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Chinese cattle dealer fights poverty

“I just happen to live in a great era” - story of a Chinese cattle dealer fighting poverty
Ma Manai goes to a cattle and sheep market with fellow villagers. People’s Daily/Wang Jintao

Ma Manai, a cattle dealer from Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, northwest China’s Gansu province got up at 3:00 a.m. to go to the largest cattle and sheep market in the prefecture 20 kilometers away from where he lives.

On half of the days in the past 8 years, he got up from bed in the wee hours. “Business counts on credibility,” Ma said, explaining that he was going for a rush order of 16 cattle this time.

Ma lives in Maji village, Yanzhi township, Kangle county, Linxia. With an average altitude of 2,000 meters, Kangle enjoys a favorable ecology and a long history of cattle rearing. However, many people there lived below the poverty line due to high population density.

Ma was born in the 1970s, and has followed his father to sell cattle on fairs since childhood. However, he barely got much profit from the business. He attributed the low return to his wrong selection of market, so he went to the neighboring Minxian county after marriage, where he met some business partners and headed for Qinghai province for purchasing yaks, which were more expensive. He thought the hundreds of yaks he purchased would make him some money when returning home, but they still found no buyers.

He finally figured out that the demand for cattle in Yanzhi township and Kangle county was limited, and the livestock would be unsalable once the supply went high.

“Back then I didn’t even have a place to place these yaks, so I had to borrow some money for feedstuffs,” Ma told People’s Daily. During that time, he understood that his business failure was not because of the wrong selection of market, but the small size of the market and the radius of his sales.

To sell these yaks, Ma had planned to go to Lanzhou, capital of Gansu province, but was voted down by the high transportation cost and the long distance, as the beef might turn spoiled after long trips. Plus, employing a refrigerated truck would lower his profit to almost zero, so he gave up the plan and kept on selling the yaks on local fairs. As a result, he was always struggling on the poverty line.

In 2004, an expressway was built from Lanzhou to Lintao, a county 20 minutes’ drive away from Kangle. Eight years later, a cold chain cattle and sheep market was put into operation in Kangle. Covering 8.67 hectares, the market has a 2,000-square meter slaughtering workshop and a 1,500 square meter refrigeration house, as well as sewage treatment and cyclic utilization facilities.

The market offers convenient, quality and high-efficiency services for cattle and sheep dealers, said an employee of the market.

Ma’s was once again mobilized. “The market opens at 4:00 a.m. every day,” he said, and it takes only around an hour to get the beef to Lanzhou. Thanks to the market and convenient transportation, Ma’s cattle business finally thrived.

“Now I sell a dozen of cattle each day, which is more than the total I sold in the past 2 decades,” he said, adding that a total of nearly 2,700 cattle were sold last year.

In 2015, Ma established a cooperative in his village and employed impoverished villagers. “I offer both salary and skill training, and now the impoverished villagers have all shaken off poverty and led a great life,” he told People’s Daily.

“Beef industry is one of the five industries that we develop to enrich the people,” said an official from the government of Kangle county, who disclosed that a special poverty alleviation fund of 116 million yuan has been used this year to introduce 6,288 breeding cows and 13,820 ewes. “The next, we will take a dual-approach focusing on both reproduction and breeding, scale up the business while maintaining standard management, and build a brand to further expand our market,” he official said.

“I just happen to live in a great era,” Ma concluded, speaking of his cattle business.

Father builds “gym” for his daughter

A 17-year-old Chinese girl, from northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, has broken several school records in long-distance running, and her father should take some of the credit for her excellent performance: he not only accompanies his daughter on her runs before dawn every day, but he has also built a humble “gym” for her.

(cctv.com)

A freshman in high school, at four o’clock every morning, Zheng Guohua starts her run on the street with her father. Her father, Zheng Long, always rides a motorcycle to accompany her.

In addition to running, the father has also worked out a stringent training plan for his daughter, while incorporating use of a humble “gym” he made all by himself.

Zheng Long made use of the materials that he collected during his spare time to set up the fitness equipment. It took him half a month to build the gym so his daughter could exercise more efficiently.

(cctv.com)

Every time during the school sports meeting, he attends his daughter’s competitions. Zheng Guohua said proudly: “My classmates envy me for having such a good father. They all want to have a father like mine.”

In Zheng Guohua’s eyes, her father is not only a serious coach with a loud voice during training, but also a good comrade-in-arms to accompany her along the way.

Zheng Guohua said that there were times when she wanted to give up training, however, she encouraged herself with her father’s motto: “Only by paying the price of Superman can we get the harvest of Superman.”

China sees boom in homebody economy

China is seeing a boom in its “homebody economy” amid the COVID-19 epidemic, as new forms of business such as online shopping, food delivery, online education, and working from home have seen explosive growth since the outbreak.

(Photo/pixabay.com)

Related enterprises have also witnessed significant profit increases. “During the epidemic, the demand for meal replacement products has exploded, causing a temporary shortage of products such as bread, cakes and potato chips,” said Zhang Xuewu, president of Yanjin Shop Food Co., Ltd. in central China’s Hunan province.

Zhang expected the company to realize a net profit of 125 to 130 million yuan in the first half of the year, almost double that of a year ago.

The number of users of telecommuting tools such as DingTalk and Tencent Meeting, and online education software including Baidu Netdisk and Yuanfudao has spiked, while online food platforms such as Dingdong, Hema and Pinduoduo have witnessed notable trading volumes. In addition, the market values of Chinese internet giants including Alibaba, Tencent, and JD.com have hit record highs.

Published performance forecasts for the first half of the year recorded a surge in the profits of listed companies related to the homebody economy. For example, the net profits of Sanquan Food, one of China’s leading frozen food companies, is expected to see a staggering year-on-year growth of 390 to 420 percent, while that of Bear Electric Appliance Co., Ltd. which sells small home appliances, will see growth hit 80 to 110 percent. The net profit of Wuhu 37 Interactive Entertainment Network Technology Group Co., Ltd. is expected to rise 35.5 to 45.2 percent.

According to statistics from the General Administration of Customs, exports of products related to the homebody economy also grew rapidly in the first half of the year despite the sharp contraction in international trade, with that of notebook computers and mobile phones increasing 9.1 and 0.2 percent, respectively.

It’s not surprising that the homebody economy has gained steam, according to some experts and insiders, as some enterprises have made preparations and responded to market changes brought about by the sudden epidemic.

“We had seen a trend of the ‘stay-at-home lifestyle’, so we adjusted our products and launched new ones, invested huge amounts of money in building an unmanned factory, which has been proven to be a unique strength amid the epidemic. We have also promoted vigorous development of e-commerce in recent years,” said Zhang, noting that he is expecting his company to reap huge profits.

In fact, the epidemic has sped up the development of the homebody economy in China and forced enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation.

Many entrepreneurs believe that the homebody economy trend is mainly being seen in the e-commerce sector. New products and services have greatly improved consumers’ shopping experience and cater to young people’s consumption habits. To them, the booming homebody economy is an inevitable trend.

The homebody economy will continue to flourish thanks to China’s progress in information technology and people’s universal access to it, as well as innovation in business models, said Li Yongjian, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“New business opportunities will emerge after the epidemic,” said Chen Chunhua, a professor at Peking University who specializes in research of enterprises, adding that sectors such as online entertainment, games, education, telecommuting, the integration of online and offline retail, logistics and communities services, smart city and comprehensive health care services will also see sound development opportunities.

Village in Hainan confident in prosperity

During his visit to the southern island province of Hainan in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping dropped in on a small village called Bohou and declared that only ordinary people can say whether a moderately prosperous society has been achieved or not.

A B&B hotel in Bohou village. (Photo/Sanya Daily)

Xi’s remarks made the officials and residents in the village in Jiyang district of Sanya city confident that they could shake off poverty.

Bohou village has changed a lot since Xi’s visit. “The annual per capita income of villagers reached 24,520 yuan (about $3,502) in 2019,” said Su Shaohong, Party chief of the village, adding that the village is becoming more confident in its ability to pursue a better-off life, as it boasts competitive industries and villagers have freed their minds.

Due to its saline-alkali land, the villagers of Bohou have never even been able to grow enough food to feed themselves, let alone live prosperous lives. In the 1990s, many residents still lived in thatched cottages. When construction of a national resort was approved in Yalong Bay to the east of the village in 1992, villagers began to work in hotels at the resort, but were still unable to earn a decent living.

Entering the 21st century, Sanya has vigorously promoted the development of the flower industry, encouraging enterprises to put their roots down in the city. “The government’s support has brought opportunities to our village in its poverty alleviation efforts,” Su said.

In 2009, one company began to plant roses on about 66.7 hectares of land obtained through the transfer of land-use rights in Bohou, earning the area the nickname “Rose Valley,” and helping villagers get rid of poverty.

“Now I can earn an annual rental revenue of several thousand yuan per mu (667 square meters) of land from the company,” said villager Su Guojin, adding that he also earns a salary and has savings.

Like other villagers, Su now lives in a two-story house. He also runs a barbecue restaurant that does brisk business.

In 2017, Bohou found new development opportunities as Sanya decided to beautify the village by improving its ecological environment and infrastructure. As a result, Bohou has become one of the most beautiful and cleanest villages in Hainan. In May, it was rated one of the most popular rural destinations for tourists in the province.

In addition, B&B hotels have been springing up in the village. In 2016, Tan Zhongxian, a villager who has received a higher education and worked in Guangzhou in south China’s Guangdong province for 10 years, decided to run a B&B hotel using all his savings of 2.8 million yuan and by applying for a loan of 200,000 yuan.

It was the village’s geographical advantages and bright prospects for the development of the tourism sector that gave Tan confidence in his business.

“The sound operation of B&B hotels will certainly attract tourists to our village, and tourism revenues are expected to be an important guarantee for the continued rise in villagers’ incomes,” he said.

In May 2017, he opened his B&B hotel. To his surprise, the business performed much better than expected. “In the first year, the rooms were almost fully booked, especially during the Spring Festival holiday,” Tan noted, adding that he has already made back his investment in the business.

Tan’s success has encouraged more villagers to get into in the business and also attracted outside investors. So far, a total of 44 such hotels have been set up or have gone into construction there, offering more than 1,300 rooms to tourists.

Shanghai runs outdoor epidemic test base

Shanghai established the city’s first outdoor station to test for COVID-19 at Shanghai East Hospital affiliated to Tongji University on July 15, as demand for testing grows, news portal ThePaper reported.

The first outdoor station to test for COVID-19 at Shanghai East Hospital affiliated to Tongji University in Shanghai is established on July 15, 2020. Photo courtesy of Shanghai East Hospital affiliated to Tongji University

The station consists of two cabins: one for nucleic acid sampling and the other for taking blood samples. It is connected to four tents where patients can wait for their turn to be tested.

The cabin for nucleic acid sampling follows a non-contact principle in order to avoid cross-infection between patients and medics. The cabin in which doctors take blood samples from patients also features non-contact medical services.

A medic conducts a nucleic acid test on a resident. Photo courtesy of Shanghai East Hospital affiliated to Tongji University

Medics feel more comfortable working inside the cabins, and no longer have to suffer from oxygen deficit and heatstroke after wearing protective clothing for long periods in high temperatures.

Photo shows the cabin where medics take blood samples from patients. Photo courtesy of Shanghai East Hospital affiliated to Tongji University

Industrial internet vitalizes manufacturing

The rapid development of China’s industrial internet has injected fresh impetus into the country’s manufacturing industry, making it more intelligent through the application of more digital technologies.

(Photo/pixabay.com)

At an office of Hebei Andy Mould Co., Ltd. in north China’s Hebei province, Zhang Xiangui, general manager of the company, is seen clicking an operating panel to check production schedules and delivery times on the screen. Two years ago, he had to check this information by contacting the workshop and customers by telephone.

Working together with the industrial internet platform iSESOL has brought significant changes to the company. In the past, it offered quotations based on experience. Now, the company uses data, including processing fees and management costs collected by the platform. The platform also enables the company to calculate the processing time for each process, cutting the production scheduling time from four hours to half an hour.

Thanks to the industrial internet platform, the company can save over 300,000 yuan in management costs every year and increase production efficiency by about 30 percent, Zhang said.

Andy Mould is not the only company to benefit from the industrial internet. Previously, whenever equipment failure occurred, engineers from Ningxia Licheng Electric Group Co., Ltd. in northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region didn’t know where the fault was until they began maintenance work. At the end of last year, the company partnered with the industrial internet platform Rootcloud and launched a remote operation and maintenance system.

By analyzing and collecting equipment data, the system can automatically send early warnings of potential faults in spare parts and ensure remote fault diagnosis, according to Xu Zhi, chief information officer of the company.

Another example is a smart home appliance cloud platform in Yuyao, east China’s Zhejiang province, which was launched in May by the China Unicom Ningbo branch and Yundee, a Chinese company that specialises in industrial internet platforms.

By sharing information such as supply and demand, production capacity, talents, and bidding, the platform helps the sector in the region realize the coordination of procurement, sales, supply, and production.

The platform has attracted companies in both the upstream and downstream of the home appliance sector, overcoming the shortcomings of the traditional manufacturing model, and making flexible production possible.

The smart manufacturing, remote equipment maintenance and flexible production solutions represented by the three companies are typical application scenarios for the industrial internet.

The industrial internet is not only a technology and a type of infrastructure, but also a new production method and business model, said Yu Xiaohui, deputy dean of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology and secretary-general of the Alliance of Industrial Internet.

China will accelerate the development of the industrial internet through further integration of internet information technologies into the manufacturing sector.

Carpenter’s ancient skills a hit online

A 63-year-old Chinese carpenter’s traditional skills have become an Internet sensation as he creates woodwork with nothing more than a single piece of wood, without glue, screws or nails.

Wang Dewen, known as “Grandpa Amu” on YouTube, has been dubbed as the modern day Lu Ban, a revered Chinese structural engineer during the Zhou Dynasty, thanks to his vast carpentry knowledge.

Grandpa Amu’s most popular video, which shows him making an intricate wooden arch bridge, has gone viral on Youtube, gaining more than 40 million views.

“If you do something, you have to love it, and you have to be interested in it; however, being interested doesn’t mean there’s only happiness and no pain,” Grandpa Amu shared when talking about his excellent carpentry skills.

(Photo/CCTV.com)

His most popular works include a sophisticated folding stool, a model of the China pavilion from the 2010 Shanghai Expo, and an apple-shaped interlocking puzzle, known as a Lu Ban lock.

Grandpa Amu follows an ancient Chinese mortise and tenon technique, which means no nails or glue are involved in the entire process of building the arch bridge.

The master carpenter has also made several wooden toys for his grandson using the same technique. His young grandson’s favorites include a walking Peppa Pig and a bubble blowing machine.Attracting over 1.17 million subscribers on YouTube, Grandpa Amu’s videos so far have gained more than 200 million views.

His extraordinary woodworking skills, using the same mortise and tenon joints found in the Forbidden City, were developed from the age of thirteen as a means of supporting his family in East China’s Shandong province.

“The grandson is so happy, as there have been so many exquisite and unique toys made by grandpa from an early age,” commented one netizen; while another said “It’s amazing. I hope these traditional crafts can be passed on!”

Errand running business expands

Wang Shengnan, born after 1990, finds herself often relying on shopping agents when it comes to buying trustworthy foreign goods, such as clothes and cosmetics.

“Compared with me, they (shopping agents) are more professional,” said Wang, who works in Beijing’s Shunyi district.

Zhao Lili, an HR staff member, pays people for errand running services, such as sending documents required for visa applications to the visa center. “There is a long distance between my company and the visa center. To save time, I’d like to pay someone for delivering the documents on my behalf,” Zhao shared.

A designated driver works at night. (Photo/cyol.net)

For Liu Yong, from north China’s Hebei province, designated driving is very necessary when he drinks alcohol. “Only several minutes after being called, the designated driver arrives at the designated place. This is very convenient,” Liu said.

The phenomenon of letting other people do things on behalf of you while paying them for the service is actually a result of the deepening division of labor and the development of the economy, said Luo Laijun, an expert at Renmin University of China.

The development of mobile internet has also relieved the information imbalance between service providers and demanders. Because of the huge spillover and demonstration effects of the internet, more people are looking to satisfy their needs through the internet, noted Tan Jun with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

However, the development of the errand running business needs to be regulated, experts pointed out. For instance, users could ask for legal help if their legitimate rights are infringed and their personal information is leaked while entrusting other people to do things on their behalf.

In other cases where the services are considered illegal, such as hiring people to write a thesis, and fight or beat someone else for you, the service demanders commit an act against the administration of public security or even the criminal law.

According to Luo, this special business should not be put under too much pressure and deserves more room for development.

“The development of the sector could guide surplus labor force to the service industry, and stabilize and improve employment rate,” said Tan.

At the same time, it is very necessary to improve legislation and supervision of the sector by regulating relevant platforms and phasing out illegal ones. Experts advise the platforms should earnestly fulfill their responsibilities by warning users of possible risks.

Hi-tech makes flood prevention smarter

Cutting-edge technologies make flood prevention smarter
An emergency rescue volunteer has a drill with a rescue robot in a reservoir in Nuocheng, Jimo district, Qingdao, East China’s Shandong Province, June 21, 2020. (Photo by Liang Xiaopeng/People’s Daily Online)

Cutting-edge technologies, such as big data and AI, are making China’s flood prevention smarter, as they are applied to weather forecast, flood monitoring and warning.

Regions along the Yellow River, which officially entered flood season on July 1, are beneficiaries of these technologies.

The regime of the river is now being monitored and tracked by satellite remote sensing, and unmanned aerial vehicles are also employed to transmit real-time videos of the variation in the river’s discharge volumes.

So far, 346 large and medium-sized reservoirs in the Yellow River basin have been covered by real-time monitoring with over 1,000 video signals.

South China and the regions south of the Yangtze River were hit by the first round of heavy rains in June since they entered the rainy season, and these regions had been paid special attention to by the National Meteorological Center of China Meteorological Administration (NMCCMA) a week before the rains. While closely following the development of the weather, the NMCCMA also reminded relevant regions to prepare for possible floods.

Meteorological service represents the very first line of defense in disaster prevention and relief. China’s weather forecast technology has continuously upgraded, with its accuracy dramatically improved in recent years.

The accuracy of rainstorm warning rose to 88 percent in 2019, and severe convections can be forecasted 38 minutes in advance. The country also led the world in typhoon track prediction.

Hydrological monitoring offers important support for flood prevention.

The rainfall areas in East China has begun moving northward since July. Normally it is hard to forecast flood in North and Northeast China, because precipitation gathers quickly in small and medium-sized rivers in mountainous areas there, which may give rise to floods within a short period of time. Since these areas are more prone to risks of sudden torrential rains and floods, scientific supports are especially important.

“Thanks to these new technical methods, it only takes 10 to 15 minutes for the Ministry of Water Resources to collect the rainfall information from 120,000 flood-warning stations across the country. And it only takes dozens of minutes to forecast a flood,” said Liu Zhiyu, deputy director of Hydrological Forecast Center of the Ministry of Water Resources.

The efficient application of big data and AI in flood warning for small and medium-sized rivers has greatly improved China’s ability to forecast floods, Liu added.

These technologies have played a major part in this year’s flood prevention and control in China.

For instance, the technologies of 5G and VR have been introduced in the real-time water-level monitoring in Anqing, East China’s Anhui Province. The water condition filmed by panorama cameras can be transmitted to monitoring personnel through low-latency 5G signal. In addition, water levels can be observed by workers with VR glasses so that they can fully grasp the conditions of the river and the progress of disaster relief. As a result, the work efficiency has been significantly improved.

Thanks to the Internet of Things, urban drainage systems now have a “brain” to prevent waterlogging. In Fuzhou, Southeast China’s Fujian Province and Guiyang, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, areas that are more likely to have waterlog are marked on an electrical map shown on a big screen, so that in times of a heavy rain, relevant staff members can have a clear picture easily.

Apart from the state-of-the-art equipment, drones and AI robots are also must-have items in flood prevention and control.

Drones enjoy a natural advantage in disaster prevention and relief, as they are agile and free from the topographic condition, and have quick response and a wide scope of monitoring.

They can transmit high resolution pictures and videos of disaster sites to command centers. Armed with other equipment, drones can also search, locate and rescue those trapped. If armed with a night vision system, they can work all day round, and even dispatch relief supplies to those trapped.

Recently, robots for water rescues have been put into use in many places in China. The robot resembles a light boat, and can be controlled by a tablet computer or a controller. It can save three to four people every time.

If someone is trapped in a position with a fast-moving current and far away from the shore, the robots are able to move toward the position in full speed under the command of the control personnel so the drowning can hold onto it.

New professions stabilize job market

New professions satisfy job seekers’ needs, help stabilize China’s job market
Photo taken on June 25 shows popular livestreaming hosts introducing a scenic spot in Haikou, capital of South China’s Hainan Province. (Photo by Zhang Mao/People’s Daily Online)

While traditional industries suffer from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, emerging professions and new types of work are helping stabilizing China’s employment market by bringing about new job growth and filling gaps in the market.

Recently, China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security planned to add 10 new professions, including online marketers, and eight new types of work, such as livestreaming salesperson, to its occupation list.

In fact, new professions in China have drawn great attention from the public since March, when the country gave official recognition of 16 new professions, including respiratory therapists and delivery personnel for online orders.

Employment is a barometer of the economy. These new professions reflect the vitality and resilience of the Chinese economy, and bring new vigor and hope.

China logged a 5.9-percent surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas in May, down 0.1 percentage point from the previous month.

The hard-won decline indicated that the country’s employment situation, though hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, remained stable.

Emerging professions, which open up new possibilities for job hunters, have played an important part in maintaining stable employment.

New businesses drive the birth of new professions, and new professions inject vitality into the job market.

It must be understood that new professions don’t come out of thin air. They are the natural results of the continuous growth of new driving forces of the Chinese economy.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage across the world and has led to decline of overseas demand and rising downturn pressure on domestic economy, new businesses, models and industries have been emerging across China, together with new professions needed in various forms of businesses in engineering and technical field as well as the modern service industry.

In particular, as the country makes efforts to coordinate regular epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development, digital economy represented by such activities as online education, livestream marketing, grocery e-commerce, and Internet-based medical services have witnessed a boom, bringing about a multitude of new professions and a rise in recruitment needs of enterprises in digital economy.

For instance, e-commerce livestreaming platforms create abundant job opportunities. Beside technicians for back-end operation and maintenance, these platforms also need hosts, agents, set designers, editors, and the people who select proper products. More importantly, the list is extending.

New as they are, many emerging professions are in great demand, represent elaborate division of labor, and have strict requirements for expertise, thus being particularly helpful for boosting employment.

New professions not only mean different work experiences, but also represent broader prospects for employment and more opportunities for career transition. Besides, they enrich the career choices of key job seekers such as college graduates.

A report has shown that the recruitment needs of China’s livestreaming industry had surged by about 134.5 percent year-on-year from January 1 to June 15.

All these emerging professions enjoy bright prospects for employment, whether they have arisen from the technical innovations of manufacturing and construction industry, or resulted from the rapid development of the modern service industry, or come from the enormous demand for health care services.

Since most of the new jobs are related to digital economy, they are typically free from the limitation of time and space.

At the same time, China is seeing new employment forms and relationships, with flexible employment and gig economy continuously gaining momentum and employment relationships based on cooperation becoming increasingly popular in China’s job market.

Such new professions as food deliverymen, designated drivers, online ride-hailing drivers, livestreaming hosts, short video producers, and shared employees, are all characterized by fragmented job tasks and flexible work arrangement, which makes them great opportunities for people who seek part-time jobs for better use of their spare time and fragmented time.

With encouragement and guidance from relevant authorities, these emerging professions and types of work can play a significant role in stabilizing employment.

As it’s believed that the fundamentals of China’s long-term stable and sound economic development remain unchanged and will not change, various local governments and departments across the country are intensifying efforts to give priority to employment, rolling out a series of policies on supporting enterprises and stabilizing employment.

With employment situation in traditional industries gradually becoming stable and new professions and new types of work continuously lifting employment figures in emerging industries, China is confident about and capable of guaranteeing adequate jobs for its people and maintaining overall stability in its job market.