US advises Italy to steer clear of China’s new Silk Road… because it’s a National Security issue?

US advises Italy to steer clear of China’s new Silk Road… because it’s a National Security issue?
A US National Security Council official has warned Italy against participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which aims to unite European and Asian markets, claiming it adds ‘legitimacy’ to Beijing’s infrastructure project.

“Italy is a major global economy and great investment destination,” Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the White House’s national security team, stated on Twitter, after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he would welcome Italy's participation in the BRI.

No need for Italian government to lend legitimacy to China’s infrastructure vanity project.

“With all the necessary precautions, Italy’s accession to a new silk route represents an opportunity for our country,” Conte said Friday, noting that participation in China’s trade master plan would be up for discussion when President Xi Jinping visits Italy on March 22. Conte also announced his plans to attend a BRI summit in China in April.

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While China has not yet made any official comment about the BRI discussions, the country’s foreign ministry did note that Italy views the initiative as “a good platform for mutually-beneficial and win-win cooperation.”

The US which is currently engaged in a massive trade dispute with China, views the country as a direct threat to its economic dominance and remains ‘skeptical’ about Xi's initiative, which aims to link China by sea and land with the Middle East, Europe and Africa, via an infrastructure network which will follow the line of the ancient Silk Road.

In what Beijing denounces as yet another example of unfair competition, the US has been accusing China’s biggest telecoms companies, Huawei Technologies Cos Ltd and ZTE Corp, of spying on behalf of the Chinese government, and has been ‘encouraging’ its allies to seek alternatives.

Conte, however, brushed aside US concerns over alleged Chinese security threats, stressing that he does not plan to discriminate against the Asian tech giants, who have expertise in developing the next generation 5G mobile networks. “Huawei and ZTE have been operating for years in Italy in an advantageous fashion,” he stressed.

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