Bringing it all back home

Updated: 2015-12-04 07:57

By Li Yang and Yang Jun(China Daily)

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Problematic development

Yet, the development of industries in the backward places such as Bijie is still problematic.

Li Zhongyi, president of Muye Agricultural Development Co in Zhijin county, hails from Weifang. Since June last year, he has invested more than 60 million yuan to build a pig farm, a goose farm and fund an orchard on the mountain.

"Land is not a problem in Bijie, but money is," Li said. A lack of ready collateral meant he was unable to secure loans from rural banks, so the local government promised to provide him with loan guarantees and 30 percent of the cost of building his workshops. However, the authorities now say the policy has changed and refuse to provide the money.

"I appreciate the fact that government has built a road up the mountain to my farm. But if not solved in time, the lack of financial support will throttle my business soon," Li said.

An Taimin, a county spokeswoman of Zhijin, said many new opportunities have been brought by companies from outside of the area. "The Party chief of Zhijin county is from Shandong, and he invites many businessmen from his hometown to visit and invest in Bijie. Without that connection, it would be difficult to attract investment and technology from the coastal regions."

In 2012, Qingdao Daheyongan Garment Co from Shandong set up a factory on the outskirts of Zhijin, and last year, it produced 8.27 million pairs of jeans, worth 650 million yuan. About 97 percent of the factory's products are exported to developed countries under brands such as Levi's, Zara, Uniqlo and H&M.

Duan Tongxing, director of the factory office, predicted that this year production will rise to 12 million pairs of jeans, worth 1 billion yuan.

"The bottleneck is that we cannot find enough workers to fill our rapidly expanding workshops," Duan said. The factory's three workshops employ 3,500 local workers, but several nearby workshops are standing idle, despite an average monthly wage of 3,500 to 4,000 yuan, and the lure of free dormitories, three free meals a day, and a discount offered to workers who buy houses developed by the factory in the center of the county.

According to Duan, most of the company's workers are between 30 and 45 years of age. "Young migrant workers from Bijie would rather go to big cities and earn less money as waiters, instead of working at home. They want to see the world, and they believe that there are more opportunities in the big cities," he said.

The factory has three buses that constantly travel around Bijie as part of a recruitment drive.

"Half of our energy is spent on production and sales, the other half is spent looking for workers," Duan said.

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