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Under new Conte gov't, Italy's ties with China expected to remain priority: analyst Release date: 2019-09-10    Source:Xinhua

One of the first Conte government's signature achievements was making Italy the first major industrialized country to have signed a memorandum of understanding with China on the Belt and Road Initiative.

Italy's relations with China are expected to remain a priority of the second government of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, an Italian analyst has said.

If Conte and his ministers win back-to-back parliamentary confidence vote scheduled for September 9 and 10 as expected, Conte, a 55-year-old former University of Florence law professor, will officially take the reins of his second consecutive cabinet.

Paolo Guerrieri, a former member of the Italian Senate who now teaches political economics at Rome's La Sapienza University, the College of Europe in Belgium, and the Paris School of International Affairs, told Xinhua that political relations between the two countries would remain strong.

Ettore Francesco Sequi, Italy's ambassador to Beijing since 2015, will return to Rome as chief of staff of Luigi Di Maio, the new minister of foreign affairs, which is an indication of the importance the new government and Di Maio himself is giving to ties with China.

Luigi Di Maio, a seasoned Italian politician who visited China several times as the deputy prime minister and the minister of economic development in Conte's first government, said earlier that enhancing relations with China is consistent with the policy of "Italy First."

Guerrieri said Italy's recent relations with China could have a knock-on effect across Europe.

"The European Union is still developing its comprehensive strategy for dealing with China and its growing influence," Guerrieri said. "The fact that the new Italian government is expected to be much more pro-European Union than the predecessor government means Italy will have a strong voice as that strategy evolves."

China now is Italy's largest trading partner in Asia, with bilateral trade reaching 42 billion euros (about 46 billion U.S. dollars) in 2017, according to statistics from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Italy, meanwhile, is a key trade and economic partner of China. Equally if not more importantly, Italy also serves as a bridge in the cooperation between China and Europe as a whole.