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Many Italian parties are against China’s Belt and Road Initiative, says foreign minister

Many Italian parties are against Rome’s participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Antonio Tajani, the country’s foreign minister, said on Saturday ahead of a critical decision on whether to abandon the project.

Rome sent shockwaves across the Western world in 2019 when it joined the BRI, China’s massive investment and infrastructure plan aimed at increasing its influence around the world. At the time, analysts said that by joining the project, Italy was undermining EuropeThe ability to deal with Beijing.

When the former head of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, took power in Rome in 2021, he froze the deal. Two years later and with a new government in power, Italy is now reconsidering its ties with China.

“The Italian message is very clear: we want to work with China, we want to be present in the Chinese market, we are ready for Chinese investment, but as I said, it is important to have a level playing field,” Tajani said. , who also serves as Italy’s deputy prime minister.

Italy is due to announce in the coming months whether it will officially end its involvement in the historic Chinese project.

Under the agreement both parties can terminate the agreement after five years; otherwise, the partnership is extended for another five years. Italy has until the end of 2023 to inform China if it wants to end the agreement.

Tajani will visit China in the coming days. Speaking to CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick at the Ambrosetti Forum, he said the journey won’t be difficult, but “it’s important to us.”

Tajani, however, did not confirm any specific time when Italy will release its final decision on whether to continue in the Belt and Road Initiative.

“The Italian Parliament is controlling the situation. At this moment the countries without the Belt and Road Initiative, the European countries, are working better than us. For this, Italy will decide whether or not to stay in the “Belt and Road” Route. In Parliament, many parties are against it,” he said.

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