Archive for ‘Italy’


Xi meets Italian prime minister


Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, April 27, 2019. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

BEIJING, April 27 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday met with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who attended the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

China highly commends Italy’s signing of a memorandum of understanding with China on jointly building the Belt and Road, taking the lead among major Western countries, according to Xi.

The country is ready to work with Italy in advancing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and make the bilateral relations a model of Belt and Road cooperation between China and European countries, Xi said.

Xi called on both sides to firmly grasp the strategic significance of the bilateral ties, step up coordination and collaboration in improving global governance system and safeguarding free trade and multilateralism, and forge a new form of international relations featuring mutual respect, fairness, justice and win-win cooperation.

Conte said the speeches delivered by Xi at the forum helped the international community understand the significant benefits of the BRI for the world.

Italy is firmly committed to participating in the BRI, he said, adding that the initiative is a good opportunity for the world and more countries will join.

Italy welcomes Chinese companies to invest in the country, and will not adopt discriminatory policies against them, Conte said, calling on the two countries to reinforce solidarity and cooperation, and safeguard multilateralism.

Source: Xinhua


Belt and Road: China showcases initiative to world leaders

Aerial view of flower beds reading 'Chinese Dream' at Zhouji Green Expo Garden to welcome the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on April 24, 2019 in Nantong, Jiangsu Province of China.Image copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Flower beds reading ‘Chinese Dream’ welcome delegates to the Belt and Road forum in Beijing

World leaders are gathering in Beijing from Thursday for a summit on China’s Belt and Road initiative amid growing criticism of the project.

The sweeping infrastructure project aims to expand global trade links.

The initiative has funded trains, roads, and ports in many countries, but has left some saddled with debt.

Some see it as a bold bid for geopolitical influence, with the US particularly critical of China’s so-called “debt diplomacy”.

Chinese officials have tried to address concerns surrounding President Xi Jinping’s project, which is expected to involve more than $1 trillion (£774.9bn) in investments.

At the first day of the forum in Beijing, Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun said China aims to make the Belt and Road initiative sustainable and to prevent debt risks.

Last year, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a speech Belt and Road was not a “geostrategic concept” but was part of efforts to build “a community with a shared future for mankind together with countries around the globe.”

Leaders from 37 countries and dozens of officials are due to attend the three-day summit, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

Italy recently became the first developed economy to sign up to China’s Belt and Road programme, raising concerns among its allies.

Western governments, and particularly the US, are increasingly wary of China’s growing influence.

The US, which has fought a trade war with China over the past year, has been particularly critical of the project.

Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech last year China was using “debt diplomacy” to expand its influence around the world.

Debt trap?

Other countries that are set to benefit from the project also seem to be growing more cautious.

Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Pakistan have all expressed concerns about the programme. Recipient countries worry about debt accumulation and increased Chinese influence.

Sri Lanka has been particularly affected – it had to hand over control over of a port to China in 2017 to help repay foreign loans.

Tom Rafferty, China economist at The Economist Intelligence Unit, said China is using this week’s summit to “reposition and, it hopes, revive the initiative after it lost its way in 2018 amid project delays and a slowdown in associated lending.”

Mr Rafferty said the Chinese government “wants to convince the international community that the Belt and Road Initiative is inclusive and policy concessions in areas such as debt sustainability” are likely.

Source: The BBC


Xi to address Belt and Road forum next week: FM


Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi (C) speaks during a press briefing for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in Beijing, capital of China, April 19, 2019. The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing, Wang Yi announced Friday. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)

BEIJING, April 19 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping will deliver a keynote speech at the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) to be held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced Friday.

Leaders including heads of state and government from 37 countries will attend the forum’s roundtable summit, Wang told a press briefing.

Wang said 12 thematic forums and a CEO conference would be held on April 25, the opening ceremony and a high-level meeting on April 26, and the leaders’ roundtable on April 27.

Xi will attend the opening ceremony and deliver a keynote speech. He will also chair the leaders’ roundtable and brief media from home and abroad about the outcomes after the roundtable, Wang said, adding that Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan will also hold a welcoming banquet for the leaders and representatives.

According to Wang, the 37 countries are Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Djibouti, Egypt, Ethiopia, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

The secretary-general of the United Nations and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund will attend the forum, Wang said, adding that senior representatives of France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the European Union will also participate.

Noting that the BRF is the top-level platform for international cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, Wang said the conference next week would be of landmark significance.

The theme of the second BRF is “Belt and Road Cooperation, Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.” Wang said the main purpose is to promote the high-quality development of Belt and Road cooperation, which is the common aspiration of countries participating in the initiative.

Speaking highly of the fruitful results yielded since the initiative was launched in 2013, Wang said the second BRF was greatly welcomed worldwide with some 5,000 participants from more than 150 countries and 90 international organizations having confirmed their attendance, covering areas from five continents and different walks of life such as government, civil society, business and academia.

According to Wang, this year’s forum will have 12 thematic forums, twice of that during the first forum in 2017, and the CEO conference will be held for the first time. A joint communique will be released after the leaders’ roundtable and other consensus reached during the forum will be issued in a report.

The Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by Xi in 2013, aims at enhancing all-around connectivity through infrastructure construction, exploring new driving force for the world economic growth, and building a new platform for world economic cooperation, according to Wang.

Stressing that Xi and leaders from other countries blueprinted the initiative in 2017, Wang said the progress in the past two years shows that the initiative conforms to the trend of the times featuring peace, development, cooperation and win-win and accords with the common aspiration of openness and joint development of all countries.

“As the host country, we will maintain close communication and coordination with all parties to prepare for the forum with openness, inclusiveness and transparency, upholding the principle of consultation and cooperation for shared benefits,” Wang said.

He said the forum would voice the firm support for multilateralism and an open world economy, enrich the principles of cooperation of the Belt and Road Initiative, build a network of partnership, and establish more mechanisms for high-quality development.

Bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation has been reinforcing each other under the initiative, laying a solid foundation for a closer and more wide-ranging partnership, he said.

Wang said China will showcase the outcomes and introduce the measures of its reform and opening-up to the world, adding that this will allow China to share the dividends of its economic growth, promote the Belt and Road Initiative, and bring more opportunities to the development of all countries as well as the building of the Belt and Road.

“I believe that the forum will inject stronger impetus into the world economy, open even broader horizon for the development of the countries, and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity, ” said Wang.

Source: Xinhua


China asks Britain for help to boost image of Belt and Road Initiative

  • China’s Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming cites ‘rule-making’ as an area for bilateral cooperation with the UK
Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming gives a keynote speech during the ‘Chinese Bridge’ Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students UK Regional Final in London. Photo: Xinhua
Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming gives a keynote speech during the ‘Chinese Bridge’ Chinese Proficiency Competition for Foreign College Students UK Regional Final in London. Photo: Xinhua
China has asked Britain for help to offset claims its “Belt and Road Initiative” investments are opaque and justify its overseas spending to critics.
It made the move days before UK Chancellor Phillip Hammond was expected to head to the belt and road forum in Beijing.

In an article in London’s Evening Standard on Wednesday, China’s Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming cited “rule-making” as an area for bilateral cooperation.

“Britain has played a leading role in the establishment and management of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank,” Liu said. “In [belt and road] development, Britain could have a big role to play in ensuring that the projects are of higher quality, at a higher standard, with higher return.”
Four years ago the UK defied the US and joined the AIIB.
Liu’s comments followed news the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) was asked to join a new initiative aimed at improving China’s international accounting and transparency standards.
China is thought to see DFID as a model for its new aid outfit, China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), which was established last year to oversee Beijing’s foreign aid.
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond. Photo: EPA-EFE
Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond. Photo: EPA-EFE

The DFID was the third most transparent donor in the world after the Asian Development Bank and UNDP, according to the aid data-crunching website Publish What You Find. China was the least.

Critics say part of the problem is Beijing prefers to deliver loans and other investments through local elites. There are also often several government departments involved, each directed by their own rules and priorities, making financial reporting more complex.

“I think the Chinese are instead playing by a different set of rules, not all of them in conflict with the West’s … but most definitely not fully aligned with what the West wants or expects”, said Eric Olander, managing editor of Shanghai-based The China Africa Project. “Therefore, I would not expect to see the kind of meaningful change in its accounting and financial standards in the near term.”

‘Cooperate or stop criticising’, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi says as belt and road summit nears

The MOU proposed by China is more a statement of intent than a plan of action but the UK welcomed it as a positive sign

“China’s proposal to set up a ‘Multilateral Cooperation Centre for Development Finance’ has real potential to ensure its huge investments in developing countries meet the key international standards that matter to all of us – on debt, transparency, environment and social safeguards,” UK International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt said at the World Bank Spring Meeting recently.

A source at DFID told the SCMP that the UK has not signed the MOU yet but said while other countries are aware of the proposal, it is the only country so far to be formally invited to participate by China.

France and Germany were two possible future signatories, and MCCDF has been discussed in EU member state meetings in Beijing.

“[China] is clearly frustrated that it feels misunderstood by the international community,” said Olander.

“I have attended one seminar after another where African stakeholders ask the Chinese for more transparency and the Chinese respond with a sympathetic smile that says ‘I’d love to but I’m not sure how we can do that given our political culture and the current political realities’.”

With the Chinese economy slowing at home and the losses abroad in places like Venezuela starting to mount, there are indications that the Chinese policy banks are becoming far more risk-averse in places like Africa and the Americas.

Even so according to figures released on Thursday, the Export Import Bank of China provided more than a trillion yuan (US$149 billion) to more than 1,800 Belt and Road projects since 2013. China Development Bank (CDB) said in March it had provided US$190 billion in the same period.

“The UK is very concerned by rising debt levels, particularly in emerging market economies and in low-income countries,” Mordaut told the World Bank.

“Unsustainable debt levels are a real risk that can undermine or reverse development gains.”

The IMF said recently 24 out of 60 of the poorest countries are either in debt distress or at a high risk of falling into it.

China is also looking to the UK to help manage the BRI projects and organise part of the financing, something the City of London and the government are keen to do, Liu said.

Describing it as “third-party involvement in BRI development” he said: “The UK, with its unique strengths in professional services, project-management and financing, could tap into this potential.”

China is keen for the UK to sign a BRI MOU like Italy, and soon Switzerland, but so far it has resisted. A report released earlier this month by the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee called for a rebranding of the “golden era” started by the former chancellor George Osborne, now the editor of the London Evening Standard.

Britain is keen to cement closer ties with Beijing as the world’s fifth largest economy looks to reinvent itself as a global trading nation if and when it leaves the European Union.

Source: SCMP


China Focus: Premier Li’s Europe visit to inject impetus to China-EU ties

BEIJING, April 3 (Xinhua) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s upcoming visit to Europe will intensify cooperation between China and European countries and provide new impetus to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, a Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday.

Li’s visit, scheduled for April 8 to 12, will take him to Brussels for the 21st China-EU leaders’ meeting, and Croatia for an official visit and the eighth leaders’ meeting of China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said at a press briefing.

This is the first overseas trip to be made by Li this year as well as another significant high-level exchange between China and Europe after Chinese President Xi Jinping’s successful state visits to Italy, Monaco and France in March, demonstrating the importance that China attaches to its relations with Europe, Wang noted.


“The China-EU leaders’ meeting, a high-level platform for strategic communication between the two sides, has played a leading role in deepening China-EU relations and promoting dialogue and cooperation,” Wang said.

He stressed that this year’s meeting, the fifth co-chaired by Premier Li, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will be the last China-EU leaders’ meeting during the tenure of the current EU institutions, thus bearing transitional significance.

China and the EU are enjoying sound development of ties, close high-level connections, deepening cooperation and robust people-to-people exchanges, he added.

“We share broad common interests in deepening win-win practical cooperation, common positions on upholding multilateralism and free trade, and common goals in improving global governance and maintaining world peace and stability.”

Leaders of the two sides will exchange views on bilateral ties and major international and regional issues of common concerns, and witness the signing of cooperation documents on energy, competition policies and other areas, Wang said.

“We believe that this meeting will inject new impetus to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, take our dialogue and cooperation across the board to a new level, and strengthen the stability, reciprocity and strategic significance of our relations,” Wang said.


Wang Chao said China-CEEC cooperation (16+1 cooperation) was a beneficial mechanism of regional cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, and has provided a platform for China and CEE countries to deepen traditional friendship and enhance mutually beneficial cooperation.

Initiated in 2012, the 16+1 cooperation has gained broad support and active participation from 16 CEE countries, and has built up an all-round and multi-tiered cooperation framework, said Wang, adding that the 16+1 cooperation has played a positive role in promoting trade and expanding pragmatic cooperation across-the-board between China and other countries.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Some CEE countries also established diplomatic relations with China 70 years ago.

Wang said this year’s meeting, to be held in Croatian city Dubrovnik, was of important significance to the promotion of the steady, long term development of 16+1 cooperation as well as China-Europe relations.

Noting the theme of this year’s meeting of building new bridges of openness, innovation and partnership, Wang said leaders attending the meeting would review new progress of 16+1 cooperation, have insightful discussions on key future work directions, and announce a series of new measures on pragmatic cooperation.

China hopes that the 16+1 cooperation will become a bridge of openness, innovation and partnership through enhancing exchanges and cooperation of mutual benefit and win-win results, he said.

According to the vice minister, outcome documents charting 16+1 cooperation will be released after the meeting and related parties will ink cooperation agreements on infrastructure construction, trade, finance, education, quality inspection, personnel exchanges, and mutual recognition of driving licenses.

China believes this year’s meeting will inject new impetus to relations between China and the CEE countries and the development of the China-Europe comprehensive strategic partnership, he said.


“Li’s visit will be the first ever by a Chinese premier to Croatia since the establishment of diplomatic ties. Therefore, it is significant in consolidating traditional friendship and advancing our comprehensive cooperative partnership as well as China-EU relations,” Wang Chao said.

Hailing Croatia as an important member of CEE countries and a key stop on the ancient Silk Road, Wang said relations between China and Croatia had been growing rapidly with the development of the Belt and Road Initiative and 16+1 cooperation.

In addition to close top-level exchanges, fruitful cooperation in trade, investment and infrastructure construction, and ever-deepening friendship between the two peoples, China-Croatia relations face a broad space for future development, he added.

During Li’s visit, the two sides will issue a joint statement summarizing any important consensus reached by their leaders and mapping out future cooperation. The prime ministers of the two countries will witness the signing of government cooperation documents and commercial contracts covering multiple sectors.

China hopes the visit will help synergize both countries’ development strategies, enhance mutual understanding and political trust, deepen cooperation and bring bilateral ties to a higher level, Wang said.


Chinese president arrives in Italy for state visit


Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) and his wife Peng Liyuan disembark from the airplane upon their arrival in Rome, Italy, on March 21, 2019. Xi arrived in Rome Thursday for a state visit to Italy to map out the future of the bilateral relationship and move it into a new era. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)

ROME, March 21 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Rome Thursday for a state visit to Italy to map out the future of the bilateral relationship and move it into a new era.

It is the first visit by a Chinese head of state to the European nation in 10 years.

Two Italian fighter jets escorted Xi’s plane as it entered the country’s airspace.

Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, were greeted by senior Italian government officials at the airport.

While delivering a written speech upon arrival, Xi said that the China-Italy relations have withstood the test of time and international vicissitudes since the two countries forged diplomatic ties 49 years ago.

Upholding the principle of mutual respect, trust and benefit, China and Italy have constantly promoted their friendship and cooperation, setting an example of developing bilateral ties between two countries of different social systems, cultural backgrounds and development stages, Xi said.

The practical cooperation between the two countries has yielded fruitful results, bringing tangible benefits to the two peoples, said Xi, adding that the bilateral cultural and people-to-people exchanges are rich and colorful, and have enhanced mutual understanding and friendship.

The Chinese president noted that he is looking forward to meeting the Italian leaders to jointly draw the blueprint for the future development of bilateral relations.

“I believe with the concerted efforts of both sides, the China-Italy comprehensive strategic partnership will enjoy a better tomorrow,” Xi said.

Italy is the first stop of Xi’s three-nation Europe tour, which will also take him to Monaco and France.

Source: Xinhua


Italy takes a shine to China’s New Silk Road

A large ship in dry dock is worked on in this photo from late 2018Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionChina has bought up a majority stake in the Greek port of Piraeus – and Italy might be next

China’s president lands in Rome on Thursday, where he is expected to sign a landmark infrastructure deal that has raised eyebrows and suspicions among Italy’s Western allies.

Xi Jinping’s project is a New Silk Road which, just like the ancient trade route, aims to link China to Europe.

The upside for Italy is a potential flood of investment and greater access to Chinese markets and raw materials.

But amid China’s growing influence and questions over its intentions, Italy’s Western allies in the European Union and United States have concerns.

By land and by sea

The New Silk Road has another name – the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – and it involves a wave of Chinese funding for major infrastructure projects around the world, in a bid to speed Chinese goods to markets further afield.

It has already funded trains, roads, and ports, with Chinese construction firms given lucrative contracts to connect ports and cities – funded by loans from Chinese banks.

The levels of debt owed by African nations to China have raised concerns in the West – but roads and railways have been built that would not exist otherwise:

Italy, however, will be the first top-tier global power – a member of the G7 – to take the money offered by China.

It is one of the world’s top 10 largest economies – yet Rome finds itself in a curious situation.

A map shows the overland and sea routes from China to Europe - the overland routes stretches from Xian in China's east, to Samarkand, Moscow, and Rotterdam; the sea route from Fuzhou port to Kolkata in India and Nairobi in Africa before reaching Italy

The collapse of the Genoa bridge in August killed dozens of people and made Italy’s crumbling infrastructure a major political issue for the first time in decades.

And Italy’s economy is far from booming.

The country slipped into recession at the end of 2018, and its national debt levels are among the highest in the eurozone. Italy’s populist government came to power in June 2018 with high-spending plans but had to peg them back after a stand-off with the EU.

It is in this context that China’s deal is being offered – funding that could rejuvenate Italy’s grand old port cities along the Maritime Silk Road.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has mentioned the cities of Trieste and Genoa as likely candidates.

“The way we see it, it is an opportunity for our companies to take the opportunity of China’s growing importance in the world,” said Italy’s undersecretary of state for trade and investment, Michele Geraci.

“We feel that amongst our European partners, Italy has been left out. We have wasted a little bit of time,” he told the BBC.

So what’s in it for China?

Italy’s move is “largely symbolic”, according to Peter Frankopan, professor of Global History at Oxford University and a writer on The Silk Roads.

But even Rome admitting the BRI is worth exploring “has a value for Beijing”, he said.

“It adds gloss to the existing scheme and also shows that China has an important global role.”

President Xi Jinping raises a glass of wine from a podium, set against a yellow background, in this photoImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionPresident Xi Jinping has made the BRI a flagship policy

“The seemingly innocuous move comes at a sensitive time for Europe and the European Union, where there is suddenly a great deal of trepidation not only about China, but about working out how Europe or the EU should adapt and react to a changing world,” Prof Frankopan told the BBC.

“But there is more at stake here too,” he added. “If investment does not come from China to build ports, refineries, railway lines and so on, then where will it come from?”

Ahead of his arrival, President Xi declared that the friendship between the two nations was “rooted in a rich historical legacy”.

“Made in Italy has become synonymous with high quality products. Italian fashion and furnishings fully meet the taste of Chinese consumers; pizza and tiramisu are liked by young Chinese people,” he wrote in an article published by Corriere della Sera.

Scene from Marco Polo's Book of Marvels, early 15th century, showing merchants entering a walled town, mason and carpenter at work, a shopkeeper serving a customer, and men driving swineImage copyrightOXFORD SCIENCE ARCHIVE/GETTY IMAG
Image captionExplorer Marco Polo’s travels along the Silk Road were immortalised in the “Book of Marvels”

That “made in Italy” label carries a reputation for quality worldwide, and is legally protected for products items processed “mainly” in Italy.

In recent years, Chinese factories based in Italy using Chinese labour have been challenging that mark of quality.

Better connections for cheap raw materials from China – and the return of finished products from Italy – could exaggerate that practice.

“Predatory” investment

The non-binding deal being signed by the two countries on Thursday comes amid questions over whether Chinese firm Huawei should be permitted to build essential communications networks – after the United States expressed concern they could help Beijing spy on the West.

That is not part of the current negotiations in Italy.

But a little over a week before the deal was due to be signed, the European Commission released a joint statement on “China’s growing economic power and political influence” and the need to “review” relations.

As President Xi tours Rome, EU leaders in Brussels will be considering 10 points for relations with China.

While they include deepening engagement, they also involve plans to “address the distortive effects of foreign state ownership” as well as “security risks posed by foreign investment in critical assets, technologies and infrastructure”.

In March, US National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis pointed out that Italy was a major economy and did not need to “lend legitimacy to China’s vanity infrastructure project”.

Members of Italy’s ruling right-wing League party have their owns concerns about national security

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini warned that he did not want to see foreign businesses “colonising” Italy.

“Before allowing someone to invest in the ports of Trieste or Genoa, I would think about it not once but a hundred times,” Salvini warned.

Setting the scene

Italian officials are keen to point out that the deal being signed is not an international treaty, and is non-binding.

“There are no specific projects,” Mr Geraci said. “It is more of an accord that sets the scene.”

Other European nations already accept Chinese investment through something called the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, he said – something the UK was the first to sign up to.

Media captionWhat China’s One Belt, One Road really means

“And then one by one, France, Germany, Italy and everyone else also followed suit,” Mr Geraci said.

Similarly, he believes Italy’s neighbours will soon follow it into the Belt and Road initiative.

“I do believe that this time Italy is actually leading Europe – which I understand may be a surprise to most,” he added.

Source: The BBC


As Xi heads to Italy, Vatican says China should not fear Church

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – A top Vatican official says China’s government should not fear “distrust or hostility” from the Roman Catholic Church, writing amid speculation over whether President Xi Jinping will meet Pope Francis this week.

Senior Vatican sources have said Francis is willing to meet Xi and that intermediaries had made overtures to the Vatican, but the Chinese side had not yet formally asked for a meeting. Any encounter would be the first between a Chinese leader and a pope.

Xi’s visit, starting Thursday, is his first to Italy following a historic agreement in September between the Vatican and the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops in China.

Beijing cut diplomatic ties with the Vatican in 1951 and has remained concerned that an independent Church in China could threaten its authority.

“The Holy See (nurtures) no distrust or hostility towards any country,” Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin writes in the introduction of a new book on China to be published on Tuesday. An advance copy of Parolin’s comments in the book, “The Church in China – A Future Yet to be Written” – were made available to Reuters.

Parolin, second only to the pope in the Vatican hierarchy, said the Catholic Church’s work in China “cannot be separated from a stance of respect, esteem, and trust towards the Chinese people and their legitimate state authorities.”


This appeared to be another attempt by the Vatican to allay Beijing’s concerns.

While the historic September agreement initiated an unprecedented direct dialogue between the Vatican and China, Beijing and the Holy See have not resumed diplomatic, relations.

Parolin wrote that the previously “inextricable knots” in relations between China and the Vatican could be untied through a new, unified approach involving a mix of “theology, law, pastoral work, and even diplomacy.”

It is routine for heads of state and government visiting Italy to also meet the pope. A Vatican source said it could be inserted into Xi’s schedule “at the last minute”. A Vatican spokesman said it is not on the pope’s schedule.

The September deal, in the making for more than 10 years, gives the Vatican a long-sought say in the choice of bishops in China. Critics, particularly conservative Catholics, have labelled it a sellout to the Communist government.

China’s approximately 12 million Catholics have been split between an underground Church swearing loyalty to the Vatican and the state-supervised Catholic Patriotic Association. Now both sides recognise the pope.

Many believe the September deal is a precursor to resumption of diplomatic ties with Beijing.

That would mean severing relations with Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province. The Vatican is the self-ruled island’s last remaining diplomatic ally in Europe.

Source: Reuters


China ready to work with France, Italy to inject positive energy into world: FM

ROME, Jan. 26 (Xinhua) — China is willing to work with France and Italy and meet each other halfway, enhance strategic communication, and consolidate strategic mutual trust and cooperation, so as to inject new impetus to bilateral ties and positive energy into the international community, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said.

Wang made the remarks during a press briefing on Friday night, right before concluding his visits to France and Italy.

The top Chinese diplomat termed as “very successful” the 18th consultation of the coordinators for the China-France Strategic Dialogue and the 9th joint meeting of the China-Italy Government Committee.

Against the backdrop of ongoing profound adjustment of relations and increased frictions among major powers, Wang said France and Italy, both major members of the European Union and countries with global influence, expressed their stance that they cherish the comprehensive strategic partnerships with China.

Wang believed that the China-France and China-Italy comprehensive strategic partnerships had been further enhanced.

Wang also told reporters that both France and Italy have clearly welcomed Chinese investment to their countries, promising not to adopt any restrictions on specific enterprises and discriminations against any enterprises.

He praised these statements as “not only timely but also necessary”, adding that Chinese companies will increasingly turn their eyes to countries that are worth their trust.

Wang said he also had deep exchange of views with French and Italian officials on how to deal with various global challenges.

The tripartite partners, Wang said, have confirmed that they would firmly uphold the rule-based multilateralism and maintain the contemporary international system with the UN as the core.

He said all three countries completely disagreed with unilateralism and egoism, which actually represents the general perspective of the international community. It will be proved that any unilateralism and egoism are unpopular and doomed to be unsustainable, Wang added.

Source: Xinhua


Chinese FM calls for further cooperation with Italy


Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte (R) meets with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi at Palazzo Chigi, the Italian prime minister’s office, in Rome, Italy, Jan. 25, 2019. (Xinhua/Cheng Tingting)

ROME, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) — Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte agreed on Friday to push bilateral ties to a new high.

During their meeting at Palazzo Chigi, the Italian prime minister’s office, Conte asked Wang to convey his sincere greetings to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

Italy attaches great importance to Italy-China relations and hopes to maintain high-level exchanges with China and deepen mutual cooperation in such areas as economy, trade, investment and energy, said Conte.

Italy also attaches great importance to the cooperation under the frame of the Belt and Road Initiative and is willing to make joint efforts with China to continuously cultivate new growth points for bilateral cooperation,Conte said added.

Wang conveyed Chinese leaders’ cordial greetings to Conte.

As the respective birthplace of Eastern and Western civilizations, China and Italy have enjoyed friendly exchanges since ancient times, Wang said.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the China-Italy comprehensive strategic partnership, and the next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations, Wang noted, expressing the hope that both sides seize the opportunity to lift bilateral relations to a new high.

China and Italy should understand and support each other and establish a long-lasting comprehensive strategic partnership regardless of how the international situation changes, Wang said.

Wang also said Italy is a natural partner to cooperate with under the Belt and Road Initiative and that China welcomes Italy to actively participate in the construction of the Belt and Road to benefit the two peoples and promote Eurasian interconnection and development.

China has been expanding its opening-up and its market potential has been steadily released, which will bring significant opportunities to various countries including Italy, Wang said.

As the Chinese and Italian economies are highly complementary, Wang said, enhancing cooperation in such fields as manufacturing, agriculture and innovation will surely bring tangible benefits to the two peoples.

Wang also noted that China is willing to encourage qualified Chinese companies to invest in Italy and believes Italy will provide them with a fair commercial environment.

Wang arrived in Italy on Friday to attend the ninth joint meeting of the China-Italy Government Committee at the invitation of Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi, with whom he also held talks.

Source: Xinhua

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