SUN Weixing: “We need a brand for our stones, more ‘green’ production, and new uses“

SUN Weixing lecturing at the Xiamen Stone Fair 2024. Photo: CSMA

The Secretary General of the China Stone Material Association (CSMA) gave a presentation on the state of the industry at the stone fair in Xiamen

We have reported on the statistics for imports and exports from China’s natural stone industry in a separate article:

“The objective for China’s natural stone industry must be ‘green’ products, intelligent production, and high-quality products – we are still lagging behind other industries in this respect.“ SUN Weixing, Secretary General of the China Stone Material Association (CSMA), said this sentence during his presentation at the trade fair in Xiamen (March 16 – 19, 2024). The aim of his presentation was to give a “Report on the Development of China’s Industry in 2023,“ the title of his speech, which he gave in Chinese.

His remarks are also interesting for the rest of the natural stone world, as they show what products will be coming from China in the coming years and, conversely, what is expected from deliveries there.

In other words, it will be ‘green’ in terms of both production and products. In terms of machinery, both for the quarry and the factory, the association boss is relying on electrical energy. As examples, he mentioned heavy wheel loaders with electric drives, electric forklift trucks, and also remote-controlled drills or crushers.

Hot topic wire saws

The hot topic in terms of machinery in 2023 was wire saws. The economic authorities of the stone center around the city of Nan’an had even launched their own support program for the conversion to this innovation.

Nan’an in Fujian Province, about 100 km from Xiamen, wants to be “the world’s stone capital“ even more than before, according to the Secretary-General. The administration there has set up facilities for research and development, design, export, and e-business, especially for the natural stone branch.

Another aspect of making the stone industry more environmentally friendly is the restoration of abandoned quarries, according to the head of the association.

At the same time, the issuing of quarry licenses has been improved: previously this was “spontaneous and disorderly,“ now it is “centralized and organized.“ The aim is not only to put a stop to environmental degradation but also to counteract overcapacity (especially in granite).

Stone in interior and product design

As far as stone design is concerned, i.e. the use of natural stone for interior design as well as in product design, the association seems to want to take a down-to-earth approach: usable designs, not spectacular artistic concepts.

For example, the “Huabiao Cup,“ which recognizes high-quality architecture or design combined with perfect craftsmanship and appropriate use of materials, is to be brought back to life. Sun Weixing also emphasized that modern technology should play an important role in the planning and construction of such projects.

He mentioned the “use of stone“ several times – in his opinion, the material offers many more possibilities than has been the case in China to date. Incidentally, the association includes both natural stone companies and engineered stone companies.

Focus on the consumer

Another important aspect of his presentation was marketing. As a guideline, he formulated the “integration of production and marketing“: this means that the material should be extracted or the products developed that the consumer wants – not just the one that is the easiest and therefore cheapest to access.

He cited the “front store and back factory“ model as an example, according to which a product is constantly developed further based on consumer response.

According to Sun Weixing, technical issues also include standardization, also with the aim of meeting standards on international markets. This also includes the issue of occupational safety, for example, protection against fine dust.

Ultimately, the stone industry in China needs more and better – more emotional – communication, according to the association head: “Let’s tell the story of the stones,“ he suggested. And: “Let’s make them symbols of a good life.“

Finally, he mentioned the current magic word for China’s natural stone industry: “We need a brand for our stones.“

China Stone Material Association (Chinese)

(13.05.2024, USA: 05.13.2024)