China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been making significant inroads in Europe despite repeated U.S. warnings to its European allies. On March 8, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirmed that Italy would become the 17th European country to join BRI. According to Conte, Italy will sign a memorandum of understanding during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to Rome later this week. Italy’s ANSA news agency reported that Luxembourg is also in advanced negotiations with China to sign a similar agreement.
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Washington was quick to respond to Conte’s remarks. The day after his announcement, the U.S. National Security Council took to Twitter to express its displeasure, warning that Italy’s participation in BRI would “bring no benefits to the Italian people.” The Italian government is also facing backlash from its own foreign policy establishment, at least some of which is aghast at the potential sale of the cornerstone of Italian strategy since 194