The government in Rome has announced that it will officially end cooperation on the New Silk Road project before the end of this year.
At the same time, Italy was the only G7 country to agree to cooperate on the Chinese project, for which it faced criticism from the United States and other G7 members.
It was also the largest and economically strongest country of the 18 member states of the European Union that agreed to participate in the initiative. Italy’s membership of the project was to be automatically renewed next March. That won’t happen anymore.
Meloni’s predecessor in office agreed to Italy’s participation, she criticized this decision from the beginning. According to her, it was a serious mistake. The government delayed leaving because it was trying to maintain good relations with Beijing, which proposed the project in 2013.
China criticized Italy’s decision to withdraw from the initiative, but did not directly name the country. “China condemns any damage to the project,” a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said.
As part of the cooperation, up to 20 billion euros of Chinese investments were to go to Italy. However, only a fraction arrived.
The example of Italy shows how the project is mainly beneficial for Beijing and does not bring significant benefits to other parties. Italian exports to China rose from 13 billion euros to 16.4 billion in 2019. While Chinese exports to the Apennine Peninsula rose from 31.7 billion euros to 57.5 billion in the same period.
Since taking office, Meloni has been promoting the pro-Western direction of her country and trying to firmly anchor it in Western structures.