Secondhand goods are probably the last thing that come to mind when discussing frontiers in Chinese tech. As conglomerates like Alibaba and JD rush to pour hundreds of millions into AI-driven pig farms and while President Xi Jinping calls for China to realize a toilet revolution that will replace the traditional hole in the ground with multifunctional bidets, recycling used products is a concept that many Zhongguancun entrepreneurs are unlikely to find exciting or profitable.

More to the point, recycled goods would seem to have little traction with the typical Chinese consumer, who is often generalized as voracious, status-oriented and thus drawn to brand prestige. Even as China condemned Canada for the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou last December, hundreds of Beijing shoppers queued outside in the freezing cold for the grand opening of a Canada Goose store. With such an unyielding hunger for luxury, it is safe to assume these urbanites would be ashamed to even consider buying secondhand goods.

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Eduardo Baptista

Eduardo Baptista is a Beijing-based Portuguese-Korean journalist and editor. His work has appeared in South China Morning Post, CNN, and SupChina.