Across China: Internet changes life for herders
Sitting in the quiet grasslands, Qoluman couldn't stop laughing as he watched a popular video online with his mobile phone.
Despite the fact that his village is deep in the grasslands, Qoluman, 39, a herder of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, can also enjoy the many benefits of the Internet.
Qoluman lives in Adancholu Village, New Barag Right Banner, in the city of Hulun Buir, and spends more than half the year herding his sheep. Two years ago, WiFi was installed in his Mongolian yurt, and when he is out herding his sheep, he can access the Internet using 4G with his phone.
"Before, when a guest arrived, the first thing he said was 'Hello.' Now people ask, 'What's your WiFi password?'," he said. "These days, herders like myself can chat, shop, watch soap operas, and play games on our phones. In the past, I could only stare blankly at the grassland because there was nothing to do after work."
As of June 2018, according to China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the number of 4G mobile Internet users in China exceeded 1.1 billion. Over the next three years, China will work to improve the country's Internet infrastructure, pledging that 98 percent of villages will enjoy fiber-optic Internet and 4G services by 2020.
For Ganzhaorog, 43, in Huugjilt Village, Sunite Left Banner, Xilin Gol League, the Internet has helped him build a modern farm since WiFi was installed three years ago.
In 2015, his farm became one of the first in the village to have a video monitoring system. By 2016, four cameras that can monitor up to four km were installed, enabling him to see almost everything on his farm.
"The signals and instructions for the machines and sensors are sent via WiFi," he said.
The system has saved him time and the labor cost of having to physically check his herds -- his phone is the only tool he needs to run his farm.
His farm was also equipped with an automatic drinking system to ensure adequate water for his herds. "I can take care of my farm anywhere as long as there is Internet," he said.
The Chinese government has been promoting these monitoring systems in recent years. With subsidies from the local government, herders can get the system installed as long as there is electricity and Internet, costing them just between 290 to 440 U.S. dollars.
Moreover, the Internet has brought products from around the country to Enhgyirigarlang Village, East Ujimqin Banner, Xilin Gol League, where herders live as far as dozens of km from the city center. Su Mongh manages an e-commerce station where herders can pick up the products they buy online.
"In the past, we expected the postman to bring us letters, but now, we expect products we have bought online," he said. "The Internet has not only shortened the distance between us and the world but also allows herders access to the global marketplace, even in remote areas."