The Foreign Ministry expressed opposition on Thursday to attempts to smear and damage Belt and Road cooperation, after the Italian government officially informed China about its withdrawal from the Belt and Road Initiative.
In 2019, Italy became the only Group of Seven member to sign a memorandum of understanding on bilateral cooperation within the framework of the BRI with China, a move which was reportedly heavily criticized by the United States.
While notifying China that it would withdraw from the initiative ahead of a deadline at the year's end, the Italian government emphasized that it was seeking to maintain good relations with China.
China firmly opposes moves that stoke up bloc confrontation and create division, ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a daily news briefing.
In October, a total of 151 countries, including Italy, and 41 international organizations, sent representatives to attend the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.
The forum sent out a clear message of solidarity, collaboration, openness and win-win results, Wang said, adding that it also demonstrated the enormous appeal and global influence of Belt and Road cooperation.
Wang said that the BRI, proposed a decade ago, has delivered benefits to over 150 countries, and has become the largest platform for international cooperation.
In another development, Wang confirmed at the news conference that China and Singapore have agreed to implement a 30-day mutual visa-free arrangement and competent authorities are in close communication on the details.
China expects the arrangement will take effect at an early date, which will be great news for people from both countries, Wang said.
Further strengthening people-to-people and cultural exchanges between China and Singapore serves the fundamental interests of the peoples of the two countries, he said.
Singapore's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that both countries will work out the implementation details and introduce the new visa policy in early 2024.
The new arrangement will "enable more people-to-people exchanges, thereby fortifying the bedrock of our bilateral relations", The Straits Times quoted Singaporean Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong as saying.