Friday 22 March 2019 - 10:26

Marco Polo is back in China – again

By: Pepe Escobar
Story Code : 784115
Marco Polo is back in China – again

China’s semi-official response to the White House, eschewing the usual diplomatic remarks by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came via a scathing, unsigned editorial in the Global Times which accuses Europe of being subjected to Washington’s foreign policy and a transatlantic alliance that is not coherent with its 21st century needs.

Geraci states the obvious; the BRI link will allow more of Made in Italy to be exported to China. As someone who lives between Europe and Asia, and always discusses BRI while in Italy, I see that all the time. The appeal of Made in Italy for the Chinese consumer – food, fashion, art, interior design, not to mention all those Ferraris and Lamborghinis – is unrivaled, even by France. Chinese tourists just can’t get enough of Venice, Florence, Rome – and shopping in Milan.

Washington can build no case lecturing Italians that a BRI link undermines the US side in the trade war – considering that some sort of Xi-Trump deal may be imminent anyway. Brussels for its part is already deeply divided, especially because of France.

German business knows that China is the present and future market of choice; besides, one of the top terminals of the New Silk Road is Duisburg, in the Ruhr valley.
We’re talking about the 11,000 km-long Yuxinou container cargo train connection, active since 2014; Chongqing, Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, all the way to Duisburg. Yuxinou (short for Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe), one of the key corridors of the New Silk Roads, is bound to be upgraded to high-speed rail status in the next decade.

Nearly a year ago I explained in some detail on Asia Times how Italy was already linked to BRI.

Essentially, it’s all about Italy – the number three European nation on naval trade – configured as the top southern European terminal for BRI; the entry door for connectivity routes from east and south while also serving, in a cost-effective manner, scores of destinations west and north.

Absolutely key in the project is the current revamping of the port of Venice – channeling supply lines from China via the Mediterranean towards Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Slovenia and Hungary. Venice is being configured as an alternative superport to Rotterdam and Hamburg – which are also BRI-linked. I called it the Battle of the Superports.

Whatever Washington, the City of London and even Brussels may think about it, this is something that Rome – and Milan – identifies as a matter of Italian national interest. And considering the undying Chinese love affair with all manifestations of Made in Italy, win-win, once again, wins.
Source : Asia Times