Ambassadors say trip should send signal about fruitful partnership, multilateralism
President Xi Jinping left Beijing for Rome on Thursday, kicking off his first overseas trip of the year, which is aimed at broadening areas of cooperation and injecting new impetus into the relations between China and Europe.
During his visit to Italy, the first stop of the six-day tour, Xi and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will witness the signing of intergovernmental cooperation documents in the fields of diplomacy, economy and trade, and culture, as well as commercial agreements in infrastructure, machinery and finance. The two sides are also expected to strengthen Belt and Road cooperation.
The ambassadors of the two countries said they also hope Xi's visit will send a clear signal that China and Italy have joined hands in promoting open and fruitful cooperation, and serve to uphold multilateralism and rules-based global trading.
"It is in the interest of the two peoples as well as the whole international community, " Italian Ambassador to China Ettore Sequi said.
"We need to work together within a fair, rules-based international trade system on a level-playing field to pull the global economy back on a path of strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth", he told China Daily in a written interview.
Further and mutual opening-up of the two sides' economies and cultures will also be conducive to both countries' development, he added.
The Italian ambassador described the two countries as good trade partners, saying bilateral trade has been growing steadily.
The trade volume reached $54.23 billion amid a global economic downturn last year, and two-way investment between China and Italy exceeded $20 billion, according to China's Foreign Ministry.
"We want to expand our exports to China, rebalance our trade deficit and bring more products and services from Italy to the Chinese markets," Sequi said.
"Italy can offer the Chinese people quality, innovation, design, customer care, among other things", he added, noting that Italy has been looking closely at the reforms and policies made by the Chinese government related to market access for foreign products and services.
Calling Italy "a trusted friend and good partner within the European Union", Li Ruiyu, China's ambassador to Italy, said Xi's visit to the country will open a new chapter in the bilateral relationship.
He described bilateral cooperation in various areas as being "full of vitality", and said high-level contacts between the two countries are "maintaining a sound momentum".
The Italian government has responded positively to the Belt and Road Initiative, a move that Li said shows it believes there is much to explore in terms of win-win cooperation between the two countries.
In May 2017, Paolo Gentiloni, then prime minister of Italy, attended the first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. In addition, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, during a visit to China last year, signed a memorandum of understanding with China covering third-party market cooperation.
Li said many Italian port cities are interested in participating in BRI infrastructure and logistical cooperation, and have noted the investment made by China COSCO Shipping Ports and Port of Qingdao in expanding and modernizing the port in Vado Ligure in northern Italy.