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looking at bicycles as recreational tool, as a toy- The Bicycle Kingdom

Interview Gu Juexin (Chairman of the Board, Shanghai Forever Co.,Ltd.)

(play media)

In the late 1980s, with China's reform and opening-up policy, some ventures from Taiwan Province started to enter the mainland market. Nongovernmental enterprises began to boom and other foreign bicycle enterprises started to enter China. Forever and other famous brands that grew up in the state-planned economy were facing a great challenge.

With the rapid development of society, the demands and expectations of consumers are changing and expectations are rising. In order to survive in this new competitive market, all the Chinese bicycle manufacturers are trying their best to provide different products to meet the differing demands of consumers. Production lines are introducing mountain bikes, racing bikes, foldable bicycles and a range of sturdy, bicycles of use by delivery industries like the postal service.

Until recently in the bicycle kingdom, the bicycle has been seen as a form of transportation, as a means of life. Bust now with China's rapid economic development, a new generation is increasingly looking at bicycles as something else, as a recreational tool, as a toy.

Interview Gu Juexin (Chairman of the Board, Shanghai Forever Co.,Ltd.)

In the 1980s and 90s, great changes took place in bicycle production. Different, new types of bicycles emerged to take the place of the old ones in order to meet a growing demand for recreational bicycles. One of the new bicycle markets that manufacturers are seeking to capture is the demand for sport and trick bicycles.

Interview Wang Wei:

Exciting, very exciting, it can make me feel free and like it suits me perfectly. Every time you learn a new trick, you come to a point when you feel that it is too hard, but if you keep trying, you'll succeed in the end.

While enjoying the excitement and happiness brought by playing with bicycles, the riders will also have to be prepared for injuries that worry their parents. Wang Wei has found out that there's a great difference in viewpoint about bicycles between the younger and the elder generations.

Wang Wei said the elder generation like my parents might think it's enough if a bicycle can be ridden. But for me, I think a bicycle should match a person. A person can only have one bicycle that is a perfect fit.

Now in China, there are more and more youngsters like Wang Wei who love to ride and do tricks on bicycles, and undoubtedly, they are leading China's bicycle culture into a new era.

As a foreigner living here in China it is inevitable that your life will be effected by China's bicycle culture. Take me for example, after being here for only a couple weeks, I happily joined the waves of bicyclists on their way around the city. I found it refreshing and relaxing as opposed to sitting in a car in trafficand I'm not the only one who's had this experience.

The bicycle is a necessary traffic tool for the students and teachers in the universities of China. And many overseas students and foreign teachers also depend on bicycles. They are experiencing China's unique bicycle culture first hand.

What makes riding a bicycle in China so special and different? Maybe they can tell us.

http://www.cctv.com/video/rediscoveringchina/2006/09/rediscoveringchina_128_20060905_1.shtml

Misha, student from Ukraine, said I think of bicycles as toys. I rode a bicycle when I was a boy, but after I grew up, I don't ride it any more. Here, I think it's a good traffic tool. In my country, we don't usually ride bicycles, so in the cities, you won't see someone riding a bicycle to work or school.

Steeano Martinia said Italians use bicycles for recreation, not as a traffic tool. Most people ride bicycles at their spare time for fun.

Lee Bomi said South Korea is very small; there are not so many bicycles there. Even in Korea I felt like bicycles were a symbol of China.

In this program we've met all variety of bicycles and their colorful owners and we've learned about what an important role the bicycle plays in Chinese society. But for all the talking that I've done, the bottom line is, you need to come to China, find yourself a bicycle and take her for a ride to be able to really understand the freedom and diversity and enjoyment that has given China it's nickname as the "Bicycle Kingdom." (END)

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