Joint China-Italy police patrols launched in Rome
A joint policing project between China and Italy was presented Monday in Rome's historic Piazza di Spagna.
A group of 10 uniformed Chinese officers, both men and women, will be patrolling busy tourist areas in Rome, Florence, Naples, and Milan jointly with their Italian colleagues for the next 20 days.
The Chinese police officers will be unarmed, mostly on foot, and have received Italian language training before coming to Italy.
"Both the Italian and the Chinese sides believe this initiative to be very useful," Deputy Police Chief Antonino Cufalo told reporters at the foot of the Spanish Steps rising from the center of the piazza.
"It is one of the most positive channels through which to develop international cooperation," said the senior officer, adding that the project is based on "visibility".
"We are certain that for the Chinese present in Italy, as for Italians present in China, the fact of being able to see friendly uniforms is very important," Cufalo said of the joint patrol project that was first launched last year on an experimental basis.
The idea is to make Chinese tourists feel safer and more at ease. This seemed to be the case for a couple from Jiangsu Province, Li Dong and his wife Luo Weiqi, both 30, who were visiting Rome for the first time.
The couple now residing in Shanghai had been in the Italian capital for eight days, and were heading home on Tuesday.
Asked what they think of the joint policing project, Li said "We think it's a great idea, because Rome and Italy are very, very strange for us."
"The language and the culture are very strange for us, so we need help," Li, a construction project manager, told Xinhua.
A policewoman from the Shanghai Public Security Bureau who is a part of the joint Italy-China patrol agreed. "The Chinese tourists were very surprised to see us here," 32-year-old Yang Yujie told Xinhua.
"Some asked us if they could take photos together with us, while others asked for directions," said Yang, who said her "passion for the uniform" led her to become a policewoman eight years ago.
"I arrived yesterday," she said. "It is my first time in Italy and in Roma -- it's a very beautiful and cultural city and country," she added.
This is not the first time Italy has engaged in joint patrols with other countries, but it is a first for China in Europe, Cufalo said.
Italy has carried out joint patrols with Croatia, Poland, and Spain in the past. However, it is the first time China has engaged in such a project with a European country, according to Cufalo.
The joint police patrols will be on hand to help Chinese citizens and travelers in Italy through June 25.