Italy's accession to the 'One Track, One Route' project will dominate the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Europe from March 21 to 26, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced today.
XiJinping will also be in Monaco and France, he added.
The Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has already confirmed the signing of a memorandum of understanding in support of that initiative, which embodies Beijing's new internationalist vocation. Washington and Brussels have already voiced their opposition.
The project aims to connect Southeast Asia, Central Asia, Africa and Europe, and is seen as a Chinese version of the 'Marshall Plan', launched by the United States after World War II, allowing Washington to create the alliance foundation, which lasts until today.
Portugal is, to date, one of the few EU countries to formally support the project.
Xi's last visit to Europe was to Lisbon last December. And in the next month the Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, will participate in Beijing in the 2nd edition of the Forum 'One Track, One Route'.
The initiative has, however, raised disagreements with the Western powers, who see a new world order shaped by a strategic rival with a profoundly different political system and values.
The White House has already stated that the inclusion of Italy in the Chinese plans will not help the country economically and could significantly harm the international image.
"We see [A track, A Route] as an initiative Made by China and for China", said White House National Security Council spokesman Garrett Marquis.
"We are skeptical that the support of the Italian Government will bring any sustainable economic benefits to the Italian people and this could end up undermining Italy's long-term global reputation," he said.
State banks and other institutions in China are providing huge loans for projects under the giant infrastructure plan, which includes the construction of ports, airports, motorways or railway lines along the various continents.
The United States have pointed to a problematic increase in indebtedness, which in some cases puts countries in an unsustainable financial situation, allowing Beijing to move forward with its geopolitical interests.
In Sri Lanka, a deep-water port built by a Chinese state-owned company strategically located in the Indian Ocean ended up being an unbearable expense for the country, which had to surrender the infrastructure and land near China concession for a period of 99 years.
Germany and France have also pressed for more stringent selection criteria for Chinese investment in the continent.
Lisbon wants to include an Atlantic route in the Chinese project, which would allow the port of Sines to connect routes from the Far East to the Atlantic Ocean, benefiting from the widening of the Panama Canal.