China-Italy sci-tech cooperation may have a longer history than you think
By Gong Zhe

Italy is one of the first countries making sci-tech cooperation with China. In 1978, the two countries signed an agreement in Rome to exchange researchers, knowledge and sci-tech fund.

The main fields of the 40-year-long collaboration include space tech, environment protection, basic science and more.

Italy is where Galileo Galilei, the father of observational astronomy, was born. It's clear that Italian people have the will and power to explore the vast universe.

China and Italy have been sharing space tech for decades. The latest fruits of the co-op are orbiting the Earth and providing research data to both countries. The Wukong satellite, whose key part was built with the help of Italy, is detecting dark matters in the space.

China's electromagnetic field monitor, Zhangheng-1, is equipped with two high energy particle detectors. One was domestically built, another imported from Italy.

In addition to equipment, the two countries' space agencies have also exchanged astronauts. Chinese astronaut Ye Guangfu had some of his training in Italy in June 2016, while his Italian counterpart Samantha Cristoforetti helped in a rescue training mission in Yantai, China in August 2017.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (L) joins a rescue training mission in Yantai, Shandong Province, China, August 2017. /Xinhua Photo

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (L) joins a rescue training mission in Yantai, Shandong Province, China, August 2017. /Xinhua Photo

When it comes to environment protection, Italian companies have invested in a lot of projects in China.

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment has established a website to publicize information about the Sino-Italian Cooperation Program for Environmental Protection. There are so many projects on record that they have to be arranged into categories.

The website for the Sino-Italian Cooperation Program for Environmental Protection. /Screenshot from MEE

The website for the Sino-Italian Cooperation Program for Environmental Protection. /Screenshot from MEE

The field of cooperations includes clean energy, air quality monitoring, city planning, recycling, sustainable agriculture and so on.

One noticeable project is the Italy-funded research to learn lessons from the European environment-protection laws and apply them to China. This 2008 research helped China to revise its law on the prevention and control of atmospheric pollution.

The latest plan for co-op between the two countries was laid out in May 2017, which will last through 2020. It contains not only biz and cultural projects but also sci-tech ones.

As the plan reaching the end in less than two years, China may want to have a discussion with Italy regarding future projects.

Chinese President Xi will visit Italy in the coming days. It's likely that China will further extend the sci-tech cooperation with the country.

(Top image: The launch of Zhangheng-1 satellite, jointly made by Chinese and Italian engineers, February 2, 2018. /VCG Photo)