China Eastern char­ity brings big ben­e­fits to eth­nic groups

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Business - By HE QI in Shang­hai heqi@chi­

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.

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