BEIJING – China’s President Xi Jinping proposed aligning the New Silk Road initiative with a European Union infrastructure investment plan in order to infuse fresh momentum into the country’s ties with the EU, state media reported on Tuesday.
According to the Xinhua news agency, Xi unveiled the proposal during a meeting with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who was in Beijing to attend the Belt and Road Forum that concluded on Monday.
“China hopes Italy can play a positive role within the European Union in order to safeguard the development of China-EU ties,” said Xi.
Xi made reference to the European Commission’s so-called Juncker Plan – an initiative launched by the Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, in a bid to fuel infrastructure development in the region.
Xi highlighted the importance of two-way investment, highlighting the construction of industrial parks, e-commerce and innovation as areas in which to deepen cooperation with Italy.
Gentiloni, in turn, said his country was willing to cooperate in the framework of the New Silk Road project, especially in terms of infrastructure, describing the project as a positive signal for the world economy and international trade.
The Italian premier also expressed his government’s desire to strengthen collaboration with China in the fields of culture, economy, education, public health, technology, and tourism.
The two nations also signed a series of cooperation documents related to agriculture and finance.
The two-day Belt and Road summit in the Chinese capital brought together leaders of 29 countries, as part of an ambitious plan to boost connectivity and trade between Asia, Europe, and Latin America through new infrastructure.