Italy becomes the first member of the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialized nations to join China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure project (BRI), which is inspired by historic, centuries-old trade routes.
- Italy’s decision to get closer to Beijing has caused concern amongst its Western allies notably in Washington, where the White House National Security Council urged Rome not to give” legitimacy to China’s infrastructure vanity project”.
- Italy is one of the top ten largest economies in the world has slipped into recession in 2018 and its national debt levels are the highest in the eurozone.
- By joining BRI, China will open its market to Italy and also open prospect of new projects for Italian firms. It will help Italy to rebalance its trade deficit with China by substantial and gradual increase in exports to Chinese markets.
- Critics of the BRI say it is designed to bolster China’s political and military influence, bringing little reward to other nations, and warn that it could be used to spread technologies capable of spying on Western interests.
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI):
- The Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the One Belt One Road or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, is a development strategy adopted by the Chinese government.
- It aims to connect the East Asian economic region with the European economic circle and runs across the continents of Asia, Europe, and Africa.
- It covers about 65% of the world population, 60% of the world GDP and over 70 countries in six economic corridors.