The Yiwu market in China, the size of 750 football fields (!!!!), is the largest commodity market globally. Yiwu, a southern Chinese city in Zhejiang gets 5 lakh businessmen from 90 countries, who are in search of computer parts, mobile phones, toy cars and plastic buckets. You are likley to find here something that you never expected to see in China: collection of beautiful images of Hindu gods and goddesses, all made in China. The shops here display the framed photos of Hindu deities - Lords Krishna, Ganesha, Hanuman and goddess Saraswathi on a lotus.
These images will find their way to homes and offices, and even places of worship across India. More than 100 Indian companies buy and distribute them all over India – often without telling the customers about their China link. This image business exemplifies the extent to which Chinese manufacturing has penetrated our market – cell phones, clothes, shoes and electronics from China are now accompanied by the images of gods and goddesses in the containers shipped from the South China Sea.
Most of the plants are located in Cangnan, close to Wenzhou – a thriving city in Zhejiang which is famous for its entrepreneurship. Some companies here record annual sales of Re. 10 crore. Interestingly, they also supply many Christian images for export. Between 30-40 companies in China are in this business, which is currently struggling with rising wages. But as long as there are Indian importers, they need not worry as they are unlikely to find such organized, large-scale suppliers elsewhere in a hurry.