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Sino-Italian relations at positive turning point: experts

Marzia De Giuli
Updated: Sep 24,2014 5:29 PM     Xinhua

ROME -- Italy and China are experiencing a particularly positive period of their relations, which local experts said also reflects an improvement of Sino-European dialogue.

The two countries are at a “crucial turning point” of their exchanges, Giuliano Noci, vice rector for China and marketing professor at Polytechnic University of Milan, told Xinhua on Sept 26.

Noci said Italy is going through a phase of “catching up” and “acceleration” in the bilateral ties with China. “Chinese investments in Italy are significantly growing,” he noted.

According to figures of the Milan-based Italy China Foundation, at the end of last year more than 90 groups from the Chinese mainland had stakes in Italian companies, nearly 20 percent more compared with 2012. And various new investments have been announced since the beginning of 2014.

In this phase, Noci added, Italy must have the capacity to capitalize this interest of China by also trying to achieve greater access to Chinese markets, especially in more difficult sectors such as environment and energy.

Renzo Cavalieri, director of the Master’s degree in Global Management for China (GMC) at Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, confirmed that China’s operations in Italy have “visibly increased at all levels in recent months.”

Cavalieri, who is also a lawyer and international law professor, told Xinhua that he has recently witnessed “unprecedented dynamism” in the commercial dialogue between the two countries.

Mutual knowledge is the starting point for economic cooperation, he also stressed, which is the reason why forming new managerial classes able to operate across different business environments has become so essential.

The improvement of bilateral relations, he went on saying, was both favored by the economic crisis that created new possibilities and by an Italian will to open the doors to China in a “systematic” manner.

The official visit of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to China in June marked this new strategic approach resulting from cooperation between the Italian institutional and entrepreneurial worlds, which is indispensable in dialogue with such a huge country as China, Cavalieri pointed out.

In his view, at the same way the European Union (EU) member states should also try to work as a team for a better understanding with China, and agreements that are being negotiated such as the signing of a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) between China and the EU go in the right direction.

In his meeting with Chinese authorities, Renzi - whose country currently holds the EU rotating presidency - expressed hope that the upcoming 10th ASEM Summit in Milan on Oct 16-17 will help boost Asian-European ties.

The Italian prime minister praised China’s initiative of building a Silk Road economic belt and a 21st-century maritime Silk Road, a concept of peaceful development which he said will contribute to win-win cooperation between the two continents.

“After some tensions experienced in the past years, China and the EU are now witnessing a period of calmness and non-fighting,” Cavalieri explained to Xinhua.

“China’s increased interest in Europe is a novelty. And Europe itself should also foster its investments into China, which would mark a change of pace in the relations between two key global players,” he highlighted.