Exclusive: China-Italy practical cooperation, visible achievements continue to increase under BRI; narrative of cooperation being 'futile' baseless: envoy
Published: Jul 25, 2023 09:16 PM
China-Italy Photo: VCG

China-Italy Photo: VCG

Practical cooperation and visible achievements within the framework of the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) continue to increase, and the narrative of BRI cooperation being "futile" is baseless, as the facts speak for themselves, Chinese Ambassador to Italy Jia Guide said in an interview with the Global Times.

The comment was made in response to some external voices that question Italy's involvement in the joint initiative, claiming that Italy has not benefited from it.

In an exclusive written interview with the Global Times, Jia said that the memorandum of understanding on cooperation within the framework of the BRI between China and Italy is a mutually beneficial and win-win document.

"After the memorandum was signed, the strategic level of China-Italy relations was further enhanced, and Italy's priority position in China's foreign relations and the importance of China-Italy relations in the context of China-Europe relations were significantly elevated," Jia said.

Thanks to the joint efforts of people from all walks of life in both countries, the practical cooperation and visible achievements within the framework of the BRI continue to increase. The narrative of the cooperation under the initiative being "futile" is baseless, as the facts speak for themselves, the ambassador further noted.

Chinese Ambassador to Italy Jia Guide Photo: Courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in Italy

Chinese Ambassador to Italy Jia Guide Photo: Courtesy of the Chinese Embassy in Italy

As the first among the G7 countries to sign a cooperation agreement with China in jointly building the initiative, Italy has gained conspicuous win-win results thanks to its close ties with China, ranging from trade to manufacturing.

Bilateral trade has hit new highs year after year, and Italy's exports to China have grown rapidly this year.

China is Italy's largest trading partner in Asia, and bilateral trade has hit a new high for three consecutive years.

Italy has signed the largest number of agreements among EU countries on exporting agricultural products to China, and high-quality Italian agricultural and food products such as rice, beef and kiwi have gained rising footholds in the Chinese market.

Italy has signed nine documents with China related to the inspection and quarantine of Italian agricultural products, ranking high among European countries.

The two countries have maintained good cooperation in some high-end manufacturing sectors such as shipbuilding and semiconductors.

Recently, the first large-scale cruise ship jointly built by the two countries has made a successful trial voyage. According to the Chinese Embassy in Italy, the joint construction project for six cruise ships in total is worth nearly $5 billion.

In June, STMicroelectronics, a semiconductor supplier, signed an agreement with a Chinese company to form $3.2 billion semiconductor joint venture.

This year, bilateral trade has become stronger. A survey conducted by the Italy China Council Foundation shows that 84 percent of Italian companies view China-Italy economic and trade relations and development prospects positively.

China and Italy are highly complementary in fields such as the green economy, ecological construction, technological innovation and high-end manufacturing, Jia said, adding there is broad space for further cooperation.

Italy signed the BRI deal in 2019 during the tenure of former prime minister Giuseppe Conte. However, in recent months, there has been ongoing speculation that the government under Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni's administration is contemplating the possibility of reversing that decision.

Italy became the first and, so far, only G7 nation to sign a four-year contract with the initiative, which is set to be renewed automatically for another five years in March 2024 if neither side withdraws by giving three months' notice.

Bloomberg cited sources reporting on Monday that Meloni could notify the US as soon as this week about her plan to pull Italy out of the BRI.

Meloni is set to discuss the issue when she meets US President Joe Biden at the White House later this week, sources said, cautioning that a final decision has not been taken yet.

In responding to media questions regarding this issue, Mao Ning, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a press conference on Tuesday that BRI cooperation began as a new platform for China-Italy practical cooperation, and it has achieved mutually beneficial results in a range of areas.

"It is in both sides' interests to further tap into the potential of our Belt and Road cooperation," Mao said.