Illustration by Valeria Petrone Even as breakup messages go, the one Italian prime minister Giorgia Meloni had for Beijing earlier this month was exceptionally delicate. Italy’s government is looking at quitting the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — Chinese president Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy program — but Meloni insisted her government still wanted to do business with China. “There is no foreclosure on our part towards China… but on the Belt and Road Initiative, decisions must still be made based on an evaluation of its merits and on the results that this instrument has provided,” she told reporters earlier this month, after meeting with Chinese premier Li Qiang on the sidelines of the G20. “But from my point of view, that does not compromise anything in terms of our relations with China.” In other words, Italy wants the relationship, but no labels. For Beijing, this is a big ask. The BRI, after all, is a point of pride: Launched in 2013, it promised to “streSubscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.