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E-commerce boom attracts young people back to hometown

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2022-08-17

CHONGQING -- While many young Chinese from remote counties are swarming to bigger cities for job opportunities, Xiushan Tujia and Miao Autonomous County in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality is reversing this trend by attracting young people with its local e-commerce boom.

The faraway county once had more than 80 impoverished villages and over 70,000 registered impoverished households. To revitalize its economy, an e-commerce industrial park was established in 2014. The county has taken a series of measures, such as free offices, warehouses and training courses, to hold back the outflow of talent.

Since then, Xiushan has envisioned e-commerce as its future pillar industry due to its enormous growth potential.

Liao Heng, who was born in Xiushan in 1995, quit his job as an apprentice in a barber shop in downtown Chongqing and returned to join the e-commerce industry.

"My family was so poor that I left home in search of work as soon as I turned 16. I tried my hand at all sorts of menial jobs," Liao recalled, adding when he learned that his hometown was willing to offer free office space in the industrial park, he decided to give it a try and start his own business.

Initially, Liao understood very little about e-commerce and experienced failures. However, after persistent learning and research on internet marketing, logistics and relevant fields, he decided to collaborate with a local self-heating hotpot manufacturer. Self-heating hotpot is a popular item purchased online, particularly by Chinese youth, as it can satisfy picky palates while offering instant meals.

In 2017, Liao set himself a goal of making 100 yuan (about 14.8 U.S. dollars) a day. With a business boom, his 30 online outlets can now rake in hundreds of thousands of yuan in just one day.

Liao attributes his success to the joint efforts of the local residents. "Business environment really matters a lot. The entire county banded together to develop e-commerce and everyone was willing to share their gains. Without the support of the local government and experienced entrepreneurs, I could never come this far," Liao said.

Yang Qiu, born in 1992, has a similar story. In 2016, Yang returned to Xiushan, attracted by its favorable e-commerce policies and started his own business.

Yang's condiment company recorded an annual turnover of about 50 million yuan in 2021, a sharp increase compared to 4 million yuan in 2017. However, Yang's desire to amass wealth goes beyond mere ambition. He went on to set up a hotpot production base in Xiushan's Aikou Township.

Ingredients of Chongqing's signature delicacy hotpot including chili peppers and gingers are all bought directly in Xiushan, which helps complete the local supply chain for the product and creates job opportunities for the locals.

Thanks to the thriving e-commerce sector, other related industries are also burgeoning in the once-poor Xiushan.

"Take the package boxes as an example. Factories produce the cardboard boxes and packaging tapes locally, and the logistics price of a package has also dropped from around 4 yuan to about 2 yuan," Yang said.

From 2017 to 2021, the total sales volume of Xiushan's e-commerce sector reached approximately 70 billion yuan and around 110 million parcels were sent out during the past five years.

Driven by the e-commerce boom, the county's GDP also grew from 15 billion yuan in 2016 to 34 billion yuan in 2021.