Zhejiang explores greener development

East China’s Zhejiang explores more environment-friendly development
On March 26, 2020, villagers in Putuo District, Zhoushan, east China’s Zhejiang province, wash their clothes on an especially designed platform near the Dazhan River. The local government has built several platforms near the riverbank and put into use 60 taps to draw water from the river for residents, which would collect the sewage through a special pipe network and thus avoid river water pollution and safety hazards brought about in the past when villagers washed their clothes directly in the river. (By Chen Yongjian, People’s Daily Online)

Putuo District, Zhoushan, east China’s Zhejiang province, has made great efforts to pursue a more environment-friendly development in recent years.

Such efforts could be seen from the mangroves planted in the mudflats beside the district’s Shenjiamen port.

As the mangroves can purify the seawater, prevent wind and waves, fix and store carbon, and help maintain biodiversity, the district planted them to deal with ecological degradation in mudflats.

It has also planted reeds, seepweeds and other plants on a large scale to restore the ecology of the wetlands.

To improve the quality of seawater, Putuo District investigated the sewage outfalls of all industrial enterprises and clusters in the district in 2017.

It identified a total of 21 sewage outfalls and tailored treatment plans for each of them. Fourteen of the outfalls were removed, and the rest had been remodeled according to relevant regulations by 2019.

By then, coastal waters in Putuo District that ranked Category I (the highest quality) and Category II accounted for 61.8 percent, up by 12.7 percentage points year on year. About 12.8 percent coastal waters were ranked Category III, down by 12.7 percent from the previous year. Coastal waters that ranked beneath Category IV (the lowest in the Chinese standard) accounted for 25.4 percent.

Shenjiamen port was deeply troubled by marine deposition after years of development. To improve the environment of the port, Putuo District carried out an overall dredging in the area.

As of April, 2020, the district had disposed of a total of 3.52 million cubic meters of silt, demolished 18 abandoned wharves, removed 92,000 square meters of abandoned structures, and renovated and restored shorelines with a length of 6.14 kilometers.

It has also built coastal ecological corridors, island parks, and real-time monitoring systems to help restore the ecology of the sea.

Putuo District has 455 islands, so the environmental protection of these islands is also a major task.

Mayi Island in the district is known for its production of dried shrimps. Wood and coal used to be the major fuel to dry the shrimps.

“At that time, the island was smoky and pungent,” said Ding Heye, a 71-year-old fisherman on the island.

In 2017, 60 dried shrimp processing enterprises on the island upgraded their equipment and replaced coal and wood with petrol, which has improved the quality of both the air and the products.

In fact, residents from all the islands of Putuo District have reached a consensus about protecting the ecological environment and made efforts to put it into practice.

When Zhao Lijun, who was once a designer, came to Putuo’s Baisha Island for the first time, he was astonished by the blue sea there, a place 25 minutes’ boat ride from the shore. Later he became a frequent visitor of the island, and decided to open a B&B there together with his friend.

What attracts him are not only the convenient transportation and favorable ecological environment on the island, but also the great environmental services such as domestic sewage and garbage disposal.

Last year, the island received a total of 90,000 visitors, with a maximum daily capacity up to 2,000 tourists during the peak season.

While developing tourism, Putuo District has pursued a greener development path for other industries.

Taking advantage of its geographical location, ports and waterways, as well as wharves and shorelines, the district has developed a large-scale marine industrial cluster represented by ship repair and construction and aquatic product processing industries.

Unlike traditional technique that sandblasts the ships to remove the rust, which often produces much sand and noise, the enterprises in Putuo District now remove the dust of ships with ultra-high pressure water, a more environment-friendly way, and recycle waste water and residue in real time for centralized treatment.

The greener repairing technique has brought fame and fortune for the ship enterprises. “The ship repair workshop of our company has been operating at full capacity and the net profit grew by 50 percent year on year from January to June,” said the general manager of a ship repairing and building company in the district.

What will China’s railway be like in 2035?

What will China’s railway network be like in 2035?
Photo taken on May 30 shows a bullet train running on the Kazuo-Chifeng high-speed railway, which links Northeastern Chinese county of Kazuo and northern Chinese city of Chifeng, during a trial run. Photo by Li Jichun/People’s Daily Online

By 2035, the total length of China’s railway tracks will reach about 200,000 km, including 7 km of high-speed railway, according to a recent outline on China’s railway development in the new era released by China State Railway Group Co., Ltd. (China Railway).

The document depicts a blueprint for the construction of railway network by the year of 2035, saying China will become a country with a strong and higher-level modern railway network by 2050.

As of the end of July, 2020, China’s operational railway length reached 141,400 km, ranking second in the world, while the high-speed rail network topped the world with a total length of 36,000 km.

“China’s high-speed railway network ranks first in the world in terms of operational mileage, scale of railways under construction, number of trains in service, and operational speed,” said Liang Dong, deputy director of the planning division of China Railway Economic and Planning Research Institute.

“Besides, China has the most complete technology system as well as the most operational scenarios and the most experience in the management of high-speed railways in the world,” Liang added.

In 2019, China’s railway network had covered 98 percent of the cities with a population of more than 200,000, up from 94 percent in 2012. The figure rose from 28 percent in 2012 to 86 percent last year for cities with a population of 500,000. All provincial capitals in the country except for Lhasa have connected to the high-speed railway network.

The average number of passengers taking China’s high-speed trains each day had risen from around 1.07 million person-times in 2012 to 6.38 million person-times in 2019, representing an average annual growth of 29.1 percent.

In addition, high-speed railway passengers had accounted for over half of the country’s total railway passengers for four consecutive years.

By 2035, all the Chinese cities with more than 200,000 people will be covered by railway network, and all cities with a population of more than 500,000 will be connected to high-speed rails, according to the outline. It suggests that the total length of operational high-speed railways in China will be nearly twice that of today by 2035.

China’s bullet train technologies has embraced rapid development since the country launched high-speed railway services over a decade ago.

The country now has more than 3,600 pairs of bullet trains, including 690 pairs of Fuxing bullet trains. Its number of high-speed trains is more than that in the rest of the world combined.

Today, China’s high-speed railway sector is marching towards higher goals for innovation.

“Faster speed, better performance in energy conservation and environmental protection, more comfortable train ride, smarter equipment and facilities, and lower life cycle costs are shared goals of railway operators and manufacturers of all countries. The new outline also suggests enhancing research, development, and application of new types of vehicles,” said Wu Guodong, deputy director of the locomotive and car department of China Railway.

According to the outline, China will master relevant core technologies and establish complete systems for key technologies including technical standards for high-speed railways that can reach speeds of 400 km per hour and faster through independent innovation.

China Railway is also making overall planning for research and development of new-generation CRH trains on the basis of the existing high-speed rails.

China will make efforts to independently research on and develop a new type of smart train control system, says the outline.

The new type of smart train control system will be an integrated control system that combines cutting-edge scientific and technological achievements such as the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and 5G network, according to Mo Zhisong, head of the communication and signaling office of the department of track, communication and signaling and power supply of China Railway.

The new system can shorten the train tracking interval from the current minimum of three minutes to around two minutes and increase the transportation capacity of railways by over 30 percent, Mo disclosed.

“The new type of smart train control system will also gradually realize the transformation from the stage when trains need human drivers to the scenarios where they can run with an automated driving system and then a smart driving system,” Mo said.

Based on the current achievements in autonomous driving, China Railway is making efforts to push forward with progress in smart technologies including those that help improve train’s autonomous perception of environment and assessment of security situation, so as to reduce manual control and improve people’s travel experience, Mo added.

China’s high-speed trains will feature lower energy consumption and be more environmentally friendly in the future, according to Mo.

The bullet trains need the most power during acceleration. When they slow down, these trains do not consume electricity but generate power, Mo explained.

At present, research teams of China Railway are focusing efforts on coordinated and joint control of train groups, Mo said.

It can theoretically help reduce the per capita energy consumption per km by about 30 percent, according to Mo, who gave an example to illustrate the point, saying that new-generation high-speed trains can save about 9,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity during a round trip between Beijing and Shanghai.

Smart weather forecast proves helpful

Intelligent weather forecast helps prevent, alleviate natural disasters
On July 17, an engineer at the meteorological bureau of Qinhuangdao, North China’s Hebei Province, monitors meteorological data to help prevent flood. Photo by Cao Jianxiong/People’s Daily Online

Due to continuous rainfall, Panping village, located in Changde, Central China’s Hunan Province, was struck by landslides in July, which destroyed the roads and caused several houses to collapse. Fortunately, the natural disaster didn’t cause any casualty.

Thanks to a weather warning issued by the Beidou satellite monitoring system, the local government had already evacuated the residents.

Weather forecast and warning have become increasingly accurate with the in-depth application of a new generation of information technology in the field of meteorology.

How to achieve higher resolution, reach results faster, and make more accurate forecast has posed a new challenge on modern atmospheric science, said Zhu Wenjian, a senior engineer at the National Meteorological Center of the China Meteorological Administration (NMCCMA).

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) possesses powerful computing capabilities, domestic meteorological industry has paid more attention to the integration of AI technology into the field, according to Zhu.

The NMCCMA has employed AI in quantitative precipitation forecasts, typhoon searching and other aspects and reached good results, Zhu added.

Many regions in China have actively promoted the construction of a complete smart weather forecast system in recent years.

Last September, Tianjin rolled out a smart weather decision-making service platform, which was developed by the meteorological bureau of the municipality.

The platform can retrieve weather data on the minute level in real time and quickly generate comparison charts.

Tianjin meteorological bureau has also developed a severe convective weather identification and warning model together with Tianjin University, which could automatically identify hail, heavy rainfall and gale.

In June, the meteorological department of East China’s Jiangsu Province completed the construction of and put into operation the first seven stations of an intelligent observation system for weather phenomena.

By capturing meteorological videos with multiple cameras and adopting intelligent algorithm and image technology, the system could automatically observe weather phenomena, including the cloud cover, frost and snow depth.

The smart weather system built by Chongqing, which includes intelligent detection, forecast, service and disaster prevention platforms, has played an important role in preventing and alleviating disasters during the flood season.

The intelligent detection platform is connected with eight observation satellites, four Doppler radars and more than 2,000 ground meteorological observation stations through Internet of Things (IoT), and then uses cloud computing to help the Chongqing meteorological department collect and analyze a huge volume of data.

With the intelligent forecast platform, the Chongqing meteorological bureau issued relevant forecasts for the flood season at the very beginning of the year, allowing the city to make preparations for flood control.

In fact, the application of AI in the meteorological industry is merely at an early stage and the technology will surely be employed in more application scenarios.

In addition to helping with disaster prevention and mitigation and promoting more accurate weather forecasting, smart weather systems can also serve the local economy and facilitate the construction of smart cities.

The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region meteorological bureau has recently introduced a weather index service for night markets, which could be helpful for the recovery of the local night economy.

Based on detailed and intelligent grid forecast and warning, the weather index has set up a rating system on weather conditions, which could be accessed by citizens through online platforms such WeChat and Sina Weibo.

Shanghai is among the first in China to use smart weather to serve the delicacy management of the city.

It is now able to give weather warnings specific to downtown areas, while it couldn’t specify the scope and time of rainfall and other weather phenomena in the past.

By launching a weather app, Shanghai allows citizens to select their locations and then check the hourly weather within an area of three square kilometers for the next 12 hours.

Combined with big data, the specific weather forecast and warning could also help with social management.

For example, when the temperature forecast exceeds 35 degrees Celsius in summer, relevant administrative departments will receive a warning that the complaints about garbage odor may increase and that it is needed to strengthen garbage disposal.

Internet economy embraces new models

New business models of Internet economy flourishing in Shanghai
Photo shows customers scanning QR code to take meals from a thermal cabinet of a Hexiaoma store in Shanghai, July 20. (Photo by Wang Gang/People’s Daily Online)

Spreading batter, adding egg, brushing sauce, and packing, a Chinese chef surnamed Gao finished making an appetizing jianbingguozi, a popular Chinese pancake, in less than two minutes.

Gao handed the jianbingguozi to his assistant, who glanced at the computer screen and then put the food into one of the containers of a thermal cabinet.

After no more than one minute, the food was taken by a man surnamed Li who had just came out of the subway and scanned a QR code on the cabinet.

The above happened at a store of Hexiaoma in Shanghai, a breakfast store of Alibaba’s grocery chain Hema Xiansheng. The store is located at the B2 floor of a shopping mall near an exit of the World Expo Museum Station of Line 13 of the Shanghai Metro in Huangpu district.

Consisting of a breakfast stall and an automatic thermal cabinet, the store sells breakfast on site and also allows consumers to place orders online.

“I placed the order two stops in advance, so I got my steaming breakfast when I just arrived at the store,” said Li.

“It’s so convenient. Now I can enjoy freshly made breakfast even if I slept a little longer in the morning,” he added.

In recent years, Shanghai has grasped the opportunities generated by the booming internet economy and enabled the over 20 million residents in the megacity to enjoy a wonderful and convenient life benefited by flourishing online platforms and ever-changing modern technologies.

“The blue marks indicate the real-time position of the couriers, while the yellow ones are their next destinations. The red marks suggest delivery delays,” Li Wei, a staff member of e-commerce grocery platform Dingdong Maicai, introduced to People’s Daily, pointing to an electronic map. More than 200 marks are distributed within a 3-kilometer radius on the map.

Li, who is in charge of a distribution center of the platform on Songhong Road of Shanghai’s Changning district, couldn’t take his eyes off the map as a rain was about to drop at 10:00 am that day and lunch orders were flocking in. At the same time, 11 sorters were busy packing while 17 deliverymen were rushing in the rain to send products to the customers.

“Hello, we are sorry to tell you that your vegetables might arrive five minutes late because of the heavy rain,” Wang Yaxu, a deliveryman of the distribution center explained to a client over the phone as the delivery time of the order was about to exceed the 29-minute time limit promised by the platform.

“That’s all right. Be careful on the road,” said the customer, a woman surnamed Chen who had shift grocery shopping to the online platform after the COVID-19 outbreak.

In fact, Chen had doubted whether it was a good idea to buy vegetables online at first, for she thought it would be much better to make a purchase after comparing the goods on site like she had done over the past decades.

To her surprise, the online grocery shopping was quite satisfying, and she soon became a loyal customer of the platform.

“I like cooking carp and bean curd soup, so I need fresh fish. The three carp I ordered were kept in a tank with oxygen pump when they were delivered to me, and they were still lively when I put them into my basin,” Chen introduced.

“Dingdong Maicai became a black horse in the field of grocery e-commerce since February with a revenue of more than 1.2 billion yuan (about $173 million),” Liang Changlin, founder and CEO of the platform told People’s Daily.

Liang, who has operated the platform for over two years in Shanghai, once planned to spend a year on market cultivation, but his target was achieved in just over a month.

Shanghai’s online transaction of grocery products totaled 17.48 billion yuan during the first half of this year, up 138.8 percent from a year ago.

Changes not only happened in the way of grocery shopping.

After attracting a great number of leading e-commerce enterprises, Shanghai rolled out a series of Internet-based shopping activities to further give play to major platforms.

Empowered by the city’s dynamic digital transformation, many brick-and-mortar businesses have also tapped into online platforms and launched cloud-based activities, including online shopping events, exhibitions, and shows.

With enormous potential for rapid growth, consumer-oriented services are growing into an important engine for e-commerce businesses in Shanghai, said Zhou Lan, deputy head of Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce.

The online transactions for goods totaled 311.6 billion yuan in Shanghai during the first six months this year, marking a 14.3-percent growth from the same period of the previous year, according to Zhou.

Transport helps rural China fight poverty

Transportation helps rural China fight poverty
A village road in Shangxi township, Yongfeng county, Jiangxi Province. Yongfeng county, advancing poverty alleviation with transportation construction, has invested 2 billion yuan in rural road construction in the recent 5 years. It has built and renovated over 2,400 kilometers of rural roads that connect all of its incorporated villages. Photo by Liu Haojun, Cao Xiaoping/People’s Daily Online

The Chinese people always say “better roads lead to better life.” Therefore, transportation infrastructure must be built in advance to carry out poverty alleviation.

In the recent years, China’s rural transportation has experienced drastic changes, which both facilitated rural residents, and revitalized rural development.

Five poverty alleviation cadres and representatives recently shared their stories of fighting poverty through the improvement of transportation infrastructure with People’s Daily.

Xu Wenqiang, director of the Tibet Autonomous Region’s transportation department introduced that the total transport fixed-asset investment of the autonomous region is expected to exceed 251.5 billion yuan ($36.23 billion) at the end of this year. The total mileage of Tibet’s expressways was only 38 kilometers five years ago, but has now added up to 620 kilometers and will reach 1,100 kilometers based on the completion of the projects implemented between 2016 and 2020. As of the end of the last year, the total mileage of highways in the autonomous region reached 104,500 kilometers.

“Before the end of this year, all townships and incorporated villages that meet the conditions will be connected to highways, and 95 percent of townships and 75 percent of incorporated villages will be connected to hardened roads. Tourists visiting Tibet and local residents will be able to enjoy safer, more smooth and more convenient trips,” he said.

Anyuan in the southwestern part of Jiangxi Province, was considered a remote county before 2013, as it cost a day to travel from it to Ganzhou, a city just 200 kilometers away. In the recent years, a vast expressway network connected with neighboring provinces has been built, introduced Luo Hongbo, an official with the department of policy and legislation under the Ministry of Transport and deputy Party secretary in Anyuan county.

He said drastic changes have taken place in Anyuan. Enterprises have invested in the county, which solved the employment problem of the local young people; the low logistics cost facilitated e-commerce and tourism. A total of 2 billion yuan of turnover was achieved last year by the county’s e-commerce businesses, and over 80 percent of townships and 32 percent of impoverished villagers are fighting poverty through e-commerce, Luo said. More than a third of the townships in the county developed tourism, receiving 4.8 million tourists last year, he added.

Sertar county in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Garze, Sichuan Province was once in deep poverty. With an average elevation of over 4,127 meters, the mountainous county was isolated. Gui Zhijing, deputy Party secretary of Sertar county experienced the transportation progress there. “After four years of poverty alleviation efforts, the county now has 2,260 kilometers of highways, and 17 townships and 134 incorporated villages have been connected to hardened roads and bus services. The county officially got rid of poverty in February,” Gui said.

Last year, Sertar county attracted an investment of 130 billion yuan, and the number of hotels in the county rose from 54 to 150. Gui believes that the better transportation will bring better lives to the local people.

“The continuously improving transportation has laid a solid foundation for industrial development,” said Lyu Yida, who was once the first Party secretary in Rela village, Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture, Sichuan Province. According to him, Rela villagers suffered severe road conditions in the past, until a 6.9-kilometer road network was constructed. The village was connected to hardened roads and bus services.

“The village established a food company in 2018 that sells yak meat and honey. The company achieved revenue of 2.6 million yuan last year, which largely reinforced the confidence of the villagers in poverty alleviation,” Lyu introduced.

Wang Guangguo is the Party secretary of Dianziping village, Jianshi county, Enshi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture, Hubei province. According to him, it usually took a couple of hours for the villagers to go to a fair in its neighboring township, and they had to walk along the cliffs. Thanks to the poverty alleviation efforts, the village has constantly improved its transportation, from building gravel roads to asphalt roads, connecting every household with hardened roads.

“We used to grow only potatoes, corns and soybeans, but now we started growing fruits and established a chili factory that sells our products overseas. The new roads help drive industrial development and bring wealth to the people,” Wang said.

China sees pickup in job demand

China sees pickup in job demand
A man works in a workshop of an auto part manufacturer in Pengan county, Nanchong, southwest China’s Sichuan province, Aug. 11. People’s Daily Online/Liu Yonghong

China’s employment pressure has been relieved as the country strives to advance work resumption, with the demand side slightly larger than the supply side on the job market.

In the second quarter of this year, over 4.4 million jobs were created in China, down 795,000 from the January-March period. The number of job seekers in Q2 stood at over 3.3 million, up 91,000 from that in Q1.

According to information released by public employment service organizations in 83 Chinese cities, the demand side went down by 15.6 percent and the supply side grew by 2.9 percent in the second quarter when compared with Q1 figures.

Ding Dajian, a research fellow with the China Institute for Employment Research, attributed the decreasing demand to the impacts from COVID-19 which plunged global economy into a recession and posed huge pressure on foreign trade enterprises. He explained that the slight rise in the supply side was caused by the initial achievements of China epidemic containment efforts.

“The fall and rise in the demand and supply sides have alleviated the pressure of the job market, leading to a large drop in the opening-to-application ratio,” Ding said.

“The largest challenge we faced after production resumed was the dearth of laborers, as we rushed to deliver orders but were unable to recruit enough employees,” said Cai Jinshun, an executive of Chinese leading toy manufacturer Alpha Group Co., Ltd. According to him, the enterprise spent most of its time on recruitment in the first quarter, and the human resource was generally stabilized in Q2.

Despite the sharp decline of the opening-to-application ratio, the demand side is slightly larger than the supply side on the job market. Thanks to the steady progress of the Chinese economy, the opening-to-application ratio has been kept above 1.2 since the fourth quarter of 2017, and the number is still rising in general.

A recent report issued by China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS) revealed the trend on the Chinese job market.

According to the report, manufacturing, wholesale, retailing, consumer-oriented service, hospitality, information service & software, logistics & mail industries were the major sectors demanding employees. Sales people, packers, waiters & waitresses, and couriers were the most wanted jobs, said a list in the report ranking job supplies and demands in 10 major Chinese cities.

The health, social security and social welfare sector’s demand for employees rose 184.9 percent from Q1, while the logistics & mail, as well as the education industries saw growths of 8.7 percent and 7.4 percent, respectively.

More and more people have joined the tertiary industry in China over the recent years. As of the end of 2019, 47.4 percent of China’s workforce were in the service sector. As work and production resumption continues its steps, the job demand in the service sector, in particular the logistics & mail industry, is bouncing back. Couriers ranked the second most wanted job for two consecutive quarters, and the opening-to-application ratio even reached 10:1 in Chongqing, Xi’an and Zhengzhou.

“During the COVID-19 epidemic, many sectors have launched online services, which gradually released the pent-up consumption demand. It further facilitated the development of the logistics industry and drove up the demand for relevant jobs,” said Wang Yuehan, an associate research fellow with the Development and Research Center of the State Post Bureau.

Entertainment, sports and recreation industries witnessed a large rise in job demand. “Driven by the prospering live-stream sector, the job demand in the entertainment, sports and recreation industries rose 117.82 percent from that in Q1, and the figure was way larger than the growth of applications,” Li Qiang, executive vice president of Zhaopin.com, an Chinese online recruitment platform, told People’s Daily, adding that these industries would become great choices for fresh college graduates. Statistics indicated that in the second quarter, the demand for fresh college graduates in the entertainment, sports and recreation industries rose 349 percent year-on-year, and 300 percent from Q1.

According to Li, there would be a huge gap of 4.17 million professionals in the core technologies of the new infrastructure industry by the end of this year.

China sees recovery of domestic tourism

China sees recovery of domestic tourism
A dozen of fishing boats are being repaired at a shipyard near Fenghua River in Ningbo, Zhejiang province, June 13. Photo by Yao Feng/People’s Daily Online

China’s domestic tourism is regaining vitality during the summer. According to a report released by Ctrip, China’s leading online tourism service platform, over 4,000 travel agencies have launched domestic tour products on the platform since the country resumed trans-provincial group tourism in mid-July, doubling that before the reboot.

On August 7, a traveler surnamed Xu and his friends from Suzhou, East China’s Jiangsu Province, traveled to Ninghai county, Ningbo, East China’s Zhejiang Province to enjoy their holiday on the beach.

They rented a boat and went for offshore fishing with local fishermen, and had a seafood feast with what they captured on the sea. The experience both satisfied their taste buds and offered them fresh excitement.

“Boat meals were reserved half a month ago. If tourists want to book tables now, it’s a game of luck,” said said Ge Xin, an executive of the visitor center of Ninghai Bay in Ninghai county.

According to Ge, 60 recreational fishing boats have been full up and working in shift in recent days. Nearly 1,000 tourists were received in Hengshan Island alone, and the business is even better than that during the same period of last year, Ge introduced.

Other coastal areas in Ningbo, such as Xiangshan, Ninghai, Fenghua and Yinzhou, have also rolled out tour products to attract tourists.

July and August are usually the best time of the year to visit the grasslands. “Me and my friends are planning a road trip to Inner Mongolia. Some are planning the route and some researching on hotels. We are all excited about the tour,” said Li Muge, an employee of an Internet company in Beijing.

To embrace nature has become a choice of more and more people when they plan a trip since the outbreak of COVID-19.

During a recent weekend, the Wudang Mountains scenic spot in Shiyan, Central China’s Hubei Province, received nearly 10,000 tourists, and it was hard to get a room in the homestay hotels near the scenic spot.

Many other tourism attractions in Hubei have also witnessed a quick recovery since trans-provincial group tours were resumed. Forest parks and wetland parks are particularly popular.

Safety and comfort are tourists’ biggest concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism has reminded people to ensure personal protection during travels in the summer and choose safe, healthy, and green tours.

To guarantee the safety and health of tourists, local authorities and tourist sites have both stepped up efforts in epidemic control and prevention in management and services.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19,tourist attractions in Wulong district, Southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, have paid special attention to the prevention and control of the spread of the pandemic and made great efforts to guarantee the safety of tourists and a pleasant tourism experience for them, said Li Jianguo, deputy general manager of a tourism agency in Wulong district.

“Besides routine measures like health QR code and regular disinfection, scenic spots have launched real-name reservation,” Li said.

“In addition, tourists also need to have their QR codes scanned when taking shuttles at scenic spots, so that possible infections can be traced in a timely manner. So far, there has been no confirmed COVID-19 case spotted in Wulong district’s tourist attractions,” Li disclosed.

Wulong district is known for the spectacular scenery in its world natural heritage sites and top-level national tourist attractions, such as Tiansheng Sanqiao scenic area, Wulong Furong Cave, and the Fairy Mountain national forest park.

“Since late July, these scenic areas have seen a notable growth in the number of visitors, with the figure in certain scenic spots reaching up to 70 percent of the level before the COVID-19,” Li noted.

“Unmanned economy” paces up in China

Unmanned convenience stores, unmanned restaurants, unmanned distribution, unmanned factories… In recent years, the “unmanned economy”, driven by new technology, has developed rapidly.

Goods are put into an intelligent unmanned warehouse in a logistics park in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province. (Photo/Liang Xiaopeng)

Statistics show that there are more than 16,000 unmanned retail-related enterprises and more than 56,000 industrial robot-related enterprises in China, both of which have increased by more than 30 percent so far this year.

The “Guidelines on Supporting the Healthy Development of New Business Forms and New Models, Activating the Consumer Market and Expanding Employment”, jointly issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and other departments, call for the development of an “unmanned economy” based on new technologies, and support the construction of smart factories to realize transparent production processes, intelligent production sites and modernized factory operation and management.

Shanghai recently announced the implementation of the special action for building “100+ benchmark unmanned factories”, which aims to build 100 benchmark unmanned factories and 10 demonstration smart factories by 2022. During this process, nearly 10,000 additional robots are expected to increase production efficiency by an average of more than 20 percent and reduce operating costs by the same proportion.

The application of unmanned equipment is accelerating in the logistics industry. During the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic, JD.com, an e-commerce platform in China, set up a drone route near Baiyangdian, north China’s Hebei province, using Y3-MAX drones to deliver daily supplies to villages. Unmanned delivery and unmanned express delivery are becoming the focus of many large logistics enterprises of the new model.

Industry insiders pointed out that artificial intelligence and its applications in industrial robots, automatic driving, automatic loading and unloading will enable unmanned processing of monotonous, complicated, difficult and dangerous jobs, which makes the production process intelligent and promotes the reduction in costs of production, circulation and services while also increasing efficiency.

“From manufacturing to agricultural production, from docks to mines, intelligence will be a typical feature of the new industrial revolution, and it has become a consensus that artificial intelligence will empower the real economy,” according to Wang Chongjun, deputy director of the Institute of Computer Application, Nanjing University.

By the end of May, the number of UAV-related enterprises in China had exceeded 55,000, with 16,000 unmanned retail enterprises and more than 11,000 driverless enterprises, according to relevant company data. In the first five months of this year, 1,827 new retail companies related to unmanned selling were set up, a 37 percent increase over the same period in 2019.

Today, driverless cars, unmanned distribution, unmanned retail, unmanned hotels, unmanned restaurants, unmanned logistics and other new forms of business are being continuously promoted in many large and medium-sized cities.

Grape wine industry vitalizes barren land

Grape wine industry turns Ningxia’s barren land into prosperity
The first high-speed rail in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region starts operation on Dec. 29, 2019, reducing the travel time between major cities in the autonomous region, Wuzhong to less than an hour. The high-speed rail positively contributes to Ningxia’s poverty alleviation. Photo by Yuan Hongyan/People’s Daily Online

The eastern foot of Helan Mountain, on the outskirts of Yinchuan, capital of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, is a contiguous area of wine production, which is hailed as a “purple business card” of the Hui autonomous region.

From the first grape seedling planted some 20 years ago, to building a complete industrial chain and influence, the grape wine industry is thriving on this once barren land.

Since 1996, China made the collaboration on poverty alleviation between the eastern and western regions a major national strategy. Xi Jinping, who then served as the deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Fujian Provincial Committee, was in charge of Fujian’s effort to assist Ningxia. Fujian-Ningxia collaboration officially set off since then.

Ningxia’s Xihaigu region was once listed as the “most unfit place for human settlement” by the United Nations for its barren land and lack of water resource. Fortunately, a resettlement township was founded on the sands of a Gobi desert south to Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia in 1997, absorbing over 40,000 residents from Xihaigu. To commemorate the close bond of collaboration between Fujian (also known as Min for short) and Ningxia (also known as Ning for short), the township was named Minning.

Poverty alleviation was carried out simultaneously as Minning started construction and resettlement work, and the grape wine industry was an important pillar for the town to shake off poverty. Entrepreneurs from Fujian believe that the Gobi desert where Minning locates is not an average one. Situated 38.5 degrees north of the Earth’s equatorial plane, Minning sees low precipitation, long sunshine hours, and high diurnal temperature variation. Besides, the rich minerals in its high-permeable sandy soil offer great growth conditions for wine grapes.

With capital and technical input, the Gobi desert of Minning was soon covered by green leaves and filled with the aroma of wine. Thanks to the grape wine industry, the relocated residents from Xihaigu have had stable jobs and increasing income. As a result, they stayed in Minning.

Yang Cheng resettled in Minning after living in the mountains for decades, where he planted potatoes and wheat and worried all day for irrigation. Since he moved to the new town, his family all started working in a vineyard. Yang became an electrician after training, and his wife a sanitation worker. Plus, his son drives excavators for the vineyard. The family of three earns over 10,000 yuan ($1,435) per month.

The vineyard where Yang’s family work is operated by Fujian businessman Chen Qide. Starting on a 6667-hectare wasteland, Chen vows to make the best wine in Ningxia. Now, the wine he makes wins international awards almost every year.

As of the end of 2019, the eastern foot of Helan Mountain had a total of 38,000 hectares of vineyards, offering around 120,000 jobs for relocated residents.

Poverty alleviation of Minning started from wine making, but never ends with it. Fujian-Ningxia collaboration also includes constructing reliable sales channels and marketing methods.

Lai Youwei is a cadre from Dehua, Fujian designated to serve temporary position in Minning. After arriving in Ningxia, he has invited many business people from his hometown to the vineyards in Minning, recommending products to them to expand the sales channel. He also joined a livestream marketing show this May to help sell the wine during which he finished orders of nearly 300,000 yuan.

Zhu Wenzhang, from Jinjiang, Fujian, is a wine dealer now working in the eastern foot of Helan Mountain. He introduced an innovative method of “shared winery” based on his connection with wine dealers who prefer high-quality grape wines. The method helped more than 50 enterprises “claim” a total of 200 hectares of vineyards as the origin of their production, so that the quality is better controlled. Besides, grape growers don’t have to worry about the sales.

The grape wine industry witnessed the efforts and results of Fujian-Ningxia collaboration over the past 20 years, and helped many families realize their dream of getting rich. Today, Fujian-Ningxia collaboration is still upgrading, aiming to achieve more splendid targets.

Chinese firm brings clean water to Nigeria

“This is an important project for Kuali township and its surrounding areas, putting an end to the issue of water shortage,” said Estu Shaban Audu Nyizazo III, chief of the Nigerian township.

He made the remarks when introducing a water supply system donated by Chinese enterprise CGC Overseas Construction Group (CGCOC) that started operation two years ago.

Children play around a well in Kwali, Nigeria when CGCOC employees clean the well. Photo: courtesy of the CGCOC

“Everything about the system has been going well and the clean water will give us a great Corban this year,” Dogo Kwali Gambo, the chief geologist of Kwali Area Council recently told the CGCOC Nigeria Company over the phone.

The water supply system was proposed by Ye Shuijin, general manager of CGCOC’s Nigerian branch, when the Minister of the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory Administration Muhammad Bello inspected the CGCOC Water Co., Ltd. three years ago.

The town of Kwali had two small water plants built in the late 1980s. However, they weren’t able to offer constant water supply due to poor maintenance and became abandoned because of sand production and tube breakage.

The 600,000 residents in Kwali had lost their fixed source of drinking water ever since, and the water shortage was even more severe in summer, said a Nigerian employee of the CGCOC in charge of public relations, adding that water supply became the most pressing problem for the town.

Nyizazo III introduced that most of the privately drilled wells were shallow, so the water was always easily contaminated in the rainy season. Besides, the high maintenance and diesel price for generators were also a problem, he added.

To offer clean water for local residents as soon as possible, the CGCOC decided to transform the two existing water plants and upgraded them with an automatic solar-power system. The company also installed new tubes to connect villages and opened more stations for residents to fetch water.

In just 45 days, the project, commencing in early October, 2017, installed 4,400 meters of tubes, drilled 5 wells, built 5 automatic solar-power impounding reservoir, and established 29 water-fetching stations in major places and main roads.

The new system supplies 160 cubic meters of water each day, which is able to meet the demand of 10,000 people. It needs no manual operation and consumes no material, even in regular intensity of sunlight, which is both environmentally friendly and energy-saving.

“This is a special gift to Kwali by the CGCOC,” said Bello during the completion ceremony of the project, after taking a sip of the water that ran out of the system.

“We had to pay at least 300 naira ($0.78) for a bucket of water before, which made it 50,000 naira a year for a thrift family of seven, or my monthly salary,” said a man surnamed Emmenuel from Kwali. “Now we all have clean and healthy water,” he added.

Umar in his fifties is disabled due to polio, which makes it hard for him to fetch water from afar. “We never thought we could have clean water in the past, and now we are helped by the Chinese company. What runs in the water is the friendship from the Chinese people,” he told the People’s Daily.

“We came to Nigeria in 1983, and our development here could not have been achieved without the assistance from the Nigerian people. Therefore, we shall give back to them today,” said Ye, saying donating the water plant is a way for the Chinese enterprise to repay the local people.