Chinese foreign policy

Further research

published: 12.09.2023

Bruegel First Glance: Can Italy leave the Belt and Road Initiative without a backlash?

Alessia A. Amighini

Alicia Garcia Herrero

Alicia García-Herrero and Alessia A. Amaghini provides an analysis of the Italian decision to exit the Belt and Road Initative (BRI), how Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is trying to balance various concerns in relation to this decision, and what consequences Italy might face on the back of this decision.

In the piece, the authors elaborate on how being part of the BRI has not benefited Italy to any greater extent, the way that Meloni has sought a balanced approach to the BRI exit to fulfil her election promises while not provoking China more than necessary, and why the G20 announcement of the exit might not have been the best if the intent was to go about the exit in a quiet, non-provoking manner.

The authors highlight how past experiences of deteriorating bilateral relationships between China and Western countries are not encouraging for Italy, e.g. the harsh Chinese reaction to when a Taiwan Representative Office opened in Vilnius in November 2021 and when previous Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison endorsed an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19 in early 2020. The question is therefore whether China will see the Italian BRI exit on a similar scale of provocation – and will react in similar manner to these previous cases.

About authors

Alessia A. Amighini

Co-Head of Asia Centre, Senior Associate Research Fellow at ISPI, Associate Professor at the University of Piemonte Orientale

Economist, specializing on China’s international economic relations

Alicia Garcia Herrero

Chief Economist for Asia Pacific at Natixis, Senior Fellow at Bruegel, Non-resident Senior Follow at the East Asian Institute, Adjunct Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Economist specialized in monetary and financial issues in emerging markets, banking crises and resolution strategies, financial development