Chinese police officers are now patrolling the streets of Italy to protect the wealthy visitors from China during the country’s peak tourism period.
As part of a groundbreaking two-week experiment, Chinese police are now deployed at the major tourist attractions of Milan and Rome, in order to make Chinese tourists feel safer — because as the Italian chief of police, Alessandro Pansa, said, all it takes is one lost document to make a visitor feel vulnerable.
"It's a strategic investment which opens an important collaboration on information exchange and on resource sharing, in order to prevent the criminal and terrorist phenomena which are hurting our countries," explained Pansa.
It is the first time China has sent officers to Europe to protect its citizens. Four Chinese officers have received special training in Beijing prior to the assignment and speak both Italian and English. They have been paired with an Italian counterpart and deployed to major tourist attractions in Italy’s two major cities.
The program will continue until May 13 after which Italian police will be sent to Beijing and Shanghai to offer similar services to Italian tourists.
Over 110 million Chinese spent more than $130 billion in 2014 overseas and Italy is named as the top 10 destinations where Chinese are willing to go. Around 3 million Chinese visitors travel to Italy each year, according to Beijing authorities, and the Italian government is hoping to increase the number through various initiatives.
In 2014, Rome obtained the much-coveted “Welcome China” certification, which makes tourism in Italy that much more enjoyable for Chinese tourists.
Italian Prime Minister Mattio Renzi, in an effort to entice more Chinese to the country, also announced in the same year the Italian government will trim down visa processing time for Chinese citizens to only 36 hours.
A similar project in Paris was scrapped in 2014 over concerns the police will have trouble operating in a country with such a different legal climate or that foreign police would “diminish France’s national sovereignty.”