Italy to withdraw from Belt and Road Initiative; Europe reconsiders relations with China

Prime Minister Meloni confirms Italy’s intention to withdraw from the Belt and Road Initiative/Antonio Masiello/Getty Images

2023.12.09 Sat posted at 16:35 JST

Hong Kong (CNN) Italy, the only member of the Group of Seven (G7) to participate in China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, is expected to withdraw from the initiative when its contract expires in March next year. It is the latest sign of Europe’s hardening attitude towards Beijing and its global ambitions.

On the 7th, Prime Minister Merohini confirmed the widely expected intention of withdrawing from the Belt and Road Initiative. There have been complaints that the deal the previous government signed with China in 2019 brought little benefit to Italy’s economy. Meloni pledged to withdraw from the initiative during last year’s election to become prime minister.

However, he emphasized that Japan will be able to maintain good relations with the Chinese government even after the withdrawal. Concerns have been raised about the One Belt, One Road initiative, which, while China’s global influence is expanding, is leaving some countries burdened with unmanageable debt.

The European Union (EU), of which Italy is a member, has begun efforts to reduce risks from China’s supply chain. Since 2019, when China has been positioned as a “systemic rival,” it has also embarked on activities aimed at ensuring the safety of sensitive technology.

These differences between the two sides were exposed at a meeting between EU leaders and Chinese President Xi Jinping held in Beijing on the 7th. The two sides disagreed on issues such as trade and Russia’s war in Ukraine, and little progress was made in concrete discussions.

When asked about Italy’s withdrawal from the One Belt, One Road initiative at a regular press conference on the same day, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs pointed out that the One Belt One Road partnership has great appeal and global influence. “China firmly opposes any attempt to slander or disrupt the One Belt, One Road partnership. The same goes for acts that stir up regional conflicts and divisions,” he said. Italy was not mentioned directly in this statement.

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2023-12-09 07:35:00

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