The case of the Chinese sights on the port of Taranto lands in Brussels. Lega MEP Anna Bonfrisco has filed a question for the EU Commission in which she asks to turn the EU spotlight on the possible sale of a strategic infrastructure of European scope to a company linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The facts are known. The Bolognese company Ferretti has expressed interest in the construction of a production center and a research center in the “ex Belleli” area of ​​the Apulian port, wrote Domenico Di Sanzo in the Giornale. Since 2012, 86% of the company’s share package has been in the hands of the Weichai Group, a group owned by the Chinese state and champion of manufacturing made in China.
The interest has been materialized in recent days, but it is no mystery that the Taranto hub is in the sights of the Chinese. The port, together with Genoa, Trieste, Ravenna, Venice, Palermo and Gioia Tauro, was already among the infrastructures involved in the Silk Road, Xi Jinping ‘s new maritime Silk Road inaugurated in Italy with the official visit of the Chinese president in March of ‘Last year. In November, Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio , on a visit to the Shanghai import expo, spoke of “an interest that will soon lead to initiatives” in Taranto.
No sooner said than done. But the Chinese presence behind Ferretti, a company of excellence in shipbuilding which, despite the Weichai bailout eight years ago, is not in good financial health (again in November, it finally renounced its listing on the stock exchange), has already triggered the political controversy. Because Taranto, in addition to being an important Italian port, is a terminal of no secondary importance for the EU and for NATO.
In the Taranto ports of Mar Piccolo and Mar Grande, NATO has strategic military infrastructures. Starting from a naval base, where the Standing Nato Maritime Group Two (Snmg2) resides, in December passed from the leadership of the Canadian commander Josee Kurtz to the Italian rear admiral Paolo Fantoni, which took over with the Carabiniere frigate until next June.
The NATO presence makes Taranto a strategic hub for the southern flank of the alliance. The Snf (Standing naval forces) stationed in the port are part of the Marcom (Allied maritime command) and participate in the anti-terrorism operation “Operation Sea Guardian”, in the fight against the smuggling of migrants in the Aegean Sea, in joint exercises.
Moreover. Taranto is also strategic for the EU. Because the ships of the EU operation to combat migrant smuggling Eunavformed Irini (heir of Operation Sophia) pass through them, since last April under the guidance of Rear Admiral Fabio Agostini .
Hence Bonfrisco’s question to the European Parliament is not surprising. “Taking into account that ports in general play a fundamental role in the security of the supply of energy and goods, and that as strategic infrastructures they allow the implementation of maritime security and surveillance, and that they generate big data (maritime companies, users, authorities local and central), and that the port of Taranto has a unique strategic position as regards the neighborhood policy towards the Mena countries (from which the MS have long been subjected to diversified threats that originate from great instability) – writes the MEP of the Carroccio – he wonders if the Commission considers the participation of Chinese funds in private production activities that will be carried out in the port area consistent with the PESC and with the cooperation within NATO ”.
It is not usual that in the European Parliament, a hemicycle where “national” alliances almost always prevail over political ones, a MEP asks the Commission to investigate a choice made by her government. But the risk that the port of Taranto ends up in the hands of the Chinese government and of interest also to the other member countries, explains Bonfrisco reached by
“The risk is that the operation will initiate a geopolitical rebalancing. We cannot pose a danger to us and to the whole of Europe. Accepting the risk that the Chinese presence will open the way even for espionage is unacceptable to us ”, says Bonfrisco, the only Italian in the EU-NATO delegation. The issue had already been raised following the interest of Chinese state-owned companies in the port infrastructure of Venice which, contiguous with strategic infrastructures such as the Mose or the military Arsenal, can constitute a security risk.
“I want to ask this question because it is a danger that concerns our strategic infrastructures and those of NATO, and therefore both Italian and European citizens”, concludes the MEP.

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