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Italy withdraws from Belt and Road Initiative of China: Report

The Giorgia Meloni government in Italy has formally withdrawn from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China, four years after signing the project, news agency AFP reported Wednesday citing a government source.

Italy in 2019 became the first and so far only G7 nation to join the programme.

Rome communicated the long-anticipated decision to Beijing three days ago, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, which first reported the news, said.

It is important to note that the agreement with China was supposed to be automatically renewed after expiring in March 2024, unless Rome gave at least three months’ written warning of pulling out.

Earlier in July this year, Italy’s Defence Minister Guido Crosetto said that the BRI was an “improvised and atrocious” made by Italy while signing with China.

“The decision to join the (new) Silk Road was an improvised and atrocious act that multiplied China’s exports to Italy but did not have the same effect on Italian exports to China” Crosetto said.

Also during the G20 Summit in Delhi, Italian Prime Minister Meloni had signalled to China that they want to exit the agreement that is testing Italy’s relations with the United States. Bloomberg had in September reported that the Italian Prime Minister had told her Chinese counterpart Li Qiang that Italy plans to withdraw from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative while still looking to maintain friendly relations with Beijing.

The BRI scheme aims to rebuild the old Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe and beyond with large infrastructure spending. Critics see it as a tool for China to spread its geopolitical and economic influence.

 

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Published: 06 Dec 2023, 06:12 PM IST

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