China Training Sommelier Army for Global Battle to Make Baijiu the New Whisky
China’s mission to protect its economy now includes a college where students study booze. The US$58 million school – built in just nine months and so new that plastic still covers the surveillance cameras – is one outpost in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s national push to rethink the country’s growth recipe as trade frictions with the United States intensify.
Beijing aims to produce more goods at home and sell larger numbers abroad, ordering farmers to ramp up soybean production and microchip makers to purchase local copper while earmarking billions to advance domestic technology.
The Baijiu College, located in Yibin, in the misty mountains of Sichuan province, teaches youngsters how to craft its namesake grain spirit – or work on robots that could someday automate the brewing process. The goal is to turn China’s native liquor into the next whiskey or tequila or gin: a drink with global recognition.