Italy’s Decision to Join China’s Belt and Road Initiative Criticized by Defense Minister.

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Criticism from Italy’s Defense Minister

Defense Minister Guido Crosetto has publicly criticized Italy’s decision to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), calling it an “improvised and atrocious” move. He argued that the initiative has not benefited Italy’s exports and has instead favored China as the sole winner.

Italy’s Participation in the BRI

In 2019, Italy became the first developed economy to join China’s BRI, a global investment program aimed at connecting China with Europe and other regions through revitalizing the old Silk Road trade route. The BRI involves China providing funding for major infrastructure projects worldwide to facilitate the movement of Chinese goods to distant markets.

Western Allies’ Concerns

Italy’s decision to join the BRI was met with concern from its Western allies, including the European Union and the United States. Critics view the initiative as a means for China to expand its influence globally.

Italian Exports and Relations with Beijing

Minister Crosetto expressed dissatisfaction with the results of the BRI for Italy, emphasizing the need for the country to find a way to disentangle itself from the agreement without damaging its relations with Beijing. He acknowledged that while China is a competitor, it is also a partner, and navigating the withdrawal must be done cautiously.

Discussions on Withdrawal

Since May, there has been ongoing discussion in Italy about whether to remain in the BRI. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni proposed talks with China to explore the possibility of withdrawal. Italy’s participation in the BRI is set to be automatically renewed in March 2024 unless a formal request to withdraw is made by December this year.

China’s Response and Diplomatic Efforts

China’s foreign ministry has expressed a desire to further explore cooperation potential with Italy under the BRI and to strengthen mutually beneficial collaboration. The Chinese government has launched a diplomatic campaign to persuade Italy to renew the deal, with senior officials making visits to Italy to advocate for continued participation in the initiative.

SOURCE: Ref Image from Outlook India

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