tirsdag 18. mai 2021

Covid-19 Sparks Chinese Exodus From Italian Textile Town

Mostly from the eastern region of Zhejiang, they created a parallel industry producing low-cost fabrics alongside up-market Italian businesses supplying the country’s fashion houses. The close-knit community grew year by year until it numbered around 25,000 at the end of 2019, when there were about 6,000 Chinese businesses in the town of 200,000 people, making Prato one of Europe’s largest concentrations of Chinese-run industry.

Then, in spring last year, the coronavirus hit. About 2,500 people, or 10 percent of the community, have since left. For many Chinese in Prato, Covid-19 was a tipping point, intensifying doubts over their future in Italy, Europe’s most sluggish economy. First, the Chinese suffered discrimination as alleged spreaders of the disease. Then, as the community emerged almost unscathed amid Italy’s growing death toll, they were held up as a model of how to fight it. Now many are giving up, worn down by the Covid-induced recession and lured back to China by its greater success in combating the pandemic and brighter economic prospects.