According to Guido Crosetto, Italy’s defence minister, the country’s decision to participate in China’s Belt and Road (BRI) plan was “improvised and atrocious.”
Crosetto asserted that the campaign did little to increase Italy’s exports, leaving China as the sole beneficiary.
China has previously claimed that the BRI has produced “fruitful results” for both countries. The European nation had joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) four years ago, in 2019. It is the first developed nation to have joined the economic initiative, although its move was contested by its Western friends.
Through the reconstruction of the former Silk Road trade route, the global investment initiative hopes to link China with Europe and other continents. In order to get Chinese goods to international markets faster, China participates in it by supporting significant infrastructure projects all over the world.
The BRI plan calls for significant infrastructure investment to restore the historic Silk Road, which connected China to Asia, Europe, and beyond. Critics claim that China is using it as a vehicle to expand its geopolitical and economic power.
According to Crosetto of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, “the decision to join the [new] Silk Road was an improvised and atrocious act” that enhanced Chinese shipments to Italy but not vice-versa.
He claimed that Italy must now figure out a way to exit the agreement without harming its relations with China.
“The issue today is: how to walk back (from the BRI) without damaging relations [with Beijing]. Because it is true that China is a competitor, but it is also a partner,” Crosetto added. He said Italy would have to consider how to exit “without producing disasters” as China has grown more forceful on the international stage.
Since May, when Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni stated she wanted talks with China about possibly leaving the BRI, there has been heated debate over whether Italy should stay in the BRI.
Unless Italy formally requests to leave it by December of this year, the deal will automatically renew in March 2024.
In a recent statement, China’s foreign ministry stated that it was its opinion that “China and Italy should further explore their cooperation potential” under the BRI and “strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation to seek more fruitful cooperation results.”
Since then, China has begun a diplomatic effort to try to persuade Italy to renew the agreement by dispatching senior officials to the nation to argue its case.