Beijing anger over 'boiling baby' claims
Natasha Bita, Florence
March 30, 2006
CHINA has protested against the Italian Prime Minister's claim that Chinese communists had boiled babies to make fertiliser, as Italy's Economy Minister lashed out at competition from Beijing, claiming China was "eating Italy alive".
The Chinese embassy in Rome said China was incensed by the "unfounded claims" made by Silvio Berlusconi who - trailing in opinion polls ahead of Italy's April 9-10 election - hit out at his left-wing opponents at a rally in Naples by claiming communists had a history of boiling babies.
"The behaviour and comments of Italy's leaders ought instead to serve to further good, stable relations between China and Italy," the embassy said.
In Naples at the weekend Mr Berlusconi said: "Read The Black Book of Communism and you will discover that in Mao's China (from 1949 to 1976), the communists didn't eat babies, but boiled them to fertilise the fields."
Italy's Foreign Minister, the reformed fascist Gianfranco Fini, half-heartedly hosed down the controversy yesterday with a statement that Mr Berlusconi had simply been citing from page 460 of the Italian edition of The Black Book of Communism, an 800-page compilation of communist crimes published by Harvard University Press.
"The phrase in question refers to episodes in the past," the Foreign Ministry said. "It is obvious that there is no intention to arouse controversy with the People's Republic of China."
Opposition leader Romano Prodi - whose 12-member coalition includes two communist parties - accused Mr Berlusconi of discrediting Italy internationally and offending China.
Massimo D'Alema, who heads the biggest left-wing party, Democrats of the Left, quipped that it was just as well only 10 days remained until the election, "or Italy will find itself at war with all of humanity".
Mr Berlusconi joked in Brussels last week about declaring war on France, after the French Government moved to block an Italian bid for a French power company.
Last month his right-wing reform minister, Roberto Calderoli, quit cabinet after sparking riots in Libya by flaunting a T-shirt decorated with the controversial anti-Islamic Danish cartoons on television.
The unrepentant Mr Calderoli insisted yesterday that communists used to eat babies.
"In past communist regimes, particularly the Chinese ones, in periods of famine children were even eaten," he said.
Mr Calderoli said the Italian Government should be protesting to China over its "unfair competition", which was "devouring the Italian economy".
Italy's Economy Minister, Giulio Tremonti, also went on the attack, declaring the Chinese were "eating Italy alive".
"I want customs duties and quotas imposed on Chinese imports to this country for many years, until we have adjusted from an industrial point of view," he told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. Chinese shoemakers are appealing against last week's European Union decision to slap a temporary tariff of 19.4 per cent on Chinese shoes, starting on April 7.
Flooded by cheap Chinese imports since the World Trade Organisation abolished quotas on Chinese textiles and clothing a year ago, the EU has re-imposed temporary quotas on a range of clothing until 2007.
Europe's textile and clothing lobby estimates 50 firms are closing each day due to competition from China.
Alessandra Mussolini - the grand-daughter of Italy's fascist dictator and a right-wing ally of Mr Berlusconi - yesterday said as many as six million opponents of the communist regime in China were being detained in labour camps. "The work carried out by these inmates goes entirely to the coffers of the dictators who churn out products destined for the market at zero cost," she said.
I saw that. i said to myself wtf?! The_Beer_Slayer
PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID OF THEIR GOVERNMENTS. GOVERNMENTS SHOULD BE AFRAID OF THEIR PEOPLE.