Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs Antonio Tajani on Tuesday said that his nation is aligned with the EU and NATO in opposing changes to the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait, after China announced a diplomatic trip to Rome.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday said that Wang Yi (王毅), director of the Chinese Central Foreign Affairs Commission, would be visiting France, Italy, Hungary and Russia from Tuesday to Wednesday next week.
He is also scheduled to speak at the Munich Security Conference in Germany this weekend, which US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is likely to attend.
It is Wang’s first overseas trip since assuming China’s top diplomatic position on Jan. 1, following a decade as minister of foreign affairs from 2013 to last year.
Speaking at a forum at Libera Universita Internazionale degli Studi Sociali in Rome on Tuesday, Tajani confirmed that Wang would visit Italy next week, Italian news site Le Formiche reported.
Tajani then issued a message to China, saying that “the status quo must be maintained in the Indo-Pacific; we are committed to this with NATO and the EU.”
“Taipei must remain as it is,” the report quoted him as saying, an apparent reference to China’s aim of unification with Taiwan.
“There must be no temptation to do elsewhere what Russia has done in Ukraine,” he added.
The issue was also raised in a meeting in December last year between Tajani and US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, when they declared their “opposition to unilateral efforts to change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait,” a US press release at the time said.
In an interview with Le Formiche on Saturday, Italian Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Maria Tripodi said that China “is an issue on the global political agenda.”
“China has progressively tightened its grip on Taiwan through exercises in the neighboring air and sea space,” Tripodi said. “Combined with increasing investments in the Pacific area, penetrating into European ports and the Horn of Africa, all of this cannot but generate concern in neighboring countries.”
Wang likely has two goals in visiting Rome next week, Le Formiche reported.
The first is to set the groundwork for a potential visit to Beijing by Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, who was invited by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Indonesia in November last year, it said.
Wang is also likely to pursue the extension of a Belt and Road Initiative agreement with Italy, which is to expire in March next year, it said.
If no action is taken by either side by the end of this year, the agreement is to renew automatically.
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