Italy Strengthens Sweeping of Chinese-funded Garment Factory

The city of Prato, Italy, is a major garment manufacturer in China. In 2008, the financial crisis drove the business down sharply. Moreover, the police started to strengthen the raids on the Chinese-owned clothing factories in the city last year, which made the livelihoods of Chinese businessmen and local Chinese immigrants worse.

Prato is located in Tuscany, central Italy, where there are as many as 3,400 small Chinese-owned factories that produce clothes for famous brands such as Zara and H&M. The local police had just swept a Chinese business factory this week and said that at least six Chinese workers illegally lived in the factory, and that the construction of the factory was unsafe and the sanitary conditions were poor. Police said they will drive workers, confiscated products and shut down factories.

The director of the factory reluctantly stated that the operation of the factory was completely in compliance with the regulations and did not understand why it would become the target of the police. She said that due to the financial crisis in 2008, there were few orders this year, but the rents were still paid and the actions of the police made the business more difficult.

According to the report, in the Huashang garment factory, the materials required for clothing are imported, which is 10 times cheaper than the local market. Chinese workers are in charge of the entire garment manufacturing process. After the garments, the “Made in Italy” label is affixed to the clothes for sale. A skirt sells for about 5 Euros (approximately HK$51), and a coat sells for about 10 Euros (approximately HK$102). The trucks are continuously sending goods to Eastern Europe and Northern Europe on a seven-day-a-week basis.

Last year, the Prato residents elected the new mayor Jenny (who is also the proprietor of the garment factory). He promised to break the monopoly position of Chinese businessmen in the local garment industry and crack down on Chinese-related crimes. After he took office, the police really vigorously stepped up the raids on Chinatown, including investigating the gangs, "big ears" and human trafficking.

Prato police believe that a large number of local Chinese immigrants have become breeding grounds for the gang. Qininjian said that the police were mobbed to “protect the Chinese workers from exploitation” and some reporters said that the Chinese laborer worked 18 hours a day, living in poor conditions, and there was no work contract. However, the Chinese think that they will rejuvenate the local garment industry. The Chinese official in Italy said: "At present, it is not war. The authorities of the Italian state dispatched the helicopters and carried out helicopter raids. The practice was overdone."

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