Elderly care services get smarter in China

Employees of a nursing home in southwest China’s Chongqing municipality instruct seniors to use smart fitness devices, Dec. 8, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Cao Yonglong)

Recently, senior resident Zhou Jufang living in Chongwen community, Laizhou, east China’s Shandong province was suddenly struck by hypoglycemic and felt dizzy.

At the critical moment, the empty nester, whose antianemic drugs had all been used up, pressed an emergency button in her room, and soon drugs were delivered to her by social workers who received her call at the community service hall.

The “one-button” emergency call system, based on the Internet+ strategy, is a service tailored by Chongwen community for senior parents whose children have moved away from home in case of emergency situations. Once the seniors need help after emergency happens, they can press the button on a pager to inform the social workers at the community service hall.

“Immediately after they press the button, relevant information will show up on a big screen of the community service hall and pushed to the phones of social workers, including the callers’ names and addresses,” said Zhang Songchun, deputy director of Chongwen community. The service is one-step, and social workers are also standing by 24 hours a day, so that they can help the seniors solve emergencies and difficulties at any time, Zhang added.

Apart from the emergency call system, a smart watch that automatically calls for help when emergency happens is also very popular recently. It has a nanosensor that monitors the heart rate, blood pressure and blood oxygen level of the wearer. When a wearer feels uncomfortable or emergency happens, the watch will inform the wearer’s families at the earliest time, and service staff will also contact the wearer and his or her families immediately, so as to ensure the wearer receives timely help and avoid unfavorable situations.

Many seniors are facing various obstacles living at home, for instance, the lack of attendance and mobility difficulties. On a recent expo of senior care services held in east China’s Jiangsu province, barrier-free prototype rooms designed for senior residents were exhibited, offering technical solutions for the seniors who want to enjoy quality care at home.

In the prototype rooms are cupboards with lift system whose height can be adjusted by remote controllers, as well as rotating closets equipped with remote-control hangers and special grabber tools which enable seniors to tidy up and fetch their clothes even on a wheel chair.

Apart from barrier-free home decor ideas, multiple new home care technologies were also exhibited in the prototype rooms at the expo, including single-operator electric patient lifts, rehabilitation beds, and rehabilitation systems that turn rehabilitation training into leisure games. All of these can help with the daily life of the seniors with partial disabilities and groups in need of special care, and meet their demands of rehabilitation.

The smart elderly care services couldn’t have been meticulous without the strong support and guarantee from big data platforms. As a pioneer of smart elderly care, Changning district of Shanghai has launched a smart big data platform to better its elderly care services, incorporating seniors’ identities, relevant policies and consultants. It is also connected with the municipality’s data base of elderly care services. The platform covers all senior residents who live alone in the district.

China pushes ‘toilet revolution’

Photo taken on April 8, 2020, shows a newly-built public toilet in Longquan village, Zhongliang township, Shapingba district, southwest China’s Chongqing municipality. (People’s Daily Online/Zhao Jiechang)

Thanks to China’s “toilet revolution”, Fan Zengjiu, a villager in the country’s Sichuan province, has seen significant improvements on the toilet as well as the living conditions of his family.

“My old toilet was dirty and shabby. It had neither a roof nor a door,” said Zeng, who comes from Pingwu township, Jianyang, southwest China’s Sichuan, calling it such a pain having to use the toilet in winter, especially in windy days.

Nowadays, however, the toilet of Fan’s family not only has a door, but is neatly tiled, nothing like the dirty and messy one it used to be. “The whole living environment has been upgraded,” Fan said happily.

Fan’s toilet is an epitome of numerous toilets renovated because of the country’s “toilet revolution” project implemented during its 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).

Over the past five years, China has significantly improved the conditions of toilets in tourist destinations and rural areas, both public and family ones.

The central government of China has allocated a huge amount of funds for the “toilet revolution” every year. In 2020 alone, it arranged 7.4 billion yuan ($1.15 billion) to promote the transformation of toilets in villages.

From 2018 to 2020, south China’s Guangdong province allocated over 32.9 billion yuan to push forward with projects launched for the construction of beautiful and livable countryside, including the “toilet revolution” project.

Since 2017, Changle district, Fuzhou, southeast China’s Fujian province, has newly built or upgraded 391 public toilets in urban and rural areas, among which 53 were built or upgraded in 2020.

“We didn’t have to pay a penny for the upgrading. Manufacturers of toilet fittings have even adjusted their products according to the needs of different families,” recalled Liu Yusuo, a villager from Yangqu county, Taiyuan, capital of north China’s Shanxi province, adding that his fellow villagers were all very pleased with the toilet transformation.

Lahai village, Xingjie township, Xichou county, southwest China’s Yunnan province, has explored a new path for the construction and management of public toilets.

The village took some money from its collective income to renovate over 10 public toilets and improve their sanitary conditions, according to Liu Chaoren, Party branch secretary of the village.

“Each of the villagers has been asked to donate 0.1 yuan every day. Part of the donations is used for the daily cleaning, maintenance, and management of public facilities including public toilets,” Liu added.

In this way, villagers have been more involved in the affair concerning the interests of every one of them. In addition, by paying to hire poor residents in the village to clean public toilets, villagers have not only solved the problem of poor sanitation, but increased the income of the poor.

Various regions in China are also formulating toilet management mechanisms with characteristics.

Dezhou city in east China’s Shandong province has included the daily management and maintenance of public toilets into the assessment of rural living environments improvement. Each public toilet in the city is cleaned by a full-time cleaner, whose salary varies with the assessment results.

Nantong, east China’s Jiangsu province, has comprehensively introduced a management model where government officials have been designated as chiefs of public toilets. These toilet chiefs are responsible for coordinating, supervising and inspecting the management of rural public toilets under their jurisdiction.

Statistics from the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs show that more than 60 percent of rural areas in China had built toilets with sound sanitary conditions by the end of 2019.

As of the end of 2020, over 45 percent of agricultural and pastoral areas in southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region had built toilets with sound sanitary conditions. The percentages of such toilets in rural areas of China’s Henan province and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region reached 85 percent and 59.29 percent, respectively. In Shandong, 10.75 million rural households had got renovated sanitary toilets by 2020.

China’s strong will and determination in promoting the “toilet revolution” are worth admiring, said Brian Arbogast, director of the water, sanitation and hygiene program under the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

After the “toilet revolution” was launched, the Chinese government, enterprises, and society have comprehensively mobilized the Chinese people, and generally improved the construction, management, and services of toilets.

Returnees in China drive innovation

Liao Junhua (left), who has returned to his hometown in China to start a tea business after receiving his master’s degree in the Oregon State University in the U.S., talks with a tea farmer in an organic tea garden in Xuan’en county, central China’s Hubei province, April 24, 2019. (People’s Daily Online/Wang Jun)

Inspired by China’s innovation-driven development strategy, a large number of talents who returned to the country after studying abroad have become an important force of the mass entrepreneurship and innovation campaign in China during its 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).

After graduating from the University of Liverpool in the UK, post-90s Chinese Shi Pengfei made a decision that surprised his family and friends: returning to his hometown in Dulouma village, Kaifeng city of central China’s Henan province to engage himself in planting edible fungi.

Since 2017, Shi has tried to grow many varieties of edible fungi. He finally decided on shiitake mushrooms, which are believed to be relatively easier to form an industrial chain, cause no pollution, and boast both technical advantages and economic benefits.

Today, in his planting base in Dulouma village, shiitake mushrooms grow vigorously in neat clusters.

Besides, the industrial park of edible fungi established by the overseas returnee-turned new farmer has driven the development of 39 poverty-relief edible fungi bases in six townships in the locality.

Shi has made great efforts to establish an entire industrial chain covering the production, supply and sale of edible fungi, and tried to involve impoverished residents in every links of the industrial chain so as to expand their sources of income.

In 2020 alone, Shi provided assistance for 3,360 times for poor households, increasing their income by an average of 6,000 yuan ($928.5) per household.

In fact, during China’s 13th Five-Year Plan period, more returnees like Shi have devoted themselves to poverty alleviation and applied what they have learned to the front line of the fight against poverty.

Miao Lu, co-founder and secretary general of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), believes that overseas returnees can play a key role in China’s poverty alleviation models featuring five major approaches including industrial development, technical training, education, medical services, and financial support, and make greater contributions to the country’s poverty alleviation campaign.

Over the past five years, various Chinese cities have made efforts to attract talents returned from overseas.

Shanghai attracted over 67,000 returnees from 2016 to 2020, more than twice the number of talents returned from overseas introduced to the city between 2011 and 2015. In addition, 80 percent of these returnees attracted to Shanghai graduated from the top 300 universities in the world.

The metropolis has accumulated more than 200,000 returnees that are working or running their own businesses in the city.

Talent cultivation has always been a focus of China’s opening-up efforts in the education sector, and talents returned to the country after studying overseas are an important part of China’s talent pool.

Latest data from China’s Ministry of Education show that the number of Chinese studying abroad exceeded 2.51 million from 2016 to 2019, of whom about 2.01 million, or 80 percent, returned to China after graduation.

The returning wave of overseas Chinese graduates is a mirror of industrial changes as well as a vivid reflection of the appeal of huge opportunities in China.

While injecting fresh impetus into the innovative development of various industries, talents returned from overseas have helped enhance the endogenous power of China.

It is predictable that returnees will better integrate their ambitions into the development of their motherland and compose more wonderful melodies of innovation and entrepreneurship with the support of a more mature talent cultivation system and all-round services for innovation and entrepreneurship.

China to maintain economic recovery

China has the confidence that it will sustain economic recovery and achieve stable development, according to an official with the country’s top economic planner.

A worker is seen at a factory of the First Automotive Works (FAW) Group Co., Ltd. in Changchun, capital of northeast China’s Jilin Province, Sept. 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Nan)

The Chinese economy has demonstrated a strong capability to refuse risks, exhibit resilience against pressure and maintain vitality for development, said Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission and head of the National Bureau of Statistics.

China’s economic growth in 2020 is projected at about 2 percent, and its GDP is expected to exceed 100 trillion yuan ($15.4 trillion) in 2020, with per capita GDP reaching $10,000 in two consecutive years, Ning said.

A total of 11 million new urban jobs were created in the first 11 months of 2020, with the number of market entities reaching 130 million.

In December 2020, the purchasing managers’ index (PMI) for China’s manufacturing sector came in at 51.9 percent, with the PMI for China’s non-manufacturing sector at 55.7 percent, and the comprehensive PMI output index at 55.1 percent. All figures were at a high level compared with other periods in the year.

In 2021, the country will strive to improve the quality of the supply side, Ning said.

The country will vigorously push forward the construction of comprehensive national science centers in Beijing’s Huairou district, Zhangjiang of Shanghai and Hefei.

It will support Beijing, Shanghai, and the Greater Bay Area to build international science and technology innovation centers, establish an independent and safe industrial supply chain, and achieve breakthroughs in core technologies.

China will strengthen management of the supply side, continue deepening reform and opening-up, push for green development, and carry out projects to solve issues related to people’s livelihood.

China will also keep its macro-policies consistent, stable and sustainable in 2021, according to Ning.

The country will make efforts to ensure stability in areas including: employment, financial operations, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations, as well ensure security in job, basic living needs, operations of market entities, food and energy security, stable industrial and supply chains, and the normal functioning of primary-level governments.

To ensure the security of market entities, China will continue with the policy which allows small and micro-sized businesses to postpone principal and interest repayments on inclusive loans, along with the credit loan support program.

Auto market rebounds in China

Thousands of vehicles are parked at a storage yard in an auto logistics center in Taicang, east China”s Jiangsu province, before they are shipped to Chongqing, Wuhan, Guangzhou and other cities, Nov. 16, 2020. (People”s Daily Online/Ji Haixin)

China’s auto production and sales volume hit 2.85 million and 2.77 million in November last year, up 9.6 percent and 12.6 percent, respectively, and marking a growth for eight consecutive months. It was also the seventh month in a row for China to see a double-digit growth in auto sales.

The thriving business of Chinese automaker Changan Auto was an epitome of the robust recovery of China’s auto market. The company sold nearly 114,000 passenger vehicles in November, registering a year-on-year growth of 36.4 percent, said Huang Lejin, general manager of the company’s production base in Hefei, east China’s Anhui province, where around 400 robotic arms are welding vehicle parts and over 100 automatic guided vehicles hustling among production lines every day.

The smart factory has created 1,700 jobs since last August and been kept running 24 hours a day on three shifts, according to the general manager.

China’s auto market was on a roller coaster the last year, said Ye Shengji, deputy secretary general of China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). The industry forecasted an annual plunge of over 25 percent in last February, but the de facto production and sales in the first 11 months of 2020 were 22.37 million and 22.47 million, down by 3 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively, Ye introduced, saying both reductions were narrowed around 14 percentage points from those in the January-June period.

Executive vice chairman and secretary general of the CAAM Fu Bingfeng told People’s Daily that China’s annual auto production might exceed 25 million in 2020, and the year-on-year decrease is expected to be narrowed to less than 2 percent, a performance much better than the expectation earlier last year. It showcased the strong capability of China’s auto industry, as well as the country’s economic resilience, he said.

“A series of forceful measures made possible the resumption of work, production and market, which offset the impacts from COVID-19,” Fu noted. China was one of the few highlights of the global auto market last year, accounting for 33 percent of the total global auto sales.

According to statistics, major auto markets such as the U.S., Japan and Spain saw their sales contract 17.3 percent, 14.7 percent, 37.0 percent, respectively in the first 10 months of last year, while the Chinese auto market declined only 4.7 percent in the same period.

Meanwhile, major auto groups delivered eye-catching performance in the Chinese market, and the Chinese market has taken a larger share in their global sales data.

The CAAM forecasted that the auto market would be on a steady rise this year, and remain stable in the next five years. Auto production is projected to hit 30 million by 2025.

Qi Yunwu, a man from Kunming, capital of southwest China’s Yunnan province bought a new energy vehicle (NEV) last December. The car was officially priced at 35,800 yuan ($5,540) and enjoyed a subsidy of 3,000 yuan from local government. Besides, as a car fueled by new energy, it also enjoys free parking at state-owned parking lots, and is exempted from traffic restriction rules.

Shen Yunxiao, vice general manager of SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., told People’s Daily that over 100,000 NEVs of the company were sold during promotional campaigns aiming to boost the sales of NEVs in rural areas last year.

Such promotional campaigns were launched by multiple departments and joined by 61 models from 24 carmakers. Nearly 200,000 NEVs were sold during these campaigns.

A total of 200,000 NEVs were sold in China last November, up 104.9 percent from a year ago and registering a fifth time in the year to break monthly records. The NEV production added up to nearly 1.11 million in the January-November period, an uptick of 3.9 percent.

Fu introduced that the policies to promote auto consumption by central and local governments, including the vehicle replacement subsidies, as well as the promotional activities launched across the nation, have significantly released the demand in the auto market and propelled the recovery of the passenger vehicle market. The NEV sales is expected to exceed 20 million in 2020, he added.

Driven by infrastructure construction and investment, and the policies to promote vehicle replacement, the sales of commercial vehicles also demonstrated robust growth. According to statistics, China produced and sold 518,000 and 472,000 commercial vehicles in November 2020, up 20.3 percent and 18 percent year on year. The sales volume registered an eighth time of the year to create a new high in the same month of past years, and the sales of heavy-duty and light-duty trucks also set new records for November figures in history.