Italy-China friendship: My experience

By Sara Marchetta
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CIPG, March 25, 2020
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March 22, 2020,Beijing.

Dates might not be that important, in other times.

But today, today was a special day at home, as we invited our friends to have lunch.

Some of them stayed in Beijing for the whole time, some of us went back to Italy in February, and like us just completed the quarantine after coming back at the beginning of March. Some of us were together on holidays for the Chinese New Year, and we went back because the schools were closed in China, and for some business meetings. We travelled with masks and gloves through different places, to stay away from the virus and to get close to our families. But the situation was not that clear in Europe and in Italy.

My home town is very close to the first red zone in Italy and is now badly hit by the virus. We were lucky, but we used our "Chinese experience" to avoid the most "dangerous" activities. Our Chinese friends in Italy were the first who decided to limit going out. We had some nice nights together in my hometown, playing cards and enjoying Italian wine at home!

I have been in China for long time, and I think I know the capabilities and the resources that the Chinese government has put in place for fighting the virus. I spoke today to my aunt in Italy and recommended that they should stay home at all times, like everybody is still now doing in China. Quarantine is hard, especially when you are restrained from doing the usual things you do during your day, and you cannot meet your family and friends.

My country is facing a very difficult time, numbers are going up like crazy, and I know those are not just numbers, they are people. Patients and medical personnel. "Lockdown" in Italy is the most horrible word, and we have tried to resist to it with all possible means, but this is it, right now. My firm in Italy reacted very swiftly to the first signals and we are now all working from home. We do not know how long this will last, and what the consequences of this will be from an economic point of view.

Italian people have been close to Hubei people, just like Chinese people are now close to us. I did not look before and I do not look now at those few, small episodes of racism and xenophobia going around on social media, I just know from experience that we are close.

No government and no health system can be prepared for something like this. And people make mistakes, everybody does. What is important is that we can count on friends, on both sides, Italy and China.  

I was in Beijing during SARS in 2002/2003 and I was not ready for this. During my stay in February in Italy, we were not prepared for this. Like I went around in Beijing in January without fear, we did the same in Italy in February, trusting that containment was successful. But this is the flip side of globalization. Today here, means tomorrow there, in no time. 

The happiest is our dog now: we are most of the times at home. However, my family had a few cases in Italy, and now we are looking at California, as my father and my brother are there.

Masks and gloves, coming from different places, are exchanged, through the world, where help is needed. This is the good side of globalization: you can count on friends from different places.

And mostly, you can count on international cooperation: among friends, exchanging experiences, as Italy and China have been doing already for centuries.

This is dedicated to all the doctors in China and in Italy who fought for us and are still fighting against the virus – and for international friendship and support.

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