Yiwu entrepreneurship celebrated at Zhejiang gala

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated :2021-06-29

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A poster for the TV drama Feather Flies to the Sky. [Photo/WeChat account:yiwufb]

East China's Zhejiang province hosted a grand gala with the theme of "100-Year-Old Red Boat Sets Sail" in the provincial capital of Hangzhou on June 27, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which will fall on July 1.

The gala's programs, performed by 2,300 actors from about 40 art troupes across the province, included solos, choruses, dance, drama, recitals, and screenings. They all paid respect to the rich history of the CPC.

One acclaimed solo at the gala featured Yearning, the theme song of the 2017 hit TV drama Feather Flies to the Sky, which narrates a rags-to-riches tale taking place in Yiwu, Zhejiang province over the decades since the CPC set economic reform in motion in 1978.

Farmland in Yiwu has long been relatively scarce and barren, suitable not for rice plants, but for sugarcanes. For hundreds of years, many local peasants eked out a living by visiting households in neighboring regions to trade handmade brown sugar for feathers, an ingredient of the primitive fertilizers urgently needed in Yiwu. "Small profits, but quick turnover" was the most common business philosophy at that time.

The government banned the business practice in the 1960s and 1970s, citing anti-speculation or anti-capitalism principles. However, following China's launch of economic reforms, these "feathers-for-sugar" vendors reemerged and soon became the earliest merchants in the Yiwu market in the 1980s.

The TV drama's protagonists Chen Jianghe and his wife Luo Yuzhu both initially make their living through the "feathers-for-sugar" business. They then earn their first bucket of gold by running a grocery store at the Yiwu Small Commodities Market. Their small retail business eventually grows into a multinational group.

While their story is fiction, it epitomizes the entrepreneurship experiences of many Yiwu-born businesspeople, who have inherited centuries-old commerce traditions, while also benefitting from the CPC's reform and opening up policy.

Yiwu is now commonly dubbed "the world's supermarket" as it is home to the world's largest wholesale market for small commodities.