The Stories of China’s biggest logistics companies’ Homecoming

Senior executive officers of China’s biggest logistics companies work on the frontlines in courier uniforms.

Tonglu, a county in southwestern Hangzhou, saw the signing of four mega logistics projects worth 12.6 billion yuan ($1.81 billion) in 2020.

On June 24, YTO Express announced that it will build its national laboratory in Tonglu’s Fuchun Future City. On April 2, ZTO Express decided to build its second headquarters in Tonglu. On Feb 26, STO Express and Yunda Express partnered with Tonglu for their global R&D centers.

The “big four”, who make up about 60 percent of China’s express industry and are valued at over 200 billion yuan, are actually returning home, where they originally built themselves up from nothing.

YTO Express, ZTO Express, STO Express, and Yunda Express were all founded in a small village in Tonglu, a county known as “the hometown of china’s private express companies”, which is near China Hangzhou. In ancient China, “lu” referred to a courier station where horse riders picked up mail and rested.

“The farther you go the more you miss home. I went back because my hometown needs me,” said Chen Dejun, chairman of STO express. There are always fresh Tonglu peaches in his office to alleviate his homesickness.

“Of course, the integration of the Yangtze River Delta and the county government’s trustworthiness contributed to my decision,” said Chen.

Lai Meisong, chairman of ZTO Express, said Zhejiang’s booming e-commerce industry and economic prospects were attractive. He believed that “coming home” is as important as “going out”.

Tonglu has been planning for this homecoming since 2010, and it has carried out 118 logistical and supporting projects. In 2018, it was integrated into China’s high-speed rail network and Fuchun Future City, a business complex focusing on express delivery, started to take shape near the Tonglu Railway Station.

To date, Tonglu has attracted over 30 billion yuan in investment in the express and related industries. In 2019 alone, it received 14.4 billion yuan. This investment is expected to accelerate the homecoming of the big four.

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