Freewheeling prices and millennia of cultural mystique fuel China’s insatiable appetite for the green stone

In 2017, Jiangxi tourist Fei Jianqin visited Ruili, a city in Yunnan province near the Myanmar border and well-known distribution center in the Chinese jade trade—and learned a hard lesson about the value of the precious rock.

Like most tourists to the frontier city, Fei’s itinerary included a visit to a well-known local jade store, where she tried on a bracelet. On hearing that the trinket was priced at 300,000 RMB, Fei tried to take it off, fumbled, and dropped it, breaking it into pieces. Upon seeing the damage, she fainted with shock.

Much of the public sided with Fei in the brouhaha that followed, blaming the seller for putting such a valuable item on casual display, especially after it emerged that Fei had to compensate the store 70 percent of the product’s value (thankfully re-appraised by a third-party organization at 180,000 RMB).

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author Sun Jiahui (孙佳慧)

Sun Jiahui is a freelance writer and former editor at The World of Chinese. She writes about Chinese language, society and culture, and is especially passionate about sharing stories of China's ancient past with a wider audience. She has been writing for TWOC for over six years, and pens the Choice Chengyu column.

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