Italy rethinking its signed commitment to China's BRI
Italy's Prime Minister says ties with Beijing are possible even if Rome pulled out of the project.
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said ties with China are possible even if her country did not proceed with its Belt and Road Initiative BRI commitments it signed with Beijing in 2019.
It is too early to predict the final decision on the matter, Meloni told Il Messaggero daily.
Rome was the first major Western capital to sign into the Chinese strategic multi-trillion dollar project, a move that saw heavy criticism from both Brussels and Washington.
"Our assessment is very delicate and touches upon many interests," said the Prime Minister.
The agreement expires in March 2024, and unless either party decides to end participation, it will be automatically renewed. At least three months' notice must be given by the side pulling out from the project.
Before being elected for the position of Prime Minister, Meloni expressed in September 2022 that she had "no political will ... to favor Chinese expansion into Italy or Europe," voicing disapproval of the 2019 pact.
She stressed that, while being the only G7 member to enter the BRI plan, Italy is not the largest Western and European trade partner of China.
"This means it is possible to have good relations, also in important areas, with Beijing, without necessarily these being part of an overall strategic design," she added.
Reuters reported earlier this month, citing an Italian diplomat, that it is very unlikely that Rome would renew participation in the BRI.
Western values and ideology
In a joint declaration issued on Saturday at the G7 meeting in Hiroshima, Japan, the G7 cited a number of complaints leveled at Beijing, including intellectual theft, "economic coercion", and domestic human rights violations. According to the organization, it firmly opposes "any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force" in relation to Taiwan and the South China Sea.
Responding to the hostile remarks, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Saturday that the international community will not accept the G7's pro-Western principles and will not enable the US-led group to control world affairs.
"China will never accept the so-called rules imposed by the few. The international community does not and will not accept the G7-dominated Western rules that seek to divide the world based on ideologies and values,” it continued.
Cutting economic ties with China 'unthinkable'
China is considered the largest market for several G7 countries that rely on exports, such as Germany and Japan. And despite growing US pressure on its allies, it seems to be very difficult to decouple from the Chinese market at least anytime soon.
Chief of Germany's brand car maker Mercedes Benz said last month that cutting economic ties with China is “unthinkable” and would subject Germany’s industry to major risks.
"The major players in the global economy, Europe, the U.S. and China, are so closely intertwined that decoupling from China makes no sense," Ola Kaellenius told Bild.
"Our sales figures in China are increasing and I am quite optimistic that we will also grow this year. During the corona years, the wealthier Chinese in particular made extraordinary savings," he added.
"This purchasing power should benefit us."