LONDON: Italy plans to sign a memorandum of understanding to become a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by the end of March, a move which has drawn critical reaction from the United States, the Financial Times reported on Tuesday.
“The negotiation is not over yet, but it is possible that it will be concluded in time for (Chinese President Xi Jinping’s) visit,” the newspaper reported quoting Michele Geraci, the Undersecretary in the Italian economic development ministry.
The United States said the project was unlikely to help Italy economically and could significantly damage the country’s international image, the paper reported.
“We view BRI as a ‘made by China, for China’ initiative,” the report quoted Garrett Marquis, White House National Security Council Spokesperson, as saying.
The Belt and Road initiative, championed by President Xi, aims to link China by sea and land with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, through an infrastructure network on the lines of the old Silk Road.
Aside from boosting trade and investment, Xi aims to boost exchanges in areas such as science, technology, culture and education.
Earlier, China launched cross-border partnerships with several international, non-governmental and civic organisations to create three “green economic belts” in the countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including Pakistan.
Three belts will be created using poplar trees, under a plan released by the China Green Foundation at the Belt and Road International Forum on public cooperation for ecological remediation, which was held in Wuwei, Gansu province, the China Daily reported last year in September.
The belts are expected to start in northwest China and connect countries in central and west Asia, such as Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Turkey.
“Under the plan, a cooperative partnership will be established to encourage more exchanges of experience in developing a green economy in different countries,” said Chen Shuxian, Chairman of the foundation last year.