Green consumption comes into fashion

Photo taken on Dec. 16, 2020, shows workers making biodegradable bags at the plant of a packaging company in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province, Dec. 16, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Liang Xiaopeng)

Green consumption is becoming a new trend in China as more and more Chinese people advocate the new consumption philosophy featuring environmental-friendly, low-carbon, healthy and safe consumption.

New energy vehicles, and household supplies, such as energy-efficient light bulbs and water conserving toilets, are increasingly popular among Chinese consumers. Meanwhile, the Chinese people tend to order smaller-portion dishes in restaurants and try not to use disposable tableware.

Pei Jing, a white-collar worker at an Internet company in Beijing, is an upholder of green lifestyle. While shopping at the Wanhui shopping mall in Chaoyang district of Beijing lately, Pei noticed that many customers carried biodegradable shopping bags. She then decided to buy and use such shopping bags herself.

According to Pei, the sales of some degradable shopping bags on certain e-commerce platforms have exceeded 100,000 items.

Green consumption refers to a way of consumption that caters for ecological conservation and protection, benefits people’s health while being conducive to ecological environment protection, and conforms to standards of people’s health and environmental protection, according to Chen Kai, a professor with the School of Economics and Management under the Beijing Forestry University.

The professor added that green consumption usually involves the purchase, use and disposal of products.

The State Council of China has recently issued a guideline, proposing that a green and low-carbon circular economic development system concerning production, circulation and consumption should be basically formed by 2025.

Green consumption became a new trend and highlight of China’s consumer market in 2020, said Zhu Xiaoliang, an official with the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) of China.

Before this year’s Spring Festival, which fell on Feb. 12, Fang Wen, a citizen in Guixi, east China’s Jiangxi province, purchased five bags of rice labeled “organic” while making holiday purchases at a supermarket.

According to Fang, she always checks the date of manufacture when buying food and prefers pollution-free agricultural products, green food, organic agricultural products, and agricultural products with geographical indications (GI). “I have a baby, so I care about the quality of food very much,” she said.

In January, the MOC released a circular on promoting the green development of e-commerce companies.

Various regions in China need to actively explore local green and high-quality agricultural products, and join hands with e-commerce platforms to boost the online sales of green agricultural products, especially certified pollution-free agricultural products, green food, organic food and agricultural products, as well as farm produce with GI, said the document.

In 2020, China’s sales of new energy vehicles grew by 10.9 percent over the previous year, thanks to the country’s policy on extending subsidies for electric vehicles and its campaign to promote the use of green cars in the countryside.

Meanwhile, washing machines, refrigerators, water heaters, and other household appliances with energy efficiency labels are also popular among consumers.

Data from Chinese e-commerce platform Pinduoduo suggest that the number of consumers and their expenditure on major energy-saving domestic appliances on the platform increased by 35 percent and 41 percent year on year in 2020, respectively.

Besides, the number of purchasers of and the amount of money spent on major water-saving home appliances via Pinduoduo saw year-on-year growth of 115 percent and 89 percent respectively, according to the platform.

Green consumption has become a booming trend, stressed Fu Yifu, a senior researcher at the Suning Institute of Finance, who pointed out that it not only covers categories like household appliances, food, clothes, personal care and beauty products and other daily necessities, but is increasingly integrated into service industries such as travel, catering, logistics, and packaging.

Fu believes that green consumption has accelerated the renewal or replacement of related products and services, and driven consumption upgrading.

Sharing economy thrives in China

A farmer promotes a homemade mutton dish via live-streaming in a shared studio in Nanxun district, Huzhou, east China’s Zhejiang province, Nov. 11, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Zhang Bin)

The market turnover of China’s sharing economy stood at around 3.38 trillion yuan ($520 billion) in 2020, up 2.9 percent year on year, a recent report from the country’s State Information Center (SIC) showed.

Disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the market size of sharing economy forms involving offline activities, including shared transport, shared accommodation, and shared office, declined.

Sharing economy in the areas of knowledge and skill, health care as well as production capacity, meanwhile, saw substantial market expansion, with year-on-year growth rates reaching 30.9 percent, 27.8 percent, and 17.8 percent respectively, said the report on the development of China’s sharing economy.

Internet-based sharing of health care, which features efficiency and convenience, has benefited a great number of people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A citizen surnamed Wang in Dalian, northeast China’s Liaoning province, who had trouble sleeping after the COVID-19 outbreak, experienced in person the advantages of online health care while consulting doctors via a mini-program on WeChat.

After typing in a description of her condition and making online payment, she received messages or calls from the doctors, and purchased medicine on prescription online, according to the citizen. After some time, her condition got a lot better.

The rapid expansion of new business forms and models of shared services and consumption has played a key role in effectively satisfying the daily needs of residents, restoring the domestic service industry and consumer market, and ensuring the steady recovery of the economy.

Besides shared services and consumption, shared manufacturing based on industrial Internet has also entered a new stage of development.

Last year, the XCMG IT Hanyun Industrial Internet Platform made emergency deployment of online equipment for the construction of the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province, in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Foxconn Technology Group, a Taiwanese multinational electronics contract manufacturer, switched to medical supply production during the pandemic by taking advantage of industrial Internet platforms.

By employing computing capabilities, pooling high-quality resources, and adopting related models, China’s tech giants Aliyun and Huawei contributed to the screening and development of anti-viral drugs.

The COVID-19 has forced traditional manufacturing companies to actively explore and try new models of shared manufacturing with Internet platform companies to facilitate the resumption of work and production while combating the epidemic.

Last year, about 830 million people engaged in the sharing economy of China, of which around 84 million were service providers, an increase of about 7.7 percent year on year, according to the report.

It also noted that 6.31 million of the participants were employed by platforms in fields of the sharing economy, up 1.3 percent compared with the previous year.

While providing a large number of jobs and sprouting plenty of new occupations, sharing economy has significantly widened employment channels for job hunters and increased the income of workers.

New occupations such as ride-hailing service provider, food deliveryman, live-streaming salesperson, online consultant, and e-sports player are increasingly popular with young people in China.

Driven by the sharing economy, the traditional pattern of employment based on the relationship between companies and employees has been gradually replaced by a new employment pattern featuring work relationship between platforms and individuals, which has led to changes to the structure of the job market.

Flexible employment, including self-employment, work under short-term contracts, and part-time employment, is seeing an increasing proportion in all forms of employment, and significantly alleviating the structural problems in the job market.

Affected by the epidemic, some service companies went out of business and their employees had no work to do temporarily, while companies in such fields as e-commerce and logistics were suffering from labor shortage.

Against such a background, the model of “employee sharing” has enabled the effective flow of labor resources and helped companies in various fields achieve win-win results, becoming a new approach to addressing difficulties in the fight against the epidemic.

Yu Fengxia, deputy director of the Sharing Economy Research Center under the SIC, noted that new forms of employment brought about by the sharing economy are more inclusive, significantly lowered the employment threshold, and have improved employment efficiency for workers.

Sharing economy platforms have become a “reservoir” of employment and effectively helped stabilize employment during the special period of the epidemic, Yu added.

China’s sharing economy is expected to rebound anywhere between 10 to 15 percent in 2021, maintaining an annual growth pace of over 10 percent in the following five years, the report predicted.

Internet fuels innovation in film and TV

Photo taken on August 21, 2019, shows visitors at the 28th Beijing International Radio, TV and Film Exhibition, which displayed 4K/8K ultra-high-definition production technology, 5G transmission and development trends, progress in media convergence, AI, cloud computing, big data and other new technologies. (Photo by Guo Junfeng/People’s Daily Online)

China’s film and television industry has been deeply integrated with the internet in recent years. While online video platforms have become an important channel for the broadcasting of films and TV programs, film and television products also constitute a major part of the content on internet platforms.

The application of internet thinking and technologies is profoundly altering the forms of presentation, creative ideas and production practice of film and television art, and big data mining has proven effective in the development of film and television projects.

With the help of quantitative analysis of various types of big data, film and television makers are able to gain insights into the demands of the market, create a portrait of the target audience, determine the purpose and theme of products, optimize scripts, decide the style of images, music and editing, and find suitable directors and actors.

In The Longest Day in Chang’an, a famous web series in China, the actor playing the leading role “Zhang Xiaojing” was selected using artificial intelligence (AI) and big data based on comprehensive evaluation of the looks of actors, their resemblance to the role, as well as their performance in previous works.

Many online platforms have introduced intelligent script evaluation systems, which could automatically use a curve to show the development of the plots and conflicts in a script, and help verify whether the story has been appropriately designed.

It is a routine for many film and television projects to formulate targeted and differentiated communication strategies based on the characteristics of users.

Compared with television broadcasting, internet platforms can better recommend individualized film and television content to users according to their ages, genders, regions, and occupations.

Relevant technologies, which enable platforms to bring content to users with the help of algorithm and save users the trouble of searching for content, have been widely adopted, particularly by short video platforms.

Meanwhile, online film and television products are increasingly integrated with literature, education, e-commerce, cultural tourism, games and other fields.

The Chinese web series Cross Fire showed close interactions with a game with the same name; Once Upon A Bite, a popular food docuseries in China, has joined hands with brands from various sectors; Chinese short video platforms, such as Douyin and Kuaishou, have added functions to their apps to allow users to place orders for goods while watching videos. Such crossover cooperation helps film and television industry further extend the industrial chain.

Internet platforms are also able to monitor the broadcasting of film and television content throughout the entire process and provide feedback for content reproduction.

Online platforms can collect data from users in real time, and adjust the content layout timely through the viewing behaviors of users such as searching, fast forwarding and rewinding, and adjusting the pace up or down, and their evaluation shown by bullet screens, ratings, comments, and forwarding.

Internet means and information technology are supposed to support, instead of deciding, the development of film and television industry.

It is necessary to stay alert to and prevent artistic production that depends merely on technology, data, and market while ignoring the rules of literary and artistic creation.

With the deepening application of 5G, AI, cloud computing and other technologies, traditional film and television industry will be upgraded toward more intelligent production, and witness systematic improvement in the production mechanism, organizational structure, and process tools, which makes it more important to make good use of the internet to bring about development opportunities and innovation drivers for the industry.

 (Zhu Chuanxin is a professor at the School of Theater, Film, and Television under the Communication University of China.)

Courtyard economy bears sweet fruits

Photo shows a kiwi fruit industry demonstration park in Yunv village, Lingjiang township, Cangxi county, Guangyuan, southwest China’s Sichuan province. (File photo)

Cangxi county, Guangyuan city, southwest China’s Sichuan province, has achieved notable results in increasing residents’ income by promoting courtyard economy.

Since the 1980s, the county has been encouraging villagers to build small orchards, tea gardens, and fishponds, and plant various commercial crops on idle lands around their houses, which is known as the courtyard economy.

Local government has taken many measures to ensure that every household has the infrastructure facilities needed for developing courtyard economy, such as a sanitary water well, a small pool with a capacity of over 100 cubic meters, and a hardened road to the house.

In addition, Cangxi county has also promoted the construction of methane-generating pits and the upgrading of such facilities as livestock pens, toilets, and kitchens, laying a solid foundation for making the most of the space around people’s houses to plant fruits and vegetables while creating a pleasant living environment featuring birds’ twitter and fragrance of flowers.

Many rural households in Cangxi county have planted kiwi fruits on idle lands around their houses, with the combined planting area once reaching 5,000 mu (about 333.33 hectares), according to reliable statistics.

Besides kiwi fruits, people have also grown snow pear and walnut trees, as well as characteristic crops like Chinese medicinal plants, eventually making every village and each household have its own featured product or business.

So far, a total of 100,000 households in Cangxi county have engaged in courtyard economy, which increases the per capita annual income of the once-impoverished families by more than 5,500 yuan ($847).

“I see over 20 kilograms more walnuts in each of our trees next year,” Wang Libang, a resident in Changgang village, Yuedong township of Cangxi county, said happily while pruning walnut trees in his courtyard.

Courtyard economy is a great choice for Wang, as the man in his sixties is no longer suitable to become a migrant worker.

“Don’t you think less of the small pieces of land around people’s houses,” said Yang Jiarong, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) branch of Linlang village, Hedi township of Cangxi county.

Some 50 percent of the once-impoverished households in Linlang village have planted kiwi fruit trees near their houses, Yang said, explaining that these trees could help increase the annual income of each of these households by 3,000 to 5,000 yuan, if calculated on the assumption that each family has grown 0.5 mu of kiwi fruits on average around their houses.

Zhang Fuquan, a once-impoverished resident in Zhiyuan village, Bamiao township of Cangxi county, thinks it a great idea to build a duck shed on the idle land in front of his house and have it connected with a methane-generating pit. “It’s both convenient and sanitary,” he said.

Zhang has built an environmentally-friendly duck shed covering an area of nearly 300 square meters with the help of a poverty-relief official named Chen Jichuan, who has also donated 150 ducklings to Zhang and invited technicians to provide the resident with guidance on duck farming.

“The feces in my duck shed can be directly disposed with the methane-generating facility constructed by the government. It’s easy and convenient for me to take care of the ducks as the shed is located near my home,” said Zhang, who now enjoys a more than 10,000 yuan increase in his annual income by raising ducks.

In recent years, Cangxi county has made efforts to promote the development of modern agricultural parks, and has brought the number of such parks covering an area of over 10,000 mu to 17. Still, courtyard economy in the county is thriving.

In an effort to lift the local courtyard economy to a higher level, Cangxi county has frequently invited expert groups from Sichuan Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Sichuan Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to further train local farmers in crop cultivation techniques.

Efforts have also been made to innovate livestock and poultry sheds and pens and new cultivation techniques like the techniques in the cultivation of virus-free seedlings.

The county has so far promoted techniques in soil testing for formulated fertilization among 75 percent of its rural population, popularized praticial technologies in farming in over 95 percent of its rural areas, and spread integrated techniques for the prevention and control of diseases, pests, and weeds among more than 85 percent of the farmers in the county.

Moreover, Cangxi county has formulated standards for eco-friendly and organic production of characteristics crops, including red-heart kiwi fruit, and introduced the identification of organic agricultural products to every household engaging in courtyard economy, thus bringing the proportion of local agricultrual products covered by quality traceability system to 85 percent.

“Vaccine nationalism” benefits no one

Pakistani President Arif Alvi receives a shot of COVID-19 vaccine produced by the China National Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd. (Sinopharm) in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, March 15, 2021. (Photo/Official Twitter account of the Pakistani government)

It is an urgent task facing countries to promote COVID-19 vaccination as the epidemic is still spreading across the world and threatening the lives and health of people from all countries.

At such a critical moment, however, “vaccine nationalism” creeps in. While certain high-income countries are hoarding COVID-19 vaccines, many low-income economies are denied access to vaccines.

To make matters worse, some Western media outlets have tried to defend “vaccine nationalism” and hinder global anti-pandemic cooperation.

“Vaccine nationalism” mainly refers to the fact that the governments of some high-income countries have signed agreements with pharmaceutical manufacturers to ensure that these companies will first supply vaccines to their populations before providing vaccines for other countries.

The seemingly justifiable move is in fact selfish and narrow-minded, and is very likely to impose the law of the jungle upon the global fight against the virus.

The truth is that these high-income countries have ordered vaccines much more than needed by their populations, which has not only resulted in a relative surplus of vaccines in these countries, but put many poor countries into a predicament of not being able to obtain the COVID-19 vaccines in time.

“More than 39 million doses of vaccine have now been administered in at least 49 higher-income countries. Just 25 doses have been given in one lowest-income country. Not 25 million; not 25 thousand; just 25,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), in January at the opening meeting of the 148th session of the WHO Executive Board.

He expressed concern that the world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

As a matter of fact, “vaccine nationalism”, which is pursued by those with the “me first” mindset, will benefit no one.

The pandemic that has lasted for more than a year has taught the world that the lives and health of people in all countries have never been so closely connected as they are today.

Virus is the common enemy of mankind, and the only way to defeat it is to pull together with solidarity and cooperation.

If some high-income countries blindly hog COVID-19 vaccines, and make poor countries unable to access or afford the vaccines, the virus will continue to rage across the globe, and it will be more difficult for countries, including high-income countries, to defeat the epidemic.

“Vaccine nationalism” would slow progress in ending the COVID-19 pandemic and could erode economic growth for all countries—rich and poor, warned Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“Vaccines are a powerful weapon against the virus and bring hope for saving lives. They should serve the entire world and benefit all humanity,” Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told a press conference in March.

At the opening of the 73rd session of the World Health Assembly held in May, 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping solemnly pledged that COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good, and this will be China’s contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries.

China is a firm believer in making COVID-19 vaccines a public good as well as a committed front-runner in promoting international vaccine cooperation.

As a steadfast advocate for equitable vaccine distribution, the country has taken concrete actions to oppose “vaccine nationalism”.

China has joined the COVAX of the WHO, under which it has undertaken to provide an initial 10 million doses for emergency use in developing countries.

So far, China has donated or is donating COVID-19 vaccines to 69 developing countries in urgent need, and is exporting vaccines to 43 countries.

Responding to an appeal of the United Nations (UN), the country has donated vaccines to peacekeepers from various countries.

Only when countries work together to reject “vaccine nationalism”, promote fair and reasonable distribution, especially in developing countries, can they secure a final victory in the global fight against the virus.

Human beings live in a global village, and countries are increasingly interdependent and share a common future.

Only by abandoning “vaccine nationalism” and erasing “immunity gap” can humankind jointly defeat the virus and build a beautiful home.

AI improves parking efficiency in China

Photo taken on July 1, 2019, shows a sign for electronic toll collection (ETC) newly set up at a roadside parking space on Yangzhuang road, Shijingshan district, Beijing. Some urban areas of the city started to use ETC system for roadside parking spaces since July 1, 2019. (People’s Daily Online/Li Wenming)

Thanks to the application of an artificial intelligence (AI)-empowered roadside electronic toll collection (ETC) system, China’s capital city Beijing has seen significant improvement in the efficiency of parking fee collection, turnover of roadside parking spots, order in roadside parking, as well as traffic congestion.

As the city further deepens its roadside parking reform, the ETC system has almost covered all the roadside parking spaces in the city, with the proportion of vehicles parked on roads using the system exceeding 90 percent.

With the AI-empowered system, drivers can park their vehicles at the parking spots on the roadside, and then pay the parking charge via their mobile phones after they drive away.

“This road used to be full of cars, and even the normal lanes were occupied. You could hardly move a bit during the morning and evening commute time,” recalled a citizen surnamed Wang, who lives in Chaoyang district of Beijing.

“Since the summer of 2019, roadside ETC devices have been installed here. With all the cars being parked in designated parking spots on the roadside, the road now seems brighter and wider,” Wang said.

The smart roadside ETC system “AIpark Sky Eye” adopted by Beijing is developed, operated, and maintained by AIpark, a Beijing-based leading smart parking solution provider.

The company’s intelligent system has brought into full play the advantages of AI technologies and effectively addressed the shortage of parking spaces and the problem of irregular parking in cities. The system has therefore been listed among the country’s innovation projects that integrate AI deeply into the real economy in 2018 by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Traditional parking management equipment and monitoring devices have failed to meet the actual needs of cities due to limited application scenarios and technical capacity. There are many deficiencies in traditional parking systems. For example, magnetic devices cannot identify detailed information about vehicles; each video monitoring pile can only cover one parking spot; and manual collection of parking fees costs too much.

Such problems don’t exist in smart machines. The “AIpark Sky Eye” system boasts strong stability and high recognition rate. Besides, it can resist the interference of extreme weather conditions like rain, snow, and fog, and form complete graphic evidence based on wheel path of vehicles.

Each set of cameras of the “AIpark Sky Eye” system can monitor multiple parking spots at the same time for 24 hours a day. The data collected by front-end cameras are processed using multi-dimensional deep learning algorithm before they are uploaded on to an AI computing cloud platform for data enrichment. The platform then distributes identification results to transport authorities.

The most distinctive innovation in the technological package of the system is precision brought about by high-mounted parking system cameras, according to Xiang Yanping, senior vice president of AIpark, noting that the cameras can recognize more complex static and dynamic reality scenes.

“For example, the equipment can accurately identify irregular parking behaviors and state such as double parking and frequent maneuvers, precisely recognize detailed information including plate number and vehicle color, and make good judgment on the behaviors of drivers and pedestrians,” Xiang said.

Once the high-mounted parking system cameras are installed, they can help with many aspects of integrated urban governance, which represents another advantage of the “AIpark Sky Eye” system.

Besides managing parking fee collection, high-mounted camera system can also provide data for traffic improvements. The snapshots obtained from the camera system can help solve problems including illegal and inappropriate parking and vehicle theft.

So far, the smart ETC system of AIpark has been introduced into more than 20 cities in China, signaling increasingly important roles of AI in improving parking efficiency and order as well as new development opportunities for smart parking industry.

“Internet Plus” drives rural vitalization

Jiang Meiduo, a resident in Wufeng village, Tongling city, east China’s Anhui province, sells local ginger via live-streaming at her studio, March 5, 2021. (People’s Daily Online/Mei Jianguang)

Thanks to e-commerce, Wang Bo, a post-90s young man in Huangling county, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, has bid farewell to poverty and embraced a bright new life over the past several years.

The life-changing story of Wang, who was once a registered poor villager and now a role model in shaking off poverty through e-commerce, started in 2016 with several photos of ripe apples he posted on WeChat Moments.

To his surprise, these photos of apples from the orchard of his family attracted buyers to him. Since then, the man has won an increasing number of customers because of his high-quality products and good reputation.

As the local information network infrastructure continuously improves, Wang joined an e-commerce incubation base in Huangling county under the support of local government.

He then established a village-level e-commerce service station, an e-commerce company, and a cooperative for the planting of fruit trees. While seeing great changes to his own life, Wang has also helped his fellow villagers become better off.

In rural areas of China, more Internet users like Wang are doing business on the Internet. The country’s increasingly fast Internet connections and constantly improving network services have provided strong support for the new group of netizens.

Statistics show that since 2015, China has implemented six batches of pilot projects for universal telecommunications services, and supported a total of 130,000 administrative villages in 27 provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) across the country in carrying out broadband network construction and upgrading, including 43,000 registered poverty-stricken villages.

Over 98 percent of the administrative villages in China have been covered by fiber-optic and 4G networks. As of the end of 2020, the total number of rural broadband users in China reached 142 million.

The Internet Plus model in China has also altered the traditional agricultural production model that depends greatly on natural conditions.

In a pear planting base in Chongming district of east China’s Shanghai, where more than 50 pieces of high-tech equipment run automatically every day, farmers can check the condition of fruit trees in the base via their mobile phones with the help of unmanned aerial vehicles.

The digital agriculture base is using robots to winter wash and sterilize fruit trees and spray pesticide over them for the control of diseases and pests. Meanwhile, it has adopted an integrated water and fertilizer irrigation system, which could automatically mix water with fertilizer according to a preset ratio.

The pear planting base is the first project implemented by e-commerce platform Hema Fresh, Alibaba’s fresh-food chain, in Chongming district since the platform established strategic cooperative ties with the government of the district. It supplies products directly to the online and offline sales channels of Hema Fresh.

Various sensors in the base can automatically collect data indicating such factors that affect the growth of the pear as temperature, humidity, carbon dioxide concentration, light intensity, soil fertility, and salt concentration and upload on to and store relevant information on an Internet of Things (IoT) cloud platform, according to Zhang Yangping, a technical executive at the base.

Based on data analyses, experts build models and offer guidance on farming to improve the quality of pears, Zhang said, disclosing that last year, the output value of high-quality pears produced at the base reached 15,000 yuan (about $2,306) per mu (about 667 square meters).

China will implement projects to boost rural development via digital technologies, advance the development of smart agriculture, and establish a big data system for the agricultural sector and rural areas, according to guidelines on pushing forward all-round rural vitalization and accelerating the modernization of the agricultural sector and rural areas jointly issued by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and China’s State Council.

The country will also make efforts to promote the in-depth integration of new-generation information technology into agricultural production and management, and strengthen the application of digital and intelligent technologies in rural public services and social governance, said the document.

It’s believed that by tapping into the Internet Plus model, China is bound to realize all-round rural vitalization and ensure that rural areas have strong agriculture, beautiful countryside and well-off farmers.

XR industry boasts broad growth space

Students wear VR glasses in class at a primary school in Ganzhou, east China’s Jiangxi province, Nov. 26, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Hu Jiangtao)

Statistics show that the market value of global extended reality (XR) industry has exceeded $20.4 billion.

XR, an umbrella term encapsulating virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR), refers to real-and-virtual combined environments and human-machine interactions generated by wearable devices and computer technology.

As XR technologies become more mature, they have been gradually applied in more scenarios that are closely related to the daily life of ordinary people, and seen new consumer markets in recent years.

China’s Spring Festival Gala this year, which was broadcast live in Beijing on the evening of Feb. 11, or the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, adopted XR technologies, and enabled singers from China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Taiwan region who couldn’t be present at the gala give performances remotely.

Thanks to XR technologies, performers were able to interact with stage props in virtual reality scenes perfectly, according to Xia Yu, deputy general director of the Spring Festival Gala.

Xia cited the example of Chinese singer Jay Chou, who brought an audio-visual feast to audiences across the country at his studio in Taiwan during the gala.

The application of XR technologies has made it possible for users to “travel to the past” and “wander in the universe” through virtual trips.

An XR experience store in Shenzhen, south China’s Guangdong province, recently launched a program for citizens, which involved digital tours to the Jurassic period and outer space.

With in-depth integration of XR technologies and on-site LED display scenes, aerospace enthusiasts can “come into contact” with satellites flying in orbit tens of thousands of kilometers away from the Earth, while jungle adventurers are able to “go back to the Jurassic period” and “meet” prehistoric dinosaurs in dense rain forests.

XR technologies have also been integrated into the application scenarios concerning smart tourism projects.

XR technologies can help tourist attractions launch systems that enable visitors to better learn about faraway places and remote times in immersive scenes, as well as tourist guide systems and other systems that bring wonderful experiences to visitors through terminals such as VR or AR glasses, mobile apps and browsers, said an executive of ESCHER, a provider of XR smart travel solutions based in China.

Compared with offline tours, scenarios reproduced by XR technologies can enrich the experiences of users, the executive added.

XR industry is full of possibilities, and the thriving 5G technology is considered a catalyst for further stimulating its potential.

Last January, the branch of China Mobile, a major Chinese telecommunications operator, in Zhengzhou, central China’s Henan province, built the province’s first 5G+XR commercial complex in a shopping mall.

By innovatively integrating 5G with XR in games, panoramic live-streaming shows, and VR displays, the mall provides consumers with controllable and interactive shopping live-streaming shows with 8K resolution, and immersive shopping experiences, injecting new impetus into the digital upgrading of commercial complex.

Industry insiders pointed out that with constant progress being made in the large-scale deployment of 5G network and its innovative applications, the “5G plus XR” model is producing a large number of new application scenarios including social networking, office work, entertainment, exhibition and education, which will provide broad development space for the XR industry.

Small appliance sector sees robust growth

A worker is manufacturing products at a plant of Ningbo Borine Electric Appliance Co., Ltd., east China’s Zhejiang Province, Aug. 20, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Chen Zhangkun)

Small appliances, such as air fryers, electric mops and electric massagers, rose as a highlight of China’s electric appliance industry which registered a remarkable operating revenue of 1.48 trillion yuan ($230 billion) last year.

Given the continuously improving living standard of Chinese residents, as well as the saturate market of traditional home appliances, appliance makers nowadays are placing more emphasis on expanding their market shares. Under this background, the small appliance market is like a “new racing track” of the industry.

Personal beauty equipment, as well as fascia guns are popular among young consumers; electric ovens and breakfast makers make cooking possible for “rookie chefs”; vacuum cleaners and robots free people from daily chores.

These new products are rapidly occupying every scenario of modern living. With their advantages in price and convenience, they have gradually become what’s necessary for more and more people.

The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 brought huge impacts on the home appliance industry. The retail sales of the business dropped drastically by over 30 percent in the first quarter of 2020 from a year ago, due to impeded supply chain, offline sales, and logistics.

Compared with the sluggish performance of the traditional business, the small appliance market bucking the trend has injected a strong momentum for recovery into the industry.

The “stay-at-home economy” fueled the demand in the small appliance market, and influencer marketing also created favorable conditions for the market to grow.

Within an hour after last year’s “Double 11” online shopping festival kicked off, the transaction of hundreds of small appliance brands on an e-commerce platform surged over tenfold. As a major front of small appliance retailing, online marketplace embraced booming sales.

Many enterprises renewed their perception of the market, and are closely following the consumption trend that is turning more quality-oriented and intelligent, so as to deliver more innovative products and improve their competitiveness.

For instance, touch screen smart speakers not only conform to the trend of consumption upgrading, but also create benefit for enterprises. They are to some extent a winner in the price competition that alleviates market homogeneity.

Innovations made for small appliances stem from the demand of the market. Facing a consumption demand that is becoming personalized and differentiated, to dig into different market segments is a consensus of the industry.

On one hand, many enterprises have launched customized products for customers. For example, when sales of traditional TVs slipped, TV makers are producing new TV sets catered for education use, offering diversified choices for students and their parents.

On the other hand, driven by a national strategy to bring more appliances to the countryside, many enterprises are working to expand lower-tier markets. The hot sales of electric steamers, foot baths and heating tables in small- and middle-sized cities, as well as rural regions fully explained their huge consumption potential to be released.

The emerging small appliance sector mirrors the upgrading and transformation of China’s manufacturing. The country’s traditional manufacturing industry is going through a profound reform regarding development philosophy, production techniques and sales channels.

By combining the expansion of domestic demand with supply-side structural reform, creating new demand with high-quality supply, and constantly satisfying people’s growing need for a better life, China’s traditional industries have discovered new areas of growth and are revitalizing with new energy.

China strives to advance rural tourism

Tourists visit a scenic spot in Jiangwan Township, Shangrao, east China’s Jiangxi Province, Oct. 7, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Hu Dunhuang)

China’s rural tourism embraced rapid development in recent years.

In 2019, over 300,000 entities running agritourism businesses had been established in the country, generating total revenue of 850 billion yuan ($130.28 billion). Last year, rural tourism created 11 million jobs and benefited over eight million rural households.

Rural tourism destinations also saw huge numbers of visitors during this year’s Spring Festival holiday.

To keep the authentic rural features is what many regions trying to do when developing rural tourism. At present, China’s rural tourism sector is becoming more subdivided and characteristic, with higher quality.

Recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) noted that it will further optimize the rural tourism industry and build a batch of high-quality projects.

According to Zhou Yezheng, deputy director of MARA’s Department of Rural Industries, 400 villages and townships have been selected for the demonstration of the “one village, one product” project aiming at boosting local industrial development, which will help foster contiguous development. Besides, the country also issued a list to recommend featured rural products and craftsmen, as a way to help rural areas market their featured industries.

Feng Xi, after working in Shanghai for two years, decided to go back to his hometown in Jiuhuashan, east China’s Anhui Province. Helping his parents with his family’s agritainment business at first, Feng sensed the bright prospects of rural tourism, and persuaded his parents to upgrade their facilities and launched online services of customized tours.

“Most of the visitors come here for leisure activities and to spend holidays, so I hope I can offer them more personalized services,” Feng said.

Apart from providing tour services, Feng is also cooperating with a few young people around him to sell local specialties online. During this year’s Spring Festival holiday, they for the first time livestreamed the scenery of Jiuhuashan Mountain.

Envisioning a bright future of rural tourism, more and more young entrepreneurs like Feng are going to the countryside to start their businesses. The new business philosophies and development modes they brought are huge wealth for the country to develop rural tourism.

To attract more high-level professionals in the cultural and tourism sector is an inevitable step for the upgrade of China’s rural tourism. Huang Xihua, a deputy to the National People’s Congress and general manager of Guangdong Provincial Tourism Holdings Co., Ltd., proposed that the country establish an institution of higher learning of rural revitalization to cultivate more professionals for rural tourism.