Editor's note: The following is an edited translation of a commentary that was first published by the Xinhua News Agency.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay state visits to Italy, Monaco, and France from March 21 to 26, for his first international trip in 2019.
Why would he visit these three countries? What does he think of their relationship with China?
Italy is the first stop of President Xi's European visit. It will be the first time in 10 years for a Chinese head of state to visit Italy.
As President Xi once said, China and Italy are ancient civilizations. The two countries were closely connected by the ancient Silk Road, which served as a bridge between Eastern and Western civilizations.
Indeed, both Chinese and Italian peoples are proud of their ancient civilizations. Marco Polo, Matteo Ricci and other "Silk Road messengers" have played an important role in the history of exchanges between China and Italy as well as between Eastern and Western civilizations. They are remembered as a bridge and bond connecting Eastern and Western civilizations.
The ancient Silk Road spanned thousands of years and stretches thousands of miles. The Belt and Road Initiative once again enhances the friendship between the two countries.
In 2017, when China held its first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, President Xi extended a welcome to Paolo Gentiloni, then Prime Minister of Italy, who attended the forum. Xi expressed the hope that the Italian side would continue to play an active role in the EU and help maintain the good momentum of China-EU relations.
Not long ago, Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy, made clear that he hoped to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing this year and deepen economic and trade cooperation with China for more development opportunities.
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Italy. Next year, the two countries will celebrate their 50th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Prince Albert II of Monaco at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, September 7, 2018. /Xinhua Photo
During Prince Albert II's visit to China last September, President Xi thanked him and the Monaco royal family for their long-term commitment to developing China-Monaco relations and invited him to attend the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in China. He stressed that China has always maintained that all countries, irrespective of their size, strength, and wealth, are equal members of the international community.
Monaco is a charming European country, with an area of only about two square kilometers, and is a typical "mini-country." China and Monaco have maintained frequent friendly exchanges. Prince Albert II, head of the state of the Principality of Monaco, has visited China 10 times. He is a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and actively supports and attends major events held in China, such as the Beijing Olympic Games and the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games.
At present, China is vigorously promoting ecological progress and actively participating in multilateral climate governance, while Monaco respects nature and history in development, and has established a unique concept of urban development. The exchanges and cooperation between China and Monaco are complementary, which has become a model of friendly exchanges between big and small countries.
The last leg of President Xi's upcoming visit is France.
France was the first major Western country to establish diplomatic ties with China.
Both as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and big countries with significant international influence, China and France bear important responsibilities for world peace and development.
There are many uncertainties in today's world. China advocates the building of a community with a shared future for humanity, while France has similar views. The two countries can enhance political mutual trust and fully tap the potential of cooperation transcending differences in their social systems, development stages and cultures.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron in Buenos Aires, Argentina, December 1, 2018. /Xinhua Photo
From cooperation in combating terrorism to building new international relations, from strengthening cooperation on climate change to jointly safeguarding multilateralism, this "special" relationship between China and France is not only mutually beneficial but also makes positive contributions to the entire world.
In early 2018, President Xi said that to visiting French President Emmanuel Macron that China-France relations will make greater achievements in the new era.
In March 2014, President Xi paid a state visit to France on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. Five years later, as the two countries celebrate the 55th anniversary, President Xi will visit France again to witness another "special" historical moment in bilateral relations.
China and Europe, major forces for upholding world peace
China is the largest developing country while the EU is the largest group of developed countries. China and Europe are two major forces for upholding world peace.
As the birthplaces of the Eastern and Western cultures shining with brilliance, China and Europe are two civilizations that promote human progress.
With regard to the future of China-EU relations, President Xi Jinping once said, "Both China and the EU are pursuing reforms that are unprecedented in human history, and both are sailing uncharted waters."
"The more complex the international situation is, the more important it is for China-EU relations to develop steadily."
The tide of the world is surging forward. China-EU cooperation has become an important force in promoting common development in the world.
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