What Xi told Meloni. On Wednesday, the Chinese President met with the Italian Prime Minister – their first official meeting. And according to the latter, who later spoke to the press, he said that “our ability to influence [Russian President Vladimir Putin] is much more limited than people think.”
- “A tactical justification, perhaps, on the day [Mr] Xi backed away from condemning Moscow in the final document of the Twenty, but nonetheless a sign of how complicated relations with the Kremlin have become,” writes La Stampa.
Very closed doors. Only two other Italians were admitted to President Xi’s meeting with PM Meloni, namely her diplomatic advisor Francesco Talò (we interviewed him some time back) and Luca Ferrari, Rome’s ambassador to Beijing, chosen by Ms Meloni as her G7/G20 Sherpa
- PM Meloni also spoke with journalists before, not after, the meeting – most likely owing to the Chinese request for maximum discretion.
- That tendency came across loud and clear in President Xi’s rebuke of Canadian PM Justin Trudeau over alleged leaks to the press.
Revamped dialogue. As we reported on Wednesday, Rome – in concert with Washington – seems to be reassessing its relationship with Beijing. The meeting was “cordial” and all-encompassing; crucially, the relationship envisioned by the two leaders centres on pragmatic trade matters rather than politics.
- Ms Meloni is following in the wake of Mario Draghi’s approach to China. The former PM canned the ambiguity relating to Italy signing to enter China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2019 (under Giuseppe Conte’s government) and implemented a swathe of protectionist measures.
- The new PM has made no secret of her views on human rights, Taiwan and the BRI, which she called “a big mistake” – although she refrained from answering relevant questions before the meeting as a matter of courtesy towards President Xi.
- Beijing, too, has shifted its approach to Italy.