China Eastern charity brings big benefits to ethnic groups
Clothing featuring cultural elements of the Va ethnic group, designed by Donghua University and manufactured by people with disabilities in a poverty-stricken county in Southwest China’s Yunnan province, will soon hit the shelves of a major Chinese retailer, thanks to a charity program initiated by China Eastern Airlines Corp Ltd.
The deal, which aims to benefit people in Cangyuan, a county with 180,000 residents in Yunnan, was signed by China Eastern, sportswear brand Li Ning Co Ltd, and the Shanghai-based university in Kunming on Oct 17 – the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.
China Eastern has been involved in the area since it partnered with Cangyuan’s disabled persons’ federation in 2016, when it established the Barao ethnic garment and handicraft company.
Currently, Barao turns out around 20,000 items of clothing a year. By signing with Li Ning and Donghua, the partnership expects to boost its competitiveness and distribution.
“We know that Li Ning is interested in setting up a manufacturing company to provide more jobs especially for people with disabilities, so we teamed up to find solutions,” said Li Yangmin, vice-president of China Eastern Group, adding that they hope “to bolimprove
million ster the ethnic culture”.
Under the new partnership, Li Ning, founded by retired Chinese gymnast and entrepreneur Li Ning, will support the design, management, training and marketing of the products by Barao. It also donated machinery to the factory.
Donghua — known for its design and materials specialisms — will help to blend Va ethnic elements into fashion products, aiming to make them both traditional and fashionable.
“Barao used to produce special ethnic clothes for local residents to wear during important festivals and traditional weddings. But by cooperating with China Eastern and Li Ning, we want to design in a fashionable way that makes everyone happy to wear these clothes in daily life,” said Liu Shuhui, deputy Party secretary of the university.
Li Ning thanked China Eastern for establishing the platform and getting Li Ning involved. He said: “We need designers to transform the art into sustainable and wearable products that can be accepted by the market. We want to production and efficiency via the cooperation, and reach the goal of alleviating the poverty.”
Alongside the agreement, China Eastern also signed a memo of strategic cooperation with the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, aimed at supporting healthcare in the two impoverished Yunnan counties of Cangyuan and Shuangjiang.
The airline also opened a new charity-focused supermarket at its base in Kunming, capital of Yunnan, allowing its more than 100,000 employees to buy, both online and in-store, produce from poverty-stricken areas. The airline will also donate 30 percent of the store’s revenues to low-income families.
Since 2003, China Eastern has invested more than 300 million yuan ($43 million) in Cangyuan and Shuangjiang, including the launch of air routes to Lincang and Cangyuan, which helped to boost the regions’ overall GDP by around 800 million yuan, according to the airline.
Ma Xulun, president of China Eastern, said that after more than a decade’s effort, the airline now has a full range of poverty alleviation measures, including a nearly 6 million yuan education fund, 13 China Eastern demonstration villages, four poverty alleviation bases for people with disabilities, and more than 40 assistance projects for constructing beautiful villages.