Sergio Maffettone: My Chengdu Story

Authors: Sergio Maffettone (China Daily)

2016-05-14

Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan province, is a territory of our constituency and a second home to me.
Sergio Maffettone, Consul General of the Consulate General of Italy in Chongqing.
Due to the great number of events which are happening every day in this busy metropolis, my collaborators and I are often in Chengdu, a city which is in many ways very similar to the Italian metropolis Milan. Chengdu has signed a “Friendship Agreement” with Milan in 2015, during the Wold Expo 2015, also taking place in Milan.
These two cities, different in many aspects, represent, on one side, two great first level economic realities. On the other hand, the two cities also give great importance to art and historical-artistic heritage. Besides the appreciation for the economic vitality of the city, which is, from my point of view, entering a new phase of economic development, I am always fascinated by the great energy and by the many attractions which this city offers, in terms of culture and leisure time.
Great hospitality and warmth of Chengdu people is enabling us foreigners an easier integration to this urban living place. Italian community in Chengdu, composed of around 100 people, is in a perfect harmony with the city and this vital and active part of the Southwest of China. There are actually many Italian enterprises, especially in the food and beverage sector, as well as in high level Italian restorations activities. Nevertheless, there are also students and representatives of the Italian academic world, as well as some artists that decided to live in Chengdu.
It makes me very proud to confirm that, today, Italian language and culture are spreading in Chengdu: in fact, we have around 300 Chinese students who are studying Italian language at CISISU (Chengdu Institute of Sichuan International Studies University) and we are realizing the presence of numerous private schools which are introducing our culture to young people. Moreover, one primary school in Chongqing has taken Italian as one of the languages to be taught there and we are hoping that this could also happen at some other elementary and high schools in Chengdu.
I am sure that there are numerous opportunities for the collaboration between our country and Chengdu, through China’s Belt and Road Initiative, or through the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” strategy. Sichuan’s capital constitutes an important hub for production in the IT and R&D sectors, for financial services, business and tourism, as well as the biomedical sector and industrial machinery. Italy is the 5th manufacturing country in the world, a country which is a leader in the construction of the infrastructure (we built 1,000 infrastructures in more than 90 countries), in biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors, a country with a national sanitary system that is considered to be most efficient in the world (after Singapore and Hong Kong). There are therefore numerous fields where we could create synergies with Italy.
Recently, there was 94th Food and Drink Fair in Chengdu, and our country participated with a national pavilion which has brought to the capital more than a dozen companies and 40 excellent Italian canteens. In order to facilitate Sichuan people's familiarization with Italy, during the three days of the event, the second Sino-Italian Gastronomic Festival was organized in collaboration with the CRI (China Radio International). This festival exhibited some of the best traditional Italian gastronomic products. It was the third Food and Wine Festival organized in Chengdu by the Consulate General of Italy and the CRI and every time it was a great success, with a lot of Chengdu people's participation.
In order to make it even easier for Chengdu people that would like to go to Italy for business, study or travel, our Consulate General is about to inaugurate a new visa center in Chengdu (already opened on April 1st 2016), and it is actively working on enabling another direct flight connection between Chengdu and Italy.
Chengdu is known in China for being the city where the living conditions are the best, where the rhythms are not frenetic, where people love an easy life, filled with joy. This attitude towards life is very similar to the characteristic way of living of the Italians, a nation loved by the whole world because of its sympathy and joy of living, extraordinary richness and variety of culture, which attracts tourists from all over the world for its beautiful scenery, food, architectural arts and archaeological sites.
And, because of this I love Chengdu, I love its narrow streets, teahouses where you can have secret talks with friends far away from indiscreet looks, where you can play Mahjong and enjoy the passing of time. Chengdu is a city that is managing to preserve its characteristic values despite the material progress, through which it is spreading like a wildfire, keeping the high living standards for its people. And because of this it is considered to be the most preferred city for doing business, and at the same time the most livable city in China.

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