World

China Finally Nailed Making Ballpoint Pens And Everyone Is Excited AF

It only took them five years.

1. The world’s highest glass bridge, largest seaplane, and biggest radio telescope are all from China, but the world’s factory just couldn’t make an entire ballpoint pen of its own — until now.

SXRTV

2. To be precise, China is the world’s biggest supplier of ballpoint pens with a production rate of 38 billion per year, but it had to rely on importing a vital component — the nibs.

SXRTV

3. It bothered the country (not the consumers) so much that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang openly complained about it enough that it seemed like his words were falling on deaf ears.

Paramount Pictures

Chinese pens felt “rough” compared to those made in Japan, Germany, and Switzerland, Li said, where 90% of the country’s nibs are imported from, costing its industry $15 million per year.

4. Good news for hardcore “made-in-China” fans: Five years of “countless failures” in, a state-owned stainless steel maker, Taiyuan Iron & Steel, declared it had “bit the hard bone” and that in two years the country would be making all the nibs itself.

5. And boy, the Chinese media are so goddamn excited about this development. They’re calling it a “#tech breakthrough.”

6. “Groundbreaking.”

Chinese steel maker Taiyuan Iron & Steel Group produces groundbreaking ballpoint pen tips to replace imported pen t… https://t.co/A3MAv6Xqol

— People's Daily,China (@PDChina)

7. And national broadcaster CCTV posted on Weibo a hype video with a blockbuster-style soundtrack, asking its followers to cheer for the momentous achievement.

8. Some Weibo users are over the moon, shaking off the ballpoint pen stigma.

Weibo

“When I was still at school, my teacher picked up a ballpoint pen and said, we could make airplanes and rockets but we have to import the nibs. Now hearing this news I’m so excited!”

9. Others asked a question all of you have right now: “Is this so difficult? I thought we have always been able to make nibs.”

Weibo

10. Ballpoint pens might look simple, but they require a high degree of technological finesse for the steel, which was the ironic weakness of a country with excessive steel production.

SXRTV

11. The seemingly small achievement may signal the end of the “cheap but undurable” stigma of “made-in-China” products, so pen makers from elsewhere now face some stiff competition.

20th Century Fox

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Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.
Contact Beimeng Fu at beimeng.fu@buzzfeed.com.
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