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The billionaire founder of China’s biggest online retailer, JD.com, is now the honorary head of a provincial Chinese village and has promised to eradicate poverty.
Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, said his five-year goal is to increase the average income of Pingshitou village tenfold. Locals in Pingshitou, which is west of Beijing, have an average annual income between $600-$1000, according to the China-focused news website Sixth Tone.
Liu reportedly plans to use e-commerce to help villagers in Pingshitou, many of whom grow and sell apples, increase their incomes.
State-run People’s Daily reported in August that JD.com’s poverty alleviation program, which provides assistance with production, employment, and selling, helped more than 100,000 households increase their annual incomes by about $500 per year, a significant amount for impoverished families.
Liu founded JD.com in 1998 and is now worth nearly $10 billion, making him one of China’s richest people.
But having grown up poor, Liu has repeatedly said he always dreamed of becoming a village head.
“The rural area expanded afar, but I was near-sighted and could only see as far as the pork slices hung below the roof of our village head,” said Liu speaking to students at his alma mater middle school last month. “The villagers didn’t have much to eat, but our village head had pork all the year round. That’s why I dreamed of becoming a village head when I was a child. I wondered, if I became one, whether I could enable all families in the village to have pork on their tables?”