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The development of e-commerce on the fast track in Tibet

On the vast plateau, one express delivery truck after another crossed the pass of the Kunlun Mountains over 4,700 meters above sea level, heading for Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region ).

The scene on the Qinghai-Tibet highway was captured in “The Yangtze River,” the latest documentary from Japanese director Ryo Takeuchi. The artwork is in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic relations between China and Japan this year.

In the first episode of the documentary, the director boarded an express delivery truck and headed to the source of the Yangtze River on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau for filming. The truck, loaded with various daily necessities, departed from Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan Province, and the whole trip took about 60 hours.

“I didn’t expect online shopping to grow so quickly here,” Takeuchi said. He recalled that 10 years ago, when he first arrived on set for a documentary, he didn’t find a single express delivery truck. Now all the Tibetan herders he has met use smartphones, enjoy online shopping and watch short videos in the same way as their urban counterparts.

Online retail sales volume in Tibet grew 61.1% year-on-year to reach 18.97 billion yuan (about $2.8 billion) in 2021. All 74 counties and districts in the region benefited rural e-commerce convenience, according to the regional office. Commerce Department. The growth rate ranks first in the country.

“All the clothes I wear were purchased online, and they are much cheaper and more stylish than those sold in nearby stores,” said Tenzin, 27, from Zhentang township on the China-Nepal border. , Dinggye County, Xigaze City.

Besieged by forests at the foot of Qomolangma deep in the Himalayas, the township has an average elevation of over 2,000 meters and is home to over 2,600 Sherpa. In 2020, a high-level freeway section reaching the township was opened to traffic, providing delivery trucks with a convenient route to make regular deliveries.

According to the regional transport department, Tibet has built or renovated rural roads totaling 38,200 km since 2016, bringing the total length of rural roads in the plateau region to more than 90,000 km by the end of 2021.

Improved transport facilities, telecommunication networks and courier service coverage have contributed to the expansion of e-commerce in the region, with online shops and consumption increasing rapidly. Local specialties are sold in other parts of China through online e-commerce platforms.

In a small village in Zayu County in Nyingchi City, the main habitat of the Deng people, villager Delung has become an online celebrity attracting over 2 million followers on various short video platforms. Deng, also known as Dengba, primarily resides in Zayu. They have their own oral language, but no written language.

Delung produces short videos about Deng culture, Zayu’s landscape and customs, and sells local specialties through his livestreams, such as wild Ganoderma lucidum, or lingzhi, and morels.

Last year, he helped sell local specialties with a total value of over one million yuan.

Official data shows that online retail sales of agricultural products reached 1.72 billion yuan in Tibet in 2021. Typical health foods such as caterpillar mushroom and Ganoderma lucidum recorded high sales.

“Through short videos and live streaming, I hope to lead my fellow citizens to a better life,” Delung said.