Title: Italy Considers Exiting Belt and Road Initiative, Prioritizes Strengthening Strategic Partnership with China
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni recently addressed Italy’s relationship with China, highlighting that it extends beyond the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Though a final decision on whether to leave the BRI is still pending, reports suggest that Italy aims to shift its focus towards revitalizing a strategic partnership agreement signed with China in 2004.
As the only G7 nation currently part of the BRI, Italy’s potential exit represents a significant development. The BRI, a global trade and infrastructure project inspired by the historic Silk Road, has received mixed reactions globally. Italy’s decision to reconsider its involvement reflects an effort to adapt to Western allies’ concerns over increasing Chinese influence and mitigate any potential backlash from Beijing.
During the G20 summit, Prime Minister Meloni engaged in polite and constructive discussions with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, emphasizing the establishment of a mutually beneficial partnership with China, regardless of the BRI’s fate. These discussions have prompted an invitation from the Chinese government for Meloni to visit Beijing, although no specific date has been set yet.
Additionally, Italy has been invited to attend a BRI Forum hosted by China in October, showcasing the continued diplomatic engagement between the two countries. Despite this, there have been voices within the Italian political landscape questioning the value of the BRI agreement signed by a previous administration back in 2019.
In response to such skepticism, the Italian government has pointed to the Global Strategic Partnership agreement signed with China in 2004 under the leadership of Silvio Berlusconi. With the agreement set to celebrate its 20th anniversary next year, Italy aims to reorient its relationship with China, placing greater emphasis on this longstanding partnership while evaluating its continued involvement in the BRI.
As Italy gears up to assume the upcoming G7 presidency, the country intends to reshape its ties with China in a manner that aligns with Western allies and allays concerns of increasing Chinese influence. With issues surrounding the BRI analyzed and recalibrated, Italy’s diplomatic endeavors seek to redefine the parameters of its relationship with China, emphasizing a cooperative and mutually beneficial association for years to come.
In the meantime, Italy’s potential departure from the BRI signifies a significant shift in the dynamics of the global initiative. As one of the world’s largest economies and an influential G7 member, Italy’s decision could have far-reaching implications for the BRI’s future, as well as China’s broader international partnerships.
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