Spirit of innovation

Updated: 2011-07-01 10:43

By Mike Peters and Shi Yingying (China Daily European Weekly)

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Spirit of innovation
Promoting partnerships between Italian and Chinese small and medium-sized businesses is on top of Iannucci's agenda. Mike Peters / China Daily 

Italian ambassador wants to let China know his homeland is SOURCE OF creative businesspeople

Veteran diplomats are masters of finesse and careful language: They usually choose their words to avoid the appearance of taking sides. But if you ask Italian Ambassador Attilio Massimo Iannucci if he has a favorite in the upcoming 2011 Italian Super Cup, to be held in Beijing on Aug 6, he doesn't tiptoe around his answer.

"AC Milan," he says, beaming. "They are a very good team."

Iannucci, who arrived at his current post in December, sits in the shady garden of the embassy on a hot June afternoon. He's chatting outdoors because the embassy offices are being renovated, but also because the envoy prefers this setting.

"We are expanding this area to make it better for meetings," he says. "People are more relaxed, and discussions are more fruitful." Other aspects of the renovation are also 'green', including solar panels that will help make the four-building compound energy self-sufficient.

Relaxing takes a bit of effort for Iannucci, who has been in high gear lately thanks to the recent celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification.

The magnitude of the anniversary party was also reflected from the Chinese side: Vice-President Xi Jinping visited Italy for several days to participate in the formal celebration with dozens of high officials from around the world. Fourteen different agreements, including three between Chinese telecom giant Huawei and Italian counterparts, were signed during Xi's visit.

In Beijing, the embassy has been hosting art and cultural events, including concerts and movies related to the sesquicentennial, and the ambassador put industry in the spotlight during a recent National Day reception, unveiling a new Fiat compact car that will be marketed and produced in China and a Vespa motorbike that will also be manufactured here. Alitalia will resume direct flights between Rome and Beijing after a 10-year hiatus.

"When we talk about Italy, you immediately think about spaghetti, isn't that true?" Iannucci asked during a recent swing through Shanghai, stressing the second-to-last syllable of "spaghetti".

He told his Chinese audience: "I came (to China) to tell you, we can do spaghetti, but we can do more!"

The envoy says his aim is to change Chinese people's traditional image of Italy, while improving bilateral and diplomatic ties.

"In the hearts of many Chinese, Italy is a dreamland that is famous for culture, food, fashion and football, but there's something that's not very well known - Italian inventors."

Batteries, plastic, radio, scooters, coffee machines, all of these were invented by Italians.

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