GUIYANG, July 19 (Xinhua) -- Residents of Zheng'an, an obscure county deep inside the valley of southwest China, used to make a living either by being a farmer or a migrant worker. Now they have found a new way out -- making guitars.
Im Kyo Kuk, president of a trade company based in the Republic of Korea, tested the quality of a Chinese-made guitar in a workshop in Zheng'an County, Guizhou Province.
It was Im Kyo Kuk's fifth visit to Zheng'an, where he can get "quality guitars at a reasonable price and with good service."
Zheng'an was once an anonymous place characterized by steep mountains and barren land. To survive, most locals had to toil in small plots of land during lifetime or leave their wife and kids for big cities where they can get jobs.
Its endeavor on guitar manufacturing started in 2012 when the local government studied how to transform the mountainous agricultural county and bring better lives for locals.
They found that a large number of Zheng'an residents worked in guitar plants in more prosperous Guangdong Province in the 1980s and 1990s. In the city of Guangzhou alone, more than 20,000 Zheng'an people are involved in the guitar industry.
Zheng Chuanjiu is one of them. He ran a successful guitar factory in Guangzhou when he received an invitation from his hometown government to start a business back home.
Without raw materials, supporting industries, and convenient transportation, Zheng'an was not an ideal destination for his business. But he made up his mind to move back given the preferential policies, low-cost land and labor force.
He set up a musical instruments manufacturing company at his hometown in 2013. "In the long run, it is more beneficial for my company in Zheng'an," he said.
In a guitar industrial zone covering an area of over 60 hectares, guitar-related elements can be found everywhere ranging from street lamps to sculptures. A music drama themed on guitars has also premiered to shore up the industry.
Zheng'an is now home to some 54 guitar-related enterprises. Six out of 10 global guitar brands have manufacturing plants in the industrial zone. Around 60 percent of products there are exported to over 30 countries and regions in Europe and America.
"My company can save over 6 million yuan (around 873,000 U.S. dollars) in operating costs for a year after moving here," said Ma Dashu, the legal representative of Mashi guitar manufacturing company.
Last year, the industrial zone produced and sold more than 6 million guitars with an output value of around 6 billion yuan, according to Deng Zhaotao, the Party chief of Zheng'an.
Shu Xiaonyu, a resident of Jiefang Village in the county, ended her life as a migrant worker in Guangzhou after a guitar plant settled down in her county.
"My husband and I can earn up to 9,000 yuan a month now. More importantly, we can stay together with our kid," Shu said.
China aims to eradicate poverty by 2020, the target year to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects. The guitar manufacturing industry plays a role in generating wealth for the impoverished Zheng'an.
Statistics showed that the guitar industrial zone had offered job opportunities to more than 13,700 people by the end of last year, including more than 1,280 registered impoverished villagers.
"Zheng'an County has become a major guitar manufacturing base in China. It is beyond imagination that this trendy western musical instrument can be produced in such a remote, landlocked region like Guizhou," Deng said.