China wants to boost its ties with Italy and expand cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and other global issues, said Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday, on the eve of his visit to the country.
"Through my upcoming visit, I hope to work with Italian leaders to map out the future of our relationship and move it into a new era," Mr Xi wrote in the Italian daily paper Corriere della Sera.
It is not uncommon for Chinese leaders to pen op-eds in the media ahead of key foreign visits.
Rome is Mr Xi's first stop on his visit to Europe, his first trip abroad this year. He is also visiting Monaco and France.
Italy, the European Union's fourth-largest economy, is expected to sign on to China's BRI, Mr Xi's signature trade and diplomacy project, during the visit.
Writing in the Corriere della Sera, Mr Xi said China also hopes to strengthen its comprehensive strategic partnership with Italy, promote people-to-people ties and collaborate on major global issues.
It wants as well to expand cooperation in such sectors as telecommunications, logistics and pharmaceuticals.
Mr Xi noted that the Sino-Italian relationship dates back more than 2,000 years, when imperial China and ancient Rome were connected by the Silk Road.
Today, many Chinese and Italians continue to have a deep interest in each other's cultures.
He wrote: "'Made in Italy' is a guarantee of quality, Italian fashion and furniture are immensely popular with Chinese consumers, and pizza and tiramisu are the love of many young Chinese."