“A Courageous and Forward-looking Cooperative Initiative” (Winds from the East: People Talk about Belt and Road Cooperation)

[Source]    People’s Daily [Time]    2019-03-21 11:18:42 
 

Let Each Other Get Better Development Opportunities

(Italy) Alessandra Lavagnino

The building of the Belt and Road Initiative has promoted the common development of various countries. Many countries have benefited from it, and people along the route have shared the dividends brought by the development. The building of the Belt and Road Initiative provides a new concept and a solution for the future development of the world economy.

My story with China started over 60 years ago. In 1957, my father, Francesco Lavagnino, was interested in Chinese culture and shot the documentary Behind the Great Wall with the famous Italian director Carlo Lizzani in China. After my father returned to China, I was deeply impressed by the stories he told me. Since then, I began to know and understand the country that was mysterious at the time.

In the early 1970s, I was fortunate to be selected as an Italian teacher sponsored by the Italian government and taught in Shanghai Foreign Language Institute (now known as “Shanghai International Studies University”). After that, I have been working on Chinese and Chinese culture. After the establishment of the Confucius Institute at the University of Milan in 2009, I served as the Italian director.

I visit China every year. Over the past 40 years, I have witnessed the breathtaking pace of the country’s transformation brought about by the “China Speed”. The profound charm of Chinese culture has made me obsessed. Among them, Dunhuang has an indissoluble bond with me. In 1973, before coming to China, Dunhuang culture and its murals was the subject of my graduation thesis. As an important city along the Ancient Silk Road, Dunhuang is the hall of art and a treasure house of literature. Nowadays, we can still feel the glory of trade and the prosperity of cultural exchanges on the Ancient Silk Road in Dunhuang.

Since ancient times, Europe and Asia has had close emotional connections in culture, language, ideology and civilization. As early as the Roman Empire, Italy traded with China and other countries in Asia and Europe through the Ancient Silk Road connecting Chang’an in the east and Rome in the west. On this channel, Italy is a transportation hub in the Mediterranean and an important node on the Ancient Silk Road, with a unique geographical location and advantages in cooperation.

The Italy-China economic and trade cooperation has become increasingly solid with the camel bells along the Silk Road and the sea sails on the sea. Today, Italy is one of China’s most important investment destinations in the European Union. As an important country along the Belt and Road Initiative, Italy sees the major development opportunities brought about by the Initiative and hopes to attract Chinese enterprises and technologies by a series of measures while helping Italian companies to open the Chinese market. Through jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative, the two countries have deepened their partnership and allowed each other to have better development opportunities.

Undoubtedly, the Belt and Road Initiative is a courageous and forward-looking cooperative initiative. The development achievements of China over the years are obvious to all. The building of the Belt and Road Initiative has promoted the common development of various countries. Many countries have benefited from it, and people along the route have shared the dividends brought by the development. The building of the Belt and Road Initiative provides a new concept and a solution for the future development of the world economy.

I am an educator and cultural researcher. Historically, the Ancient Silk Road provided an opportunity for cultural exchanges between the East and the West. The wisdom and civilization of Eurasia have been exchanged and learned through the Ancient Silk Road. Today, from the building of the Belt and Road Initiative, I have seen this international channel bring new vitality and opportunities to cultural prosperity.

Italy and China are ancient civilizations with a long history in the West and the East. The two countries enjoy time-honored exchanges. Nowadays, cultural exchanges between Italy and China are more frequent. There are 3,305 students in the Confucius Institute at the University of Milan as well as its affiliated 4 Confucius Classrooms and 12 Chinese teaching sites. In Milan, a total of six universities have established Chinese courses, and a total of 43 schools in the Lombardy region of Milan have included the Chinese Language as a compulsory course. More and more Italian people are interested in China’s long and splendid history and culture, and begin to learn Chinese. Also, more and more people are studying and working in China. The building of the Belt and Road Initiative has provided us with new communication ways and cooperation platforms.

Starting from 2016, the Confucius Institute at the University of Milan holds the Belt and Road cooperation seminar every year. In the future, we will continue to work on the deeper cultural exchanges between Italy and China and seek dialogue and innovative communication models with this golden channel. The building of the Belt and Road Initiative has created an unprecedented golden age for cultural exchanges between Italy and China. The cultural exchanges between the East and the West and the communication among the people will also inject more vitality into the building of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The world today is an open world, and we all shoulder the responsibility of promoting the development of the world economy and culture. China has maintained steady and sound economic and social development. And it also brings benefits to the development of other countries, reflecting the responsibilities and duties of a major country.

(The author is the foreign director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Milan in Italy; the article is edited by Ye Qi, People’s Daily, Italy, based on the interview to the author)

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