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Italy wards off Chinese bid for Turin’s airport

The regional government of Piedmont did not consider an expression of interest from China’s State-controlled CERIECO because of the risks involved. It’s the latest failed Chinese attempt to seize resources that Italian institutions deem strategic

Piedmont stop China from acquiring Aeritalia. The northern region’s administration said it would not consider the Chinese company China-East Resources Import & Export Co’s expressed intention to acquire Aeritalia, an international tourist airport in the proximity of Turin, together with a 50,000-square-metre lot in the area. 

  • The Chinese government controls CERIECO, and the Bank of China would have guaranteed the economic operations proposed in the offer.
  • According to some Italian newspapers, China would have employed the newly-acquired airport to develop drones and new-generation aircraft.
  • However, “strategic infrastructure such as the Turin airport should not be alienated,” said Fabrizio Ricca, Regional Councillor for Public Participation, as reported by Corriere della Sera. “It is a public interest infrastructure we do not intend to sell; therefore, we will not meet the Chinese delegation.”

It’s about de-risking from China. “Even if intended for tourist traffic, an airport is too strategic an infrastructure to sell to an entity that is a direct emanation of a foreign power and its interests,” said Alberto Preioni, leader of the League in the regional government. “The risks and implications of such a move are evident,” he added, highlighting China’s “ambiguous, if not hostile, stance towards the West.”

  • The politician proposed a regional version of the government’s Golden Power – used to shield strategic assets from foreign interferences – stressing how the allure of immediate earnings risks compromising national security and sovereignty in the longer term.

The last in a long series. The failed Aeritalia acquisition is not the first Chinese attempt to take control of strategic infrastructures in the Piedmont region, amid wider attention towards Beijing’s influence on Italian companies.

  • In March 2023, the Italian government blocked the concession (under a non-exclusive licence) of a software library from the Novara-based Robox to Efort Intelligent Equipment, a robotics firm linked to Beijing.
  • In June 2022, the previous Italian government had already employed its Golden Power to block a technology transfer deal involving Robox and Efort.

Image: Facebook/Aero Club Torino ASD – Aeroporto di Torino Aeritalia

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