Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has officially notified China of Italy’s decision to withdraw from the Beijing-led Belt and Road Initiative, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani. This announcement comes after months of speculation and discussions within the Italian government regarding their participation in the global infrastructure and investment pact.
In an interview with Fox News, Tajani confirmed that Meloni had spoken directly to China about Italy’s plans to exit the Silk Road. While Italy sees itself primarily as a US ally, Tajani emphasized that this does not prevent them from maintaining dialogue with China. The decision to withdraw from the Belt and Road Initiative is based on Italy’s belief that its membership in the pact has resulted in limited benefits for Rome.
However, it is important to note that Italy has not yet made an official announcement or formally communicated its final decision to China. The withdrawal would need to be put up for consideration in the Italian Parliament, but Tajani expressed confidence that most Members of Parliament would support the move.
Last month, China’s Foreign Ministry criticized “some forces” within the Italian government for suggesting that Rome might back out of the initiative. They warned that such a withdrawal would go against the trend of history. This criticism came after Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto described Italy’s decision to join the international trade network in 2019 as an “improvised and atrocious act.”
The Italian government has been carefully considering how to withdraw from the Belt and Road Initiative without damaging relations with Beijing. Meloni herself described Italy’s participation in the pact as a paradox, particularly since Italy is the only member of the G7 to have joined. She stated that Italy would make a decision on whether to renew its membership by December of this year.
Italy’s decision to exit the Belt and Road Initiative is seen as a significant development, as it adds to the list of countries that have chosen to distance themselves from China’s global infrastructure and investment project. The initiative, which was launched in 2013, aims to connect Asia, Europe, and Africa through a network of railways, ports, and other infrastructure projects.
As Italy moves forward with its withdrawal plans, the impact on its relationship with China and the wider implications for the Belt and Road Initiative remain to be seen. This decision reflects Italy’s desire to prioritize its alliance with the United States while maintaining open lines of communication with China.