Skip to main content

Italy breaks ranks with Europe on China's Belt and Road



Rome views the initiative as a way to reinvigorate its economy

MANABU MORIMOTO and RINTARO HOSOKAWA, Nikkei staff writersMARCH 12, 2019 02:42 JST

China can expand its access to the Mediterranean Sea by investing in Italian ports, such as this one in Palermo, through the Belt and Road Initiative.   © Reuters

BRUSSELS/GENEVA -- Italy is considering joining China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, a move that risks stirring up divisions with other European Union members distrustful of Beijing's expansionist bent.

Italy could agree to join the initiative when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits the nation for three days through March 24, a senior Italian government official said. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Friday that he is open to the two sides signing a framework deal during Xi's trip. Conte also plans to attend a Belt and Road summit in China next month.

"Italy's accession to a new Silk Route represents an opportunity for our country," said Conte.

Belt and Road, also known as the new Silk Road, seeks to create transnational networks through land and sea that would connect China to other Asian countries, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. Beijing could gain sway in the Mediterranean Sea if Chinese entities were able to increase investment in Italian ports.

Greece and Portugal -- two EU nations that have been plagued by debt crises -- have signed preliminary Belt and Road agreements. But Germany and France, the two core members of the EU, have distanced themselves from the initiative. Xi proposed that Spain join Belt and Road during a visit last November. Madrid turned down the offer, aligning itself instead with the EU's Asian strategy.

The EU is concerned about Asian and African nations falling into debt traps if they sign on to Belt and Road projects.

"China never cares how and if a country is able to pay its loans," said Johannes Hahn, an EU commissioner. "And if they cannot pay, there is some pressure that things are transferred into their ownership."

The EU in October adopted a strategy to bolster infrastructure ties between Europe and Asia, to serve as a counterweight to Belt and Road. Asian nations will receive European-style infrastructure that is fiscally sustainable, among other support.

Europe has become more wary of Chinese investment. Chinese enterprises are active acquirers in key European industries, such as robotics, prompting fears of technological transfers that undermine national security. The EU would have acquisitions by outside investors screened at the bloc level, instead of locally, from fall 2020.

Because Italy is a key EU nation, and a member of the Group of Seven major economies, its enlistment in Belt and Road risks upsetting unity in the region. "All the member states ... have the responsibility to guarantee coherence with EU laws and policies and to respect the unity of the EU in implementing these policies," a European Commission spokesperson said Thursday.

Before Xi arrives in Italy, the EU will open a two-day leaders' summit in Brussels through March 22 to discuss the bloc's China strategy. Some at the gathering are expected to push back against Rome's dalliances with Beijing.

However, Italy last June formed a coalition government between two populist parties, indicating an EU-skeptic stance. If the rift extends to policies toward China, it may create another center of opposition against European integration, in a bloc already reeling from the U.K.'s looming departure.

Italy is looking to crawl out of recession with Chinese investment money that can help jump-start the economy. But the U.S. has warned Italy that its international image would suffer if it joins Belt and Road. Given that U.S. President Donald Trump is close to Prime Minister Conte, Rome should not readily agree to join the Chinese infrastructure plan, said a source in the Italian government.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Spotlight/Belt-and-Road/Italy-breaks-ranks-with-Europe-on-China-s-Belt-and-Road

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed. Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area” For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number” Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell yo

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میں Please help the deserving persons... Salary: Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows; Welder: Rs. 1,700 daily Heavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Mason: Rs. 1,500 daily Helper: Rs. 850 daily Electrician: Rs. 1,700 daily Surveyor: Rs. 2,500 daily Security Guard: Rs. 1,600 daily Bulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Concrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Roller operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Steel fixer: Rs. 2,200 daily Iron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 daily Account clerk: Rs. 2,200 daily Carpenter: Rs. 1,700 daily Light duty driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Labour: Rs. 900 daily Para Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 daily Pipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 daily Storekeeper: Rs. 1,700 daily Office boy: Rs. 1,200 daily Excavator operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Shovel operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Computer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Security Supervisor: Rs.

A ‘European Silk Road’

publication_icon Philipp Heimberger ,  Mario Holzner and Artem Kochnev wiiw Research Report No. 430, August 2018  43 pages including 10 Tables and 17 Figures FREE DOWNLOAD The German version can be found  here . In this study we argue for a ‘Big Push’ in infrastructure investments in greater Europe. We propose the building of a European Silk Road, which connects the industrial centres in the west with the populous, but less developed regions in the east of the continent and thereby is meant to generate more growth and employment in the short term as well as in the medium and long term. After its completion, the European Silk Road would extend overland around 11,000 kilometres on a northern route from Lisbon to Uralsk on the Russian-Kazakh border and on a southern route from Milan to Volgograd and Baku. Central parts are the route from Lyon to Moscow in the north and from Milan to Constanţa in the south. The southern route would link Central Europe with the Black Sea area and