Hua Guo (DOB 1 Aug 1991) received the bachelor degree in Public Administration from Ningxia University in China, and now is a PhD Candidate at the School of Public Policy and Administration, Xi’an Jiaotong University, China. She has studied as visiting student at the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies at the Asia Institute, the University of Melbourne from 2020 to 2021. Her work explores the resettlement and relocated, households’ livelihood and urbanization especially in rural Western China, and publications include ‘China’s rapidly evolving practice of poverty resettlement: Moving millions to eliminate poverty’ (Development Policy Review,2019).
One of the Chinese government’s key strategies to transform its countryside is to promote rural e-commerce. In a series of central government policies, rural e-commerce has been highlighted and described as the mode of improving the rural economy and accompanied by government subsidies. Existing studies have examined mostly the shaping of so-called Taobao Villages and their role in changing pattern of the rural economy and fighting poverty. However, less known is in what ways such government-intended rural e-commerce boom has been changing agricultural production and sales, and how the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has affected such dynamics. This paper aims to investigate the process of promoting rural e-commerce in Chinese villages. Drawing on the notion of fragmented authoritarianism, we question: how are Chinese rural e-commerce policies responded to by governments at different levels, agribusiness companies, e-commerce companies and smallholding farmers? In what ways has the outbreak affected Chinese rural e-commerce, especially of agricultural products? Our analysis will base on relevant reports in the Chinese mainstream media, and the deep interviews in four e-commerce demonstration counties that are Zigui, Shangnan, Shunping and Mangshi. Exploring the rural e- commerce forms in the context of Chinese e-commerce policies. In particular, given the situation posed by pandemic, the rapid growth of rural e- commerce focusing on the sale of agricultural products as farmers join the ranks of the unmarketable agricultural products and unsustainable rural livelihoods. And further examine the sustainability of such e-commerce practices and the impact on local agriculture and rural people’s livelihood.
Affiliation: Xi’an Jiaotong University, China