Italy To Withdraw From China’s Influence-Boosting Global Infrastructure Project

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Jake Smith Contributor
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Italy is withdrawing from a major Chinese global project, potentially upsetting Beijing, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni told Beijing that Italy is pulling out of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, citing concerns that it has been ineffective, according to Bloomberg. Economic ties between Italy and China have been strained and the latest move to pull out of the Belt and Road is likely to make that relationship worse, as Beijing warned that doing so would have consequences. (RELATED: Investors Pull Out Record Funds From China As Economy Falters)

China’s Belt and Road Initiative, spearheaded by Chinese President Xi Jinping, is a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure project network connecting over 140 countries in the eastern hemisphere, according to the Silk Road Initiative. Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said on Wednesday that Italy is pulling out of the project because it “has not produced the desired effects” and is no longer “a priority,” noting that countries that aren’t part of the project “have had better results,” according to Bloomberg.

Italy’s trade deficit with China has plummeted from approximately negative $15 billion in 2019 – when it joined the BRI – to over $30 billion in 2022, according to Bloomberg. Meloni has been seeking to pull Italy out of the BRI for months but wants the country to maintain an economic relationship with Beijing.

“We have every intention of maintaining excellent relations with China even if we are no longer part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” an Italian government source told Reuters.

Italy waited to pull out of the BRI until diplomatic measures were in place so that Beijing would not be angered by the decision, but they may be regardless, according to Bloomberg. China’s ambassador to Italy Jia Guide previously said there would be “negative consequences” if Italy “recklessly decides” to leave the BRI.

The Italian foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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