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Lianhe Zaobao: Italy Tends to Withdraw from China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that, according to people familiar with the matter, Italian officials have hinted in private meetings with Taiwanese officials that they may be willing to withdraw from China’s Belt and Road program in order to strengthen semiconductor cooperation with Taiwan. Officials from the Italian Ministry of Industry recently discussed plans on semiconductor production and exports with Taiwanese officials in Taipei. Relevant decisions will have to be made by Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, but she has not made her final position public yet. Italy is the only member of the G7 countries participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Although the participation agreement has had little practical impact ever since it was signed by then-Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in early 2019, it is highly symbolic for Beijing amid tensions between China and the United States and its Western allies. The deal will automatically renew in 2024 unless Italy chooses to abandon it. A spokesperson for the Italian Ministry of Industry declined to comment on the above news. According to Taiwan media reports, Taiwan will open its second representative office in Italy in Milan this coming summer.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, April 20, 2023