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Chinese Lamian Noodles Go Global: Belt and Road Initiative Boosts Business

LifestyleFoodChinese Lamian Noodles Go Global: Belt and Road Initiative Boosts Business

Lamian noodles, also known as hand-pulled noodles, are a traditional Chinese dish that has been enjoyed for centuries. These noodles come in a variety of delicious flavors, including the popular Qinghai Lamian noodles and the savory Lanzhou beef Lamian noodles.

In recent years, the popularity of Lamian noodles has grown tremendously, becoming an important industry in northwest China, specifically in the provinces of Qinghai and Gansu. These provinces have become the epicenter of the Lamian noodle industry, with many restaurants and noodle makers calling these regions home.

Qinghai boasts a robust Lamian noodle industry, with an estimated 199,500 people currently engaged in noodle making. In Gansu, more than 35,000 Lanzhou beef Lamian noodle restaurants have been established, generating employment opportunities for over 600,000 people and generating an annual turnover of about 65 billion yuan (approximately $9.47 billion).

The success of the Lamian noodle industry has contributed to poverty alleviation and increased prosperity in northwest China. As a result of the industry’s growth, many more people in the region have been able to find gainful employment and enjoy greater economic stability.

Since the Belt and Road Initiative was launched, the popularity of Lamian noodles has only continued to spread. As more noodle makers have pursued new business opportunities in Belt and Road countries and regions, the unique flavors of Chinese Lamian noodles have been shared with people all around the world, making it a beloved dish in many different cultures.

The Lamian noodle industry has become a shining example of the potential for economic growth and prosperity in China. With its rich history and diverse flavors, Lamian noodles will continue to be a beloved dish in China and beyond for years to come.

Ma Xueming, a 41-year-old native of Hualong Hui autonomous county in the city of Haidong, Qinghai, made the bold decision to leave his impoverished hometown and venture out to Shanghai in 2002 to open a Lamian noodles restaurant.

With just a stove, a chopping board, and a few tables and chairs in his 30-square-meter restaurant, Ma began his journey as a business owner. He worked tirelessly, putting in over 10 hours a day, and even when his arms were too tired to lift, he persevered. His motivation was to create a better life for himself.

Thanks to the delicious and authentic Lamian noodles he served, Ma’s restaurant soon became popular with locals and tourists alike. By 2005, he had opened three Lamian noodles restaurants in Shanghai and earned an impressive income of 100,000 yuan that year.

Ma’s business continued to grow, and he eventually established his own Lamian noodles brand. Today, he has over 60 restaurant outlets nationwide, including franchise locations, and his noodles soup is supplied to more than 2,000 Lamian noodles restaurants throughout China.

Like Ma, many people have found new opportunities through the Lamian noodles industry. In Haidong, a city renowned as the “hometown of Lamian noodles,” 72,600 people have been lifted out of poverty by working in the industry as of 2021.

Currently, there are 166,000 people working in the Lamian noodles industry in Haidong, which makes up the majority of Qinghai Province’s total. These skilled noodle makers have opened 27,700 restaurants in over 280 cities worldwide, generating an operating income of around 13 billion yuan in 2022 for the city’s Lamian noodles industry.

 Ma Xueming’s story is just one example of the transformative power of the Lamian noodles industry. It has created jobs, generated income, and helped many people break free from poverty. As the popularity of Lamian noodles continues to grow, it will undoubtedly bring prosperity and success to more individuals and communities throughout China and beyond.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative, a development strategy to promote infrastructure and economic connectivity among countries and regions that form part of the ancient Silk Road. As cultural and business exchanges continue to deepen, Chinese Lamian noodles makers are seeking new business opportunities in these areas.

Ma Fanglin, a Haidong native, started her Lamian noodles business in Lanzhou in 2003 with her family. Over the past 20 years, they have opened more restaurant outlets in Chinese cities like Xi’an and Changsha. Her husband currently runs a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which has been a success since its opening in 2016. “Local people have a dietary habit similar to ours, while we have also developed innovative dishes to suit the local customs there,” Ma said.

Ye Xiaolong, another Haidong native, opened a Lamian noodles restaurant in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, in 2019. His affordable pricing of $5 per bowl has made the restaurant very popular among locals. Ye’s uncle is also opening a Lamian noodles restaurant in Bangkok soon. “More and more people can get a taste of this food, which opens a window for them to understand Chinese food culture and China,” Ye said.

By the end of 2022, Haidong’s Lamian noodles makers had opened around 40 restaurant outlets in over 10 countries and regions along the Belt and Road, according to Chen Jianhong, director of the Haidong municipal local brand industry cultivation and promotion bureau.

Liang Shunjian, a former Lamian noodles maker, established a food company in 2018 that co-founded the Lanzhou beef Lamian noodles international alliance and the Xinglong Lanzhou beef Lamian noodles international business school. They train professional Lamian noodles makers and promote the food overseas.

“Our students not only come from China but also from foreign countries. Currently, more than 1,000 Lamian noodles makers we have trained work in overseas Lamian noodles restaurants,” said Liang. “They not only make a living from this skill but also serve this Chinese taste to more people.”

Since the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed, Lanzhou beef Lamian noodles have entered more than 40 countries. The food’s major brands have opened over 500 restaurants in Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and other countries. “Chinese Lamian noodles are going global,” said Liang.

Chinese food culture is spreading along with the popularity of Lamian noodles. By visiting a Lanzhou beef Lamian noodles restaurant opening soon in Auckland, New Zealand, visitors can both taste delicious food and learn how to make it, with professional noodles makers guiding them at this dual-purpose venue.

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