Photo taken on May 7, 2017 shows bridge cranes unloading goods from the merchant vessel (M.V.) COSCO Netherlands and loading goods to the vessel at Port of Piraeus, Greece. (Xinhua/Yan Liang)
It is the 22nd day on the sea for the merchant vessel (M.V.) COSCO Netherlands to complete its voyage from China to Europe on a route known as the Maritime Silk Road.
From the Pacific, the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, and from the South China Sea, the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road spans the oceans and extends beyond time and space.
Covering a total of 7,878 nautical miles (14,590 km) from China's Yangshan Deep Water Port in Shanghai to the Greek Port of Piraeus in Europe, M.V. COSCO Netherlands has witnessed inter-connectivity, close partnership and win-win cooperation between the two sides on the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road from April 16 to May 7.
KEY HUB ON WEST END OF 21ST CENTURY MARITIME SILK ROAD
COSCO Netherlands arrived at the port of Piraeus on late Saturday night where it unloaded 1,159 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU). As the largest port in Greece, Piraeus is one of the Top Ten European ports and one of the Top 50 container terminals in the world.
Located in Southeast Greece, Piraeus is one of the nearest ports to the main shipping route from the Suez Canal to Gibraltar, and serves as a hub on the west end of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
With superior shipping conditions, the port has a deep water area and well-maintained port facilities, which have made it a favorable port of transshipment for vessels.
On February 18, 2016, COSCO and China Shipping merged into COSCO SHIPPING, the world's largest integrated shipping group. In June 2008, the former COSCO won the international bid for a 35-year concession for the No. 2 and No. 3 piers at the port of Piraeus.
Piraeus Container Terminal S.A. (PCT), a subsidiary corporation of COSCO SHIPPING, has been formed and started to operate the No. 2 and No. 3 piers.
On August 10, 2016, COSCO SHIPPING acquired 67 percent of the shares of the Piraeus Port Authority (PPA), officially taking over the port's business.
HEARTWARMING FREE LUNCH
"Here in Greece, COSCO SHIPPING is not only seeking its own development, but also contributing to friendship between China and Greece. COSCO SHIPPING has helped solve the local employment problem," President of the PPA, Fu Chengqiu, told Xinhua.
"There are 276 employees at the PCT with outsourcing staff accounting for more than 1,200, but there are only seven Chinese managers including me. Today, we still firmly adhere to the commitment that there will be only seven Chinese managers despite further development and growth of the company," Fu said.
With years of hard work overseas, COSCO SHIPPING has become a well-recognized name card of China in Greece.
After taking over the operation business of the No. 2 and No. 3 piers, the management of COSCO SHIPPING decided to provide free lunch for its employees, as it was very hard to find a dining place around the port and some staffers could only bring their lunch from home.
Through such heartwarming measures, the employees of the PCT feel the warmth of the Chinese-funded company and have realized that its development would be the guarantee of their life in future.
Since the founding of the PCT, there has never been any strike. The local Greek employees are highly proud of this "strike-free mode."
DREAM EXTENDED BY CHINA-EUROPE LAND-SEA EXPRESS LINE
The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road has opened a channel for trade between China and Europe, while the China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line connecting Piraeus through COSCO SHIPPING has extended the Maritime Silk Road into the hinterland of Europe.
With more than 32 million people directly involved, the Express Line stretches from the port of Piraeus in the south to Budapest, Hungary in the north, and goes through Skopje of Macedonia and Belgrade in Serbia.
It has realized combined sea and land transportation, which means that after arriving at Piraeus, containers can be immediately transferred to railway before reaching Austria, the Czech Republic, Poland and other Central and Eastern European countries via the Express Line.
At present, some world-renowned manufacturers, such as Sony and the HP, have become loyal customers on the Express Line.
To further improve the service of Piraeus as the hub, COSCO SHIPPING opened express routes for container transportation between China and Europe in 2017, with Piraeus as the port of call. M.V. COSCO Netherlands has traveled through a part of the routes.