Italy has decided to withdraw from China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has already told the Beijing administration that Italy will withdraw from the BRE project by this year’s deadline. British media BBC reported this information.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping undertook an ambitious project called BRE. The budget of this project to connect Asia and Europe by road, rail and sea is estimated at 1 trillion dollars. At that time, other Western countries including America criticized the project. However, Italy was the only Western country to sign on to the project in 2019. The contract was for five years. Italy announced its withdrawal from the project before the contract expires in 2024.
On December 4, the Rome government gave an official notice to China saying that they are no longer with the Belt and Road Initiative. After Rome withdrew the agreement, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said China will not tolerate misinformation that harms the Belt and Road Initiative. But he did not mention Italy by name.
European Union (EU) leaders visited Beijing last Thursday. In a meeting with them, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that the EU should be a partner of China in this project.
Then European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said, ‘China is the most important trade partner of the European Union. But there are clear imbalances and differences that we must address.’
The US has criticized China’s BRI as an example of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ since its inception.
Italy is one of the most important members of the 18 member states of the European Union. China’s BRE project agreement with the country was due to expire in March next year and was due for renewal.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said joining the BRE project was a serious mistake by Italy’s previous government. So we decided to withdraw the contract. However, Italy’s good relations with China will be maintained.
More than 150 countries have signed up to this Chinese project at the moment. However, several other countries, including the Philippines, have recently withdrawn from the BRE project. Italy is added to that list.