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Thursday, December 02, 1999, updated at 09:44(GMT+8)
Culture Kitchenware Revolution Taking Place in Urban China

Most urban Chinese families have bid farewell to their old kitchens where boilers, bowls and other kitchenware were scattered against smoke-blackened walls and a wood board for preparing food was placed beside a brick-laid stove.

Along with a nationwide sweeping pursuit for modern kitchens, an increasing number of stores selling kitchenware and offering kitchen designing service are emerging in every Chinese cities.

In Zhengzhou City alone, more than 20 such stores have appeared over the past two years. Zhengzhou is the capital of the underdeveloped Henan Province in central China.

European, American, Australian and Korean kitchenware displayed in the stores attracts an increasing number of customers everyday.

Shen Yong, the boss of Chuang Jun Kitchen Designing Center in Zhengzhou, told Xinhua that he started his store three years ago, when many local residents knew little about kitchen designing and rarely frequented his store.

Today, some 50 customers come to the store everyday, said Shen. Customers carefully choose kitchen cabinets and other kitchenware. They are very particular about kitchen cabinet materials, insisting that they must be fire-proof and waterproof.

"Most customers hope their kitchen can artistically reflect their personality," he said.

Liu Fang,, a forty-year-old editor of a local magazine, could not contain her excitement as she showed off her newly refurbished kitchen: "I never imagine cooking could be so enjoyable."

Liu said she used to hate cooking and would often dine out with family members and friends.

Her mother was also excited at the new kitchen: "I used to endure at least two hours of smoke and hot temperatures to cook a meal, but these new appliances have reduced my cooking time. Everything is so convenient now."

Shen Yong said his shop uses computers to design kitchens for customers, then sends the drawings to special kitchenware factories in cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou for order.

There are over 200 kitchenware factories in Shanghai and more than 60 in Dongguan City of south China's Guangdong Province. These enterprises have opened many chain stores in major cities across the country.

Haier Group, China's largest home appliance producer, also entered the this profitable market two years ago. Currently it has nine distribution centers and 21 subsidiary stores throughout China. In Zhengzhou, Haier receives order worth about 400,000 yuan (48,192 US dollars) every month, said a company official.

"Twenty years ago, most people were living a hand-to-mouth life and could not even contemplate refurbishing their kitchen," said Lu Jian, the boss of a kitchenware store in Zhengzhou.

But since the market reforms initiated in the late 1970s, many urban families have turned their attention to house refurbishing with the improvements in their living standard.

"Kitchen of course should not be ignored," Lu added. (Xinhua)

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