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’.


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)

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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’.



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.


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.


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.



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.




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).


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.


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.


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.


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:


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.

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“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.


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 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).


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 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.


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:

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“Seeking Truth From Fact” Part II: Gaoping’s Organic Farm Cooperative

In my last post I described the recent evolution of Gaoping’s peasant-tourism cooperative association. Mainly, how the villagers scaled up from scattered, individual households opening their homes to tourists, to sharing resources and combining services to form the ‘Four Unifications’ model, which is now promoted across the Lishui prefecture. It is this type of rural experimentation, cooperation, and innovation that underlies the New Rural Reconstruction Movement (NRRM) as an alternative to the ‘utopian marketization’ of rural society, and looks to local communities for grassroots solutions to overcome the rural crisis or ‘sannong wenti‘ (hence my “seeking truth from fact”).

In this post I’ll talk about Gaoping’s organic farm co-op that now also serves as a model for villages across the township. In contrast with the peasant-tourism cooperative association that receives financial and organizational support from the local government, the organic farm co-op was started and still operates as an entirely independent and self-governing enterprise, with the local government taking no part in their policymaking or day-to-day operations. At the end of our interview with Gaoping’s Township Party Secretary, he said:

“The co-op really invented this idea of growing organic high-end vegetables for urbanites. And even though the enterprise belongs to this village [the shareholders are all from this village], they have motivated the whole township to try this model – so maybe other villages can learn from this village. In China, because of the Household Responsibility System, land is chopped into small pieces and allocated to individual families; in order to really build something of a larger scale, to make bigger profits, you have to develop a model like a co-op – you have to concentrate all the land together.”


Mr. Bao is pictured in the middle, in front of his home.

Prior to 2008, Mr. Bao, the founder of Gaoping’s organic co-op, was a migrant worker in Suichang’s county seat. Despite the stigma often associated with migrant workers, after leaving Gaoping village he became quite successful, acquiring a savings of a few million yuan while working in Suichang. Then, in 2007 everyone in his home village voted him to become the Party Secretary. That year he decided to maintain a seat on the village committee, but not to return home. In 2008 the villagers again voted him to become the village Party Secretary – 470 out of 500 villagers voted for him. Knowing that everyone had such high hopes for him, this time he decided to return.


Under Mr. Bao’s guidance, in the past six years the village has transformed dramatically. Echoing what the township party secretary had told us, Mr. Bao said that prior to 2008 ‘Gaoping’ was interchangeable with ‘remote and poor’.  Even though villagers had been growing the type of mountain vegetable the co-op now specializes in since 2000, they were all producing individually, and rather than selling their products directly in the market they relied on a ‘middle man’ who came to their village and negotiated with the peasants by household. So even with a high yield, they were weak and vulnerable because they had not banded together.


A local farmer, picking vegetables in the co-op’s greenhouse.

When Mr. Bao returned, his goal was to unite the farmers, build a cooperative, and help the village make more money.  His personal savings were not enough to cover the start-up investment, and he asked each one of his friends (‘the brotherhood’ he called them) to put their homes up as collateral for a loan. In the beginning only 62 households joined the co-op, and then within a month that number declined to 54. Mr. Bao knew that in order to be successful they needed to build a brand, and this required farmers to be more discriminate about the quality of the vegetables they picked to be sold – some farmers didn’t see the point, and felt they were investing more effort to just grow the same type of product they had grown before; no one regulated the quality of their vegetables when they sold them as a household through a middle-man.


A view overlooking the co-op greenhouses and fields.

However, by cutting out the middle-man, banding together, and selling their brand name products directly for wholesale in big cities like Hangzhou and Shanghai, as well as to wealthy urban households through a ‘fresh vegetable home delivery program’, they were able to turn their initial investment of just 210,000 yuan ($34,250) into a huge profit: over the past six years the value of the co-op has increased to 20 million yuan ($3,260,000), and 147 households (out of 180 households in the village) are currently shareholders.  Prior to the co-op, the total savings for the town was about 5 million yuan ($814,000) and today it is 60 million yuan ($9,765,000).


A box of fresh vegetables, prepared to be shipped to an urban household.

Mr. Bao has since stepped down as the village Party Secretary, and now mainly works with the co-op. He is their largest shareholder (with 8K out of 15K total shares), but they are self-governed by a shareholder ‘representative congress’, while a shareholder ‘operational committee’ manages the day-to-day operations.  So, if the operational committee sees a policy that needs to be changed, they bring it to the representative congress for a vote.


Their brand received widespread recognition a few years ago when it became known that the Zhejiang provincial government was ordering their vegetables for their exclusive dining canteen. The government officials were ordered to stop ‘indulging’ as part of an anti-extravagance campaign, but the scandal was free advertisement for the co-op, and because their brand was associated with the privilege and luxury enjoyed by provincial cadres, their business from wealthy urbanites increased. Today, the co-op is the main driver for the local economy, and therefore the local government’s most important source of revenue. They are held up as something like the ‘golden child’ of Suichang county – as mentioned, they serve as a model for emulation by other villages across the township.


In my next post, I’ll discuss Gaoping’s new e-commerce facility that was established in January of this year through a partnership with Alibaba and the local government to help villagers purchase products online. I hope the e-commerce story, juxtaposed with the stories behind these two  ‘grassroots’ models, will elucidate the complex confluence of interests that are guiding the trajectory of China’s rural development.

Posted in Urban-to-Rural Migration, Zhejiang Province | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments