Diplomatic and Military Affairs

Xi's visit indicates close ties with Italy

Updated: 2011-06-02 08:02

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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ROME - Italian analysts and business people said that Vice-President Xi Jinping's presence at the upcoming celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification was a tangible sign of the closeness of bilateral relations.

On Thursday, Xi will join foreign guests including Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, King Juan Carlos of Spain, US Vice-President Joe Biden, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the celebration.

"In recent years, the China-Italy comprehensive strategic partnership has scored new progress with tangible results in political, economic, scientific and technological, cultural and environmental areas," he said in a written statement delivered at the airport upon his arrival.

Around 20,000 people are scheduled to participate in a parade in Rome to mark the anniversary.

To counter any potential terrorist threat, the Italian authorities have beefed up airport security, closed the airspace over Rome and restricted traffic in the area near the parade.

Cesare Romiti, president of the Italy-China Foundation, said that Xi's visit to Italy during his second trip to Europe as vice-president suggests that China sees Italy as a strategic partner.

"I expect Vice-President Xi to further consolidate the Italy-China relationship both from a political and economic point of view," Romiti told China Daily.

His foundation is among the organizers of a gala dinner in Milan where Xi will address Italian and Chinese business representatives on Friday night.

Romiti said that although Italy is the world's seventh-largest economy, as an exporter to China it ranks 22nd and it is the 11th-biggest importer from China, so there is great potential for the European nation.

"Personally, I have been impressed by the number of success stories of Italian companies in China and by the rapid rise of Chinese investment in Italy," said Romiti.

Giancarlo Lanna, president of Simest, an institution for the promotion of Italian enterprises abroad, said that the invitation to the celebrations of 150 years of Italian unity made by President Giorgio Napolitano to Xi represents a tangible sign of the closeness between Italy and China.

"This also shows that the two countries' relations are based on solid friendship and a real common interest," said Lanna.

Romiti said the most significant opportunities for Italian companies in China lie in the food and beverage, luxury, fashion and design, healthcare and pharmaceutical, and automotive and service sectors.

For would-be Chinese investors, Romiti said Italy is interesting due to its position as a "gateway to Europe", for its market and for Italy's manufacturing know-how.

He said the Italian government has recently eased visa control for Chinese business people, tourists and students. On Wednesday, a new flight from Beijing to Rome was started by Italian airline Alitalia. "Smooth movement of people is a prerequisite for closer economic ties," said Romiti.

China Daily


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