Building service industry key in rural revitalisation: App founder

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BOAO – Introducing the concept of a service industry into rural China is key in the next steps in China’s battle against poverty, said the founder of the Daojia Group, which runs an app connecting service providers like cleaners, handymen and masseuse with consumers.

Beyond just focusing on physical infrastructure, there needs to be greater effort to focus on services like medical insurance and other related amenities, Mr Chen Xiaohua told a panel on rural revitalisation at the Boao Forum in Hainan.

China is now moving from its poverty alleviation campaign to a new strategy to revitalise the countryside and narrow the growing urban-rural gap.

“We should not only pay attention to the fundamentals of people’s food and living conditions, but also start looking at areas like medical treatments, insurance, (annual) physical exams and a support system that can help provide all this,” Mr Chen said.

“It’s not just about basic education geared at employment but also educating people on how to improve their lifestyles… to give them the skills for a better life.”

This, he said, would make it easier for villagers to make the transition to working in the city.

Information should be freely available between governments of rural areas and those of the bigger cities, such that when migrant workers move for work, their data is readily accessible and the government social support system would still be available to them, he added.

The company currently has about 5 million workers on their platform, most of whom come from rural areas.

Some of them run into housing or other issues when working away from home, he said, but help cannot be extended if information is not shared and they end up falling through the cracks.

While the country is now shifting its focus to rural revitalisation, there is still a concerted effort to ensure citizens do not slide back into poverty, said the head of the National Rural Revitalization Administration, calling it a “red line” that should not be crossed.

This requires targeted policies, identifying high risk groups so that specific policies can be used, said Mr Wang Zhengpu.

“At the same time… in the great cause of rural revitalisation, we are particularly willing to learn from the experience of developed countries, and we also particularly hope to receive support and help from the international community,” he said.

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