In an interview with Il Sole 24 published on Thursday, Italian economic undersecretary Michele Geraci shed some more light on Italy’s efforts to attract Chinese money.
While mentioning that he will be talking to Chinese executives and officials about investments in infrastructure, ports and technology, he said Italy’s flag carrier, Alitalia, was high on the list.
“We’ll see. It would be very important,” he said of a potential deal, adding: “The company can be an interesting solution for the Chinese because Italy would make them a hub for the Mediterranean, Africa, South America.”
Geraci said his discussions in China were separate from Finance Minister Giovanni Tria’s efforts to strengthen ties with Beijing.
“I would like to say that they are two parallel missions but with different objectives. It is important, however, that with regard to China, Italy appears determined to have a systemic approach,” he said, adding that he has lived in China for many years.
Tria has also lived in China, speaks the language and has maintained contacts there. It was reported in July that he was seeking to get China to buy Italian debt.
Geraci stressed the opportunities China brings to the table, despite the criticisms of Beijing’s industrial policy and its overseas investment model.
“Beijing has launched strategic projects such as the New Silk Road and Made in China 2025, which for Italy certainly present risks – as a manufacturing competitor – but also of unmissable opportunities,” Geraci stressed.