Skip to main content

Is Italy experiencing buyer’s remorse after signing up to China’s belt and road scheme?

Four months after striking a deal, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte appears less enthusiastic about Beijing’s infrastructure development plan, saying it is not the only game in townPet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping must ‘develop in an open and inclusive way’ and respect EU ‘standards and principles’, Italian leader says

Topic |  Belt and Road Initiative

Stuart Lau  

Published: 7:45pm, 30 Jul, 2019

Just months after witnessing a deal to make 


 the first major Western power to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte appears to have cooled to the idea.

Speaking at an annual conference of the country’s ambassadors over the weekend, the head of Rome’s coalition government said that whatever plans China had to expand its trade and infrastructure project within the European Union would have to meet the relevant standards set by the bloc.

“The Chinese initiative must … develop in an open and inclusive way, respecting the standards and principles enshrined in the EU strategy,” he was quoted as saying by Italian news platform La Verita.

And other regional projects, like the 

EU-led connectivity scheme

, were “equally valid”, he said.

Italian leader Giuseppe Conte shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the signing of a deal on the belt and road plan in Rome in March. Photo: AP


The tone of Conte’s remarks was notably less upbeat than during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy in March, when apart from the memorandum of understanding on the belt and road plan, the pair oversaw the signing of 29 agreements, including two management deals for the ports of Trieste and Genoa.

A person with knowledge of the ambassadors’ meeting agreed the Italian leader seemed to have cooled to the idea.


Get updates direct to your inbox


By registering for these newsletters you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy

“Diplomats at the conference had the feeling that Conte sounded less enthusiastic about Italy-China relations than during Xi’s visit,” the source said in an interview.

Read more

‘Pro-China’ Boris Johnson ‘enthusiastic’ about belt and road plan

Read more

Italy becomes first G7 nation to sign up for China’s belt and road plan

Read more

EU’s connectivity plan ‘more sustainable’ than Beijing’s belt and road

Read more

Italy agrees to return Chinese cultural relics in goodwill gesture

Italy’s critics are ‘jealous’ of its China deal

Conte’s comments about the belt and road were also in contrast to the more positive remarks he made at the event about Italy’s relations with the United States and Russia.

According to the report by La Verita, Conte said he had “a fruitful relationship with US President [Donald] Trump”, and after meeting visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, said Rome could facilitate a detente between Moscow and the West.

However, Giovanni Andornino, a China expert at the University of Turin, said people should not read too much into Conte’s remarks.

“Italy remains committed to its enhanced partnership with China across a variety of realms, not least through the new channel established to facilitate dialogue between civil societies in the two countries,” he said.

Conte’s decision to join the belt and road plan came after he overruled the Italian foreign ministry and partnered the right-wing Eurosceptics in his coalition cabinet.

The move effectively alienated Rome from its traditional ally, Washington.

White House National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis said at the time the 

Belt and Road Initiative

 was unlikely to help Italy economically but could significantly damage its image on the world stage.

The plan, championed by Xi, aims to link China by sea and land with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe through an infrastructure network along the lines of the old Silk Road.

Aside from boosting trade and investment, the Chinese leader aims to advance exchanges in areas such as science, technology and culture.


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 you …

China's Raise as a Maritime Power

China's Rise as a Maritime PowerOcean Policy from Mao Zedong to Xi JinpingTAKEDA Jun’ichiSenkaku IslandsApr 23, 2014 PDF Download1. IntroductionThe international community has been viewing China's recent moves relating to the seas as representing "maritime expansion," and the Chinese themselves have come to talk about making their country a maritime power. In the political report he delivered in the autumn of 2012 to the eighteenth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which stands at the top of the country's power structure, General Secretary Hu Jintao declared, "We should enhance our capacity for exploiting marine resources, develop the marine economy, protect the marine ecological environment, resolutely safeguard China's maritime rights and interests, and build China into a maritime power."1 This was Hu's final report as the top leader of the CPC; after delivering it he stepped down from his posts as general secretary and chairm…

Guardians of the Belt and Road

Guardians of the Belt and RoadThe internationalization of China's private security companiesby Helena Legarda and Meia NouwensFollowing the build-up of infrastructure and investment projects along China’s extensive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), private security companies from China are also increasingly going global – to protect Chinese assets and the growing number of Chinese nationals living and working in countries along the BRI, in sometimes unstable regions. Out of the 5,000 registered Chinese private security companies, 20 provide international services, employing 3,200 security personnel in countries like Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan.The impact of this newly developing Chinese activity abroad is analyzed in this MERICS China Monitor. Chinese private security companies’ international activities pose a challenge to European interests as they are often largely unregulated and their security staff are often inexperienced in dealing with serious conflict situations and combat. EU …