China Poverty Alleviation: Guitar business in southwestern county is changing lives
Making a guitar is an intricate, labor-intensive job requiring the right hands. And the industry is helping one county in southwestern China lift itself out of poverty. CGTN's Wei Lynn Tang has more.
Zheng Pinghui is doing what she's done best for the past 5 years. Using this laser machine - she carves out the brand names that go on top of the guitar headstock. She also inspects the length and shape of guitar necks aided by tools and her professional instinct. Those which do not make it past her keen eyes - get thrown away. Pinghui says she can "quality check" up to hundreds of guitars a day. Four years ago, before this job came along, her family was still living in poverty.
ZHENG PINGHUI, EMPLOYEE ZUNYI SHENQU MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS MANUFACTURING "I did not have a stable income and relied on odd jobs. My two kids are still schooling, while my husband is ill. Life was very tough. My salary is now about 4-thousand yuan a month, which is enough to support my family."
The sole breadwinner of her family, Gu Xu is in the same situation. Her husband is out of work, having injured his hand. Gu used to work in an embroidery factory far away for slightly better pay. But there were sacrifices - namely being away from her loved ones.
GU XU, EMPLOYEE ZUNYI SHENQU MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS MANUFACTURING "The conditions used to be very poor for my family. We were farmers. But now life is much better. I can take care of my two children and parents here."
The thriving guitar industry in one county in China's southwestern Guizhou province is only 6 years in the making. Zheng Chuanjiu, a local, brought back his guitar making facilities from Guangdong province to his hometown in Zheng'an. In 2013, Zheng took up the local government's call and preferential policies offered to help boost jobs and lift locals out of poverty. Zheng'an county now makes up one-fifth of China's 30 million production of guitars.
MENG XI, DEPUTY SECRETARY PARTY WORKING COMMITTEE, ZHENG'AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ZONE "Through the guitar industry, we have created more than 14-thousand jobs and lifted over 6-thousand people out of poverty. At the same time, we have also promoted social harmony, as many of the 300 women who left their children and elderly in the past years have now made their way back."
Women make up 60 percent of this factory's nearly 700 workers.
WEI LYNN TANG ZHENG'AN COUNTY, GUIZHOU PROVINCE "Experts say for poverty alleviation to be sustainable, it has to be comprehensive. And right here at Zheng'an county, they are ticking boxes. Some of these locals earn a decent income from working at guitar factories like what you've just seen. Their living conditions have also improved due to a relocation program. But most importantly, they are now close to home with their children and elderly parents."
MENG XI, DEPUTY SECRETARY PARTY WORKING COMMITTEE, ZHENG'AN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ZONE "Overall, almost 15-thousand people from over 3-thousand households have been relocated to new and safer homes. 425 of them work in our guitar industrial park. With an average monthly per capita income at 3-thousand-500, this person can drive a family out of poverty completely."
And Zheng'an county plans to ramp up future production of guitars, and to continue to move up the value chain, so that more people can find work, and find their way out of poverty.