During the 1950s, when official diplomatic relations between Italy and Communist China were absent because of the Cold War status quo and as a consequence of the Korean conflict, Dino Gentili, a socialist trader linked with the Secretary of the Italian Socialist Party, Pietro Nenni, established some lasting commercial trade with the PRC and tried to prompt the government to provide unofficial but effective support. At the time, informal talks and short-term commercial agreements existed between European countries and China, foreseeing the possibilities of helping the industrialization process of such a vast country. The strategic opportunity for Italy to be involved in such affairs, notwithstanding CoCom’s threats, was matter of discussion raising both concerns and consensus in both the political class and institutional circles, whose reactions changed throughout the decade towards less restrictive attitudes. Although this essay does not deal exhaustively with the Italian-Chinese trade issue, the Gentili affair shows how commercial possibilities thus became a highlight of the pending key points before the bilateral normalization (1970) that closed old questions and imposed new expectations.
Capisani, L. M., Dino Gentili, la Comet e il dialogo commerciale fra Italia e Cina (1952-1958), <<STUDI STORICI>>, 2013; (Giugno): 419-447 [http://hdl.handle.net/10807/58412]