Unemployment is high in Taranto, Italy, and the port there has been steep in recent years due to declining ship traffic. But this summer, the ship "Nicolas" docked there and it was thought to be good news.
"This is the turning point and now the arrival of cargo ships is starting again," said the harbor master on this occasion, thanking the Turkish company Yilport Holding for its investment in the port. According to the company's plans, the port should become one of the pearls of the Mediterranean.
But Adam was not in Paradise for long, as the Italian media soon began reporting that Yilport Holding was working closely with the Chinese company Cosco and that another Chinese company was trying to seize a large area around the harbor.
The port has now become part of a major political controversy. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo recently visited Italy, spoke to Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio and made it clear that trade with the Chinese is dangerous. This is stated in a statement from the US State Department.
"The Chinese are investing in Italy to secure their own interests."
Pompeo told a news conference that he had warned against cooperating with the Chinese.
"Seriously consider what this means for national security," he said.
The National Security Committee of the Italian Parliament has already requested a risk assessment from the secret service regarding the matter. Raffaele Volpi, chairman of the committee, told La Repubblica that he was concerned that the Chinese were seizing important infrastructure in Italy.
Taranto is the home port of the Italian navy and one of NATO's ports. The naval base is close to the merchant navy that the Chinese are trying to cross.