Milan — Italy wants to join China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure plan to boost Italian exports, not to strengthen political ties with the Asian giant, deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio says. Di Maio was responding to US concerns at the prospect of a key ally supporting the Chinese initiative. A White House spokesperson, Garrett Marquis, on Saturday called the Chinese venture a “vanity project” that Italy should steer clear of. The “Belt and Road Initiative” championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, aims to link China by sea and land with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, through an infrastructure network on the lines of the ancient Silk Road. Aside from boosting trade and investment, Xi aims to advance exchanges in areas such as science, technology and culture. "I have heard the alarm being raised from the US yesterday about this deal on the Silk Road that Italy wants to sign with China," Di Maio said. “Let it be clear that, if we are looking at t...

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