Let the good times finally flow

By Xu Junqian | China Daily | Updated: 2017-10-14 09:01

Let the good times finally flow

The Shanghai Yangtze River Bridge connects Chongming with downtown Shanghai. Chongming island is the third largest in the country after Taiwan and Hainan. [Photo by Gong Shengping/China Daily]

If there were just one man who disagreed with the sentiment that good wine sells itself, it would probably be Yu Jianrong. Fifteen years ago the government official quit his job at the age of 38 after deciding to seek his fortune by making laobaijiu, or sticky rice wine. But by 2010 Yu, a native of Chongming island, northeast of Shanghai, was still far from realizing his ultimate goal: to make his hometown specialty as popular as China's national alcohol, Moutai, the manufacturer of which, Kweichow Moutai, overtook Diageo Plc as the world's most valuable liquor company this year.

Just as he was about to give up, after having spent more than 3 million yuan ($460,000) of his savings, his fortunes took a turn for the better when the Shanghai Yangtze River Tunnel and Bridge was completed and opened in 2009.

The world's largest tunnel-bridge structure, at almost 26 kilometers, including the tunnel and bridge, has cut the travel time between downtown Shanghai and the island from more than one hour to 20 minutes. The only way to get to the island, at the mouth of the Yangtze River, used to be ferry.

Since 2010, the number of tourists, mostly from Shanghai for a weekend getaway, visiting the island has doubled every year, the local tourism bureau says, and last year more than 4.9 million visitors traveled to the island, which has a population of about 670,000.

"A Chinese saying has it that the bouquet of a good wine transcends the walls of the alley in which it is hidden to attract drinkers," said Yu, the founder of Nongben Winery. The name Nongben means the origin of agriculture.

"However, as confident as I was about my rice wine, I never expected it to travel across the Yangtze River, which it now does thanks to the bridge."

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