Spooks warns Conte over security risks of China BRI deal

Giuseppe Conte and Lorenzo Guerini

ROME – The Parliamentary Committee for the Intelligence and Security Services and for State Secret Control (COPASIR) raised doubts with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte over the possible safety ramifications of endorsing China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the infrastructure project seeking to create a Silk Road for the modern world.

 Italy is set to sign the Memorandum on the Silk Road during General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Xi Jinping's visit to Rome, which has become the latest subject of dispute between the League and the Five Star Movement (M5S), with the former now being against the deal, and the latter firmly in favour of it insisting, "We have received assurances.”

 The security committee COPASIR is, however, concerned that the deal could present security risks for Italy given that infrastructure, telecoms, finance are all in the package to be agreed with China.

 During a hearing with Conte Tuesday, members of the committee voiced a series of doubts relating to national security, claiming that the issue cannot be reduced only to commercial agreements.

 Conte downplayed concerns regarding the Memorandum, stating, “We are working to have a future of growth and development and the Memorandum with China is a precious opportunity for our businesses.”

 President of COPASIR Lorenzo Guerini also spoke of the "evaluation of possible risks" in terms of cyber security. The concerns he raised were those which the United States (U.S.) emphasises on a daily basis, which putting their supremacy in Europe at risk.

 “The U.S. have urged Italy to carefully examine the agreements so that that they operate in respect of sovereignty and the law,” said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

 Conte ensured that the government is studying all technical and regulatory tools to guarantee the security of networks by avoiding the risks of the espionage of sensitive data.