Italy has definitively abandoned the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as “One Belt, One Road.” After several months declaring her intention to withdraw from this new Silk Road, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni announced that her country's entry into this Chinese commercial and institutional strategy was "a mistake," which is why she has decided to withdraw.
Meloni's cabinet officially and irrevocably reported the departure to Beijing a few days ago, since the agreement was set to be renewed for five more years, which would have allowed China to continue influencing Italy. Until now, it was the only G7 country that maintained strategic and commercial relations with Xi Jinping's communist regime through the IFR.
#VIDEO | Italia abandonó el proyecto chino de la nueva Ruta de la Seda.
— VOZ (@VozMediaUSA) December 9, 2023
This decision is another indicator of the increasingly widening differences between the member countries of the G7 and the European Union, a de facto member of the group, with the Chinese communist regime. So much so that the United States Government warned its Italian partners that their position within the world's most important economic forum was "incompatible" with its agreement with Beijing.
Italy agreed to join the BRI in 2019 under the mandate of former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, allowing China to boost its investments in Italian infrastructure. This was met with widespread disapproval from the rest of the nations belonging to the G7. It also received backlash from within Italian politics, such as Stefano Stefanini, former Italian ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), who stated that the government of that time "had underestimated the geopolitical relevance of the initiative." He continued: "They believed that Italy could get away with allying with China despite being the only G7 country to do so."
Before making the departure official, Meloni even stated that making this decision would not imply a total break in relations between her country and China, but it remains to be seen what Xi Jinping's reaction will be with one of the strongest economies in the world.