The Cultural Divide

In the past, China has been difficult for Italian industry, but the worst is over now and in the future it will become a great opportunity. This great opportunity will come once it has handily won the battle over mature products. In the sector overlap between the two countries, China is easily able to take advantage of its assets. Italian manufacturers of consumer goods, too numerous for an industrially advanced country, have suffered in competition with the Chinese, who play using lower operating costs and barely acceptable quality. If you shift the analysis towards the higher end of the spectrum, to higher technology products, Italy has much more to teach and to negotiate with. China is hungry for technology and Italy is in the best position to evaluate collaboration with a country brimming with liquidity. However, working with Italy can be daunting even for the Chinese. They can feel lost, not knowing the rules or who to trust, and without guidance they can get themselves into trouble. Imagine a Chinese businessman, who has been educated in a culture of strict discipline, docile labor unions, and a justice system intertwined with political powers, suddenly thrust into a difficult and new reality that is hardly comprehensible even to other Europeans. For the Chinese it is unimaginable to operate where they do not have full control of the territory, without industrial policy and without playing a directing role. Beijing sees its governing task as not only a right, but also a duty to the principles of collectivity. This cultural divide is a hindrance to business that is slowly being broken down. Better cultural understanding is the result of economic integration, and the expectation of improvement. Economic ties between Italy and China have been solidified at a governmental level through mutual realism, but the aspect that shows the most room for improvement is cultural integration. A great nation like China needs to concentrate its efforts on being accepted, not on forcing itself to be endured. China needs to build genuine soft power, based on culture and not only its immense size. Only in this way can the hearts and minds of citizens, consumers, and investors alike be won over.