The second of the Two Most Important Cities In China That You May Have Never Heard Of is Yiwu, Zhejiang.
Yiwu has about two million people, most involved in some way or another in the world famous commodities market located there. It has been, for 6 years now, the top commodities wholesale market in China. The UN even claims that Yiwu has the “largest market of petty commodity wholesales in the world…”
There are really more than 15 different markets that cover more than six million meters and 60,000 booths. Items of specific interest in Yiwu are arts and crafts, bgs, shoes, kitchen items, toys, stationary, gadening and DIY, replacement parts for just about everything electronic made in China, fashion jewelry and counterfeit copies of everything else on the planet. From Eamonn Figleton’s In the Jaws of the Dragon: “As documented by the author Tim Phillips . . . [t]he city of Yiwu . . . functions as a sort of ‘Wall Street’ for the [counterfeiting] industry, providing a vast marketplace where, Phillips states, 100,000 counterfeit products are openly traded and 2,000 metric tons of fakes change hands daily.”
There are thousands of foreigners and foreign business offices representing more than 200 countries set up in Yiwu city specifically to take advantage of the market. Over 1000 containers a day leave Yiwu, making it the largest inland customs house in China. Chances are if you’re buying from China, some part of what’s being delivered to you comes from here.
Yiwu is 100km south of Hangzhou and 300km southwest of Shanghai. Yiwu has it’s own airport and both trains and expressways pass through the city.
For some reason, every article about Yiwu lists three and only three things about the city—they have the largest market in the world, they have an “Olympic quality stadium” and they have a “large Christian Church.” I’ve never been to the stadium or the church. But the market is truly amazing.
For more information about Yiwu: