Pechino 24/10/2010

Italian president sees upcoming visit to China as "mission of friendship"

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano said his upcoming visit to China would be a "mission of great friendship," and would prove to be the right setting for an updated assessment of the political relations between Rome and Beijing.

Napolitano is scheduled to pay a state visit to China from Oct. 24 to Oct. 30.

The visit takes place concurrently with several key occasions such as the celebration of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries, the start of the Year of Chinese Culture in Italy and the World Expo in Shanghai featuring high-profile events related to Italy.

Napolitano told Xinhua that that context helps illustrate the depth of the ties between the two nations.

"Rome and Beijing now boast a mature political dialogue, an intense level of economic and commercial exchange, increasing cooperation in the area of culture, a rich interaction in the area of science and technology, and an open and constructive dialogue on the most important issues of our day, such as peace, international stability and security, and the recognition of universal human rights," he said.

He said the Italy-China ties bode well currently, not only for the future of relations between the two countries but also for China's strengthening relationship with the European Union (EU).

"The richness of the bilateral rapport between our two nations also allows Italy to play the role of the 'bridge' in the emerging strategic partnership between the EU and China," he said.

Though this visit will be Napolitano's first as Italian president, it is not the first time for him to visit the country. He first came to China in 1984.

"When I made my first trip 26 years ago, China was already on the path to reform," Napolitano said. "Even then, I realized the heritage of the Chinese civilization and the vast reserves of energy and labor would set the stage for the progress we have seen."

"I think that on this trip I will encounter a completely different country," he said.

"The interdependence of economic systems we are all part of gives us a unique opportunity to combine our efforts for a world that is more harmonious and united," said the president.

"I think China's growth has helped us understand how the focus of the world's new balance has shifted toward Asia, and the financial crisis has shown us how crucial China's role is in helping to overcome these problems," he said.

In addition to activities in Beijing and Shanghai, Napolitano will also visit Macao, where he will attend an exhibition celebrating the 400th anniversary of the death of Matteo Ricci, a famous Jesuit missionary to China.
Napolitano said that Ricci's centuries-old writings about China can offer lessons that remain relevant even today.

"Ricci said that no one can or should give lessons to others, but, rather, should approach them with understanding and insight to a different world," Napolitano said.

"China's history reinforces and renews the sense of national identity and is a source of inspiration for deeper mutual understanding and cooperation between our two countries."