Italy becomes first G7 nation to join China’s BRI; move makes West anxious
Rome, March 24: While the world remained glued to the Brexit fiasco, another European country has done something unusual. On Saturday, March 23, Italy - one of the members of the G7 group - joined China's controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), defying both the US and European Union (EU) that have reservations over China's grand plan.
Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte, whose government is having issues with the EU, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited the country, to endorse the global scheme for infrastructure-building.
Rome became the first G7 capital to take such a step. Twenty nine separate sections of the MoU were signed by members of the two sides following which the two top leaders shook hands.
Although the MoU is non-binding in nature, the development is set to see greater tension between Rome and its traditional allies and also within Italy's own fragmented coalition government.
China's BRI, which is often accused of promoting 'debt-trap diplomacy' to strengthen Beijing's clout, has been endorsed by Italy at a time when the European nation is facing a heavy public debt and faced recession at the end of last year.