China/Italy: No to colonisation on Belt and Road - Salvini

Careful to defend national interests say PM's office sources

(ANSA) - Milan, march 11 - The possible Italo-Chinese memorandum of understanding on the Belt and Road Initiative or 'new Silk Road' cannot lead to the colonisation of Italy, Deputy Premier and League leader Matteo Salvini said Monday, prompting government partner the 5-Star Movement (M5S) to accuse the League of being "split" on the huge project.
    Salvini said Cabinet Secretary Giancarlo Giorgetti had explained that the memorandum must safeguard Italy's strategic interests and "this is the position of the whole League," Salvini said.
    "It it's a matter of helping Italian companies to invest abroad we are willing to talk to anyone," Salvini said.
    "If it's a question of colonising Italy and its firms by foreign powers, no. And the treatment of sensitive data is a national interest. Therefore the issue of telecommunications and the treatment of data cannot be merely economic".
    The League is split on Italy's memorandum of understanding with China on the Belt and Road Initiative but the 5-Star Movement is solidly with businesses on it, M5S sources told ANSA Monday.
    "We're sorry about this internal split because it hurts our businesses and Made in Italy," the sources said.
    "We are working to make sure that companies and business associations urge us to make an effort to bring Italy into the Chinese market and not to submit to it".
    They said League leader Salvini had spoken of colonisation while Industry Undersecretary Michele Geraci, also of the League, "strongly supports the agreement".
    Government sources said Premier Giuseppe Conte was ready to sign the memorandum.
    Sources at the premier's office said Monday "in the collaboration with China, as with any other country, we place the utmost attention on the defence of our national interests, the protection of strategic infrastructure, including that of telecommunications, and therefore cybersecurity. "The text (of the possible memorandum on the Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, or 'Silk Road'), at Italy's request, sets out with great clarity this possible collaboration in the principles, dear to the EU, of transparency and financial and environmental sustainability".
    The sources said the Italian initiative on the BRI, "sets out on an economic and commercial plane, does not redesign the framework of our political relations and the euro Atlantic placement of our country".
    The possible memorandum of understanding between Italy and China on the Belt and Road Initiative, dubbed 'the new Silk Road', does not include any deal on 5G technology, the industry ministry said Monday.
    In February, it said, Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio set up a national evaluation and certification centre to assess "the conditions of safety and security and the absence of vulnerabilities in products, equipment, and systems destined to be used for the functioning of networks, services and strategic infrastructures, as well as all other operators for which a national interest exists".
   

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