By Wang Zhe
When the rural revitalization strategy meets mobile Internet, will they generate new momentum for rural development of China?
Yao Jinbo, deputy to the National People’s Congress and CEO of 58.com, recently shared his views on the topic in an interview with China Report ASEAN.
Attending this year’s two sessions, he submitted a proposal on strengthening the informatization of rural areas and advancing the construction of a smart countryside of China. Yao proposed that mobile Internet should be a new engine for China’s rural development and make the countryside a better and more vigorous place to live. In fact, 58.com, China’s largest online market place for classifieds, has pioneered in promoting the development of mobile Internet in rural areas.
From Big Cities to Small Towns
According to Yao, when he went back to his hometown, a village in Yiyang, Hunan Province, a few years ago, he found that smart phones had become quite popular in the village as they are in urban areas. The witnessing of his 70-year-old grandmother using WeChat made Yao determined to engage in rural construction with the help of mobile Internet. “Chinese rural areas have broken away from the state of being ill-informed and ushered in the mobile Internet era, leapfrogging the PC and traditional Internet eras,” said Yao. “The gap between rural and urban areas in flow of information and goods will continue to narrow.”
“In June 2016, 58yicun.com was established as a comprehensive information service platform for agriculture, rural areas and farmers,” Yao explained. “We first launched pilot programs in my hometown Yiyang and then promoted our successful experience to other rural areas of China.”
“We set up a new information service platform tongzhen.58.com last April,” Yao added. The platform connects more than 40,000 townships across China and provides information to facilitate daily life, marketing, public service, government notice and recruitment. Its establishment marked the coverage of 58.com services extending from major cities to small towns.
The Greatest Potential
Based on his research on rural development, Yao presented suggestions on how to address issues like backward infrastructure, defective public service system and low-degree mechanization of agriculture in his proposal on informatization and rural revitalization.
He noted that the government should promote high-quality development of agriculture by encouraging technological innovation, attach importance to both ecological and cultural progress in the countryside, and improve logistics networks in rural areas. He also proposed a digital platform for village affairs to improve information sharing and rural administration. He believes that farmers can increase their income through training programs on information technology. Ultimately he hopes an information highway towards rural revitalization can be built in the country.
“For the future development of mobile Internet in China, the rural areas, rather than the cities, have the greatest potential,” Yao said. “Nowadays many Chinese villagers enjoy faster and cheaper access to the Internet compared with urban residents. So my basic idea is to create a comprehensive service platform incorporating all information related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers, thereby contributing to building China into a moderately prosperous society in an all-round way.”