Bucking the trend: A Chinese vlogger’s journey back to the fields

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With the rapid urbanization in China, young people often head for the cities to seek better opportunities. But a young lady from Southwest China’s Yunnan has left the city to return to the rural fields and mountains, leading to the start of an intriguing journey home.

The rich landforms along China’s southwestern frontier have created one of the most diverse regions in the country, in terms of both species and cultures. Dong Meihua, 32, was born here and this seemingly ordinary Yunnan native is now a vlogger with over 30 million followers.

Dong was determined to put down roots in the city and experience a life she had never experienced before, until she had to resign from her job and return home in 2016 to care for her ailing father. In the meantime, she was also faced with the challenge of supporting her family.

Urban and rural areas used to be two completely different worlds, but the revitalization of rural areas empowered Dong to try things that she might never have previously imagined. In 2016, Dong started to do what she was good at and fond of, creating food vlogs and by doing so, Dong had a chance to get to know her hometown again.

Through continuous experimentation, Dong gradually evolved her own unique style. Soon her videos went viral on both Chinese and overseas video platforms through videos portraying the most authentic of rural life, mouth-watering cuisine, strong filial bonds, original ethnic minority culture, and even interactions with her dog Dawang.

Yunnan, with its rich agricultural resources and home to 25 ethnic groups in China, always supplies Dong with a steady stream of creative inspiration. And the province’s food ingredients have also become a unique selling point for her e-commerce business.

The remote geographical location of Yunnan once placed Dong at a disadvantage in e-commerce, but this situation has quietly changed as the Department of Transportation in Yunnan Province has carried out a series of upgrades of the road network across the province as part of the rural revitalization policy in recent years. Now delivery services Dong’s town Dong can be couriered to any city in the country within three days, which has rekindled Dong’s passion for live stream marketing.

With the advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), tropical fruits like durian and other commodities have entered the Chinese market quickly and in large quantities. Yunnan is becoming an important trading port and distribution hub.

Remarkable changes had taken place in Dong’s town between when she left and ultimately returned, changes she took notice of immediately. She said that Yunnan has many things that the outside world does not have and those are exactly what Dong wants to show to her audiences.

Dong travels more than 3,000 kilometers a month shooting videos, but as soon as a week’s work is finished, Dong and her team embark on a new journey.

Just like Yunnan’s local delicacies presented in Dong’s videos, China’s rural areas themselves are attracting more people both home and abroad.

(Produced by Ni Tao, Li Mian, Liu Wei, Qiao Wai, Liang Peiyu, Wang Wanyue, Sun Jing and Lin Yuan)—PR