Making political deals on chips with Taiwan secessionists will harm Italy’s interests
Published: Apr 20, 2023 09:18 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Italian officials hinted in private talks with authorities on the island of Taiwan that they may be willing to pull out of a pact with the Chinese mainland as they sought to secure help with semiconductors from Taiwan island, adding that Italy may scrap its participation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing anonymous sources.

The veracity of the report cannot be determined yet, as there are no official statements from the Italian government. But what the report suggests is very serious, given the massive cooperation between the Chinese mainland and Italy under various deals and initiatives, including the BRI. If the report is accurate, certain Italian officials are falling into a trap laid by secessionist authorities in Taiwan and anti-China forces in the West, who are using Taiwan's semiconductor industry as bait to make political deals with countries like Italy.

It is normal that countries like Italy try to pursue cooperation with the semiconductor industry in Taiwan within the parameters of the one-China principle. But making political deals with Taiwan island's secessionists at the cost of giving up economic and trade cooperation with the Chinese mainland will only harm Italy's own interests. The profound ramification of such a move on Italy's economy is hard to imagine.  

Italy and Taiwan island have recently increased interactions to promote economic and trade cooperation. Taiwan island's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) authorities have just announced a plan for a new office in Milan this summer to boost trade with Italy. It should be pointed out that normal commercial cooperation, as long as it is in line with the one-China principle, is understandable. 

However, Italian politicians must remain sober about a risk: what the secessionist DPP authorities are offering them is more like a trap than an opportunity. It would be unimaginable for Italy to give up the mutually beneficial and promising economic and trade cooperation with the Chinese mainland. The damage will be irreparable no matter how many chip deals it signs with secessionist authorities in Taiwan. Italian policymakers should be clear-eyed about this. 

In 2019, Italy became the first developed country to join the BRI. Driven by BRI cooperation, bilateral trade between the Chinese mainland and Italy has continued to hit record highs for three consecutive years. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, bilateral trade in 2020 exceeded $55.1 billion, hitting a record high. In 2022, bilateral trade reached $77.88 billion, up 5.4 percent year-on-year. China's surging imports from Italy has provided strong support for the Italian economy, helping it withstand shocks such as the pandemic, the energy crisis and financial turmoil.

If certain anti-China politicians in Italy choose to push for undermining promising cooperation with the Chinese mainland, the Italian economy is expected to suffer huge losses. However, although some Western media report that such voices have emerged in Italy, it is believed that such petty tricks will not affect the further development of China-Italy pragmatic economic and trade cooperation.

China and Italy are scheduled to re-sign the BRI MoU in 2024. Although some anti-China Western media have hyped Italy's hesitation on this issue, it is believed that Italy has the ability and wisdom to make the right choice in line with the historical trend and to deepen and expand mutually beneficial cooperation with China, not the other way around.

The secessionist DPP authorities in Taiwan and their Western backers have been sparing no efforts to use the semiconductor industry on the island as political capital to pressure other countries to make political deals, in a sinister attempt to undermine the economic and trade cooperation between the Chinese mainland and other countries like Italy. But as the historical trend continues to show, this will be a complete waste of time at the expense of the local industry and the local economy.  Their plots are going nowhere.

After Honduras on March 26 signed a joint communiqué with Beijing on the establishment of diplomatic relations shortly after it announced to sever so-called "diplomatic" relations with the Taiwan island, the island has been left with only 13 "diplomatic allies" across the world, fully demonstrating that the path for the Taiwan secessionists is reaching its dead end. 

Certain anti-China politicians in the West may be tempted to take the bait and make empty talks about supporting the secessionist DPP authorities. But in reality, no one will change the fact that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and no country, including the US and other Western countries, will be able to completely decouple from the Chinese economy. 

Such talks neither shake the solid foundation of the current economic and trade cooperation between the Chinese mainland and Italy, nor can it buy more breathing time for DPP secessionists.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.