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The Big Story

'I feel like I am delivering with my life': China's couriers reach breaking point

A spate of tragedies reveal an industry in crisis

A courier working for food delivery giant Meituan cruises the streets of Shanghai in January.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI -- For the past 10 years, Li Xaoliang, a tanned and scrawny 31 year old, has been crisscrossing the streets of Shanghai on an electric bike, moving parcels for logistics companies.

That makes Li an old hand in a young industry with big staff turnover. With a bike and smartphone, almost anyone can become a courier. Li and his cohorts, affectionately called kuaidi xiaoge or “little courier brother,” have become a permanent feature in cities across China. And the industry is hardly short of vacancies.

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