Italy’s relationship with China illustrates the sturdy push and pull that the world’s second largest economic system exerts on international geopolitics.

On the one hand, Italy has made clear that it does not want to be dependent on China. Final yr, Milan made the high-profile resolution to drop out of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), months after Rome referred to as its 2019 resolution to hitch Beijing’s flagship transcontinental undertaking an “improvised and heinous act.”

But whilst Italy has sought to distance itself from China in some respects, it is usually turning to Chinese companies for investment in key areas of its economic system. The dueling aims spotlight the complexities of de-risking from China, and point out that efforts to scale back dependence on Beijing would require strategic selections and at occasions troublesome tradeoffs.

Ramping up Italy’s automotive output

Take automotives. Rome is reportedly in talks with China’s Chery Auto about having the state-owned carmaker to arrange manufacturing in Italy. The talks are a part of the Italian authorities’s efforts to spice up nationwide automotive manufacturing to 1.3 million autos a yr from beneath 800,000 in 2023. Italy has additionally approached Chinese language EV large BYD, Reuters reviews.

Establishing manufacturing in Italy can be an enormous win for China’s auto business, which sees Italy as a strategically positioned bridgehead from which to push additional into European, African, and Center Japanese markets. Elsewhere, Chinese language EV and battery makers are already establishing footholds in Hungary, one other EU and NATO member seen as a key hub for Chinese language manufacturers’ international enterprise growth.

Stellantis bets on China

In the meantime, Stellantis is betting large on China. The Franco-Italian automaker, fashioned from a 2021 merger of Fiat Chrysler and PSA Group, final yr acquired a minority stake in Chinese language EV maker Leapmotor. The Stellantis-Leapmotor tie-up additionally features a three way partnership, just approved by Beijing this month, that may enable Stellantis to fabricate and promote Leapmotor automobiles exterior China.

Now, Stellantis is mulling producing as much as 150,000 low-cost Leapmotor EVs in a historic Fiat plant, in accordance with Automotive Information Europe — a transfer symbolic of the rise of Chinese language EV upstarts and the decline of legacy western carmakers. And whereas cranking out Leapmotor EVs in Italy would serve Rome’s aim of elevating nationwide automotive manufacturing, it additionally means larger reliance on Chinese language expertise.

For Italy, leaving Beijing’s BRI was the simple half. Now for the troublesome half: figuring what sort of relationship it desires with China, and on what phrases.


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