China Strikes Friendship With Milos

China's Ambassador Du Qiwen gets a gift from Milos Mayor Gerasimos Damoulakis

-Maria Spiliopoulou

MILOS, Greece (Xinhua) – Greece and China celebrated the close and deepening ties of friendship and cooperation which link the two countries and peoples during a two-day meeting hosted on the Aegean Sea island of Milos last week.

The event entitled China and Greece, Ties of Friendship and Cooperation which was co-organized by the Municipality of Milos and the Chinese Embassy in Athens showcased the elements which unite the two countries and paved the way for the enhancement of bilateral collaboration in particular in the tourism industry.

The tourism and mining industries are today the two pillars of the economy of Milos, an island of a 5,000 populace, which has become famous worldwide for the discovery of the statue of Aphrodite (Venus) – the Goddess of Beauty in ancient Greek mythology – currently hosted in the Louvre museum.

The Chinese delegation of diplomats, tour operators and members of the Greece-China Association who visited Milos received a warm welcome by the local community which seeks to show to all visitors the volcanic island’s unique beauty and attract more of the 80 million Chinese tourists traveling worldwide each year. Approximately 100,000 visited Greece in 2012.

“We came to Milos because the municipal government of Milos is very much interested in having Chinese tourists coming and also because they expressed strong interest on the part of local society in learning more about China. We came to the understanding that organizing such an event would be a good idea to bring the two peoples together,” Chinese Ambassador to Greece Du Qiwen told Xinhua at the fully packed Milos Conference center.

Addressing the conference Du made an impressive presentation of China’s history, economy, beauty, as well as the historic and deepening relationship among the two cradles of the eastern and western civilizations and the enormous potential for further development.

His speech was received with warm applause as well as the speech of Mayor of Milos Gerasimos Damoulakis who focused on the prospects of bilateral cooperation in the tourism sector in his address.

“We are developing a lasting friendship with China which can benefit both sides. We have launched an effort to bring China closer to Greece, to bring more Chinese visitors to Milos. We wish to show to them the island’s unique beauty, our hospitality, the local cuisine, our beaches, the sunset .. This is our goal,” Damoulakis told Xinhua.

Praising the contribution of the Greece-China Association to the efforts undertaken to bring the two countries and peoples closer, Damoulakis expressed confidence that starting from 2014 Milos will be one of the favorite tourism destinations of Chinese visiting Greece.

The Chinese tour operators based in Athens had substantial exchanges with their Greek counterparts in Milos over the weekend during meetings held indoors and tours across the island. Both sides appeared optimistic about future cooperation in the field.

Ulysses Kyriacopoulos, Chairman of S&B industrial minerals group which was established in Milos a century ago and today operates in 21 countries across the globe, including China, expressed optimism about the future cooperation between Greece and China in the industry sector.

Following a performance of local traditional dances by Greek schoolchildren, Du and Damoulakis inaugurated a photo exhibition entitled Beautiful China which ran over the next week at Milos Conference Center, offering to visitors a glimpse of China’s rich history, culture and soul.

After the conference and the end of the photo exhibition, visitors to Milos Conference Center will still have the opportunity to have a taste of China’s culture through the dozens of books donated by the Chinese Embassy to the center’s Library.