Italy-China: Draghi is the only one who can make a difference


We interviewed Michele Geraci, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Economic Development in the First Earl Government, an expert in China, where he has lived for a long time and where he is a university professor in the province of Zhejiang, at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC). In these days he will be visiting Xinjiang in order to analyze the economic and social situation of the region, workers’ conditions, with a focus on manufacturing and agricultural industry and meetings with government officials, think tanks, companies.


This text is a translated trascription of the original article avaiable on Wall Street Cina – 

The European Union, in the words of Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell, has in the meantime left no room for misunderstanding, distancing itself from China and, at the same time, siding with the United States.

At the base there would be economic reasons, but also cultural and relational: China has reduced the internal political space, has increased social repression (Xinjian, Tibet, Honk Kong and the Taiwan Strait specifically). Moreover, they always observe Ursula von der Leyen and Josep Borrell, “The reality is that the European Union and China have fundamental differences regarding their economic and management systems of globalization, democracy and human rights, and how to deal with other countries”.

Given that you are very familiar with the two realities, how do you see this position of the EU in its political and economic relations with China?

The European Union has great difficulties. Today, it seeks to find space within a system of the 27 countries, often over-taking what are the agreements of the Treaty of Lisbon, which is ultimately the Treaty governing both the functioning of the Union and the competences between the Union and the Member States. The EU does not have competence to make foreign policy therefore all the declarations of the President of the Commission on the relations between European Union, China and United States are purely theoretical and philosophical exercises aimed more to put pressure on the Member States or to show them the way, that then they and only they, the sovereign countries, will have to choose whether to follow or not; but it has no legal value and this also applies to the investment agreement.

This position is taken a few months after the trade agreement between the EU and China. What are the economic and commercial impacts?

Here too, the European Union has no competence over investment policies but only commercial ones. Each country decides who to invest in its territory, how to exercise control over its strategic assets, strategic industries, national security, and that is why Italy, having a strong Golden Power that resides in the hands of the competent Council President Draghi, is almost indifferent to these investment agreements which, again, are only an invitation to Member States to adapt but nothing more, no value; just an invitation that some countries ignore.

The differences in the political, economic and social system between the West and China will remain forever, because China will never change its system as it works for them. We do not want to change ours, even if it does not work, so everyone does at home what he thinks is appropriate. The only thing that is useful to remember is when a type of system has an impact on the international arena and creates difficulties in international competition, here we come to the issue of subsidies, of dumping and of many other problems that are therefore no longer domestic problems that we do not have to deal with but have an international influence so it is right that we discuss it.

Italy was the first nation to enter into economic agreements with China (“The New Silk Road”) but now the countries of the European Union seem to be on the block, all of them unanimous in distancing themselves from China. What advice would you give to Draghi in such an uncomfortable and difficult situation? From your point of view, how would it be better to behave?

Draghi is in a difficult position: on the one hand he has to lead the country in this difficult time of crisis and, on the other, he has to worry about the political forces that make up the Italian parliament, now I believe 10 parties, have different interests and visions. In this context, the New Silk Road is for a moment put in the background, since the priority is the people who die every day, the companies that fail and the workers who lose their jobs. But we could actually continue to push on possible projects along the New Silk Road that would indeed give Italians and our companies that outlet that they will not find in domestic demand. If I were in government, I would right now reinvigorate the New Silk Road, in parallel with the other urgent initiatives. Because the New Silk Road does not only mean China, on the contrary. It means all of Asia and all of Africa. I do not understand who can still claim that it is a project not to be pursued with great interest by assessing, as normal, risks and opportunities. But from us, I fear, the interest of the country comes after the interests of the parties, unfortunately. But I hope in Pdc Draghi.



  • Geraci, rapporti con la Cina: ‘UE non ha potere. Spero in Draghi’ –


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