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Last Flight of the Pigeon?

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BEIJING, China – One of the most iconic symbols of old China – the black bicycle ridden by the masses – is running out of customers in mountain-biking modern China. Sales at Flying Pigeon, the state bicycle company set up after the Communist revolution in October 1949, have plummeted so far that the company is considering outsourcing to south-east Asia and Africa, to cut costs.

Last Flight of the Pigeon?

BEIJING, China – One of the most iconic symbols of old China – the black bicycle ridden by the masses – is running out of customers in mountain-biking modern China. Sales at Flying Pigeon, the state bicycle company set up after the Communist revolution in October 1949, have plummeted so far that the company is considering outsourcing to south-east Asia and Africa, to cut costs.
 
 
Although wages in Africa might be competitive or even lower than China’s, the real incentive for outsourcing is to avoid the import tariffs levied on Chinese goods by the European Union and America. Senior staff have been touring Africa and south-east Asia looking for factory sites and considering outsourcing bicycle parts. They’ve been to Egypt, Tanzania, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
 
Bicycles have been banned in parts of Shanghai to ease congestion and cycling in Beijing has become a daily suicide mission with 1,500 new cars a day swerving onto the capital’s roads.
The only bicycles selling well are racers and mountain bikes. Most up-and-coming Chinese would not be seen dead on a Flying Pigeon. Sales have plummeted since the 1980s when four million cycles were sold each year. Last year 1.5 million were made, 30 % of which were exported.
The company is also in talks with an American firm to export a stylised traditional 28in model, attractive to hip Americans seeking nostalgia.

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