| 13 June 2024, Thursday |

Italian PM tells China’s premier of plan to quit Belt and Road Initiative

Italian media claimed on Sunday that Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni discussed Italy’s withdrawal from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with Chinese Premier Li Qiang during a meeting at the G20 conference.

Italy will instead seek to revitalize a strategic partnership agreement with China, initially inked in 2004, with the objective of strengthening economic collaboration, in an effort to lessen any fallout from Beijing’s decision.

Italy is the only G7 nation to sign up to the BRI, a global trade and infrastructure plan modelled on the old Silk Road that linked imperial China and the West.

“The prime minister (Meloni) communicated the intention to quit the project to her counterpart,” the Corriere della Sera daily reported, saying Premier Li had made a last attempt to persuade the Italians to rethink.

Italian politicians have questioned the value of the BRI agreement signed by a previous administration in 2019, which has been a source of friction with Western allies due to wariness about spreading Chinese influence.

The Italians told the Chinese that their decision had not been dictated by the United States, the report added, comments echoed by similar reports in other Italian newspapers.

Italy has the G7 presidency next year and recasting its relationship with Beijing would placate its Western allies.

Meloni and Li held talks at the G20 summit in New Delhi on Saturday to discuss deepening relations, Meloni’s office said in a statement.

“Italy and China share a Global Strategic Partnership whose 20th anniversary will recur next year and which will be the beacon for the advancement of friendship and cooperation … in every area of common interest,” the statement added.

  • Reuters