“As regards the specific act, we will examine it carefully” Draghi told the G7 referring to the Italy-China Memorandum of Understanding. “The reality is that that agreement is dead,” he says Subsidiary Carlo Pelanda, economist, former advisor to the President of the Republic Francesco Cossiga. In 2019 Italy signed, in great haste and with little transparency, a Memorandum of Understanding with China on the Belt and Road Initiative, the New Silk Road, an ambitious expansionist project of China towards the West. The League was in government and underwent the initiative, M5s and Conte were its main sponsors. But now the scenario is changing rapidly. The G7 and Draghi’s words had the consequence of putting the pro-Chinese in the open. A difficult situation, which the Prime Minister will have to manage without repercussions on the government.
What will happen to the Memorandum after the Biden-Putin meeting?
Formally it will not be changed, but in essence it will be left to die. A choice already started in the second half of 2020 under pressure from Mike Pompeo.
But there are counter-thrusts taking place.
Obvious: China is angry and will demand formal confirmation, accusing Italy of being ambiguous, if not of betraying the agreements.
Second Ants Ettore Sequi, secretary general of the Farnesina, is said to be working on the final document of a bilateral meeting between Draghi and Li Keqiang, scheduled for the coming weeks, before the G20. It reads: “The parties are willing to promote the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding (…) and to strengthen the link of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative”.
This is the formal plan of diplomatic relations, on which Italy must act well and with the utmost attention.
Speaking of the Memorandum, Draghi said to the G7: “as regards the specific act, we will examine it carefully”. It looks like a manifestation of skepticism.
Currently there is a strong Euro-American convergence, and the one between Italy and the United States is even stronger. Draghi made Biden understand that the Memorandum is dead, but that at the same time we cannot argue with China in order not to prejudice Italian companies in the Chinese market. And he got a substantial go-ahead from Biden.
A green light to do what?
To manage the situation, even on a formal level, so that China does not engage in market retaliation. But the Memorandum is dead. Since mid-2020, all apparatuses have expelled China from what is relevant. in Italy more than in France or Germany. The real news is another.
For the first time in a long time, a US administration is in a position to listen and understand the problems of its allies. He did it with Germany and also with us.
Why with Germany?
Merkel will be in Washington on July 15 to clarify several things. Meanwhile, America has suspended sanctions against North Stream 2.
We must avoid Beijing vetoing Italian fashion or discouraging its tourists. So we need time to balance the eventual problem.
What will we do with the Memorandum?
Something very similar to what Germany did with the Cai (Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, ed) between Europe and China, wanted by Merkel. The European parliament has blocked its ratification.
Let’s go back to Italy. He said China is very angry.
Yes and it is a very important fact, because it allows our intelligence to understand the degree of participation of many Italian actors in the pro-Chinese party.
Indeed after the convocation of Grillo at the Chinese embassy, the press blatantly exposed them. Not only D’Alema and Prodi.
There is also another element, not a secondary one. All of this shows that China makes mistakes and as a result can easily be induced to make them. He passes for being a very good chess player, and instead makes one mistake after another.
How can this be explained?
China often has to prioritize factors of internal cohesion or nationalism because there is latent instability in the country. But nervousness leads her to act aggressively and make mistakes. Do we want to intensify our relationships? Let’s do it. Do you want to call this the Belt and Road Initiative? We do this too. How much money do you put in it?
Many. A trillion dollars in infrastructure investments in the signatory countries of the agreement.
No, instead. China no longer has that money because it has to plug its huge financial hole. Obviously, Beijing will insist, will press. This should not make us unprepared nor should we underestimate the mistakes made.
If China gets in the way, it can still make Italy’s G20 presidency fail.
And what about our mistakes?
That signature was the result of frightening amateurism. In fact, France and Germany, which do much more business with China than we do, have not signed anything that went above the political threshold. Don’t ask me why we did it.
It depends on how the “Chinese party” works. There is a first component, business-oriented, which perhaps would not like to see a Communist even on the horizon, but has received privileges on the Chinese market. At the right moment he must be pro China or he loses the business. It also happens abroad, but Berlin and Paris are better at defending their entrepreneurs. Although it may not be enough: this is why Merkel will be in Washington.
Then comes a second non-business component but loyal through personal advantages. Now they are unleashed and are aiming – like China – on Italy’s credibility deficit: we have signed an agreement and now we must respect it.
Prodi, D’Alema and Grillo are the most cited names. But the others?
They are about 120 leading characters. A substantial part is of the Democratic Party, but it is better not to talk about it because in that party there is a pro-Atlantic current that it is not wise to embarrass.
And so he leaves the 5 Stars with the Chinese flag in his hand.
There is a third component, influenced by or attributable to the Vatican, on which I would prefer to abstain because it is an internal question of the Church. It is necessary to consider how difficult it is to maintain an ecclesial organization in China.
Do you mean that the agreement on bishops with Beijing was a mistake?
The rebellion of many Chinese Catholics says so. But that agreement generated an awareness and fueled the underground Catholic Church. This makes us optimistic for a future of democratic rebellion in that country.
It will not be that the current secretary of the Democratic Party, when Draghi came to the government, was called – or mandate – to defend the interests of the party? Chinese, of course.
Sure. Looking at the list of names, one cannot fail to notice a overlapping of the people financed by the French secret services with those in the service of the Chinese. But our intelligence knows all of these things. Now the point is another.
We need to understand whether it is better to flag the Chinese infiltration in Italy or wait for Draghi to act in his own way, behaving with China in the space already agreed with Biden.
In your opinion?
Draghi has his own method of making compromises. It’s a refined approach, remembers Andreotti. Does your dialogue with France mean that we will talk about the Quirinal Treaty again? I do not think so.
Is the government taking risks?
No, but we must avoid a civil war. we need a respite. I trust the ability of Draghi and some of the officials accompanying him to put a little lid on this pot.
Do the greatest risks come from the Democratic Party or from the 5 Stars?
In the 5 Stars there are also competent people who have found themselves in the wrong party. They know it, privately admit it and can’t wait to leave. The problem is the Democratic Party. And Pd means Quirinale.
How will it end?
It will be the EU that will establish the level of trade relations with China, because it has the delegation of the states to do so. We must make people forget a dramatic mistake. Germany will also have to do it; the CAI agreement will be recalibrated, but only after the German elections.
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