Thriv­ing Cap­i­tal Of Chil­dren’s Clothes

Beijing Review - - EDITOR’S DESK -

Ma­jor so­cial and eco­nomic progress since re­form and open­ing up was in­tro­duced in the late 1970s could not have been achieved with­out the ef­forts of or­di­nary peo­ple. Ev­ery per­son, fam­ily and or­ga­ni­za­tion who have ac­tively par­tic­i­pated in the his­toric drive to give full play to the na­tion’s po­ten­tial has a stake in its suc­cess.

This week’s cover story fol­lows the trans­for­ma­tion of Zhili, a town in Huzhou City, east China’s Zhe­jiang Prov­ince, from a poor vil­lage to China’s man­u­fac­tur­ing hub for chil­dren’s gar­ment over the past four decades. Bei­jing Re­view re­porters trav­eled to Zhili to in­ter­view lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple about the jour­neys they have taken to­ward a bet­ter life.

Zhili started to de­velop its tra­di­tional em­broi­dery in­dus­try fol­low­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the re­form and open­ing-up pol­icy in 1978, but many lo­cal busi­ness peo­ple switched to the pro­duc­tion of chil­dren’s clothes in the mid-1980s in search of big­ger prof­its. Now, Zhili has formed a com­plete in­dus­trial chain of chil­dren’s wear in­cor­po­rat­ing de­sign, man­u­fac­tur­ing, sales, stor­age and lo­gis­tics. It is up­grad­ing the sec­tor by cul­ti­vat­ing fa­mous brands and em­brac­ing e-com­merce.

There are around 13,000 com­pa­nies pro­duc­ing 1.3 bil­lion pieces of chil­dren’s cloth­ing ev­ery year, with over a half of China’s chil­dren’s clothes man­u­fac­tured there.

Zhili’s suc­cess is not a sin­gle case but typ­i­fies the growth pat­tern of coastal re­gions in east China, with their ad­vanced pri­vate economies. The pri­vate econ­omy and free mar­ket have been the en­gine of China’s re­form and open­ing up and have greatly con­trib­uted to its suc­cess.

Zhili’s case is an il­lus­tra­tion of how China’s re­form and open­ing up re­lies on the eman­ci­pa­tion of peo­ple’s minds, the im­prove­ment of so­cial man­age­ment, the mod­ern­iza­tion of agri­cul­ture and ur­ban­iza­tion.

Among the achieve­ments made through re­form and open­ing up, the im­prove­ment of peo­ple’s liv­ing stan­dards is the one that stands above all others. Ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial statis­tics, the num­ber of peo­ple in em­ploy­ment has in­creased by 9.61 mil­lion ev­ery year over the past four decades, per-capita dis­pos­able in­come in­creased by al­most 23 times from 1978 to 2017, per-capita con­sumer ex­pen­di­ture in­creased 18 fold from 1978 to 2017 and the coun­try’s life ex­pectancy im­proved from 67.8 in 1981 to 76.7 last year.

Zhili’s figures stand much higher than the na­tional av­er­age. In 2017, the town’s GDP reached 20.3 bil­lion yuan ($3 bil­lion), and its de­vel­op­ment model can serve as an ex­am­ple for im­pov­er­ished re­gions in other parts of the world.

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