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Reporter's log: Livestreaming, e-commerce play crucial role in Gansu's poverty alleviation drive by Matthew Robert Bossons,November 16, 2020 Adjust font size:

Artisans manufacturing traditional carved bricks are keen to use livestreaming to introduce their work to people across China and worldwide. [Photo by Matthew Bossons for]

This stubborn poverty is becoming easier to tackle, though, thanks in large part to China's increasing technological prowess, as demonstrated by its big data capabilities, extensive 5G network and innovative high-tech products.

Chinese tech companies also are getting involved to help out, including e-commerce and internet behemoth Alibaba, which runs a 'village livestreaming project' that helps farmers just like Zhang to sell their agricultural products online. During my time in Wudu district, many local producers, government officials and companies spoke positively about Alibaba's role in the area's poverty alleviation efforts.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, the value of agricultural products sold online was 397.5 billion yuan ($56.1 billion) in 2019, a year-on-year increase of 27 percent, while the number of online merchants in rural areas grew to 13.84 million.

Overall, it's a positive trend, and I find myself relieved that the internet is useful for more than just cute cat photos and how-to videos – it has positive real-world applications.

When the sun begins to set over the rugged hills surrounding Zhang's home and orchard, it's time for me to leave Longhuai village.

As I wander through the warren of dusty alleyways that make up the small settlement and make my way towards the main road, I can't help but think of a quote from Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, who once allegedly said, "The Web as I envisaged it, we have not seen it yet. The future is still so much bigger than the past."

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