Italy, China could benefit from forging stronger ties

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Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno, fresh back from a five-day visit to China, said on Friday he believed Italy and China could benefit from forging stronger ties.

Alemanno, who spoke to Xinhua after a press briefing on international diplomacy at Rome's Piazza del Campidoglio, also said it was important to broker a kind of alliance between Italy and China to combat growing problems like illegal immigration and organized crime.

For example, on his trip, his first ever visit to China, Alemanno said he met with officials from the Beijing Olympic Committee to discuss Rome's plans to bid on hosting the Olympics in 2020, and he said the meetings yielded some important counsel that could help Rome's bid.

The mayor said he also met with business leaders in Shanghai to discuss university level exchanges in the area of design, and that he also mentioned the importance of wider cultural exchanges between two of the world's most important countries in that area.

Both Rome and Beijing are looking to enter the Grand Prix racing circuit, as well, and Italian officials said the two municipalities compared notes on that process.

"We found that there are many ways we can learn from the Chinese and that they can learn from us,"Alemanno said."As the ties strengthen that will benefit both sides, the visit was very fruitful."

Alemanno's visit was tied to a day honoring Rome at the World Expo in Shanghai, which Alemanno helped inaugurate. But the visit also coincided with the start of the Year of Chinese Culture in Italy, which runs through Nov. 2011.

Alemanno's staff explained that the city has an array of events planned to help celebrate the Year of Chinese Culture in Rome.

Several events are still on the drawing board, officials said, but among those already finalized are a special celebration scheduled to coincide with the Chinese New Year on Feb. 3, 2011, the participation of China in Roman carnival celebrations set to take place a month later, and several exhibitions of Chinese art set to be hosted by several of the city's art museums.

But Alemanno, who is walking on crutches after surgery on his leg, said the problems of legality of the growing Chinese population in the Italian capital remained an important issue.

Alemanno, now in his third year as Rome's mayor, has made combating illegal immigration and issues related to crime among the top priorities since taking office. He said it is a topic that he brought up while visiting China.

"We have to create an alliance with China to help combat these key issues,"Alemanno said."It's essential that the growth in the number of Chinese residents in Italy takes place through legal channels. It is an important issue, and it is something I think both sides desire."

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