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China Daily Global / 2023-09 / 06 / Page003

FM stresses mutual respect in bilateral ties with Italy

By ZHOU JIN | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-09-06 00:00

The latest engagement between Chinese and Italian senior diplomats indicates the willingness of the two countries to avoid geopolitical disturbances and maintain stable ties, experts noted as the nations' pragmatic bilateral cooperation has witnessed fruitful results in recent years.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who was on a three-day visit to China, met on Monday with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

While meeting with Tajani, Wang said that in the face of geopolitical and other challenges and disturbances, China and Italy should adhere to the right way of getting along with each other, featuring mutual respect and trust, openness, cooperation and equal dialogue.

The two senior diplomats also attended the 11th Joint Meeting of the China-Italy Government Committee on Monday, during which Wang called on the two countries to jointly uphold a free and open multilateral trading system, and provide a fair, transparent, open and nondiscriminatory business environment for each other's enterprises to invest and operate in.

Over the past five years, bilateral trade has increased from $50 billion to nearly $80 billion, and Italy's exports to China have increased by about 30 percent.

High-quality Italian products have entered thousands of households in China, Wang said.

Tajani said that Italy attaches great importance to developing long-term and stable relations with China, and stressed that bilateral ties will not be affected by turbulence in the international situation.

The Italian senior diplomat also met on Monday with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.

Sun Yanhong, head of the Division of European Economic Studies at the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that Tajani's visit could be seen as a sign of "goodwill and sincerity toward China".

In 2019, Italy became the first and only Group of Seven member to sign on to the Belt and Road Initiative. The memorandum of understanding between Beijing and Rome on bilateral cooperation under the BRI framework is due to be automatically renewed in 2024.

However, some reports have indicated that Italy may not renew this cooperation document.

Italy's attitude toward the BRI faces growing pressure from the United States and the Western bloc, Sun said, adding that as the rotating president of the G7 next year, it is difficult for Rome to make a decision that would be opposed by its allies.

Sun said the visit is aimed at negotiating a mutually acceptable plan for both sides to continue pragmatic cooperation in various fields.

Considering the bilateral traditional friendship and the fact that strengthening trade cooperation with China is in its national interest, Italy, an export-oriented economy, values China's large market amid sluggish economic growth, she said.

There is great potential for increased bilateral cooperation regarding investment in key areas, green development, digital transformation, and third-party cooperation in Central Asia and North Africa, Sun said.

On China-EU ties, the Chinese foreign minister said there are no conflicts of fundamental interests between China and the European Union, adding that common interests outweigh differences.

Ding Chun, director of Fudan University's Center for European Studies, said cooperation is prominent and beneficial for both China and the EU in order to boost economic recovery and help solve global political hot spot issues.


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