Intl friendship promotes Shandong straw plaiting

(| Updated : 2019-10-18

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Straw plaiting products are on display at the Jinan International Sister Cities Commodity Expo on Oct 15. [Photo by Ding Yuanyuan for]

Straw plaiting, a special type of handicraft from Xinhe town, Pingdu city, Shandong province took the spotlight at the Jinan International Sister Cities Commodity Expo from Oct 15 to 17.

Dozens of new summer products made their debut at the expo, leaving a strong impression on visitors from China and abroad. Local craftsmen were invited to showcase their skills during the activity, and visitors were given a chance to try their own hands at the ancient art.

Xinhe town is the largest manufacturing center of straw plaiting products in the region north of the Yangtze River. It is home to more than 90 straw plaiting businesses, including over 10 with annual revenue of at least 20 million yuan ($2.82 million).

More than 20,000 locals are employed in the industry, whose products are sold to more than 50 countries and regions, including Japan, South Korea, the United States, Europe, and Southeast Asia. The industry’s annual output value topped 2.4 billion yuan in 2018.

The town’s plaiting bags and hats have been displayed at a number of international fashion shows, winning recognition from luxury brands such as Hermes and Louis Vuitton.

According to local officials, more than 90 percent of the straw plaiting products are exported, yet producers remain at the bottom of the profit chain.

“The expo was a great opportunity to introduce the history and development of the ancient technique to the world,” said Cheng Guofei, a local official.

“We wanted to showcase the industry’s contributions to poverty alleviation and rural revitalization,” he added.

To boost innovation in the ancient art, the Xinhe government has registered a trademark for its straw plaiting products, namely “Zhi Jian Da Xiang” (“elephant in fingers”), which is meant for medium-level and upscale markets.

A brand release conference was held in Beijing on June 3, where the town officially announced that it was recruiting partners from around the world.

The local government has also integrated straw plaiting into its culture and tourism industries in a bid to drive social and economic development in the town.