A blog about poverty in China is recently catching widespread attention as it shows the reality of how different ordinary life in the country is for those of lesser income.

Writer Xiaoyu visited online shopping platforms and found that cheap televisions for under $28 (200 yuan) are being sold out fast, with monthly sales reaching tens or hundreds of thousands.

The blogger noted that $28 is typically not big spending in China, as it is the equivalent cost for a hotpot meal, a karaoke session, or some clothes. Moreover, cheap televisions are mostly considered “electronic waste,” as TVs of around $420 (3,000 yuan) are already considered below average.

Xiaoyu says these $28 TVs have no large LCD screens but low-resolution screens. Yet, this made one wonder why the items sell so fast online. 

The blogger skimmed through the review forum, and a world unraveled. According to images shared by the buyers, the televisions end up in poor households. Some houses don’t even have a TV cabinet or have one, but they are old and decrepit. One TV was standing on the ground; another was perched on a refrigerator.

Despite this, Xiaoyu realized buyers were happy with the cheap TVs, saying that the screen was clear and the sound was good. The blogger surmised some might be giving positive comments to be rewarded for sharing good reviews.

Xiaoyu commented, “We haven’t experienced the actual world in our materialistic civilization in a very long time.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, although Beijing declared in 2020 that it has successfully eradicated extreme poverty, official statistics show that many Chinese still make very little money.

Citing the National Bureau of Statistics, the Journal reports that more than 40% of the Chinese population, or 600 million people, had an income of a little over $140 (1,000 yuan) per month in 2020. It was the most recent figure available.

Data from the bureau demonstrates that China’s per capita disposable income was over $2,500 (18,000 yuan) in the first half of 2022, and the average rural income was more than $1,300. However, the income gap between rural and urban households is still substantial.

However, while more people live in poverty, Xiaoyu noted that they have become more invisible under the country’s carefully filtered online content. They are not featured on television, which tends to offer more screening time on fashionable white-collar workers.

The low-budget movie “Return to Dust” was a blockbuster, with daily ticket revenue reaching $1.4 million (10 million yuan) in September. However, the Journal reported that the movie had been removed from theaters and streaming platforms since mid-September. The theme of Return to Dust was about the lives in rural China.

The news agency writes, “Authorities have sometimes struck back at depictions of poor people’s lives, which they say make China look bad.”

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