Attending the first Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in 2017, the previous Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni stopped short of signing up to join the global mega-project, as no other European Union country had shown interest. However, a lot has changed since Italy’s populist right-wing government took over last June, and Rome has formally announced that it will participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) after three high-level visits to Beijing
As a country that connects Europe and Africa, Italy is on its way to becoming a prime BRI destination, which will decisively put the contemporary version of the old Silk Road on the ground. In 2018, the EU announced an exclusive mega-project of its own, the “EU Corridor,” as a suitable alternative. Setting aside this option, Rome is determined to participate in the Chinese mega-project instead. Engaged in preliminary negotiations, Rome is about to clinch a deal with Beijing and sign some memoranda of understanding during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Italy at the end of March.