Made-in-China fans, sun-proof clothing, gadgets help world combat heat waves
Hot economy
Published: Jul 19, 2023 08:01 PM
A worker welds component for an air conditioner inside a plant in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province on May 15, 2023. Photo: VCG

A worker welds component for an air conditioner inside a plant in Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province on May 15, 2023. Photo: VCG

The exports of cooling products have increased with many Chinese exporters and producers reporting a rise in sales as the world braces one of the hottest summers in history.

From Yiwu, the world's small commodity capital, to Shenzhen, the economic powerhouse in southern China, producers and traders are busy with fulfilling orders for a wide range of goods. They race the clock and work extra hours to deliver their orders.

Observers said China's status as the world's factory is once again validated as producers and traders have swiftly shifted their production and sales channels to supply global customers with the gadgets needed to combat summer heat and made innovations that greatly increased the affordability for these goods. Their ability in leading green development was also highlighted.

On Tuesday, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said that June saw the warmest global average temperature on record, which continued into July, citing preliminary figures.

Intense heat is gripping large parts of the northern hemisphere, with countries including Spain, Italy, Turkey and the US highlighted, the WMO said.

A top WHO official has stressed the desperate and urgent need to tackle the climate crisis with 60,000 deaths in Europe in 2022 due to extreme heat, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Tuesday. The official warned the number of deaths from extreme heat is set to rise year-on-year.

As the world grapples with record heat, exports of items from air conditioners to silk sleeves to a number of regions have soared.

Rise in sales

Dong Wei, a representative from Yiwu-based Rong Hui Knitting Co, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the overall sales of UV-protective clothing and gadgets in this summer saw 30 percent of year-on-year increase, and these products reported about 10 percent year-on-year increase in exports.

"Most of our foreign clients are from Southeast Asia and the Middle East, who placed order at the beginning of the year, and our production lines have to work overtime to deliver orders on time," said Dong.   

Lu Caihua, a representative from Yiwu Enaide Trade Co, which sells masks, silk sleeves and UV-protective clothes, also said the domestic sales saw a two-fold increase and the company has to work around the clock to complete orders at peak time.

A manager from a Yiwu-based company which supplies cooling ice silk arm sleeves to traders exporting to Southeast Asia told the Global Times that the recent orders have surged, with some large orders seeking for more than several hundred thousand pairs of sleeves at once.

According to data from e-commerce platform, provided to the Global Times, order volume of sun-proof clothes on the platform increased by 136.8 percent year-on-year in the May-June period, the order value saw seven-fold increase over the last year.

Order volume of mini fan increased by 107.4 percent year-on-year, with an increase of 307.5 percent year-on-year in value. The order volume of sun-proof sleeves increased by 44.6 percent year-on-year, and the order value increased by 49.8 percent year-on-year, the platform's data showed.

For more traditional items, the exports of air conditioners to a number of markets saw a marked rise in volume from January to May this year to a number of countries, data showed.

China's exports of white goods including air conditioners, refrigerators and electric fans recorded a sharp increase during April and May, boosted by high temperature in the northern hemisphere, Zhou Nan, Secretary General of Household Electric Appliances Branch under China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products (CCCME), told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"Emerging markets such as Middle East remained a highlight. Besides, demand from some European countries with relatively fewer air conditioners installations due to cool weather in the past such as the UK and France surged in this summer," said Zhou.

CCCME's data showed that China exported 362,745 air conditioners to the UK, increased by 77.78 percent year-on-year, and exported 325,851 to France, increased by 95.5 percent year-on-year.

According to CGTN, producers of fans and sun-proof attire in Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province also see an uptick in demand for their products. During the first five months, the fans exported via Shenzhen customs totaled 13.55 billion yuan ($1.88 billion), up 27 percent year-on-year, the report said, citing customs data. Among those, exports to the EU shot up by 64 percent year-on-year to 2.14 billion yuan. 


Zhang Yi, CEO of iiMedia Research Institute, told the Global Times that behind the rise in exports for items to combat heat waves, innovation by Chinese companies can be found.

"There are improvements in the design of such gadgets or apparel, new pattern and materials were added," Zhang told the Global Times. "Most notably, Chinese companies have lowered the prices of the traditionally expensive sun-proof clothing, bringing them to average consumers."

It can be said there are tremendous opportunities in these products, despite that they are small and miscellaneous, Zhang said.

On Alibaba online marketplace, one of the more merchandized items from China is a fan that can be charged by a solar panel. It also has light bulbs attached in case the heat-wave-stricken area is met with a power crunch.

Experts pointed out that recent new fad formed during the pandemic, such as camping and outdoor lifestyle, also ensured domestic players are well prepared to seize the business opportunity presented by the sustained summer heat.

China's status as the world's factory is once again validated with its producers' whole-of-supply-chain advantage, ability to innovate, and their lead in fostering standards in green development, Chinese experts said.

"While supplying the world with the cooling equipment, China is also promoting self-developed energy-saving technologies and standards, which is far superior to the standards in some Western countries," said Zhou.