Italy Signed Agreement with China - Generalizando
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The botched management of the Belt and Road Memorandum has a serious political cost. As a member of the G-7, a founding member of the EU and NATO, and the third largest economy in the eurozone, Italy, which supported the Belt and Road Initiative, has given a significant boost to Chinese President Xi Jinping`s favorite project at home and abroad. On the other hand, joining the Belt and Road meant that Rome was seen as “the weak European link in the power struggle with China,” Politico reported, and not just for the United States. While Italy signed the memorandum, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the need for a “geopolitical and strategic relationship” with China. Macron insisted on ending “European naivety” towards Beijing, warning against “any discussion of bilateral agreements on the new Silk Road.” Similar concerns have also been expressed by Berlin through fewer public channels. This blog is subject to the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything you post. The content of all comments will be made public, unless expressly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control published content. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor all user-generated content at its discretion and reserves the right to remove content for any reason without consent. Unnecessary links to websites are considered spam and may result in the deletion of comments. We also reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user`s permission to post content on the library site. Read our comments and posting policy.

The Italian metallurgical company Danieli has signed a contract for the construction of part of a steel plant in China, which will then be relocated to Azerbaijan. About 30 side agreements were signed on the sidelines of Chinese President Xi Jinping`s visit to Rome, including 10 with Italian companies and others with ministries and public institutions. The tenor of China`s growing presence is likely to change and appears to be becoming more threatening with the inauguration of Xi-Jinping, who last year brought a constitutional amendment that made him a president for life. The first Conte government, like many international governments and companies, dreamed of China`s enormous market potential. Political considerations have not stood in the way of increased trade with Beijing. Conte`s second cabinet, which governed a coalition of the populist and pro-China Five Star Movement alongside the Left and Atlantic Democratic Party from September 2019 to January, adopted a more conciliatory tone. The then prime minister stressed both the U.S. role as Italy`s main strategic partner and China`s growing global presence, and envisioned a role for Rome and Brussels to act as a potential bridge between Washington and Beijing. Updated March 25, 2019.

On March 22, at the end of President Xi Jinping`s visit, Italy signed a comprehensive economic agreement with China as part of the “New Silk Road”. It is a memorandum of understanding, a framework agreement that contains a total of 29 separate agreements. Ten are “commercial”, from the Italian energy giant Eni to Ansaldo, a major manufacturer of thermoelectric power plants. And nineteen are “institutional” and cover a wide range of activities, from cultural exchanges to the defense of archaeological sites to cooperation on public health issues and in United Nations agencies such as UNESCO. The sum of the agreements is expected to have a potential value of around €20 billion. But just over a week before the deal was signed, the European Commission issued a joint statement on “China`s growing economic power and political influence” and the need to “review” relations. Italy has good reason to cultivate its friendship with China. Enrico Fardella and Giorgio Prodi from the University of Bologna analysed the impact of the BRI on Europe, in particular Italy. They point out that since the purchase of a majority stake in the Greek port of Piraeus in 2016, the Mediterranean has become a major trade hub for China. Three important elements, two external and one internal, have been fundamental to the development of the BRI in Italy. The two exogenous elements are the growing tensions between China and the United States, as well as the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first led to a stronger U.S. engagement with Europe, including Italy, to ensure policy direction toward China. An example of a result of these efforts was the cancellation of a possible cooperation between the Italian Space Agency (ISA) and the Chinese National Space Administration (CNSA) to build residential modules for China`s tiangong 3 space station. Another result, like measures taken in other EU countries, concerns changes that limit Huawei`s ability to participate in the development of Italy`s 5G network. True, none of the above examples directly refer to the Memorandum of Understanding signed during Chinese President Xi Jinping`s state visit to Italy in March 2019. However, both are examples of a change in Italy`s stance on cooperation with Chinese institutions, whether public or private, under pressure from the United States. Interestingly, cooperation regarding the Chinese space station was abandoned shortly after March 2019. The agreements signed are far-reaching and include cooperation between banks, between a Chinese construction company and Italian ports, as well as the export of Italian fruit to China. The agreements also provide for cooperation in the fields of science and technology and between the media, as well as the return of hundreds of Chinese cultural treasures by Italy.

This new realpolitik aligns Italy with the tripartite definition of the EU-China Strategic Outlook 2019, which presents Beijing as a negotiating partner, an economic competitor and a systemic rival. There comes a period of fierce debate in Brussels not only about the EU`s relations with China, but also about its regional interests in the Indo-Pacific and its relations with like-minded partners such as Taiwan, India and Japan. Italy should take the opportunity offered by Draghi to signal that it is a reliable partner and ready to participate in the development of a coherent Chinese policy in international forums. More than a year ago, on the 23rd. In March 2019, Italy signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China to officially become a member of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as “One Belt One Road” (OBOR). Italy and China followed their commitments and signed a total of 29 trade agreements (19 institutional agreements and 10 trade agreements) worth about €2.5 billion (US$2.8 billion) to implement the New Silk Road project. Italy also focuses on economic security and prioritises industrial strategy, including the protection of national champions in key sectors. In just four months, the Draghi government has repeatedly used government power to limit Beijing`s presence in Italy`s 5G infrastructure and block the acquisition of a semiconductor company. In addition, the suspension of discussions on the possible sale of the Italian truck manufacturer Iveco to the Chinese group FAW has benefited from coordination with France.

Make no mistake: the new mood has not been adopted by all Italian political figures at all times. From Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio repeating China`s mantra of non-interference on Hong Kong in 2019 to Beppe Grillo, the comedian-turned-political activist and leader of the Five Star Movement and repeating Beijing`s propaganda on his blog, the five-star populist movement has not completely rejected its pro-China positions. More recently, Grillo, along with five-star Senator Vito Petrocelli and chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, approved a report on Xinjiang that revealed well-documented allegations of human rights violations with “highly politicized anti-China campaigns.” most report unfounded, unverifiable or false information. Before the agreement was signed, there were warnings on many fronts. US and European leaders have warned Rome against signing a bilateral agreement with Beijing. Conte, on the other hand, was quick to assure the public that the agreement was a purely trade agreement and that it favoured Italy`s national interests. But the meat seems to be coming. Bloomberg recently reported that a number of major Italian companies were involved in drafting this agreement, from banks and energy to football clubs. Football clubs may not be strategic areas, but energy and banking certainly are.

And Bloomberg has dropped big names: gas pipeline operator Snam SpA, engineering firm Ansaldo Energia SpA and leading banks like Intesa San Paolo and Unicredit. However, there is disagreement within the Italian government. .



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