Relations between China and Italy in 2005 - the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries - are experiencing a "powerful acceleration" which will move into top gear next year, Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini has said.
In a recent interview with Xinhua, Fini said that cooperation between China and Italy is growing significantly and will be further strengthened in 2006, officially "The Year of Italy in China".
"I believe that it is possible to say, without exaggeration, that today Italy is one of the principal and most important
partners of China in Europe, and in the West," he said.
"And for Italy, China is increasingly becoming one of our principal partners and allies, " Fini added.
Fini said relations between China and Italy have registered, in recent times, "extremely important developments and a powerful acceleration" due to numerous events - in particular, the May 2004 visit of Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in Italy and his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.
The meeting between the two prime ministers resulted in the birth of a strategic partnership between Italy and China and in the formation of the Italy-China Government Committee, which aims to facilitate regular meetings between the two countries at various levels and to periodically monitor bilateral progress accomplished in all sectors.
Another important development in China-Italy relations was the official visit in China by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, accompanied by a number of other Italian officials including Fini.
Fini said cooperation between Italy and China has been "growing in all sectors" and that the two countries have well cooperated in dealing with fundamental issues such as global peace and stability, reforms of the United Nations and the fight against terrorism.
However he warned that relations between the two countries are far from perfect.
One problem, Fini said, is "the extremely high growth" of Chinese exports including textile products and footwear to Italy.
A large number of various events will be held in Italy this year to mark the 35th anniversary of the founding of diplomatic relations between China and Italy. The recent theater performance of a play known as "My Dream" in Rome by the Chinese Disabled People's Performing Art Troupe with the support of President Ciampi and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has enjoyed enormous public success, said Fini.
In addition, later this year Italy will devote a week of celebration to the city of Tianjin in north China.
Fini said the "Year 2006 of Italy in China" will be another milestone for the development of relations between the two countries.
The Year 2006 of Italy in China will be inaugurated with an important Renaissance Show which, said Fini, is intended to promote mutual understanding between the Chinese and Italian peoples.