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Italy endorses China's Belt and Road plan in first for a G7 nation

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Italy endorses China's Belt and Road plan in first for a G7 nation

By Giselda Vagnoni

 

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Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as he arrives at Villa Madama in Rome, Italy March 23, 2019. REUTERS/Yara Nardi

 

ROME (Reuters) - Italy endorsed China's ambitious "Belt and Road" infrastructure plan on Saturday, becoming the first major Western power to back the initiative to help revive the struggling Italian economy.

 

Saturday's signing ceremony was the highlight of a three-day trip to Italy by Chinese President Xi Jinping, with the two nations boosting their ties at a time when the United States is locked in a trade war with China.

 

The rapprochement has angered Washington and alarmed some European Union allies, who fear it could see Beijing gain access to sensitive technologies and critical transport hubs.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio played down such concerns, telling reporters that although Rome remained fully committed to its Western partners, it had to put Italy first when it came to commercial ties.

 

"This is a very important day for us, a day when Made-in-Italy has won, Italy has won and Italian companies have won," said Di Maio, who signed the memorandum of understanding on behalf of the Italian government in a Renaissance villa.

 

Taking advantage of Xi's visit, Italian firms inked deals with Chinese counterparts worth an initial 2.5 billion euros (£2.12 billion). Di Maio said these contracts had a potential, future value of 20 billion euros.

 

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) lies at the heart of China's foreign policy strategy and was incorporated into the ruling Communist Party constitution in 2017, reflecting Xi's desire for his country to take a global leadership role.

 

The United States worries that it is designed to strengthen China's military influence and could be used to spread technologies capable of spying on Western interests.

 

WARM WELCOME

 

Italy's populist government, anxious to lift the economy out of its third recession in a decade, dismissed calls from Washington to shun the BRI and gave Xi the sort of red-carpet welcome normally reserved for its closest allies.

 

Some EU leaders also cautioned Italy this week against rushing into the arms of China, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying on Friday that relations with Beijing must not be based primarily on trade.

 

There was not even universal backing for the BRI agreement within Italy's ruling coalition, with Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the far-right League, warning against the risk of China "colonialising" Italian markets.

 

Salvini did not meet Xi and declined to attend a state dinner held in honour of the visiting leader on Friday.

 

Di Maio, who leads the 5-Star Movement, says Italy is merely playing catch up, pointing to the fact that it exports significantly less to China than either Germany or France.

 

Italy registered a trade deficit with China of 17.6 billion euros last year and Di Maio said the aim was to eliminate the deficit as soon as possible.

 

After talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Di Maio in the morning, Xi flew to the Sicilian city Palermo for a private visit on Saturday afternoon.

 

He is due to head to Monte Carlo on Sunday before finishing his brief tour of Europe in France, where he is due to hold talks with Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-03-23

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They probably remembered, without the Silk Route they wouldn't even have pasta...

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2 hours ago, Lupatria said:

They probably remembered, without the Silk Route they wouldn't even have pasta...

first noodles were from middle east, well ppl still believe that adam was a victim of eva....
guess its the alcohol ban reflux 

anyway Italy did good start to unchain from US and EU.

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Nero fiddles while Rome burns..............only not this Rome.

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Didn't Italy make a deal once with another guy that was going to help their eco\nomoy and make them one of the most powerful countries in the world?

 

Seems to me that they were told it was a bad idea then too.

 

mmmmm

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With their economy in recession Italy will take money from wherever. Who can blame them?

The UK Government has no shame about asking China for money to build a nuclear power plant and Chinese firms have been investing in UK property, construction and utility companies for a decade.

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Quote:-

"Xi flew to the Sicilian city Palermo for a private visit on Saturday afternoon"

To meet the "God Fathers"????

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Sure hope China is on the hook for Italy's debt crises now. 

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5 hours ago, Jerry787 said:

first noodles were from middle east, well ppl still believe that adam was a victim of eva....
guess its the alcohol ban reflux 

anyway Italy did good start to unchain from US and EU.

"...anyway Italy did good start to unchain from US and EU."

 

Good point indeed. 

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, IAMHERE said:

Sure hope China is on the hook for Italy's debt crises now. 

 

:cheesy: ... Yeah, one of them will be on a hook, won't be China though ...

Conte & combo need plenty of coin indeed, expensive  - shall we call it 'election promises' - are now to fulfill in order to, well, bring happiness to the people (lol).

With basic income (EUR 780.- for est. 5 mio eligible recipients) and early retirement (300-400k people at 62 instead of 67) Italy's government may have scored among the voters, but of course these gifts cost money that the state just does not have.

 

And despite the relatively low costs for the social package (due to pressure from EU about their already soaring deficit) a drastic increase in VAT is now threatening next year - not that long to enjoy the happiness then ... 

 

Chyna?? Almost a year ago, an agreement with Austria failed because Beijing wanted to 'influence European policy decisions', according to domestic diplomats. Duh, who'd have thunk that really ... 

 

Edited by jollyhangmon

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5 hours ago, DaddyWarbucks said:

Good move Italy.

The US, UK, and the EU are all competing with each other to see how fast they can go downhill.

 

Uk has palastine chile and the Faroe islands all lined up ready for brexit,beat that🤣

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4 hours ago, champers said:

With their economy in recession Italy will take money from wherever. Who can blame them? 

The UK Government has no shame about asking China for money to build a nuclear power plant and Chinese firms have been investing in UK property, construction and utility companies for a decade.

Is the UK capable of doing anything these days 🤣 i cannot believe it has to bring in 5000 nurses from overseas..yet it thinks it can go it alone 😂 a nation of retards and dreamers living in the past

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5 minutes ago, bomber said:

Is the UK capable of doing anything these days 🤣 i cannot believe it has to bring in 5000 nurses from overseas..yet it thinks it can go it alone 😂 a nation of retards and dreamers living in the past

I was only talking about Chinese money because that is the topic, but money and people flood the country from just about anywhere. Rock up with millions and you're welcome. Shinawatras are a good example.

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