Jan. 11 - Italy's sluggish economy is causing many Chinese immigrants to shut up shop and go to China or North America, where they believe their businesses will do better. Joanna Partridge reports.
Enrico Xu enjoys the Italian way of life. He was born in Rome to Chinese parents - and can't imagine living anywhere else. SOUNDBITE: Enrico Xu, Italian barman, saying (Italian): "Whether you want to stay or go depends on whether you've been here for a long time. It's different for me, I was born here." Italy's sluggish economy means many other Chinese immigrants without such strong ties to the country are packing up and leaving. Higher taxes and a clampdown on tax evasion are causing many Chinese owners of small and medium-sized businesses to shut up shop. Sonia Zho has lived in Rome for over 20 years and owns a Chinese restaurant. She says the face of the area is changing. SOUNDBITE: Sonia Zho, Chinese restaurant owner, saying (Italian): "Before Piazza Vittorio was like Chinatown, full of Chinese people, full of shops. But now many are closing businesses, now near me many shops are closed, or empty, or have turned into other types of shops which aren't Chinese anymore." Many of those leaving are buying a one-way ticket home. Giuseppe Lombardo owns a travel agency with his Chinese wife. SOUNDBITE: Giuseppe Lombardo, Italian Co-Owner of Travel Agency, saying (Italian): "We have definitely seen a reduction in travelling by Chinese clients, particularly Chinese businessmen, who have big or small businesses in Italy. Most notable is the movement of Italians. The numbers of Italians going to China has dropped by thirty percent." China's motor may be slowing - but its economic outlook is a lot healthier than Italy's - or the rest of Europe's. As well as returning home, some Chinese are heading to the United States and Canada. And Italians may live to regret their departure. With an ageing population and a low birth rate, economists warn without immigrants, Italy has little hope of pulling itself out of recession.