Despite Beijing’s efforts to split and marginalize Europe via the Belt and Road Initiative, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has maintained her dedication to the continent. Even though the Democratic Party, which leans to the center-left, promised Italy its connection with China would bring substantial advantages, nothing has changed. Instead, China has utilized the accords to demonstrate its dominance and might on the international stage.
Since taking office in October 2022, Meloni has been shifting the balance of power in Europe’s favor, making it more powerful than China. The Chinese Embassy was enraged by her 2022 statements in which she voiced her support for Taiwan. She further diminished the significance of the Chinese connection during her March visit to India, which bolstered ties between Rome and New Delhi.
China will likely retaliate politically and economically against Italy, so Rome shouldn’t relax just yet. For instance, Beijing attempted the same thing with Lithuania after Vilnius withdrew from the 17+1 diplomatic effort in Central and Eastern Europe. Furthermore, Beijing will keep focusing on Italian infrastructure, beginning with acquiring a share in the critical port of Trieste, leaving Italy open to Chinese penetration and increasing pressure on the Atlantic Alliance in the Mediterranean.
For Rome to maintain its stance against Beijing’s ambitions, it needs investments like the $60 million logistics deal from a Polish consortium, which comes from closer to home. If Italy wants these isolated incidents to become the norm, it requires a more comprehensive strategic plan. One such plan is the Mattei Plan, which proposes a collaboration between North and West Africa to establish a Mediterranean community and revive the Baltic-Adriatic corridor.
Italy should join the Thirteen Seas Initiative—a group of thirteen governments collaborating on economic development, connectivity, stability, and job creation—immediately and without delay. The Three Seas Initiative would gain a solid footing in the Mediterranean, and Italy’s ties to the US would be strengthened if the country joined.