Window to Europe. Italy supports Chinas One Belt, One Road initiative
22.04.2019 13:39

It seems that Chinese President Xi Jinping has found his way to the hearts of Europeans. The multibillion contract for acquisition of A320 and A350 aircraft, and coupling of the One Belt, One Road initiative with the Italian program of northern ports construction and the program of investments in Italy may become a turning point for the entire European Union in determining its economic priorities. It is no coincidence that the Chinese leader visited Monaco, the European financial and business center, and met with Prince Albert II. This happened against the backdrop of growing pressure from the EUs main partner, the United States, which is using all political, economic and military leverage available to it to continue unjustified interference with the economic policies of leading European powers, fearing competition.

During his five-day visit to Italy, Monaco and France, the Chinese head of state managed to win over Europe, so that Italy became the first European country to support his One Belt, One Road initiative. These two important events angered Washington so much that it responded immediately, describing the Italian prime ministers move as dangerous for Europe. Nevertheless, the US is trying not to pinpoint the exact reason for its concern, although it is easy to guess that it can be the trade war Washington declared against almost everyone, including its European allies.

Even though China and the US have somewhat deescalated tensions recently and postponed mutual increase of duties, China still has numerous causes to be worried. It is unlikely to feel comfortable knowing that Washingtons military doctrine names China among its main threats. The accidents with Boeing planes predictably pushed Beijing towards rejecting the contract with the American manufacturer in favor of Airbus. All the more so, as the contract with the European giant is more than strictly business: it is also a helping hand to Europe that is going through a prolonged crisis, which Europeans cannot fail to appreciate.

At the same time, one cannot view Italys decision to support the One Belt, One Road initiative as a purely gentlemanly gesture of the Italian prime minister in response to Chinas huge investments in the Italian economy. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte understands only too well that development of economic relations with China can be a way out of the economic crisis for his country, without adopting additional restrictions on social welfare required by Brussels. The Italian economy, which has been stagnating for quite a number of years, has put all its prime ministers between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, there were the EUs demands, and on the other, promises to the voters, which could demand change of government if the promises were not kept. So staking on developing cooperation with one of the worlds biggest economies, which to a large extent determines trends in global trade, is a good decision on the part of the Italian leader, one that can give a powerful impetus to the national economy.

Chinas infrastructure initiative is a train Italy cannot miss, said Italian Economy and Finance Minister Giovanni Tria.

There is another nuance that requires attention here. Italy is one of the few European countries that have recently been trying to pursue independent economic policies. Despite the tough and sometimes hostile relations between the US and Russia or the US and China, Italy does not intend to quarrel with any of the leading global powers. This is proven by its developing economic relations with Russia and repeated statements of Italian government officials in favor of lifting the EUs anti-Russian sanctions. Now the support of Xi Jinpings initiative is yet another proof of Italys independent economic course.

Talking about the results of the Chinese leaders extensive visit to Italy and France and his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, European interlocutors have acknowledged that China has become one of the key global powers, and the EU is ready to strategically assess Chinas growing influence and to consistently strengthen European-Chinese relations.