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Polo descendant eyes China's future

By Fu Jing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-12 07:29

Siro Polo Padolecchia is the only living descendant of Marco Polo (1245-1324), the Venetian traveler and merchant whose book, The Travels of Marco Polo, provided Europeans with the first descriptions of China.

Padolecchia, who lives in Monaco, retains close contacts with China, where he lived from age 8 to 11 as a result of his father's business interests in the country.

Polo descendant eyes China's future

In an email exchange with China Daily, he recalled that as a child he had been eager to discover the country, but he also feared he would not understand the language, culture or humor.

Many decades later, he feels his memories are as poignant as those of his illustrious ancestor. For Padolecchia, China's charm lies in the kindness of its people, seasons of white magnolias, lotus flowers floating on lakes and small boats navigating rivers.

For years, he promoted communication between Europe and China by founding the Euro-China International Business Advisory Council, and through the activities of the Marco Polo Society.

When asked about the differences between the China of his childhood and the modern country, he said: "It is the attitude of the people. They have a sense of satisfaction you can see in their eyes, and not only in large cities but in smaller ones and even in villages."

He suggested the best way to understand the country is to pay a visit, and quoted an old Chinese proverb: "It is better to see something with your own eyes than to read it 100 times."

He has paid great attention to the Belt and Road Initiative, which he believes will improve connectivity between China and Europe. He said promoting development and trade between Asia and Europe will enhance stability and security for countries along the initiative's routes.

He said a number of Chinese projects in Africa and Central Asia have boosted confidence in China's ability to build and operate infrastructure projects at home and abroad.

Citing the opinion of Italian and European friends, Padolecchia said the Belt and Road Initiative is an attempt to formulate a mega-foreign policy project to realize peace and common prosperity.

"If the 20th century was dominated by the concept of the American Dream, in the 21st century the concept of the Chinese Dream prevails, particularly in terms of opportunities and the positive image of New China," he said.

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