A Tianjin carpet factory, 1980s. Automation has since changed textile production methods. PHOTO BY JOAN LEBOLD COHEN.
China became a major textile manufacturer beginning in the early 1980s. Its industry quickly expanded to become a top producer and, by the late 1990s, China had become the world’s leading textile-exporting nation. Today, expansion into technical textile products reflects a general trend toward innovation and higher-value products for the domestic as well