Since 2013, President Xi Jinping's Belt & Road initiative has been a prominent topic in Chinese national and international politics. The New Silk Road is referred to not only as a series of important strategic and innovative projects for infrastructures, but also to relaunch art and culture in the perspective of a social interaction that involves everyone and that promotes a deeper and more mutual understanding. among peoples. Between China and Italy, which art and culture projects, including long-term ones, do you think it is essential to develop to achieve the goal?
Ambassador Li: The ancient Silk Road, linking East and West, promoted mutual understanding and friendly exchanges. The Belt and Road Initiative supports the spirit of the Silk Road, promoting peaceful cooperation, openness and tolerance, mutual understanding and common benefits, giving impetus to jointly building a road marked by a new era of cooperation and friendship .
An evident feature of the long-term exchanges between the Chinese and Italian people is that they are characterized by respect and appreciation of their respective cultures, they pursue and protect the common values of equal dignity and respect for diversity. In 2016, our two countries established the China-Italy Cultural Forum to promote interaction and exchanges between institutions and specialized personnel, expanding cooperation in the artistic, theatrical, tourism sectors, etc.
Many Italian institutions have joined the respective international alliances for theaters, art festivals, art galleries, museums and libraries, launched by China. This year, both parties will restart the Italy-China Year of Culture and Tourism and will jointly promote new projects in the exchange of museum exhibitions, in the twinning of world heritage sites and in the sharing of digital resources. Culture is the common wealth of the two countries and civilization is their pride. We hope that bilateral interpersonal and cultural exchanges will deepen completely.
Experts and researchers from Italy and other countries constantly warn us of how news, information and related considerations are disseminated from the daily press to social media and ad hoc conferences that are voluntarily not corresponding to reality to build a non-positive image of China and that they do it for a specific purpose. All the more so now that the People's Republic is beginning to reap the benefits of decades of hard work. Do you think it is possible and appropriate to respond to these "attacks" with alternative and coordinated media campaigns and networks between those organizations and associations that have the common goal of guaranteeing serenity in international relations?
Ambassador Li: Plurality is not only the charm of the world, but it is above all its characteristic. It is natural and inevitable that each country chooses a different path of development and it is also an important manifestation of the democratization of international relations. For over forty years, China has persisted in reforms and openness, is deeply integrated in the process of economic globalization and makes a significant contribution to promoting common global development.
However, as you said, some countries do not take into consideration the state of affairs, the true and the false, using "media hegemony" to attack and defame China wildly, spreading false news. For example, as regards Xinjiang, they conceived the so-called "genocide", "forced labor" and many other heresies.
Chinese officials, media and scholars must refute this false, mismatched news by presenting China to the world in a comprehensive, objective, all-encompassing and real way.
It is gratifying that many foreign friends support knowledge and justice, listen to China's true voice and foster friendly cooperation towards it. Knowing and spreading the reality of the facts is not an easy process, but I believe that, with the joint efforts of all, more and more people will understand the real China and will give a fairer judgment on it.
In recent times, institutional Italy has turned its backs on China more than once, even when the latter has shown exceptional magnanimity and is particularly appreciated by the Italian people. How is this intermittent Italian attitude perceived by Chinese society? Is it inevitable that this is the case, given the strong pressures that Italy receives from outside, or could we begin to set up a more linear and constructive dialogue between our two countries?
Ambassador Li: Sino-Italian relations have gone through over half a century of vicissitudes and have always been marked by mutual respect, tolerance, mutual learning and cooperation that is beneficial for all. We consider Italy a good friend and a good partner in Europe. As the world enters a period of rapid and turbulent change, Sino-Italian relations naturally face new opportunities and challenges.
It should be emphasized that between China and Italy there are neither fundamental contradictions nor geopolitical conflicts, indeed the two countries jointly protect multilateralism, try to put people first and promote common prosperity. In 2021, despite the specter of the epidemic, the volume of bilateral trade between China and Italy, in contrast to the trend, marked a new record, reaching 73.95 billion dollars, an increase of 34.1% on an annual basis. In particular, Italian exports to China increased by 36.3% and more and more high quality Italian products entered the Chinese market.
This shows once again that the essence of Sino-Italian cooperation is characterized by mutual and common benefits and by the creation of greater tangible benefits for the two peoples. Cooperation is the common request of the two peoples and responds to the fundamental interests of the two countries. We intend to work together in all areas to continue close communication, deepen pragmatic cooperation and jointly promote the stability and development of bilateral relations.
In these years of professional commitment and personal experience, what is your idea of our country and what do you think are the unique strengths of Italy and its people?
Ambassador Li: I have been in Italy for almost three years and I feel more and more that it is a country that combines ancient and modern, tradition and innovation. It is not only an outstanding representative of Western civilization, which spawned the Renaissance, but it also has a high-end manufacturing system and a powerful creative force. Italy also has peculiar geographical advantages, close contacts with Africa and Asia, it is an important gateway to southern Europe and a fundamental crossing point of the land and sea Silk Roads.
I believe that, being a founding country of the European Union and one of the influential powers, Italy will continue to play an important role both in Europe and globally.
The deepest impression left on me by the Italian people is that of an optimistic, sunny and life-loving people. More than two years have passed since the outbreak of the pandemic, which had a huge impact on all countries. What I have noticed in particular is that the Italian people help each other, share love and fight the united epidemic, giving even more hope to life. Italian friends often say that everything will be fine! I think this is the expression of their positive attitude towards life.
Last year I was in Rome and I witnessed many glorious moments, such as the victory of Italy at the European championships, that of the men's hundred meters and the 4 × 100 relay at the Olympics, during which all of Italy was filled with festivities and celebrations. Behind this reflect the courage of the Italian people to fight hard, their qualities and the search to surpass themselves.
With the approach of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the international community's attention to China and the Olympics has increased significantly. But at the same time, the Omicron variant has further weighed on the global pandemic situation. Some people have even suggested postponing the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics. In this context, do you think China can still present a successful Olympic event to the world?
Ambassador Li: The torch will soon be officially lit at the Beijing Winter Olympics headquarters and we have full confidence in organizing a simple, safe and wonderful edition. Preparations are progressing steadily and efficiently, also including rigorous and scientific measures to prevent and control the epidemic. To better address the threat of variants such as Omicron, the Organizing Committee of the Beijing Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee have published two editions of the "Epidemic Prevention Handbook", in which guidelines were formulated for prevention.
These measures, in addition to reflecting the latest scientific research achievements in China and abroad, are also based on the experience of many large-scale international sporting events and have passed a number of international trial competitions and practice tests of the weeks of training. These measures will ensure the greatest possible protection to the health and safety of the athletes and the parties involved and will ensure that the Beijing Winter Olympics run as scheduled.
Athletes and personalities from many countries, including Italy, as well as international organizations such as the International Olympic Committee and the World Health Organization, have expressed their support and expectations for the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. We are fully confident and determined to offer the world a good Olympic event and to pour more unity, confidence and strength into it. I take this opportunity to wish Italian athletes also good results.
Source: Chinese Embassy in Italy