Papermaking was once a craft in the East.
China, a country that had its own paper mills, relied on Chinese workers and a tradition of working in huge, long, iron-clad wooden mills.
Today, China produces nearly half of the world’s paper.
But the world has changed dramatically in the past century.
As papermaking has declined in China, the country’s industrial landscape has shifted, and papermaking’s place in the global economy has shifted too.
It’s a story that starts with the invention of the hand.
Chinese hand-painted papermakers first started making paper in the mid-nineteenth century.
It was a new technology that allowed Chinese craftsmen to use a process that was previously reserved for woodworkers.
As the country grew wealthier, it began to tap into the printing industry, which was the source of much of the industry’s prosperity.
China’s economy grew by more than 40 percent in the 1920s and ’30s, and by the 1950s, papermaking had become a key sector for manufacturing, with an estimated one-third of China’s annual production.
Chinese factories still produce some of the highest quality paper in Asia, but it’s now a much less profitable business than in the early twentieth century.
In the mid-’90s, a Chinese industrialist named Wang Hengru started making a product called hand-drawn paper.
The paper, called yanbiao, could be made by hand, but the process was a lot more labor-intensive, and there were limits on the number of workers.
The company that would eventually become China’s biggest papermaker, Han Dynasty Paper, began producing the paper in 2000.
It quickly became the world leader in producing hand-written paper, and it was also one of the most powerful paper manufacturers in the world.
Han Dynasty’s factories, like many others in China at the time, relied heavily on papermaking machinery and labor to churn out the paper.
In China, it was a very specific way of doing things, but Han Dynasty didn’t have to think about it too much.
Its workers were taught to use the most efficient and safest methods of making paper.
Their wages were relatively low, and Han Dynasty workers didn’t need to work overtime, so they could spend their days in peace and with no one looking over their shoulders.
In 2004, the company decided to open up the factories and open up its production lines to foreign customers.
It turned out that the hand was a much better, more modern, and more efficient way to make paper than the wooden mills that were already in place.
Han dynasty’s factories were also much more open, which meant that they had the potential to be profitable.
And Han Dynasty had the money.
Han and his son Liu Shiyi were born in 1911, and their family was the richest family in China.
They inherited Han Dynasty, and as the family expanded, they turned it into a conglomerate of companies that eventually became Hanbiao.
Hanbieries had factories in all 50 of Chinas provinces, and they were able to export their paper to foreign markets.
Han-Liu Paper made a deal with a Chinese company, and the company gave Hanbiereys the right to use its machinery and workers in factories overseas.
It didn’t matter if the work was for the Chinese government or for private companies.
Hanlieries made a lot of money.
By 2005, Hanbiers factories were churning out over four million rolls of paper a day.
By 2014, Hanbons production had doubled, and its turnover was growing at an astounding rate.
In 2013, Hanbin’s CEO told Bloomberg News that Hanbineys paper output had doubled in five years.
But it wasn’t enough.
Hanbons paper output, and other paper manufacturers’ output, were declining rapidly.
Between 2006 and 2013, the paper industry’s total revenue declined by 30 percent, from $1.2 trillion to $1 billion.
This is a dramatic drop in a country with an economy of nearly $4 trillion, and yet Hanbons profits were stagnant.
By 2015, Hanbu’s total profit had plummeted to $9 billion, a 25 percent decline from $30 billion in 2014.
By 2017, Han Buis profits had plummeted even further.
By 2018, the Han dynasty had fallen so far that the company had to lay off 300 workers.
That same year, the government announced that Hanbu would be closed down.
In 2018, it announced that all Hanbu factories would be shut down.
The government was worried about the health of the Hanbu paper industry, and in a desperate move, it decided to force the papermakers to work in a new kind of factory.
In order to meet new production standards, HanBu would have to stop using its traditional factory methods.
The new factories would have new materials,