Silk Road, goodbye to the last Grillina legacy: Italy withdraws from the agreement with China

The Italian government delivered a note to the Chinese government announcing its withdrawal from the Silk Road, Belt and Road Initiative, as it is officially called. The BRI is a major infrastructural and commercial project by President Xi Jinping that our country joined in 2019 during the first executive led by Giuseppe Conte with Luigi Di Maio as Minister of Foreign Affairs strongly in favor. It was a very broad agreement, covering everything from transport to energy, from the steel industry to shipbuilding. In the end, approval was difficult, given the League’s opposition. The Italian decision not to renew the agreement (which lasted four years) was communicated to Beijing four days ago. A cancellation that took place away from the spotlight, with a letter sent by Farnesina to the Chinese embassy. However, the letter reiterates the intention to “develop and strengthen bilateral collaboration”. Both governments have not made official statements, preferring not to create unnecessary tensions.

After the citizenship income and the super bonus, the farewell to the Silk Road is the last piece of the Grillino castle dismantled by the center-right government. A decision made for two reasons. The first for international politics and geopolitical relations, the second for a mere calculation of economic opportunities. It should be remembered, in fact, that Italy was the first and only G7 country to join four years ago. Among other things, the European Union Member States that joined the BRI by signing a “memorandum of understanding” are 17 and all belong to Eastern or Southern Europe, with the sole exception of Luxembourg. Just to be clear: France, Germany and Spain never joined. In fact, none of the participants obtained any specific economic benefits. On the other hand, the advantage was certainly Chinese, because the tacit objective is to expand Beijing’s influence in the West and Europe, passing through Asia and Africa. It is no coincidence that the project has always been frowned upon in the United States. The measure that was announced yesterday is the result of long work that began this summer, with a mission to China by the secretary general of Farnesina, Riccardo Guariglia, in preparation for the visit of Chancellor Antonio Tajani at the beginning of September. In short, the Chinese interlocutor had known for some time what the Italian intention was. The Meloni government, before deciding to officially withdraw from the memorandum, also attempted to make substantial changes to the agreement. Not finding the availability of the People’s Republic, he decided to leave.

Minister Tajani explained the decision taken in these terms: «The Silk Road is not our priority, we saw that it did not produce the desired effects, on the contrary. Those who are not part of the journey had better results. Non-participation in the Silk Road does not mean that it is a negative action towards China, it means being able to continue to have excellent relations and work intensively on commercial aspects to strengthen the Italy-China intergovernmental meeting and address all international trade issues. There continue to be excellent relations, despite being a country that is also our competitor on a global level.” The intergovernmental meeting that Tajani speaks of will take place in September, in Verona. As expected, strong criticism came from Giuseppe Conte, the promoter of the Chinese “entry” into Italy: «Meloni scored an own goal, companies and families will pay the price. We had worked on a programmatic agreement that did not affect any strategic assets and infrastructures of our country.” Part of the opposition also likes to leave the Belt. For the leader of Action, Carlo Calenda «stopping the Silk Road is a sacrosanct decision. Having good relations with China and becoming its pawn in the EU are very different things.” Even Italia Viva, with MEP Nicola Danti, welcomes the end of the Silk Road: «Today, finally, the Meloni government abandoned participation in the Belt and Road initiative. Conte, at the time, hypothesized agreements of up to 20 billion, but in a completely unbalanced context in favor of China, naturally, not a shadow of that money was seen. In short, another masterpiece from the nefarious era of the people’s defender at Palazzo Chigi.”

Source: IL Tempo