The BRI and Italy-China Cultural Relations: An Overview of the “2020 Year of Culture and Tourism” | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online


China and Italy are both countries with a strong culture and long history, that share positive bilateral relations. In 2019, Italy was the first EU country to sign a MoU with China on collaboration within the Belt and Road Initiative, Beijing’s major diplomatic outreach system. However, more than two years later, most agreements have not materialized yet. Is it due to political implications or economic interests? It is arguable that one of the main reasons for this slow development is connected to communication barriers and differences in identities and perceptions, and therefore to the cultural relations between the two countries. By applying the Constructivist theories, it is possible to demonstrate how the lack in mutual understanding can hinder deeper cooperation between people and countries. This leads to the main questions addressed in this paper: what are the obstacles to a deeper Italy-China partnership, how to overcome them and improve the overall relations? This paper is the first part of a bigger thesis that will be completed in 2023. Rome and Beijing had planned a “China-Italy 2020 Year of Culture and Tourism”, to enhance the people-to-people exchanges, tourism and cultural cooperation. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemics the events have been postponed to 2022. This paper analyses the Italian public opinion on China during 2020, when instead of learning about the other culture, people were forced to practice social distancing. It will be necessary to compare the 2020 public opinion polls with surveys conducted after the 2022 Year of Culture and Tourism. If the results will show improvement in the Italian public opinion on China and increased interstate cooperation, it will be possible to demonstrate the idea that the collaboration between the two countries can improve thanks to further cultural exchanges and mutual understanding.


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