Millions of things we surround ourselves with are labelled ‘Made in China’. These products have saturated the global market and have become part of our everyday environment. What is the source of this plastic river, and how does it flow to all households in the world?
In March 2008, the Olympic Trade Mission Promoting the Chinese Product embarked on a quest to China searching for the source of the so-called plastic river. The Trade Mission’s first stop was the city of Yiwu, 300 kilometres south of Shanghai. This city harbours the world’s largest wholesale trade market of plastic products: Yiwu International Trade City, where one can find every single decorative product desirable to man.
After Yiwu market’s infinite supply of goods, the journey continued towards the origin of the many products. The Trade Mission visited a number of factories where these products are manufactured, in the coastal provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong.
Publication & exhibition
The journey from the manufacturing sources all the way downstream to the harbour was continuously documented, turned into an exhibition at Museum De Paviljoens in Almere. and expounded in the publication “Olympic Trade Mission – A journey upstream the plastic river to the Made in China source” in March 2008.
Video footage of the Trade Mission
Location China – Yiwu International Commodities Fair
Team Melle Smets, Maurits Hertzberger
Commisioned by Museum de Paviljoens
Funding Utrecht Municipality
Special Thanks John Ye, Jimmy Hei, Zhokun Yun (a.k.a. Cloud), Jason, Jack and Ady (Yiwu Jiawen Translation Co.), Frans Smets, Mark and Kaman Holtman, Eva van Ginhoven, Quinten Swagerman, Annemiek Veldkamp, Bart Molendijk, Lisette Tuizenga, Ferry de Pater, Jian Ming Gu, Christine Zhao, Michael Wong, Allen Huang, Hester de Kovel, Wubbo Mossing, Roel van Tour, Annie Yi Zheng, Minaz Lakhani, Malak Farouk, Joe Lewis, Ahmad Mamdouh, Mohamed Badawi, Ali Barakath, Muhammad Rahim, Andrey Shekhunov, the Trelo family, Louis van Dijk (Bestsellers B.V.), David the Ribbon King and Jane Zho (Dr. Pal Accessory Ltd.), Kai Xiang (Shanghai Chunhan Plastic Products Co.), Jiang Chaoshun (Chaoda Plastic Toys Factory), Zheng Weiping (Longquan Zhengs Sword Industrial Co.), Mike (Yiwu Hangtian Arts & Crafts Co.), Debby Kruit, Macha Roesink, Annick Kleizen”
Concept, text and photography Melle Smets and Maurits Hertzberger
Graphic Design Paul Swagerman www.paulswagerman.nl
Translation (Dutch-English) Carlijn Urlings
Printing Veenman Drukkers – Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Published by Museum De Paviljoens Almere, The Netherlands, July 2008 www.depaviljoens.nl (Museum De Paviljoens)