China and Italy are linked by past and future

China Daily European Weekly - - COMMENT - Et­tore Se­qui

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 trade.

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 (20162020) in China, as well as the 50th an­niver­sary

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