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Chinese ideology onstage at Italy’s National Research Council

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A conference hosted by Italy’s leading public research body took up the concepts enunciated by the Beijing government, which is determined to rewrite international rules. Ambassador Jia, in attendance, called to oppose “power politics” but forgot to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine

A CNR conference… Recently, China’s Ambassador to Italy, Jia Guide, attended “A new international order for a shared future of humanity,” a conference organised by the Institute of International Legal Studies. That’s a division of the National Research Council (CNR), Italy’s main public research body, subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Education, University and Research.

… and Chinaspeak? However, the CNR conference also proved a perfect stage for China’s ambassador, who’s also a jurist, to recount the Chinese vision of the world. Beijing “never pursues hegemony or expansion or spheres of influence,” he explained, without dwelling on Taiwan.

  • As for the “Ukrainian crisis,” he claimed that China “is willing to work with Italy to support all parties to conduct dialogue on an equal footing” – all without acknowledging the existence of an invader and Russia’s responsibilities – and called to oppose “hegemonism and power politics.”

The BRI chapter. The ambassador’s speech did not fail to reference the Belt and Road initiative, which he dubbed a symbol of “friendly cooperation” between Rome and Beijing. The Memorandum of Understanding that marked Rome’s entrance into the global influence project “supplemented economic and trade cooperation and cultural exchanges between the two countries,” stressed the diplomat.

  • His main mission as China’s new ambassador is the renewal of that MoU, which is set to auto-renew unless one of the parties takes a step back. Giorgia Meloni’s government is still assessing this matter.

Tracing it back to the source. Only four days before the CNR conference, at the opening of the China Development Forum 2023, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang delivered a speech with an eerily similar title: “A new path towards a community with a shared future of humanity.”

  • That, in turn, was informed by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s new foreign policy doctrine in 24 (Chinese) characters, which ends with “dare to fight” – a slogan indicating China’s desire to “feel that we are a force in international affairs on par with our growing national power.” as Wu Xinbo, dean of the Institute of International Studies at Shanghai’s Fudan University, told the Financial Times.
  • “The Chinese Communist Party’s clear goal is a systemic change of the international order, with China at its centre,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last week, noting China’s support for Russia in the Ukraine war, the BRI and growing assertiveness in multilateral bodies.

Amplification by means of prestige. It is common practice for regimes such as China to exploit the institutions of Western countries to propagate their positions and gain accreditation. And by hosting the conference, the CNR – among Nature Index’s top ten government institutions in 2018 – ended up doing just that.

  • Former Justice Minister Oliviero Diliberto also lent his stature by offering opening greetings via a letter. He is Dean of the Law Faculty at La Sapienza University in Rome and a Professor of Roman Law at Wuhan University, and was the editor of the Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China.
  • As a guest on China Central Radio and Television, he also praised Xi Jinping’s country and called the BRI “an extraordinary global initiative” – all things he repeated in his message to the CNR.

(Image: Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Italy via Facebook)

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