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China's 'state liquor' Moutai defies downturn with spirited growth

Sales and profit rise despite coronavirus, but governance risks remain

Kweichow Moutai, a distiller of "baiju," a sorghum-based liquor, has bucked the sharp downturn in China's alcoholic drinks industry, partly due to its image as the "state liquor."   © Reuters

TOKYO -- The coronavirus has paralyzed the Chinese economy and cut down on socializing and drinking at restaurants and bars. But one of the country's most famous spirt brands has made merry regardless.

Kweichow Moutai, a state-owned distiller from the underdeveloped southwestern province of Guizhou that makes the sorghum-based hard liquor baijiu, bucked the downtrend with a 13% year-on-year rise in sales for the January to March quarter. Its net profit climbed 17% to 13.09 billion yuan ($1.85 billion).

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