&R Initiative," Shi told Xinhua, noting that more and more countries have joined the initiative.
Another significant development, according to Shi, is that there is a complete framework now for cooperation among countries. In particular in Europe and the Mediterranean, the establishment of the 16+1 mechanism which brings together so many countries regularly in summits to discuss how to move forward is an important step, he said.
For Shi, the progress in Southeast Europe is clear and Greece is an excellent case study of beneficial collaboration in the context of the BRI.
"In terms of Greece I think also is a very typical example of the cooperation. Now we know the very famous Piraeus port. I think this is a very important progress in Europe and this is a very good example for the BRI," he said.
"Piraeus port is a model, is a successful model between China and Greece. I think it is a model for other countries," Xu also underlined on his part.
While cooperation in business is being promoted by the BRI, exchanges in the spheres of culture and people are also being boosted.
In addition to the increased Chinese investment, tourism and people-to-people exchange also expanded, which have helped bridge the distance between the two countries, Shi explained, referring also to his personal experience.
As a professor at Tsinghua University, he saw very few Greek students and very few exchanges with Greek universities in the days before the BRI. But things have changed over the past five years, during which links between the two countries have been strengthened and a Greek foundation has funded a students' exchange program. Now Tsinghua has seen more and more Greek students, while many Chinese choose Greece as their study abroad destination.