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tv   Asia Insight  PBS  January 16, 2016 12:00am-12:31am PST

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>> yiwu, zhejiang province is home to the largest general merchandise wholesale market in the world.
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every day, more than 100,000 buyers from all parts of the globe come here. over 300,000 types of product are on offer ranging from food to furniture. the mainstay items are locally made daily necessities. for centuries, yiwu has been well-known for everyday goods made at home by local farmers for extra income. during the rise of communism, however, a ban on personal commercial activities was imposed. china's open market policy allowed farmers to make goods again. in november, 2014, the comment commenced operations with yiwu station at the beginning of the line.
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it is tea world's longest railway and part of china's one belt, one road policy. the 13,000 kilometer route takes cargo from yiwu to the spanish capital of madrid in 21 days. yiwu's exports surged by 46% between january and september of 2015 despite declining national exports. the railway has opened the way for more foreign trade. even so, unemployed people can be seen everywhere on yiwu's streets.
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>> china he's new economic strategy is to develop trade in inland regions leaving yiwu at a junction in its histories with all the hopes and struggles of the city's wholesalers and workers as they prepare for the christmas season. shanghai had seven huge wholesale markets and hundreds of thousands of wholesale stores. one district in northern yiwu exclusively sells christmas-related goods. with more than 300 wholesale
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stores filling the 160,000 square meter area, it's known as christmas town. an incredible 60% of all the christmas items purchased throughout the world were sold through yiwu's christmas town. >> according to city reports,
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the volume of exports of christmas goods up to july 2015 grew 25.5% on the year and is still rising. one store enlarged its sales by building a factory and developing original products. >> nine years ago, he took over the store his mother started as a retailer and expandsed the business. his company currently enjoid joyce annual sales exceeding $2 million u.s. dollars.
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>> he has five factories which are divided by the product materials they use, such as paper, cloth, and plastic. products are reviewed every year. and color and design can be changed at the client's request. he took us to a special display room in the basement of his store. he uses it exclusively for major or regular clients. over a thousand types of christmas tree baubles fill the shelves.
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>> different countries and regions all have a preference for color and design. according to him, meeting such needs is vital for success.
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>> yiwu's economic development used to be -- working from home. such work is now done in factories on a much larger scale. most factories still rely on manual labor. cheap labor, performed most lie by migrants from inland villages enables manufacturers to make changes to designs for small orders or speedily respond the additional requests. even if the profit margin on each product is as little as several cents.
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tens of thousands of migrant pack trooes tree workers, however, have lost their jobs in recent years. this is due to a rise in labor costs along with surging land prices as yiwu becomes the largest distribution center in eastern china. factories making products with little profit margin are now moving their operations to lower cost inland areas in search of cheap labor. over the past two years, unemployment in yiwu has risen steeply. the jobless now flood the streets from very early in the morning in the hopes of getting some day work. crowds of people flock around vehicles seek just two or three workers. such employers usually offer lower wages compared to the city's average pay.
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despite the poor wage conditions, people still flood the streets.
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>> most of the people here are migrants from inland china who came to yiwu in search of higher wages. they can't return to their hometowns empty handed. some of yiwu's migrants come with their families and relatives. this factory was founded two years ago. a couple and two family members from a province about 2,000 kilometers away work here producing and packing christmas goods. tao first same to yiwu six years ago. she stopped working for a while after giving birth, but started
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again last year. her younger brother used to work in shanghai but fell ill. he came to yiwu this year to join his sister and work at the same factory. >> her husband and his cousin normally work as day laborers on construction sites. but they sometimes work at the factory because their normal work is unstable. on this day, they are earning $2
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for every 100 bags they fill with christmas ornaments and decorations. they feel it's better than not working at all. >> tao and the family all come from poor farming villages and began working before completing compulsory education. tao and her husband live in a district full of migrant workers. to keep the rent down, migrants often share houses and rooms. bathrooms and water is also
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shared. tao's accommodation has two rooms. she shares one room with her husband. and his cousin uses the other space. at most, tao and her husband can earn around $1500 a month. they have been saving up for their children's futures.
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>> on this day, tao's husband fails to find construction work again. as usual, he goes with his wife to work at the christmas decoration factory. in mid october, the store received a huge additional order from france. he thinks he won't be able to
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meet the deadline with his current system. >> he had begun producing goods at a warehouse in addition to all his factories. the extra order is for ceiling decorations. they need to make 10,000 pieces at three different lengths.
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>> the products need to be ready within the next 48 hours if they are to meet the deadline for sending by ship. he stays up all night calculating whether he should spend money on increasing labor or sending the good by a more expensive, but quicker, method.
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he decides to discuss the matter with the christmas products industry association. the organization was launched for wholesale stores in christmas town to exchange information and set guidelines. the vice chairman of the association runs one of the largest wholesale stores in christmas town.
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>> after consulting with his client, he decides to deliver the cargo to europe by freight train.
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in the end, the company completed the extra order two days later than the shipping date they had initially set. but after switching to freight train, they still had plenty of time to meet the deadline. due to strong demand, the yixunou railway operates once a week. the initial plan when it opened was for once a month service. the client agreed to cover the freight cost due to the sudden order. if all goes to plan, the merchandise should reach the client sooner than it would have if it had been sent by ship.
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>> for several days, tao's husband hasn't been working at the factory where his wife works. he has rented a small plot of land to grow some vegetables.
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>> he says he looks forward feeding his children the vegetables he grows when they come to live with him and his wife next year. migrants come to coastal cities in search of higher wages. but ironically, many are now being forced to return inland to work for recently built factories that seek cheaper labor. meanwhile, he is tending to new business. he fills boxing with a range of new products that have just been released. he heads to a department store
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in the shopping district. >> he gets to work straightaway.
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i wants to shoot around 30 products today. he moves from shop to shop, shooting different items. he plans to use the pictures on a new on line store he is opening for the european market. he continues shooting until his last battery dies out.
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>> he is devising a system whereby excel goods not only to large scale wholesalers, but also directly to retailers around the world.
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the new trading path from china to europe has been paved. stimulating the economy of inland regions had been an issue for china for many years, leading to the creation of the one belt, one road policy. the effects are already evident in yiwu. the first station on the yixunou railway, which is ushering the next chapter in china's economic development.
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host: hello and welcome to "global 3000." so here we are again in this pre-holiday season that for some reason always turns out to be hectic and stressful. in this edition of our program, we'll take the opportunity to slow things down a bit and introduce you to people who turn to the calming powers of nature. we'll also hear from someone whose reflections about political crises are really good food for thought. so here are the stories we have coming up for you. on a quest for the meaning of life, a trip to the arctic ice of greenland. what our millennium teen enjoys about his life on the islands of the seychelles.

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