With a new railway in sight, shrewd businessmen are hoping to localize the production of "hadas", a token of Tibetan culture, which for centuries have been manufactured elsewhere and transported to Tibet on horsebacks and trucks.
The Qinghai-Tibet Railway that is set to operate on Saturday will bring in quality silk from eastern China provinces, out of which Tibetan workers will make their own hadas, said Bianba Ciren, a 31-year-old businessman in Xigaze.
When Bianba Ciren set up his private company last year to produce Tibetan specific commodities, he was keeping his fingers crossed the new rail link, whose track laying was completed last October, will enable him to set up the first ever local hada brand.
He has since been buying silk from Jiangsu Province, and it takes 10 to 12 days to ship the raw material to Xigaze.
"The railway will cut transportation time and costs by half," he said. "This year, the company's net profit will reach 500,000 yuan (US$62,500), up from last year's 120,000 yuan (US$15,000)."
The history-making railway, the world's highest, extends 1,956 km from Qinghai's provincial capital Xining to Lhasa in Tibet. It is expected to be extended further to Xigaze sometime before 2010.
Bianba Ciren's company presently produces around 100,000 pieces of hada a month. Once the railway becomes formally operative and bulk production starts, it will be producing more than 2 million pieces a year.
Hadas, which are white silk scarves symbolizing respect and blessing, are widely used in Tibet. The most frequently bought hadas are now sold for 0.5 to 2 yuan each.
To date, 80 percent of the hadas on sale in Tibet's regional capital Lhasa are made in Qionglai, a city in southwest China's Sichuan Province.