Chinese police are back in Italy looking to help out Chinese tourists in need while also taking in the sights.
On Monday, a group of Chinese and Italian police officers went on patrol in Rome’s historic Piazza di Spagna, kicking off the next chapter in an ongoing law enforcement cooperation program between the two countries. Over the next 20 days, 10 Chinese cops will be patrolling through the touristy areas of Rome, Florence, Naples and Milan.
The Chinese officers, accompanied by their Italian colleagues, will not be armed and can not make arrests. However, they can provide assistance and directions to lost Chinese tourists, while also snapping a selfie or two with them.
Before the officers went on patrol, Deputy Police Chief Antonio Cufalo praised the project, emphasizing the importance of “visibility” for travelers abroad. “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.
The familiar uniforms appear to have done the trick for at least for one Chinese couple from Jiangsu province. “We think it’s a great idea, because Rome and Italy are very, very strange for us,” 30-year-old Li Dong, a construction manager from Shanghai on a trip through Europe with his wife, told Xinhua.
The initiative was launched last May with Chinese police going on patrol in Rome and Milan. This year also saw four Italian police officers walking their beat on the Great Wall in Beijing and the Bund in Shanghai.
Liao Jinrong, head of international cooperation at the Ministry of Public Security, has said that China hopes to expand the program to other European countries, like Spain and Austria, in the near future. Often Chinese tourists in Europe are targeted by thieves who know that they typically carry around more money than most.
Rome appears to be the perfect place to launch this policing project. Last month, a Chinese tour group was robbed of their baggage and passports in Rome on the first day of their 13-day tour through Europe, and, last December, a Chinese exchange student in Rome was tragically killed by a passing train while chasing after her stolen 1,000 euro purse.
But Chinese tourists now have nothing to fear. At least for the next three weeks or so.
[Images via Xinhua]
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