Beijing is not too keen on the appointment of Italy’s new Foreign Minister, Luigi Di Maio. China’s news agency did not paint a good picture of the political head of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S).
“The appointment of Luigi Di Maio, political leader of the 5-star Movement, is an unusual choice.
“The 33-year-old Di Maio – already vice president of the first Conte government – never graduated, has a poor knowledge of foreign languages, and has so far shown little interest in global issues in his public life.”
China wasn’t too pleased with the mistake Di Maio made a few months ago. He called the President of China “Ping” in a public speech.
“The new Italian government believes that the relationship with China is fundamental”, explained Di Maio in Shanghai during the China International Import Expo.
During the speech, Di Maio mistakenly referred to Xi Jinping as “Ping”. It embarrassed the Italian delegation and forced the translator to immediately correct the mistake.
The 33-year-old Foreign Minister has committed quite a few blunders in the past. From confusing Chile with Venezuela – saying General Pinochet was born in Caracas – to his struggling performances in English.
Di Maio described the new government as “courageous and ambitious” and also stated that he would focus particularly on Africa, the hot-button issue of migration and Italy’s rapport with emerging economies.
Di Maio’s appointment also received a lukewarm reception in Italy. Via Twitter, some questioned his ability to handle his job because he did not speak a word of English.
Others pointed out how Di Maio strained his relationship with France after he was seen mingling with Yellow Vests protesters in February.
Critics called him a self-centered robot, who was persuaded to accept the trophy role of foreign minister.
Di Maio will therefore have to work hard to prove that he is capable of holding his post at the international level. In his inauguration greeting, Di Maio made it clear that he was ready:
“We will maintain a dialogue, without obviously renouncing the European and Atlantic values that characterise the history of our country.”