Editor's Note: President Xi Jinping is paying a visit to Italy, Monaco and France from March 21 to 26. During his visit to Italy, Beijing and Rome are likely to sign a memorandum of cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative despite the efforts of the United States to prevent Italy from joining the BRI. What has prompted Italy to join the initiative? And will other major European countries follow Italy's example to join the initiative? Five experts share their views on the issue with China Daily's Liu Jianna. Excerpts follow:
New cooperation model needs to be established
Su Hao, a professor of international relations at China Foreign Affairs University
China has been cooperating mainly with developing countries in Asia and Africa under the Belt and Road Initiative framework. But if China and Italy were to sign a memorandum of cooperation, China would also be working with a developed economy in Southern Europe, as well as a G7 member and an important link in the ancient Silk Road, to promote the Belt and Road Initiative.
Hit by several crises including the debt and refugee crises, European countries are seeking new growth points. Confronted with development bottlenecks and a rising unemployment rate, Italy hopes to expedite its economic recovery and achieve growth by collaborating with China in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Italy's own development needs and national interests have prompted it to edge closer to China despite the US' opposition. But given there is no existing model for cooperation between China and a developed country under the BRI framework, the two sides have to work out a new collaboration model based on their respective national conditions, in order to realize win-win results. For instance, Italy's famous fashion industry could establish a win-win working relationship with China's textile industry.
Xi's visit to Italy is expected to help European countries better understand the Belt and Road Initiative and its aim of promoting interconnectivity and economic development across Asia, Europe and Africa. Hopefully, more European countries will follow in the footsteps of Italy to join the Belt and Road Initiative.
By joining BRI, Italy will improve bilateral ties
Ding Chun, director of the Centre for European Studies, Fudan University
If signed, the memorandum of cooperation between China and Italy would certainly help promote cooperation between the two countries, which have had a comprehensive strategic partnership for 15 years.
In the near term, cooperation with China may help boost Italy's economy, improve Italian people's livelihoods, and stabilize the eurozone's financial situation, which will enable Rome to reduce its public debt ratio and staggering financial deficit.
In the long run, deepening collaboration under the BRI framework may expand the export of Italy's agricultural and food products, technologies, medicines, tourism, cultural and other products to China and other regions. And improving the infrastructure at Italian ports along the Mediterranean and interconnectivity between land and sea may significantly promote trade between Italy and other European countries.