Relations between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Italy enjoyed steady and fast growth since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1970. In 2004, the two countries issued a joint statement to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership. The year 2010 marked the 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations. China-Italy comprehensive strategic partnership further deepened and practical cooperation in various fields enjoyed robust development.
The two countries maintained the momentum of high-level visits. In October, Premier Wen Jiabao paid an official visit to Italy and Italian President Giorgio Napolitano paid a state visit to China. Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee He Guoqiang visited Italy, during which he met with leading figures of the central and local governments and major political parties, and attended the Forum on Cooperation Between Chinese and Italian Small and Medium Enterprises. CPPCC Vice Chairman and Minister of Science and Technology Wan Gang visited Italy and attended the China-Italy Forum on Innovation. Minister of Labor, Health and Social Policies Maurizio Sacconi and Minister of Environment, Land and Sea Stefania Prestigiacomo visited China. Minister of Economy and Finance Giulio Tremonti attended the China-Europe-USA Academic Forum. The two foreign ministries maintained close interactions and consultations. Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi met with Minister of Foreign Affaris Franco Frattini both during President Napolitano's visit to China and the eighth Asia-Europe Meeting.
Economic and trade cooperation yielded more fruits, and two-way trade registered rapid growth. During Premier Wen's visit to Italy in October, the two sides issued the Three-Year Action Program on Enhancing China-Italy Economic Cooperation, which underlined cooperation in such priority areas as trade, investment, finance, small and medium enterprises, scientific and technological innovation and environmental protection. Business leaders from the two countries held discussions and signed 10 contracts worth a total of US$3.26 billion. The Ministry of Commerce held several large business promotion events in Italy. Investment made by Chinese companies in Italy continued to grow. In May, about 600 business people visited China during the National Pavilion Day events of Italy at the Shanghai World Expo.
Cultural exchanges reached a new climax. In October, the "Chinese Culture Year" activities kicked off in Rome and would continue till September 2011. A number of events were held in Italy, including the Qin-Han and Roman Civilizations Exhibition, the Concert of the Chinese Philharmonic Orchestra and the Grand Gathering of Chinese and Italian Teenagers.
Exchanges and cooperation in science, technology and the environment and between localities were intensified. In November, the China-Italy Forum on Innovation was held in Rome, and over 200 participants from the two countries discussed energy conservation, emission reduction, industrial design, life science and other topics. In November, the Beijing-Campania Technology and Commerce Week was held in Naples, during which an exhibition featuring "Green Technology, Harmonious Nature" was staged. In October, a photo exhibition on achievements of Sino-Italian cooperation on environmental protection was held in Rome. Secretary of the CPC Hunan Provincial Committee Zhou Qiang visited Italy. President of the Region of Lombardia Roberto Formigoni, President of the Region of Tuscany Enrico Rossi and Mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno visited China.
Military-to-military relations grew steadily. Director of the PLA General Armaments Department General Chang Wanquan visited Italy. Chief of Naval Staff Vice Admiral Bruno Branciforte and Chief of Defense General Vincenzo Camporini visited China. The fifth PLA naval fleet for escorting mission in the Gulf of Aden visited Italy en route back to China.
Premier Wen Jiabao's Visit to Italy
From 6 to 7 October, Premier Wen Jiabao paid an official visit to Italy. During the visit, he had talks with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and met with President Napolitano, President of the Senate Renato Schifani and President of the Chamber of Deputies Gianfranco Fini. The two sides signed 16 bilateral cooperation agreements, including the Treaty of Extradition Between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Italy, the Treaty of Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of Italy, and the Memorandum of Understanding Between the Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China and the Ministry of Economic Development of the Republic of Italy on Enhancing Cooperation. The two prime ministers attended the opening ceremony of the commemorative activities for the 40th anniversary of China-Italy diplomatic relations and the "Chinese Culture Year in Italy", and a forum for the two business communities.
During his talks with Prime Minister Berlusconi, Premier Wen said that China-Italy relations enjoyed steady growth and bilateral exchanges and cooperation in various fields achieved fruitful results in the last 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties. China stood ready to strengthen high-level interactions as well as dialogue at other levels with Italy, enhance political mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, intensify communication and coordination in the United Nations and other major international organizations, and pursue common development. Prime Minister Berlusconi echoed Premier Wen's assessment of bilateral ties. He said that China successfully overcame the international financial crisis, maintained fast and steady economic growth, and made important contribution to world economic recovery. Italy would work closely with China to advance friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation on all fronts to the benefit of the Italian and Chinese people.
President Napolitano's Visit to China
From 24 to 30 October, President Giorgio Napolitano paid a state visit to China. During his visit, he had talks with President Hu Jintao and met with NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo and Premier Wen Jiabao.
President Hu said that on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations, China would like to work with Italy and further deepen bilateral ties in the following three areas: first, keep to the strategic characterization and orientation of the relationship, intensify friendly exchanges at the top and other levels, and understand and accommodate each other's major concerns; second, complement each other and engage in mutually beneficial cooperation for common development; and third, learn from each other and promote cultural cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. President Napolitano agreed with President Hu's points. He said that China attained remarkable achievements in its economic and social development and made important contribution to tackling the financial crisis and bringing about world economic recovery. He hoped that the two countries would continue dialogue on a wide range of issues, strengthen practical cooperation in trade, finance, energy, science, technology and the environment, and jointly advance the China-Italy comprehensive strategic partnership.