by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, Feb. 24 (Xinhua) -- Italian President Sergio Mattarella's ongoing state visit to China is aimed at strengthening long-term Sino-Italian relations, said an Italian analyst.
Mattarella is on a state visit in China on Feb. 21-26, along with Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano, Infrastructures and Transport Minister Graziano Delrio, Economic Development Undersecretary Ivan Scalfarotto, and a substantial business delegation.
From the Italian perspective, the event would mark a relevant moment in the long-standing relationship with China, with which diplomatic ties were established 47 years ago.
"President Mattarella, and Italy overall, are deeply interested in the dynamics of China and the Asia-Pacific region, and not only from a business point of view," Andrea Margellini, president of Rome-based Center for International Studies (CeSI), told Xinhua in an interview.
"Undoubtedly, Asia is where the destiny of the world is going to be decided in the next years, and Italy has been aware of it for a long time," he added.
"The key goal of Mattarella's visit goes far beyond cooperation agreements, however important they might be: it is to interlace a long-term relationship with the Chinese leadership," he said.
This would become even more relevant considering the Chinese approach, which is that of planning its policies according to long-term perspectives and objectives.
The analyst also stressed that China has been "entering Europe" increasingly in recent years, also through major infrastructural projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative, and Italy was unquestionably interested in the chances such growing presence might provide.
"Beside infrastructural projects, another possible source of interest from our side might be the ties China has developed with the countries in the Horn of Africa, which are historically relevant for Italy," Margelletti added.
Before Mattarella, the last Italian president to pay an official visit to China had been his predecessor, Giorgio Napolitano, in 2010. Since then, the two countries exchanged several visits at the ministerial level, and the Sino-Italian ties have thrived, nurtured by their comprehensive strategic partnership established in 2004.
Yet, the global environment in which the current visit occurred is marked by uncertainties, and key events are scheduled in the forthcoming months, including the G7 summit that will take place in Taormina, Italy, in late May.
In this scenario, the Italian president's trip to China would be even more strategic, the expert suggested.
"In this perspective, I do believe the current visit of President Mattarella may have relevant repercussion on the future developments, and mark a new beginning in the bilateral ties," Margellini said.