Shanxi county’s glass­ware wins global ac­claim

Lo­cal com­pa­nies in Qix­ian ride or­ders from sum­mit to rebound from re­cent down­turn

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By SUN RUISHENG in Qix­ian, Shanxi and SHI JING in Shang­hai shi­jing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

This year’s G20 Lead­ers Sum­mit in­Hangzhou not only brought more fame to its host city but also set the spot­light on the more re­mote county of Qix­ian, lo­cated in cen­tral Shanxi prov­ince.

Those who have some knowl­edge ofQix­i­an­may have learned about it from Zhang Yi­mou’s film Raise the Red Lan­tern, which was shot in the renowned Qiao Fam­ily Com­pound. But Qix­ian is also known for some­thing else: its glass­ware.

All the glass­ware — in­clud­ing the wine and wa­ter glasses — used­dur­ing theG20Sum­mit in Septem­ber were pro­duced by Tian­jiu Glass­ware Co Ltd.

Ac­cord­ing to its gen­eral man­ager, Lyu Gui, the com­pa­ny­wascho­sen over seven com­peti­tors to pro­vide the State ban­quet dur­ing the G20 Sum­mit with more than 40,000 prod­ucts in 15 dif­fer­ent pat­terns. Th­ese in­cluded red wine gob­lets and tea sets.

“As soon as we were as­signed the de­sign and pro­duc­tion job by the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee of theG20Sum­mit, we set up a spe­cial de­sign team and worked on our plan dozens of times,” said Lyu.

“You can say we gave full play to the hand­blown glass tech­niques of Qix­ian glass­ware de­vel­oped over the last 60 years.”

Word about the G20 job spread rapidly and or­ders for Qix­ian glass­ware mul­ti­plied. Not only Tian­jiu but the other com­pa­nies in the county saw their or­ders rise, lead­ing to some of the pop­u­lar prod­ucts selling out.

Ac­cord­ing to Hu Xiaofeng, di­rec­tor of the Qix­ian Glass­ware In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Cen­ter, the G20 sum­mit sig­naled an­other im­por­tant turn­ing point for the lo­cal glass­ware sec­tor. Prior to that, eight years ago, the lo­cal com­pa­nies and the govern­ment had al­ready be­gun to re­vive the tra­di­tional in­dus­try, af­ter it was hit by fall­out from the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

Be­fore that, the in­dus­try had ex­panded con­sid­er­ably with the num­ber of glass­ware man­u­fac­tur­ers jump­ing from 41 in 1998 to 160 one decade later.

Hu said the lo­cal govern­ment had not been dis­heart­ened by the dif­fi­culty of the task to re­vive the in­dus­try, but rather seized on the op­por­tu­nity to re­struc­ture it. Com­pa­nies were merged to make those left more com­pet­i­tive.

The reshuf­fle worked. The 38 glass­ware com­pa­nies in the county re­ported to­tal an­nual out­put last year worth 2.1 bil­lion yuan ($305 mil­lion), up from 1.4 bil­lion yuan in 2008. About 45 per­cent of the hand­blown glass­ware pro­duced in China last year came fromQix­ian.

Com­pa­nies have also come to un­der­stand that only high­end prod­ucts with high qual­ity can win in the mar­ket­place.

“Crafts­man­ship is what we value the most in our work,” said Tian­jiu’s Lyu.

“A com­pany can only stand out against the stiff com­pe­ti­tion with world-class prod­ucts, brand image build­ing and prod­uct in­no­va­tion. It is our goal to make Tian­jiu a na­tional industrial brand,” Lyu added.

With that idea in mind, glass­ware com­pa­nies in Qix­ian have been work­ing harder to im­prove their prod­uct qual­ity. Brands such as Dahua and Hongyi have been rec­og­nized as na­tional trade­marks by the Trade­mark Of­fice of the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion for In­dus­try and Com­merce.

Qix­ian’s glass­ware com­pa­nies have been at­tach­ing great im­por­tance to over­seas mar­kets, af­ter hav­ing first en­tered the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket in the 1980s.

Cur­rently 50 per­cent of its glass­ware are sold to the United States, 30 per­cent to Europe and the rest sold to South Africa, the Mid­dle East, South Asia, South­east Asia, Canada and Aus­tralia.

But to off­set the im­pact of the stag­nant econ­omy in th­ese over­seas mar­kets, Qix­ian glass­ware com­pa­nies have been ex­pand­ing their ac­tiv­i­ties in China, tar­get­ing the whole­sale mar­kets in Shang­hai, Guangzhou and Yiwu.

The lo­cal govern­ment has also been pro­mot­ing a new ru­ral e-com­merce pro­gram with Alibaba, set­ting up a spe­cial Qix­ian store on the plat­form to win more con­sumers.

While Qix­ian’s glass­ware in­dus­try has en­tered a new phase of de­vel­op­ment, prob­lems still ex­ist.

To fur­ther stim­u­late its de­vel­op­ment, the lo­cal govern­ment im­ple­mented a num­ber of fa­vor­able poli­cies on tax, land use and fi­nanc­ing. Con­struc­tion of a glass­ware cul­ture park has started in Qix­ian, aim­ing at at­tract­ing tourists.

The lo­cal govern­ment also in­vested 120 mil­lion yuan ($17.4 mil­lion) to set up an in­ter­na­tional glass­ware school with Di­ablo Glass School from Bos­ton.

2.1 bil­lion yuan an­nual out­put value of the 38 glass­ware com­pa­nies in Qix­ian county in 2015 50 per­cent of Tian­jiu Glass­ware Co Ltd’s prod­ucts are ex­ported to the United States

FAN HEPING / FOR CHINA DAILY

An ar­ti­san gives fi­nal touches to a vase at Hong­hai Glass­ware Co Ltd in Qix­ian, Shanxi prov­ince, which makes high-end prod­ucts.

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