Wang Gong Zhuang village, in Beiguan Town of Minquan County in Central China's Henan Province, is known as the number 1 village for producing tiger paintings. More than 700 villagers, half of its entire population, are engaged in the business. Thirty-four-year-old Wang Chunli is one of them. She used to paint flowers and natural sceneries. One piece of her work was sold at only 30 yuan, or less than 5 dollars. But now her tiger paintings can be sold for as much as 60,000 yuan, or nearly 9,000 U.S. dollars. Wang Chunli says she never expected to earn so much money by painting.
"60,000 yuan is equivalent to the income of growing wheat on 30,000 square kilometers of land. As a farmer, I'm happy with the result. We can earn money by other means other than farming."
Tiger paintings have brought the village great benefits. Last year, more than 60,000 paintings were sold with an overall price of 35 million yuan, or over 5 million dollars. As this year is the Chinese Year of the Tiger, the village has attracted many travelers, which is a plus for local tourism. The Wang Gong Zhuang village government took up the business opportunity and invited professional painters to teach villagers painting skills. Wang Peiyun, is the secretary of the village government office. He believes promotion is an effective tool.
"We've promoted our paintings in commercials and published a painting album. We've also registered trademarks for our village and our paintings."
China's central government has pledged to push forward the transformation of the nation's economic development pattern. One strategy is to promote emerging industries such as the cultural and creative industry. Cao Guangyou, former chairman of the Board of Supervisors for Key Large State-Owned Enterprises, admits that expansion of new industries will surely help boost domestic economy.
"China's traditional industries have fallen behind other countries. Some have excessive production capacity and enough products are labeled 'Made in China'. Only by developing new and creative industries, can we expect economic growth."
Li Yansheng, Deputy Director of Arts Committee of Chinese Painting Research Institute, thinks that creativity comes out of education.
"If the villagers want to paint tigers well, they should learn the knowledge and cultural meaning of tigers. Only when people's knowledge is updated, can the creative industry develop quickly and boost the economy."
Li Yansheng also suggests that Chinese people should learn to embrace new things. But to reach that goal, he believes the government needs to do more to widen people's horizons.