November 6, 1970, on a rainy morning, after two years of negotiations in Paris, Italy and China signed an agreement to establish diplomatic relations. Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this historical achievement.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, China and Italy have developed into the world’s second and ninth largest economies, respectively, which we are proud of.
Although the epidemic has had an impact on the Italian and Chinese diplomatic agenda, bilateral cooperation has not stopped. The dialogue at the highest level has remained open, and various communication platforms between the two sides have been fully operational. Not long ago, the leaders of the two countries celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China by phone. Both sides stressed their willingness to promote the development of Italy-China comprehensive strategic partnership.
The fruitful friendly exchanges between Italy can be traced back centuries ago. At that time, adventurous merchants and learned missionaries traveled to and from the ancient Silk Road, not only exchanging precious goods, but also exchanging knowledge, discoveries and new ideas.
Cultural exchanges have always been a pillar of Italian-Chinese cooperation. Each country has 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Italian-Chinese Culture and Tourism Year, originally scheduled for this year, has been postponed to 2022. After that, the two sides will host the Beijing Winter Olympics and the Milan-Cortina d’Ampzo Winter Olympics.
Italy-China economic and trade cooperation has developed rapidly in half a century, and the trade volume of the two countries reached nearly 55 billion US dollars in 2019. Today, more than 1,400 Italian enterprises operate in China and more than 700 Chinese enterprises have settled in Italy. We look forward to making greater progress.
As a founding member and firm follower of the European Union, Italy supports Europe and China to strengthen cooperation on the basis of reciprocity and promote world prosperity and stability. The recently signed Euro-China Geographical Indications Agreement is a step on the right path, and an early conclusion of an ambitious Euro-China investment agreement will be a greater gain. The EU-China Investment Agreement will ensure a level playing field and encourage enterprises from both sides to invest in each other.
Italy and China have also cooperated closely within the framework of the United Nations. We will deepen this cooperation and promote rules-based and more effective multilateralism. Italy will take over the presidency of the Group of Twenty (G20) and will co-host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference with the United Kingdom. Italy is working closely with its friends in China to jointly deal with climate change, protect biodiversity and implement the 2030 sustainable development agenda. The G20 summit in Italy will focus on “human beings, the earth and prosperity”.
Global public health will be a key issue on every agenda. Italy supports each other at the darkest moment of the pandemic, and now we are promoting international cooperation on vaccines within a multilateral framework.