Cooperation between Italy and China is "intense" across all sectors as the two countries mark 50 years of diplomatic ties, deputy foreign minister Marina Sereni said on Thursday.
“Collaboration between Rome and Beijing is intense in all sectors,” Sereni told the Fifty Years of Relations between Italy and China (1970-2020) conference organised by the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.
The conference was attended by China's ambassador to Italy, LI Junhua.
The COVID-19 pandemic this year has forced Italy to "down-size" the celebrations for the 50th anniversary of bilateral ties, but has shown their strength, Sereni underlined.
"The tangible mutual support between our governments and our people, which we saw in the most dramatic times of the health emergency, bear testimony to the capacity our collaboration has to deal with the most difficult of trials," she said.
This bilateral collaboration is and will be crucial for relaunching the global economy and to build a more balanced and sustainable economy, at an environmental level as well, Sereni said.
"The COP26 Climate Change Conference co-chaired by Italy, and COP15 in Kunming on Biodiversity presided over by China, planned for 2021, are important occasions for a joint effort by our countries,” she said.
Italy will continue to work with China on a bilateral level "and in the widest possible context" to develop dialogue and collaboration, Sereni underlined.
"One example of this is the open and frank dialogue we are engaged in with Beijing on the Hong Kong situation," Sereni said.
"We believe that safeguarding the system of basic rights and liberties, contained in the 'One Country, Two Systems' principle, must continue to pave the way to the stability, prosperity, and autonomy of this Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China."
Sereni said she hoped the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Italy and China would be a turning point and catalyst to further extend bilateral dialogue and cooperation including between experts, researchers and students.
Such cooperation as "laid the foundation for a more profound mutual understanding," she said.
Italy-China Year of Culture and Tourism has been postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, Sereni recalled.
"We will celebrate this more fully in 2022 as a symbol of the return of flows of cultural tourism between our countries, which is essential for reinstating the bonds of mutual knowledge and for supporting the revival of the economy."