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Italy Officially Exits China’s Belt and Road Initiative: A Shift in Global Trade Dynamics

Last Updated on 2023/12/07

Italy’s Withdrawal from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Italy has formally notified China of its decision to withdraw from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a significant trade and infrastructure project led by Beijing. This move marks a major shift in Italy’s foreign policy, especially considering it was the only G7 nation to join the initiative back in 2019. The decision, anticipated for some time, was conveyed to Beijing four days prior to becoming public knowledge, though official statements from either government are yet to be released.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s Stance

The current Italian Prime Minister, Giorgia Meloni, has been a vocal critic of the BRI, viewing it as a means for China to exert political influence with limited benefits for Italy. Her administration’s stance reflects a significant departure from her predecessor Giuseppe Conte‘s policy, who had championed Italy’s involvement in the BRI during his term.

Italy’s Initial Participation in the BRI

In 2019, under Prime Minister Conte’s leadership, Italy joined the BRI, causing a strain in its relationships with other EU and US allies. During Xi Jinping‘s (习近平) visit to Rome in March 2019, Italy and China entered into multiple commercial agreements across various sectors, including tourism, food, and football.

Criticisms of the BRI

The BRI, envisioned as a modern-day Silk Road connecting China with Asia, Europe, and beyond, has been critiqued as a tool for China to spread geopolitical and economic influence. Critics argue that it represents a state-backed campaign for global dominance. From 2008 to 2021, China reportedly spent $240 billion in bailing out countries burdened with BRI-related debts.

International Participation and Concerns

Over 100 countries have signed agreements with China since the BRI’s inception in 2013. However, concerns over China’s expanding influence, particularly in military and economic domains, have been growing. Italy’s Defence Minister, Guido Crosetto, condemned the decision to join the BRI as poor and detrimental to Italy’s interests, citing imbalanced trade benefits in favor of China.

Future Relations and Strategic Moves

Despite withdrawing from the BRI, Italy aims to maintain strong relations with China. Italian leaders, including the Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani and President Sergio Mattarella, are planning visits to Beijing, and Prime Minister Meloni herself has expressed a desire to visit China, although no date has been set. Italy is also set to assume the presidency of the G7 in 2024, indicating its intention to strengthen ties within the group while redefining its relationship with China outside the BRI framework.

Topics: Italy withdraws from China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Giorgia Meloni’s stance on BRI, Italy’s geopolitical shift away from Beijing, Implications of Italy leaving BRI, Italy’s changing role in G7 post-BRI exit, China’s global influence through infrastructure projects, Italy-China diplomatic relations after BRI, BRI’s impact on Italy’s international trade, The future of Sino-Italian economic ties, Analyzing Italy’s decision to leave the Belt and Road.
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