Italy withdraws from China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Italy withdraws from China’s Belt and Road Initiative

The departure could have taken place after weeks of diplomatic consultations, during which Rome tried to change the terms of the agreement

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(Sputnik) – Italy has officially withdrawn from China’s Belt and Road Initiative after weeks of deliberations, while expressing its desire to maintain the strategic partnership with Beijing, Italian media reported on Wednesday.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported that Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni passed a verbal note to Chinese authorities three days ago without a formal announcement, thus ending the country’s four-year participation in the multibillion-dollar project.

The departure was supposed to come after weeks of diplomatic consultations, during which Rome tried to change the terms of the agreement signed by former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in 2019, but Beijing rejected all of his proposals.

The newspaper said that Italy, as the only country in the Group of Seven to join the project, has achieved only few economic benefits and many undesirable political effects, including dissatisfaction in the United States, and its withdrawal may affect the desire of other countries to Stay in the project. However, Italy remains interested in maintaining friendly relations with China, hence the lack of public statements from both sides, according to the report.

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Meloni promised to withdraw from the initiative even before she was elected prime minister, describing the previous government’s decision as a “big mistake.”

The Belt and Road Initiative is a global infrastructure development project launched by China in 2013. Inspired by the ancient Silk Road, it aims to connect China with Central Asia, Russia and Europe by land, and with Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Latin America and the Caribbean by sea. It currently includes more than 150 countries, with a dozen more countries considering joining the initiative.

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