No sign of jading in this lucrative living
Last Updated: 2013-09-30 10:24 | China Daily
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Abundant supplies of Myanmar stone have earned fortunes for adventurous dealers

Ke Wencong left his native province of Fujian 23 years ago to make his fortune in Ruili, a city in southwestern Yunnan province that is close to the border with Myanmar.

At that time, Myanmar jade, the most popular traded item in Ruili, was extremely cheap and Ke didn't imagine that the stone would help him accumulate such a huge fortune that he now wears a jade ring worth 3 million yuan ($490,000).

Ke's family land in Jinjiang city in Fujian couldn't feed all the children, so several of them moved to other provinces to earn a living.

"If we hadn't left our hometown to search for some income, we might now be starving in Jinjiang," Ke says.

In his first 10 years in Ruili, Ke and his wife could only afford a shabby house that also served as the shop where they sold jade from neighboring Myanmar.

After 20 years of persistent work in the jade industry, all Ke's efforts started to pay off. Now Ke, general manager of Baimei Jewelry, has an impressive store in downtown Ruili to showcase jade items that are worth millions of yuan.

To expand and improve the jade industry, in 2002 the local authorities built a jade street in downtown Ruili, where each businessman was eligible for a 40 percent discount when buying a store.

Baimei Jewelry is surrounded by more than 5,000 stores that sell Myanmar jade wholesale and retail. The national-level entry port has developed a complete production chain from raw stones trade to manufacturing and sale of jade products, providing jobs for more than 50,000 people and earning annual revenue of 2.5 billion yuan ($409 million) according to the Ruili Office of Cultural Industries.

After more than two decades of development, Ruili has become the fourth-largest collection and distribution center for jade and gems in the country, following Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Henan and Guangdong provinces.

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