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2020: fifty years of diplomatic relations between Italy and China

Overview of the activities undertaken by the Italy-China Institute during 2020

2020 was a difficult year, marked by the global health emergency caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and its multiple and painful consequences, but it was also the year in which fifty years of diplomatic relations between China and Italy took place.

As part of this anniversary, the Italy-China Institute – which was born in 1971, from the great vision of Senator Vittorino Colombo, precisely at the opening of these relations – has promoted a series of activities that reflect the virtuous intentions of the Institute, despite the difficulties imposed by the global pandemic.

Fifty years ago, Vittorino Colombo realized the enormous potential could from the mutual cooperation between our two countries: with the Institute he wanted to lay the foundations of a bridge that would facilitate and develop cooperation and collaboration between our two cultures.

Today, the Italy-China Institute continues to carry out with dedication its activities aimed at strengthening friendly relations between the two countries, becoming a protagonist in the strategic initiatives of the great “One Belt One Road” project (an initiative promoted by China known as the “New Silk Road”) despite the difficulties that the pandemic has imposed.

The Italy-China Cultural Institute has shown that it knows how to adapt to the needs and limits of the situation, channeling its energies and resources into the activities most necessary for the well-being of the two countries, reconfirming its historical role and its vocation.

It cannot be denied that the ongoing health emergency in the world has slowed down all the projects in progress, but in this case it has also confirmed how the partnership between private and governmental entities, both Italian and Chinese, has enabled communication channels to be activated to the advantage of both countries, reconfirming the importance of the Institute’s activity in nurturing these relationships over the decades. In fact, in the most critical moments, the Institute has dedicated all its commitment to coordinating a series of exchanges of operational aid and communications first from Italy in support of China in January and February 2020 and then, at the most critical moment for Italy, from China to Italy.

From the free distribution of protective health devices to organizing of web meetings to facilitate the exchange of information between Chinese and Italian doctors engaged in the fight against the virus… such an immediate and effective reaction on the part of the Institute came precisely thanks to the image and reliability of our Institute, cultivated and strengthened over the last fifty years. All this would not have been possible without the fundamental collaboration of the Chinese Community of Milan, the Municipality of Milan and the Metropolitan city of Milan who worked side by side to complete this solidarity marathon.

In 2020, despite the difficulties due to distance learning and the impossibility of moving freely between one country and another, the Italy-China Institute has collaborated with the Brera Academy of Fine Arts to allow Chinese students to know the dynamics to graduate and specialize at the prestigious University. The collaboration agreement with the Academy aims to promote artistic and humanistic exchange between the two countries and allows the Academy to create new relationships with teaching institutes in China. Furthermore, the Italy-China Institute acts as an interlocutor to facilitate both the Academy to promote and communicate its educational offer in China and young Chinese people to better understand in Chinese, how to access the entrance tests and enrollment to academic courses and the introductory course, to familiarize yourself with Western history and art.

The support that the Institute offers to Chinese students for Italian language courses is also fundamental, directing them towards the best solutions for learning the language, a fundamental requirement for accessing the Academy.

The Italy-China Institute has always paid great attention to education and exchanges between students and researchers: towards the end of 2020 it launched, in collaboration with the Chinese Student Federation, a project that aims to strengthen relations between Italian students who study Chinese in our universities and Chinese students who study in our universities. The initiative is part of the “One Belt One Road Education Alliance” and activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Italy and China.

It creates moments of encounter between Italian and Chinese students to allow them to deepen their knowledge of each other’s cultures through one-to-one activities, visiting exhibitions, watching films and many more with the aim of simultaneously stimulating language exchange. The first meeting was held online on December 18 and saw the participation, as well as the students and coordinators of Dr. Gao Lupeng – Consul of Science, Technology, Education and Culture of the PRC, the President and Director of the Italy-China Institute, and of the Professor and Researcher of Chinese language and literature at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan Chiara Piccinini. The next meeting, still online given the health situation, is scheduled for January 22, 2021.

Among the various initiatives promoted in 2020, the Italy-China Institute, in collaboration with the Chinese Olympic Committee for the Beijing 2022 Olympics and the Beijing Fashion Association, invited and supported some Italian candidates to participate in the “Beijing 2022 Global Call for Design Proposals for the Visual Appearance of Uniforms “. The competition invited several Chinese and international designers to submit their idea for the design of uniforms for the sporting event. Thanks to this collaboration, one of the stylists nominated with the support of the Institute was selected for the upcoming shows in attendance.

Among the other activities that the Italy-China Institute has collaborated with this year, to celebrate the important anniversary that falls in 2020 and to enrich the initiatives related to the “One Belt One Road” under the theme “Exchange and Friendship”, the worth mentioning are the concerts organized in collaboration with the Central Conservatory of Beijing.

These concerts will be broadcast online in the first weeks of 2021. The Italy-China Institute has involved three prestigious Italian conservatories in the initiative: the “Benedetto Marcello” Music Conservatory of Venice, the “Arcangelo Corelli” State Conservatory of Music in Messina and the Civic School of Music in Milan “Claudio Abbado”.

During this difficult year, the Italy-China Institute continued to cultivate relationships with various institutions and to sign agreements to facilitate cultural and scientific exchanges between the two countries. In particular, it should be mentioned the important Memorandum of Understanding signed with the IRCCS Foundation – National Cancer Institute based in Milan following events for the disclosure of prevention information from 2017 to the Chinese community in Milan.

The Italy-China Institute boasts a long history of medical scientific collaboration with Chinese and Italian entities that began in the 1980s, the collaboration agreement signed provides, in particular, the facilitation of contacts with Chinese authorities and representatives of local institutions and to the intensification of collaboration between doctors and scientists of the two countries to promote research, diagnosis and prevention with researchers at different levels in the field of scientific and clinical research. Specifically, the collaboration between the Italy-China Institute and the Milan Cancer Institute aims to study the eating habits of the Chinese population residing in Italy, and in particular in Milan, to prevent cancer. In this sense, the role of the Italy-China Institute consists mainly in linguistic mediation with the Chinese community, with the Research Department of the National Cancer Institute of Milan.

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