Italy and China will enter a ‘new era’ of cooperation with the so-called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and other projects, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Wednesday ahead of a state visit to Italy.
Italy is set to become the first G7 nation to sign up to the BRI, a massive project that seeks to develop new sea and land routes between China, Eurasia and Africa.
‘With this visit, I wish to draw up, together with Italian leaders, the guidelines of our bilateral relations and lead them into the new era,’ Xi said in an op-ed on Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper.
‘We are ready, together with Italian counterparts, to build together the Belt and Road - the New Silk Road,’ he said, hailing the ‘historical, cultural and geographic’ links between Rome and Beijing.
Xi raised the prospects of Chinese investments in Italy ‘to create a new era for the Belt and Road in sectors like shipping, aviation, aerospace and culture.’ The Chinese leader, who will be in Italy from Thursday to Saturday, paid tribute to Italy's historical heritage from Ancient Rome and the Renaissance.
On a lighter note, he said ‘young Chinese like pizza and tiramisu.’ United States and European Union officials have been wary of Italy's endorsement of the BRI, amid concern about China being allowed to strengthen its foothold in the heart of Europe.
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