Light food becomes social network trend

Customers queue up at a light food restaurant in Beijing. (Photo/

China’s light food sector has witnessed mushrooming development in recent years, serving not only as an icon of a healthy lifestyle, but also a popular way of social networking for young Chinese people.

Euromonitor International, a market research company, indicated that China is currently the fastest-growing market for meal replacements, predicting a market value of 120 billion yuan ($18.5 billion) in 2022.

Meanwhile, according to a report released by the Chinese Nutrition Society, 94.9 percent of the people surveyed consumed light meals at least once a week, and 55.7 percent enjoyed light food two to four times a week, while the major consumer groups turned out to be ordinary employees and college students.

In order to be “slim enough for nice dresses during summer”, a young woman surnamed Lu, who works at a financial company in Beijing, frequently goes to several light meal restaurants with her colleagues.

“We often talked about which light food is the most delicious. For me, I like all kinds of low-calorie rice dishes, as well as multigrain rice meals with vegetables and meat dishes. I don’t have to worry about gaining extra weight,” said Lu.

Lu added, ”My friends also enjoy having light food, which not only helps them save time but also gives them adequate nutrition.”

Due to the upgrading of consumption and the improvement of public health awareness, especially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have been paying greater attention to health-related industries, while light food has gained increasing popularity among young people.

To better cater to customer demand, canteens in many Chinese universities such as Peking University, Tsinghua University, Sichuan University, Yangzhou University and Yunnan Normal University have also introduced new windows selling light meals.

Light food, with its low calories, pleasing appearance and healthy concepts, has made its presence felt among young people, Zhang Jie, founder and CEO of Huadan Angel Investment, explained, adding, ”It has now become normal for young people to take photos of light food or drinks and post them on their social network and chat with their friends on this topic.”

Zhang also noticed that a post related to light meals on social media will invariably invite many comments.

“Some talk about whether the light food is delicious or not, while others share their experiences. Light meals have been given a new social-networking dimension to some extent, which is one of the reasons why it appeals to young people,” said Zhang.

China makes big investments in 5G

It has been two years since China approved the rollout of 5G commercial services. While boosting consumption, 5G has also proved its significance in stabilizing investments and bolstering industrial chains.

China has built 961,000 5G base stations, of which 190,000 were built in the first half of this year. The number of 5G terminal connections in China has reached 365 million, and shipments of 5G phones in China have surged to 128 million units.

Visitors watch exhibits displayed at the 5G telecommunication service section of the China International Fair for Trade in Services in Beijing, capital of China, on Sept. 5, 2020. (Xinhua/Zhang Chenlin)

The country has made marked achievements in applying 5G in new infrastructure. Statistics showed that in the first five months of the year, 5G investments in the high-tech manufacturing sector increased by 47.7 percent year on year.

Currently, the China Mobile branch in the city of Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang province, a major 5G service provider in China, is installing a 5G network in the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center, the venue of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.

According to Hu Zhen, deputy director of the service office of China Mobile Hangzhou for the 2022 Asian Games, 65 percent of the cable installation work has been completed, and once it is connected with the 5G network, the center, which is able to hold 80,000 people, will give people an amazing 5G experience.

Zhou Chengyang, general manager of the construction department of China Mobile, said that more than 1,000 5G base stations will be built under the supporting project, with the total direct investment surpassing 250 million yuan. It is estimated that 5G-backed projects, including an intelligent navigation system and a smart voice interaction system, will attract a total investment of more than 200 million yuan.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), there are more than 10,000 cases of 5G applications in China, in areas such as smart factories, power grids, mining, transportation, healthcare, and education.

At a smart production base of server manufacturer Inspur, 5G has been widely used in more than 10 links of production, which has not only protected production data, but also improved operating efficiency.

“Our production capacity increased by 12 percent, and the pass rate was up by 6 percent and efficiency of quality inspection by 56 percent, compared with before the 5G era,” said Luo Xiwang, head of a workshop at the production base.

Luo, who has been a worker at the production base for the last 11 years, said he witnessed how its manufacturing gradually became intelligent. “We are now working with international partners on the integration of 5G into the whole production chain so as to improve the level of intelligence of our factory,” he said.

Peng Jian, an official with the China Center for Information Industry Development, said that 5G integration in the vertical industries presents huge market potential and investment opportunities, as the industries are set to upgrade their existing information infrastructure and invest greatly in various 5G applications.

“It is estimated that Chinese enterprises will invest more than 2 trillion yuan in 5G-powered new infrastructure such as cloud computing and data centers,” said Wei Liurong, deputy chief engineer with the Policy and Economics Research Institute under the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT).

Artistic transformation of ancient village

Photo shows the transformed Chengyang village, Dongqianhu town, Yinzhou district, Ningbo city of east China’s Zhejiang province. (Photo/WeChat account of Wenming Ningbo)

Chengyang village in east China’s Zhejiang province has taken a brand new look because of artistic transformation, based on which the local people have explored tourism and become better-off.

Embosomed by hills and with two brooks winding through, the village located in Dongqianhu township, Yinzhou district, Ningbo city of Zhejiang, has magnificent scenery, yet it used to have a weak industrial foundation and collective economy.

Changes to the village began in July 2020 when officials in Chengyang invited Cong Zhiqiang, an associate professor at the School of Arts of the Renmin University of China, to the village, hoping Cong can give it a brand new look, just like he did with Gejia village, Ningbo city of Zhejiang.

Since 2019, Cong’ team has stimulated the enthusiasm of residents in Gejia village for artistic creation by providing guidance and assistance for them, and helped them with the transformation of their village. Within about one year, the team and local residents built over 40 public art areas in Gejia village, turning it into an Internet-famous village featuring artistic glamour.

Now Gejia village receives over 100,000 tourists a year. It has accumulatively increased the income of local residents by 2.5 million yuan ($385,910). Meanwhile, many villagers who were working away from their hometown have been attracted to starting their own businesses in the village, with their investments totaling over 20 million yuan.

Officials with Chengyang have always wanted to develop it into a high-quality tourist destination, and yet failed to come up with a feasible plan, which is why they decided to seek advice from Cong.

After a tour around the village for investigations and careful consideration, Cong decided to make an effort. Although some locals doubted the idea of turning the village into a tourist destination by adding artistic charm to it, as they considered the village totally unrelated to art, Cong hoped to change their mind with his actions.

Encouraged by Cong’s team, the village established an art work group made up of villagers, graduate students, cadres sent to the village by the Dongqianhu township for poverty reduction. The art work group then took charge of the construction and transformation of the village.

Believing that villagers should be the main force in the transformation, Cong asked some villagers who were willing to join the endeavor to take the lead in bringing changes to the village, while he provided guidance and demonstrations for them.

At the invitation of the art work group, a local resident named Yu Zhenfei, together with two other fellow villagers, weaved a giant hat with a diameter of 6 meters from 750 kilograms of moso bamboos within two months. After that they made a seven-meter-high “wine bottle” with bamboo strips. The two pieces of artwork are now a must-see for tourists.

Besides, the village has motivated skillful craftsmen, including carpenters, plasterers, and painters, to redecorate public spaces, idle land and amenities.

One minor change after another has led to practical improvement to the village and enriched every corner of Chengyang.

Yang Jiyue, a carpenter in his late seventies, made his house a “museum” that exhibits the precious woodwork he made during a dozen years of production of miniature redwood furniture and pavilions. Local villager Ying Mingju, who is skilled at making straw hats, changed the place where she used to keep firewood in her house into a “display stand” for her handiwork, which has become a tourist attraction of the village. Meanwhile, an abandoned farm in Chengyang has been turned into a livestreaming studio ingeniously by the art work group.

In less than one year, local people improved 60 spots including market, park and exhibition hall. They have witnessed huge changes to their living environment and production space.

Today, the brand new Chengyang village, which is picturesquely decorated by ancient trees, grey walls, green waters, gallery bridges, large-scale artworks, exhibition halls, and woodwork workshops, is filled with a cultural atmosphere.

Art has made residents in Chengyang village more passionate about revitalizing their hometown. Because of the participation of villagers, enterprises, and experts in cultural and tourism industries, Chengyang has witnessed more and more changes, with an increasing number of villagers contributing to the revitalization of the village through artistic creation.

The beautified village has also generated investment and business opportunities. As tourism in the village thrives, businesses related to catering, special and agricultural products, handicrafts and agritainment are booming, and the villagers are living a more prosperous life.

China’s elderly embrace big tech products

China is witnessing mushrooming growth in products that integrate new technologies and mechanisms tailored for senior citizens, so as to enable this group of consumers to better enjoy the benefits brought by the digital age.

A patient eats by mind-controlling the robotic arm in the Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University School of Medicine in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Jan. 9, 2020. (Photo/Xinhua)

The number of people aged 60 and above exceeds 260 million, accounting for 18.7 percent of the total population, according to the results of the Seventh National Population Census. This large group of consumers has fueled the manufacturing of a large number of high-tech products for the elderly.

These high-tech products include nursing robots and smart care systems among others, which recently made an appearance at an expo held in Shanghai.

Nursing robots, which are comprised of diaper pants, two pipes, induction lines and processors, are particularly handy for disabled elderly people suffering from incontinence. When an elderly man urinates or defecates, the instrument automatically detects the process, immediately extracts the excreta and stores it in a dirt bucket. Then the warm water washing and warm air drying functions are activated. The whole process runs intelligently and automatically, and no nurses are required to intervene or operate the system.

Meanwhile, smart care systems, which use laser radar, cloud computing and big data technology to automatically detect and raise alarms for dangerous actions among the elderly, such as falling down, are designed to provide better health guarantees for elderly people who live alone.

In addition to the emergence of these senior-friendly products, many “senior versions” of mobile applications (APPs) have been launched, as it is not difficult to notice that a growing number of elderly people are surfing the Internet these days. The latest statistical report on the development of China’s Internet released by the China Internet Network Information Center indicated that 11.2 percent of Chinese netizens are aged 60 and above.

“The font is big enough and this APP is easy to use,” said an elderly woman surnamed Liu when using mobile banking for the first time under the guidance of staff at a branch office of the Bank of Communications.

In the “special care version” of the Bank of Communications APP that Liu was using, the home page has been streamlined to contain just a few icons, retaining only the business entrances commonly used by the elderly, such as “account inquiry”, “money transfer” and “financial management”.

With regard to products catering to the needs of senior citizens, Zhu Qinhao, director-general of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau, pointed out that they should pay more attention to the application scenarios of science and technology, lay more emphasis on the service experience for the elderly, and make new technologies more suitable for senior citizens.

Dang Junwu, deputy director of the China Research Center on Aging, believes that while the elderly are slow to accept new technologies, once they form consumption habits, they have strong user stickiness.

“The integrated development of the Internet economy and the aging economy will certainly bring about many new business opportunities,” said Dang.

Night economy thrives in cultural tourism

Sales of tickets in China’s night tour attractions and nighttime amusement parks in the first half of the year soared by 469 percent year on year, an increase of 106 percent over the same period in 2019, according to a recently released report.

Tourists visit the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, central China’s Henan province on June 8, 2020. (Photo/Xinhua)

The average number of night trips per visitor in the first half of 2021 reached 1.3, while the consumption per person exceeded 187 yuan ($28) in one trip, an increase of 25 percent year on year, according to the data report released by China’s travel service provider Ctrip in conjunction with Haichang Ocean Park, a China-based developer and operator of theme parks and other ancillary commercial properties.

This kind of booming growth in night trips is particularly evident during public holidays. Among them, night tour ticket orders during this year’s Labor Day holiday and Dragon Boat Festival holiday soared by 1.5 times and 3 times respectively compared with the same period in 2019, according to the data from Ctrip.

In addition to the rising number of night trips, the report also noted that local customers and those from surrounding areas emerged as the major consumer group. Data showed that in the first half of this year, 40 percent of night-trip orders came from surrounding residents, an increase of 120 percent over 2019.

Taking the consumption data of Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park in the first half of the year as an example, tourists from Shanghai and east China accounted for nearly 80 percent of the total, of which those from Shanghai made up nearly 50 percent.

Fang Zexi, an industry analyst with the Ctrip research institute, pointed out that with the gradual maturing of the “night economy”, vigorous development of night tourism has become a general trend that not only meets people’s demands for a better life, but also the inherent requirement of expanding consumption and promoting high-quality economic development.

“We believe that night excursions is also a must for a large number of tourists during the summer vacation, ” Fang disclosed.

Innovation revitalizes traditional culture

Photo taken on August 27, 2020, shows ice creams in the shape of ridge beasts of the Palace Museum in Beijing. (People’s Daily Online/Chen Xiaogen)

Nowadays, Chinese consumers can “excavate items” from archaeological blind boxes with an exquisite imitation of Luoyang shovels; traditional Chinese culture shows and videos are all over social platforms; more and more Chinese people visit museums on holidays; and major archaeological discoveries frequently become hot topics online.

Creative transformation and innovative development have made fine traditional Chinese culture increasingly integrated with the daily lives of people, and continuously brought surprises to people.

The fact is more and more people have shown an interest in the ingenious and innovative interpretation of excellent traditional Chinese culture.

Recently, a gorgeous underwater traditional Chinese dance has attracted wide attention. It reproduced a character from the famous ancient Chinese painting Ode to the Goddess in Luo, the daughter of a heavenly sovereign character Fu Xi in Chinese mythology who drowned and then became a goddess.

With stunning stage design and graceful movements, the performance, which lasted for less than two minutes, has won unanimous high praise from Internet users. The shooting of the performance wasn’t easy, though. To carry out the artful design of the choreographer, the performer spent 26 hours underwater for the shooting, and had to swim into and out of the water 200 times and carry a few kilograms of counterweight.

It is because of the combination of creativity and technologies that the ancient painting in museum has burst with vitality and new ideas and won the respect and affection of more people.

The Chinese people have gradually developed a great enthusiasm for traditional Chinese culture and continuously improved their aesthetic qualities.

From cultural relic memes and cultural relic-shaped ice creams to the heated discussions on new discoveries at the Sanxingdui Ruins and the rising sales of cultural and creative products, traditional Chinese culture has enjoyed increasing popularity in recent years, mirroring the active participation of the public in related activities.

Out of enthusiasm for museums, some people decided to become a cultural relic photographer and travel back in time with cameras; to immerse themselves in traditional architecture, some began to reproduce classical designs with tenon and mortise technique; and some have learned about intangible cultural heritage from masters to feel the charm of ancient skills. The Chinese people now have more accesses to appreciating the beauty of traditional Chinese culture.

Inheriting and innovation have vitalized traditional culture in history, while interaction and resonance have enabled it to shine brightly in the modern era.

In recent years, many innovation endeavors have won cheers and applause from young people by tapping into traditional Chinese culture.

The show China in Classics allows viewers to learn about Chinese classics in an immersive way; the TV program National Treasure tells stories behind cultural relics; and the classical dance program Palace Banquet in Tang Dynasty brought young girls in ancient painting scrolls “back to life”.

By watching these shows, giving likes, and leaving comments, viewers have become appreciators and promoters of traditional Chinese culture. While viewers wander around in a cultural treasury, ancient culture has weathered the time and shown renewed vigor.

By making classic works that embody the wisdom of sages and cultural relics popular and come alive, viewers are able to “travel back in time” to “communicate” with ancient figures, and the nation can achieve continuous cultural development.

Chinese parents favor summer study tours

Sending their children on study tours during the summer vacation as an alternative to traditional camp education has become a popular option for Chinese parents.

Children paint near a brook. (Photo/Li Mingming)

Study tours are packed with educational benefits and fun, enabling students to acquire knowledge in various ways, explained Zhang Dong, associate professor at the Business School of Zhengzhou University in Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan province.

In recent years, more parents have arranged for their children to go on study tours to cultural museums, science and technology museums, natural scenic spots, or farms to broaden their horizon and experience during the summer vacation.

A man surnamed Zhao from Zhengzhou is one of them. Zhao and his children visited the Henan Natural History Museum on June 30. “I often take my children out for museum tours, as these trips help stimulate their thirst for knowledge and provide an opportunity for us to enjoy family time,” he said.

Children listen to a docent sharing stories about an ancient building. (Photo/Li Mingming)

Zhao, who always goes on trips with his children during holidays, added that interest is a child’s best teacher, and study tours can help them develop a variety of interests.

High participation and an immersive experience are essential for boosting children’s interest in gaining knowledge, Zhao noted, explaining that children can better appreciate and understand the charm of traditional culture and craftsmanship, such as the making of porcelain, picking tea leaves and making tea, by having a go themselves after watching craftsmen demonstrate it to them.

Zhao’s view is echoed by Feng Bei, an art teacher in Zhengzhou. Believing that it is far more meaningful for children to get close to nature than having art lessons indoors, Feng arranged a short-term study tour for her students for this year’s summer vacation.

The growing popularity of study tours reflects the changes in people’s ideas on education and the improvement in people’s living standards, according to Zhang Dong.

“Parents have realized the importance of having an all-round education, so they are changing their perspective. Besides, this growing popularity also comes from schools’ efforts to promote quality-oriented education,” Zhang added.

Chinese farmer helps make desert greener

Shi Guangyin, an exemplary individual who leads efforts in afforestation and combating desertification in northwest China’s Shaanxi province, checks pinus sylvestris in a shelter forest. (File photo)

Shi Guangyin, a farmer in Dingbian county, Yulin city, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, has recently received the July 1 Medal, the highest honor in the Communist Party of China (CPC), for his outstanding contributions to desertification control.

Residents in Yulin had long been plagued by heavy winds, floating sand, and barren land mainly due to the Maowusu Desert, China’s eighth largest desert, located between Yulin city and Ordos of north China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region. The desert accounts for 56.1 percent of the area of Yulin city.

In the 1950s, local people in Yulin started to tame the desert by afforestation. So far, 93.24 percent of the desertified land in the city has been put under control, all the 8.6 million mu (about 573,333 hectares) of quicksand in the city has been fixed or semi-fixed, and large areas of exposed sand can barely be spotted now, to which Shi has contributed a considerable part.

At the beginning of 1984, after China rolled out policies to encourage individuals to sign contracts with the government to combat desertification, Shi entered into a contract with the local government for desertification control of 3,000 mu of land, becoming the first person who signed such a contract in Yulin.

Over the past more than 30 years, a group of local people led by Shi have braved innumerable trials and hardships and planted and kept alive more than 53 million arbors and shrubs in 250,000 mu of barren sand and alkali beaches, finally building a “green Great Wall” that stretches more than 50 kilometers at the south of the Maowusu Desert.

The “green Great Wall” has completely changed the harsh natural conditions of the area and yielded significant social, ecological, and economic benefits.

While fighting desertification, Shi has also tried to help families in straitened circumstances and bring benefits to local residents. He came up with over 1.2 million yuan ($185,760) to build two schools and an ecological relocation village, and provide financial assistance for more than 300 households.

Because of his contributions and devotion to desertification control, Shi has been awarded honorary titles including China’s “national model worker,” “national desertification control hero” as well as “outstanding farmer” by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He is also called “Uncle in the Desert” by local people.

For desertification control, Shi and his family moved to Sidahao village, with the largest area of barren sand in Haiziliang township of Dingbian, in 1984, and began planting trees there. Although over 85 percent of the trees he planted survived that year, 90 percent of the saplings were swallowed by wind erosion and sandstorm merely one year or two later.

Instead of being discouraged by the setbacks, Shi realized that he was being foolhardy to start off for the task with only enthusiasm but the right methods. He therefore consulted technicians at the forestry bureau of Dingbian about desertification treatment, and learned from the experience of Hengshan district of Yulin and other places in controlling sand.

After acquiring and adopting scientific methods, Shi and his team set up 800 kilometers of sand-protecting barriers on 6,000 mu of barren sand, and eventually brought the survival rate of the saplings they planted above 80 percent.

By the end of 2004, the 250,000 mu of barren sand and alkali beaches Shi had been working on had seen a grass and forest coverage of over 90 percent, reflecting effective management.

After 2000, considering that the shrubwoods he planted before have a short lifespan and low economic and ornamental value, Shi started to transform such low-yielding forests. He has so far planted over one million high-quality species, which are mainly pinus sylvestris.

To make desertification control be carried on for generations, Shi set up a company that adheres to a development strategy featuring controlling and utilizing barren sand and follows a path that links the company with rural households and various bases, aiming to increase people’s income while fighting desertification.

With such strategy and path, Shi established more than ten economic entities, including pasture, dairy farm, purified water factory, as well as tourist attraction. His company now sees an annual income of over 3.4 million yuan from ecological subsidies and economic benefits of plants grown under trees.