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Industry bears fruit for common people

Updated: Feb 2, 2024 By LUO WANGSHU China Daily Global Print
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About 1,200 years ago, a Chinese poet criticized the luxurious lifestyle of an emperor and his consort earlier in the Tang Dynasty (618-907): "A steed rides through the dust, which pleases the imperial consort, no one knows it is the arrival of fresh litchi fruits on time."

The poem referred to Emperor Xuanzong, who reigned from 712 to 756, and his favorite consort Yang Guifei. Yang had a penchant for litchi, but the fruit easily decayed during transportation, necessitating a fast and high-standard delivery service to maintain its freshness. To satisfy Yang's desire, the emperor dispatched military messengers to transport litchi fruits from Southern China to Chang'an, the Tang capital in what is now Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

Although the swift delivery service preserved the fruit's freshness, it was criticized by people at the time and later by poet Du Mu, who lived from 803 to 852.

Nowadays, the transportation of litchi from South China to other parts of the country has become a hallmark business for China's parcel delivery companies in recent years.

Chinese people's appetite for litchi has remained unchanged for over 1,000 years. However, unlike in the past, common people can now enjoy the fruit no matter where they live.

Now, if I order a box of litchi from Hainan province, the parcel can be delivered to my Beijing doorstep the next day. The individual fruits are meticulously wrapped and placed in boxes with foam packaging materials.

Thanks to the rapid development of China's parcel delivery industry, the country has established the world's largest postal and express delivery network, allowing most people, including myself, to enjoy this convenient service. Last year, I received over 170 parcels.

As an emerging industry, the parcel delivery sector has provided many Chinese people, particularly those from rural areas, with a valuable opportunity to lead stable lives and support their families.

According to a report on China's private parcel delivery development released in December by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, China has about 5 million couriers. They are the most familiar strangers in the community, especially in urban areas, with knowledge of residents' last names and mobile phone numbers, and sometimes even the structure of their families.

I am acquainted with more than five couriers responsible for collecting and delivering parcels to my home, although we have not engaged in substantial conversations. They are consistently busy, swiftly dropping off items and rushing to the elevator.

Last year marked the 30th anniversary of the founding of the first private parcel delivery company in China, STO Express. I participated in a group tour marking the occasion with a dozen couriers. One of them shared that he had a reckless youth, engaged in wrongdoing and spent time in jail. He recalled how challenging it was for him to secure a well-paying job until he found work as a courier.

"I can leave my past behind and build a new life," he said. He now also volunteers to aid people affected by natural disasters.

This industry has not only brought convenience to ordinary people but has also provided new opportunities for people from all walks of life.


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