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Italy Withdraws From China’s Belt And Road Initiative

Italy Officially Withdraws From China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Italy has formally exited from China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This comes as a blow to President Xi Jinping’s efforts to revive the mega infrastructure project. In 2019, Italy was the only G7 nation to sign up for China’s BRI. The long-anticipated decision has been communicated to Beijing.

Italy Withdraws From China’s Belt And Road Initiative

Why In News

  • Italy Officially Withdraws From China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Italy has formally exited from China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
  • This comes as a blow to President Xi Jinping’s efforts to revive the mega infrastructure project.
  • In 2019, Italy was the only G7 nation to sign up for China’s BRI. The long-anticipated decision has been communicated to Beijing.
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  • Dismissing concerns from the United States that it would enable China to gain control of sensitive technologies and vital infrastructure.
  • “We have every intention of maintaining excellent relations with China even if we are no longer part of the Belt and Road Initiative,” a second government source said.
  • “Other G7 nations have closer relations with China than we do, despite the fact they were never in (the BRI),” he added.
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Why Did Italy Pull Out Of BRI

  • When Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took office last year, she said she wanted to withdraw from the deal, which is modelled on the old Silk Road that linked China to the West, saying it had brought no significant gains to Italy.
  • “I think that we should… improve our cooperation with China on trade, the economy…The tool of the (BRI) … has not produced the results that were expected,” Meloni.
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  • The 2019 accord expires in March 2024 and would have been automatically renewed unless Rome gave at least three months’ written warning that it was pulling out. A government source said Beijing had been given a letter “in recent days” informing the Chinese government that Italy would not be renewing the pact.
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The Controversy Surrounding BRI

  • With the BRI, China has become a major financer of development projects on a par with the World Bank. 
  • Xi’s initiative has built power plants, roads, railroads and ports around the world and deepened China’s ties with Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Mideast.
  • However, the massive loans backing the projects have burdened poorer countries with heavy debts, in some cases leading to China taking control of those assets.
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  • The Chinese government says the initiative has launched more than 3,000 projects and “galvanized” nearly $1 trillion in investment.
  • It has also attracted criticism from the US, India and others that China is engaging in “debt trap” diplomacy: Making loans Beijing knew governments would likely default on, enabling Chinese interests to take control of the assets.
  • An oft-cited example is a port that the Sri Lankan government ended up leasing to a Chinese company for 99 years. Many economists say China did not make the bad loans intentionally.
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The IMEEC

  • The India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC), the MoU for which was signed during the New Delhi G20 Summit, is widely perceived as an initiative launched to counter BRI.
  • The governments of India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France, Germany, Italy, the European Union and the United States signed the MoU.
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  • The IMEEC seeks to bolster communication as well as transport links between Asia and the West.
  • This would see the establishment of rail and shipping networks and more. In this respect, the IMEEC resembles the BRI.
  • The announcement of the IMEEC corridor came at a time when critics have been pointing at opaque pricing of the infrastructure projects undertaken by Chinese companies under BRI.
  • Countries like Malaysia and Myanmar are renegotiating the deals to bring down prices.

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