A CONTROVERSIAL experiment to help Chinese tourists in Italy feel safer, and presumably spend more money, will see police officers from the People’s Republic join the native counterparts patrolling the streets of Rome and Milan.
Announced by the Italian interior ministry, the measure was welcomed by the Chinese ambassador to Italy, Li, Ruiyu, and will see the officers collaborate with Local Police while offering direct assistance to Chinese tourists and diplomats.
They will also wear the same uniforms as in China, so as to be easily identifiable and distinct from the doubtless multitudes of Italian policemen of Chinese descent.
“This service was planned with Chinese tourists in mind and, if it works well, we may consider other forms of collaboration, given the presence of the Chinese community in our country,” said the interior minister, Angelino Alfano.
Critics have suggested that the move lends unhelpful credibility to the Chinese government, which oversees one of the largest police states in history with countless allegations of human rights abuses, and which pays no heed to talk of democracy.
The Italian government has also been castigated for surrendering its authority for silver, although in reality the policemen will be very small in number and possess no significant sway.
In fact, should the experiment be successful there is a chance it could be expanded to other cities, while Italian policemen will go to Shanghai and Beijing to participate in similar drills.
There are an estimated three million Chinese tourists meandering around Italy each year, a significant proportion of them extremely wealthy, cautious and fearful of attacks by clandestine Asian gangs operating across Europe.