Chinese Premier Li meets Italian counterpart on G20 summit sidelines amid Italy’s plans to pull out of BRI

PTI | Beijing | Updated: 09-09-2023 23:01 IST | Created: 09-09-2023 23:01 IST
Chinese Premier Li meets Italian counterpart on G20 summit sidelines amid Italy’s plans to pull out of BRI

Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Saturday met his Italian counterpart Giorgia Meloni on the sidelines of the G20 summit and discussed bilateral ties amid Italy's plan to withdraw from China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the project "did not bring the results expected".

Deputing for Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit in New Delhi, Li who is ranked number two leader in the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) hierarchy made a case for Meloni to provide a ''fair, just, and non-discriminatory business environment'' for Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in the European country, Chinese official media reported.

The Li-Meloni meeting on the sidelines of the G20 summit assumed significance as the Italian government has openly expressed its desire to quit BRI asserting that Beijing's famed multibillion-dollar infrastructure initiative has not brought any benefits for Rome.

The Italian Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani who visited Beijing on September 5 has spoken critically about the BRI saying that it "did not bring the results we expected" and many Italian parties were against Italy's participation.

However, he has also stated separately that his country wants to "work with China" and is "ready for Chinese investments", according to a previous report by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

China announced plans to hold a third conference of the BRI in Beijing next month.

If Italy pulls out, it will be regarded as an embarrassment for President Xi's multi-billion-dollar pet project which also drew criticism about its debt sustainability, especially from smaller countries.

China unveiled the BRI in 2013 with an aim to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes.

Also much to the disquiet of China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced plans to launch the India-Middle East-Europe economic corridor which includes India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, France, Italy, Germany and the US.

"Today we all have reached an important and historic partnership. In the coming times, it will be a major medium of economic integration between India, West Asia and Europe," Modi said.

The corridor will give a new direction to connectivity and sustainable development of the entire world, Modi said.

Also, Modi on Saturday held bilateral talks with Meloni as the two leaders discussed a range of issues.

''I had an excellent meeting with PM @GiorgiaMeloni. Our talks covered sectors such as trade, commerce, defence, emerging technologies and more. India and Italy will keep working together for global prosperity,'' Modi posted on X.

Li Qiang also met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit.

In his meeting with Ursula, Li said that China and Europe, as two major forces in a multipolar world and two major engines of global development, should come together even closer and step up their cooperation.

He called on both sides to offset uncertainties in the international landscape with the stability of China-Europe relations, official media reported.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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