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Kong Xiaohua, a middle-aged history teacher in a small town near the border with Russia, is among the online world’s most sought-after users right now. Going after users like her marks the Chinese internet’s race to go low: lower income, lower-tier cities and lower internet service penetration.
Ms. Kong shopped online for the first time last year. Using a social commerce app called Pinduoduo, she’s bought clothes and household products like adhesive wall hooks.