Italy has officially informed China that it is leaving the Belt and Road government Initiative (BRI), two sources told Reuters, ending months of doubt over Rome's future in the ambitious project.
Italy in 2019 became the first and so far only major Western nation to join the programme, dismissing concerns from the United States that it would enable China to gain control of sensitive technologies and vital infrastructure.
However, when Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took office last year, she said she wanted to withdraw from the deal, which is modelled on the old Silk Road that linked China to the West, saying it had brought no significant gains to Italy.
The 2019 agreement expires in March 2024 and would have been automatically renewed unless Rome gave at least three months' written warning that it was pulling out.
A government source said Beijing had been given a letter "in recent days" informing the Chinese government that Italy would not be renewing the pact.
"We have every intention of maintaining excellent relations with China even if we are no longer part of the Belt and Road Initiative," a second government source said.
"Other G7 nations have closer relations with China than we do, despite the fact they were never in (the BRI)," he added.
Italy will assume the presidency of the G7 in 2024.
Source: TRT World
BDST: 1032 HRS, DEC 07, 2023