"We feel we have an urgent task to preserve traditional woodblock painting."
The reforms have turned the state-run company into an economic giant. Besides making the traditional woodblock prints, it mass-produces reproductions of the posters and publishes art books. Last year, it had $24 million in revenues and $1 million in profits.
In contrast, Yucheng, which produces only the handmade prints, had sales last year of around $25,000.
It also has relatively few tourists as customers, making it a bit more of an authentic producer of New Year's prints. Some of its prints sell for as little as $4.
The low price, combined with the higher income that peasants enjoy thanks to economic reforms, means that some of the posters are now affordable to peasants.
"In the past it was hard to get such prints," said Li Rong, a soldier who was returning to neighboring Hebei Province and wanted to bring his family a handmade poster to celebrate the New Year.
"Of course, we can always buy cheap reproductions for a few pennies each," he said, "but many people think that the real prints are luckier."