China welcomes Italy's participation in BRI: foreign ministry

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has received more and more support from the international community and meets the needs of world development, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang told a regular briefing on Monday, adding China welcomes Italy's active participation in the BRI. 

While answering a question about Italy potentially joining the BRI, Lu said expanding cooperation is in the interests of the two sides. 

Cooperation between China and Italy in recent years has achieved fruitful results in various fields and provided tangible contributions to both sides' development, Lu said. 

Italy has planned to sign a memorandum of understanding to become part of the BRI, the first G7 country to formally endorse it, the Financial Times (FT) reported last Tuesday. 

"The negotiation is not over yet, but it is possible that it will be concluded in time for Xi's visit," reported the FT, quoting Michele Geraci, undersecretary in the Italian economic development ministry. 

File photo of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. /Reuters Photo

File photo of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. /Reuters Photo

Last Friday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he is willing to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) in late April in Beijing. 

Conte said he sees the BRI as "an opportunity for Italy and for Europe," and that his coalition government is "studying and analyzing" the implications of formally endorsing the initiative. 

China was the starting point of the ancient Silk Road, and Italy was the destination. Now Italy is also the intersection of the land and sea route of the modern Silk Road. 

According to Luo Hongbo, a senior researcher at the Institute of European Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, if Italy joins the BRI in the near future, it would be a win-win choice for both countries. 

File photo of Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio. /VCG Photo

File photo of Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio. /VCG Photo

Earlier in August 2018, the Italian government set up a “China Task Force,” a team aiming to boost trade and investment relations with China. Luigi Di Maio, Italy's deputy prime minister, told CGTN that the objective of this team is to realize the BRI. 

In December 2017, China's foreign ministry called on Italy to add fresh vitality to its role as a crucial hub on the new Silk Road, and called for more efforts to integrate "Made in China 2025" with Italy's "Industry 4.0," and to connect China's "Internet plus" strategy with Italy's technological innovation plans.

(Cover: Street view of Venice, Italy. /VCG Photo)