Milan's Chinatown to be relocated in bid to restore order

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2007, 12:00am

Milan's government plans to relocate its Chinatown to an industrial area on the city's outskirts, in the wake of a riot by residents and an outcry over lawlessness in the district.

The controversial decision was made by Mayor Letizia Moratti and was included in a so-called security pact signed with the vice-minister of internal affairs, Marco Minniti. They said the purpose of the pact was to tackle an 'immigrant emergency' and restore law and order to the city.

The relocation will involve forcing out all businesses in the inner-city area, which is dominated by ethnic Chinese traders.

Siliu Hu, a representative of the Chinese community said: 'We have been to the industrial areas and now we are waiting for the final decision from the shopkeepers.'

A compensation plan which will be offered to the traders has yet to be finalised but shopkeepers are angry about the relocation.

Entrepreneur Luigi Sun said: 'The industrial area where they want to relocate us is too far from Milan. It is difficult to commute to the inner city. The industrial area is too small to house a Chinatown.'

The city's Chinatown has been a centre of conflict in recent months. On April 12 it was the scene of what became known as the 'Chinese revolt', in which hundreds of residents clashed with riot police after a resident received a parking ticket. Ethnic Chinese took to the streets, chanting slogans and waving Chinese flags in a scene which shocked Italians.

On April 27 two young mainland men, Hui Zheng and Wei Zhou, were shot dead by two Chinese men in an afternoon attack. According to investigators, the double homicide was tied to drug trafficking and organised crime. The alleged killers were arrested 10 days later.

Both incidents were decried as evidence of lawlessness in Chinatown, where traders are accused by local authorities of flouting city bylaws and creating traffic chaos.

Giuseppe Innocenti, a resident of the Chinese district, said: 'The Chinese go down the middle of the street with their carts for unloading goods, slowing up the traffic, which is already congested. In my opinion, relocating them to another area seems like a satisfactory solution.'

Minister of Internal Affairs Giuliano Amato last week presented a plan of action to restore order, not only in Milan's Chinatown, but in unstable immigrant neighbourhoods in major Italian cities.

Apart from the relocation of Milan's Chinatown, the government's plan calls for the installation of surveillance cameras at the entrances to the city, and using a squad of 100 officers to fight drug dealing in the urban centre.

An additional squad of 100 will be assigned to combat prostitution among minors and the selling of black-market goods.