Since profiling her in February – and the atrocious way she’s been treated by the elitist cabal that runs the EU – Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Italy has done nothing but move her country forward.
Isn’t that delightful?
In fact, there are a lot of things looking rosy about Italy that can’t be said for the powerhouses of the E.U. and they still treat Meloni as if she had shown up to their ball uninvited and in a tracksuit (That would be Zelensky’s uniform, but everyone in the EU has a man-crush on that guy.)
Besides negotiating new oil deals to free her country from EU Green entanglements as far as energy goes, Meloni has also been considering detangling some of her former office holders’ deals. One of which was not only baffling, but – as she calls it – “atrocious.”
In 2019, Italy, under the then Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, had signed a memorandum of understanding supporting China’s multi-trillion Belt and Road Initiative. Beijing represented an opportunity to export made-in-Italy products.
As the two countries began to finalise the deal, warnings came on many fronts. Both American and European leaders cautioned Rome against signing a bilateral agreement with Beijing. PM Conte, on the other hand, reassured the public that the agreement was purely a commercial one, that favoured Italian national interests.
Conte was lured by China’s huge market potential. Highlighting both America’s role as Italy’s main strategic partner and China’s growing global footprint, Conte envisioned a role for Rome and Brussels to act as a potential bridge between Washington and Beijing.
That was all before the horrific Hong Kong crackdown and China’s human rights abuses became international fodder and cast even more unflattering light on just how the Chinese do business. The Italian parliament began looking for ways to reconsider the deal itself and asking the government to push back against Chinese influence. As Italy was the only major Western country to sign on with the Chinese, it also had the effect of making the Italians something of a pariah at meetings.
The next administration, of Prime Minister Mario Draghi, began the process of discussions, but China’s enormous economic punch always lent an element of danger to any talk of withdrawing completely from the BRI agreement.
It’s been Meloni’s administration who has actually been speaking the words.
The U.S. was deeply critical of Italy’s decision in 2019 to become the only major Western economy to sign on to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI, as it’s known, is an unprecedented global infrastructure project that critics see as Beijing’s attempt to gain influence abroad and make smaller countries financially dependent on Chinese investment.
But this week Italy gave its strongest signal yet that it planned to pull out of the project.
Signing the deal four years ago was “an improvised and atrocious act,” Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto told the Corriere della Sera newspaper on Sunday. “We exported a load of oranges to China, they tripled exports to Italy in three years.”
Crosetto added a more measured coda: “The issue today is, how to walk back without damaging relations? Because it is true that while China is a competitor, it is also a partner.”
These remarks followed months of reports that Italy planned to quit the BRI. Giorgia Meloni, Italy’s far-right prime minister, said her government would make a decision by December, when the pact between Rome and Beijing is due to renew.
It’s goin to be a delicate tap-dance for Ms. Meloni, for, while she’s made it clear she’d very much like to remain on congenial terms with the Chinese, her pivot to the West is a full buy-in to the emerging NATO Asian-Pacific expansion that Britain and France are already working with.
…The discussion was part of NATO’s efforts to “de-risk” – that is, reduce – economic activity with Beijing.
Meloni let it be known she was working to cancel Italy’s participation in China’s so-called Belt and Road Initiative, the trade and infrastructure partnerships that Rome joined four years ago. Meloni indicated Rome could somehow maintain “good relations with China” even as it dropped Belt and Road.
…Meloni, for example, expressed hopes that benign post-Belt and Road relations with Beijing will continue. But she also steered clear of touting Italy’s other China policy feature: entry into the anti-China arms race. Italy joined the United Kingdom in a partnership with Japan to develop new fighter jets.
There’s much more upside to working with United States, Japan, Korea and the Philippines, et al, in concert with other EU nations, as opposed to being owned belt, road, hook, line, and sinker by the Chinese.