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Political values in Italy's China policy: A "constructive approach"


Italy has adopted a “constructive” approach to China that denounces violations of democracy, human dignity, human rights, freedom, equality and the rule of law inside China without jeopardising its economic ties with the Asian giant. Successive Italian governments have tended to pay particular attention to international political values such as multilateralism, open markets and the rules-based trading system, since Italy is heavily dependent on exports and open access to resources for its well-being. The current Italian Government takes a nationalist approach aimed at safeguarding Italy’s small and mediumsized enterprises and Italy’s manufacturing industry from unfair competition, but it also wants to attract Chinese capital and to reposition Italy as the end-point of the Belt and Road Initiative. This could lead the Italian Government to scrap the previous administration’s efforts to limit Chinese investment in strategic sectors. At the same time, the critical views on China that are shared by the majority of the Italian population could seep into the decision-making process of the populist government, tipping the balance in favour of a more principled China policy.

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