Italy Looking to Leave China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Global Domination Scheme

The Italian government of Giorgia Meloni is reportedly preparing to leave Communist China’s Belt and Road global domination scheme within the coming months.

In 2019, under the stewardship of then-technocratic Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Italy became the first, and so far only, G7 nation to sign up to Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, which Beijing uses to ensnare nations throughout the world under its boot through debt trap diplomacy tactics.

Now the populist-minded government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni faces a decision on Italy’s continued participation in the Chinese scheme, with the country’s membership set to automatically renew itself in March of next year unless Rome decides to pull out before then.

According to a report from Bloomberg, during a meeting with U.S. Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in the Italian capital last week, Meloni relayed that although no final decision has been made, her government is intent on exiting the Belt and Road Initiative by the end of the year.

In a tacit confirmation of the reports on the reports following a visit with Czech President Petr Pavel in Prague on Wednesday, Meloni did not deny that such plans were in the works but reiterated that a final decision has yet to be agreed to.

“[It] is a decision that we have not yet taken, it is an open debate in which I believe that the actors to be involved should be many and at various levels, including Parliament,” the Italian PM told reporters according to the Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper.

“There are still several months to make this decision, which is a delicate decision. In the past, I did not share the choice made by the Conte government but today it must be handled very carefully because it is a situation that affects many international dynamics.”

In 2019, the head of the State Council Information Office (China’s foreign propaganda department) Jiang Jianguo claimed that the signing of the Belt and Road Initiative would bring with it “new opportunities for media exchanges and pragmatic co-operation between China and Italy.”

However, with the exception of some minimal investments into Italian ports — used by China’s fleet of merchant ships — there has been little economic felt by the vast majority of the country.

Should Meloni’s government follow through with its reported intention of leaving the scheme, it would be a “a big loss symbolically for China,” senior analyst at the Eurasia Group Federico Santi told The Telegraph.

“They have recently stepped up their lobbying efforts to try to convince Rome to stay in the deal,” he said. “This decision, if confirmed, will antagonise the Chinese government,” with Beijing likely to impose some retaliatory actions on Italian firms operating within China in response.

The BRI has come under considerable criticism in the West for deploying ‘debt-trap diplomacy’, in which the Chinese Communist Party offers up predatory loans to developing nations throughout Asia, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe to supposedly help them build up local infrastructure.

However, as is often the case, if the loans are not paid back, Beijing is given the ability to seize control of the infrastructure and sometimes the very property itself. The scheme also typically sees labourers from China shipped in to work on the construction projects, meaning that even more of the economic benefits are accrued by China as local workers miss out on the work.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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