AI application in sports yields fruits

A visitor plays table tennis with a ping-pong robot Pong-bot at the ChinaJoy game event in Shanghai, July 31. (People’s Daily Online/Wang Chu)

How does it feel to have a robotic coach?

Recently, a row of ping-pong robots were seen using mechanical arms to serve at the training center of the China Table Tennis College of Shanghai University of Sport in east China’s Shanghai, while young players on the other side of the tables were preoccupied with hitting the balls with different landing points back.

These robotic coaches are ping-pong robots independently developed by Shanghai Pong-bot technology Co., Ltd. They were named Pang-bot, and have been put into the market in batches.

Japanese technology company Omron’s ping-pong robots displayed at the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) can also play table tennis with people.

The robots of Pong-bot and Omron use high-speed cameras to measure the movement of the ball and use artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms to predict the trajectory of the ball, creating more possibilities for table tennis.

When talking about the application of AI technologies in the sports industry, the battle pitting man against machine in the board game Go, known as Weiqi in China, is the subject of much discussion.

AlphaGo, Google DeepMind’s AI Go-playing program, defeated South Korean top professional Go player Lee Sedol and Chinese Go master Ke Jie in 2016 and 2017, respectively, surprising numerous Go players and fans.

With the in-depth application of AI technologies in the board game, AI Go-playing programs have been used to boost players’ performance.

In April this year, the Chinese national Go team renewed its contract for another three years with Chinese tech giant Tencent’s AI Go program FineArt.

Go players can improve their skills via AI Go programs in the whole process from the opening moves, actual combats, pre-match preparations to post-game review, while helping the latter improve their performance.

It’s the Go game that benefits most from the games between man and machine. Progressing with AI, the game of Go has added new contents and scenarios to the application of new technologies in the new era. At the same time, the Go games between coaches and players will finally lead to more accurate and efficient application of AI in the board game.

For a very long time after the debut of AlphaGo, AI-based Go software had been just a research program of tech giants. Now, ordinary Go fans can also use such Go software. Individuals have also developed similar software for public sale or open-source software that can be downloaded by all. Some Go fans who know about relevant technologies even adapt software by themselves.

The shortage of competent Go teachers, which used to plague the Go training industry, has also been alleviated because of the application of AI in Go teaching.

The AI-empowered curriculum system that has emerged in recent years has fully stimulated young people’s interest in learning the Go game and made it possible to improve their skills in a relatively short period of time.

AI has been applied in every link of the Go game, including competition, learning, training, research, and instructions, becoming a tool to unleash human potential.

Today, AI robots are already not news in the sports industry, and many people have already played against them.

During the 12th Guangxi Sports Festival that kicked off in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in August, many badminton enthusiasts played against an AI-empowered badminton robot that held a racket in its hand.

AI has also brought about new possibilities to professional sports in other aspects, such as assisting judges, replacing reporters in writing formalistic sports news, and helping fans to find more suitable seats.

It is conceivable that AI will be applied in more scenarios in the sports industry in the future. By actively embracing scientific and technological development and enabling AI to better serve the sector, the integration of science and technology into sports will surely create more fruits.

Chinese-made cars “going out” faster

Since bringing the COVID-19 outbreak under control, China’s automobile industry has also accelerated its “going out” to markets with the full resumption of work and production.

Photo taken on Oct. 26, 2020 shows the Tesla China-made Model 3 vehicles at its gigafactory in Shanghai, east China. (Xinhua/Ding Ting)

About 7,000 Tesla cars produced by the Chinese factory left Shanghai in late October and are expected to arrive at the Port of Zeebrugge, Belgium in a month before being sold in Germany, France, Italy and other countries. It took just 10 months before the first batch of Chinese-made Model 3 was delivered, and less than two years after the opening of Tesla’s Shanghai Gigafactory.

“After the production capacity of the Shanghai factory climbed, not only could we meet the needs of Chinese consumers, but also bring our high-quality products to European customers. This is the first time we have tried to export our products to Europe, and it has laid a very solid foundation for our future exports, “said Song Gang, Tesla’s manufacturing director at the Shanghai site.

Zhang Xiang, an automobile industry analyst, said in an interview that at present, as the epidemic has been brought under control in China, the production capacity of the Chinese factory has recovered relatively quickly, and thanks to the use of the Chinese supply chain, quality can be guaranteed and manufacturing costs can be reduced at the same time.

According to statistics from the China Passenger Car Association, sales of new energy passenger vehicles in China in the first half of 2020 were 313,000, down 44.0 percent from the same period last year, while sales of new energy vehicles in Europe increased by 52 percent year-on-year to 403,000. Europe may surpass China to become the largest market for new energy vehicles in the world.

SAIC Motor Corp, a Chinese automotive design and manufacturing company, has launched a self-operated car-shipping route to Europe after witnessing a steady growth in vehicle shipments to European markets. A “ro-ro” (roll-on/roll-off) ship named the Anji Phoenix carrying some 1,800 SAIC new energy vehicles began its maiden voyage in October from Shanghai port to Europe.

“This route serves not only SAIC, but also the ‘going out’ of independent brands,” said Zhao Aimin, vice-president of SAIC Motor International Co.

AI live-streamers boost “Double 11” sales

AI live-streamers appeared online to sell products during the just-ended Double 11 global shopping festival, making almost as much of a contribution to sales as their human counterparts, Xinhua News Agency reported on Nov. 14.


An AI live-streamer is a virtual persona that uses a computer-generated voice and 3D graphics to perform. They are hi-tech products that look almost the same as a real person in terms of appearance, expression, action and emotion. They are also very versatile, and able to introduce products, dance, rap, and interact with online viewers in real time.

AI live-streamers, as the name suggests, are driven by artificial intelligence, and serve as an alternative to real live-stream hosts. AI live-streamers’ costs are lower than those of real live-stream hosts, and can go online at any time.

They have been adopted by a number of well-known international brands such as Philips, L’Oréal, Unilever, and L’OCCITANE as well as domestic snack company Three Squirrels.

In Three Squirrels’ case, the AI live-streamer is a cute short-haired “girl” who can explain in detail the features, taste and discounts for all 600 and more products, including nuts and snacks, whenever the real live-streamer is off duty.

“With the help of an AI live-streamer, our company scored a sales volume of over 8 million yuan (about $1.2 million) through live-streaming in the first three days of November on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Tmall,” said Liu Shucai from the snack company, adding that this is almost equivalent to the amount brought by a real live-streamer.

China to open new vistas for cooperation

Visitors try the Formula E race simulators of the tech giant ABB Group from Switzerland during the third China International Import Expo, Nov. 6. (People’s Daily Online/Zhai Huiyong)

As China is about to achieve the goal of finishing building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and eradicating poverty, and embrace a new journey toward fully building a modern socialist country, attentions are being casted on how the country will join hands with the rest of the world to achieve better development.

“Answering to the changing circumstances and new requirements, we have set out to foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other,” said Chinese President Xi Jinping at the opening ceremony of the third China International Import Expo (CIIE) on Nov. 4.

“What we envision is not a development loop behind closed doors, but more open domestic and international circulations. We will do so not only to meet China’s own development needs but also for the greater benefit of people in all countries,” Xi added, delivering an encouraging message to the world.

At the new stage of development and under the new development paradigm, China will share new opportunities with the world and open up new and immense prospects for win-win cooperation.

As a Chinese saying goes, a wise man changes as time and event change. China gains a keen appreciation of the underlying trend of the times and firmly advances with economic globalization.

Establishing the new development paradigm is a strategic decision China made in line with the changes in the country’s development stages, environment and conditions. It is also a systematic and profound reform concerning the overall situation of the country, and an objective requirement for its economic development.

To build the new development paradigm is a proactive instead of a passive response. It is by no means an expedient measure, but a long-term strategy.

Accelerating the establishment of the new development paradigm is also an important measure for China to adapt to the new situation and stay committed to safeguarding and championing economic globalization and taking it forward.

In China’s new development paradigm, domestic and international markets and resources have a dialectical relationship.

China has a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income group that exceeds 400 million. The vastly huge China market is the most promising in the world. Total import into China is estimated to top $22 trillion in the coming decade. Chinese manufacturing now makes an important and positive part of the global industrial and supply chains. Demand on the massive domestic market in China will continue to unleash endless potential for innovation.

Just as Xi said, promoting a large-scale and smooth domestic economic circulation will help better attract global resources, meet domestic needs, elevate industrial and technological development and foster new advantages in global economic cooperation and competition.

In the process of fostering the new development paradigm, China will possess a more important position in and have a closer tie with the world economy, and will provide more extensive market opportunities for the rest of the world, becoming a huge magnet that attracts international commodities and resources.

Openness has become a trademark of China and the CIIE an important window for the world to understand the country’s determination to open up. Over the past three years since its inception, the CIIE has enabled exhibits to become traded goods and exhibitors to spot more investment opportunities, and facilitated an exchange of new and creative ideas.

Recently, the fifth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the CPC adopted the CPC Central Committee’s proposals for the formulation of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035, which called for giving full play to the role of important exhibition platforms such as the CIIE.

“China will stay committed to openness, cooperation and unity for win-win results. We will steadfastly expand all-round opening up and explore more efficient ways to connect domestic and foreign markets and share factors of production and resources. Our aim is to turn the China market into a market for the world, a market shared by all, and a market accessible to all,” said Xi at the opening ceremony of the third CIIE. This way, China will bring much-needed positive energy to the global community under the current circumstances.

Multinational corporations also voiced their anticipation for the broad prospects of China’s new development paradigm, saying they are ready to seize new opportunities in China’s accelerated opening-up and transformation through the CIIE, and will continue to root in China, serve the country and work with Chinese enterprises for win-win results as the country speeds up the construction of the new development paradigm.

China today is a proud member of the global community. Remaining committed to a win-win strategy of opening-up, it will seek development impetus from the world and contribute more to the world with its own development.

China’s establishment of the new development paradigm will help global countries foster a development pattern featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, inject positive energy into the global economic recovery, and make new contributions to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Fresh food online buying booms in China

The explosive growth of the fresh food e-commerce sector in the first half of the year has played an important role in promoting sales of agricultural products and bringing convenience to people’s daily lives amid COVID-19, resulting in many Chinese people gradually developing the new habit of “shopping online for fresh food”.


Li Qi, who works for an Internet company in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province, is so busy with work that he has no time to go to the supermarket. He chooses to buy rice noodles, vegetables, meat and eggs and other ingredients on, and other e-commerce platforms.

Usually, he will place an advance order when he gets off work in the evening. 40 minutes later, the delivery will reach him when he arrives at home.

“I usually spend more than 30 yuan (about $4.50) on each purchase once, which is enough to last me two days, and it’s cheaper than ordering takeout every day. I’m tired after a day’s work. This is very convenient. I just want to lie in bed for a while and don’t want to bother to go out to the supermarket again,” Li explained.

A wide variety of food and high efficiency are the primary considerations for many consumers who choose to do their shopping on fresh food e-commerce platforms.

Every time Xiong Hui, a resident of southwest China’s Chongqing municipality, wants to improve her meal, she will choose to buy some bread, cakes and vegetables on fresh food e-commerce platforms.

“The reason why I choose to buy fresh food online is mainly because the small supermarkets nearby can’t meet my needs, as there’s not enough variety. This was especially true after the epidemic, when the supply in the supermarket was even more limited,” Xiong said.

Xiong added that online shopping for fresh food has become a “strict demand” for her, but she will also go to the supermarket with friends and often look out for promotional activities or discounts.

The fresh food e-commerce research report released by iResearch Consulting Group, a China-based organization focusing on in-depth research in China’s internet industry, shows that users have become used to buying fresh food online.

Of these users, the proportion who buy fresh food online two or three times a week has increased from 25.7 percent in January and February this year to 30.1 percent after March. The report predicts that the transaction size of the fresh e-commerce market will increase significantly and is expected to exceed 800 billion yuan in 2023.

In 2019, the total volume of retail sales of fresh food exceeded 2 trillion yuan in China, according to an official with the ministry of commerce.

CIIE brings opportunities for foreign firms


Global exhibitors exchange views for win-win cooperation at the 3rd China International Import Expo in east China’s Shanghai, Nov. 6, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Chen Bin)

The 3rd China International Import Expo (CIIE), a grand global trade fair held in the post-pandemic world, has attracted worldwide attention. As China shares its market opportunities with the world, it is also injecting more impetus to global recovery.

Strict containment protocols were ensured at the event. Even Jinbao, the mascot panda of the 3rd CIIE, was wearing a mask at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), the venue of the event, as a reminder for people to ensure sound protection against COVID-19.

To make it to the 3rd CIIE as scheduled and guarantee strict compliance with the event’s regulations regarding COVID-19 control, a manager of a German tech firm arrived in Shanghai in advance and went through 14 days of medical observation. It was the third time for the company to join the global trade event. “We must bring the best of us here,” the manager told People’s Daily. What he said reflected the strong attraction of the vast Chinese market.

The unexpected COVID-19 epidemic has hit countries hard and dealt a heavy blow to the world economy. However, it failed to hinder the progress of the 3rd CIIE. The exhibition area of the event has expanded by nearly 30,000 square meters. A zone on public health and epidemic prevention has been newly added, the size of which was six times than that planned. Besides, many Fortune Global 500 corporations and leading firms were attracted to the trade gala.

Many exhibitors enjoyed large booths at the event which included both display and business negotiation areas. An exhibitor told People’s Daily that he was hoping to explore more market opportunities and generate more ideas with its users and partners. With larger exhibition areas, better layout and higher-quality exhibitors, the 3rd CIIE was safer, more exciting and more successful.

One of the revelations brought by the COVID-19 pandemic is to shape healthy lifestyles, so the Medical Equipment and Healthcare Products exhibition area was one of the highlights of the 3rd CIIE, dubbed as the most favored area at the event. In this area, vaccines, medical equipment, drugs, and health services were all hotcakes, and the number of global pharmaceutical and medical equipment companies joining the event also doubled from that in the first CIIE two years ago. Pharmaceutical and healthcare companies have built a “Great Wall of health” at the event to improve people’s health with high-quality products.

A German company brought to the 3rd CIIE its pill organizers that were both functional and stylish However, the company didn’t join the CIIE in the previous years due to the lack of information about the global fair. Witnessing China’s success in COVID-19 control this year, it managed to get a booth at this year’s session.

The CIIE is an open platform that encourages global enterprises to jointly expand China’s business opportunities. For instance, a series of launch events were held on the second floor of the Hall 7 of the venue, debuting many enterprises’ new products, frontier technologies and innovative services.

The comprehensive influence of the CIIE and the purchasing power of buyers were incomparable, said an exhibitor, explaining why this platform was attached with so much importance by global companies.

China has a population of 1.4 billion and a middle-income group that exceeds 400 million. The vastly huge Chinese market is the most promising in the world, where global economies and enterprises can share infinite development dividends as long as they understand the country’s resolution to promote common development of the world with win-win cooperation, and seize the opportunities in China’s new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other.

Green, a color of life and vitality, was the background of the Medical Equipment and Healthcare Products exhibition area. The CIIE is believed to enjoy greater vitality with China’s expanding opening-up, the world’s increasing enthusiasm for the event and proactive participation of enterprises.

The overwhelming trend for countries to move toward openness and cooperation remains unchanged. As the CIIE sets to achieve greater success year by year, it is bound to create more opportunities for global exhibitors.

Grandpa’s fashion show goes viral

An 83-year-old grandpa in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province, came under the spotlight recently when his fashion show went viral.

The man behind the show, surnamed Kang, used to be a university professor, and was said to be very fashionable in his younger days. After working in the education sector for more than 40 years, he has now become a “fashion blogger” since his retirement.

In Grandpa Kang’s view, the clothes you wear not only reflect the pursuit of beauty, but also the love and expectations one has of life. His purpose is not only to get closer to young people, but also to influence more old people to have a young mentality.

“Some elderly friends will have a sense of disparity after retirement and gradually lose the ability to keep up with the development of society, which can easily affect their health,” Grandpa Kang said.

He hopes to persuade young people to live a healthy lifestyle through his video, and encourage the elderly to do more to enjoy life.

E-sports gamers to mushroom in China

Statistics show that China’s e-sports market value surpassed 100 billion yuan (about $14.9 billion) last year, and the number of the country’s e-sports gamers is expected to exceed 400 million in 2020.


Brands have been looking to e-sports competitions to reach young Chinese consumers, the mainstream group of e-sports gamers.

On Oct. 31, South Korea’s DWG of League of Legends Champions Korea (LCK) beat Chinese e-sports team Suning (SN) of League of Legends Pro League (LPL) in the final of this year’s League of Legends World Championship (S10) in the newly-constructed Pudong Football Stadium in Shanghai.

Over 3 million fans registered for the event in the hope of being one of more than 6,300 spectators selected to attend the event live.

The Championship 2020 is different from those of previous years due to the COVID-19 epidemic, with more people staying home because of the outbreak. With traditional sporting events sidelined, the number of e-sports players has seen a dramatic increase. According to an industrial report on this year’s e-sports development, China saw about 26 million new e-sports gamers during the epidemic period.

The country’s e-sports industry has embarked on a fast track of development in recent years. Chinese teams won the League of Legends World Championship in 2018 and 2019.

China attaches great importance to the development of e-sports, as it sees the sector as the future of the sports industry, and has introduced many supporting policies, said Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games.

Local governments have seized the opportunities given to them to develop the e-sports industry. Last year, Shanghai announced measures to support the industry and build itself into “the international capital of e-sports”.

According to statistics, in 2019, the city provided support to 24 e-sports programs, and held more than 1,500 e-sports competitions, accounting for nearly half of the total in China. Shanghai was also home to over 250 e-sports enterprises and clubs last year, accounting for over 80 percent of the country’s total.

Beijing has also been implementing policies to turn the city into the “capital of online games”. Meanwhile, South China’s Hainan province issued preferential policies to boost the development of the e-sports industry in 2019, such as tax cuts and a visa-free regime.

Industry insiders pointed out that the development of the sector can boost consumption and confidence in the development of the digital economy industry amid the epidemic, thus creating new job opportunities.

Data shows that China will surpass North America to become the world’s top e-sports market in terms of revenue, accounting for 35 percent of the total global revenue in 2020.

Riot Games announced that the 2021 League of Legends World Championship will still be held in China.

CIIE contributes to open world economy

Vessels are being unloaded at a terminal of Yangshan Deep Water Port, Shanghai, Oct. 25. Many of the vessels carry the products to be exhibited at the third China International Import Expo. (People’s Daily Online/Ji Haixin)

As the world’s first import-themed national-level expo, the China International Import Expo (CIIE) is a perfect platform for promoting international innovation and cooperation. The new products, technologies and services emerging at the event have forcefully vitalized global collaboration.

Pascal Bizard, chief operating officer and senior vice president of Decathlon China said that the company is a direct beneficiary of the CIIE which promotes global innovation and cooperation.

He shared with the People’s Daily a story about its fully-autonomous inventory robot – Tally. Decathlon joined the first CIIE in 2018 as a buyer. “We were then looking for a solution to our digitalized global new retail concept. It was at the CIIE, we reached a cooperation agreement with a smart robot company, and Tally was thus developed in just 10 months,” Bizard said.

A year later, Decathlon participated in the second CIIE as an exhibitor and unveiled the smart robot Tally for the first time in the world, attracting global attention. In January this year, Tally was put into service in a retail store of Decathlon in Shanghai. “We will keep investing in innovation and seeking open whole-industrial chain cooperation,” Bizard noted.

A number of products finished their debut at the CIIE, including Aeromobi’s flying car, a huge machine tool with a precision of 4 microns, and an ultra-wide angle fundus camera exhibited at the first CIIE, as well as the world’s thinnest and shortest insulin injection needle, a pulverizer of construction waste, and an erasable laser system showcased at the second CIIE.

It is reported that the third CIIE will establish a platform for exhibitors to debut their products, and dozens of launching ceremonies are expected to be held during the event. Enterprises will join the event with new products, technologies and services, and over half of the products will finish their world debut at the third CIIE.

On Oct. 23, the first exhibit of the third CIIE, a W380CR cold in-place recycler manufactured by German company Wirtgen Group, arrived at the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai), the venue of the event. The machine, weighing 52 tons, can seamlessly regenerate a 3.8-meter-wide, 30-centimeter-thick asphalt pavement in a single pass. Wirtgen Group, coming to the CIIE for the first time, will highlight its innovative technologies and products in green road construction and maintenance.

“Facing the challenges posed by COVID-19, people’s demand for medical innovation, such as genetic testing, as well as drug and vaccine development, has drastically improved,” said Zhou Hong, general manager of Roche Pharmaceuticals China. The company is expected to exhibit a series of hotspot products of public health at the third CIIE. “As an important platform for multinationals, the CIIE has established a bridge of communication between enterprises and government, and among enterprises,” she said, adding that innovation has no border, and shall be advanced in cooperation.

“At the CIIE, innovation not only is showcased by products and technologies, but also can create spillover effects, which demonstrates the benefit of innovation and cooperation, and promotes communication in innovative technologies,” said Kamran Vossoughi, president and CEO of Michelin China.

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic once noted that nothing drives innovation as greatly as trade does. When the world is preparing for the fourth industrial revolution, China has achieved many successes in technological development, he said, adding that technology is bringing the world closer.

Countries must join hands to respond to the common challenges faced by mankind. No country is able to become an independent innovation center or exclusively enjoy the results of innovation. Innovation shall be used to benefit the whole world, rather than being a treasure buried deep in a cave. China cannot develop alone, and the world’s prosperity also needs China’s efforts. The country will keep pursuing development with doors wide open, actively join and promote global innovation and development, and share the results of innovation with the world.

Lower-tier markets boost consumption

Xishunhe township, Huai”an, east China”s Jiangsu province, located by the Hongze Lake, has attracted back many young dwellers thanks to its developed crab breeding and tourism industries. (People”s Daily Online/ Zhang Jian)
As China strives to expand its county economies and improve urbanization, the livelihood of Chinese residents living in small townships has been prominently improved, and the future of the country’s township market is attracting wide attention.

Experts predicted that the Chinese “small-town youngsters,” those who were born after 1980s in third- and fourth-tier cities, townships and rural areas, received higher education and have a decent job, would become a major force driving China’s consumption in the next 10 years.

By 2030, the consumption made by Chinese residents in third- and fourth-tier cities is expected to hit 45 trillion yuan ($6.73 trillion). The third- and fourth-tier cities, as well as satellite cities in Yangtze River Delta, Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, Sichuan province and Chongqing municipality, as well as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, will lead the consumption market.

“Me and my boyfriend had a trip to Yunnan province during this year’s National Day holiday,” said Sun Bin, a resident from Peixian county, east China’s Jiangsu province, when receiving the local specialties she bought in Yunnan. “We bought a lot of stuffs during this trip, and spent nearly 8,000 yuan with flight tickets and hotel expense included,” she said.

Sun started working three years ago and is a shopaholic. “I spend around 2,000 yuan per month shopping, and mostly on cosmetics,” she told People’s Daily. “Housing is inexpensive in townships, so I’m not pressured by the mortgage. My income is lower than that in first-tier cities, but so is my living cost. So I’m living a great life, and I can buy whatever I want,” she explained.

China has numerous young people from townships who love shopping and traveling just like Sun does, and many enterprises are benefiting from this specific group.

According to statistics released by Pinduoduo, a social shopping platform and the third-largest e-commerce player behind Alibaba and in China, third- and fourth-tier cities showed robust consumption demand during an online shopping festival in June this year. Traditional TV sets and twin-tub washing machines were no more needed by residents in these places. Instead, they wanted 4K and HD TVs, quiet and large-capacity washing machines, as well as double-door refrigerators. Dishwashers, water purifiers and robot vacuums became the three hottest emerging appliances in the township market, Pinduoduo said.

A man surnamed Wang from Sichuan recently bought a set of smart home appliances for his house. “I bought almost all I can buy, including voice-control lamps, a robot vacuum, and air purifiers,” Wang told People’s Daily. “I live alone, and these smart appliances have very much improved my life quality,” he said.

Tmall, an e-commerce platform under Alibaba, said residents in first- and second-tier cities were major consumers of fashion brands, but third- to fifth-tier cities are also gaining a rapid speed in fashion consumption. Some entry-level luxury brands from overseas have successively opened franchises in Chinese small cities and townships in recent years, and the cosmetics produced by major fashion brands are also sold to many “small-town girls.” According to Estée Lauder, its Chinese consumers come from 350 cities, and over 70 percent of its orders are placed in cities with no franchise.

“My wife is a shop addict who loves browsing Taobao,” said a man surnamed Xu from Dashahe township, Fengxian county of east China’s Jiangsu province. He told People’s Daily that online shopping is very popular among the young people in his village. “Now we have many parcel collection agencies in the township, so we can buy everything on the internet,” he said.

The consumption trend of China’s “small-town youngsters” conforms to the individualized and diversified consumption of the overall Chinese residents, said Liu Xiangdong, deputy head of the economic research department of the China Center for International Economic Exchange. “Many of the ‘small-town youngsters’ had lived in metropolises, so they share the same consumption philosophy with urban dwellers,” Liu added.

The rise of consumption in third- and fourth-tier cities will further drive China’s consumption market and help foster stronger domestic demand, thus promoting the country to establish a “dual circulation” development pattern in which domestic economic cycle plays a leading role while international economic cycle remains its extension and supplement.

“China’s urbanization is still progressing. Around 500 to 600 million people now live in third- and fourth-tier cities, as well as townships, and their consumption growth outnumbers that in the urban areas. So this market is of high potential and expected to driver further growth,” Liu noted.