Italy should continue to cooperate with China but the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the massive globe-spanning infrastructure scheme aiming to build a modern-day ‘Silk Road’, has not delivered the expected results, Premier Giorgia Meloni said on Thursday.

“I think we should maintain and improve trade and economic cooperation relations with China, but the Silk Road instrument has not given the expected results,” she told reporters after visiting the artisans’ trade fair Artigiano in Fiera. Earlier Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin described the ‘Silk Road’ project as “a successful initiative and the world’s biggest platform for cooperation between countries” and said “China opposes the denigration and sabotage of the initiative” as well as the “confrontation between blocs”.

Italy formally exited the BRI with a letter delivered to Beijing a few days ago after signing up for it in 2019, the only G7 country to do so.