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Vuvuzela: South African symbol made in China

By John Vause, CNN
  • State media: 90 percent of vuvuzelas are made in China
  • Poll finds that 60 percent of respondents are proud Chinese-made vuvuzelas so popular
  • Vuvuzelas made by melting plastic into a mold
  • Domestic customers are ordering the trumpets for the Asian Games

Ningbo, China (CNN) -- China's football team did not make it to the World Cup this year, but that does not mean the country's presence has not been felt: The Asian giant has cornered the market on perhaps the most unforgettable off-field aspect of the World Cup -- the vuvuzela.

Ninety percent of the vuvuzelas, the plastic South African trumpet whose loud rasp has become synonymous with the 2010 World Cup, are made in China, according to the China Daily.

The Chinese did it the same way they have done for so many other products: low costs and quick production at factories like the one run by Wu Yuye just outside the southern Chinese city of Ningbo. With a few dozen staff, they make more than 20,000 bugles a day. So far this year, they have churned out more than 1 million of them.

"I'm very proud that our vuvuzelas made it to World Cup in South Africa, especially since we have such a small family factory," Wu said.

Video: Where vuvuzelas are born
  • Guangzhou
  • FIFA World Cup
  • Ningbo
  • Asia
  • China

And she is not alone. A recent poll in the state media found that more than 60 percent of respondents were proud the "made in China" vuvuzelas were so popular in South Africa.

Making the trumpets is simple: plastic is melted into a mold and then it sets. A small group of women take off the sharp edges to finish off the process.

Wu said it costs about US$0.40 to make each vuvuzela. But outside the stadiums in Johannesburg, the vuvuzelas can sell for up to $8. Despite the markup, not much is coming back to the Chinese manufacturers. Wu said she makes just a few cents on each one.

"Although we don't make a lot of money, I'm sure we'll have a good future making these," she said.

That's because Wu and all the vuvuzela makers in China are looking beyond the World Cup. Domestic orders are starting to come in, including for the Asian Games in Guangzhou later this year. Wu is hoping that the vuvuzela will be the next must have accessory for all sports fans -- maybe the next giant foam finger -- at events like baseball, basketball or rugby.

While a lot of debate has centered on the loud and droning noise of the vuvuzela, Wu has the tact of a business person who knows where the sales are.

"The vuvuzela is a tradition in South Africa, it makes a happy sound," she said.