Walls (of any construction) in China’s villages used to be billboards for the government to promote its many policies, especially the one-child policy, in the absence of a better channel. Slogans that boost the benefits of population control and the use of contraception are very commonly seen in rural China. In today’s Chinese villages, however, wall slogans serve a new master.
“Rushing about away from home doesn’t beat doing Taobao at home.” Such goes a wall slogan in one little village in the coastal province of Shandong.
“Need sales leads? Contact Baidu.” There goes another one in another village.
“To make a good living, get on Taobao immediately.” Yet another one.
Taobao, C2C site under China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, has made a lot miracles in China, one of which is the empowerment of the country’s rural population with easy-to-set-up online businesses. E-commerce has not only brought convenience and cheap products to China’s urban dwellers, but also an important stream of income to many rural residents.
As of 2013, there are officially 20 “Taobao villages” in China. To be on the list, at least 10% of the village’s households need to be operating online stores, and the total annual village e-commerce revenue must exceed $1.6 million.
The proliferation of e-commerce, or rather, Internet economy, to China’s rural areas has implications that go beyond the mere economics.
First of all, e-commerce provides an easy retreat for those who don’t want to leave their rural hometowns, such as those farmers who’ve lost their lands during the country’s accelerating urbanization, and for those who want to go back to their rural hometowns after being squeezed out of China’s huge, heavily-polluted and super expensive big cities.
Secondly, an enriched rural population plus logistic networks extended to villages may speed up China’s transition to a consumer economy from the current development model that heavily replies on government investment and exports.
Slogans exhorting the one-child policy have stuck on the walls of Chinese villages for decades before gradually fading away. In its place, China’s tech companies have painted a new future for rural China, but it’s going to be tough. The majority of China’s over 600 million Internet users are urban. In a country with 1.3 billion people, there’s a lot more to cover.
“Accumulating wealth depends on hard work. Preserving wealth depends on shopping at JD.com“
“To get rich, build roads first. To shop, search on Baidu first.”
“Operate an online store at home. Keep perfect balance between work and family.”