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Gov't officials become new players in China's livestreaming shopping

(Xinhua)    10:06, March 27, 2020

CHANGSHA, March 26 (Xinhua) -- In front of a phone camera, Chen Canping spoke with confidence and eloquence about black tea, a specialty in Anhua County, central China's Hunan Province, yet he is no salesman, but a local government official.

Chen, like many primary-level officials across China, has forayed into the country's booming livestreaming shopping industry recently, as a way to promote sales of local products that had taken a hit from the novel coronavirus outbreak.

On March 15 alone, over 100 top county or city officials had joined livestreaming sessions to promote thousands of local agricultural products on Taobao, one of China's major e-commerce platforms, according to the company.

The eastern Chinese province of Jiangxi has also organized government officials and internet celebrities across almost 100 counties throughout the province to help sell agricultural products via livestreaming.

Their uncommon appearances on the livestreaming sites proved eye-catching.

Wang Shuai, deputy head of Shanghe county in the eastern province of Shandong, attracted over 180,000 views online in two livestreaming sessions promoting local cherry tomatoes on his personal Taobao account.

Chen, deputy head of Anhua County, opened a short-video account to help local tea farmers and tea enterprises expand their sales channels.

Anhua is an impoverished county located in a mountainous area in Hunan and is known for the local black tea. Over 360,000 people in the county with a population of over 1 million are involved in tea-related businesses.

Spring Festival used to be a peak season for tea sales, with revenues usually reaching over tens of millions of dollars. This year, entity stores saw sales plummet during the period.

Chen started his account on the short video platform Douyin on March 1. At the busiest time, he did three livestreaming sessions in one day, each lasting around two hours.

Chen studied many trendy expressions and skills to attract fans from online influencers and analyzed data and traffic behind the livestreaming sessions.

"I don't want to be restrained by my label as a 'county chief,'" Chen said. "I am willing to do Gangnam-style dance moves as well as sing local folk songs to get the sales up."

Under his initiative, local tea companies launched a live-streaming marketing project on March 12. Over 50 broadcasts have been made, gaining 10 million views. The orders from livestreaming reached over 25 million yuan (around 3.5 million U.S. dollars).

"Online sales are much needed during the tough time," said Gong Yicheng, who owns a local tea company. "Livestreaming marketing, which we never thought of before, has now been basically adopted by all the local companies."

Apart from guiding local companies to livestreaming sites, some government officials also believe that their presence gives customers a sense of trust.

"We promoted the products on behalf of the government so that the public would believe the quality of the products," said Shen Zhongchun, deputy head of Poyang County, in eastern China's Jiangxi Province, who received 2.56 million likes in one live broadcast.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Bianji)

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