A Chinese police officer and an Italian police officer patrol at Piazza di Spagna of Rome, Italy, on June 5, 2017.(Xinhua/Jin Yu)
Ten Chinese police officers are working with Italian counterparts in Italy, assisting with cases involving Chinese tourists, the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday.
The officers, divided into four groups, are joining Italian officers in patrols of scenic spots in Rome, Milan, Florence and Naples, to help deter crimes against Chinese tourists from June 5 to 25.
During the patrols, Italian officers will have a hotline to the Chinese officers to help Italian police deal with security issues involving Chinese tourists, the ministry said in a statement.
"Joint police patrols are an effective means to establish mutual trust. They are aimed at protecting the interests of Chinese tourists overseas, and will help expand and deepen Sino-Italian law enforcement cooperation," said Liao Jinrong, director of the ministry's international cooperation bureau.
The Chinese officers were selected by the ministry from various cities. They will receive Italian language training before being sent overseas.
In recent years, increasing numbers of Chinese tourists have gone to Europe, including Italy, and it's inevitable that more cases arise in which they are targeted by criminals - theft of property or robbery, for example.
Figures from the China National Tourism Administration show that more than 800,000 Chinese and Italian tourists visited each other's countries last year.
According to the ministry, the Chinese police don't have law enforcement power in Italy, and during the patrols they may not carry weapons. But they can offer advice and assist in handling cases involving Chinese people.
In June 2014, Meng Jianzhu, China's top security chief, paid a visit to Italy, and the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding about setting up joint patrols in tourism spots during the peak season.
Under the agreement, four Chinese police officers first appeared in Rome and Milan for joint patrols in May last year. Then, from April 24 to May 7, four Italian police officers participated in joint patrols with Chinese police in tourist attractions in Beijing and Shanghai - the first foreign police officers to carry out joint patrols in China.
Ettore Francesco Sequi, Italy's ambassador to China, said in an earlier interview that Italy welcomes and supports the joint patrol program, which will "play an active role in beefing up bilateral safety cooperation".