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LA STAMPA

Chinese Stores, Made in Italy

Business models are changing, but Chinese presence in Italy's business world remains high.

Via Carlo Alberto in Rome's Chinatown
Via Carlo Alberto in Rome's Chinatown
Maria Rosa Tomasello

ROME — It all started with spring rolls and cheap screwdrivers: this is how China first entered our homes. If the restaurants with the dragon sign put us in contact with Asian cuisine, the shops that populate our cities, thanks to the low costs and the big assortment, paved the road for the invasion of Chinese products. But over the past few years, Chinese entrepreneurship has adopted a different guise, transforming what many believed to be a colonization into a new resource for our economy. Today, between 40-50% of the products displayed in Chinese shops are "made in Italy" or are distributed by Italian import-export businesses to meet EU security requirements.

Because of development, the cost of labor has almost tripled in China, while the euro-yuan exchange rate has fallen 20-30%, reducing the wholesale margin, explains Francesco Wu, honorary president of the Italy-China Entrepreneur's Union (UNIIC) and advisor on foreign entrepreneurship for Italy's Confcommercio business association. Another key factor is that the quality of products has risen, and as a result, their prices as well.

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Geopolitics

Our 'Emotional' Divide: How The Ukraine War Reveals A World Broken In Two

Russia's invasion has created a stark global divide: them and us. On one side are the countries refusing to condemn Moscow, with the West on the other. It's a dangerous split that could have repercussions far into the future.

Protesters against the war in Ukraine demonstrate in front of the Russian embassy in London

Dominique Moïsi

-Analysis-

PARIS — "The West and the Rest of Us." That's the title of a 1975 essay written by Nigerian essayist and critic Chinweizu Ibekwe. I've been thinking about his words as the war in Ukraine both reveals and accelerates divisions of the world that I believe are ultimately "emotional" in nature.

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With war returning to Europe and the risk of escalation, there is a gap between the Western view and that of the "others," a distinct "us and them." This gap cannot be explained in strictly geographical, political, and economic terms.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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