Discover China: Kingdom of dreams and reality in eastern China

Source: Xinhua| 2020-06-24 22:03:59|Editor: huaxia

HANGZHOU, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Every day at around 5:30 p.m., vehicles begin to back up at the entrance of Beixiazhu, a 22-hectare village with just 1,300 dwellers.

Located at a distance of about 2 km from Yiwu, which is famed for harboring the world's largest small commodity wholesale market in eastern China's Zhejiang Province -- the birthplace of e-commerce giant Alibaba, Beixiazhu village has emerged as the sanctuary of China's "internet celebrity economy."


"Though we have only 1,300 permanent residents, over 10,000 e-commerce practitioners from outside the village are employed with more than 1,200 stores involving 7,400 merchants, and an average 600,000 orders are sent out every day," said Huang Zhengxing, a local official.

Li Yunxiang, 42, hails from the city of Harbin, over 2,000 km away from Beixiazhu. She runs a popular boutique outlet in the village. But seldom do her followers know that many of the stylish hats they snap up online come from the village.

One of Li's items, a foldable hat, registered record sales of over 100,000 in the first month of this year.

"Beixiazhu is the birthplace of many Chinese internet sensations. Staying up-to-date can help us grasp the latest trend and lock in the upcoming products in the country," said He Jun, a Jiangxi native who has been doing business in Yiwu for 12 years.

In the midst of a flourishing small commodities market, which is the largest in the world, Beixiazhu Village has a full supply chain ranging from production to logistics. Local businesspeople claimed that the village is home to some 5,000 live streamers.

The typical four-and-a-half-story houses are the home of gold diggers from across the country, and almost every building has a signboard hanging on their front door that reads "live broadcast" or "internet trending."

"The ground floor is often used as a store or factory while the other floors either house local residents, or are leased to the live streamers," said Huang. "Many store owners are also live streamers as being an anchor needs nothing but a room and a computer, or just a mobile phone."

"The price must be kept low to make the product popular," said He. This year he customized a "cooling arm sleeves" at a cost price of 1.35 yuan (about 19 U.S. cents), and hopes that it can become a market hit in the upcoming summer.

"I only make one yuan profit on a hat," said Li. "My huge sales volume allows me to purchase the hats from the factory at a low price, and if a product goes viral with the help of live streaming, it can maintain high sales for at least two months; that's enough to bring me a good fortune."


In Beixiazhu, the acute sense of some tastemakers helped them pocket 1 million yuan in half a month, but there were also daydreamers whose ambitions turned out to be just bubbles.

Wang Bei, 24, came from central China's Henan Province in early March. "Seemed like there were millions of opportunities in Beixiazhu," he said. The young man rented a room for 750 yuan a month, intending to attract fans by creating humorous short videos and then convert the fans into consumers.

Just like Wang, Liu Yang's ambitions also brought him to Yiwu. He came from northeast China's city of Qiqihaer about three years ago but both his attempts at forging a self-owned business failed.

"Since the novel coronavirus outbreak, more and more people have started to come to Beixiazhu to seek opportunities as it's easy to get started here," said Liu. "I once sold 700 belts in one night and made a small profit, but I've been losing money most of the time."

Frustrated over his failed bid to gain more followers in the past months, Wang finally gave up and returned home a few days ago.

Tao Qi, 23, who works with the village committee of Beixiazhu, is accustomed to these ups and downs. "Though many people come here with their dreams, only a few stay. It's not as easy to make money here as it's imagined," said Tao. Enditem