Italy has become the first nation in the world to sign China's Global Investment Program, which has caused concern among the Western Allies in Italy.
A total of 29 deals worth $ 2.5 billion ($ 2.8 billion) were signed during Chinese President Xi's visit to Jinping in Rome.
The project is considered as a new Silk Road, which, like the old trade route China, is supposed to connect with Europe.
Italy's allies in the European Union and the United States express concern over China's growing growth influence.
What is the Chinese project about?
The new Silk Road has a different name ̵
It has already financed trains, roads and ports, with Chinese construction companies receiving lucrative contracts to connect ports and cities, funded by loans from Chinese banks.
The indebtedness of the African and South Asian nations to China has created concern in the West and among the citizens – but roads and railroads were built that would otherwise not exist:
- In Uganda, Chinese millions built 50 km (30 miles) Road to International Airport
- In Tanzania, a small coastal town can become the continent's largest port
- Also in Europe, Chinese companies managed to buy 51% of the port authority in the port of Piraeus near Athens in 2016 after years of economic crisis in Greece.
Which projects were signed in Rome?
Commissioned by Italy Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, chairman of the populist Five Star Movement, signed the Memorandum of Intent, which officially formally subscribes to Italy's Economic Silk Road and the Silk Road Initiative for the 21st Century. Century makes.
The Ministers subsequently signed energy, finance and agricultural agreements, followed by the heads of major Italian gas and energy companies and engineering firms, which are to be offered entry into the Chinese market.
China's communications and construction company will gain access to the port of Trieste to connect with Central and Eastern Europe. The Chinese will also be involved in the development of the port of Genoa.
What is there for Italy?
Italy is the first member of the G7 group of developed countries to accept funds offered by China.
It is one of the 10 largest economies in the world – and yet Rome is in a curious situation.
The collapse of the Genoa Bridge in August killed dozens of people and made Italy's decaying infrastructure an important political issue for the first time in decades.
And Italy's economy is far from booming.
The country went into recession By the end of 2018, public debt is among the highest in the eurozone. The populist government of Italy came to power in June 2018 with heavy spending, but had to tie it back after a dispute with the EU.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte welcomed the agreements.
"Italy and China should build more efficient relationships and build better relationships," Conte said at the signing ceremony.
There is rejection in his government. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, who heads the right-wing league, was strikingly absent at all official ceremonies.
Mr Salvini has warned that he does not want foreign companies to "colonize" Italy.
"Before allowing anyone to invest in the ports of Trieste or Genoa, I would not even think about it a hundred times, Salvini warned.
What is in it for China?  Italy's move is "largely symbolic," says Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History at Oxford University and writer at The Silk Roads
But even if Rome admits the BRI, it's worth exploring "has value for Beijing"
"It adds luster to the existing system and also shows that China has a has an important global role. "
" The seemingly innocuous move comes at a sensitive time for Europe and the European Union, where suddenly a major role is shaking not only about China, but also about how Europe or The EU should adapt and respond to a changing world, "said Professor Frankopan to the BBC.
"But it's about more," he added. "If investments do not come from China for the construction of ports, refineries, railroads, etc., where do they come from?"
- Dealing with China's Growing Power
The "Made in Italy" label stands for quality worldwide and is legally protected for products that are "mainly" processed in Italy.
In recent years, Chinese factories with Chinese labor in Italy have questioned this quality feature.
Better connections for cheap raw materials from China – and the return of finished products from Italy – could exaggerate this practice.
The agreements signed in Rome raise the question of whether Chinese company Huawei should be allowed to build up important communications networks – after the United States voiced its concern, they could help Beijing spy on the West ,
That was not part of the negotiations in Italy.
But just over a week before the deal was due To be signed, the European Commission issued a joint statement on "China's growing economic power and political influence" and the need for "reviewing" relations.
When President Xi traveled to Rome, Brussels EU politicians considered how to maintain relations with China
"Our goal is to achieve a balance that ensures fair competition and equal market access," said the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. Garrett Marquis, spokesman for the US National Security Council, pointed out that Italy is an important economy and "China 's vanity infrastructure project The contract they have signed is not an international treaty and is not binding.
Other European countries are already accepting Chinese investments through the so-called Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. This is the United Kingdom, which signed first.  "And then France, Germany, Italy and all the others gradually followed," says Italian State Secretary for Trade and Investment, Michele Geraci.
He also believes that Italy's neighbors will soon follow the "Belt and Road" initiative.
"I really think that this time, Italy is actually leading Europe – which, in my opinion, is a surprise to most," he added.