What about the Family Pig Farms?

My mandarin teacher recently invited me to accompany her back to her village for the weekend. I jumped at the opportunity. Not only because I’ll take any chance for a new insight to life in the countryside, but especially because we had discussed at length how the local government was making everyone in her village take down their pig farms.

Her family doesn’t raise pigs, but they do sell the grain that pigs eat to other families in the area that do raise pigs – which seemed like everyone I met when she took me on a tour of her village to visit with relatives and neighbors.

DSC_0117

Above, a local neighbor who has worked for her parents for the past fifteen years is sifting the pig grain in her parents’ barn. She said he is basically like her uncle.

DSC_0179

Her cousin (above) does raise pigs. I know. He keeps them in those pig crates. Not to excuse it, but I doubt the large-scale pig farms bound to take the place of these family pig farms will do anything different. And, as my mandarin teacher said, food safety is a problem in China – their families feel safer eating the pigs they raise themselves rather than the meat they buy at the grocery store, where they have no idea what the processing conditions are like.

(Plus, did you hear about how Gov Chris Christie vetoed pig crate bans in NJ to garner support of Iowa farmers in what many suspect is part of his presidential bid, despite bipartisan support for the ban in his state? http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/28/new-jersey-chris-christie-pig-bill. And you can catch this PBS Frontline story for a look at the US meat industry’s influence on capitol hill: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/politics/.)

Later, while we were chatting with her cousin in his office, I said to him that he seemed remarkably calm about the whole issue, considering they’ve been given a deadline til the end of March to take everything down. He replied that the government hasn’t yet decided whether they will give the pig farmers compensation. If they don’t give them compensation, or if it’s not enough, then they simply aren’t going to follow the new rule.

My mandarin teacher said that whether the local government will give pig farmers compensation completely depends from one place to the next, but in her hometown the local government likely won’t because they simply don’t have the money. She explained that without compensation, the pig farmers will resist the new rule by banding together and collectively protesting to the higher levels of government, all the way to the provincial level if they have to.

When I returned to school I spoke with a professor from Zhejiang University’s Department of Public Affairs about the whole thing. She said, “I know this is a ridiculous policy.” And then explained that this is only happening in Zhejiang because it is related to a water pollution policy that was proposed by the Provincial Party Secretary two years ago.

“Everyone is complaining about it. People know that small-scale raised meat will be much better than what you buy at the supermarket, but now it is totally forbidden.”

I asked what she thought was going to happen, considering the people I spoke with didn’t seem super stressed about the prospect of taking down their pig farms, nor did preparations appear to be underway.

She said she thinks local farmers are probably afraid the local government would punish them, but, on the other hand, they know that so many people are raising small-scale pig farms – everyone has them – and they know the government can’t enforce this law against all of them. So they are probably ok with waiting to see what the compensation will be, and then deciding.

She continued: “It’s weird, because I think water governance is a good thing, but why do you have to tell small-scale farmers to take down their pig farms? Is there evidence supporting that they are the source of the pollution? I think the rural industrial problem is much more severe than this pig thing.”

In an era of economic globalization, small-scale producers around the world have already been forced to wage a David v. Goliath market competition with their large-scale industrial counterparts. Now, as the environmental consequences of global production practices are reaching a tipping point that can no longer be ignored, the stakes couldn’t be higher for small family farmers as governments and corporations justify conservation via large-scale efficiency in order to protect the world’s elite at the cost of basic livelihoods.

As an industrial platform to the world, we all benefit from China’s production of cheap goods and labor. Therefore, it is imperative that problems like these not be simply framed as the poor farmer vs. the big bad state, because that framework often assumes a market solution (like land privatization) should take the place of the state. In the subsequent institutional vacuum, transnational corporations and global elites will exploit atomized farmers for their land and labor while obliterating their collective and community institutions for local organization and resource management in a free-for-all of environmental destruction to produce the most goods for the lowest cost.

As Muldavin (2013:14) wrote:

Despite the most negative environmental impacts of China’s rise on the most vulnerable both in and out of China, probably the greatest hope for change exists within these communities. People who are going to lose their livelihoods or have shorter lives as a result of environmental degradation have the most reason to fight for change. How we respond to their struggles against us, the minority who benefit most from the status quo, will test us as civilized societies. Do we become more militant, militaristic, or violent? Or do we find more socially equitable and just means to deal with these problems.”

We have to move beyond discussions of China-bashing or praise, and acknowledge the complex challenges to sustainability that globalization brings. Our role in these processes as consumers are often affecting the world’s people in highly destructive ways. How we frame these problems, our solutions, and our calls to action are at the heart of our fight for a better future.

Muldavin, Joshua. (2013):14. “From Rural Transformation to Global Integration: Comparative Analyses of the Environmental Dimensions of China’s Rise. Eurasian Geography and Economics.  

Advertisements
Posted in Zhejiang Province | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

China’s Urbanization: The Next Challenge (Challenge for Whom?)

My advisor recently invited me to be his guest at the University of Virginia’s opening ceremony for their new China Office in Shanghai. Then, at the last moment, he bailed on attending. This was fine with me, as it wouldn’t be my first conference solo-mission. Though, as I was scanning through the email invitation on the train to Shanghai in the morning, I noted that it was a good thing I had decided not to go with jeans. First, because it was being held at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, and, second, because it said in big bold font at the bottom ‘Business Casual Attire is Requested’.

Waldorf

The Waldof

After climbing the marble staircase and winding my way through a dark, wood-paneled hallway clogged with black suits, I collected my name tag and headed for the courtyard where I sat outside regretting my brown shoes and reading the lineup of panel discussions.

Just based on the conference title, China’s Urbanization: The Next Challenge, I was skeptical that any of the information would resonate with my personal philosophy on rural community development. Despite my advisor’s good intentions, I secretly felt a little offended he had invited me. Having actively tried to question the nearly universal assumption that modernization, whether state-led or via market reforms, must involve a rural-to-urban flow of people and resources, I assumed I would not be finding a like-minded cohort in attendance. As I read the lineup of topics, I felt the chip on my shoulder grow heavy:

Panel I: Architecture

Panel II: Business and the Economy

Moreover, stuck inside the conference schedule was a promotion for the ‘Shanghai Investing Summit’, which read:

“In an uncertain global economic and political context, investors are challenged to understand new opportunities and manage risk across national borders…The landscape for global investment promises great opportunity for those who can identify it, whether you seek to understand the implications of the full range of proposed global free-trade deals or individual countries’ free-trade zones.”

When I see things like this I feel like I’ve stumbled upon the contemporary version of cold war propaganda. My inbox and social media newsfeed are disproportionately flooded with articles about the climate crisis, and the political, social and economic crises sloshing around the globe the more that land, labor, and money are treated as full commodities guided only by the pockets of global investors and the IMF/World Bank rules of free trade. ‘Whoa! Look!’ The voice in my head says, ‘There’s still real people out there who don’t acknowledge the contradiction of economic growth based on long-term ecological decline, nor the involvement of the West and global elites in the creation of many of China’s social and environmental problems.’

Needless to say, this was not going to be a ‘let’s deconstruct modernization, the state, and the market’ conference. Two of the first topics to be mentioned were land-use efficiency and urban hukou reforms[1].

As one speaker commented:

We have to have a careful consideration of how to use the land more efficiently…density of the city is most important…how to provide public housing inside the city is much more important than providing public housing anywhere else.”

And another said:

“…in the coastal mega cities in China, now there are two types of residents, residents with hukou and residents without hukou…if you live in the city and you don’t have the hukou registration you have problems: you will be biased against, you will have lower income, it is difficult for you to participate in higher-income professions, and these people are generally unhappy, and their trust level is significantly lower…

Western media outlets have also addressed these issues from an efficiency angle and rights-perspective, with little mention of the highly polarized debate surrounding these problems.

Take, for example, what Ian Johnson[2] from the NYT had to say last Spring:

“…Another is reforming farmers’ land rights. Land is owned by the government, with only usage rights available to be bought or sold. Giving farmers more rights over their land would make it harder for bureaucrats to confiscate rural land.

Or, in contrast, what The New York Times Editorial Board[3] had to say just a few days later:

Because the Chinese government owns all the land, rural residents have only the right to use the plots that they farm and cannot easily sell or transfer those rights to other people. That keeps many farmers tied to their land. The government should make it easier for farmers to buy and sell usage rights in a transparent market.”

Like Ian Johnson said, on the one hand, maybe rural farmers don’t want to give up their collectively-allocated land (no, rural land is not owned by the state, but village collective governance is a problem he just decided to ignore), and private land rights will protect rural farmers from local officials who expropriate it for development projects and then force them to move into urban high rises.

Or, on the other hand, some, like the NYT Editorial Board, claim that with market-oriented land reforms (aka privatization of land), farmers will no longer be tied to the land that has been allocated to them through their village collective. They will then be free to sell their land on the open market, and, along with a loosening of urban hukou restrictions, they can enjoy the benefits of full urban citizenship while receiving the market value price of their land.

At the heart of the crossroads over the trajectory of China’s rural reforms is the transitory nature and status of many rural migrant workers who have collectively-allocated land in the countryside, but jobs in the city. China’s outdated land policies are screwing up all the land-use efficiency problems because rural migrants hold onto their land while working in the city, so farmers that stay in the countryside can’t consolidate their plots to make big farms. Meanwhile, the urban hukou policies are screwing up all the labor efficiency problems because many migrants can’t change their rural hukou to become full urban citizens.

No matter whether these rural citizens/migrant workers want to sell their land and move to the city, or keep their land and stay in the countryside,  market-driven land reform and urban hukou reforms seem like the appropriate solutions because (hypothetically) under a private land rights institution they could more easily defend their land from rapacious local officials, so they would probably be more willing to invest in it to create large-scale farms. Moreover, with urban hukou reforms, they could sell their plot, receive the full market price of their land, and then change their hukou to urban and enjoy the benefits of full urban citizenship. Land privatization and urban hukou reforms could solve both the land and labor efficiency problem while protecting farmers from land seizures by local officials.

The problem is that if a rural citizen sells their land and changes their hukou from rural to urban, they may never get their rural land back no matter what job they might find in the city or how high the cost of living might rise. Meanwhile, land privatization is inextricably tied to economies of scale. If land were privatized so the state (hypothetically) can’t push farmers off it, then agribusiness, farm employers, and local elites will push them off it via competition and vertical integration. This sort of development is often viewed as ‘just’ because it happens through the market rather than by the state.

The paradoxical condition of rural migrant workers is not to be taken lightly. A fundamental reason why China weathered the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and 2008 meltdown is because when factories laid off rural workers, or rural migrants otherwise couldn’t gain enough income through their jobs in cities, they still had their collectively-allocated land and rural communities to fall back on as a basic source of subsistence and security.

Collective land ownership continues to play an important role in protecting rural residents from the state and from market volatility. It is the base for farmers to engage in collective action against unjust land seizures by local officials. If land were privatized, they would each have to defend their land on their own, and it would be much less likely that anyone would hear their plights in the face of official abuse, natural disasters, or market fluctuations and manipulations.  Plus, rural citizens’ collective land ownership rights buffer them from transnational corporations and global investors who are yearning to bust through that barrier to exploit their land and labor.

Not to mention the increasingly apparent environmental consequences that result when rural citizens’ last source of security and subsistence – their land – is sucked dry for everything it’s worth.

At the end of the conference, I felt the chip on my shoulder slowly dissolve when the final speaker came to the podium with these comments:

We need to break down dichotomies, we need to break down theories of dialectics and contradictions. What were some dichotomies that need to be broken down and synthesized? The dichotomy between city and agriculture. The dichotomy between rich and poor. The dichotomy between where you live and where you work. The dichotomy between planning and markets. The dichotomy of many kinds, between private and public spaces. The list goes on and on, and I think that is a very interesting way of thinking about a testing pattern of growth for what other countries and societies might look like…The US also has to get its act together and manage our contradictions better… These are not just Chinese problems, but new strategies of dealing with the contradictions of growth and development.

 [1] In China urban land is owned by the state, and rural land is owned by the collective. Citizenship is divided between urban and rural via the ‘hukou’ or household registration system. Under the hukou system, all of your government benefits (public school, health care, social security) are determined by the town or city in which your hukou is registered. As an urban citizen in one of the big cities like Beijing or Shanghai, your benefits may be way better than those of a rural citizen. However, as a rural citizen, you are allocated a plot of land through the collective as a basic source of security and subsistence.  Rural migrant laborers (about 1/3rd of the population) and rural industrial workers are second-class citizens in these big cities because they are excluded from the benefits of full urban citizenship while working in cities, but they have the security of their land and rural community to fall back on should they lose their urban jobs, which as a migrant laborer or industrial worker can be insecure and exploitative.

[2] Ian Johnson. ‘China Releases Plan to Incorporate Farmers Into Cities.’ The New York Times. 17 March 2014.

[3] The New York Times Editorial Board. ‘Urbanizing China’, The New York Times. (23 March 2014)

Posted in Conferences | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Suichang Part III: Spring Festival 2015

Today I caught a ride back to Hangzhou from Suichang with my research partner and his father. During the drive, his father said to me ‘China’s development is happening too quickly, and our traditions are being destroyed in the process. In the US, development has happened naturally; it was not forced by the government. As someone from the outside observing China, what do you think about this?’

To contextualize this question and my response, a few weeks earlier I had ranted to my research partner about my frustration with the condescending tone that seems to emerge in nearly every initial conversation I have with a Chinese acquaintance, and can even pop up now and again even after I think we’ve established some sort of mutual authenticity to our relationship. As any foreigner who has spent even a day in China knows, this begins with ‘wow your Chinese is so good!’ the second you utter ‘Ni Hao’, to the response that ‘China is complicated, you know, we have five thousand years of history’, that can follow you to the day of your departure.

And don’t get me wrong – I have been deeply guilty of an equally condescending tone that my research partner beat out of me after I insisted on exclaiming that everything I encountered was the best thing in the whole entire world:

Suichang: this is the best place in China, really, the best I have ever seen in the whole entire world!

His grandparents’ patio: this is the most beautiful patio in the whole entire world!

A random village we visited during some fieldwork: this is the best village in the whole entire world!

Some baijiu we drank during said field visit: this is the best baijiu in the whole entire world!

So, getting back to the question that his father asked me. This was a condescending question meant to elicit a condescending response. I think what he was really saying is: I bet you think China is doing development all wrong and you Americans have done it all right and you’re just yearning to tell us what we’re doing wrong and what we should do different.’

I replied that in China it is easy to point a finger at the government. There is this tangible external force ‘modernizing’ the landscape at an unbelievable pace and often disregarding any question of complicity in the process. On the other hand, in the US, just because there isn’t one nefarious outer force steamrolling the landscape, the marketization of our social, political, and environmental relationships have had far-reaching consequences. Articulating our contemporary contradictions between the state, market, society, and nature feels like screaming for breath while chugging air and drowning in the atmosphere. Our democracy suggests that as citizens we should enjoy the privilege of representing our own economic interests and defending our rights as individuals under the rule of law. Yet, as individuals we are inextricably engrained in, and therefore so hard-pressed to change, the contradictions we may try to bemoan. In China, I have heard (his son told me this) that beyond the deeply destructive havoc State Capitalism has inflicted on Chinese society and the environment, the complexity of social relations and the traditions they carry may not be easily penetrated by the market.

Ok, I didn’t say it exactly like that, but the basic idea was the same, and the conversation finally brings me to the point of this post: social relations, traditions, and Chinese New Year.

Like last year, I spent the Spring Festival with a family I have been close with since I started doing rural field visits back in 2010. In my 2014 post I initially published an overzealous day-by-day play back that was basically a word-for-word copy/past of my field notes. I have since come to my senses and realized that no, Elena, not everyone wants to read every minute detail of your stream-of-conscious observations. So, out of courtesy to you, dear reader, below you may find my abbreviated 2015 version, with more pictures than words.

We’ll be there in 20 minutes! Was the the text my research partner sent me as I rushed to finish packing my bags. 15 minutes later his father pulled up to my dorm and we set off for the 3 hour drive to Suichang.

After arriving at his grandparents’ home, Aiqiu and her husband soon pulled up to the driveway and piled out of the car. After an exchange of hugs and laughter I hopped into the car beside the younger daughter, Zhu Zixi (Xixi) and we sped off towards the house.

The following day Xixi knocked on my door to wake me up, and we headed downstairs for breakfast. After eating we went for a walk through the tea fields while playing ‘I spy’.

DSC_0014

DSC_0040


The next day my research partner and I visited the home of my Hangzhou-based library study-buddy, whose parents live in Suichang. When we arrived at her parents’ home we sat outside on the patio overlooking the tea fields, and then went on a walk up through the mountains.

DSC_0174

On our walk, her father explained that their village’s tea farm is organic. The village collectively contracts the land to a tea-farm boss who has come from the Suichang county seat (he is not from the village). Most of the people hired to work on the farm are from Jiangxi province.

During the winter, when there is not any work to do, the man who now contracts the tea farm uses the vacant building to package and sell dried sweet potato.

DSC_0182

On the morning of New Year’s Eve, just like last year,  the girls painted ‘duilians’ that were hung up around the thresholds of the doors.

DSC_0413

DSC_0514

Then, after setting out an offering in front of the house, the grandfather, father, Xixi, and I packed the basket with a pig head, chicken, snacks, wine, and fruit to make an offering at their alter set in the side of one of the mountains in the tea fields.

DSC_0450

DSC_0459

DSC_0471

In the afternoon, after cleaning the house and setting the altar, we spent the evening watching the Chinese Spring Gala, that gathered 704 million viewers last year (and that was a bad year for ratings).

DSC_0530

The following day everyone woke up late, and after lunch I sat outside talking with Nainai. She said that this year around March they will start picking tea again, and then in April workers will return to help with the tea harvest. She said each year the weather has been getting warmer earlier, which means the tea harvest season also begins earlier. I remembered Aiqiu saying last year that because the tea had begun to bloom earlier than they had expected, they didn’t have enough people to help with the harvest at the beginning of the season. Climate change.

The next day we left for Aiqiu’s mother’s house to celebrate the new year, and like last year, the road was clogged with traffic as everyone was also going to visit relatives after spending the previous day at home with their families.

The following day I watched in the morning as the grandfather lit some paper on fire in front of their altar before dismantling it. Then I spent the morning hiking through the tea fields with Xixi searching for bamboo shoots.

DSC_0024

This is a skilled practice that I still don’t totally understand despite Xixi’s multiple explanations and demonstrations. It involves digging at the ground around a bamboo stalk to see if the root retracts. If it does, then you dig further to unearth the edible bamboo shoot. After Xixi and I dug around to no avail, we were soon joined in the search by her father, who swiftly chopped into the ground to uproot two large bamboo shoots.

DSC_0034

The final evening I accompanied the family back to the town square where the final Spring festival performance to be held was put on by a local village. The last performance we watched before it started raining involved dancers dressed in some Chinese minority dresses doing a traditional dance.

DSC_0112

There could be no more appropriate ending to my (potentially last) Spring Festival experience then this minority dance. My first trip to Suichang in 2008 (when I was an undergrad with the Global College China Center), involved a visit to a minority village where we witnessed, and then participated in, a similar dance:

n1244580047_164794_8793

Later, my professor that arranged this 2008 visit explained that the whole performance was not really ‘traditional’ but had been choreographed by some non-minority Han to promote tourism in the area. They assumed that tourists would prefer what they considered a more ‘entertaining’ performance than an authentic traditional dance (read: state capitalism steam-rolling traditions). Seven years later, I think I’m a little bit closer to an authentic understanding of the traditions and complex social relations that flow beneath state-led modernization.

Posted in Zhejiang Province | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Seeking Truth From Fact” Part III: Gaoping’s E-commerce Shop

I felt conflicted about how to write this post. My previous two posts on Gaoping’s peasant tourism association and organic food cooperative were easy, feel-good, ‘hooray-for-rural-alternativist-values’ stories of grassroots cooperative institutions that integrate the needs and interests of the local residents while they work together to contribute to the development of their rural communities.

The e-commerce shop is a threshold into the globalized world of online shopping transactions. Isn’t that almost the exact opposite of grassroots community development, with inevitable diminishing returns for local, small-scale producers as neighbors turn to purchasing cheaper products online? How is ‘Ms. Lin’ who sells blankets out of her van when not tending to her noodle plot of land supposed to compete with Alibaba*, who controls 80 percent of ecommerce in China, and Amazons’ sloshing troughs of cheap online goods?

Well, duh, the e-commerce shop isn’t just for buying stuff, but also selling it, so she can sell her blankets online, right?

Except even more concerning (for some) than the role of giant online retail in the everyday lives of consumers is the monopsonist control they may exercise over their online suppliers – sometimes wielding pressure in dubious forms to keep vendor prices low or increase their cut of sales (see Paul Krugman’s recent critique of Amazon here, and a parallel critique of Taobao, who is owned by Alibaba, here).

Golly gee if only we lived in a world of insulated self-sufficient communities and I was six years old again and the biggest question I wanted to answer was how many chickens I could carry on my lap while swinging on the backyard swing set.

Obviously my simplistic duality of poor Ms. Lin vs. big bad e-commerce capital reeks of some luddite-peasant-preservationist agenda, a veneer as equally nefarious as the modern liberation narrative of the peasant shackled to the land by the big bad state, straining to break free from their feudal obligations and fully emerge into an urban industrialized capitalist society. I bemoan both narratives: e-commerce can undoubtedly improve the quality of rural livelihoods at the same time that online retail platforms, absent state regulations, can abuse their suppliers and consumers via monopolistic and monopsonistic control.

With those pesky bifurcations of the peasant vs. big capital and peasant vs. big state out of the way, in China’s geographic tug-of-war between the city and the countryside E-commerce shops can fulfill an important role in rural community development. Let’s explore it.

DSC_0346

Gaoping, as I’ve described in the past posts, is settled high in the mountains, about two and a half hours from the county seat; so not only is access to products limited, but basic infrastructure is still developing.  Through collaboration and investment between the village committee and the township government the e-commerce shop was established in January 2014 as one of many building blocks to overcome local development challenges, including internet access and transportation.

The shop primarily involves two elements:

1. Assistants help villagers, free of charge, to order products online through a site called 51ganjie.com. The site is owned by Alibaba and specifically designed for the countryside.

(When I asked if there were concerns competition might hurt local businesses, they said no because most local small shops sell goods you wouldn’t purchase online, e.g. food, snacks, alcohol, and cigarettes.)

2. They help villagers sell products online nationally; these include rice, bamboo shoots, tea, dried sweet potato, black ear fungus (a type of mushroom), and chicken.

Additionally, they help villagers pay bills online – including water, electricity, and cable; and they help them purchase train tickets (in the past, without internet access you would have to travel the 2.5 hours to the county seat to purchase train tickets).

DSC_0348

If there is a product many farmers will want to purchase – such as the military style shoes in the photo above that are good for hard labor and work in the fields – the shop will help farmers place their order in bulk, enabling them to them save on the cost of transaction and shipping.

Shipping, even more than online shopping access, is the core of the shop. Previously, Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer site, Taobao (so the e-bay equivalent), would only ship to the county seat, or in some cases they would charge a much higher fee to go down to the village level. Now, through the e-commerce shop villagers can order products that will be shipped directly to the shop. Moreover, if villagers want to start their own business and sell products online, they can ship these products out from the shop as well.

So how, exactly, do villagers sell their products online? If anyone has tried selling stuff on ebay, you may know the difficulty of what can be involved. How do you price it right? How do you arrange the transactions and make sure your account is safe? And perhaps most important, how do you make yourself visible?

On the Taobao website, clusters of shops are all labeled under their province in China. However, instead of falling under the ‘Zhejiang’ tab, Suichang County is displayed with their own label on Taobao’s site, meaning their visibility to consumers is equivalent to that of a province (for reference, China has 2,862 county-level divisions and 34 provincial/administrative division, so the benefits are obvious).

Suichang was able achieve this level of display on Taobao’s site through a business association of online shops in the County seat (score for small business organizing!). The association is composed of 3000 small shops, and these businesses had become so successful that together they approached Alibaba (Taobao’s parent company) to ask for support and sponsorship, and thus became the first county-level cluster of online shops on Taobao. Gaoping’s 51ganjie.com is one of the shops within that cluster.

The man who started this business association in Suichang began by selling his own agricultural and organic products online, and, recognizing that there were so many local products of value that were meeting the needs of the market, he began to train other new shop owners. After teaching individual new business owners how to open shops on Taobao or expand their business, he then began organizing a series of workshops and training sessions. As more and more people connected with each other, they formulated a support system that evolved into the business association.

DSC_0336

In the photo above, you can see from January to September how many services the shop has provided – in September they assisted villagers 269 times with 171 purchases. Because the shop is so new their services mainly fall on the purchasing side – it will take some time to work together with villagers who want to initiate their own online shops.

There are, of course, environmental consequences that will accompany the expansion of China’s e-commerce web via cargo shipping. Perhaps it is time to ask how the richest consumers can start taking one for the team, instead of the poorest.

p.s When I was six I wasn’t some swingset-chicken terrorist – I only carried one chicken on my lap.

*If you’ve never heard of Alibaba, here’s an easy chart that compares them with Amazon: http://www.businessinsider.com/alibaba-vs-amazon-2014-8

Posted in Zhejiang Province | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment