Conservative Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni finally said thanks but no thanks to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This is Beijing’s scheme to strengthen its global grip on trade as well as to export its authoritarian ideals.
Weeks of negotiations failed to draw the two sides closer, and the Italian government sent a letter formally announcing its withdrawal from the trade agreement. It was sent days ago but was only made public this week.
This drew a distinct line between the E.U. member and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s push for expanding his nation’s influence.
Many critics decry the Belt and Road program as predatory lending on an international scale. Beijing comes in and offers loans for developing nations to enact infrastructure or business projects, which may be a quite attractive offer on its face.
But much like the American title pawn industry, once you sign you are trapped.
And nations from Africa and Asia to Latin America and Eastern Europe now fall under China’s sphere of influence. Chinese communists may seize large projects for their own if payments are not met, and even the jobs themselves are often manned by Chinese workers.
Italy has officially informed China that it is leaving the Belt and Road Initiative, dismissing fears that the decision could sour relations and damage the Italian economy https://t.co/llKEMHupF3 pic.twitter.com/OIg6nICMna
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 7, 2023
This practice deprives local economies of promised benefits expected from the “partnership.”
Meloni attempted to put a positive spin on her nation’s withdrawal, as if avoiding Beijing’s clutches was not positive enough. She said Thursday that Italy can enhance trade and economic ties with the Asian giant even with the decision to sever the formal relationship.
Addressing reporters, she declared, “I think that we should…improve our cooperation with China on trade, the economy. The tool of the (BRI)…has not produced the results that were expected.”
It was a far different song in 2019 when Italy became the only Western nation to fall into the Chinese program. The U.S. warned that China could utilize the agreement to muscle in on infrastructure and sensitive technologies.
As a candidate, Meloni said she wanted the nation to back out of the deal, which expires in March 2024.
China’s foreign ministry responded Thursday by claiming that BRI has “enormous appeal and global influence.” A spokesperson told reporters that the country “firmly opposes smearing that damages Belt and Road cooperation.”
Italy was not specifically mentioned.