Italy, the only G7 country participating in China’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” is contemplating its withdrawal from the program. To persuade the Italian government to renew the agreement, a delegation led by Liu Jianchao, head of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party, is reportedly being sent to Rome. The main objective of Liu’s visit is to engage in a dialogue with Italy’s center-right governing coalition, particularly with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, in order to secure the renewal of the “Belt and Road Initiative” agreement by the end of the year.
Italy joined the initiative in 2019 under former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, but its economic benefits were considered to be below expectations. The current memorandum of understanding for cooperation is set to expire at the end of this year, and, if it is not renewed, it will become invalid. On multiple occasions, the Meloni government has expressed its inclination to withdraw from the initiative .
The Chinese Ambassador to Italy, Jia Guide, warned that if the “Belt and Road Initiative” is not renewed by the end of the year, it will pose a significant obstacle to bilateral exchanges. China is planning to send an important delegation, including ministers responsible for propaganda and customs, to visit Italy in the near future. However, if Italy withdraws from the initiative, China has threatened to suspend such exchanges and visits.
China has also hinted at possible economic and trade consequences for Italy if it chooses to withdraw from the “Belt and Road Initiative.” The official Chinese media outlet, the Global Times, has conveyed coercive messages in this regard.
Source: Radio Free Asia, June 23, 2023