China now owns twenty plus pearl harvesting farms in the South pacific and those numbers grow each year. Now I'm not from China and I was born here in America and my family have been in the retail jewelry business since the 1940's so I do know what I'm talking about.
Also Cheryl when the Chinese took over the market in cultured pearl production they did so in a Hugh way, they now control over 85% of the world production of salt water cultured pearl production and almost 100% of fresh water pearl production.
China's production of salt water pearls consist of over twenty farms in the South Seas and thousands of them through Asia, and by owning the majority of pearls farms they have forced Akoya and Mikimoto to do business with them, so now most Akoya and Mikimoto pearls are grown by Chinese under contract and in other Countries other than Japan.
The pearl business has changed big time in the past thirty years just as the production of jewelry and diamond sales have also changed, and if you don't keep on top of the changes you become missed informed.
Now a lot of jewelers will tell you that Akoya and Mikimoto pearls are grown in Japan forty years ago that was the truth but now they are almost all grown by Chinese companies under contract. Just as Debeers at one timed controlled the diamond market now they control less than 35% of it!