IDPs are issued by countries (or their in-country agents) that have adopted one or more of the several international Conventions on Road Traffic. (You can read more about the Conventions and IDPs in this Wikipedia article.) These conventions are international treaties between countries.
Translation isn't an issue: an IDP itself is and serves as a translation of the original license. This is particularly useful when the issuing country and destination country use different languages or different written script. With the IDP, local law enforcement (and car rental agencies) can determine if the license holder can legally drive.
The People's Republic of China has not adopted any of these conventions. Because China hasn't adopted a convention, China has no authority to issue an IDP to its license-holding citizens. Your friend cannot, therefore, obtain an IDP based on holding a Chinese drivers license.
Perhaps one of you can obtain a driver's license from a country that has adopted one of the conventions, and can therefore issue an IDP. If you can't, you will not be able to legally drive, nor rent a vehicle, on your Sardinian vacation.