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Italy joins China’s Belt and Road

Italy joins China’s Belt and Road

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte plans to sign a preliminary accord when Xi visits Rome on 21 March 2019, hooking Italy up to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) - a colossal, multi-billion-dollar project designed to improve Beijing’s trade reach.

Why it worries to EU?

Italy’s drive to be the first Group of Seven industrialized nation to join the ambitious venture has angered USA and European Union, raising fears of a sell-out of sensitive technologies and the handover of critical infrastructure.

According to Eurostat, Germany exported 93.8 billion euros ($106 billion) of goods to China in 2018, with Britain next on the list exporting 23.4 billion euros, France third with 20.8 billion euros and Italy fourth on 13.17 billion euros.

Earlier this week, the European Commission branded Beijing a “systemic rival” and called on European Union leaders to back its ideas to curb Chinese state-owned enterprises.

Italy is not the first European country as 13 other countries have already signed a MoU with China including Hungary, Poland, Greece and Portugal.

Why it worries to USA?

The Belt and Road project 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 locked in a trade war with Beijing, worries that Xi’s initiative is designed to bolster China’s political and military influence, and could be used to spread technologies capable of spying on Western interests.

One Belt and One Road

The One Belt One Road (OBOR), the brainchild of Chinese President Xi Jinping, is an ambitious project that focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among multiple countries spread across the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe.

Dubbed as the “Project of the Century” by the Chinese authorities, OBOR spans about 78 countries.

The project covers two parts. First is called the “Silk Road Economic Belt” which is primarily land-based and is expected to connect China with Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Western Europe.

The second is called the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” which is sea-based and is expected to will China’s southern coast to the Mediterranean, Africa, South-East Asia and Central Asia.

The names are confusing as the ‘Belt’ is actually a network of roads, and the ‘Road’ is actually a sea route.

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