China Focus: "Capital of toys" undergoes transition amid epidemic

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 18, 2020
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by Xinhua writers Hong Zehua, Zhan Yijia

GUANGZHOU, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Every 22 seconds, a gear component of a children's toy is made, checked, and transported to the assembly line of a workshop in Shantou, south China's Guangdong Province, where about 400 workers deftly assemble and package the products. They will be sent to children across the world.

The workshop belongs to Guangdong Alpha Group Co., Ltd., and is located in Chenghai District, dubbed "the capital of toys" in the city of Shantou.

As the toy industry continues to flourish in this coastal region, a complete industrial chain has been formed. Over 16,000 toy companies and individual businesses are operating in Chenghai.

"Chenghai's toy industrial chain is so integrated that factories can easily find almost any toy part they need within the district," said Wen Shuanghao, director of the Chenghai industrial and information technology bureau.

In 2019, the toy production value of Chenghai hit 58 billion yuan (about 8.6 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for 21.8 percent of the national toy output, and the district exported toys worth more than 1.03 billion U.S. dollars, 3.31 percent of the country's total toy exports.

But the industry was hit hard by the outbreak of COVID-19, with many enterprises seeing their orders canceled and goods piling up.

"To help employees keeping their jobs, we didn't completely cease production and none of them were laid off," said Du Shaodong, general manager of Jia Xun Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., adding that the toys gradually filled warehouses and the company canteen, so staff needed to eat outdoors.

As international demand shrank, the export-oriented companies had to shift their attention to the domestic market. Without domestic sales channels or experience, most were uncertain how to proceed.

Despite many obstacles, entrepreneurship has been driving locals to seek a way forward, with platforms facilitating domestic sales beginning to thrive.

Xiaoniao Cloud, an online toy display and ordering system developed by Guangdong Hoton Business Exhibition Co., Ltd., has garnered over 30,000 views and 10,000 orders in less than four months. Some 1.65 million different toys have been added to the platform to build a massive online showroom that can be accessed online around the globe.

The local e-commerce industry association has also cooperated with the platform Jingxi to offer training programs and guidance for toy producers targeting domestic sales and promotions.

Hoton also joined hands with e-commerce giant Alibaba's cross-border procurement platform to hold a livestreaming event, which aimed to stimulate sales in an online setting popular among Chinese consumers.

These new sales channels have made it possible for Chenghai's toy industry to recover and even grow amid the epidemic. Data shows the industrial output value in the first half of the year totaled 13.5 billion yuan, up 5 percent year on year.

New orders and sales have revitalized local toy factories and companies, and many like the Alpha Group have been in full swing for the last two months.

"We are planning to expand our business and develop 'factory tourism' in the future. Children will be invited here to take tours and find out how their beloved toys are made in our factory," said Yang Yusheng, CEO of the Alpha Group. Enditem

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