I have fully appreciated last week's edition commentary "Ricci, relevance of tolerance" made by Chen Longxiang and Zhang Guogang.
As well emphasized by the authors, Matteo Ricci's endeavours in Ming Dinasty China offer us a set of values that are still up-to-date in today's globalized world. His first book in Chinese "Dell'Amicizia" (Treatise on Friendship), as correctly stated, truly delivers a message of friendship, tolerance and mutual understanding.
Let me point out, though, that the article wrongly refers to Matteo Ricci as a "Portuguese Jesuit". Matteo Ricci was Italian. He was born in Macerata (Region of Marche) in October 1552, he studied theology and law in Rome, where he joined the religious order of the Society of Jesus in 1571.
Like another well known Italian, Marco Polo, Matteo Ricci fully belongs to the heritage of Sino-Italian relations.
Matteo Ricci also carried scientific and cultural values that can undoubtedly be defined not only as Italian, but also as European, thus helping to create a cultural bridge between China and Italy, and China and Europe.
To celebrate his legacy, 400 years after his demise, a rich agenda of cultural and scientific events has been set up both in Italy and China in 2010. As far as China is concerned, the Beijing Capital Museum hosted a beautiful exhibition last February and March: "Matteo Ricci: encounter between civilizations in Ming Dinasty China". The exhibition is currently on display in the Shanghai Museum (until May 23) and will then move to the Nanjing Museum (June 4 - July 25).
Finally, on the 11th of May, the very anniversary of his death, the Embassy of Italy together with other Chinese and European institutions will hold a "Symposium on China-European Cultural Exchange and Applied Ethics" to take place in Beijing's University of International Business and Economics.
The latter event was conceived upon the belief that the message delivered by Matteo Ricci 400 years ago is still powerful: yesterday like today, friendship and respect are the path to follow in approaching and fostering Chinese-Western interaction.
Riccardo SESSA, Italian ambassador to China, via e-mail
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(China Daily 05/11/2010 page9)