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How China can help Italy to keep the Mediterranean safe

Rome and Beijing exploring commercial, technological and strategic synergies

How China can help Italy to keep the Mediterranean safe

Claudia Astarita

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During a recent interview with the Hong Kong daily newspaper South China Morning Post, the Italian Ambassador to China Ettore Sequi revealed that "Italy has called on China to contribute more to the fight against terrorism and help stabilise the Middle East and Northern Africa".

According to HE Sequi, Italy used to be connected to China with the Silk Road. Today, the One Belt One Road project could bring the two nations "back to the past" and facilitate a growing Chinese presence in the Mediterranean, a region where Beijing seems more and more interested to play a stronger role.

As the Ambassador explained, this engagement cannot be further delayed. Indeed, with the One Belt One Road project aimed at boosting the daily flows of Chinese trade, investment and people to Europe, it will become compulsory for Beijing to contribute keeping the area safe.

Italy is not the only country that is trying to convince China to help Europe manage is security and migration emergency. From this perspective, Germany is another active nation. China has a strong tradition of investing in development and infrastructures, which are crucial to maintain stability. However, according to Ambassador Sequi Beijing could also contribute in managing migration flows.

It is not yet clear how much China is interested in sharing European migration burden at a time in which it has very serious problem to face both at home and in Asia. What Italy hopes is that highlighting how much the country could contribute to revamp the Chinese economy Beijing may decide to strengthen its connection to Italy.

As the South China Morning Post reminded, "During Li Keqiang's visit to Europe in 2014, the prime ministers of the two countries chose five focus sectors of cooperation for the next three years: environment protection and green energy, agriculture and food safety, sustainable urbanisation, medicine and health, and aviation and aerospace".

As HE Sequi highlighted, "Italy is more than fashion and food". Indeed, the country can offer a lot in terms of technological upgrade and innovation, and it can assist for planned structural reforms of service industries, which is exactly what China is looking for now.

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