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April 1st, 2011
04:49 AM ET

Chinese town the internet built

Qingyanliu, China (CNN) – In the U.S., the Internet is forcing the closure of brick and mortar stores.  In China, the web is building up entire villages.

Visit Qingyanliu in China and you quickly get a sense of how the Internet is revolutionizing the nation's job scene.

For decades, the good paying jobs have been at the factories.  Chinese workers still travel long distances to make jeans and plush toys for consumers around the world.  Others wind up in the big cities of Beijing or Shanghai trying to make ends meet.  But now people like Liu Jin can make a ton of money closer to home – thanks to the web.

Liu works in Qingyanliu, a farming town that has been transformed by e-commerce.  He and some of his friends rented space in one of the squat buildings here, and armed only with a computer, they started taking and filling orders for online customers all over China.

Like many in this town, they buy goods at the nearby wholesale market of Yiwu and ship them across the country.    Millions of dollars in sales are rung up in this village every year.  Without the Internet, Liu told me, he likely would have had to move to find work.  Instead, he lives close to his parents who farm oranges nearby.  The Internet, Liu says, gives him freedom.

As China's economy develops, the government is looking for ways to even out growth and create jobs in rural areas.  The Internet is providing a solution.

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Filed under: China
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Nick Kellingley

    The worrying part of Chinese Internet businesses is that they are mainly "middle man" style brokerages, which create jobs in the short-term but in the long run are likely to lose out as brands are established and start to force the small guy out of his niche.

    There are a lot of Chinese dreaming about earning a living on the web, but on the ground there don't seem to be all that many people actually doing it.

    April 1, 2011 at 4:57 am | Reply
  2. Abu

    Well, make hay while the sun shines., and worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes. Generic brands are big in China, and it will be a nice sweet ride before big brands can corner everything.

    April 1, 2011 at 8:13 am | Reply
  3. Art

    @Nick Kellingley ... Is that the whole point of capitalism? The one who can do it best and cheapest wins ...

    April 1, 2011 at 9:04 am | Reply
  4. Nick Kellingley

    @Art

    If that were true capatilism would be a truly wonderful thing, as is it is it works more like this.

    The guy with the deepest pockets who can afford to operate on zero margin, with zero value add, will almost always outlast competitors of any quality who have to make a living doing what they do.

    A no-one wins but the rich game, which last time I checked Chinese peasantry are unlikely to be a part of the winning team.

    April 1, 2011 at 9:15 am | Reply
  5. George

    I live in Shanghai, China and I can tell you, they are really behind in infrastracture when it comes to the internet.
    We work at a company were good internet access is very important.
    We have one of the best providor (because the best providor -btw they are all state owned- needs 3000$ a month.) and we are facing delays and problems EVERY SINGLE DAY.

    food for thought

    April 1, 2011 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • Badacnu

      that, i am just trying make a point here: all my fridnes and most of chinese i have spoken to share two sentiments; 1, they detest CCP and mourn the massive loss of lives at the hands of CCP and their numerous fiascos ( big leap forward, culture revolution, tianmen square massacure)2 they, especially those who were born in china, do feel china has been and still is being mistreated by western powers, most notably usa. most oversea chinese here don't understand why usa just constantly gets in the way of china's development and its getting worse when usa blatantly sided with japan last year and now vietnam and philipine in what is supposed to be a bilateral dispute). those people i am speak of actually include those falungong practioners( including my father). yes, they resent ccp for their brutal crackdown on their fellow practitioners. but when it comes to this dispute, i have never( again, never) heard any chinese( expect for those tibetans or other minorities oppressed in china)disagree with ccp tough stance. ironically, only thing they are not happy about is that ccp is being tough enough. so stop using these ccp propoganda stuff to justify ur assertion that chinese anger is misguided or more outrageously, purely manufactured and since u mention one sided view, could sb tell sydney morning herald or telegraph, australia needs more independent foreign policy instead of being the choir boy of america's.

      March 5, 2012 at 2:08 am | Reply
  6. Lawrence

    Is amazing to see how intenet has generated impact and changes to people lives in village. Internet is communication tool for people with creativity and innovation power make change to make new life and benefit others as well. Internet has been gift to intelligent people to grow with freedom and opportunity.

    April 1, 2011 at 10:54 am | Reply
  7. Chris

    Chinese e-commerce is going to shoot itself in the foot. These people have absolutely no business training, whatsoever, and if the customer disagrees with them, they will just tell the customer to f-off. Been there, done that. I asked why a used motherboard was more expensive than a new motherboard. I was told it was the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I asked why a recent natural disaster would affect the price on a 2-year old motherboard, especially when the motherboard in question was made in China. The guy said, "F-you, and F-your mother", in Chinese, and severed the connection.

    Chinese e-commerce ... really revolutionizing.

    April 1, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Reply
  8. mike

    I AM SO PROUD OF THE CHINESE PEOPLE FOR REMAINING STRONG AND DILIGENT!

    April 1, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  9. mike

    I HAVE GREAT RESPECT AND HONOR TO THE CHINESE PEOPLE

    April 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  10. leon

    Chris,I guess you meet a Chinese pig but no Chinese people.You know,there are pigs around the world,China is not the exception.If you meet a Chinese person,I think you would receive the reply you want

    April 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Reply
  11. Timmy

    Easy to say Chinese are middlemen. How about Americans, who get things manufactured in China, services rendered from India, and sell it back to the world including India and China!

    April 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  12. Abu

    You are right Timmy. Now some American big names have also outsource the hardware design work to Korea, Taiwan and PRC, and the software design to India. They are just middlemen with good marketing.

    April 2, 2011 at 1:53 am | Reply
  13. New GBush

    Isn't Amazon.com also a middleman? Isn't Walmart also a middleman? All big middlemen started from somewhere smaller. From all these new small middlemen in China, some will grow to be giants, some will remain small, and some will disappear. But that is OK. It is all part of free enterprise and capitalism. Let the market forces take its course.

    April 2, 2011 at 1:57 am | Reply
  14. Leela

    I think it is the British who are anything but manufacturers. Can you name anything they manufacture now a days.

    April 2, 2011 at 2:38 am | Reply
  15. hy49101

    CNN continues a VERY BAD practise of listing article datelines such as "X small town, China". It leaves readers in the dark...WHERE the devil is the place the article is talking about?

    and Chris, you don't know what you are talking about; much of the time, you will not be told off so bluntly. it's more like those doing business will not be too honest (but not necessarily lying)

    April 2, 2011 at 6:06 am | Reply
  16. bülent

    geleceğin süper gücü Çin saygi duymak lazim

    April 5, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Reply
  17. Takeo

    Furrealz? That's mravlesouly good to know.

    June 24, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  18. Pierre

    I think Kristie Lu is a hottie. :thumbup:

    July 20, 2011 at 4:37 am | Reply
  19. andy

    oh ,no.i'm a chinese man.see your message ,i'm so angry, does not always talk about china' issue pls.

    July 24, 2011 at 7:40 am | Reply
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    November 17, 2011 at 9:10 pm | Reply
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    December 2, 2011 at 3:42 am | Reply
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    December 15, 2011 at 9:47 am | Reply
    • Akeelah

      This is a good comment. The facts, I would say, are dead on. However, as I egsgusted above, I think that we could put a sharper edge on the comments on environmental pollution and awareness, as well as the prospects for change, by considering more carefully matters of status and class. First, pollution is a massive problem in China that affects all residents, but it is important to recognize that there is an internal economy of exposure to pollution. This fact is, I think, implicit in Sascha's comments about villages and their rivers. No one is overly impressed with Beijing's waterways, but they are not garbage dumps. Here we see evidence of perhaps the most important class divide in China, i.e., the rural-urban divide. Of course this divide is reproduced even within Beijing when one moves from the relatively pristine waters of the old city to the counties cum districts like Changping in the north.Second, the focus on Beijing in both the Chinese national and foreign press (and blogosphere, of course) disguises something that many commenters here are well aware of: that pollution situation in Beijing is not so bad compared to many provincial capitals and smaller municipalities around the country. Not so bad being not so good merely underlines the serious problem residents of China deal with every day. Access to a (relatively) clean environment also runs along an axis defined by China's tiered cities.Third, with regard to the potential role of a worried middle class to improve the situation, well, that remains to be seen. My own take is that the optimism people feel about the rise of the middle class as a political force has more to do with projecting a faulty ideological history of the democratization of the West onto a country with its own peculiar history and conditions. Put simply, there are just as many reasons to be pessimistic about the development of an activist middle class as there are reasons to think their on line tweets are evidence of an uprising in the making. In terms of the capacity and resources for critique of the government, China's peasant/rural and working class are not the dupes they are usually taken for. Have a look at the comical image of the angry vendor girl in the ugly americans post on this blog. Note how her feisty response is seen as ignorance and stupidity. It is seen as an indication of the sheep-like behaviour of an unthinking, uneducated girl (I'll not go on about the sexist, classist ignorance of these comments here unless challenged). Sure it is partly ill-aimed nationalism, but it is also a refusal to be dominated. I would suggest that it is also evidence of the legacy of a more revolutionary time. This will not be a popular view for those readers who believe that the revolution consisted of Mao standing at a lectern commanding robot-like supplicants to do his deeds. Anyway, and here I speculate in the extreme, if one feels that the Party needs to go, and that systems of the kind egsgusted at the tail end of Sascha's comment is the way to go, one ought to pay more attention to the potential of actors other than the new middle class to bring about its demise. The Party's rhetoric and policy under Hu Jintao certainly suggests that the Party recognizes this. If, on the other hand, you are interested in maintenance of the capitalist/market system, the best thing for you is the continued rule of the CPP. If this occurs, it is most likely to do so through the consolidation of a power block comprising the Party and elements of the so-called middle class. The result, perhaps, will be the rise of a pseudo-democratic and highly unequal (in terms of income, wealth, pollution etc. distribution) state.

      March 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Reply
  23. Phillip Collins

    Of course it is awful and the cities should be renewed but China now days has a lot of opportunities to develop the country otherwise there are lots of countries which are truly have bad conditions.
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    March 27, 2012 at 11:58 am | Reply

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