In present days, everything in Europe, and especially in my town, Torino, reveals a sense of contingency and decadence. Our city, an ancient capital, located in an exceptional position underneath the Alps, surrounded by green hills and on the shores of the main Italian river, the Po, was the company town of the FIAT conglomerate, which, in the 70ies, included car manufacturing, banking, insurance, consulting, training, trucks, harvesters, aerospace, trains, bio-medicals, weapons, lubricants, electronics, publishing -in Italy, the Americas, Europe, Middle East, India-
Today, Torino has no more than some thousand workers employed in Torino by FCA (the American group into which FIAT has been merged). All other big companies, which, at their times, existed in Torino or in its neighbourhoods (such as SKF, CEAT, Toro, Augusta, SAI, Olivetti, Lancia, Giugiaro, Pininfarina, CIR, IPSOA, Einaudi, Loescher, Lattes, Paravia), do not exist anymore, have been sold out to foreign groups, or have transferred into other towns. Notwithstanding the authorities’ pretension that cultural industries have effectively substituted metalworking, in reality also culture is very week. The result is that the population of the town is constantly shrinking: Torino has lost about 300.000 inhabitants.
Our enterprises, our families, our youth, are leaving the city. Even a part of former immigrants have already migrated to other destinations. There are few things left. Our population, highly educated, with hundred thousands intellectuals, entrepreneurs, managers, engineers, technicians, businessmen, professionals, specialized workers, is jobless or underemployed. The only professions which thrive are bartenders and caregivers.
By contrast to the unbelievable attitude of American (and even European) purchasers of our industries, which have closed, or transferred, our companies as soon as they have purchased them, Chinese acquirers, always more numerous, have shown a noteworthy interest in safeguarding the autonomy and the role of our local staff. An outstanding example thereof is constituted by the takeover of Pirelli in Milano and its recent floating at the stock exchange. The corporate governance of Pirelli according to the Shareholders Agreement of August 31, 2017 guarantees, also in consideration of the floating to the stock exchange, the maximum of autonomy, as stated in the Whereas: “with the aim to safeguard the corporate culture of Pirelli, maintaining in the long run the present management”, which will remain the sole responsible, under the direction of Marco Tronchetti Provera up to 31 December 2019 and will suggest the name of the new managing director. “The technological know-how of Pirelli will remain in the hands of Pirelli”, and the operational and managenent headquarters shall remain in Milano.”
This type of collaboration has compromised the life of the city of Milano and the jobs and business opportunities of its citizens even less than the atypical merger of FIAT in FCA, which has implied in reality the transfer abroad of all important functions of the company. In case FCA or a part thereof should be purchased by a Chinese group, we should expect that stipulations corresponding to the ones of Pirelli would be adopted. Apart from that, Torino has already about ten subsidiaries of Chinese company; the local TRW has just been taken over and Pininfarina, belonging to the Mahendra Group, is actively cooperating with Chinese for a new hybrid luxury car.
If this trend goes on in the same direction, it should imply at least increased opportunities for them who, as I am, are interested in increasing cooperation with China for the benefit of our youth, our intellectuals, our entrepreneurs, our businessmen, our workers. In fact, the former mayor of Torino, Piero Fassino, had made many efforts for having the railway connection with the Silk Road in Torino (instead of Mortara, as it happens to be now). However, since a new mayor has been elected since two years, we have no further news of the project.
The opportunities for collaboration are particularly strong in the cultural sector, where the concentration of ownership in the hands of a few Western groups has reduced drastically the freedom of expression, in the press and in publishing in general. As indicated by Peter Lavelle of the Russian television RT News (Rossija Segodnia) in a debate of CGTV, it should be a task of the media of the BRICS countries to foster a freer communication climate worldwide. We hope that a massive presence of Chinese capitals in our region could create this wider diversification of the media, and, hence, enhance the opportunities of establishing independent voices.