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smaller factories in china struggle

The global downturn is taking a particularly severe toll on China’s legions of dynamic small businesses, forcing them to adopt innovative, and sometimes desperate, strategies to survive.

Ye Jianqing, like many other Chinese entrepreneurs, has seen a sharp decline in orders from the U.S. and Europe, which account for most of his business. Last year, sales of the sunglasses his company, Wenzhou Zhenqing Glasses Co., makes dropped 80% to less than $300,000 from $1.5 million in 2007.

Fearing his eight-year-old business might not survive another year, Mr. Ye is switching gradually into new products, such as key rings and prescription eyewear. “If you’re not innovative and you don’t change yourself, you’re just waiting to die,” he says.

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