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Italy, China and Sardinia

Chiara Oldani, University of Viterbo
November 24, 2016

Chinese president Xi Jinping visited Sardinia on November 16, 2016, on his way from Morocco to South America, accompanied by 12 ministers of his government and many entrepreneurs representing more than 20% of Chinese businesses. Sardinia is an Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea well known for its crystalline beaches, its sheep and its centenaries. It relies on tourism: beach, hunting, food and culture. The Chinese president and his guests had the opportunity to appreciate the Sardinian food, the cheese made with sheep milk, wine and the landscape of the island, the cultural heritage from the Phoenicians to the Romans, guided by the island's governor, Francesco Pigliaru. Sardinians are renowned for their tough disposition, longevity and the dance with dark Mamuthones masque, which usually scares children and tourists, but not Xi Jinping.

In the evening, the Chinese president and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi met for dinner at a charming place close to Cagliari and had the opportunity to consolidate the business relations. Chinese firms have invested in Italy, from energy to food and to football, in the last five years and they will continue in the coming years. The president's trip was a successful commercial selling the island to Chinese tourists and firms, but is not enough to help Italian exports to China, which languish.

This business trip may be heavily criticized in China in the coming days, as President Xi returns home, since his government's officials are not permitted to go on a holiday with the money (and the aircraft) of the People's Republic of China. No communiqué was released after the meeting, confirming that there were no political issues on the (dinner) table.

From an Italian perspective, many political analyists believe that Renzi met the Chinese president to consolidate his domestic political position in the country, a few weeks before the constitutional referendum of December 4. Renzi also affirmed that Italy, an ally of the United States, will try to facilitate the Chinese relationship with President Elect Donald Trump, but many are wondering whether he will be really able to realize this.

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Chiara OldaniChiara Oldani is professor of monetary economics at the University of Viterbo and director of the G7 Research Group's Rome office. She is a member of the scientific committee of the Fondazione Ugo La Malfa, a research associate at the Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis at Australian National University and the director of research at the Rome-based Assonebb. She was a visiting scholar at CIGI in 2014, the Cambridge Endowment for Research in Finance at the University of Cambridge in 2007 and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2005. She has taught at Luiss Guido Carli University and the Italian Society for International Organization in Rome. Chiara's research currently focuses on over-the-counter financial derivatives and the complex web of counterparty risk, widely considered a major precipitating factor of the global financial crisis. She has published dozens of academic papers and book chapters, both in English and Italian, on topics including Greek sovereign risk, derivatives and fiscal policy, and the global financial crisis. She has a Ph.D. in monetary and financial economics from Tor Vergata University and an M.Sc. in economics from the University of Warwick

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