E-commerce fast-forwards China’s poverty alleviation

By Tian Xiaoli, People’s Daily
In Zhashui county, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, black fungus has developed into a big industry.
It became a hot-sale product across China after being endorsed by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to the village of Jinmi in Zhashui to inspect the region’s poverty relief efforts.
During the inspection, the president visited a local e-commerce livestream center and hailed the local specialty fungus as a “small fungus, big industry”.
E-commerce is an emerging business with great potential and can promote sales of agricultural products, help rural residents shake off poverty and facilitate rural vitalization, Xi said.
During a livestream show held by People’s Daily on April 21, more than 80,000 bags of Zhashui fungus weighing 12.2 tons were soon sold out. Fungus also became the best-selling product on Taobao, the online marketplace of e-commerce giant Alibaba.
“It is exciting to snap up the fungus, and it brings pleasure to receive the products.” “We must support the way to alleviate poverty by promoting agricultural products on e-commerce platforms,” said Chinese net users.
The promotion from Xi, also dubbed “China’s strongest influencer,” became a hot topic on the internet. A net user named “Jiaolairen” said e-commerce is believed to accelerate poverty alleviation and inject vigor in rural vitalization.
On the evening of April 23, Shaanxi province held a largest ever charity livestream show, during which local specialties such as Zhashui fungus, cold noodles, and Chinese hamburgers were all sold out in seconds, and about 50,000 agricultural products were advertised by 3,800 merchants and farmers from the province.
The activity has resulted in a pace-setting effect, with net users believing that more mayors and county governors will join e-commerce platforms to advertise local products through livestream.
The fungus from Zhashui is also on the shelves of an e-commerce platform launched by People’s Daily Online for poverty alleviation. Thanks to President Xi’s presence in the livestream show, fungus produced in other impoverished places also witnessed significant sales growth on the platform.
The COVID-19 pandemic, though exerting a considerable impact on the economy, has also given a rise to new business forms. Nowadays, digital platforms have become a new agricultural production element; mobile phones have become a new farm tool; and livestreaming has become new farm work.
To increase farmers’ income is a key target of agricultural and rural work, said a net user. Adhering to the people-centered development philosophy, and helping farmers get rich as soon as possible by using the internet to tackle the “Three Rural Issues”, namely, the issues regarding the development of agriculture, rural areas and farmers have always been a concern of President Xi.
The digital economy is becoming a new driving force for rural economic growth as it continues to develop rapidly and generates tremendous vitality.
E-commerce is gaining robust momentum for development in rural China, with advances being made in rural digital construction, demonstration projects of e-commerce in rural areas, and poverty alleviation by e-commerce, according to a report on rural e-commerce and logistics released by a research institute under People’s Daily Online on April 24.
Rural online retail is growing fast, and the development of rural e-commerce has effectively stimulated the demand for logistics, the report pointed out, adding that e-commerce platforms are becoming a representative of the “new infrastructure” facilitating intelligent, systematic and large-scale logistics development in rural areas.
Some commentators said that it is necessary to make good use of new business forms such as e-commerce. They believe influencer marketing is only one character of the new business form, and e-commerce platforms have much more potential to be explored.
In addition, new business forms must be properly exploited. Through making stronger institutional arrangements, e-commerce platforms shall be lifted to a new level where they will play a greater role.

Online influencer Wei Ya introduces fungus from Zhashui during a livestream show held by People’s Daily.

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