While mainstream media are gloating about Italy’s withdrawal from the Belt and Road, Beijing has not yet issued a formal response. However, in a press conference on Dec. 7, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, without directly commenting on Italy’s withdrawal, that “China firmly opposes attempts to smear and sabotage Belt and Road cooperation or stoke bloc confrontation and division.”
Italy’s 2019 participation in Belt and Road, the first G7 and NATO country to do so, although not decisive for its success, was certainly a reason of pride for the Chinese leadership, and the withdrawal is now being used by the failing Western elites to elaborate on the BRI’s alleged failure.
As EIR has documented, the most important aspect of the BRI Memorandum was the Italy and China’s commitment to cooperate in developing Africa. It had been a priority for Italy (and for the EU as well) because of the rising flow of illegal immigrants fleeing war and famine. Even more incomprehensible therefore, from the standpoint of national interest, is the decision by the Rome government elected last year, to withdraw from the Memorandum. An additional element of shame is that, although the executive had indicated the issue was a matter for a debate in Parliament, it bypassed Parliament and made the decision almost secretly, with a letter sent to the Chinese embassy in Rome, which was revealed by the press.
Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, asked for an explanation by journalists, repeated the lie that the BRI memorandum brought “no advantages” to Italy.