Rais­ing a glass to Moutai, China’s ‘na­tional liquor’

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By CHANG JUN in San Fran­cisco junechang@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

More and more peo­ple could be lift­ing their spir­its, the Chi­nese way.

For Moutai, China’s lead­ing liquor pro­ducer, the new buzz­words are tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tion and con­tin­u­ous ex­pan­sion into over­seas mar­kets, and the brand is get­ting a shot in the arm in San Fran­cisco.

On Nov 12, Kwe­i­chow Moutai Group kicked off a se­ries of cel­e­bra­tions by host­ing a grand ban­quet and prod­uct ex­hi­bi­tion at the Palace of Fine Arts to com­mem­o­rate the first an­niver­sary of Moutai Day in San Fran­cisco.

A del­e­ga­tion led by Li Bao­fang, gen­eral man­ager of Kwe­i­chow Moutai Group of Guizhou, is on a mis­sion to strengthen liquor cul­tural in­te­gra­tion with its Western coun­ter­parts, en­hance com­mu­ni­ca­tions with global con­sumers and help fa­cil­i­tate China-US re­la­tions through a va­ri­ety of plat­forms that in­volve peo­ple, busi­ness and gov­ern­ments on both sides.

Dur­ing Moutai’s over­seas cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tion held

Moutai has played a big part in China’s in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions.” Li Bao­fang, gen­eral man­ager, Kwe­i­chow Moutai Group

at San Fran­cisco City Hall last year, Mayor Ed Lee named Nov 12 the city’s Moutai Day.

In his speech to 500 guests on Satur­day night, Li re­viewed Moutai’s his­tory of growth, brand de­vel­op­ment and its jour­ney to in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion by re­call­ing that it had won a gold award at the 1915 Panama Pa­cific In­ter­na­tional Ex­po­si­tion which was held “at ex­actly the same place where we hold the gala tonight”.

San Fran­cisco re­mains a city of op­por­tu­nity and a shrine to gen­er­a­tions of Moutai group em­ploy­ees, Li said, adding “Our an­ces­tors rarely trav­eled out­side of the lo­cal town but all of us know the liquor we made through hard word and ar­ti­san spirit is well re­ceived through­out the world,” Li said.

For 100 years, the group has been sus­tain­ing the orig­i­nal ar­ti­san spirit, adapt­ing to chang­ing en­vi­ron­ments and em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy in­no­va­tion in or­der to main­tain the legacy of the “Moutai mir­a­cle” and Moutai’s iconic rank­ing in China’s liquor in­dus­try, Li said.

Cur­rently, Moutai prod­ucts are sold in more than 60 coun­tries and re­gions in Asia, Europe, the Amer­i­cans, Ocea­nia and Africa with its liquor ex­ports reach­ing 614 tons by the end of Au­gust, rep­re­sent­ing a yearly growth of 12.9 per­cent.

The group re­ported a net profit of ap­prox­i­mately $2.5 billion by the end of Au­gust, a 6.7 per­cent yearly rise over the same pe­riod last year, ac­cord­ing to Yuan Ren­guo, chair­man of the group, adding that in­creased ex­ports and ex­pan­sion into other busi­nesses such as e-com­merce, in­vest­ment and financial leas­ing con­trib­uted to the rise.

Moutai is also known as the “liquor of diplo­macy and friend­ship”, serv­ing as the toaster of the nor­mal­iza­tion of China-US re­la­tion­ship in the 1970s through to the cur­rent build­ing of a new type of ma­jor power re­la­tion­ship, said Li.

At the fa­mous state din­ner of 1972, then Chi­nese premier Zhou En­lai pro­posed a toast to vis­it­ing US pres­i­dent Richard Nixon with a glass of Moutai as the whole world looked on.

“When I paid a visit to for­mer US pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter and pre­sented him four bot­tles of Moutai,” Li re­called, “Carter said he knew the liquor and called it well-known.”

In June, 2013, vis­it­ing Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping drank Moutai with his US coun­ter­part Pres­i­dent Barack Obama at Sun­ny­lands.

As the na­tional liquor of China, “Moutai has played a big part in China’s in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions and a sig­nif­i­cant role in cel­e­brat­ing ma­jor fes­tive events and mov­ing for­ward friend­ship be­tween China and other coun­tries,” said Li.

Strolling around the ex­hibit booths check the lineup of Moutai prod­ucts, Mayor Lee said, “Moutai is as­so­ci­ated with many im­por­tant cel­e­bra­tions, cel­e­bra­tions of new year, cel­e­bra­tion of birth­days, cel­e­bra­tions for mean­ing­ful events.”

CHANG JUN / CHINA DAILY

Ed Lee (cen­ter), mayor of San Fran­cisco, sips Moutai liquor with Li Bao­fang (right), gen­eral man­ager of China Kwe­i­chow Moutai Group, on Satur­day at the group’s 1st an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion for its Moutai Day, which was an­nounced by Lee at the group’s San Fran­cisco stop dur­ing its over­seas cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tions last year.

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