Meloni’s Italy Officially Withdraws from Communist China’s Belt and Road Global Domination Project

Giorgia Meloni, Italy's prime minister, during her first year-end press conference in Rome, Italy, on Thursday, Dec. 29, 2022. The US and Italy joined an increasing number of nations requiring Covid tests for travelers from China, with concerns mounting over the risk of any new variants emerging from the surge in infections in the country of 1.4 billion. Photographer: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg
Published December 7, 2023

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s government in Rome has officially informed Beijing that Italy is withdrawing from the Communist Party government’s Belt and Road global domination scheme.

Following weeks of negotiations, Italy sent a letter to China stating its intentions to formally withdraw from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Xi Jinping’s pet project to expand Chinese influence throughout the world. The letter was said to have been sent to Beijing several days ago but was not made public until a report on Wednesday from the Milan newspaper Corriere della Sera.

While Rome had attempted to modify its agreement before the renewal deadline set for the end of the year, Meloni’s overtures were ultimately rejected by the communist government, precipitating the decision to leave the partnership with China.

The Belt and Road scheme has been labelled by international observers as a policy of “debt-trap diplomacy”, with the CCP using predatory loans for infrastructure projects in developing nations throughout Asia, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe as a means of exerting political influence. The BRI also often sees China seize large swaths of territory or infrastructure projects if countries fail to repay their debts to Beijing — which is a feature rather than a fault of the programme — while the supposed economic benefits are mitigated by the fact that China often ships in Chinese workers and materials for BRI jobs.



RELATED: Meloni: Italy can improve trade with China after Belt and Road departure

Flags flutter in the wind during the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) to mark the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing,… Acquire Licensing Rights
Published December 7, 2023

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday that Italy can improve trade and economic ties with China even after Rome’s decision to leave Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

“I think that we should… improve our cooperation with China on trade, the economy,” Meloni told reporters in her first public comments on the issue since Italy informed China it was quitting the BRI.

“The tool of the (BRI) … has not produced the results that were expected,” she added.

Italy in 2019 became the first and so far only major Western nation to join the trade and investmentprogramme, ignoring warnings from the United States that it might allow China to take control of sensitive technologies and vital infrastructure.

However, when Meloni took office last year, she said she wanted to withdraw from the deal, which was championed by President Xi Jinping.

The 2019 accord expires in March 2024 and an Italian government source said on Wednesday that Rome had sent Beijing a letter “in recent days” informing China that it would not be renewing.



RELATED: Italy’s BRI withdrawal shines light on ties ahead of EU-China summit

Sincere  Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni came into power in October 2022, she has dropped hints about withdrawing Italy from the BRI.   © Reuters
Published December 6, 2023

PARIS/ LONDON — Italy’s decision to pull out of China’s Belt and Road Initiative has placed a spotlight on the relationship between the two countries and comes at an awkward time for Beijing, a day ahead of a summit it is holding with Europe.

Italy is the only member of the Group of Seven wealthy nations to have joined Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature infrastructure initiative. This month, it became just one of five countries whose citizens have been given visa-free status to visit China.

“For China, it’s certainly a snub,” said Marc Julienne, head of China research at the French Institute of International Relations in Paris, pointing to the fact that China has just celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Neither country has officially confirmed Italy’s withdrawal, but the news was widely reported on Wednesday by media companies citing government sources. Italy is believed to have formally submitted its plan a few days ago. BRI partners are under obligation to give three months’ notice ahead of an automatic renewal of their membership for five years and Italy’s is due in March.

Italy’s right-wing leader, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, has made no bones about wanting to abandon the membership. Even before she had gained power in October last year, she said that Italy’s decision to join the BRI in 2019 was a “serious mistake.” The foreign minister had also complained in September that the BRI had not produced the results hoped for.

BRI inflows are hard to distill from investment figures but the growing trade imbalance between China and Italy is telling. Italy’s exports to China increased just 19% to $17.3 billion from 2019 to 2022, but its imports from China jumped nearly 71% to $60.5 billion in the same period, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“This is the latest setback for Beijing in its relations with Europe,” said Berlin-based Noah Barkin, an analyst on Europe-China relations who works for research company Rhodium Group and U.S. think tank German Marshall Fund.

Additional reporting by CK Tan in Shanghai.





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