By Livinskiy @Adobe Stock

Laurance Norman and Kim Mackrael of The Wall Street Journal are reporting that tensions over Ukraine and trade have grown between the EU and China as leaders set to meet in Beijing. Italy has formally withdrawn from the Belt and Road Initiative, the latest European country to do so. They write:

European Union leaders plan to warn Chinese leader Xi Jinping that the bloc is prepared to impose new sanctions and trade penalties on his nation unless it acts to address economic frictions and rein in exports to Russia of goods used for its war in Ukraine, EU officials said before a summit in Beijing Thursday.

While Washington has moved recently to ease tensions with China, European strains with Beijing have sharpened.

In a sign of that growing gulf, as the EU’s top leaders flew to Beijing on Wednesday, an Italian official said Rome had formally told China that Italy was withdrawing from its Belt and Road Initiative, the latest European country to do so. The U.K. also announced Wednesday its first sanctions against Chinese companies for supporting Russian war-related manufacturing. […]

Italy was careful to avoid embarrassing China by keeping conversations on the initiative largely private. The exit decision was conveyed through a written notification sent through diplomatic channels.

The government of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni made no secret of its desire to withdraw from the agreement, which had drawn criticism from Washington as the West has been trying to contain China’s economic and diplomatic clout.

The Belt and Road memorandum, signed by a previous Rome government in 2019, was set to automatically renew for another four-year term unless Italy formally withdrew before the end of this year.

Read more here.