In a first-of-its-kind exchange between Italy and China, the latter has sent its police officers to Rome to help Chinese tourists in trouble. This is also a first such programme where Chinese cops have been sent to Europe on duty.

The joint Sino-Italian police patrolling agreement was launched in the Italian capital on 2 May. Under the agreement, Chinese officials will collaborate with Italian cops as they patrol tourist hot spots of Milan and Rome.

Four Chinese officers, two each for the two cities, have been deployed for the two-week programme. The officers were trained in China before being sent to Italy. They can speak Italian, English and of course, Mandarian. The officers will be wearing Chinese police uniform.

"Today it is an important day because we are strengthening collaboration with China in a very special field," Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano told a press conference in Rome, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Alfano said officers of both the countries would work together "to reinforce the sense of safety for the many Chinese tourists visiting Italy".

"Through this initiative, we are telling Italian citizens that their state is joining hands with a great country, in a team work to ensure the safety of everybody, including Italian citizens and Chinese tourists in Italy," he told Xinhua.

He said that he hoped the agreement over joint police forces to help visitors would be extended to other Italian cities as "China has a fundamental role in the world's destiny."