Italy’s China City: Sweatshops to Wedding Shops

Italy’s China City: Sweatshops to Wedding Shops


Italy and China are building ties But for decades, Chinese people in Italy Have been learning Italy’s secrets. Welcome back to China Uncensored. I’m Chris Chappell. In the 13th Century, Venecian explorer Marco Polo visited China. There, he allegedly learned the secret of
making noodles— and brought it back to Italy to make a knockoff
version called “spaghetti.” But now China is learning something from Italy. Shelley Zhang went to Italy to find out more. Italy and China have been friends since… well, ancient times. And that’s something that Chinese leader
Xi Jinping emphasized during his trip to Italy back in
March of this year. That trip was when Italian and Chinese authorities signed a Memorandum of Understanding, making Italy the first major Western economy to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative… also known as One Belt, One Way to Get Debt-Ridden European Countries
to Do Your Bidding. While the MOU itself was extremely vague, with commitments to “work towards” and “explore ways” and “enhance dialogue,” Italy and China also signed 2.5 billion euros
worth of trade deals, linking their economies for years to come. But over the last decade plus, China has already had more and more influence
on Italy’s economy. One example is the millions of Chinese tourists who visit Venice and other Italian cities
each year. Chinese tourists are welcomed by Italian businesses for being high spenders. And the Italian government has been encouraging more Chinese tourism, including through PR stunts, like briefly having Chinese police patrol popular tourist destinations like Venice. Although given the reputation of Chinese police
in China, I’m not sure that’s going to make anyone
feel safer. China is also affecting the economics of tourist…souvenirs. As in many parts of the world, the vast majority of souvenirs in Venice are made in China. And it’s not just cheap hats and scarves It’s affecting traditional Venentian crafts… No, traditional Venetian crafts like these
masks— which have been made by hand here in Venice
for hundreds of years. They’re now being replaced with Chinese-factory
made plastic  versions sold at a fraction of the price. And everywhere I went, I saw stores selling discount leather bags. Except *these* discount bags say “Made in
Italy.” Are they counterfeits? No. It’s much more complicated than that. And the answer lies in here in Prato. With almost 200,000 people, Prato is the third largest city in central
Italy. And it’s been famous for making textiles
since the Middle Ages. Textiles and biscotti. But outside Prato’s Medieval walls, the face of the city’s textile industry has changed rapidly in the last 20 years. This is the Via Pistoiese, home to Prato’s Chinatown. Officially, around 20,000 Chinese people live
in Prato. But the actual number may be almost triple
that due to illegal immigration. Prato has the highest concentration of Chinese
immigrants in Italy. Almost all of them from the city of Wenzhou, in China’s Zhejiang province. Back in the 1990s, Chinese immigrants came to Prato to work in the textile factories. And then to buy the textile factories. By then, a lot of Italian-owned factories
were losing business to cheaper fabrics made in…well,
China. But instead of making fabric, the Chinese factories in Prato would import
fabric from China, and make cheap fast fashion, undercutting
the locals. They eventually got into the lucrative leather
goods market, too. All technically made in Italy. By Chinese workers. We walked through the back streets of Prato, and secretly filmed some of these Chinese
fast fashion factories. Hidden behind unmarked steel doors, these were small operations. Less than a dozen people, mostly at sewing machines. Some of the workers we talked to were worried that we might be from the Italian government. The Italian government has conducted a lot of raids on Chinese factories, following reports of sweatshop conditions, illegal workers, and unpaid taxes. We did witness some… questionable safety practices. Remember kids, don’t sew and smoke. And workers at the types of factories we saw have talked about working long hours… and sleeping in the factories. But some Chinese factory owners feel unfairly
targeted, especially since they have revived the economy of places like Prato. For example, Chinese factories may evade taxes, but you could argue that in Italy, tax evasion is practically a national pastime. And not all Chinese factories are the sweatshop-like places we visited. Outside Prato’s Chinatown are higher-end Chinese factories and showrooms. Some of these make products for famous Italian
fashion houses like Prada and Gucci. That’s given rise to a Chinese middle class
in Prato. Chinese immigrants have even built an entire economy around the factories… setting up supermarkets, restaurants, even a whole street of wedding-related businesses to cater to a growing Chinese community. I mean, who wouldn’t want to eat at Ravioli
Liu’s? But critics say that Chinese money isn’t
going into the Italian economy. Back in 2017, the state-owned Bank of China was forced to pay Italy more than 20 million
euros connected to a money laundering case. Prosecutors alleged that “more than 4.5
billion euros had been smuggled to China from Italy… by Chinese people living mainly in Florence and the nearby city of Prato.” Half of that was through the Bank of China. And there’s an even darker side to this
economic growth. Last year, Italian authorities busted what
they say was a Chinese mafia group based in Prato. One that was involved in gambling, prostitution, and trucking Chinese goods across Europe. As we walked around Prato, we saw several gambling halls. And lots of these flyers, advertising “massage parlors”. This one offers “very pretty 18 year old
girls who’ve just come from China.” Prostitution is legal in Italy, but organized prostitution and brothels are
not. Social workers told an Al Jazeera reporter that in these cases, there could be human trafficking involved. According to the UN, there are lots of Chinese victims of human
trafficking in Italy. They could end up doing forced labor in textile
factories in cities like Prato, or doing sex work in apartments and massage
parlours. Prato, with all of its complications, is a microcosm of how globalization has linked the Chinese and Italian economies. And that’s before Chinese and Italian officials promised even more cooperation. After the two countries signed the agreement
on the Belt and Road, Italy’s deputy prime minister praised it as “a day when Made in Italy
has won.” But as a trip through Prato shows, China is changing what Made in Italy means. Chinese companies, often exploiting workers in the same factory
conditions they’d have in mainland China, can legally take advantage of the high quality “Made in Italy” brand. Until that brand loses its meaning. And the money leaves the country. So ultimately, the one who benefits from this “Made in
Italy” partnership might just be China. This is Shelley Zhang, reporting from Italy. Thanks, Shelley. So what do you think? Leave your comments below. And remember, China Uncensored is funded mainly through viewer contributions. Visit Patreon.com/ChinaUncensored and contribute a dollar or more per episode. Your support allows us to keep making great
episodes like this. Once again, I’m Chris Chappell. Thanks for watching China Uncensored.

100 thoughts on “Italy’s China City: Sweatshops to Wedding Shops

  1. When you buy Communist China's goods, you choose to become a beneficiary of labour stolen from those in servitude to the Communist state.

  2. You should really look what is going on in Serbia. It is rapidly becoming the Chinese Trojan hose in Europe. Not only through massive investments from China to Serbia, but also with e.g. Huawei making the capitol Belgrade a "smart & safe" city with all the face recognition and similar technology, that really raises questins about the rights and liberties of the citizens. Also chinese police, with the similar pretense, that they help chinese tourists, turns out, they came to help the Huawei "smart" system. This is reallly a full scale prelude of what is to come for a social system with "cninese characteristics". Try checking that out.

  3. CHINA is going TO fill up Italian with junk and pollution products and and health risk for Italian people AND AND AVERY ware CHINA shipping THEY junk

  4. Also I'm not sure this is correlated to what you said in the video, but I noticed more and more bars are being bought by Chinese people, who just came without knowing the language or the city they are in. It is said they just show up in the bars with a suitcase full of money and the bar's owner has to decide immediately whether to leave the place or not in the Chinese hands.
    (Just to let you know I'm from a little city near Bologna)

  5. great job guys! went to Prato several times, visited Chinatown and that's how it is: in some restaurants the menu was in Chinese and that's it. Lol

  6. It’s quite shocking that this obvious anti-China channel exists. Try anti-Israel in the us now. Racism/discrimination becomes so obvious and ppl are fine with it. Lol

  7. It's not Italy — it's the Mafia that wants to partner with China and brought in Chinese workers. It started with the Mafia using China to make materials for counterfeit Italian products. The Mafia is Italy's cancer. — BTW: Small Point: the Romans invented pasta — Marco Polo wrote he was surprised to see China also made noodles.

  8. These countries honestly need to stop feeding the machine! All the developed countries of the world need to be more self sufficient and stop relying on globalization so much.

  9. History goes round and round , may be once Italy dominated the Chinese too much so now it's their turn give it time and resist nothing and then may come your turn that's the cycles of life.

  10. Italians will be outraged by this and by their government….for 5 minutes. Then they'll just go eat some pasta or pizza, drink some vino, and go hang out at the beach. Fagetaboutit! Aaaaa! La dolce vita!

  11. NO, MY DEAR, WE ITALIAN HAD SPAGHETTI WAY BEFORE THE CHINESE.
    GET YOUR INFO RIGHT IF YOU WANT TO MAKE NEWS!
    WE'VE PROOF THAT SPAGHETTI WERE MADE IN SICILY IN 1000 AND EXPORTED ALL OVER ITALY AND NORTH AFRICA.
    THE PLANET KNOWS THE CHINESE TO BE THE ONES WHO COPY EVERYTHING!

  12. Italy getting invol e with the wrong people. Sooner than later chinese will steal italy top products, then will have ferrachinese

  13. Back in the year 2000, I was a tour guide in Europe. Tourists a were buying stuff – leather products particularly – were very appreciated, thinking that they are Italian made. Yes, they are made in Italy, on the soil of Italy but by Chinese workers and Chinese Shop owners…Thousands of those small shops around Florence, Venice area…Seemed that the Italian government did not know or turn a blind eye on those shops who employed illegal Chinese. Only now exposed ?

  14. You will never see this on MSNBC ABC, or FOX. These are things we need to see worldwide. Not this politically fueled BS that is on every channel in the USA.

  15. HOPE THE EXTREME RIGHT IS BACK SOON IN ITALY.
    BUT ITALY ALWAYS HAD A COMMUNISTS PAST BEFORE RUSSIA AND ROMANIA.NOW CHINA.
    SMALL ECONOMY LIVING ON BORROWING.NOW FROM CHINA, AS USA UNDER TRUMP DO NOT LEND TO SOCIALISTS.

  16. Woo hoo, first Germany is siding with China and now Italy. This is just WW2 but Japan is swapped with China. When are they gonna sign the Defensive Triparte Pact?

  17. Well I can say this, there is most certainly not enough love to go around I feel today. But on a positive note, I am currently enjoying life taking baby steps with life.

  18. Americans are so timid that even China is afraid, and the funny thing is that the United States is still a big country of science and technology, an economic power, a big country of weapons.

  19. This reminds me of maquiladoras but why would Italy think that it can benefit from this scheme? The labor transfers only undercut wages and invite criminality in through a front door

  20. Im from chinese parents,I agree with all you said.I can prove that all chinese people there i know came from Wenzhou and Quingtian and they work and sleep ,live in the same place.They avoid to pay taxes just like italians does,i can tell part of their business,the corruption here is hight,the worst thing,however,is their ignorance.

  21. when you think about it. china is making the products and selling those to the chinese tourists itself . that them just ripping their own people in a nutshell.

  22. China glad you are taking over the world, hopefully you will take over the UK and put prince andrew in a sweat shop and see if he actually sweats

  23. We Love Shelly, too! Have her do more reports! I'm SURE Chinese-Americans overall have a lot to say. I know some whose Heritage goes back to the first Railroad Builders in the U.S.

  24. It's good for Italy so they have time to do better things otherwise they will have to brood over the same thing for the next few generations never going forward in life

  25. I think Shelley is at her best when she talks through investigative reporting like this. She is a great interviewer, but I think these kinds of videos are more entertaining than interviews

  26. Chinese transsexuals love spaghetti and Italian sausage. This will be great for the way you see new slaves for everything you want. Be happy now.

  27. In Italy there are many many cities where Italians are a minority. I visited monfancole and they were all arabs and some white (which I didnt know if actually italian or romanian/ucranian/eastern european). In Brescia 90% are Blacks, they're really integrated cause they speak and act italian, but I have to admit: Italy has definitely changed.

  28. Get an attractive well spoken person to do the reporting. This woman looks like a reject form a whorehouse in Shanghai.

  29. The Chinese are exporting their low quality of life and criminal practices to a town near you. F*ck these people. Keep them in China. Don't let them into nice countries. They're buying their way in. Using money they stole with corrupt business practices and currency manipulation.

  30. I hope you are not telling me that the Gucci sneakers that my wife bought were made by some China-man smoking a cigarette while sewing.

  31. When it comes to ""SWEATSHOPS "… , the 1st thing that comes into everyone's minds is CHINA/Chinese ….!

    Do you know that the
    ITALIANS WERE the 1st nation to introduce exploitative sweatshops & Prostitution industries 2,000 years ago….!

    The "sweatshops, Prostitution & Drugs" were big income earners for Italian Mafias in the 1900's and still do….!

    Many nations learned this exploitative trade from the Italians…!

    SO, when these industry is being referred to in Italy , one must consider the possibility that it either run by the Italians or a venture with Italian partners….!

    SO, don't go blindly blamming the Chinese ….!
    AND
    What is so wrong for ANYONE to learn a certain trade and provide a cheaper alternative product…. !?

    If the blame has to befall on anyone… , then it should be the Customers/Consumers that ought to shoulder any blame for….;
    1) Wanting something cheaper and not "THE ORIGINAL"….! &
    2) The Italians for not bring Patriotic……! &
    3) The Italians for not supporting their own people's business……! &
    4) The Europeans for Not supporting their EEC members…..!

    YOU ARE CERTAINLY WRONG TO BLAME CHINA FOR BEING ENTERPRISING AND BUSINESS ORIENTATED….!

    YOU CANT BLAME CHINA FOR CRAFTING A SHARE IN THE ECONOMY AND INDUSTRY…..!

    YOU CANT BLAME CHINA FOR BEING COMPETITIVE….!

    YOU CANT BLAME THE CHINESE FOR THEIR BUSINESS ACUMEN.. ETC ETC…..!

    THIS KIND OF BLAME GAME IS CONTRARY TO GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP AND THOSE COMPLAINING ARE SUFFERING FROM THE SOUR GRAPES SYNDROME……!

    IF the Italian Govt and people are NOT happy with the presence of the Chinese…, let them voice it out..!
    The Italian Govt has the perogative to pass laws to protect their industry to a certain measure…..!

    The Italians are NOT complaining But the American are…..!!
    What a joke….!!

    WHY NOT LEARN FROM THE CHINESE INSTEAD OF COMPLAINING….!

    No one is forcing anyone to buy Chinese goods…..!
    So… , Why all the "busy-bodying"….!

  32. The Tanning industry in Italy is notorious for using cheap African immigrant labour and it's unsafe working conditions.

  33. Employs chinese too for cheap labor. Give it some time, china will start to build meth distilleries literally like they did in Asia like thailand and philippines.

  34. This channel is so obviously biased that it loses credibility. It takes zero intelligence or morality to jump on the anti-China bandwagon.

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