Academic journal article China Perspectives

Maritime Boundary Delimitation and Sino-Vietnamese Cooperation in the Gulf of Tonkin (1994-2016)

Academic journal article China Perspectives

Maritime Boundary Delimitation and Sino-Vietnamese Cooperation in the Gulf of Tonkin (1994-2016)

Article excerpt

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In China, as in many countries, textile production has been an engine for industrial growth. From the reforms of the 1980s onwards, strategies aimed at the development of light industries were included in the Five-Year Plans after policies focusing primarily on heavy industries. Textile and clothing companies then came to the forefront to create wealth and employment. As a consequence, Chinese companies, for the most part state-owned enterprises (SOEs), were urged to obtain orders and currency from developed economies. This rapid growth involved achieving technical transfers to transform an obsolete industry based on mass production of low-quality products. Deng Xiaoping's historic Southern Tour in 1992 further accelerated an upsurge in new enterprises. The industry grew dramatically, and several domestic textile producers took the lead in transforming themselves into garment makers and later into retailers and clothing brands.

Since the 2000s, another factor has become crucial for the development of the industry: innovation and creativity embodied in fashion. Fashion, as one of the key industries of the creative economy, (1) is highly visible through its communication, and is playing a significant role in the birth of the modern consumer society that the government aims to achieve. Shifting first from heavy to light industries, then from textile production to clothing, and more recently transitioning into creativity-centred fashion brands, entrepreneurs have faced all the challenges of the modern world fashion industry in a quarter of a century.

This paper presents the transition of the Chinese clothing industry into a fashion-creating system. The main purpose is to identify how globalisation and the economic and social environment of fashion in Shanghai have created new challenges for local players and a need to embrace innovation. The arrival of new entrants was one of the major reasons for the acceleration of a new demand for large, medium, and small companies to find growth opportunities and differentiate amidst a tougher market environment. After supplying developed markets and global consumers with cheap products since the 1980s, the majority of these manufacturers faced the risk of collapse if they did not rapidly integrate new principles into their value chain from design to distribution.

The consequences of this competitive environment vary according to the scale of analysis and the type of actors studied. Under the leadership of the state, manufacturers, distributors, and fashion intermediaries have each found ways to adapt and to further integrate innovation, value creation, and branding. In the scope of this paper, we shall focus mainly on two levels: the eco-system of the sector, and companies. We will see what kinds of pressures and tensions have appeared, and some of the emerging alternatives. We present new evidence on this sector in the last two decades. The frame of analysis was drawn from an interdisciplinary approach as well as from a comparison with other mature fashion countries in the West and with Japan. A body of academic literature,(2) recent books on the subject, trade data, company resources, and the economic press were supplemented with ten qualitative interviews with professionals. The paper also aims at bridging the gap between fashion studies, organisational studies, and Chinese studies. Furthermore, research on the textile and clothing industry generally takes a macro economical perspective, or focuses on labour issues, value chains, (3) and international trade networks. We focus on the micro level of Chinese apparel makers and designers, which has not yet been studied by business historians.(4)They play a key role in the production of creative goods and brands, and in the upgrading of the "made in China" image.

In the first part we present the concept of a fashion system as our theoretical framework. Secondly, we recall the historical background of Shanghai as a textile centre and fashion city. …

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