I'm posting an article from today's online Vientiane Times (April 9, 2012) that reveals how the Chinese are now creating printed Lao sinh fabric so Lao women no longer have to purchase hand-woven Lao sinhs. Is the threat real? Yes. Just look at how the Chinese have eliminated any need for Hmong to create their own Hmong New Year skirts/designs. Everything that is sold in Laos and in the states is made in China. The Chinese are smart and the colors are bright and the designs entrancing, but there is nothing left that the Hmong make by their own hands. Who has time anyway if you're working and caught up in the non-stop pace of American life?
We were just in Laos in February and we'ren't aware of these sinhs being sold, though we did hear from Carol Cassidy that Lao tdin sinhs were being sold by the Chinese as printed fabric.
I guess it's good for our business, right? We can buy some of these cheap sinhs and sell them for a cheaper price and especially here in America, who cares if the sinhs are hand woven are not? What do you think? Does it matter that another old cultural tradition, an exquisite art form will slowly wither away?
Chinese sinh makers not breaking any law: senior official
Lao sinh makers should strengthen their production capacity rather than asking the government for help to stem the influx of Chinese made products into Laos, a senior official at the Ministry of Science and Technology has said.
|Vendors at Vientiane's Khuadin market display Chinese-made sinh.|
Deputy Director General of the Intellectual Property Department, Mr Makha Chanthala, said on Thursday the department could not bring any legal charge against Chinese firms that make the traditional Lao skirt for sale in Laos, as there are no ownership rights attached to the product.
“Because the sinh can be considered public property, it is impossible for us to file legal charges against Chinese producers because they're not violating any intellectual property law,” he said.
Mr Makha made the comment amid large scale imports of cheap, machine-made sinh from China, which makes it difficult for producers of hand-made garments in Laos to stay in business. Many people have said the government should file legal charges against foreign manufacturers because they are copying a Lao product.
Mr Makha said the Intellectual Property Department will only be in a position to stop Chinese producers selling sinh in Laos if an individual, association or business can prove that Chinese factories are copying designs and patterns they have registered with the department.
He said one of the best steps that sinh makers and the public authorities could take would be to boost their production capacity so they can compete with the inflow of cheap Chinese goods.
And the government will be powerless to stop the inflow of foreign goods into the country when Laos joins the Asean Free Trade Area and the World Trade Organisation, he added.
Mr Makha suggested that individuals and businesses should register any patterns they create with the department, saying this would help to protect their designs as intellectual property.
Director General of the Technology and Evolution Department, Mr Soumana Chounlamany, said Lao businesses need to utilise more technology so they can increase their output. They could also form groups to share technological know-how to help cut production costs.
Mr Soumana said one way that Lao handicraft makers could survive would be to advertise the uniqueness of their products. He said many consumers did not want to buy machine-made goods as they saw no value in them.
He also said there was growing demand in the world market for hand-made products. Japanese consumers, for example, are prepared to pay more for hand-made items than factory-made goods because they appreciate the work that has gone into a hand-crafted piece.
Some people also value the fact that every hand-made item is slightly different, and take pleasure in knowing that they own something unique.