From Renaissance to Planetary Research in the 21st Century – The Sino-Italian Li Madou Project

In honour of Matteo Ricci a recent collaboration between the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the Italian Space Agency (ASI) was named the LIMADOU-project. This Sino-Italian space-research project is part of the Chinese Seismo-Electromagnetic Satellite (CSES) – also known as Zhangheng 1 - which was successfully launched from Chinese base ‘Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center’, located in the Gobi desert in Inner Mongolia. The Earth observation satellite, realized by the Chinese Space Agency (CNSA), is intended to develop new methods to study geophysical phenomena such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on a global scale. One of the most important instruments on board CSES satellite mission is the high energy particle detector HEPD, realized by Italian researchers of “LIMADOU collaboration”. Amongst others also the Centre for Space Science and Applied Research- (CSSAR) of the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) is a partner in this research collaboration.

The CDA-University of Macerata Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) laying the foundation for the institutional partnership of the two organisations is available online on the homepage of University of Macerata.

University of Macerata to Become a Partner Institution in CDA’s Global Network

Located in the medieval Italian city of Macerata situated in the hills of Marche region in the centre of the country, the University of Macerata (UniMC) was founded in 1290. It is one of the oldest universities in Italy and in Europe. Today the university has five departments, around 11,000 students and 600 staff. UniMC is the only university in Italy that focuses exclusively on socio-economic sciences and humanities with the University’s motto “innovating through the humanities”.


The five departments are organised with a high degree of interdisciplinary cooperation: Department of Economics and Law, Department of Law, Department of Education, Cultural Heritage and Tourism, Department of Political Science, Communication and International Relations and the Department of Humanities – Languages, Language Liaison, History, Arts, Philosophy.

The Aula Magna (grand hall) of University of Macerata

The Aula Magna (grand hall) of University of Macerata (Source: The Matteo Ricci Network)

University of Macerata and its staff provide in-depth knowledge of Peoples Republic of China and offer a broad range of courses and research opportunities dealing with Sino-European relations as well as economics and management. The courses and research are performed in collaboration with institutional partners, in cooperation with industry and within the framework of national and international programmes. In collaboration with Confindustria UniMC offers the Course of Excellence „Doing Buinsess in China“. In a consortium with four other Italian universities with a focus on China (Ca' Foscari University in Venice, University Napels "L'Orientale", University of Bergamo and University Roma Tre) and supported by the Italian Embassy in China the University of Macerata offers the Master in Global Management for China (GMC).

University od Macerata’s China Center is a multidisciplinary cluster established in 2012. Amongst others the research and teaching focus of the China Center was in recent years on maritime affairs and law of the sea as well as on brand protection. Every year, Winter and Summer Schools, as well as international conferences and EU-China Workshops are organized, involving scholars, the business community and PhDs.

University of Macerata (in collaboration with several other Italian universities) is also a member of the Matteo Ricci Network. On the Chinese side leading Chinese universities like Tsinghua University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Fudan University have joined this Sino-Italian scientific network. In memory of the city’s great son University of Macerata also provides a program for international visiting scholars - the “Collegio Matteo Ricci


Sino-European knowledge exchange – Macerata’s more than 400 years of history with China

Macerata’s great son Matteo Ricci – who was called Li Madou by the Chinese – can be seen as a symbol of early bridge building between China and Europe introducing an evidence-based approach. Thanks to his high mathematical, astronomical and geographical knowledge, he stimulated the interest of Chinese intellectuals about Western knowledge. By translating some classical texts of Confucian philosophy into Latin and describing Chinese culture in his works he also introduced China to Europe. He remained in China from 1583 until his death in 1610 in Beijing where he is buried in the Zhalan Cemetery located in the Haidian district which today is home to China’s two leading Universities the Tsinghua University and Peking University. Also one of the world’s most eminent science and business parks “Zhongguancun” is located in the Haidian district. Run by Tsinghua University’s TUS Holding it is also called Beijings “Silicon Valley”.

Born in Macerata in 1552 Ricci entered China in 1583. In 1601, Ricci was invited by the Wanli Emperor to become an adviser to the imperial court. He was the first Westerner to be invited into the Forbidden City of Beijing of the Ming era. Ricci became a court mathematician and astronomer and he taught science to Chines scholars. He helped translate many Western works on mathematics and the sciences into Chinese. His maps were eagerly perused by the Chinese, who gained from him their first notion of modern Europe. In return, Ricci sent back to Europe the first modern detailed report on China.

In 1602 he would publish his map of the world in Chinese that introduced the existence of the American continents to Chinese geographers. Called the “Map of 10,000 Countries of the Earth” it showed the Pacific Ocean and China at the centre. Together with the Chinese mathematician Xu Guangqui he published the first Chinese edition of Euclid's Elements (幾何原本) in 1607.

The monument of Matteo Ricci (Li Madou) and Xu Guangqui in Shanghai

The monument of Matteo Ricci (Li Madou) and Xu Guangqui in Shanghai