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China's Poor Village Logging onto Wealth

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E-commerce is often associated with urbanites. However, as more and more people are connecting to the Internet -- 420 million people in China had done just that by July this year -- online businesses are no longer the monopoly for urban dwellers.

The most miraculous technology for human kind yet has connected the world to even the most remote corners of the globe. In east China's Jiangsu Province, a village in an impoverished county even managed to turn itself into a comparatively wealthier place through e-commerce.

There are over 1,000 households in Dongfeng Village, Suining County. What's amazing is that more than 400 of these households are managing online furniture shops at, China's largest online auction and shopping site. Taobao boasts 190 million registered users, and churns out an output value of 300 million yuan, or around US$44.8 million every year.

This small enterprise is known as Fullhouse Furniture Factory--on China's eBay, And this guy Sha Qing who is under 30, is the boss. Several years ago, like countless other young men from rural China, Sha Qing went to Beijing, the national capital, then to Hainan in south China to seek his fortune. He worked as security staff and a taxi driver. Two years ago, he returned to his village and started his own online store.

"I have fewer than 20 employees. We make about 10,000 yuan or 1,493 dollars per day on average," said Sha Qing, head of Fullhouse Furniture Factory

Not far from Sha Qing's make-shift factory, 48-year-old Liu Xingqi is at home bargaining with customers online. Liu has never learned Pinyin, a romanized system for Chinese characters, or typing. But this does not hamper him running a brisk online business.

"I handwrite all the transactions with the help of handwriting recognition software," said Liu Xingqi, online-store owner.

Liu left the village in the 1990s and cooked meals for sale in the cities. Every morning at 1:00 AM, he would rise to prepare the food. However, his diligence could only help his family to live hand to mouth. One month, to save money, the whole family lived on boiled vegetables for meals, without even adding a drop of oil. In 2007, after hearing that fellow villagers had made a fortune through opening online stores, he returned home and started his own. Now, on a good day, Liu can earn more than 1,000 yuan per day, that's about 149 dollars.

"We make footstools. The ones people use while changing their shoes. We do the design ourselves. There are also tall stools to store boots," said Liu.

At about 5 O'clock every afternoon, the streets outside the village committee are bustling. Staff from dozens of the express delivery companies are out loading thousands of packages onto trucks.

Every day, these express deliveries depart from Dongfeng Village, and head for the adjacent Huai'an, where they are then loaded onto trains, airplanes or ships, and sent to customers all over China.

Dongfeng Village is a typical farming village that used to produce thick vermicelli and engage in pig farming. But these industries have failed to bring wealth to the villagers. When the first online store was set up in Dongfeng Village three years ago, few villagers knew much about the Internet.

Sun Han was born in 1982. His father worked at a cooperative store in town, so at that time the family was financially stable. Sun Han never tried his hand at farm work. Instead, after he graduated from Nanjing Forestry University, all he wanted to do was land a job in a big city.

"I've worked as security staff and a salesman, both with small salaries, and not enough to live on. My parents had to mail me money to tide me over," Sun said.

The cruelty and pressure of life in the city drove Sun Han back home to Suining Town, where he then became a manager of customer services at a local branch of China Mobile. His monthly salary was more than 2,000 yuan, or 294 dollars, but his parents were satisfied

"In the beginning, he wanted to quit the job at China Mobile, and said it was too tiring. I talked him out of it," recalled Sun Deqiang, Sun Han's father.

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