There was a time when Trieste was supposed to represent a possible solution for territorial disputes between countries, such as Kashmir. Trieste would be cited as a possible model because it existed as an autonomous region between Italy and the former Yugoslavia and seemed to be proof even difficult problems had a peaceful solution (at least for a while).
Now, it seems Trieste is going to represent something else again. It may come to symbolise the Xin World Order (xin is Mandarin for new). With Italy set to become the first Group of 7 nation to participate in China’s vast One Belt, One Road infrastructure project, cities like Trieste are going to be recipients of Chinese investment.
The New York Times has reported from Trieste that officials are expecting “Beijing-backed conglomerates, such as the China Communications Construction Company, to bid hundreds of millions of euros for infrastructure concessions.”
In the process, Trieste, once “a geographic pivot point …(will) return to the centre of a re-aligning world,” the paper said.
It quotes Zeno D’Agostino, president of the Trieste port authority, as deeply sensible of what is about to happen with the city. “Fundamentally, what’s happening is that the port of Trieste is returning to the logistical role for Europe that it had for the old Austro-Hungarian empire,” he said.
After WWII, the US was prominent in Trieste. But now, the Chinese are in evidence and that will only grow.
Reservations have been expressed – not least by the Americans – but China’s President Xi Jinping arrives in Rome and the deal for Trieste’s transformation will be sealed.