Jack Ma Talks Big Data and Poverty in Guiyang
Executive staff from Chinese organizations like Alibaba, Tencent, the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, Mengniu Dairy Group came together this past Sunday (5/27) at Guiyang’s third annual China International Big Data Expo to discuss the important topic of how to use big data to eradicate poverty.
The title of the high-level dialogue was “Big Data + Poverty Alleviation: Application of Internet Technology in Poverty Alleviation” (大数据 + 大扶贫: 互联网主力军征战脱贫攻坚主战场).
The speaker with perhaps the highest profile of the entire expo was Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, Jack Ma.
In reference to Guizhou’s commitment to develop its big data resources and technologies, Ma stated that “I think Guiyang and Guizhou will be one of the most prosperous and most wealthy regions, because they know how to challenge and where to challenge themselves.”
In regards to Alibaba’s commitment to alleviating poverty in both Guizhou and greater rural China, he stated “In the past the farmers would go to the cities, but in the future we would hope that they would like to go back to their hometowns.” Adding later on, “we hope that we can turn villagers and village areas into clear water and green mountains.”
This quote is interesting as it goes against the commonly accepted notion that the CCP formally plans to move those in rural areas into the city. Although the speech was only 7-minutes long, Ma seemed to be suggesting that ideally the farmers wouldn’t need to relocate to cities, but rather to make their villages a more productive and livable place.
Earlier in the dialogue, President of Alibaba’s Cloud division, Simon Hu, gave a more detailed presentation about how Alibaba would contribute to the alleviation of poverty in rural China. In this presentation, Hu outlined a broad strategy of helping rural villages to sell goods via eCommerce, promote the tourism industries in their villages, and develop educational services.
Vice President of Tencent, Ma Bin, also spoke at the conference.
“Technology, ideas, are giving us new possibilities. We need to update our thinking. Repetitional way, quantum way, has given us new things to consider about. That is why we say the future is here. How to cope with that? Guizhou is giving us a good example.”
Similar to Hu, Ma also broadly outlined Tencent’s plans to fight poverty in alignment with President Xi Jinping’s directive to help alleviate poverty. In this presentation, Ma spoke of developing more platforms for rural communities in order to help connect them with the outside world.
One slide in particular on Ma’s presentation caught my eye. This slide showed the difference in amount of apps that are popular in the largest Chinese cities and rural communities. I’m kicking myself for not having gotten a photo of it, but nonetheless it made a good visual argument about how Tencent can align it’s commercial interests with the government’s.
In addition to the large names of Alibaba and Tencent, Executive Director of China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, Wenkui Liu, and a Mengniu Dairy Exectuvie spoke about the different ways their organizations were working to reduce poverty across China via technology.