The Italian Prime Minister conveyed her intention to withdraw from the project during her conversation with her counterpart on the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi. Meanwhile, Li made a final effort to persuade the Italian government to reconsider its decision.
This move comes just weeks before China’s President Xi is scheduled to host world leaders for the third Belt and Road forum in Beijing. To mitigate any potential repercussions from Beijing, Italy is looking to revitalize a strategic partnership agreement with China, focusing on fostering economic cooperation. This agreement was initially established in 2004.
During their meeting, Meloni informed Li of Italy’s plans to disengage from Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative while still aiming to maintain friendly relations with Beijing. Italy formally joined the initiative in 2019. Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, who visited Beijing on September 5, expressed skepticism about the BRI, noting that it “did not bring the results we expected,” and many Italian political parties were opposed to Italy’s participation.
China has announced its intention to hold the third Belt and Road Initiative conference in Beijing next month. Earlier, Meloni had stated that her government had until December to make a decision on the BRI. She pointed out the “paradox” that even though Italy is part of the BRI, it doesn’t have the strongest trading links with China among G7 countries.
Italian politicians have raised questions about the value of the BRI agreement signed by a previous administration in 2019, which has strained relations with Western allies due to concerns about the spread of Chinese influence. Italy emphasized that its decision was not influenced by the United States, echoing similar reports in other Italian publications. Given Italy’s upcoming G7 presidency next year, reshaping its relationship with Beijing could appease its Western allies.
Meloni and Li held discussions during the G20 summit in New Delhi to explore opportunities for strengthening their bilateral relations, as mentioned in a statement from Meloni’s office. The statement emphasized the enduring Global Strategic Partnership between Italy and China, which will mark its 20th anniversary next year and will serve as a guiding light for advancing friendship and cooperation across various areas of mutual interest.