While some recent moves, from trade to coronavirus aid, may suggest Italy is moving closer to China, the reality is that the country's China policy continues to seesaw between assuagement of traditional Western allies and closer ties with China.
Currents in Context
The importance of the trade relationship with China has encouraged the view in Germany that economic dependencies limit its choices in areas like human rights and investment. But closer scrutiny suggests this might not be the case.
The organization and drive shown by China’s online youth in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic was an inspiring glimpse at the potential young Chinese have to assert themselves. But these actions disguise a deeper vacuum of social values in China.
As popular western social media platforms remain inaccessible in mainland China, Chinese social media platforms have become an important way for universities in the UK to reach out to their largest source of foreign students.
As activist Joshua Wong invoked the Cold War and the Berlin Wall while reiterating his cause for free elections and greater autonomy in Hong Kong, a social media account operated by the Chinese Communist Party's official newspaper went on the attack.
Empty container cars heading home on the China Railway Express have long symbolized for some the lack of reciprocality in trade with China, which exports more to Europe than it buys. But what does it mean when most of the trains coming from China are empty?
As nationalistic Chinese internet youth rallied on a popular message board to plan an attack on media and platforms outside China's Great Firewall to oppose demonstrations in Hong Kong, they invoked disturbing notes from Germany's past.