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China says "knows nothing" about aid offer for Greece
[BEIJING] China's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday it had no knowledge of any offer by Beijing for aid to Greece after Greece's deputy foreign minister said China had offered economic support even though Athens had not requested it.
Nikos Chountis, who also holds the European Affairs portfolio, told Greek radio that Russia had also offered Greece help, while Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said that if Athens failed to get a new debt agreement with the euro zone, it could always look elsewhere for help, including possibly China.
"There have been proposals, offers I would say, from Russia, recently after the election, for economic support as well as from China, regarding help, investment possibilities," Chountis said, adding: "We have not asked for it."
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had seen the reports but had "no knowledge" of the matter.
"We are willing to keep deepening cooperation and exchanges in all areas with the new Greek government on the basis of the principle of mutual respect and win-win to push the continued development of Sino-Greek ties," she told a daily news briefing. "As for the detailed situation you mentioned, I know nothing about it."
China said last month it was closely monitoring the new Greek government's policies after Athens said it would stop the sale of a majority stake in Greece's biggest port.
The Greek government last year had shortlisted China's Cosco Group as a potential buyer of a 67 per cent stake in Piraeus Port Authority.
Kammenos is the leader of Independent Greeks, a nationalist anti-bailout party that is the junior coalition partner of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras' radical-left Syriza party.
Greece is seeking a new debt agreement with the euro zone that will allow it to shake off much of the austerity that has been imposed by a European Union/International Monetary Fund bailout since 2010.
China sees Greece's strategic location as a portal into both Europe and Africa for the distribution of Chinese products.
The euro zone, particularly Germany, has shown no willingness to ease its requirement that Greece make deep budget cuts and economic reforms.