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E-commerce Improves Living Standards in Rural China: Political Advisers
   2016-03-08 20:00:35    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Mao Yaqing

A villager sells farm products through the website "cun.taobao.com" in Songtao Miao Autonomous County of Tongren, southwest China's Guizhou province, Feb 25, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua]

The task of building a more digitized society, emphasized by central authorities at this year's two sessions, is not only confined to big cities.

This year's government work report also encourages the introduction of E-commerce into rural areas.

As CRI's Xu Fei reports, how this can guarantee farmers a better life has drawn heated debate among political advisers attending this year's annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.


Mr. Zhang is a farmer living in northeast Beijing's Pinggu District.

"Farming in the past was mostly weather-dependent. After harvest, the only thing I could do was just wait for buyers. Sometimes I grew too much, and the vegetables rotted in the field. It always worried me."

Limited choices, low efficiency and information asymmetry, have long been the main shortfalls of traditional Chinese agriculture.

But Zhang says things changed when he began to use an online platform to sell products.

"Now I can sell my products directly to the city residents. Also we can grow the vegetables according to what they like."

Lots of efforts have been put into optimizing the agricultural industrial chain and encouraging people to start new businesses in rural areas.

Earlier this year, E-commerce giant Alibaba reached a deal with the National Development and Reform Commission to work together in more than 300 rural areas to help develop e-commerce.

While rural Chinese are willing to spend online, many of them are still relatively poor, which limits their purchasing power and the resources they can invest to build businesses.

National political adviser Liang Weihua is one of the strongest promoters of introducing E-commerce into the countryside.

"During our filed trips to the remote rural areas, we have found that many of them were rich in agricultural resources, and products that are natural and organic. But they were limited by inaccessibility and transport hurdles, and the lack of an information communication platform. E-commerce will largely shorten the distance between companies, costumers, and farmers."

Liang says the success of E-commerce will help China realize its goal to lift 70 million of people in rural areas out of poverty by 2020.

In this year's annual Government Work Report, Premier Li Keqiang has announced a "Fiber-optic networks" plan. It includes a program involving 50-thousand administrative villages, which will enable rural residents to enjoy a more digital way of life.

As the country has stepped into a new Internet era, political advisers including Liu Hanyuan are lobbying for building a big data platform for the agricultural sector at this year's CPPCC sessions.

"Building a big data analysis platform is necessary for balancing supply and demand, and a forecasting mechanism. The sharing of information will lower the risk of price fluctuation, as well as the costs during circulation, while improving efficiency."

For some entrepreneurs, long-distance transportation, logistics costs and storage conditions for fresh products are big concerns.

Political advisers including Liang Weihua are asking for a better logistics network.

Liang also says the government should play a better role in supervision.

"The development of E-commerce also requires more regulations. We are living in an information age, so a supervision mechanism is needed in-case a false or misleading message gets widely spread. "

Though the scale of online shopping in rural areas is still lower than in the cities, political advisers and industry insiders believe there is huge space for growth.

For CRI, I'm Xu Fei.



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