Taobao Villages: Rural E-Commerce and Low-End Manufacturing in China

by Fan Lulu, Boy Luethje

East-West Wire

Publisher: Honolulu, HI: East-West Center
Publication Date: 31 July 2019
Binding: electronic
Pages: 2
Free Download: PDF


Taobao is the leading Chinese online shopping and e-commerce website, founded by the Alibaba Group. In 2018, there were 3,202 "Taobao villages" in 24 provinces, municipalities, and autonomous regions of China. Taobao merchants sell clothing and other consumer items, mostly obtained from small local factories. Most Taobao manufacturing firms operate informally and do not necessarily adhere to basic labor and safety standards. The current lack of governance raises challenges for trade unions and government entities tasked with ensuring the rights and welfare of workers. If the negative aspects related to lack of oversight can be addressed, however, Taobao villages could provide a promising development model for rural and remote areas, not only in China but also in other countries of Asia.