It can be interpreted as proof, the umpteenth, that curiosity and the willingness to go off the beaten path of the web exists in China, that discordant voices can be found even on the well-patrolled internet, and maybe it can be found that the voice is of a foreigner. Or, for the same reasons, one can conclude that it is a voice among many, in a People’s Republic that despite everything still knows how to cultivate its pluralism. The point is, among the more than 150 blogs on the Caixin web portal, considered the most authoritative Chinese financial-economic publication, a foreign blogger, an Italian has entered the top ten. On September 1st, Alberto Forchielli’s Chinese language blog (fugeli.blog.caixin.com) reached 199,012 readers, putting him in 10th place among the most read bloggers on Caixin (Barron’s is in first place). When counting the increase in “clicks,” Forchielli points out, his blogs is in third place between August and September.
The blogging activity for Forchielli is a hobby. Emilian, born in 1955, graduate of the University of Bologna and MBA at Harvard Business School, he heads Mandarin Capital Partners, a private equity fund built along an Italo-Chinese axis of which he is a founder and in which have invested the China Development Bank, the Import-Export Bank of China, and Intesa Sanpaolo. “The results,” he says, “I explain like this: Chinese readers simply want to read the truth. My writings are the same ones I publish in Italian and in English and the 200 I have submitted to Caixin have always been accepted, with the exception of four. And the most clicked are the pieces where I berate China or talk about Europe.” The Rules of Engagement? “Only one. Never talk about politicians, not even in a good way.”
Between responsibilities and activities, Forchielli has also contributed to the creation of Osservatorio Asia, a think tank with offices in Imola, of which he is also president. He is based in Shanghai, with frequent trips to Hong Kong and, as he notes on his blog (www.albertoforchielli.com), to his ancestral home. He is tied to Romano Prodi, another frequent visitor of Asia, in a longstanding friendship, and in some ways he represents a proconsul in China, even if – it must be said – the man Forchielli is not unanimously liked in the not-too-large Italian business community. Commenting on current events in China, in any case, is something he enjoys. “I had many readers when I showed that the Chinese went around the world buying companies that nobody wanted, or in the wrong place, or paying twice as much when others would have only paid half. Or when I explained that without a State of rights and real reforms, the renminbi could never become a reserve currency. I write everything, without holding back. This is why it works.”