(File Photo: sohu.com)
There has been no significant rise in sale of yellow vests amid a surge in "yellow vest" protests in some European countries, Chinese traders in Yiwu have said. Merchants selling the items in Yiwu International Trade City, one of the most popular small commodity wholesale markets in East China's Zhejiang Province, scotched rumors that orders to European nations, especially France, have soared in the wake of protests over the last few weeks.
Protests started against the French government's decision to hike fuel tax and spread to other countries across the border as an expression of outrage against rising living costs. Yellow vests have been chosen by protesters in Europe and other regions as a symbol to draw attention to their demands.
In China, some civic workers, such as road cleaners, also wear the fluorescent jacket as a safety measure.
Rumors have swirled on Chinese social media after a Weibo user said he heard Yiwu traders had run out of yellow vests amid a rise in demand from Europe, and there were more orders from other countries including Sweden and Switzerland.
The Weibo user didn't respond to a query from the Global Times as of press time.
A tweet on Monday said that the yellow vests were "most likely made in China."
Some posts circulating on China's social media urged Yiwu to create an index for global affairs.
For instance, by analyzing sales of presidential election campaign items, Yiwu was rumored to successfully predict the victory of current US president Donald Trump in the 2016 vote.
But Yiwu, the world's biggest small commodity trade hub, does have an index, called Yiwu commodity index or Yiwu index in short, which is used for predicting market prices.
The Global Times visited the Yiwu International Trade City on Wednesday and saw shops sell yellow vests for 4 yuan ($0.58) to 5 yuan each in District 2.
The garments were strung outside shop doors, with few customers.
About six yellow vest sellers denied getting customers from Europe or even trade enquiries from the continent. A merchant said she hardly sells any yellow reflective vests at this time of year to domestic or overseas customers.
Another seller, surnamed Xu, from a shop called Yiwenxuan said there have been several overseas customers inquiring about the yellow vests in recent weeks, but they didn't place orders. Sales of the vests this winter were not as good as last year, when many Russian customers bought them ahead of the Winter Olympic Games, Xu added.
However, another Yiwenxuan representative said business of yellow vests was better in the second half of this year as compared to the first half. Most yellow vests were bought by European and US buyers, she told Global Times.
A representative surnamed Zhang from a relatively large vest maker in Wuyi, a county under Jinhua city of East China's Zhejiang Province, told the Global Times on Thursday that most yellow vest stock shipped from China to the EU was from Wuyi, not Yiwu, as the latter's manufacturers mostly target low-end markets.
Zhang said his plant's sale of yellow vests to the EU was the same as last year, but total exports of the item from Wuyi to EU actually fell this year.