Italy willing to act as bridge connecting Europe and China: Deputy PM
BRI cooperation is supported by Italian, Chinese businesses: senior official
Published: Jun 27, 2023 05:15 PM
China-Italy Photo: VCG

China-Italy Photo: VCG

Italy is willing to become a bridge connecting Europe and China and continue to play a positive role in EU-China relations, Antonio Tajani, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday in Rome when meeting with Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

"China is an important partner for dialogue and cooperation for Italy. The two countries have maintained close cooperation in economy, trade, tourism and culture. Italy adheres to the one-China principle and hopes to maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Italy is willing to make joint efforts with China to maintain high-level exchanges, strengthen cooperation in various fields and promote positive, healthy and stable development of bilateral relations," said Tajani.

Liu said that over the past years, China-Italy relations have maintained stable, smooth and sustained development trend, delivering tangible benefits to the two peoples.

"Italy has been at the forefront of European countries in developing relations with China, which we appreciate. It is hoped that the two sides will jointly promote multilateralism, a free and open global trading system, oppose 'decoupling' and promote the sustained and steady development of China-Italy and China-Eu relations," said Liu.

A delegation led by Liu visited Italy from Sunday to Tuesday.

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) cooperation between China and Italy is a correct decision, which set an example for countries to build a similar network of cooperative partnerships, Liu said on Sunday while meeting with the Italian business community in Milan. 

On the back of the BRI cooperation MOU, China and Italy have been exploring strategic, forward-looking and mutually beneficial path of cooperation, he noted.

"China appreciates the positive role over the years played by the Italy China Council Foundation and the Italian business community in promoting practical cooperation between the two countries, which injected impetus into China-Italy and China-EU cooperation," said Liu.

He noted that China-Italy economic and trade cooperation enjoys a solid foundation, strong momentum, huge potential and broad prospects. Business leaders of both countries have a strong desire to deepen mutually beneficial partnerships.

Leaders from the Italian business community said on Friday that China is not only a huge market for Italian companies to invest and do business, but also a strategic base for them to enter Asia. Italy is also a gateway for Chinese companies to enter Europe.

During the meeting with Liu, Italian entrepreneurs said that they firmly support the renewal of the BRI cooperation document between Italy and China, and are willing to take advantage of the huge opportunities brought by the joint construction of the BRI and jointly promote mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries to deliver even greater results.

Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee meets  Italian business community in Milan on June 25, 2023. Photo: IDCPC

Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee meets Italian business community in Milan on June 25, 2023. Photo: IDCPC

From Saturday to Monday, Yu Jianhua, head of the General Administration of Customs (GAC) also paid a visit to Italy and met with Italian officials from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture, Food Sovereignty and Forests and the Customs and Monopolies Agency, according to a post by the GAC on Tuesday.

The two sides exchanged views on the prevention and control of animal and plant diseases, the lifting of the ban on swine blister disease, the registration of Italian food production enterprises in China and Italian fruit exports to China. After the meeting, the two sides signed a protocol on the import of Italian fresh pears to China.

In recent years, Italy has signed the largest number of agreements covering agricultural exports to China among EU members. The GAC has approved exports of alfalfa, hazelnuts, fresh citrus, rice, beef and kiwi from Italy.

Trade in agricultural products between the two countries reached $1.7 billion dollars in 2022, up 3 percent year-on-year, according to statistics from the GAC.

Italy was the first and so far the only G7 member to join the China-proposed BRI in 2019 under a four-year agreement, which is set to be renewed automatically for another five years in March 2024, if neither side withdraws from the deal by giving three months' notice.

Following the BRI cooperation agreement, Italy's exports to China increased by 42 percent from 2019 to 2021. 

On Friday, Jia Guide, the Chinese Ambassador to Italy, said that if Italy chooses to withdraw from the BRI, it will have a negative impact on Italy's image, credibility, and willingness to cooperate. 

The remarks were made during an interview with Italian news outlet Fanpage amid speculation that the Italian government is considering withdrawing from the initiative.

Global Times