Riding the wave of change
By Tao Zihui  ·  2024-01-29  ·   Source: NO.5-6 FEBRUARY 8, 2024
A China Post courier delivers packages to ranch operators on the grasslands of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, on June 15, 2023 (XINHUA)

Droma is the only courier for China's e-commerce giant in Luqu County of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China's Gansu Province, a pastureland sitting at an elevation of more than 3,000 meters.

Due to the nomadic nature of the local herding communities, Droma often finds that her actual delivery destinations are several kilometers away from the locations initially entered.

Making phone calls to recipients is also a challenge for her due to the inconsistent cellphone signal on the grasslands.

But despite all this, Droma believes that meeting her customers' needs is the most meaningful aspect of her work—delivering the goods they have ordered online to the herding communities, wherever she may find them.

Tan Chaojian is a native of Naozhou Island, China's largest volcanic island, located in the southeastern sea area of Zhanjiang, south China's Guangdong Province. Tan, a returning student, has been a courier in his hometown for years.

He travels across many bridges to catch the hourly ferry that brings supplies to the island, taking back with him local seafood and agricultural products. 

From carrying about 20-30 orders a day to handling 200-300 packages per trip, Tan has seen the local demand for express delivery grow, in turn altering daily life on the island.

Shang Zufeng works as a courier in Mohe, Heilongjiang Province, the northernmost city in China. It has a snow season lasting more than eight months, and its residents are scattered across the Greater Hinggan Range.

Shang often has to drive about 80 km to the province's farthest village, Beiji Village, or North Pole Village, to deliver goods.

From being the only courier five years ago to now having a team of seven, the increasing number of his colleagues has made him believe that they can reach and connect more villages in the area.

With the hard work and continued contributions of couriers across the country, the express delivery industry in China achieved a remarkable feat in 2023. Express delivery companies nationwide handled 132.07 billion parcels in 2023, and considering the average length of 0.3 meters per parcel, the combined length of these parcels would be equivalent to circling the Earth's equator nearly 1,000 times.

The express delivery industry serves as a vital link between production and consumption, playing a critical role in facilitating seamless economic circulation in both urban and rural areas.

Airport employees use a cargo net to secure a pallet of Wushan crisp plums, a local specialty, set for air transport by China Postal Airlines at Wushan Airport in Chongqing Municipality on June 28, 2023(XINHUA)

Going rural 

Since 2021, more than 100 million express packages are delivered to and from rural areas in China every day.

According to the State Post Bureau (SPB), by the end of 2022, almost all eligible administrative villages in China had achieved delivery coverage.

In 2023, the SPB launched a three-year action plan to build rural logistics systems, implementing a project to achieve the goal of setting up one delivery station in every village.

By the end of last year, no fewer than 1,267 county-level public delivery and distribution centers, 289,000 village-level comprehensive delivery logistics service stations, and 190,000 village post stations had been established.

Today, over 3,000 border villages in the country have access to postal services, including the remote Shenxianwan post in Pishan County, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, situated at an elevation of 5,380 meters.

Located in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the 28 border villages of Hulunbuir have installed mailboxes and parcel lockers in their village post offices, while 39 border villages in Baoshan City in the southwestern province of Yunnan have achieved full postal connectivity.

The establishment of a more comprehensive and stable postal network expands its reach and improves delivery capabilities.

"Over the past year, the construction of the rural delivery logistics system has accelerated, enhancing the service capabilities of industrial and supply chains," Zhao Chongjiu, head of the SPB, said at the sector's annual conference on January 9.

Two-way efforts 

The postal route also paves the way to prosperity.

Over the past year, e-commerce has become an important channel for promoting agricultural branding, providing employment opportunities for rural workers, and fostering entrepreneurship among farmers. Postal and express delivery services have developed synergistically with rural e-commerce. 

Take China's northeastern region, an important agricultural base of the country, as an example. With the development of express delivery to rural areas, improvements in the related infrastructure and service systems have stimulated the development of e-commerce across the region.

Through express delivery services, farmers can conveniently distribute grain from the northeast to other parts of the country, facilitating a smooth supply chain from the fields to the consumer's table. 

This has increased the sales volume of the region's grain and enhanced farmer income.

According to a report on the online consumption of agricultural products released by, sales of rice and different grains on its platform grew by over 91 percent from January to August 2023, and the country's three northeastern provinces, Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Jilin, accounted for 64 percent of the national sales of rice and grain products.

China's eastern region focuses on aquatic products, seafood, and deep-processed products; the central region emphasizes grain and oil products as well as medicinal herbs; and the western region focuses on fruits and spices.

The potential for the country's rural revitalization, which aims to consolidate the gains made in poverty alleviation through rural development and to narrow the existing urban-rural gap, continues to unfold as the delivery industry expands its services to rural areas.

"By leveraging the national map of special agricultural product parcels, we will create more high-quality projects that combine express delivery services with modern agriculture, enabling more special agricultural products to reach consumers through the express network and achieve the goal of 'yesterday on the tree, today on the road, tomorrow in the hands of consumers'," said a representative from the SPB at the conference.

The development of the express delivery industry as a whole has also provided relatively accessible employment opportunities for the rural population.

According to a recent survey by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions in 2023, the number of workers in China's express delivery sector is about 4.9 million. SPB data show that more than 70 percent of express delivery workers are from rural areas, making it an important way for rural residents to find jobs in cities.

Moreover, a rough estimate based on JD Logistics' half-year report in 2023 shows that the average salary and benefits of individual employees exceeded 63,400 yuan ($8,844) in the first half of the year.

Some couriers earn more than 1 million yuan ($139,600) or even more than 2 million yuan ($279,200) a year in pre-tax income, an insider from JD Logistics, the shipping and delivery arm of, told, a Shanghai-based news portal. These high-earning couriers mainly generate income through package collection services, relying on their hard work, communication skills and excellent service to attract more customers.

Jin Yicai, a courier at the JD Logistics in Wuxi, east China's Jiangsu Province, is one such example. Jin joined the company in 2009 and became the first courier in the city.

Over the course of his 15 years with the company, his life has changed significantly: His initial monthly income of 3,000 yuan ($418) has multiplied several times and, within four years of joining, he was able to purchase his first apartment in Wuxi.

"I have an apartment and a car, and have settled down in the city. I just feel fulfilled knowing that people like me, who came from the rural areas, can have this kind of better life," Jin said.

But nationwide, the average monthly salary for couriers ranges from 6,000 yuan ($837) to 8,000 yuan ($1,116), Zhao Xiaomin, a courier industry expert, told According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics, the average monthly income of rural migrant workers was around 4,780 yuan ($667) in 2023. In comparison, the express delivery industry still has its own advantages in terms of income levels. BR

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon 

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