China-Italy relations : Recently, Ambassador Li Junhua accepted an exclusive interview with Italian “International Arena” magazine on China-Italy relations, the “Belt and Road”, Coronavirus pandemic, and Hong Kong’s “National Security Law”. The full text is as follows:
1. Your Excellency, welcome to the “International Stage”. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Italy. Over the past 50 years, the world has undergone earth-shaking changes, and economic and technological achievements have also been incredible. The friendly exchanges between China and Italy still maintain strong vitality. What is the current level of China-Italy relations?
Ambassador Li: After half a century of intensive cultivation, China-Italy relations have withstood international changes and become more mature and stable. Last year, President Xi Jinping paid a historic state visit to Italy.
This year, State Councilor Wang Yi made Italy the first stop for his first foreign visit after the pandemic, fully demonstrating the high level of bilateral relations. At present, China and Italy are each other’s largest and fourth largest trading partners in Asia and the EU.
I believe that the health and maturity of China-Italy relations are mainly derived from three aspects: First, China and Italy always adhere to equal treatment and tolerance, respect the development path chosen by their respective people from the perspective of civilization diversity, and recognize each other’s righteousness in core interests.
Concerns; second, China and Italy, as a globally influential country, always upholds the multilateral system and international law, and always advocates open cooperation, mutual benefit and win-win; third, China and Italy always uphold humanity, life first, and always selfless when the other party encounters difficulties Help.
Whether it was the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake in China or this year’s Coronavirus pandemic, the governments and peoples of the two countries have continued to write touching chapters of seeing the truth in adversity while overcoming difficulties together.
Standing at a new historical starting point, the prospects for China-Italy exchanges and cooperation are even broader. Both sides should deepen trust, give full play to their advantages, and promote the stability, deepening and solidification of the China-Italy comprehensive strategic partnership.
In response to new changes and challenges, China and Italy should strengthen the defense of multilateralism, improve global governance, maintain the safe operation of global industrial chains and supply chains, and contribute to the recovery and balance of the world after the pandemic.
2. In Italy, the “Belt and Road Initiative” has been discussed a lot. President Xi Jinping put forward this great initiative in 2013, reconstructing the sea and land routes of the ancient Silk Road in a modern way. Opponents believe that Italy, as the only G7 country to join the initiative, may be at risk. What do you think the “Belt and Road” will bring to Italy and the Mediterranean region? What are China’s interests in the region?
Ambassador Li: The Italian government’s participation in the joint construction of the “Belt and Road” initiative has not only won early gains in port logistics, energy utilization, tourism development, and export of agricultural products to China, but also demonstrated its insight into the future. Because the “Belt and Road” covers yesterday, today and tomorrow, it links the development strategies of various countries, and integrates recent gains with mid- and long-term plans.
This initiative provides important opportunities for Italy and its neighboring countries: the first is interconnection opportunities. Strengthening cooperation in infrastructure construction will create convenience for Asia-Europe docking and cooperation, and the Mediterranean region will play a key role; followed by huge market opportunities.
The markets of China and countries along the “Belt and Road” will be an indispensable resource for countries such as Italy to expand trade and innovate industries; the third is opportunities for mutual learning among civilizations. The joint construction of the “Belt and Road” will deepen close exchanges between people of all countries, enhance people-to-people bonds, and promote tolerance and mutual learning.
Some people say that the “Belt and Road” initiative is China’s “geopolitical tool” and a “debt trap”. I totally disagree with this. President Xi Jinping’s “One Belt One Road” initiative is a major move by China to expand its opening up, practice multilateralism, and share development opportunities with the world.
Discussing, co-constructing, and sharing are the fundamental principles for all parties to participate in the initiative; openness, tolerance, and transparency are the standards that all parties agree on. As of December 2019, 137 countries and 30 international organizations have participated in the joint construction of the “Belt and Road” initiative. The goals and interests of all parties are to achieve sharing through joint construction, so as to promote the construction of a community with a shared future for mankind and create a better future.
3. The Coronavirus pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the global economy. A few months after Wuhan completed the isolation and genetic sequencing of the new coronavirus in January this year, the pandemic quickly spread to all parts of the world.
According to recent studies by the University of Oxford and the University of Barcelona, the Coronavirus may have existed in the world several months or even years ago, in a dormant state, and then activated to cause harm to humans.
However, in the first few months of the outbreak of Coronavirus pandemic, although unconfirmed, some Western governments, especially the United States, made severe accusations that the Coronavirus originated in China. Are you worried that this will damage the reputation of the Chinese government? Will this situation cause China’s international image to decline or increase?
Ambassador Li: The U.S. and a few other countries blamed China for its “sweeping the pot” completely out of ulterior motives. China is indeed the first country to notify the pandemic, but this does not mean that the virus originated in China.
Information and investigations show that many countries have discovered the whereabouts of the virus, and some of it was discovered earlier than China. China always believes that virus traceability is a scientific issue that requires and can only be concluded by scientists and medical experts after careful research. No one has the right to politicize the traceability, let alone label the virus.
The fact is that since the outbreak, China has always adhered to an open, transparent, and responsible attitude, notified the WHO of the pandemic as soon as possible, shared the gene sequence of the new coronavirus with other countries, and carried out international cooperation in pandemic prevention and control as soon as possible.
China’s approach has been positively evaluated by the international community. The expert delegation of the WHO visiting China agreed that the measures taken by China are very timely, in place, and effective.
They have not only prevented the spread of the pandemic in China, but also won for the whole world. time. China always upholds the concept of life first, actively shares beneficial prevention and control practices with all parties, and provides assistance within its capacity to countries in need.
These are all facts that are obvious to all and cannot be denied by those countries that “snap the pot” to blame. During the pandemic, who is scientifically implementing policies and working together? Who spread rumors and conceal incompetence? The world has its own judgment.
What needs special emphasis is that China has successfully contained the pandemic and is making concerted efforts to speed up the resumption of work and production.
GDP grew by 3.2% in the second quarter, and the performance in the third quarter will be even brighter. In fact, China is the only major country with negative growth. Many countries and institutions believe that China has established confidence and a model for the recovery of the global pandemic.
4. Like other Western countries, public opinion and the media are paying close attention to the “Hong Kong National Security Law” that was approved by the National People’s Congress in May this year and officially implemented in July.
Although many Western politicians and commentators are critical of this, many people do not understand the history of Hong Kong and its special legal nature as a special administrative region. May I ask why this law was passed? What will change from now on?
Ambassador Li: The purpose of China’s enactment and implementation of this law is very clear: to control the chaos in Hong Kong, prevent and control national security risks, improve “one country, two systems”, and maintain Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.
Since Hong Kong returned to the motherland in 1997, the practice of “one country, two systems” has achieved universally recognized achievements. In 2018, Hong Kong’s GDP reached 2.84 trillion Hong Kong dollars, more than double that of 1996, and was rated as the world’s freest economy for 25 consecutive years.
However, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has not enacted a security law in a timely manner in accordance with Article 23 of the Basic Law, resulting in serious loopholes in the Hong Kong judicial system.
Especially since last June, “Hong Kong independence” and local radical separatist forces have engaged in violent activities, colluding with foreign forces to intervene in Hong Kong affairs, attempting to paralyze and overthrow the SAR government and turn Hong Kong into a division, subversion, infiltration, and destruction of the mainland. Bridgehead”.
These actions have seriously endangered China’s national security and have also plunged Hong Kong into the most critical situation since its return. International authoritative organizations have continuously downgraded Hong Kong’s credit rating. Hong Kong has lost its status as the world’s freest economy.
GDP has experienced negative growth for the first time in ten years, and the unemployment rate has hit a record high in the past ten years. American politicians describe this as a “beautiful landscape.” In light of this, the National People’s Congress of China has promulgated the Hong Kong National Security Law at the national level in accordance with the Chinese Constitution and Hong Kong Basic Law.
This is not only a necessary move to plug the loopholes in Hong Kong’s national security laws and earnestly safeguard national sovereignty and security, but also a fundamental solution to ensure the stability of “one country, two systems”.
Anyone without prejudice agrees that after the Hong Kong National Security Law came into effect, the stability of the territory has greatly improved, the economy is back on track, and investor confidence has increased.
The Hong Kong National Security Law will effectively promote a more complete Hong Kong legal system, a better rule of law and a better business environment, and a better future for Hong Kong.
5. Many international experts and scholars believe that China and Rome are the centers of ancient civilizations in the East and the West, and the foundations of modern civilizations. For centuries, both have played an important role in absorbing and disseminating culture, law, philosophy, literature, art and architecture.
The exchanges between China and Italy can be traced back to ancient times. At that time, China referred to Rome as “Great Qin”, which means “Great China”. This name reflects Rome’s vast territory and respect for it. What impact does this special historical and cultural wealth have on the relations between China and Italy today?
Ambassador Li: As you said, China and Italy, as outstanding representatives of Eastern and Western civilizations, have profoundly influenced the progress of human civilization over thousands of years of history.
The traditional friendship between the two countries has a long history. From the Han Dynasty sending envoy Gan Ying to search for “Da Qin” to Marco Polo writing travel notes to unveil the oriental mystery, our ancestors have spanned thousands of miles and wrote an important chapter of the integration of the East and the West. China-Italy exchanges have left precious historical wealth.
At present, the world is undergoing major changes unseen in a century. The global spread of the pandemic further proves that all countries are dependent on blessings and misfortunes, and they should share weal and woe.
Under such special background and challenges, China and Italy, as an ancient civilization with a history of thousands of years, should actively advocate dialogue among civilizations, work together to resolve challenges, and provide feasible solutions for improving global governance. We can learn from ancient civilizations and guide all parties to properly handle the major issues of the world’s future, replace confrontation with cooperation, eliminate divisions with unity, and truly build a community with a shared future in the global village.
Source: People’s Republic of China in the Republic of Italy