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September 27, 2017

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Glassware gets boost from G20

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

This year's G20 Leaders Summit in Hangzhou 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 of Qixian may 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-used during the G20 Summit in September were produced by Tianjiu Glassware Co Ltd.

According to its general manager, Lyu Gui, the company was chosen 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 the G20 Summit, 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.

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