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Tricky switch to lighting a new world

Updated: 2013-11-04 08:10
By Qiu Quanlin in Zhongshan, Guangdong ( China Daily)

Bright future ahead for Zhongshan, the brightest spot on nation's industrial map

Tricky switch to lighting a new world

Guzhen is a veritable township of light, home to more than 4,000 companies engaged in making and selling lighting products. [Qiu Quanlin / China Daily]

Tricky switch to lighting a new world

The hand of fate is resting nervously on the dimmer switch of China's lighting industry, not sure which way it is going to turn. For some businesses, it will get brighter; for others, dark times may lie ahead.

As the shining center of the industry, Zhongshan in Guangdong province is where the changes will be reflected the most. In the city's Guzhen township, which has a population of 80,000, more than 4,000 companies are engaged in making and selling lighting products.

According to the local government, last year the output of "China's lighting capital" was 15.81 billion yuan ($2.6 billion), accounting for more than 60 percent of the country's lighting industry total.

Lighting products worth $480 million were shipped from Guzhen to more than 130 countries and regions in 2012. Exports have increased by 42 percent year-on-year to $213 million in the first half of this year, the local inspection and quarantine authority says.

But that is only half the story. All is not as bright as it seems. In the past few years, many of Guzhen's lighting manufacturers and their 2,000 shops in the township have been switching over to LED products. In China and around the world, the much more energy-efficient and longer lasting light-emitting diode products are replacing traditional incandescent lighting, still the core of Guzhen's industry.

As part of a massive program to save energy and cut down on carbon emissions, and a continuing urbanization drive, by the end of 2015, China wants 30 percent of domestic lighting to be LED, three times more than at present, and the Ministry of Science and Technology is on record as saying it plans to create a 500 billion yuan LED industry in that time.

In doing so, tax breaks, subsidies and land deals have been offered and a reported 4,000 companies in China are now producing LED lights.

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