Ti­betan vil­lage em­braces mo­bile-mes­sag­ing app

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By XIN­HUA

Not long ago, horse­back de­liv­ery was the only vi­able mes­sag­ing ser­vice in the vast bar­rens sur­round­ing the vil­lage of Changjiangyuan on the Qing­haiTi­bet Plateau.

With houses spread far apart and a lack of telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture, vil­lage Party sec­re­tary Cering Zhado said cell­phone sig­nals were dif­fi­cult to come by and land­lines were un­com­mon.

“We lived far away from each other and the cell­phone sig­nal wasn’t sta­ble,” the 42-year-old said.

“Some­times we had to ride on horse­back to de­liver a mes­sage, just like in an­cient tra­di­tion.”

Even hand­writ­ten mes­sages some­times failed, as sev­eral of the el­ders in the herd­ing vil­lage were un­able to un­der­stand writ­ten Chi­nese. In th­ese cases, Cering said they re­sorted to loud­speak­ers to com­mu­ni­cate.

“But we couldn’t get an im­me­di­ate re­sponse. We did not com­mu­ni­cate very of­ten back then,” he said.

While mes­sag­ing apps such as Ten­cent’s WeChat have be­come com­mon­place in ci­ties through­out China, the tiny plateau vil­lage of less than 1,000 res­i­dents was iso­lated for years from the tech­no­log­i­cal leaps of the mod­ern era.

To im­prove the sit­u­a­tion, Qing­hai Prov­ince has spent 9.04 bil­lion yuan ( about $1.45 bil­lion) since late 2013 on broad­band In­ter­net and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture.

As of Novem­ber, all 366 vil­lages and towns in Qing­hai Prov­ince had ac­cess to broad­band In­ter­net, al­low­ing ser­vices like WeChat to be used by about 235,000 herds­men for low prices.

In April, Cering Zhado in­stalled WeChat on his smart­phone and cre­ated two groups: one for all vil­lagers and another for Party mem­bers in the vil­lage. More than 100 mem­bers have al­ready joined his vil­lagers’ group.

“Now when­ever there’s an ac­tiv­ity, I send a voice mes­sage to no­tify ev­ery­one in my group chat, and I get re­sponses im­me­di­ately, “he said.

Since then, com­mu­ni­ca­tion has never been eas­ier, he says.

“For ex­am­ple, any­thing lost can be found more eas­ily, whether it’s a key, a cell­phone or even a per­son,” Cering Zhado said.

A 17- year- old res­i­dent was re­ported lost in May. Her par­ents found her the next day in a city 440 kilo­me­ters from the vil­lage.

“Zhazha Lamo’s par­ents re­ported the girl miss­ing in the group chat first, and peo­ple started to seek help from their WeChat net­works. A vil­lager who worked in the city later pro­vided the tip,” he said.

One of the vil­lage’s youngest res­i­dents, 15- year- old Yan­gar Zhoema, said that in the past year all of her fam­ily mem­bers have signed up for a WeChat ac­count, ex­cept for her grand­mother.

“The el­ders can’t speak Man­darin well, and some peo­ple don’t know how to type. Now they can send voice mes­sages through the ap­pli­ca­tion. It’s con­ve­nient,” Yan­gar Zhoema said.

Kan­gar Namje, deputy Party sec­re­tary of Changjiangyuan vil­lage, said he uses a 50MB data ac­cess plan for 10 yuan per month. “The plan is a lot cheaper than mak­ing phone calls. I spend an av­er­age of 50 to 60 yuan per month on my cell­phone,” he said.

Now when­ever there’s an ac­tiv­ity, I send a voice mes­sage to no­tify ev­ery­one in my group chat, and I get re­sponses im­me­di­ately.” CERING ZHADO VIL­LAGE PARTY SEC­RE­TARY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.