04 April 2016
Talk to any local in Tanmen about its transformation from quiet fishing village to buzzing tourist site and they will invariably point to two things: Xi Jinping and endangered giant clams.
But while the Chinese president’s historic visit in 2013 momentarily shot the town to prominence, it is the popularity of giant clam handicrafts that has driven Tanmen’s economy the last few years.
Touted as one of Buddhism’s “seven treasures”, the shell of giant clams, or che qu as they are known in Chinese, can be fashioned into ornaments or jewellery.
The surge in interest among collectors have sent the price of a metre-long giant clam skyrocketing – from 2,000 yuan (S$418) in 2012 to some 80,000 yuan in 2014.
… However, the central and local Chinese governments have turned a blind eye to the trade at times due to rising tensions in the South China Sea, noted associate research fellow Zhang Hongzhou from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), an expert on China’s fishing industry and maritime security.
IDSS / Online / Print
Last updated on 05/04/2016