Stories of state gifts to Xi: Ancient map is historical witness to Maritime Silk Road

(People's Daily Online) 10:32, May 16, 2023

During Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Europe from March 22 to April 1, 2014, he received a gift from Martin Schulz, then President of the European Parliament. The gift was an ancient map of Europe created by geographer Abraham Ortelius.

Photo shows an ancient map of Europe created by geographer Abraham Ortelius. The map was presented by Martin Schulz, then President of the European Parliament, to Chinese President Xi Jinping in March 2014 as a gift.

The map is one of the chief source materials upon which Italian Catholic missionary Matteo Ricci and his Chinese collaborators created the earliest known Chinese colored map of the world, which is named Kunyu Wanguo Quantu. The name literally translates as "a map of the myriad countries of the world".

The significance of the ancient map is self-evident: it is not only a historical testament to the Maritime Silk Road, but also one of the fruits of exchanges between the Chinese and Western civilizations.

In March 2019, Xi landed on European soil again. During the visit, Chinese and Italian representatives officially signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on jointly promoting the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the presence of Xi and then Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

More than 400 years ago, Ricci travelled by sea eastward along the ancient Maritime Silk Road and became the first person to spread Western scientific knowledge in China. More than 400 years later, his homeland Italy became the first country in the Group of Seven (G7) to join hands with China for the construction of the BRI.

Today, as the world undergoes changes unseen in a century, relations between China and Europe have been put to the test and shown strong resilience. The two sides have actively carried out exchanges and cooperation in various fields.

Chinese President Xi Jinping holds talks with visiting President of the European Council Charles Michel at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 1, 2022. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)

They signed the agreement on geographical indications and concluded negotiations of the investment agreement on schedule. European countries actively participated in all five editions of the China International Import Expo. European officials, such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President of the European Council Charles Michel, paid visits to China.

During the meeting between Xi and Michel in Beijing on Dec. 1, 2022, Xi pointed out that it is in the common interests of China, the EU and the international community to maintain the upward momentum of China-EU relations and pursue mutual benefits.

The more turbulent the international situation becomes and the more prominent global challenges become, the greater the global significance of China-EU relations will be, he said.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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