Italian President Sergio Mattarella reacts during a joint interview with Xinhua and other Chinese media in Rome, capital of Italy, March 19, 2019. (Xinhua/Italian Presidential Press Office)
The partnership between Italy and China is built on solid foundations, Italian President Sergio Mattarella told Xinhua in an interview ahead of a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the comprehensive strategic partnership between the two countries, and this partnership is "built on solid foundations, inspired by natural convergences between two very ancient civilizations," said Mattarella, who paid a state visit to China two years ago.
Mattarella ascribed the positive achievements in bilateral relations to efficient intergovernmental dialogue and the "growing and fruitful interaction between our peoples, who are so similar in terms of industriousness and creativity."
Both China and Italy recognize that "uniting the efforts of the entire international community is needed to successfully face the main challenges of our time, from the safeguarding of peace and stability, fighting climate change, to enacting the agenda for inclusive and sustainable development," Mattarella noted.
Xi's visit, which starts Thursday, is an expression of the "solidity of the bond and the mutual respect" between Italy and China, he said.
"I believe there could be no better way to celebrate the eve of the important anniversary (our two countries) will share in 2020, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations," Mattarella said.
The Italian president said that economic and trade relations "play a key role" in Italy-China ties, and that the consistently growing trade, business cooperation and mutual investments "confirm the trust on which our relations are based."
"Italy sees China not only as an economic partner of prime importance, but also as a driver of global trade," Mattarella said, adding that Italy has experience, advanced technology and solutions in various sectors, such as energy, environmental protection, sustainable urbanization, machinery manufacture, food security, health services and geriatric care.
To promote trade relations, the two sides should create "a context that is as open and transparent as possible," in which economic players from the two countries can act "on an equal basis" and "in a mutually free and balanced way," he said.
The two sides must "favor access to their respective markets while protecting investments and intellectual property, as well as the vital principles and standards of social, economic and environmental sustainability," Mattarella added.
On the cultural front, noted the president, the heritage of both Italy and China "arouses admiration everywhere in the world" and this heritage could be a great development driver.
Calling for the "promotion and valorization of each other's cultural and creative industries," Mattarella said "these dynamics must be facilitated, so they can realize their enormous potential."
He specifically referred to the mechanism of forging twinning relationships between the two countries' World Heritage Sites.
The two sides, he said, will soon announce the pairing up of Italy's Vineyard Landscape of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato and China's Honghe Hani Rice Terraces, as well as the establishment of sister-city relationship between Italy's Verona and China's Hangzhou.
As for people-to-people exchanges within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, the president said that Italy not only participates in building the new Silk Road, but hopes to turn it into a path for better mutual understanding.
More Chinese tourists are coming to visit Italy, the two countries are hosting more students from each other, and joint research programs are increasing between the two countries' universities, added Mattarella.
Speaking of how the Italy-China partnership contributes to a better and more stable world, the president said that Italy is committed to safeguarding peace and rules-based multilateralism, and is pleased to see the two sides have consensus on that.
He suggested that in order to better understand each other's positions and concerns, Italy and China carry out "continuous dialogue" within frameworks such as the Group of Twenty and the United Nations.
In addition, both countries "are committed ... to promoting the UN 2030 Agenda and fighting climate change, a challenge in which China has a growing decisive role, and in which Italy is ready to make its contribution," Mattarella said.
"There can be no peace without development, social justice, and protection of the environment," said the president.