China continues to better Internet services

Photo taken on April 19, 2020, shows a 5G base station built on Mount Qomolangma at an altitude of 6,500 meters. (Photo/China Mobile)

Under a program launched in 2015 that aims to increase broadband speed and lower rates for Internet services, China has built the world’s largest broadband network infrastructure, and ensured the same broadband access and speed in rural areas as those in urban areas, said an official with the country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Meanwhile, China has reduced the average rates of fixed broadband per unit of bandwidth and mobile broadband per unit of traffic by over 95 percent, according to Liu Liehong, vice minister of the MIIT.

China has seen a significant rise in the network speed for users. The proportion of fiber optic Internet users in all users of fixed broadband in China has risen from 56 percent at the end of 2015 to 94 percent. More than 120 million households in China have been connected to 1,000M fiber optic network.

In terms of mobile network, China’s 4G base stations constitute over half of the world’s total. Besides, the country has built 792,000 5G base stations, with the number of mobile terminals connected to the 5G network reaching 260 million. In addition, China has managed to cover all prefecture-level cities with 5G standalone (SA) network and made initial achievements in building the world’s largest 5G mobile network.

Over the past five years, China’s various measures adopted to cut the rates of fixed broadband per unit of bandwidth and mobile broadband per unit of traffic have benefited more than one billion users annually, and saved users a total of over 700 billion yuan ($107.9 billion).

Such measures have made various Internet applications increasingly popular, and stimulated Chinese people’s potential for information consumption.

The average monthly Internet traffic of mobile Internet users has jumped more than 40 times to 10.85 GB from 205 MB in early 2015.

China has also evidently narrowed the digital gap between the rural and urban areas by quickening the pace to tackle the weak links in rural network infrastructure.

So far, more than 99 percent of the administrative villages in China have gained access to fiber optic and 4G networks.

China intends to lower the average rates of broadband and dedicated Internet access services for small and medium-sized enterprises by another 10 percent, and step up the development of the 5G network and 1,000M fiber optic network and extend their application to more settings, according to the country’s 2021 Report on the Work of the Government issued in March.

This year, China will shift its focus from broadening the coverage of networks to increasing the speed and improving the quality of broadband, and make the measures to lower rates for Internet services more targeted at certain groups of people, Liu noted.

The country will upgrade and renovate 1,000M fiber optic network in households on a larger scale, and advance the on-demand construction and further coverage of 5G network in an orderly manner.

It will also support the construction of 10,000 4G base stations in rural and remote areas, and ensure that all administrative villages in China will be granted access to broadband networks by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, China plans to roll out specific measures for lowering rates for Internet services directed at key groups, including small and medium-sized enterprises, once impoverished rural residents, as well as the elderly and disabled.

For example, it has reduced the charges for products that integrate cloud platform, network and applications for companies to lessen their costs of using Internet and cloud platforms, and offered a 50-percent discount on basic communication services for rural households that have just shaken off poverty.

‘Toy doctor’ strives to repair broken toys

“Owners have invested their toys with life and a deep affection,” said Liu Haimei, a “toy doctor” whose job is to give people’s beloved belongings a second life by restoring them to their original appearance to the greatest extent possible.

Liu, born after the 1980s, developed some basic handiwork skills during her childhood due to the influence of her mother, who had worked at a stuffed toy company in Yangzhou, east China’s Jiangsu province.

Liu had also worked at a toy import and export company between 2011 and 2020. She was forced to leave the company when it was hit hard by the COVID-19 epidemic.

“After I lost my job, I decided to try starting my own business repairing toys. As I enjoy making handicrafts and have been in the field for a long time, I believed it would suit me well,” Liu said, explaining her original intention in launching the toy restoration business online.

Liu usually starts repairing a toy by first washing it carefully, as many toys hadn’t been washed for many years. Then she replaces the stuffing inside the toy and patches up any holes it might have.

Among the hundreds of toys Liu has repaired, the oldest was more than 60 years old, but the one that left the deepest impression on her was a worn-out toy seal named Huihui. According to Huihui’s owner, a young woman, the toy seal had been with her and become her best friend for over a dozen years spanning her childhood and time studying overseas since 2006 when her father bought it for her as a gift.

As the toy had become old and worn, the owner asked Liu to help her restore her old companion to its original look. She even published a journal for Huihui every single day on the instant messaging application WeChat to document the restoration process.

“Thanks to your hard work, my toy seal can finally come to life,” the young woman said, expressing her gratitude to Liu after her toy had been given a second life by the craftswoman.

Liu takes her job very seriously, as she believes it is of great significance. She once repaired a broken toy 10 times so that it would be in the best possible shape when it arrived at its owner’s home.

“I was completely concentrated and devoted while repairing the toys, and I always gained a sense of fulfilment after I successfully fixed them,” said Liu.

Yunnan gears up to protect biodiversity

Photo shows protected wildlife in the Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve, including crestless monal (upper left), black snub-nosed monkeys (lower left), and blood pheasant (right). (Photo provided by the Gaoligong Mountain National Nature Reserve)

Southwest China’s Yunnan Province is one of the biodiversity hotspots of the world. It has all types of ecosystems except for marine and desert ecosystems.

It is home to 2,242 vertebrates and 19,333 known land plant species, 51.4 percent and 50.1 percent of the country’s total, respectively.

In recent years, new species have been found in the province every one or two weeks. For instance, on Gaoligong Mountain of Yunnan’s Baoshan, over 100 new species were discovered in the recent 10 years.

Zhang Ting, a staff member with Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), told the People’s Daily that the discovery of new species in Yunnan Province was not a coincidence.

He attributed the rich biodiversity of the province to the local mountainous and fluvial landforms. Besides, the province’s low-latitude plateau has created both tropical rainforests and talus slopes, he said. Hornbills are gliding in monsoon forests, while black snub-nosed monkeys are swinging between firs.

Zhang and his team spend around four months each year in the fields, collecting seeds for a national germplasm bank of wild species. They have gathered 85,046 seeds of 10,601 species, which is a huge backup for Chinese plants.

“It’s like buying an insurance for wild plants and saving their seeds in the bank. Once needed, these seeds would go back to the fields, which is another way of protecting the species,” Zhang said.

Apart from the collection and preservation of germplasm resources, rare animal species are also well protected in Yunnan Province.

Green peafowl is a critically endangered species. There are only less than 600 of them in China, all of which are distributed in Yunnan Province. According to monitoring data from the Kunming Institute of Zoology, CAS, the number of green peafowl in the Konglonghe Nature Reserve in Shuangbai County, Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture of central Yunnan has risen from 52 in 2015 to nearly 100. In addition, an artificial breeding and reintroduction program was launched last year, which has created brighter prospects for the population restoration of the species.

There are also many other rescued species. For instance, the number of black snub-nosed monkeys has grown to over 3,000 from 1,400 some twenty years ago, and that of black-necked cranes which spend winter in the province has also exceeded 3,000, from around 1,600 in 1996.

Today, nearly 1/7 of Yunnan’s territory is protected as nature reserves. According to statistics, the province has approved and built 362 nature reserves, and 90 percent of important ecosystems and nature reserves for endangered and protected species of the country are effectively protected.

Besides, Yunnan Province has also been improving institutions and mechanisms related to biodiversity protection. In 2019, it launched a local regulation on protecting biodiversity, trying to maintain species variety in terms of legislation.

Technologies arm professional farmers

A teacher of agricultural techniques (third from left) from a vocational high school in Linquan Township, Qianxi County, southwest China’s Guizhou province teaches students how to prune orchards, March 31, 2021. (People’s Daily Online/Zhou Xunchao)

Human resources are of huge importance for China’s rural vitalization. At present, there are over 17 million high-caliber farmers working in the countryside to prosper the rural regions.

The improved scientific literacy of Chinese farmers has laid a solid foundation for their overall development, and is offering stronger support for the country’s rural economy.

Bao Yuan is a young man running an aquatic product company in Qujing, southwest China’s Yunnan province that he established in 2014 after graduating from Yunnan Normal University in 2014. “Artificial breeding not only diversifies people’s choices, but also helps protect endangered local fish species,” he said.

Song Xueqin is a Gen Y female who has made her name in the Lvliang Mountains, north China’s Shanxi province by flat peach grafting techniques.

After graduation from college, Song was successively engaged in catering business, gypsum processing and sheep husbandry, but didn’t succeed in any of those.

In 2009, she heard that Chinese wild peaches can be turned into flat peaches through grafting techniques, so she asked one of her friends to bring her scions of flat peaches from northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and invited an expert to impart relevant skills to her.

A year later, Song and her husband grafted flat peach scions onto over 4,000 wild peaches on a hillside near Hetaozhang village, Fenxi County, Shanxi province, but the fruiting wasn’t good.

“After consulting relevant materials and experts, we finally realized what cross-pollination was. The yield goes high only when varieties grafted match,” she said.

Last year, the woman received her first certification of her life – a certificate for new professional farmers.

“The countryside is never short of resources. In recent years, as people’s living standards have been raised, they are developing a larger demand for green and high-quality agricultural products. This trend is mobilizing more and more well-educated entrepreneurs who are technically skilled and know how to operate and manage businesses to go back to the countryside,” said Zuo Chenming, a senior researcher with AliResearch, a research arm of Alibaba Group.

Early in the morning, Mi Xiaohong from Yuzhong County, Lanzhou, northwest China’s Gansu province started working in a cowshed, serving the cattle with new fodder and water and cleaning the cowshed.

“The making of cattle fodder is complicated, as we must calculate how much grass and other materials we add in it and fairly decide the ratios of bran, glacial flour and salt,” she told People’s Daily, adding that the ingredients have to be adjusted according to different growth periods of the cattle.

Mi, always attending training programs held by the county government, has become a specialist in cattle husbandry.

“I made many detours as a layman, but now I’m often consulted by fellow villagers,” she said, adding that only by continuous learning can she solve more problems.

Today, local authorities across China are issuing new policies and measures to encourage farmers to study technologies. Shandong province has launched a professional title evaluation system for professional farmers, and Jiangsu province’s Kunshan is offering free college education for professional farmers. In Gansu Province, training sessions are launched for heads of professional cooperatives and animal epidemic prevention coordinators, in an effort to bring technologies to the farmland and find solutions to agricultural problems.

Chinese economy sustains stable recovery

Students of a primary school in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province interact with a brainwave-controlled robot, April 18, 2021. (People’s Daily Online/Wang Haibin)

China’s GDP grew 18.3 percent year on year in the first quarter, hitting 24.93 trillion yuan (about $3.82 trillion), according to statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on April 16.

The figure registered an increase of 0.6 percent from that in Q4 of 2020, or 10.3 percent from that in the first three months of 2019. This puts average Q1 growth of 2020 and 2021 at 5 percent from the 2019 level.

The relatively small number base in the first three months of last year, as well as the increased number of workdays as a result of people skipping returning home for the Spring Festival, contributed to the 18.3 percent surge in Q1, said Liu Aihua, spokesperson of the NBS, adding that China’s economy was recovering steadily.

Facing COVID-19 in winter-spring period and uncertainties overseas, China consolidated and expanded its achievements in coordinating epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development, Liu noted. “In general, China secured sustained and stable recovery of its economy, achieving a good start of the year,” she said.

The country’s total retail sales of consumer goods grew 34.2 percent year on year last month, 0.4 percentage point higher than the January-February figure. In the first quarter, the investment in high-tech industries and social sectors registered average two-year growths of 9.9 percent and 9.6 percent, respectively. Besides, the total value of imports spiked 27.7 percent from a year ago in March, exceeding that of exports for the first time this year, which indicated a consolidated trend for the recovery of domestic demand.

In the first three months of this year, the value added of equipment manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing enterprises above designated size, or with revenue from principal activities of over 20 million yuan, increased by 39.9 percent and 31.2 percent respectively year on year, with an average two-year growth of 9.7 percent and 12.3 percent respectively. The growth was higher than the overall growth of industries above designated size.

During the same period, the investment in high-tech industries grew by 37.3 percent year on year, 7 percentage points higher than that of total investment, and an average two-year growth of 9.9 percent.

Besides, smart and low-carbon products experienced rapid growth in Q1. The production of new energy vehicles, industrial robots and micro computers surged 310 percent, 110 percent and 73.6 percent, respectively, with all achieving double-digit two-year growth. According to initial estimate, the energy consumption per unit of GDP decreased 3.1 percent in the first quarter of this year.

During the January-February period, the total profit of enterprises above designated size increased 1.79 times, with an average two-year growth standing at 31.2 percent. Service enterprises above designated size achieved turnaround, and their total profit hit 169 billion yuan.

In the first quarter, the nationwide per capita disposable income reported a nominal increase of 13.7 percent year on year, with an average two-year growth of 4.5 percent. The income growth of rural residents outpaced that of urban residents.

In March, the Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) stood at 51.9 percent, up 1.3 percentage points from a month ago and staying above the threshold for thirteen months in a row. The non-manufacturing PMI stood at 56.3 percent, up 4.9 percentage points, and composite output PMI was 55.3 percent, up 3.7 percentage points.

The International Monetary Fund recently revised its estimation on global growth in 2021, projecting that China’s growth will hit 8.4 percent.

“The adjustment indicated the world’s confidence in and expectation on China’s economic development of the year. The country’s economy is expected to achieve stable growth,” said Liu.

Liu noted that the economic recovery in the first quarter of this year continued, and positive factors are accumulating. The stable recovery, as well as the advantages that China has long enjoyed, including a strong material foundation, a complete industrial system and rich human resources, lay a solid foundation for the country to further consolidate the trend of sustaining economic recovery, Liu said.

China helps relocated poor live better life

Photo shows a resettlement site in Hemuling village, Jingning She autonomous county, east China’s Zhejiang province. Since 2015, 1,099 residents from 403 households who once lived in the mountainous villages with an altitude of over 600 meters have moved to the relocation site. (People’s Daily Online/Li Suren)

By rolling out various measures, including launching vocational training, developing featured industries, and providing financial support, China is working to consolidate the results of poverty alleviation relocation and ensure that the relocated residents can secure jobs and become better-off.

Relocation is essential for bringing leapfrog development to the Chinese people in inhospitable areas, and an important approach to the country’s victory in its fight against poverty.

From 2016 to 2020, China relocated more than 9.6 million registered impoverished residents, and built about 35,000 resettlement areas for them.

Luo Yoinghe used to live in Doudi village, Huishui county, southwest China’s Guizhou province. Five years ago, he and his fellow villagers were relocated to a community in the economic development zone of Huishui county.

After Luo was elected as the secretary of the Party branch of the community in December 2016, he made a decision to find jobs for all relocated residents.

He started a night school that provided 15-day vocational training programs. Based on an investigation into the literacy and educational background of the residents, the night school tailored different training plans to suit different groups and desired jobs. It is estimated that the night school’s training programs are joined around 1,200 times each year.

To provide better employment services, the community has also established a labor service company to match job seekers to enterprises.

Among all 5,935 residents at the community, 3,123 have secured jobs, or at least two in each family.

“We have more than 400 enterprises around us, as well as six poverty alleviation workshops in the community. The per capita monthly income stands at around 3,000 yuan ($459) to 4,000 yuan,” said Luo.

According to him, the average annual per capita income of the village was less than 3,000 yuan in 2016, and has hit 14,800 yuan today.

“We shall work harder on employment to better revitalize the countryside and improve the wellbeing of people,” he added.

In 2016, Jiangbei township of Ganzhou, east China’s Jiangxi province built a relocation site in its Jiangbei village, which is adjacent to a national highway. Near the relocation site, the township government established a three-storey poverty alleviation workshop with a total area of nearly 1,200 square meters which was later rented by an electronics manufacture producing earphone cables and data cables for smart phones.

It was in this workshop that 55-year-old Huang Liuzhao, who moved from the mountainous village of Laiyuan, Jiangbei township to the relocation site, secured a job that earns him over 3,000 yuan each month.

So far, Jiangbei township has established seven industrial bases for poverty alleviation. A total of 158 relocated residents from 28 households in the township have benefited from local industries, and 99 have secured jobs.

China fortifies its biosecurity network

China will officially enact its biosecurity law on April 15. As the country steps up efforts to enhance public education on biosecurity, Chinese citizens are gaining an increasing awareness of preventing the import of harmful organisms and advancing ecological progress.

A customs office of Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province stationed at a post bureau for the first time seizes 21 living fish from incoming parcels. The fish are preliminarily identified as small tetras and have been detained according to law. (Photo from the official website of the General Administration of Customs)

Animal and plant quarantine at the customs is the first line of defense that safeguards national biosecurity. Last year, China’s customs districts seized quarantine pests in 69,500 batches from 102 countries and regions.

In the first two months of this year, they seized 172 types of pests in 7,942 batches, a 40.41 percent year-on-year surge in the number of interceptions.

In early January this year, Suzhou customs’ transaction organization stationed in the post office captured massive tulip seedballs when inspecting incoming parcels.

Tulip seedballs are a commodity that customers always purchase from overseas around February every year. However, these propagating materials might carry massive pests, such as Ditylenchus dipsaci, Pratylenchus penetrans and Arabis mosaic virus (ArMV), which are all high-risk pests inspected by Chinese customs in imported tulip seedballs.

For instance, the ArMV is extremely contagious, which would damage multiple cash crops once imported, and seriously threaten China’s agricultural safety.

On an early morning, a mail van pulled into a depot under customs supervision of the Hefei International Mail Exchange Bureau, east China’s Anhui Province, where parcels shipped from across the world gathered. Customs official Zhang Chengzhi, upon X-ray examination and out of the box audit, discovered several living insects in glass bottles.

“There are more and more such cases in recent years,” Zhang said. “The living insects didn’t go through any quarantine or approval procedure, and might carry parasites, viruses and bacteria that threaten people’s health and ecological security,” he explained, adding that these insects might pose a risk for local species.

A customs office of Beijing stationed at a post bureau seizes 27 insect specimens in two boxes, including a Titan beetle, one of the largest known beetles in the world. (Photo by Zhang Min, from the official website of the General Administration of Customs)

Sophisticated technologies are constantly enriching examining methods, significantly improving the capability of quarantining animals and plants.

“We don’t have any examining methods or materials for most of the invasive species here in China, so we must consult massive foreign documents. Meanwhile, we are equipped with large numbers of sophisticated equipment to increase the speed and accuracy of quarantine,” said Chen Yunfang with the technology center of Suzhou customs.

“Microscopes are our weapons. For instance, the scanning electron microscope can magnify the lips of nematodes, which are normally as small as 1 millimeter, by 30,000 times. It enables us to see clearly the heads of the nematodes,” Chen said.

Focusing on the identification of plant parasitic nematodes for over 20 years, Gu Jianfeng and his team from the technology center of Ningbo customs have built a smart identification system. “In the future, the time for identification will be shortened from a couple of days to minutes,” Gu said.

Suzhou customs’ transaction organization stationed in the post office handles nearly one million international parcels each year. An official with the organization told People’s Daily that the customs have established a multi-dimensional prevention and control network to prevent the invasion of exotic species.

Experts noted that many invasive species entered China due to the public’s lack of biosecurity knowledge, adding that non-trade channels are mostly how these species invaded.

Beijing aids Xinjiang with education

Over the past five years, Beijing has actively supported northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region with the construction of kindergartens and primary and middle schools, in a bid to lay the foundations of and bolster areas of weakness in Xinjiang’s education.

Students take a course at the Hetian Beijing Haidian Primary School, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, March 30, 2019. On that day, the school celebrated the first School Open Day and invited parents to take part in the classroom activities. (Photo/People’s Daily Online)

From 2016 to 2020, Beijing allocated a fund of nearly 2.1 billion ($320 million) yuan to aid Xinjiang in improving schools. The city established, renovated, and expanded a total of 193 kindergartens and primary and middle schools, which cover an area of over 2.6 million square meters, and built a batch of demonstration schools including the Moyu Beijing Senior High School and Hetian Beijing Haidian Primary School in Xinjiang.

Beijing has significantly scaled up the various education infrastructure in Xinjiang and helped the autonomous region resolve the shortage of education facilities overall at this stage.

Meanwhile, Beijing has helped create over 150,000 places in the schools of Xinjiang, effectively guaranteeing the access to education for children who have reached school age.

Raziya Abdirehim, a six-grade student at the Hetian Beijing Haidian Primary School, enjoys rope skipping with friends at the tartan tracks of the schoolyard. “I really like the big playground as we can play games and do activities there,” said the student.

Before it bid farewell to poverty last year, Hotan prefecture in Xinjiang, where the Hetian Beijing Haidian Primary School is located, was one of the severely impoverished areas in China and was faced with a prominent lack of education resources.

For a while, the schools in villages and towns of the prefecture were equipped with rough wooden tables and chairs, whose colors didn’t even match; a teacher needed to take care of an entire class of 50 to 60 children in the kindergartens, which was pretty hard work; and in some schools, the walls fell into decay, and the ceilings of offices had cracks and started to peel.

As a key project of Beijing’s assistance with the education of Xinjiang, the Hetian Beijing Haidian Primary School took shape on an open space within merely over one year and officially started to enroll students in the autumn of 2018.

Wei Hengbo, a teacher of the Hetian Beijing Haidian Primary School, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, poses for a photo in front of the school. When he was still in college, he already volunteered to teach in Xinjiang. (Photo/People’s Daily Online)

With novel designs and complete facilities, the modern school accommodating over 2,100 students now has become a star school in the area, and serves as an epitome of the fruits Beijing has achieved in assisting Xinjiang in the field of education.

When it started to enroll students, the Hetian Beijing Haidian Primary School was troubled by the lack of experience and professional skills among some local teachers though equipped with first-class hardware facilities.

Liu Quanhua, a teacher from Haidian district of Beijing in the Hetian Beijing Haidian Primary School, has encouraged fellows assigned by Beijing to instruct local teachers, which pushes the rapid improvement in their quality.

It is crucial to train a team of high-quality teachers for the area, and stimulate the vitality of local teachers so that they can independently animate the class and benefit the students, according to Liu, also the first principal of the school.

A teacher from Beijing teaches students English via multimedia means at the Hetian Beijing Haidian Primary School, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. (Photo/People’s Daily Online)

Liu has devoted himself to the development of the school and couldn’t help but shed tears when he attended the flag-raising ceremony at the school for one last time before leaving the school and returning to Beijing last year.

Since 2016, Beijing has assigned 647 excellent teachers in four batches to help teach students in Xinjiang.

The teachers from Beijing have formed over 800 pairs in a master-apprentice relationship with local teachers in Xinjiang to improve their competences, staged demonstration courses for more than 1,500 times, and trained over 10,000 fresh hands in schools.

Beijing has also creatively launched a program to encourage college students across China to teach in the schools of Xinjiang. Since 2018, Beijing has invested over 200 million yuan, and recruited over 20,000 college students to teach in Xinjiang, effectively dealing with the insufficiency of teachers in the autonomous region.

China to enlarge middle-income group

Customers line up to pay for their purchases in front of a cashier’s counter at a duty free shop in Haikou, south China’s Hainan Province, March 26, 2021. (People’s Daily Online/Zhang Junqi)

China’s consumption has been on a continuous rise in recent years, and its consumption structure is also being optimized.

Last year, the country’s total retail sales of consumer goods reached 39.2 trillion yuan ($6 trillion), and final consumption contributed 54.3 percent to China’s GDP. As a result, China maintained its position as the second largest consumption market of the world.

New business forms such as online shopping and influencer marketing experienced rapid development. In 2020, a total of over 24 million livestream shows were aired on e-commerce platforms; online sales of national entity bucked the trend and grew 14.8 percent; the express delivery industry handled 31.2 percent more parcels than it did a year ago. China has become the world’s largest market of online retailing for eight consecutive years.

The robust recovery of China’s consumption, despite the severe impacts from COVID-19, showcased the strong resilience and huge development potential of the Chinese market.

As a major force of consumption, the middle-income group is a pillar of economy. At present, China has 400 million middle-income earners that account for around 30 percent of its population. In developed countries, the distribution of household income is always in an “olive shape” that is sharp at both ends and plump in the middle. In other words, middle-income group usually accounts for 60 percent to 70 percent of the population in developed countries. Such a structure is considered healthy and good for economic and social development. In contrast, China still has a long way to go to expand the size of its middle-income group.

Vice Minister of Commerce Qian Keming said that with 1.4 billion people, China boasts a super large market and huge development potential. In the next 15 years, the number of Chinese middle-income earners is expected to reach 800 million, which will generate robust momentum for consumption upgrading and bright prospects.

According to China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, China will work to increase the income for graduates of universities and vocational schools, skilled workers and migrant workers in the next five years. Experts believe that it’s both possible and necessary to include them in the middle-income group.

Graduates of universities and vocational schools come in huge size and are well educated and skillful, which makes them possible to become middle-income earners. “Most people from this group, with their degree of education and competence, will not work simple and repetitive jobs, so it’s possible that they become middle-income earners,” Su Hainan, a contract research fellow with China Association for Labor Studies, told People’s Daily during an interview.

According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MOHRSS), China has over 200 million skilled workers, who take 26 percent of its total jobs, up from 20 percent a few years ago. More than 50 million of them are highly skilled workers. In recent years, skilled workers are in a short supply in China, and their income keeps rising.

The MOHRSS recently issued a guideline, encouraging enterprises to institute annual salary system and offer special awards for skilled talents, especially highly skilled ones.

“Migrant workers are a major part of China’s workforce, many of whom are also well educated and skillful, and are able to work complicated and innovative jobs,” Su said.

Last year, the number of migrant workers in China reached 280 million, including 170 million who worked out-of-town. The average monthly income of them stood at 4,072 yuan. Many of them are getting close to the threshold of middle income if calculated in terms of household.

“To make a part of migrant workers middle-income earners is necessary for narrowing rural-urban income gap, improving the competence of workforce and accelerating rural vitalization, and it’s also feasible to do that,” Su noted.

As the income of these major groups rises in the future, the size of China’s middle-income group will be further expanded, turning the country’s household income distribution into the “olive shape.” By that time, China’s consumption vitality will have been further activated, and the country will also release more dividends to the world.

China improves education to ease poverty

Photo taken on Dec. 9, 2020, shows students enjoying free meals at a school in Wangxia township, Changjiang Li autonomous county, south China’s Hainan province. (People’s Daily Online/Yuan Chen)

As of the end of 2020, the number of dropouts during the nine-year compulsory education stage in China fell to 682 from over 600,000 in 2019, said data from the country’s Ministry of Education (MOE).

Meanwhile, the number of dropouts from registered impoverished families had been reduced to zero, down from more than 200,000, according to the data.

The Chinese government considers education a fundamental task and has always given top priority to improving education.

Since 2012, China’s government budgetary spending on education has maintained a proportion of over 4 percent in the country’s GDP, and has increasingly leaned toward rural areas, border areas, areas with large ethnic minority populations, old revolutionary base areas, and outlying and poverty-stricken regions.

“I like the big screen in our classroom. The teachers who give classes to us via the screen sing very well. Many students in urban areas take online classes together with us,” said Long Xinyu, a primary school student in Huayuan county, Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture, central China’s Hunan province, who is excited about Internet-based online courses.

So far, all primary and high schools in China have access to the Internet, while in 2012 only a quarter of them used the Internet.

The proportion of schools with multimedia classrooms in China has risen to 95.3 percent from 48 percent in 2012.

“I didn’t want to come here at first, and now I don’t want to leave,” said Li Hui, a college graduate who became a teacher at a primary school in Wangtuan township, Lixin county, east China’s Anhui province. Li feels more content with her job as China has enhanced efforts to attract talents to rural areas.

With the support of local government, the school has built new teaching buildings, and teachers at the school have enjoyed higher salaries and better benefits, according to Li, who disclosed that they are also provided with dormitories.

In recent years, China has gradually nurtured a team of high-caliber village teachers that dedicate themselves to education in rural areas.

The country has recruited a total of 950,000 teachers for the compulsory education in rural areas, trained nearly 17 million teachers and principals for rural schools in the central and western regions under a national-level training program, provided subsidies for 1.27 million teachers from over 80,000 schools in contiguous poverty-stricken areas, and sent 190,000 volunteer teachers to schools in outlying and poverty-stricken regions, border areas, areas with large ethnic minority populations, and old revolutionary base areas.

Latest data show that the overall quality of village teachers in China has significantly improved, as 51.6 percent of them have at least completed undergraduate education, and 44.7 percent have been awarded mid-level professional titles and above.

China has provided institutional guarantee for the realization of its goal that “no child is denied schooling due to financial difficulties”.

The country has built a student aid system with Chinese characteristics for students in stages from pre-school to postgraduate education. Under the system, it has provided financial support for students from impoverished families for 641 million times, basically ensuring aid for all students in need.

To help increase the income of residents in impoverished areas, universities and colleges in China have given full play to their characteristic and comprehensive resources, and brought advanced ideas, talents, technologies and experience to poor counties based on accurate grasp of their practical needs, achieving noticeable achievements.

Data suggest that 64 universities and colleges under the direct administration of the MOE have spent and introduced funds worth over 2.5 billion yuan (about $380 million) on targeted poverty alleviation in poor areas, trained 463,200 primary-level officials and technicians, and purchased and helped sell agricultural products worth about 2 billion yuan for impoverished regions.

They have provided training courses for 96,400 teachers in poor areas, implemented 1,949 scientific research projects, and drawn a total investment of 15.16 billion yuan from companies into poverty-stricken regions.