China advances in exploring outer space

China’s successful launch of Tianwen-1 Mars mission marks steady progress in exploring the outer space
China”s first Mars exploration mission, Tianwen-1, takes a photo of the Earth and Moon at about 1.2 million kilometers from Earth, July 27. (Photo courtesy of China National Space Administration)

China launched its first Mars exploration mission Tianwen-1 on July 23 with the fourth Long March-5 rocket coded as Long March-5 Y4 at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan province.

The Mars probe is expected to take about seven months to reach the planned orbit around Mars, after which it will carry out tasks of orbiting, landing and roving in one mission.

On July 27, with its optical navigation instruments, the probe captured an image of the Earth and Moon from some 1.2 million kilometers away from Earth.

China has made a lot of preparations for the mission. The Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center has carried out repeated drills for various systems to support the launch, while the Xi’an Satellite Control Center in northwest China’s Shaanxi province has improved the adaptability of the space-ground communication system for the mission.

Deep-space ground control stations in Kashgar, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Jiamusi, northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, had been well-prepared to provide support in measurement and control before the launch.

Meanwhile, two Tianlian satellites, China’s tracking and data relay satellite series, had constantly sent telemetry data back to the ground from the geosynchronous orbit.

The reason why China chose to launch its Tianwen-1 probe to Mars at this time of the year is to take advantage of the Hohmann transfer orbit, which is considered the best route from Earth to Mars.

Proposed in the 1920s by German engineer Walter Hohmann, the Hohmann transfer orbit forms every 26 months and falls in the summer this year.

What’s the most difficult part of the Mars mission?

To escape Earth’s gravitational field and fly to Mars, an object has to reach the “second cosmic velocity” of about 11.2 kilometers per second. The greater the mass of the object is, the more difficult it is for the object to attain the speed.

The Tianwen-1 probe, however, weighs about five tonnes, making it the heaviest deep-space probe ever launched by China.

This mission marks the first time that Long March-5 carrier rocket exceeds the second cosmic velocity, the fastest China’s carrier rockets have gone to date.

Another problem for the mission lay in the information transmission. The fastest speed at which human beings can transmit information is the speed of light, which is 300,000 kilometers per second.

However, the distance between Mars and the Earth exceeds 50 million kilometers at the closest and reaches 400 million kilometers at the farthest, which results in an information transfer delay ranging from several minutes to dozens of minutes.

The delay in information transmission means the Tianwen-1 probe can’t be directly controlled by the control center on Earth and needs to deal with the unknown environment in the deep space by itself and make judgments and choices on its own.

What’s the purpose of the Mars mission?

The purpose of the Mars mission is not just reaching Mars, as the real goal is to collect as much effective scientific data as possible, according to Liu Tongjie, spokesperson for China’s Mars probe mission as well as deputy head of the Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center under the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

The orbiter is equipped with seven instruments and the rover set up with six payloads, Liu added.

After it landed on Mars, the Tianwen-1 probe will send back images of Mars, investigate the surface and geological structure of the planet, measure and record the climate and magnetic fields, and collect a large amount of scientific data.

Why Mars?

Mars has similar natural environment with Earth and has always been a priority target for manned deep-space exploration outside the Earth-Moon system, Liu pointed out.

In previous explorations, human beings have found evidence that suggests the existence of water on Mars.

Since then, whether Mars is hospitable to life and whether it has connections with Earth have become major scientific issues of the research on Mars. The study of Mars is believed to be significant for understanding the evolution of the Earth.

Tianwen-1, meaning Questions to Heaven, comes from a poem by Qu Yuan (about 340-278 BC), one of the greatest poets of ancient China.

Although about 2,300 years have passed, human beings nowadays still have many questions about the outer space.

Representing a starting point of the planetary exploration program in China’s aerospace cause, the Mars mission symbolizes China’s pursuit of and progress in exploring the deeper space.

So far, China has established space stations hundreds of kilometers away from the ground, sent spacecrafts to the Moon that is 300,000 kilometers away from the Earth, and started to explore Mars in the deeper space.

Step by step, China is marching toward farther places in the universe with the exploration spirit and persistent efforts of Chinese astronauts.

Review of Beijing’s fight against epidemic

A review of Beijing's efforts to fight second wave of COVID-19
A medical worker samples throat swab for a citizen at a nucleic acid testing site in Haidian district of Beijing, June 18. People’s Daily Online/Weng Qiyu

Beijing lowered its COVID-19 emergency response from level II to III starting from July 20, following 40 days of hard work to battle the disease. Taking the most resolute, decisive and rigorous measures and establishing a strict epidemic control network across the city, Beijing has reported no new confirmed cases within 28 days, or two incubation periods.

The second wave of COVID-19 in Beijing, from its start from the Xinfadi wholesale market to final clearing, demonstrated the mechanism, speed and spirit of China.

On June 10, when Beijing had reported zero new domestic cases for 56 consecutive days, a man surnamed Tang from Beijing’s Xicheng district went to the fever clinic at Beijing’s Xuanwu Hospital.

Tang’s sample for nucleic acid test was soon sent to a testing team of the hospital led by Wang Peichang, director of the hospital’s clinical lab. The positive result unsettled Wang and his colleagues, who have gained rich experiences in the battle against COVID-19. Therefore, they went on for another round of test for verification, and the result was still positive. The test result was soon reported to Beijing’s health authorities by Wang and his colleagues.

The result worried Dou Xiangfeng, an expert from Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control who was on his night shift when he was informed of Tang’s case at 1:04 a.m. of June 11. Five hours later, Dou visited Tang in a quarantine ward, together with another doctor surnamed Qiao from the disease prevention and control center of Xicheng district, tough he spend his night sleeplessly, working on the epidemiological report of Tang.

“Screening efforts must be ensured in the places Tang had visited, as well as for those who had physical contact with him in the past 7 days,” Dou noted.

Two hours later, 38 close contacts and 23 screening sites were confirmed, and city-wide screening was launched. Over 100 staff members raced against time to trace the source of the infection. Around 2:00 a.m. of June 12, environmental samples tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Xinfadi wholesale market, and the beef and mutton sections in the basement floor of the market was taken as “epicenter.”

Around the same time, Xinfadi wholesale market was quarantined. Fengtai district, where the market is located, also isolated the high-risk groups in the market. The district authorities, responding to the demand of a site command center, designated quarantine hotels, rented taxis and allocated anti-epidemic materials to relocate the high-risk groups. A total of 916 people were relocated to and quarantined in 5 hotels within 10 hours.

Community-based epidemic prevention and control serves as a bedrock for Beijing to fight the disease. Nearly 100,000 community workers launched “blanket” screening in 3,235 communities and 3,876 administrative villages in Beijing, and all close contacts were quarantined at home for observation. The community workers were grouped to screen different neighborhoods, communities, residential complexes and individual buildings, and adopted tailored quarantine measures if needed.

The rapid growing capability of Beijing’s nucleic acid testing has become a legend in epidemic response. The city launched massive testing that covered over 12 million people, and around 52 percent of the confirmed cases were screened by testing. Nucleic acid testing played an important role in detecting the source of infection, cutting the chain of infection and stopping the spread of the virus.

The centralized admission of patients and allocation of medical resources, as well as individualized treatment plans that combined traditional Chinese medicine and western medicine, were major highlights of Beijing’s efforts to fight the second wave of the novel coronavirus. More importantly, no death occurred this time in Beijing.

On June 16, Beijing raised its COVID-19 emergency response to level II, and over 100 medical workers from 18 hospitals in the city went to Beijing Ditan Hospital for assistance. Du Bin, Tong Zhaohui, Jiang Li and other experts known for their outstanding performance in Wuhan, once again stepped onto the frontline to save critical patients.

Beijing launched a 24-hour hotline to respond to the demand of citizens, and a press conference was scheduled at 4:00 p.m. every day and broadcasted by both central and local media.

On July 19, the 157th press conference announced to lower Beijing’s COVID-19 emergency response from level II to level III. The message moved many attending journalists to tears who experienced the hard-won success of the painstaking efforts made in the past 40 days.

A draft version of emergency regulations for public health emergencies were submitted to the 23rd meeting of the 15th Standing Committee of Beijing Municipal People’s Congress for deliberation on July 28, as an effort of the city to formalize the effective measures it explored its COVID-19 response. Meanwhile, the city’s leading group for COVID-19 prevention and control stressed that it’s not yet the time for celebration, as Beijing’s epidemic response is still underway.

Guangxi’s snail noodles become popular

Rice noodles cooked with river snails, a signature street food of Liuzhou in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, is becoming an increasingly popular snack at home and abroad.


Known as “luosifen” in Chinese, the dish is usually sold from roadside stands in night markets in Guangxi.

The delicacy was listed as part of Liuzhou’s intangible cultural heritage in 2008 and became popular after being recommended in the hit food show “A Bite of China” in 2012. Since then, luosifen restaurants have developed rapidly across the country.

The specialty has gained greater popularity thanks to its prepackaged versions, which resembles instant noodles.

Data from e-commerce giant Taobao showed that 28.4 million packets of luosifen were sold on the platform last year, becoming the most popular snack on the online marketplace.

According to the commerce office in Liuzhou, the value of prepackaged luosifen reached about 5 billion yuan (over $700 million) in the first half of the year.

It was also one of the best-selling, ready-to-serve foods during the novel coronavirus epidemic in China.

The dish has seen its popularity soar further outside of China as customs statistics showed that a total of around 7.5 million yuan (about $1.1 million) worth of luosifen were exported from Liuzhou from January to June this year, eight times the total export value in 2019.

In addition to the traditional export markets, including the U.S., Australia and some European countries, shipments of the iconic dish have also been delivered to new markets such as Singapore and New Zealand.

On July 14, over 14,000 packets of prepackaged luosifen produced by Guangxi Luobawang Food Co., Ltd. were exported to Russia.

“We almost exported our products to the U.S. each week this year, and a batch of 40,000 packets of luosifen sold out just three days after they were shipped in the country,” said Chen Zihao, a member of the company.

The company is expected to export 350,000 packets of the sought after food in the first half of the year, 29 times of last year’s total, thanks to the rapid growth of the overseas market, Chen noted.

The company has also modified the recipes to cater to the taste of overseas foodies, Chen said, adding that it has received orders from countries including Japan, South Korea and Italy.

Liuzhou Customs has simplified procedures for companies to export luosifen, and more than 20 companies have been authorized to export the specialty.

Third CIIE to embrace bigger success

Third CIIE expected to embrace bigger success
Photo shows the decorations outside the venue of the third CIIE. (By Yan Daming, People’s Daily Online)

The overall framework of the third China International Import Expo (CIIE), scheduled to be held in Shanghai in November, will be roughly the same as the previous two expos, according to Sun Chenghai, an official with the CIIE Bureau.

All the preparations for the expo are well underway and the focus of current preparations has been shifted from recruiting exhibitions to organizing the expo, said the deputy director of the bureau, adding that initial results have been achieved.

It is generally believed that the third CIIE will be a better event due to the following aspects.

Larger Scale

The total planned exhibition area for enterprises at the third CIIE is 360,000 square meters, 60,000 square meters larger than the second expo.

The planned business exhibition space has been completely booked. The contracted exhibition areas of consumer goods, medical care and service trade have already surpassed their planned space and the exhibition area for automobiles is almost fully booked.

Better Layout

Six exhibition areas will be set up in the business exhibition area, food and agricultural products, automobiles, the intelligent industry and information technology, consumer goods, medical equipment and healthcare products, as well as trade in services.

Based on global hotspots and industry development trends, four special subsections on public health and anti-epidemic products and services, smart transportation, energy conservation and sporting goods will be set up during the event.

Higher-level Exhibitors

The number of Fortune 500 companies and industry-leading companies attending the third CIIE almost equals that of the previous two sessions.

Most of the top 10 well-known companies in the pharmaceutical, medical equipment, dairy, cosmetics, high-end consumer goods, inspection and testing, automobile, industrial electrical, as well as engineering and machinery industries have signed up to participate in the exhibition, and many enterprises will debut their new products, technologies and services.

Lager Trading platform

Greenland Global Commodity Trading Hub, located across the street from the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), main venue of the third CIIE, is a permanent trading service platform for the CIIE.

It integrates functions such as exhibition and display, purchase and transactions, business services, bonded exhibition and sales, as well as consumption and tourism.

The trading hub has introduced more than 60,000 kinds of overseas products, including more than 7,000 exhibited during the CIIE and over 6,000 from Belt and Road countries. It has also opened virtual pavilions and online malls, launching more than 1,000 kinds of products from 31 countries and regions.

Firmer Confidence of Exhibitors

At the first Conference of the third CIIE Enterprise Alliance held in Shanghai on July 26, 35 member enterprises signed three-year memoranda with the CIIE Bureau, promising to attend the annual event for the next three years.

Most of them are Fortune 500 companies and leading players in their respective industries. They aim to secure long-term and common development with the CIIE, which demonstrates their confidence in the Chinese market.

At the conference, two special committees for the dairy industry, as well as public health and epidemic prevention were founded.

The Enterprise Alliance was established spontaneously by exhibitors during the opening of the first CIIE and has so far attracted 142 enterprises.

Stronger Policy Support

The General Administration of Customs officially issued a customs clearance notice for the third CIIE as well as launched 14 measures to facilitate the entrance and exit of exhibitors and exhibits.

While maintaining the policies for the previous CIIEs, relevant ministries and departments of China will actively innovate and roll out new policies.

Improved Municipal Security

Shanghai will work harder to guarantee better logistics, services and environment, so as to host a CIIE with higher-level and higher-quality, said Shang Yuying, vice secretary general of Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, and head of a leading group of municipal security for the CIIE.

The city will make full use of its intelligent monitoring platform, strengthen the application of smart public security system and build a strong line of defense.

It has innovated measures such as prolonging the period of validity of the passes for exhibitors, integrating entry safety and health inspection to improve the experience of exhibitors and merchants.

The city will also optimize the guide signs, especially those for the exhibition areas, transportation, toilets, medical centers and other facilities and equipment, and make them more comprehensive, human-friendly and eye-catching.

Besides, it will improve on-site emergency treatment facilities and designate hospitals for the event, and formulate work plans and emergency solutions, including epidemic prevention and control in all aspects of preparations.

China strives to build characteristic towns

China endeavors to build characteristic towns
Photo shows the Tang West Market Culture and Tourism Town. Photo courtesy of Shaanxi Daily

Characteristic towns are innovative and entrepreneurial platforms that China has been striving to build in the recent years. Covering several square kilometers each, they are clusters of featured industries that advocate a combination of different lifestyles and eco-spaces. They are different from administrative townships and traditional industrial parks.

To better guide the development of characteristic towns, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) recently issued a notice introducing the successful experiences of 36 exemplars across the country.

The 36 “benchmark” characteristic towns all have their respective pillar industries, including auto manufacturing, online communication, new materials, high-tech incubation, pharmaceutical research and development, cultural and art innovation, fragrance, rice farming culture and sports.

Having developed strong industries with distinctive features is something shared by all the 36 characteristic towns, the notice said.

The Tang West Market Culture and Tourism Town is one of the 36 exemplars. Located in Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, it is built on the original site of the west market of Tang Dynasty (618 A.D.-907 A.D.) in the city of Chang’an (today’s Xi’an).

“What’s under our feet is the ruin of the west market that once prospered over 1,000 years ago. It was the start of the Silk Road during the Sui (581 A.D.–618 A.D.) and Tang Dynasties,” said Li Zhonghang, CEO of Tang West Market Group, adding that the scarce resource enabled the group to fully tap into the value of history and culture.

The unique cultural resource made the Tang culture and the Silk Road a bedrock for the characteristic town, attracting 20 million tourists each year and generating a revenue of around 3 billion yuan ($429 million).

Architectures featuring a style that combines traditional Tang expression and modern designing techniques now stand in the Tang West Market Culture and Tourism Town, presenting a historical look of the ancient Chang’an city.

At present, a cultural activity that showcases the charm of the ancient Chang’an city in 24 different hours of the day is being held in the characteristic town. Many young people are wearing Tang costumes there on weekends. As progress is being made in China’s efforts to prevent and control COVID-19, the characteristic town with distinctive historical features has once again become a popular destination among tourists.

“Popularity drives consumption, and the operation of the shops here gradually got on track,” said Li, referring to the impacts brought COVID-19 earlier.

The characteristic town adjusted its commercial structure according to the changes of the market, increasing the supplies of daily necessities, and it also made further exploration of the unique connotation of the cultural industry.

In this 1.5-square kilometer characteristic town, there is the Tang West Market Museum, a first-class museum focusing the Silk Road culture, Tang commercial culture and the history of the west market. Besides, the town is also home to a Silk Road cultural street and an international antique market. They both resurged the history and made the place a “must-go” destination.

“The last thing that a characteristic town wants to see is being in a rut, and we made clear from the very beginning that we want to present the cultural features of the Silk Road based on history and culture and relying on the cultural industry,” Li told the People’s Daily. According to him, the town has been selected as a starting point for many Chinese organizations to retrace the Silk Road, and it is also the final destination for foreigners who travel along the ancient trade route from the west.

Industry is vital but not all for a characteristic town. According to the definition of relevant department, characteristic towns shall offer space for production, living and ecology, and develop industries, culture, tourism and community as well. In general, they should combine production with lifestyles and be suitable for both business and residence.

At present, the phase-2 project of the Tang West Market Culture and Tourism Town is under construction, including office buildings, hotels and theaters. The town will also introduce areas for cultural and innovative experience, as well as cultural shows the next year in its phase-3 construction. Upon completion, the town is expected to attract over 10,000 entities and create nearly 100,000 jobs, generating 500 to 600 million yuan in tax revenue, according to Li.

A batch of distinctive and energetic characteristic towns that are suitable for both business and living have been developed in recent years, said an official with the NDRC. Some of the towns became new engines for the concentrated development of emerging industries, and some paved roads for the upgrading of traditional enterprises. Some blazed a trial in the relocation of rural population, and some became a new force in the integrated urban-rural development. Besides, some of them have built a new platform for the inheritance and protection of traditional culture. It is believed that more such towns are going to prosper.

Employment secures stable recovery

China sees stable recovery of employment
An employee of a home service enterprise teaches baby nursing to rural women at the invitation of the human resource and social security department of Jishan county, north China’s Shanxi province, July 18. People’s Daily Online/Li Lujian

A total of 5.64 million new urban jobs were created by China in the first half of 2020, achieving 63 percent of the annual target, and the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas stood at 5.7 percent in June, said the country’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) during a press conference held on July 21.

As China steadily advances its work resumption and implements measures to stabilize employment, a rising demand is seen in the labor market and employment is gradually getting back to stability.

The country has recruited 554,000 employees for over 10,000 key enterprises, and sent more than 6 million migrant workers back to work by chartered flights, trains and buses. The MOHRSS figures also indicated that the registered unemployment rate in urban areas stood at 3.84 percent, and the market demand turned from a drastic decline when COVID-19 firstly broke out to positive growth.

“The employment went through a low-to-stable progress in the first half of the year,” said Zhang Ying, an official with the MOHRSS. The gradual recovery of employment came from the effective COVID-19 response, orderly work resumption, gradual pickup of economy and the targeted policies launched by the MOHRSS, Zhang introduced.

A series of policies to stabilize employment were rolled out in the January-June period during which insurance premiums worth 63.6 billion yuan were returned to over 4.34 million enterprises to help them sustain stable payrolls, benefiting 100 million employees. Besides, 40.5 billion yuan worth of employment subsidies were also handed out.

China has launched comprehensive online recruitment services since the beginning of this year, including an online recruitment activity carried out by the MOHRSS in which the ministry released information of 27.61 million jobs and received nearly 20 million resumes. The ministry also launched a recruitment campaign for the private sector, and more than 2 million pieces of job information have been released.

By taking a series of measures, China ensured the employment of impoverished migrant workers. As of the end of June, the number of impoverished rural workers finding jobs in urban areas had reached 28.3 million, outnumbering the total from last year.

The reduction and exemption of corporate social insurance premiums are an important measure taken to counter the impacts from COVID-19. As of the end of June, employers saw a decline of 576.9 billion yuan in insurance payments related to old-age, unemployment and work-related injuries, and payments worth 43.1 billion yuan were postponed over the period

In June, relevant departments extended the implementation of the policy to reduce and exempt corporate social insurance premiums. According to Nie Mingjuan, head of the pension and insurance office at the MOHRSS, the policy will remain valid till the end of the year, and the total premium reduction is expected to reach 1.6 trillion yuan.

“The unprecedented intensity and scale will help lift enterprises out of adversity, and stabilize and expand employment,” Nie said.

The proportion of enterprise workers basic pension funds under central government allocation was raised to 4 percent this year. A total of 740 billion yuan was allocated by the central government, and the inter-provincial allocation stood at 170 billion yuan. As of mid-June, the second-quarter fund had all been allocated, which offered firm support for provinces with difficulties to pay the basic pension.

On July 21, the MOHRSS issued a ranking of the top 100 most wanted jobs in the second quarter, which suggested a larger short labor supply in the manufacturing sector, especially metal heat treating, foundrymen, fitters and riveters.

It is reported that the MOHRSS will hold the first national skill contest this year, and make it a biennial event. The contest has the same competitions with the WorldSkills, and also adopts those closely related to economic and social development, as well as people’s lives, covering manufacturing, information communication, construction, transportation and life services.

“The high-level skill contest helps promote skill training, and is estimated to propel nearly a million people to participate in provincial and municipal contests,” said Zhang Lixin, director of the ministry’s Department of Vocational Capacity Building. These measures will all improve the quality of the workforce, and offer support for economic restructuring and high-quality development, he added.

Zhang introduced that China has a workforce of nearly 800 million people, including 200 million technical workers. They are an important foundation for China’s manufacturing and creation, playing an important role in promoting high-quality economic development. The national skill contest will spur the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of technical workers, and play a leading and guiding role for building a workforce that is knowledgeable, skillful and innovative.

Second-hand commodity trade thrives

A rising number of Chinese people have begun to make use of second-hand commodity trading platforms to sell their used products, which conforms well to the concept of low-carbon environmental protection and recycling.


“At first I was curious and tried to sell a makeup set that didn’t fit me on the Internet. Soon a buyer came to contact me; we negotiated the price and I then delivered the product through an express company. It went well,” shared a second-hand commodities seller surnamed Jiang, who works in northeast China’s Liaoning province, adding that she has sold more than 60 second-hand items so far.

The size of China’s second-hand e-commerce market reached 259.7 billion yuan ($37.1 billion) in 2019, up 53.2 percent from 2018, according to data released by the e-commerce research center of, a China-based news platform on cyber economy.

“With the concept of low-carbon environmental protection and recycling gaining popularity, the actual demand of many consumers coincides with the concept of ‘recreating value’ advocated by the second-hand goods trading platform, ” said Meng Huixin, an analyst with the legal rights and interests department

Meng noted that compared with those of traditional trading methods, users of second-hand goods trading platforms can own the dual identities of buyers and sellers, with more diversified commodities; furthermore, the trading experience is more like making friends.

Young Chinese to start “slash” careers

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic causing a reduction in incomes for many people, a large number of young Chinese have started looking for second careers to guarantee their quality of life, reported.

A live-streaming host introduces food to consumers. (File photo/Zhang Hengwei)

Thanks to the rapid emergence of new industries and models of business, which have played indispensable roles in driving economic recovery and stabilizing the country’s employment market, many young people have successfully started “slash” careers, becoming “slash people” who juggle multiple jobs.

Model by day and live-streamer by night

“I’ve been walking the runway at catwalk shows and hosting live-streaming shows lately. The auto shows usually start at 10 a.m. and end at 4 p.m., while my live-streaming shows are often held between 8 p.m. and midnight. Sometimes I also host live-streaming shows during the backstage breaks at auto shows,” said Ming Ming (pseudonym), a model/live-streaming host, describing her daily routine to

Three years ago, Ming Ming graduated in fashion modelling, and started her career as a professional model, a job that required a great deal of travel around the country.

After getting tired of all the traveling, Ming Ming found a nine-to-five job at an e-cigarette company in Beijing last year.

However, her life of stability didn’t last long. As a result of relevant policies rolled out by the country and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, business at the company stagnated. On top of that, many auto shows were also postponed due to the pandemic. For a month, Ming Ming idled her days away.

“While I was trying to find a new job, many of my friends started to host live-streaming shows,” Ming Ming said, revealing that she decided to give it a try when her friend said she would make a good host.

In March, Ming Ming started hosting live-streaming shows on Douyin, one of the leading video-sharing platforms in China.

As the epidemic situation was gradually brought under control in the country, there was a revival of commercial shows, and Ming Ming went back to her old job modelling at auto shows.

“I got more opportunities by hosting live-streaming shows, while my modelling job brought more viewers to my live-streaming shows,” Ming Ming said, noting that her income from the two jobs is nearly 10 times what she made in her previous job.

“I fired my boss and made an offer for myself”

“I arrived in Lhasa recently. No altitude sickness. Everything is fine. Now I’m going to officially start the third chapter of my life—photo-shooting tour,” Ma Jun (pseudonym) wrote in a post on his WeChat Moments on July 17.

A week earlier, Ma quit his job and left the trading company he had been working at for two years, according to his WeChat Moments posts.

Ma majored in economics in college, and had begun working at the company in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province, soon after graduation. At the same time, he took a part-time job in a local photography studio, as he has been unwilling to give up a hobby that he had been very enthusiastic about.

Ma’s photography skills brought him more and more clients. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, he and his friends jointly started an online training course on photography, teaching people who are interested in the field. The course has received widespread praise.

Seeing that his part-time job in photography brought him a monthly income of nearly 20,000 yuan ($2,852), which was far more than what he earned from his main job, Ma resigned from his previous company this summer after saving enough money.

He then decided to take on a new job as travel photographer.

Ma taught his first online class in Lhasa recently, capital of southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region, thanks to the extensive network coverage and good reception in the region.

Ma’s goal for the next stage is to continue his online teaching while going on photo-shooting tours around the country.

“I’m enjoying my life and the career I’m passionate about,” Ma said.

Despite the impact of COVID-19 on the Chinese economy, the country’s booming new economy has generated important opportunities for economic recovery and for people in the country to plan new careers.

Many people in the country have embraced “slash” careers, with hotel employees becoming assembly line workers, salespeople in guest rooms doubling as deliverymen, and white-collar workers starting to host live-streaming shows.

Some companies in the country have even come up with the idea of “sharing employees”.

According to a survey of deliverymen working for China’s online food delivery platform Eleme, more than half of the food delivery drivers on the platform have more than one job.

26 percent of the drivers are small and micro business entrepreneurs, while 4 percent are WeMedia bloggers, according to the report on the survey, which said that these deliverymen have a variety of jobs, such as drivers and even white-collar jobs.

Night consumption lights up economy

Night consumption lights up China’s economic recovery
Tourists visit the night market in Shanghai’s Yu Garden on May 24. Photo by Wang Chu/People’s Daily Online

China’s night consumption has seen notable pickup in the recent months, particularly in the dining, traveling, shopping and entertainment sectors.

According to Didi Chuxing, a leading mobile transportation platform in China, car-hailing orders placed after 7:00 pm in most Chinese cities experienced a growth of at least 10 percent last month. Statistics from food delivery service provider Meituan also indicated that orders placed in major cities between 6:00 pm and 6:00 am the next day accounted for over 40 percent of a day’s total in the past two months. Besides, 39.8 percent of consumption in Alibaba’s Chinese retail market were made at night last month, up nearly 4 percentage points from a year ago, said the e-commerce giant.

At present, the Chinese consumption market is keeping continuous recovery. “The vitality of cities is gradually being released, and night consumption is bouncing back,” said Fu Yifu, senior researcher with the Suning Institute of Finance.

Night economy has become more well-structured and functional in many Chinese cities, and its businesses are also showing increasing diversity.

Kaifeng in Central China’s Henan Province launched and upgraded a series of night tour products, while over 180 featured night activities centering on shopping, snacking, touring, entertainment and reading kicked off in Shanghai, leading to a 10 percent monthly growth in night consumption.

Local governments and departments across China have launched a batch of night consumption activities, which not only deeply expands consumption models, but also enhances the convenience of night consumption.

According to Qunar, a Chinese online tour services provider, it has launched nearly 5,000 routes for night tourism since June this year, 2.7 times more than those in May.

“It was a fresh experience to have some food with my friends in the cafes on Yulin Road when the night fell and then enjoy the night views of the city on the Sichuan Tower Of China,” said a tourist named Hu Xiaoxia from Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province who recently had a trip to Chengdu, Sichuan Province in Southwest China.

Night tour products are not about rearranging existing tourism resources. Every aspect of these products, from the supply chain to value-added services, needs to be upgraded, said Gou Zhipeng, president of Qunar.

The accelerated recovery of night consumption wouldn’t have been realized without the application of new technologies. It is reported that livestream viewers of Taobao, an online shopping platform under Alibaba, are most active after 6:00 pm every day, and the period between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm is the prime time for Taobao’s livestream shows. To facilitate those running stalls at night, third-party mobile and online payment platform AliPay launched fluorescent payment code. At present, there are over 100,000 people registering for payment codes each day, and the nighttime transactions of more than 6 million shops outran those from a year ago.

To extend business hours is a way for merchants to attract customers. According to Meituan statistics, around 60 percent of the diners across the country that offer delivery service are still open after 10:00 pm, and about 40 percent deliver food after 12 midnight.

Third-party data mining and analysis organization iiMedia Research predicted that China’s night economy might hit 30 trillion yuan ($4.3 trillion) this year. Fu believes that the vitality of night consumption will help stimulate the consumption demand in catering, shopping, entertainment, leisure and tourism, and this will propel rapid development of relevant businesses.

Movie theaters gradually resume business

Chinese movie theaters in low-risk areas resume business
Photo taken on July 20 shows people in Ningbo, east China’s Zhejiang province, entering a movie theater after having their body temperatures taken. (Photo by Chen Zhangkun/People’s Daily Online)

Movie theaters in China’s low-risk areas finally reopened on Monday, July 20, after being closed for nearly six months due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Over 138,000 movie tickets were sold across the country on the first day since the resumption of operation, and a total of more than 8,600 screenings were arranged, accounting for around 5 percent of the average amount of daily screenings before the epidemic.

As the reboot uplifted confidence in the domestic film market and released people’s pent-up demand for watching movies at cinemas, many areas reported unexpected box office performance. The total turnover hit 3.5 million yuan (about $504,800) on Monday.

Comparing with the performance of Chinese cinemas on July 20, 2019, when the industry saw 357,000 screenings and 240 million yuan in box office revenue, and sold over 6.91 million tickets, this year’s figures represented the recovery of 1 to 2 percent for the Chinese film market.

Zhu Tingting, a female citizen in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province is excited about the reopening of cinemas. Although she has been expecting the news since the Chinese Lunar New Year, her desire to watch movies at a cinema has grown stronger day by day, Zhu said.

“My 7-year-old son was so happy to learn that we can now watch movies at cinemas. He asked for me that our whole family go to the cinema together,” Zhu disclosed.

Chinese movie “A First Farewell” was the first film shown in the country on July 20. The movie had logged nearly 3,000 screenings as of Monday night, occupying 30 percent of the screens allowed.

A sufficient supply of movies is expected based on the situation of the first day of the reopening. Some classic Chinese and foreign films, including “The Wandering Earth” (2019) , “Ne Zha”, and “The Pursuit of Happiness”, which had achieved excellent box office results when they were first released, have started to hit China’s movie theaters.

A cineplex in Fuzhou, east China’s Jiangxi province, reopened four auditoriums and arranged 26 screenings on July 20, when its seat occupancy rate averaged 10 percent.

The theater mainly played classic movies on the day, according to Hu Chenhui, an executive of the cineplex, disclosing that in order to attract more audiences, the theater offered free tickets.

The majority of the audiences watching movies on July 20 were young people, including many students in summer vacation, Hu said.

During a 7:30 p.m. screening of “A First Farewell” at a movie theater in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province, the attendance reached the upper limit of 30 percent set by the Chinese Film Circulation and Projection Association in a guideline for epidemic control.

Although the reboot shored up confidence in the country’s film industry, safety still remains the top priority for movie theaters.

According to the guideline, all the theaters should sell tickets online in a contactless way and require people to make real-name reservations online. Meanwhile, it should be ensured that audiences keep a distance of at least one meter from each other at the cinema and the attendance of each screening must not exceed 30 percent, the guideline specified.

The guideline also stipulated that audiences and staff members of movie theaters must wear masks the whole time during the screenings; movie theaters must take body temperatures of all audiences before allowing them to enter; no snack or drink should be sold at cinemas; and technically no eating or drinking should be allowed in auditoriums.

The guideline is significantly beneficial to movie theater industry, as it provides instructional direction and standards for the work of cinemas during the implementation of regular epidemic prevention and control measures and gives consideration to both people’s safety and the resumption of work in the industry in an orderly manner, according to industry insiders.

Many people who work in the industry expressed great confidence in movie theaters’ resuming operation during interviews with People’s Daily.

Zhang Haiyan, general manager of a film and television investment company based in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong province, found from relevant surveys that more than 80 percent of the people have shown their willingness to watch movies at cinema during the prevention and control of the COVID-19.

Although it’s more convenient to watch movies online, it cannot compare to the experience in theaters, said Rao Shuguang, head of China Film Critics Association.

“After all, some movies featuring advanced technologies and high-level industrialization as well as audio and visual standards can only be fully appreciated at cinemas. At the same time, the atmosphere in movie theaters gives a sense of ceremony to the movie-watching experience. Besides, movie theaters have long served as an important venue for social contact,” Rao pointed out.

Movie theaters remain the most important channel for demonstrating the value of movies and recovering cost of movies, according to industry insiders, who noted that the resumption of work in movie theaters means the whole film market has started running again.