Chinatowns in Europe

Updated: 2014-03-21 16:33 (chinadaily.com.cn)

Itally-Milan Chinatown: a checkered history

Chinatowns in Europe

Chinese in the community clash with the police on April 12, 2007. [Photo/chinanews.com]

In the 1970s, thousands of Chinese from Zhejiang province settled in Milan opening retail and food businesses. They became the first residents of Via PaoloSarpi in what would become the city’s Chinatown. In the 1990s, another Chinese invasion arrived.

With Milan’s importance in the areas of finance, mechanics and textiles, the Chinese were like ducks to water and did very good trade. Via PaoloSarpi quickly developed and became the bellwether of Chinese commerce in Europe.

However, what happened in 2007 dampened the reputation of Via Paolo Sarpi. A Chinese businessman in conflict with the police was taken away, stirring anger in the community which caused a serious clash between the Chinese and local police.

Many were injured in the incident with Milan’s then vice-major ordering the wholesalers to move out of Via Paolo Sarpi. Later the Milan government banned public transport from entering Chinatown. The wholesalers did not simply accept their fate, moving to other streets and later many small Chinatowns were seen around Milan.

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