Chicken-blood jade dealers feather nests

Updated: 2015-04-24 08:16

By Huo Yan/Wang Xiaodong

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Traders in the small township of Sanmen are cashing in on a recently discovered rare natural resource that's boosting incomes and changing lives. Huo Yan and Wang Xiaodong report from Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Like many of his fellow villagers in the mountain township of Sanmen, Zhou Yunyao used to migrate to bigger cities to undertake a range of jobs, such as vehicle maintenance, to raise his standard of living.

That's no longer the case, though. Fortune smiled on Zhou in 2012, when he returned to his hometown in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region from nearby Guilin city and opened a shop selling souvenirs made from chicken-blood jade, a type of stone that's predominantly red in color and was only discovered in the area in recent years.

In the 15-square-meter shop, a number of differently sized and shaped rocks containing the rare resource and the souvenirs made from it, such as seal stamps, bracelets and cups, are displayed on glass shelves and tables.

Zhou said the shop brings him 300,000 yuan ($48,000) a year, about six times more than he earned as a mechanic. He gets his raw materials from a friend who owns a mining company that excavates jade in the nearby mountains. "The jade business brings high profits," he said.

Sanmen, a town with a population of 15,000 that's administered by Longsheng county in Guilin, is the region's biggest jade-production area. Traditionally, the residents have relied on farming for their livelihoods, but in recent years they have been taking advantage of the local resources to eradicate poverty and fuel their aspirations of wealth.

About one-third of the city's residents are engaged in the excavation, processing or selling of chicken-blood jade, and business related to the stone accounts for 50 percent of the town's annual GDP, according to the Guilin Chicken-blood Jade Association.

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