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China secretly purchased a stake in an Italian drone manufacturer, and now Italy is preparing to expel it
Italy, in recent times, has emerged as a country that is in no mood to take Chinese excesses lying down. To be fair, China was able to keep its wrongdoings hidden for at least three years. However, now that it has been apprehended, its future in Italy is jeopardized. It has lost the trust of Italy, which was already concerned about Chinese activities in its territory.
Italy, if one looks closely, has been taking positive moves to challenge China. Whether it's Italy's Lavazza Espresso brand entering Chinese markets or Rome pushing all-out to obtain a semiconductor manufacturing site by the end of the year, the nation has been intentionally seeking to harm Beijing's interests for a long time.
This time, China went too far. Consider this scenario: you're working on a product. You own the product and hold copyright to it. However, a robber with considerable muscle manages to unlawfully get your product design and technology. What would your reaction be? You definitely want to hit the thief in the face with a powerful blow. China is the robber, and it began a strategy in 2018 to steal Italy's drone technology. Rome is furious, and it is waging a full-court press against Beijing.
The Dodgy Business
The Wall Street Journal revealed on Monday that two Chinese state corporations seized control of an Italian military drone manufacturer through an offshore company more than three years ago, without the knowledge of Italian or European authorities. Mars (HK) Information Technology, the shell company through which the acquisition was made, purchased a 75 percent ownership in Italian drone producer Alpi Aviation for 4 million euros ($4.6 million) in July 2018. Furthermore, Mars made an extra 1.5 million euro investment in Alpi, which Italian investigators alleged was a substantial overcharge.
Mars was later shown to be a shell corporation tied to two Chinese state-owned companies: China Railway Rolling Stock Corp or CRRC, a big Chinese state-owned rail enterprise, and a Wuxi municipal government-controlled investment organization. As a result, suffice it to say that the CCP struck a deal with Italy to illegally obtain drone technology and commence manufacture in China. According to The Wall Street Journal, Mars (HK) Information Technology has begun the process of transferring Alpi's technology and intellectual property to a new manufacturing facility in China.
China is served with a notice from Italy
According to Reuters, Rome has launched an investigation into the sale of a 75 percent share in Alpi Aviation in 2018, to examine if it should have been reported under the golden power legislation for strategically significant assets. According to three individuals familiar with the issue, the Italian government is drafting a formal notice to be delivered to all parties involved, requesting clarifications. This is a formality that Rome must perform before declaring the deal void in its entirety due to national security concerns.
The Golden Power is the Italian government's specific authority to restrict or prohibit foreign direct investments and business transactions concerning key assets in Italy. Defence, national security, infrastructure, high technology, fintech, insurance, and other industries are among those in which the Italian government can interfere and employ these authorities.
Against China, the Golden Powers had the most power
The Italian government's Golden Powers have been used four times since they were established in 2012. The greatest thing is that Rome used these rights three times to thwart Chinese accords. Two of the powers have been utilized since Drgahi's administration assumed office nine months ago, out of four occasions since 2012. This is an example of how Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi's administration is utilizing its special powers to combat a predatory China.
During the G-7 conference in June, Mario Draghi stated that China's expansionist "Belt and Road plan" will be properly scrutinized. "It's an autocrat that does not stick to international norms and does not have the same vision of the world as the democracies," he added, describing China as "an autocracy that does not adhere to multilateral regulations and does not share the same image of the world as the democracies." We must work together, but we must also be honest about what we do not share or tolerate. Silence, according to the US president, is complicity."
Italy is about to yank China out of yet another murky arrangement that Beijing struck with a corporation that is vital to Rome's national interests. From now on, relations between the two countries are anticipated to deteriorate. More and more countries are waking up to the dangers of simply being associated with Communist China.