In China's National Center for the Performing Arts, "Boat in Dream," a large piece of wooden artwork from Greece, attracts many visitors. Created by Greek artist Vangelis Rinas, the artwork was carved with a prose poem in braille praising the friendship between China and Greece in both languages.
Born on the Greek island of Samos, Rinas had a dream of the faraway land and a strong China complex. When his work of great symbolic significance was first exhibited in the National Art Museum of China in Beijing in 2010, it caused a sensation among viewers. In May 2013, the artist gave "Boat in Dream" to China as a gift.
China and Greece, two cradles of civilization, were connected by the Silk Road for centuries. And now the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative is providing new opportunities for the two countries to get closer.
U.S. historians including Sarah Pomeroy thought that as early as in the fifth century B.C., Chinese silk was transported to Greece by the Scythians, a large group of Iranian Eurasian nomads inhabiting the central Eurasian steppes from the eighth century B.C. to the third century B.C., hundreds of years earlier than the Han Dynasty in China when the Silk Road was officially opened.
Once a powerful empire, the ancient Greece expanded its sphere to the Black Sea and gained access to China's silk and other resources like gold, furs and leather.
According to Chinese classics, Greek had links with China through the Silk Road as early as 2,000 years ago, with the help of Arabs.
The theory has been verified archaeologically. The Dunhuang frescoes and Buddha statues showed that the Greek culture was most likely to spread to China during Alexander the Great's eastward conquest and in the time of Hellenization, said Fan Jinshi, head of Dunhuang Academy of China.
The two ancient nations have produced cultural giants like Socrates and Confucius, who bore striking resemblances in their spiritual cores.
The ever deepening friendship and cooperation between China and Greece have withstood tests. Greece has sent ships to aid the evacuation of the Chinese citizens stranded in Algeria and Libya when the security situation there deteriorated, while China continued to invest in Greece when the country was hit by sovereign debt crisis.
During a meeting in Beijing in July 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: "China hopes to work with Greece to build the (Piraeus) port into the biggest transshipment port of containers in the Mediterranean, the bridgehead of land-ocean transportation, and a support for Belt and Road Initiative cooperation."
Tsipras said Greece will work with China to cement bilateral cooperation on the basis of the Piraeus port project, which is not only beneficial to the two peoples, but also has positive impacts on the region.
According to Zou Xiaoli, Chinese ambassador to Greece, the port is more than an economic program; rather, it serves as a magnificent bridge linking the two peoples.
Currently, over a dozen Chinese enterprises have invested in Greece, contributing to the development of bilateral economic and trade exchanges in such areas as maritime transportation, aviation, telecommunications, energy and finance.
Exchanges between China and Greece is also booming. The two nations have worked together to hold forums on maritime cooperation and city management, build a Chinese culture center in Athens, and increase the amount of exchange students.
The two governments have agreed that enhancing bilateral cultural exchanges and cultural industry cooperation carries significance for enhancing understanding between China and Europe, and securing world peace and stability.
The hope is high that with joint efforts, the Silk Road linking the two nations for over 2,000 years will see a brighter future.