The Chinese in Prato, Italy

Chinese worker in PratoA Chinese employee works in a textile firm in Prato (Getty Images at NPR).

Not all those who enjoy the treasures of Florence know the industrial city of Prato nearby. It has the second largest Chinatown in Italy – after Milan.

Seven workers employed at a Chinese garment factory in Prato died when the building caught fire, while four were injured. The business daily Sole 24 writes on December 3:

“China does whatever it likes in Italy. They died like slaves after working like slaves. Not in India, no. In Italy. In one of Prato’s many (and impossible to ignore) factory buildings. All made in China.

“The owners, managers, employers. And all illegal: from the safety measures at the working place to the contracts, from the accounts to the taxes. Who will now take care of this in Italy? The interior minister? The minister of justice? Someone from the tax authorities or the public health department?

“Someone who doesn’t just talk and talk at meetings but actually campaigns against this barbaric situation? Someone who will take China to task, which is competing against us in our own country and according to its own rules.”


2 responses to “The Chinese in Prato, Italy

  1. And in France Chinese billionaires have been buying chateaux with vineyards, to ship wine to Asia .

    Reprise from Sketches, 6 June, 2011: “Of course Canada will respond to these most populous cultures in the world…Increasingly, it will be in the persons of new immigrants and colonizers in Canada, offshore customers and owners of Canadian resources, innovators, providers of technologies, services, creations, and material and cultural goods from elsewhere. People to teach and learn from.

    “What social frameworks, what knowledge frameworks will we respond with? And will they? How do we navigate the wide borderland that joins and transforms ‘us’ and ‘them’ into ‘we’?”

    * Rant alert *

    Definition: Maybe Canada’s national interest has less to do with facilitating transnational corporate streams of resources and revenues. They have energy of their own, which sometimes runs counter to the interests of national polities. Maybe our national interest has more to do with the ecological integrity of our northern continental geography, and a sinewy conscious adaptive resilience in our social, cultural and political institutions, continuously tested as they are.

    Definition: Maybe Canada’s erstwhile National Energy Board has morphed into the Canada office of a material Global Energy Board, its realm photographed by Edward Burtynsky. Recalibrate and reposition for Canada.

    Definition: Maybe the real borders of Canada are a semi-permeable membrane with many functions. Design and nourish it, for Canada’s national health with whatever wisdom we can muster.

    Definition: Maybe Canada’s second nationhood, in the face of new imperialisms in the world, has much to learn from the 400-year experience and resilience of First Nations. Be, like, idle no more.

  2. Very interesting thoughts, Tim.