Next week's visit to Italy by Chinese Premier Xi Jinping has nearly everyone jittery. The recent announcement by Five Star Movement Leader Luigi Di Maio that his country is prepared to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with China to be a part of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative has set off a firestorm of response from Donald Trump to Angela Merkel to Di Maio's own coalition partner, Lega leader Matteo Salvini.
But, don't let the wrapper fool you on this. Di Maio's announcement I don't think it 'blindsided' Salvini as this Reuters article suggests, as much as Merkel and Trump.
Even though Geraci is a member of the League, the group appeared blindsided when news of an imminent deal emerged last week, with party chief Matteo Salvini warning against the "colonialization" of Italy by China.
"We are reviewing it," Salvini, who serves as joint deputy prime minister with Di Maio, said on Thursday. "Before allowing someone to invest in the ports of Trieste or Genoa, I would think about it not once but a hundred times."
If anything, this announcement is a smart move by Di Maio. It puts Salvini a bit on the defensive who has been setting the tempo for the coalition recently. Salvini needs Trump on his good side to assist him in taking on Merkel and the European Union.
Merkel is trying to play hardball with Trump over energy issues, as I discussed in a recent article, by defending the Nordstream 2 pipeline from U.S. aggression as change the board state of geopolitics.
It's clear that to me now that Merkel's priorities for what is left of her term in office are as follows:
1. Carve out an independent path for EU foreign policy from the U.S. through the creation of an EU army, obviating the need for NATO and…
2. End U.S. occupation of Germany.
3. Secure Germany's energy future, which also secures its political future as the leader of the European Union, by stitching together the continent with Russian energy arteries — Nordstream 2, Turkstream.
4. Manage the shift away from NATO as a controlling force in Europe's relationship with Russia which doesn't serve Europe's long term purposes.