Chinese medical experts are dispensing advice to Italy in the hopes of helping them deal with the coronavirus that has ravaged Italy the past few weeks. The first bit of advice was that the European country was “not strict enough” in their handling of the health crisis. It has gotten so bad in Italy that one nurse said they have stopped counting the bodies.

Milan, Italy, was the site of a press conference held on Thursday where Chinese Red Cross Vice President Sun Shuopeng said that conditions in Northern Italy are “..similar to what we experienced two months ago in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of COVID-19."

He continued, "In the city of Wuhan after one month since the adoption of the lockdown policy, we see a decreasing trend from the peak of the disease. Here in Milan, the hardest-hit area by COVID-19, there isn't a very strict lockdown: public transportation is still working, and people are still moving around, you're still having dinners and parties in the hotels and you're not wearing masks. We need every citizen to be involved in the fight of COVID-19 and follow this policy.”

Then he added that Italians should stop all “economic activities and cut the mobility of people” imploring that everyone should just remain at home.

At first glance, this is like a cat advising a dog to quit barking and wagging its tail to get fed but a deeper look reveals how the two cultures have been intertwined since the 13th-century travels of Marco Polo.

Marco Conti, in an October 2019 article posted on his Chinamultiservice (CMS) website, pointed out some commonalities between the two nations:

  • They both have similar views on what Conti called “The Family Concept” with the respect of elders and kids living at home until they marry.
  • The importance of food in each culture. Meals are a family event and an important setting for businesses and friendships.
  • Having an “inner circle” of friends in personal and business interactions is key in each culture.
  • Each culture brags of amazing and ancient histories, if Rome formed western culture, China was the primary sculpture of eastern or Asian culture.

Conti also picked out two main differences. The Chinese are known for their competitiveness, drive to succeed and work ethic that far exceeds western cultures. Italy has what most of China lacks: the amazing ability to enjoy themselves that includes knowing how to dress, dine, the art of romance and a love of socializing.

China is also run by a strict authoritarian Communist regime that stresses sameness in behavior and severe consequences for those that don’t “fall into line”. Italy is a free democratic republic but as the death count rises, they may have to adopt a Chinese philosophy for a while until the pandemic runs its course.