Cities in China drive green construction

The 15th International Conference on Green and Energy-efficient Building and New Technologies and Products Expo is held in Shenzhen, south China”s Guangdong province on April 3 and 4, 2019. (People”s Daily Online/Zhuang Wenbin)

Cities are the most important constituent of green and low-carbon development.

Ten years ago, the Chinese government launched a demonstration program of low-carbon pilot cities in Dalian, Sanya, Guiyang, Nanchang and Nanning, to lead green development into motion for other non-pilot provinces and cities. It is of great significance for China to achieve its goal of peaking carbon dioxide emissions before 2030.

As a result, the population in low-carbon pilot regions accounted for around 40 percent of the country’s total, and their GDP share at 60 percent.

Green constructions, aiming at reducing energy consumption and alleviating energy crisis, provide comfortable and environmentally friendly working or living spaces. They mitigate negative ecological impacts from urban development, such as carbon dioxide emissions and urban heat islands.

The concept of green constructions is gradually recognized by the society as ecological progress advances. People come to realize that green constructions can establish an ecosystem in which the elements in and out buildings are recycled and switched in an ordered manner, which can to the maximum extent reduce environmental pollution and reduce the consumption of resources and energy.

Green constructions are vital for the comfort and livability of environment. To reduce buildings’ pressure on environment, offer healthy living spaces for residents, and achieve sustainable development of buildings, mankind and environment are core targets of green constructions.

In recent years, China has rolled out policies to guide the development of the green construction industry, with authorities raising incentives for enterprises adopting green construction standards and enhancing the promotion of green buildings. In addition, energy-saving technologies are also being improved to fit the green construction requirements of low-carbon cities.

Today, while utilizing construction resources in a rational manner, many regions are making urbanization plans more science-based, using low-carbon and environmentally friendly construction materials as much as possible, so as to empower the development of a recycling system of green energy.

As urbanization process goes deep, relevant industries and departments are introducing environmental protection into their designs to meet green construction targets. Besides, enterprises are also adopting low-carbon technologies such as solar energy and water recycling in their engineering designs, to achieve environmental protection goals and avoid garbage, noise, and light pollution during construction.

At present, the Chinese government is issuing more preferential policies to encourage green constructions, and local authorities are also rolling out relevant incentives and monitoring mechanisms. In addition, the concept of green construction is advocated by many non-governmental organizations and enterprises. The low-carbon awareness of the government, enterprises and the public is prominently improved in regions that have launched the demonstration program of low-carbon pilot cities, which has laid a solid foundation for realizing green and low-carbon development.

China to push trial of digital currency

Several Chinese cities will expand trials of digital currency, or the digital yuan, according to their tune-setting government work plans for 2021.

A staff member displays the banknotes and coins included in the 2019 edition of the fifth series of the renminbi at an Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) branch in Beijing, capital of China, Aug. 30, 2019. (Xinhua/Chen Yehua)

Beijing will accelerate the building of innovative demonstration zones for fintech and professional services this year and promote the pilot application of the digital currency, revealed the city’s government work report delivered on Jan. 23.

Ma Xingrui, governor of south China’s Guangdong province, vowed on Jan. 24 when delivering a local government report that authorities will support the development of the city of Shenzhen into an innovative pilot zone for the country’s digital currency.

When delivering a government work report on the same day, Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng said that the metropolis will continue financial opening-up and the promotion of the digital currency’ pilot application.

In mid-January, the government of Suzhou, in east China’s Jiangsu province, announced to promote the pilot application of the digital currency and turn the city into a digital currency industry cluster in the following five years.

These plans signal that the digital currency will be subject to large-scale application, said Li Quan, a professor in the department of finance under Nankai University in north China’s Tianjin municipality.

In 2020, the trial operation of the digital yuan expanded from small-scale testing to large-scale testing, especially in Shenzhen and Suzhou. Customers can use apps with digital yuan offline payment functions to complete transfers or payments when the network is not available and make digital yuan payments by using wearable devices.

In addition to offline payments, the digital yuan also supported online payments on e-commerce platforms in trial runs.

This year, more application scenarios of the digital currency will be explored and more cities will conduct small-scale testing of the digital yuan, said Su Xiaorui, a senior fintech analyst.

China’s FDI bucks trend in 2020

Chinese and German technicians of Scherzinger Pump Technology Kunshan Co,. Ltd. inspect products at German GIP Industrial Park, Kunshan, east China”s Jiangsu province, Aug. 3. (People”s Daily Online/Hua Xuegen)

China’s paid-in foreign direct investment (FDI) bucked the trend in the past year despite the complicated international situation and severe impacts from COVID-19, registering increase in size, growth margin, and global share.

In 2020, paid-in FDI reached a record 999.98 billion yuan ($154.32 billion), up 6.2% year-on-year. Over 100 foreign companies were established in China on average each day.

German science and technology company Merck secured remarkable performance in China over the last year. It was among the first group of enterprises in Shanghai to resume production from COVID-19, released its latest investment plan in the performance materials sector at the China International Import Expo, and maintained steady growth in its three major businesses of life science, healthcare and performance materials.

The year of 2020 was full of uncertainty for global economy, said Li Ye, vice president of Merck Holding (China) Ltd. However, the Chinese market still showed strong resilience, she added. “The quick control of the pandemic as well as the policies issued to help enterprises stabilized the confidence of foreign companies investing in China,” she said.

The international FDI experienced a huge plunge around the globe the last year except in China. The country’s paid-in FDI kept positive monthly growth for 9 consecutive months since April, and recovered positive growth in July.

According to a recent investigation by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), nearly 60 percent of foreign businesses in China saw improved or equal revenue and profits in 2020 from a year ago, and nearly 90 percent said they were optimistic or cautiously optimistic about their prospects in China.

The growth of paid-in FDI was inseparable from China’s efforts to coordinate epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development, said Cao Hongying, executive vice president of the China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment. Taking forceful measures, China was the first country to control the pandemic and resume production, and the only major economy that achieved positive growth, which offered a firm foundation and guarantee for stabilizing foreign investment, Cao explained.

Though the COVID-19 pandemic is still spreading across the world, Samsung’s projects in China are still proceeding in an orderly manner. This benefitted from the strong support and guarantee by the Chinese government, said Deuk-kyu Hwang, president and head of Samsung China. The company sent over 5,500 foreign engineers to China from overseas by 24 planes last year, so as to ensure the construction of its major projects in the country, he continued.

The South Korean conglomerate invested $5.4 billion in China last year, 83 percent of which went to central and western regions. Ninety-eight percent of the investment was in high-tech industry, Hwang said. The implementation of foreign investment law and China’s equal attitude toward domestic and foreign companies very much inspired the group and reinforced its confidence to develop in China, he added.

Accelerating its pace of opening up, China is constantly upgrading its business environment. The country established three new pilot free trade zones, further shortened negative lists of foreign investment, and expanded the catalogue of industries where foreign investment is encouraged. Besides, China also inked the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and completed the negotiation on China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment.

The MOFCOM also established a taskforce to serve 697 major foreign investment projects, helping them tackle over 3,000 challenges such as short supply of anti-pandemic materials, customs clearance, and work resumption of industrial chains. In addition, the taskforce also facilitated entrance for over 16,000 foreign employees.

Small home appliances eye higher quality

In the first half of 2020, small home appliances remained the only electric appliance category with sales growth, which is attributable to a series of measures the industry has taken in order to better meet consumers’ needs.

Little Bear Electric Appliance Co., LTD, one of the fastest growing small home appliance brands in China, registered a sale volume of over 318 million yuan (about $49.2 million) in a shopping spree in November 2020.

A user uses a Tineco cleaner to clean the floor. (Photo courtesy of Tineco)

The brand gained 23.8 million new consumers, with its egg-boilers, egg beaters, electric heated lunch boxes and electric stoves all top products of the category by sales volume.

The brand has a deep understanding of customers’ needs. With a Little Bear egg boiler, which can be preset, users can put ingredients into the pot in the evening and have their breakfast ready the next morning.

“The growing sales volume of small home appliances is a result of both the stay-at-home economy and digital economy,” said Fu Guoqun, a professor of the department of marketing at Guanghua School of Management of Peking University.

Small home appliances, which are good-looking, intelligent and user-friendly, also represent a lifestyle of young people, so when they are shared on social networking platforms, they quickly arouse a lot of interest.

Tineco, a cordless vacuum cleaner and floor washer brand, garnered a sale volume over 410 million yuan in the November shopping event last year. Its success lies in accurately spotting the needs of consumers.

The products can sweep and mop the floor in one step, targeting middle-and high-end customers. “We want to give as many pleasant surprises to our customers as possible,” introduced Qian Dongqi, founder of the brand.

Cross-industry collaboration is another reason for the success of small home appliances. Launching new products in collaboration with the cartoon series “My Little Pony,” Little Bear has worked with artists to add more cultural elements to its products.

Roaman launches an electric toothbrush in the color of avocado, in collaboration with China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba. (Photo courtesy of Roaman)

Some brands aim to become high-end. Tineco, with similar functions and prices as that of Dyson vacuum cleaners, doesn’t hide its ambition to target the high-end market.

“What we want to do is to not only become an innovation-driven brand like Dyson, but also improve people’s living quality with the intelligent technologies and change their lifestyle,” said Qian.

Different from other domestic electric toothbrush brands that focus on the low-end market, Roaman is working hard to grab a share in the high-end market, which is mainly occupied by foreign brands, through providing customized products, said Wang Yuanwei, the brand director of Roaman.

Through cooperating with China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba, Roaman launched a product with an attractive look and functions integrating those of a facial cleansing brush and a toothbrush. The product became a hit after it was rolled out in November 2019.

Young Chinese major consumption driver

Zhang Han, a woman born after 1995, traveled abroad three times in 2019 and made an expensive trip to south China’s Hainan province in August 2020, demonstrating her strong spending power.

Disclosing her consumption habits, she said, “I have always spent a lot of money on food, beverages and entertainment and paid more for clothes, shoes and handbags.”

Consumers choose perfume at a duty-free store in Riyue Plaza in Haikou, capital city of south China’s Hainan province, (Photo/Xinhua)

China has numerous young free spenders just like Zhang. A rough calculation shows that there are about 170 million people aged between 20 and 29 years old in the country. They are becoming the new engine for consumption, said Fu Yifu, a senior researcher at the Suning Institute of Finance.

Young free spenders in second-tier cities and below account for only 25 percent of the respondents but almost 60 percent of 2018’s total spending growth over 2017, the China consumer report 2020 from McKinsey & Company said.

Partly because of the rise of Gen Z (people born between 1995 to 2010), China’s luxury sales were estimated to grow by a stunning 48 percent in 2020, with the global luxury market declining at an expected rate of 23 percent, according to a report from Bain & Company. The report added that Gen Z’s purchase of luxury collaborations and limited editions grew 300 percent to 400 percent between January and October 2020.

Data also show that young people between 18 to 29 years old account for over 57 percent of the total consumers of high-end luxury beauty brands.

The rise of young consumers means that their personalized consumption of quality products is expected to promote industrial upgrading and bring enormous opportunities to the high-quality economic development, Fu added.

Many enterprises are benefiting from the rise of this specific group.

Chinese beverage brand Genki Forest, which produces an eponymous brand of sugar-free and low-calorie drinks, has become a real hit over the last two years.

Zong Hao, the company’s vice president, attributed the company’s success to its efforts to meet young consumers’ demand for healthy and tasty drinks. Over the past two years, the company topped the rank in online beverage sales in China, and Gen Z became the major consumers of the brand.

Apart from the emergence of new Chinese brands like Genki Forest, time-honored brands of China, such as down jacket brand Bosideng, White Rabbit candies, Warrior sneakers, and cosmetics brand Baiqueling, are winning young consumers’ hearts.

In the past two years, Bosideng has rolled out measures to attract younger consumers, including making its debut at London Fashion Week, releasing collections with Disney and Marvel, launching a professional collection in collaboration with the Chinese Antarctic Research Expedition, and cooperating with top international designers including Jean Paul Gaultier, the former creative director for French luxury house Hermès.

“Before 2018, our down jackets were a choice for mainly middle-aged and elderly people, but after 2019, people who buy our jackets are eight years younger than the average age of previous customers,” said Gao Xiaohong, assistant president of Bosideng International Holdings Limited.

China to curb food waste by legislation

A staff member with the administration of market regulation in Lianyungang, east China’s Jiangsu province teach a lesson about cereals to primary school students , Aug. 31, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Xu Cheng)

Food waste is more and more becoming an issue of the Chinese society as life quality gets better and better nowadays. However, apart from moral condemnation, there was no way to punish the practices of food waste in the past.

Thanks to a draft law on preventing food waste deliberated by the 24th session of the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee on Dec. 22 last year, there is now a legal basis to bring wasters to book.

According to the law, the providers of catering services shall remind customers of not wasting food by posting conspicuous anti-food waste signs or verbal explanation, and guide them to order food based on actual demand.

Enterprises with canteens shall enhance inspection during meal time and timely rectify food waste practices. For online food delivery platforms, conspicuous reminders shall be displayed to guide consumers to order food in accordance with their actual needs.

Similar provision is also made to regulate the tourism industry. Tour service providers shall guide tourists to dine in a civilized and healthy manner, according to the draft law. Tour agencies and tour guides must remind tourists to order or fetch food in accordance with their actual needs.

According to the draft law, catering service providers can charge consumers who waste too much food for waste disposal. Catering service providers may face a fine ranging from 1,000 yuan to 10,000 yuan ($1,196) if they encourage or mislead consumers into ordering excessive quantities of food which causes waste, and refuse to rectify the problem after being warned by market supervision departments, according to the draft law.

In recent years, speed eating shows enjoyed huge popularity on Chinese social media platforms. What’s behind the bizarre videos is a profit chain. Those who film these videos might be invited for endorsements after they go viral. Many of these videos are actually edited, and the eating influencers would also induce vomiting after filming. These videos not only spread unhealthy dietary habits, but also waste food.

The Cyberspace Administration of China said in an announcement last September that its local branches, in a month-long activity aiming to clamp down on speed eating shows, punished 338 livestream platforms and shut down over 74,000 webcasts. In addition, 105,000 accounts were banned and 13,600 punished.

The draft law stipulates that shows or audio contents that encourage food waste shall be banned. Online video and audio content providers must remove relevant contents and even stop their services in cases of gross violation.

According to the law, TV stations, as well as online video and audio content providers may face a warning from authorities and cyberspace administrations and be requested to rectify if they make, broadcast or transmit shows or audio contents that encourage food waste. Violators who refuse to correct the problem will be fined from 10,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan. In addition, they may be requested to suspend relevant businesses and held accountable in accordance with the law.

The draft law clarifies that the food and strategic reserve administration shall enhance food storage and management. They also need to implement food storage, transport and processing standards with relevant departments of the State Council. Catering service providers shall also use big data and other technologies to analyze and predict the needs of consumers, and manage food purchase, transport and storage in science-based manners to prevent and reduce waste. The country would improve its food storage, transport and processing standards, promote new technologies, techniques and equipment for food processing, and guide food processing and comprehensive utilization of byproducts, in a bid to reduce food wastage.

“China is a broad country with a long history of food culture. Different regions of the country vastly differ in diet custom, due to their respective geographical locations, resources and conventions. Therefore, food waste might also be different in these regions,” said Yue Zhongming, spokesperson with the NPC Standing Committee’s Legislative Affairs Commission.

He said local authorities shall make their own regulations in accordance with actual situation and demands to stop food waste, and further refine the measures in the draft law.

British man records life in Chengdu


A British man in his late 20s, with the Chinese name of Ding Yirui, has found pleasure in recording his life in China through his phone.

Ding Yirui shows a short video he filmed.  (Photo/Yang Yudi)

Currently living in Chengdu, capital city of southwest China’s Sichuan province, he has produced 15 video clips about the city since 2020.

“In the videos, I show how Chinese people entertain themselves and celebrate festivals,” said Ding, the son-in-law of a local family.

Most of Ding’s videos are about Chinese culture. Last year, while hanging out with a Chinese friend at a local tea house, Ding became deeply attracted to Chinese tea art and shot a video about it.

“British people drink tea as well, but that culture is vastly different from this one in China,” he explained, expressing hope that his videos could present the diversity found across different cultures to people from all over the world.

In his videos, Ding also shared stories about his difficulties in adapting to life in Chengdu, speaking on topics such as stress at work and snacks that are not his cup of tea. “However, this does not affect my love for Chengdu,” he explained.

At the beginning of 2020, Ding’s team shot short videos about Chengdu’s fight against COVID-19, introducing China’s anti-epidemic experience and efforts.

The videos are very useful, because they taught people in South Africa how to protect themselves against the virus through reducing gatherings, said a member of Ding’s team who comes from South Africa.

“I’d like to shoot videos about various aspects of Chengdu,” Ding shared, adding that he plans to display more about the delicious food and the catering culture in the city.

China takes pains to save cultural heritage

Photo taken on Dec. 21, 2020, shows elementary school students in Guangping county, Handan, north China’s Hebei province, learning Taijiquan. (People’s Daily Online/ Cheng Xuehu)

Not long ago, two new intangible cultural heritage items from China were inscribed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, making the country top the list with 42 items.

The newly enshrined items are Taijiquan, a kind of traditional martial arts, and “Wangchuan ceremony and related practices for maintaining the sustainable connection between man and the ocean,” which was nominated by China together with Malaysia. Both items have a history of several centuries in China.

Taijiquan’s relaxed, circular, gentle and flexible movements, the traditional concepts reflected in the movements of Taijiquan, including the cycle of Yin and Yang, the two opposing principles in nature, and the theory that “man is an integral part of nature”, as well as the standing posture featuring straightness of the body demonstrate the unique characteristics of gentleness, inclusiveness, and strength in Chinese culture.

As a vivid example of respecting lives and revering nature, the Wangchuan ceremony has also witnessed the spread of Chinese culture in countries along the Maritime Silk Road.

As the two items containing the “genes” of Chinese culture have been recognized as world-class intangible cultural heritage, they will surely enhance Chinese people’s confidence in their culture, and open the door to the unique concepts, wisdom, and charm of Chinese culture wider for the rest of the world.

In recent years, a multitude of Chinese intangible cultural heritage items have been acknowledged by the UNESCO, such as Kunqu Opera, Peking Opera, the Dragon Boat Festival, Zhusuan, also known as Chinese abacus, acupuncture of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the 24 solar terms.

It signifies that the values deeply rooted in China and the traditional Chinese wisdom based on several thousand years of history are increasingly recognized and respected by the international community, and that China’s unique cultural resources and spiritual pursuits are making new contributions to the building of common values of humanity.

In fact, besides intangible cultural heritage, other achievements made in China’s cultural sector have also attracted global attention in recent years. Cultural activities on Chinese festivals have been held all over the world; Chinese film and television works have won a great number of overseas followers; and the export of online works of Chinese literature has become global cultural phenomenon.

China’s achievements in bidding for the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list have shown the recognition Chinese culture has gained worldwide as well as the country’s commitment to ensure the inheriting of fine traditional culture.

The traditional Li textile techniques of spinning, dyeing, weaving and embroidering of China, which is now an item on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, was in imminent danger of extinction when China decided to nominate it as intangible cultural heritage over a decade ago. At that time, the centuries-old techniques had less than one thousand inheritors.

After it was officially inscribed on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list, China has put into action its promise to protect the traditional techniques and mobilized various social forces in facilitating the inheriting of the techniques, eventually revitalizing the precious intangible cultural heritage.

Successful entry into the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list is not the destination, but a new starting point for the inheriting and protection of cultural heritage.

Only by constantly improving its capability to protect intangible cultural heritage and effectively addressing problems troubling the protection and development of various intangible cultural heritage items, can China comprehensively raise public awareness of intangible cultural heritage and help it shine more brightly in the world.

The number of items of intangible cultural heritage jointly nominated by countries hit a new high in the year 2020, according to a press communiqué released by the UNESCO.

Culture has served as the bridge between hearts and brought countries separated by mountains and rivers closer to each other.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented people from gathering, cultures and intangible cultural heritage have linked people around the world closer with each other, said an official of the UNESCO.

The popularity of Taijiquan in foreign countries and the role of the Wangchuan ceremony in enhancing people-to-people bonds have both proven the importance of making the protection of the world’s intangible cultural heritage a common goal of mankind and intensifying cultural exchanges, mutual learning, and understanding between peoples of various countries around the world while jointly advancing the protection of culture.

Only in this way can countries better draw wisdom and strength from different civilizations, and provide spiritual support and comfort for people in tackling various challenges confronting mankind.

China sees robust foreign trade in 2020

Employees manufacture photovoltaic batteries to be exported at Shenzhou New Energy Co., Ltd. of Lianyungang, east China’s Jiangsu province, Aug. 11, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Geng Yuhe)

China secured extraordinary performance in its foreign trade against headwinds in the past year thanks to the country’s targeted measures to stabilize entities, market share, export orders and the industrial and supply chains.

Given the impacts from COVID-19, the Chinese government paid close attention to the trend of foreign trade and timely issued measures and policies to make the sector steady.

According to statistics from the customs, China’s foreign trade of goods totaled 29.04 trillion yuan (about $4.44 trillion) in the first 11 months last year, up 1.8 percent year on year and the highest January-November figure in history.

China’s total exports hit 1.41 trillion yuan in April, an uptick of 8.2 percent from a year ago, representing the first recovery of the country’s exports after the sector experienced double-digit fall in the first quarter. Two months later, both China’s exports and imports achieved positive growth.

In the first 9 months of 2020, the cumulative growth of China’s foreign trade for the first time turned positive. In November, the country’s foreign trade stood at 3.09 trillion yuan, up 7.8 percent and maintaining positive growth for 6 months in a row.

Despite the cold weather, the Leliu wharf in Shunde, Foshan, south China’s Guangdong province was kept busy. Tractors loaded with newly manufactured containers were being cleared by the customs in an orderly manner at the gate. “Our exports growth has turned positive since May 2020 and is kept rising,” said Zhong Bingsheng, who’s responsible for customs clearance work at Guangdong Fuwa Engineering Group Co., Ltd., the manufacturer of these containers.

However, it was not easy to achieve the recovery. Impacted by COVID-19 which made overseas market chaotic, the company only exported 14,784 containers in the first 4 months of 2020, whose value was only 403 million yuan, down by 39.49 percent from a year ago.

After thorough investigation, the office of Foshan customs in Shunde improved the management mechanism and video surveillance system for newly manufactured containers, thanks to which the containers can be monitored remotely and their numbers intelligently recognized.

“The customs clearance is now more efficient, which significantly lowered the logistics cost,” Zhong said. In the January-November period, the company exported 108,300 containers with a total value of nearly 3.09 billion yuan, up nearly 90 percent from a year ago.

China’s foreign trade delivered robust performance, from the setbacks in the first quarter, to the stability in the second quarter, and to the comprehensive bounce in the third quarter, said Liang Ming, director of the foreign trade institute of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce. Apart from the new historical high figures, the country also further increased its share in the global market, injecting new momentum to the recovery of global economy, Liang added.

“Declaring the cargos on China-Europe freight trains is our major business, and our performance doubled last year,” said Yu Xuefei, a customs broker of a company in east China’s Zhejiang province. According to him, the China-Europe freight trains attracted many clients for their steady services as COVID-19 impeded international air and marine transportation. Many of the company’s clients who used to export their products via sea routes have turned to the freight service, he added. For instance, 7 to 8 trains departed for Central Asia each week in 2020, while the figure was only 5 in previous years, he introduced.

According to statistics released by Hangzhou customs department, commodities exported from Yiwu, Zhejiang province via China-Europe freight trains totaled 6.59 billion yuan in the first 11 months of 2020, 1.27 times of those from a year ago. In addition, 673 million yuan of commodities were exported by the city through air transportation, growing 1.66 times.

In 2020, China accelerated the speed of fostering new business forms of foreign trade and achieved remarkable results. It began an experimental supervision mode to boost B2B e-commerce export, and launched 17 pilot projects of market procurement trade.

In the first three quarters last year, China’s import and export through the customs cross-border e-commerce management platform reached 187.39 billion yuan, up 52.8 percent, and the exports via market procurement trade totaled 509.86 billion yuan, up 35.5 percent. The exports via market procurement trade in the first 11 months last year added up to 639.89 billion yuan, up 33.7 percent year on year.

China made new progress in the high-quality development of foreign trade over the past year. In the January-November period, the imports and exports of general trade went up 3.2 percent, and the exports of the private sector surged 12.2 percent. The country has consolidated its competitiveness and optimized its export structure, with robust export performance in integrated circuit, computer, medical equipment and other high-tech and high-added value industries. The export growth of the above industries were 14.8 percent, 10.7 percent and 44.5 percent, respectively in the first 11 months of 2020.

China ensures “last mile” rural logistics

Photo taken on Nov. 6, 2020 shows a national-level comprehensive freight yard under construction in Gaoxing township, southwest China’s Sichuan province. (People’s Daily Online/Qiu Haiying)

To ensure the “last mile” logistics in rural areas is of vital importance for developing rural e-commerce.

Last April, China’s first smart logistics express project came into service in Huazhou, Maoming of south China’s Guangdong province after 6 years of development. The project, which transfers and delivers parcels and joins local poverty alleviation efforts, handled over 3,000 express packages in half a month since its operation, up from 8 on the first day. The growth indicated how smooth logistics can drive rural e-commerce.

The smart logistics express project consists of three base stations, a cable way, shuttle robots, a warehouse and delivery system, and a smart central monitor. Agricultural products loaded on the shuttle robots, such as vegetables, sweet potatoes and pomegranates, can be shipped from village-level base station to the township base station along the cableway, while at the same time, another shuttle robot goes the other way around, carrying express packages received by the township base station to the village.

In the past, villagers had to go to the township to fetch their packages, but thanks to the smart project, today they not only enjoy more convenient logistics services, but find an easier way to ship their agricultural products to the outside.

Once they receive an order on their phones, they can immediately pick the crops and give them to the safe hands of the smart logistics express project, which substantially saves their time and energy.

Logistics is of top priority when it comes to the vitalization of rural economy. Rural logistics networks always come with huge size and heavy cargos, but the unit price, cargo quantity, and shipping frequency are low. Besides, the origins and destinations of the packages are also widely distributed. Out of the consideration for cost, many express companies set agencies only at township level. As a result, express packages were not able to reach villages, and agricultural products of the villages couldn’t be sent out, either.

To solve this problem, China’s postal service regulator raised a clear requirement in a three-year plan, vowing to cover all administrative villages in the country with express services before the end of 2022.

Based on the smart logistics express project, Maoming has established a three-tier network that covers counties, townships and villages, by which cargos can be delivered within an hour. The new transportation system, which is smart and light and is able to deliver cargos in small volumes and large batches, features low investment, fast construction and low occupation of resources. That’s why it can run smoothly in rural areas. In addition, big data, cloud computing and other advanced technologies are also able to make logistics more efficient, so as to make express services more timely, faster, and cheaper.

In the long run, to cover all administrative villages with express services can not only improve the logistics efficiency in rural areas and lower logistics cost, but also promote the in-depth integration between postal services and modern agriculture and rural tourism, so as to contribute to poverty alleviation.

Recently, the general office of the Ministry of Commerce and the general office of the State Post Bureau jointly issued a notice on the promotion of synergetic development of e-commerce and logistics. The notice proposed to coordinate rural enterprises in e-commerce, postal service, express delivery and transportation sectors, encouraging them to enhance cooperation and improve the three-tier delivery system covering counties, townships and villages.

Though logistics demands are huge in rural areas, the government still needs to enhance guidance and promote scientific development to avoid overlapping efforts. Market factors are not able to stimulate the willingness of enterprises, which also might lead to unbalanced investment. The leading role of the government, on the one hand, is able to coordinate efforts and form a synergy; on the other hand, it can also strengthen guarantee and bring modern logistics services to remote areas.

To straighten the “last mile” of rural logistics is a prerequisite for realizing poverty alleviation and rural revitalization. As long as efforts are made to implement policies based on actual conditions, manage matters with science-based principles, and coordinate the whole picture, the rural logistics network will be running efficiently and create a better life for rural people.