“China, Italy and COVID-19: Benevolent Support or Strategic Surge?”, Francesca Ghiretti (IAI, Italy)

The bilateral relationship between Italy and China is back in the spotlight one year after the signature of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on China’s Belt and Road Initiative. To date, Italy is the second hardest hit country by COVID-19 pandemic after China. Despite strict measures in place to limit the crisis, numbers keep rising, placing the national health care system under severe strain. In these uncertain times, prompt and decisive responses are needed and expected. One can argue on the circumstances, the hidden motivations and the numbers, but nobody can deny that China has provided prompt and direct support to Italy in its time of need. In return, Italians’ have been grateful, perhaps not as much as some Chinese media would like their home audience to believe, but China’s effort has indeed been appreciated. Following Italy’s request, China sent medical supplies and staff, receiving much media and political attention in Italy.

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