Spring heralds a fresh start. At the invitation of Italian President Sergio Mattarella, President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Italy. This visit is the first visit to Italy by a Chinese President in a decade, and marks Xi’s first state visit to Italy. It is of epoch-making significance for China-Italy relations and will surely open a new chapter in bilateral friendship and pragmatic cooperation.
China and Italy are outstanding representatives of eastern and western civilizations. Although they are far from each other geographically, the friendship between the two countries goes back a long way.
China and Italy are sincere friends that respect and trust each other. In recent years, high-level exchanges between the two countries have maintained a good momentum.
In November 2016, President Xi made a stopover on the Italian island of Sardinia en route to South America and met with the then Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. In 2017, President Mattarella paid a state visit to China.
The then Italian Prime Ministers Matteo Renzi and Paolo Gentiloni attended the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit and the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in 2017, respectively. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte successfully started the prime ministers’ regular meeting mechanism between the two countries.
The two sides have always understood each other and supported respective core interests and major concerns, and constantly cemented the political foundation of bilateral relations.
China and Italy are win-win partners on the basis of mutual benefit. The two countries are highly complementary to each other in economy and share prominent common interests.
Bilateral trade hit a record level of $54.23 billion in 2018. The two-way investment between China and Italy has kept expanding to exceed $20 billion. Italy participated in the first China International Import Expo with high standards, introducing more high-quality commodities made in Italy to the Chinese market.
With the continuous deepening of cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the two countries enjoy a broader prospect of cooperation, and will make fresh progress in such areas as infrastructure construction, aerospace, communications and third-party cooperation.
China and Italy are friendly countries that help each other. After the Wenchuan earthquake in southwest China’s Sichuan Province in 2008, the Italian side immediately donated relief supplies and dispatched an emergency medical team to the disaster area.
After the earthquakes in L’Aquila and Amatrice, Italy, China and the Chinese communities in Italy donated money and materials to the disaster-stricken areas in time to help the victims rebuild their homes. After the outbreak of the global financial crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis, China worked together with Italy like passengers in a same boat to overcome difficulties through mutually beneficial cooperation.
China and Italy are good teachers and helpful friends who learn from each other. The two countries have successfully held their respective culture years in each other’s cities, witnessing more high-level exhibitions and performances.
The China-Italy innovation week program has become a model of China-Europe cooperation in science and technology. 92 pairs of provinces, cities and regions from both sides have established friendly relations with each other.
There are more than 20,000 Chinese students studying in Italy, and China has become the second largest host of Italian students following the European Union. The two countries are witnessing more tourists from each other.
As 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations, President Xi Jinping’s visit this time will chart the course and open up new vistas for the future development of bilateral relations. Standing at a new historical point of the development of bilateral ties, both sides should implement the important consensus of the leaders of the two countries to constantly elevate bilateral relations in the new period to new stages.
China and Italy will further deepen political mutual trust, adhere to the spirit of treating each other as equals and seeking common ground while reserving differences, respect their respective development paths, and jointly build a closer comprehensive strategic partnership.
The two sides will further expand shared interests, strengthen top-level design, further synergize development strategies, actively leverage the role of dialogue mechanisms including the Joint Meeting of China-Italy Government Committee, promote implementation of the four-year action plan for strengthening cooperation, and strive for more mutually beneficial results under the BRI framework, so as to bring more benefits to the two peoples.
Both sides will also further strengthen international cooperation, and continue maintaining close communication and cooperation on major issues such as global economic governance and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations (UN) within multilateral frameworks including the UN. The two countries will together to advocate openness and win-win results, and safeguard multilateralism and free trade.
The two sides will also further strengthen people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and continuously improve the quantity and quality of exchanges and cooperation in such fields as culture, science and technology, education and tourism, as well as at sub-national levels. More measures should be introduced to facilitate personnel flows and promote closer people-to-people ties.
As a Chinese saying goes, a man of virtue will not be isolated. Cherishing the traditional friendship, China is willing to work with Italy to deepen friendship, strengthen cooperation, meet challenges, and strive for a better future for bilateral relations.