or centuries, everyday products, such as food and clothing, came from a not-too-far
distance. With the discovery of oil in the second half of the 19th century, everything changed.
After World War II, mobility and leisure were key words. People started to spend more money on
pleasure than on food and clothing. One by one, production sites moved from the West eastward and
finally arrived in China. Big retail stores were forced to buy more and more from Asia and to sell
at ever-lower prices. Moreover, there was a total non-existence of environmental laws such as there
were in Europe. China and other Asian countries became the production bases for the global textile
industry at any price.
Attitudes changed again: Mankind didn’t live in season anymore. It became routine to have
strawberries on Christmas or to fly to the Caribbean in wintertime. Oil was cheap, and so were food
and clothing. And then, environmental consciousness in Europe changed dramatically. Does it make
sense to send fruit around the world? Why should there be carbon dioxide emissions for flying wine
from Australia or Latin America to Europe, if Europe has enough wine of its own?
Snowballing systems wobbled, first with high energy prices. Nongovernmental organization s
exposed unacceptable working conditions and again changed Western consumer consciousness. Now, the
snowballing systems have collapsed totally thanks to the financial scandals in Western banks.
Asians are paying the price again: dropped orders, declining exports – the whole world is in
turmoil. Confidence has been wiped out. Everybody is on the defensive. If Asia wants to come out of
this turmoil stronger than ever, it must adapt to new rules. China already has started in this
direction. In June 2006, in a vision for the 11th Five-Year Plan from 2006 to 2010, the China
National Development and Reform Commission and the China National Textile & Apparel Council
presented ambitious targets for the national textile and apparel industry. For textile machinery,
the plan calls for initiatives to raise the level of the whole industry. In the dyeing sector, the
target is to phase out equipment and factories that do not comply with anti-pollution standards.
So it’s time for a new attitude – it’s time for a change.