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Italy embraces Belt and Road as EU pushes back against Beijing

SupChina.com

The Italian government intends to sign on to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The country signaled early this month that it plans to formally endorse Xi Jinping’s signature project (see paywalled Financial Times report), and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he plans to attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in April.

The White House furiously pushed back, saying, “We view BRI as a ‘made by China, for China’ initiative” that will not bring benefits to Italy. China responded, “This position taken by the US side is laughable,” and urged Italy to make its own independent decisions.

Meanwhile, “Europe is moving unexpectedly quickly to restrict Chinese access to big public projects ranging from railways to telecoms,” reports Politico via the South China Morning Post.

Only a week after Brussels branded Beijing as a “systemic rival,” EU leaders attending a summit on Thursday are expected to yield to pressure from Berlin and Paris and “endorse” a law that will restrict the access of Chinese companies to the EU’s €2.4 trillion-per-year public procurement market.

Many industrial EU countries are increasingly frustrated that their leading businesses were excluded from Chinese projects such as the country’s 10,000 kilometre high-speed rail network and the Olympic facilities in 2008, while the EU opened domestic markets to Chinese bidders in tenders.

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