History and culture are both deep-rooted as the two countries forge a new path together
On June 2, Italy celebrates its National Day, la Festa della
Repubblica. We commemorate the day the institutional referendum was held
in 1946, following the end of WWII and the fall of fascism, calling the
Italian people to the polls to decide on the form of government they
preferred, either monarchy or republic. The majority of Italians favored
the republic, therefore ending the monarchy.
The Italian republic was thus established in pursuit of peace,
progress and future prosperity. These same principles still hold true,
now as then. Celebrating Italian national day means recalling such a
sense of continuity and rejuvenating Italy's confidence in the future.
We have many good reasons to stay confident in what's ahead of us: In
2017, Italy consolidated its path of full economic recovery, with
positive growth also in terms of employment, exports and share of global
Italy, like China, has gained a lot from going global in recent
times: They both share the idea that the only way to fully reap the
benefits of globalization while defusing any side-effects is through
dialogue, consultation and mutual understanding. These three words are
not obsolete; in fact, they refer to the most useful tools in the
international community's hands.
The comprehensive strategic partnership between Italy and China, as
built up and reinforced in the recent past, can be taken as a good
example of what is meant by those words. In the last few years, the
political and economic ties between Italy and China have experienced a
new impetus. There has been a continuous stream of top-level visits,
forging day-by-day the willingness to further promote our bilateral
strategic partnership. On every occasion, Italy and China signed
important bilateral agreements in areas such as health, science,
technology, space exploration and food safety.
Our partnership has potential beyond our imagination. Italy and China
are the top two countries in the world for the number of sites included
on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Indeed, the first twinning was
launched last January, between Verona and Hangzhou's West Lake. But our
cooperation is not limited to the celebration of past history and
beauty. We are able to look ahead and string together our most
innovative scientific knowledge. In February, for instance, our two
heads of State celebrated the launch of the "China Seismo
Electromagnetic Satellite", an unprecedented joint project to study
earthquake-prone areas from space.
Italy has a lot to offer to contribute achieving the goal, set by
President Xi Jinping, of developing a "Beautiful China": Sustainable
urbanization, health services, green tech, clean energy and smart design
are all areas in which the Italian productive system excels. It is a
talent inspired by our history, especially by the Renaissance, and that
fits particularly well with the Chinese leadership's objectives.
As China pursues qualitative development and further opens up its
economy, Italy's exports to China in all these sectors are substantially
increasing month after month. In 2017, our exports to China went up by
almost 22 percent, and the overall trade balance grew by 14.6 percent.
This trend embodies the idea of mutually beneficial cooperation at the
core of our vision of a "Road to 50" leading to 2020: the end year of
the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) in China, as well as the 50th
anniversary of our diplomatic relations.
A natural consequence of the solid foundation of Italy-China
relations is a steady increase in people-to-people contacts, tourism
flows and cultural cooperation. Our consulates in China are dealing with
a substantial surge in applications for tourism and business visas: In
the first five months of 2018, the number of visas issued by our offices
increased by 25 percent compared with 2017. Italian and Chinese police
forces are jointly patrolling an increasing number of sites in the two
countries, showing mutual trust and providing additional security to our
Our universities are launching cooperation projects for joint
research and academic exchanges. Italian and Chinese entrepreneurs are
working together in the context of the bilateral Business Forum, which
will travel soon to Dalian and Qingdao. With our companies, our ports
and our logistic hubs ready to cooperate for mutual benefit, we are
looking with strong interest at the development of the Belt and Road
Initiative. This is only natural, since Italy was the historical
destination of the traditional Silk Road and is a natural hub for the
new Silk Road.
Such deep partnership needs to be sustained and nurtured on a daily
basis. It is true that a great new edifice is not built overnight. All
of this would not be possible without the longstanding, strong bonds
between Italy and China, based on mutual respect and cooperation and the
pursuit of excellence. These are shared features of our two nations,
which combine the richness of ancient civilizations with the capacity to
innovate, create and surprise.
The author is Italy's ambassador to China and the article is
exclusively offered to the China Daily-powered think tank platform China