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Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had described joining the project as a "serious mistake" by the previous government

Photo: Michele Tantussi / Getty Images

According to media reports, Italy has withdrawn from China's "New Silk Road" investment offensive. According to the AFP news agency, this was confirmed by government circles in Rome. The newspaper »Corriere della Sera« had previously reported that the government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni had sent a corresponding message to Beijing three days ago.

Italy was the only G7 country to join the project, which was launched in 2013. The "New Silk Road" dates back to China's President Xi Jinping and has led to the construction of ports, railways, airports and industrial parks in Asia, Europe, Africa and beyond.

The projects are intended to give China better access to the markets of other countries. Especially in the West, there is often criticism that Beijing deliberately drives poorer countries into dependency. Many of the approximately 150 participating countries have taken on debt, some of them massively.

Italy has been a member since 2019. The withdrawal had been expected for several months. (Read more about how Italy plans to break away from dependence on China.) A decision was needed by the end of the year, because otherwise the membership would have been automatically renewed in March 2024.

Prime Minister speaks of "serious mistake" of her predecessors

Meloni had described the accession decided by the previous government as a "serious mistake". Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani said in September that Italy's participation in the New Silk Road had "not delivered the results we had hoped for."

Nevertheless, the government in Rome wanted to avoid provoking Beijing and risking retaliatory measures against Italian companies. At the G20 summit in Delhi in September, Meloni said that an exit from the project "will not affect relations with China". Government sources have now said that Rome will "keep the channels open for political dialogue."