Vocational education drives employment

Students compete in a skill competition for higher vocational schools held in east China’s Jiangsu Province, Sept, 29, 2020. (People’s Daily Online/Xu Peiqin)

China’s higher vocational education institutions provided scholarships totaling 20.4 billion yuan ($3.13 billion) to seven groups of students, including registered poor students during the recent eight years, said a report on targeted poverty alleviation by China’s higher vocational schools.

A total of 4.2 billion yuan of tuition fees were exempted for these groups of students, and 92.15 percent of poor students have been employed, according to the report.

Besides, free education was offered for over 90 percent of students in vocational high schools, and China’s state student-aid covered around 40 percent of current students.

In the past eight years, technical experts from China’s higher vocational education institutions made 76,000 trips to impoverished regions, where they developed 8,421 featured industrial projects and introduced 4,323 industrial projects, increasing local industrial income by a total of over 4.5 billion yuan.

At present, over 70 percent of students studying at China’s higher vocational schools come from rural regions. Millions of families have realized their common dream of having a college student thanks to vocational education.

“A handicraft co-designed by me was sent to foreign guests as a gift,” said Luo Linhua, a woman from the mountainous areas in Qiannan Buyi-Miao Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China’s Guizhou Province who graduated from Guizhou Forerunner College.

Nine years ago, when the college went to Luo’s hometown for recruitment, there was not even a table at Luo’s home, and the kettles had to be put on the ground. Today, after graduation, Luo landed a job in China’s capital Beijing.

China’s higher vocational schools sent 364,000 junior college graduates of medical majors to impoverished areas as a way to alleviate the lack of medical resources there. They also carried out health trainings for 506,000 people and trained 355,000 medical workers in impoverished regions. Besides, they proactively volunteered to go to poor regions to give medical consultation and donate medicines.

They sent 21,000 junior college graduates of environmental protection majors to impoverished areas, offered training courses on ecological civilization for 221,000 people, and provided 2,859 items of technical support in ecological and environmental protection.

In addition, higher vocational schools cultivated 95,000 art and cultural professionals for impoverished regions, launched free performances and volunteer services that covered 828,000 people in these region, and helped them establish 5,857 local rules and regulations.

Pairing assistance by higher vocational education institutions also played a major role in targeted poverty alleviation in poor regions. According to the report, higher vocational schools dispatched 22,000 personnel to work in 9,586 impoverished regions, lifting 576,000 people out of poverty. In addition, they offered pairing assistance for 9,359 schools in poor areas, helped establish 6,646 majors in these areas, and trained 584,000 teachers there.

China pushes greener e-commerce

An express package recycling bin is set up at an agency of SF Express in Jinhua, east China’s Zhejiang province. Couriers throw express packages into the bin, Jan. 6, 2021. (People’s Daily Online/ Li Jianlin)

The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) recently issued a notice to advance green development of e-commerce enterprises, guiding the industry to become more friendly to the environment.

Twelve measures in four major areas, including promoting the management of green supply chain for express parcel packages, were launched.

According to statistics released by the State Post Bureau, China’s courier industry handled a total of 83 billion express parcels in 2020, up 30.8 percent year on year. The booming development of the industry has facilitated people’s daily life, but the packages of express parcels are also generating massive waste. Data from the State Administration for Market Regulation indicate that China’s courier industry produces around 1.8 million tonnes of plastic waste and over 9 million tonnes of paper waste each year.

Realizing the serious environmental problem, many e-commerce enterprises have taken measures to “slim” the packages of express parcels.

“It was recommended by a courier,” said a man surnamed Li from Yinchuan, northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, pointing to a “Feng BOX,” a recyclable express parcel package launched by Chinese express delivery giant SF Express. “I just want to contribute my part to environmental protection,” he told People’s Daily.

The Feng BOX is not sealed by traditional packaging materials, such as adhesive tapes, cartons or plastic fillings, but a smart anti-theft seal. According to statistics, each Feng BOX can be used at least 50 times, which is able to significantly reduce the consumption of packaging materials.

The MOFCOM notice requests e-commerce enterprises in key areas to gradually stop using non-degradable plastic bags and disposable woven bags, and reduce the use of non-degradable plastic cohesive tapes.

Cainiao Network, the logistics arm of Alibaba Group, replaced part of its plastic packaging with environmental-friendly bags made from bio-based materials during the “Double 11,” the largest online shopping festival in China, last year. The new bags, made from reproducible materials such as straws and ageing grains, can each save 4.4 grams of plastics at the production end, which significantly mitigates the negative impacts of express parcel packaging on environment.

Direct sourcing and direct shipping can also effectively reduce the use of packaging materials. According to an employee of JD.com, a major e-commerce platform in China, the company is encouraging merchants to apply external drop-shipping. At present, over 1,000 kinds of commodities on the platform are directly shipped from the suppliers, which reduces the use of 150 million cartons.

The notice also proposed to further enhance the capability of digital operation, encourage modern information technologies among e-commerce enterprises, such as cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence, better match supply and demand, improve stock turnover, and enhance the sharing of multi-channel logistics to reduce logistics cost and consumption.

Winter sports become new custom

Visitors experience snowtubing at a scenic spot in Haigang District, Qinhuangdao, north China’s Hebei Province, Feb. 15, 2021. (People’s Daily Online/Cao Jianxiong)

Ski resorts and ice rinks remained hot destinations for Chinese to go during the past Spring Festival holiday. As the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games approach, winter sports are enjoying increasingly higher popularity across the country and going into the daily life of the public.

Yuan Zhaozhi from Beijing took his son who’s in primary school to a ski resort in a suburb of the capital during the Spring Festival holiday.

“Many of his friends love skiing, so he asked me to take him to a ski resort soon after the last semester ended. Surprisingly he was even better than me after we both learned the basics in the morning,” said the man, who was a completely tyro skier then, adding that the development of the sport shall start with children.

As a part of the host city, his family shall actively join winter sports, especially when the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games are about to kick off in less than a year, he told People’s Daily.

Driven by the Winter Olympic Games, the visitor volume experienced steady growth this winter in major ski resorts located in suburban Beijing and Chongli, a district of Zhangjiakou of Hebei Province that will host six disciplines during the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Though ski resorts adopted measures to limit visitor crowding for pandemic control, especially during the winter vacation and the Spring Festival holiday, the enthusiasm of skiing fans never faded.

Before the Spring Festival holiday, the Chinese capital issued e-vouchers to citizens to boost cultural consumption, including free tickets to ski resorts. According to statistics, two ski resorts in Beijing’s Yanqing District received a total of nearly 15,000 skiers during the 7-day holiday, as well as 155,000 tourists, generating total tourism revenue of over 10 million yuan ($1.55 million).

To bring 300 million Chinese into the fold of winter sports with the 2022 Winter Olympics is a solemn promise made by China to the international society. At present, winter sports are no longer exclusive to north China, but have been developed across the country.

In February this year, southwest China’s Sichuan Province kicked off its third winter sports festival. A total of more than three million people joined the indoor and outdoor winter activities held during the Spring Festival holiday, which significantly expanded the influence of winter sports in the province.

In Shanghai’ Lingang New Area, the construction of Wintastar Shanghai, the world’s largest indoor ski resort started on Feb 14. Expected to be completed before the end of 2022, the 90,000-square meter project will attract winter sports fans around the world. After years of development, Shanghai is now seeing more than 600,000 people skiing each year.

The holding of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games not only accelerated the construction of winter sports venues in China, but also activated tourism potential related to winter resources. Local governments across the country have all tailored new measures and developed new products, so as to bring winter sports closer to the people.

Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province launched 10 quality winter tour routes. During the Spring Festival holiday, over 80,000 people visited the city for winter sports, accounting for 40 percent of the city’s annual tourists reception. Winter tourism also drove the development of multiple businesses, such as catering, shopping and transport.

Jilin city of northeast China’s Jilin Province is situated on the golden latitudes of winter sports. It has two world-level ski resorts and multiple medium and large ski areas. During this Spring Festival holiday, the city issued coupons to attract citizens and tourists to join winter sports and release market potential. Statistics indicated that Jilin received over 2.6 million tourists during the holiday, witnessing tourism revenue of 2.1 billion yuan.

Driven by the craze for winter sports, many regions in south China are also building relevant commercial complexes and mountain skiing facilities to promote the development of the industry. So far, southern cities of Guangzhou, Kunming, Chengdu and Chongqing have all become hot destinations of winter sports, and provinces of Zhejiang, Guizhou and Hubei saw an annual growth of around 10 percent in the number of winter sports tourists.

A report issued by China Tourism Academy said that “to play with ice and snow” has become a new fashion of China’s winter tourism, a sector that is injecting new impetus into winter consumption. A total of 230 million Chinese are expected to join winter leisure activities and tourism this winter, generating revenue of more than 390 billion yuan.

China promotes global poverty reduction

Photo taken on Sept. 3, 2019 shows a newly built rural road aided by China in Kampong Thom Province, Cambodia. (Photo courtesy of Shanghai Construction Group)

Winning the fight against poverty, China has made absolute poverty, which has haunted the Chinese nation for thousands of years, a thing in the past. As the world’s largest developing country, China’s remarkable success is inspiring the world to achieve a better future regarding poverty reduction.

Poverty reduction has always been a tricky problem that bothers global development and governance. It is considered a basic human right in the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. It is also a primary task of the 17 goals in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The World Bank estimates that there are still 700 million people in the world living in extreme poverty, while the COVID-19 pandemic has brought further challenges to the cause of poverty reduction.

To realize the mankind’s common ideal of poverty elimination, the world needs extra sincerity, guidance, determination and practical efforts.

China has always been a positive advocate and promoter of poverty alleviation. Its contribution to the cause of global poverty alleviation is reflected in how its own poverty achievements have boosted the world’s confidence, how its poverty reduction experiences have inspired other countries, how it has conducted cooperation on poverty reduction with the rest of the world, and how it is committed to promoting win-win cooperation and common development for all countries to share development results.

China’s characteristic poverty eradication theories receive global attention and have a profound impact. In recent years, many foreign personages visited China to observe and learn from the country’s poverty alleviation experiences, and they all believe that China’s experiences is worth being learning from by other developing countries.

In December 2018, the 73rd UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to eradicate poverty in rural areas, which incorporated the Chinese theories and practices of “targeted poverty alleviation” and “win-win cooperation.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said targeted poverty reduction strategies are the only way to reach those farthest behind and achieve the ambitious targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

China is actively conducting international cooperation on poverty reduction, fulfilling its international obligations and offering as much assistance as it can for developing countries.

It not only works with international organizations including the UN to help other developing countries reduce poverty, but also is advancing cooperation programs under frameworks of the East Asia Cooperation Initiative on Poverty Reduction and the China-Africa poverty reduction plan.

On the banks of the Mekong River, villages have been connected to safe and clean water supply thanks to Chinese experts, who also built wide and flat asphalt roads and new houses there for local communities. In African countries of Madagascar, Nigeria and Mozambique, China’s hybrid rice is also helping local farmers realize their dreams of harvests and income growth. Chinese experts of Juncao, a technology that enables the cultivation of fungi on grass, have spread the seeds of fortune to over 100 countries and regions in the past two decades, finding solutions to human existence and development through the magic of technology.

China always believes that true development is development for all, and development opportunities shall be made equal, and development results shared.

The country is joining hands with global countries to build the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and promoting the alignment between the BRI and the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It has also established of Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank to help relevant countries develop and proposed ten cooperation plans and eight major initiatives with Africa.

China’s sincere support and assistance for other developing countries, especially the least developed countries to eradicate poverty, showcases the due responsibility of a major country. No country can lead the world better than China does in poverty reduction and South-South cooperation, said a foreign dignitary.

“A single flower does not make spring, while one hundred flowers in full blossom bring spring to the garden.” China is willing to work with the rest of the world to build a community with shared future for mankind.

China endeavors to ensure spring farming

Villagers plough their fields in Guanmiao village, Qifu Township, Yuechi County, Guang’an, southwest China’s Sichuan Province, Feb. 24. (Photo by Zhang Qifu/People’s Daily Online)

A Chinese proverb says that a year’s plan starts with spring. In China, more than half of the grain area is planted in the spring, and spring farming concerns the harvests in the following two seasons.

At present, spring farming and preparation is conducted across the country from south to north, and multiple measures have been rolled out to guarantee agricultural production.

To stabilize grain and soybean output and increase corn acreage is a major theme of China’s spring farming this year. In 2020, China will work to ensure the planting of over 1.75 billion mu (117 million hectares) of grains this year, and to consolidate the planting area of double cropping rice is a priority in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Besides, the country will also ensure that the newly added planting areas of early season rice in 2020 is not reduced this year. Corn acreage is expected to be expanded in northeast China, North China Plain, southwest China and northwest China. Soybean planting area will be stabilized in these regions.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), the planting areas of winter wheat and winter rapeseed will recover growth this year. A total of 335 million mu of winter wheat is planted, 3 million mu more than that from a year ago; 96 million mu of winter rapeseed is planted, up around 4 million mu year on year. The growth of winter wheat and winter rapeseed in most places of China is better than that in the last year. The proportion of first- and second-class winter wheat has reached 88.5 percent, 1.9 percentages higher year on year, laying a solid foundation for summer harvest.

Sufficient supply of agricultural materials is ensuring smooth spring farming and future harvests.

In an agricultural cooperative in Xiapanao village, Ankang Township, Anxiang County, Changde, central China’s Hunan Province, 15,000 kilograms of seed rice are standing by in a warehouse. The seed rice, apart from being distributed to the 2,000 mu of farmland contracted by the cooperative, will also be offered for other nearby major growers, serving the production in a total of nearly 4,000 mu of land.

“The recent situation in the market indicated that the supply of seeds is sufficient this spring, and the supply of other agricultural materials is also guaranteed,” said Zhou Jianguo, head of the cooperative.

As a major grain producer of Hunan Province, Anxiang County is planning to grow over 810,000 mu of grains this year. To promote large-scale production of early season rice, the county has established five sprout cultivation factories, which will be completed at the end of March before the start of sprout cultivation.

According to MARA, 3.4 billion kilograms of corn, rice and soybean seeds will be offered for this year’s spring farming. Besides, 20.3 million tons of fertilizers are also expected to be provided.

Agricultural machineries are also offering effective services for spring farming.

Zhongxian County in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality has been promoting subsidizing policies for purchasing agricultural machineries just after the Spring Festival. The municipality has offered a total subsidy of 72 million yuan ($11.14 million), and dispatched machinists to villages to guide the maintenance, testing and reconditioning of agricultural machineries.

Xu Zongquan is a major grower in Zhongling village, Xinli Township of Zhongxian County. He runs a professional cooperative in the village that offers machinery services for nearby farmers.

His cooperative has all kinds of agricultural machines, including rice transplanters with three robotic arms, as well as drones that are able to spray pesticides. Besides, a rotary cultivator in the cooperative is able to plough over 40 mu of land per day.

It is reported that over 22 million sets of agricultural machineries will be employed in China’s spring farming this year. Most of the machineries have been reconditioned and have been put into service.

More young Chinese fancy extreme sports

A man is snowboarding at Harbin Sunac Snow World, China on July 27, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Junbao)

Young Chinese people are showing increasing enthusiasm for extreme sports, an industry which has continued to grow in recent years, Chinanews.com reported on Feb.23.

Song Doubao (pseudonym), a computer engineer in her 30s, is one such fan. Every year, she spends about 60,000 yuan ($9,300) on diving, and 13,000 yuan on ski trips to resorts in Chongli district in Zhangjiakou, north China’s Hebei province.

Extreme sports lover Meng Rumeng founded an extreme sports club in 2017, hoping to arrange events and provide courses for extreme sports lovers. Despite a lack of advertising, her club has attracted many enthusiasts, over 80 percent of whom were beginners.

Compared with traditional sports, extreme sports are new and cool, said Pei Yunya, marketing director of an extreme sports company that has over 2.6 million registered users on its smart phone application.

Since their first appearance in China, extreme sports have seen burgeoning growth. China is now home to 4,000 companies related to rock climbing, with the industry registering growth for five consecutive years.

The year 2020 saw 789 newly-registered rock climbing companies, the biggest rise in the past five years, despite the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, according to data from Qichacha, a platform offering data and analytics on China-based private and public companies.

The country is also home to over 3,600 companies related to diving and 2,000 companies related to skiing. In 2020, the country saw 1,299 newly-registered diving companies, up by 152 percent year on year, and 514 new skiing companies, up by 55 percent.

According to the Winter Sports Development Plan (2016-2025), the number of Chinese people who practice winter sports regularly will exceed 50 million by 2025. By then, the winter sport industry is expected to see an output of 1 trillion yuan.

But do extreme sports have to cost the players an arm and a leg? Song doesn’t think so, revealing that the cost of diving in different destinations can vary from 3,000 to 30,000 yuan. And skiing in some regions near Beijing can cost as little as 300 yuan.

In terms of sports apparel and equipment, Weiwei (pseudonym), born in the 1980s, said that she prefers diving with her own equipment. Five years ago, she bought her own diving equipment for less than 20,000 yuan. With an annual income of about 200,000 yuan, Weiwei said it was not expensive for her.

Industrial internet sees rapid growth

Technicians with a company in Beibei district, southwest China”s Chongqing municipality, check the production and operation of workshop via an industrial internet platform, Sept. 15, 2020. (People”s Daily Online/Qin Tingfu)

In recent years, China has witnessed continuous breakthroughs in the development of industrial internet, which has enjoyed significant improvement in network capacity and accelerated integration with and application in more industries in greater depth, and become an increasingly strong driving force for various industries.

The country has established over 70 industrial internet platforms of considerable influence on certain sectors and regions. These platforms connect 40 million sets of industrial equipment in over 30 key sectors of China’s national economy.

Not long ago, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) issued an action plan for the innovative development of industrial internet from 2021 to 2023, making arrangements for priorities in work related to industrial internet in the next three years.

The following three years will be a crucial period of rapid growth of China’s industrial internet, according to Xu Xiaolan, head of the China Academy of Industrial Internet (CAII).

In the next three years, a batch of key technologies in such fields as networking, identification, platform, and security will achieve industrialization, and the country’s capacity for the supply of industrial chips, industrial software, and industrial control systems will be evidently improved, Xu explained.

Such breakthroughs in basic technological capabilities will further support the innovative development of China’s industrial internet, and lay a good foundation for the growth of new technologies, business forms and models, she pointed out.

The MIIT replaced its goal of basically establishing the infrastructure and industrial system for industrial internet set in the previous action plan on industrial internet development with the goal of advancing rapid and high-quality construction of new infrastructure for industrial internet, promoting new business forms and models on a large scale, and significantly improving the overall strength of industrial internet in the new action plan.

According to the action plan, the country intends to infuse vitality into the application of industrial internet in various industries while promoting the development of its industrial internet industry in a bid to advance the development of the industry in an all-round way, and create about 100 pilot demonstration cases for the application of new models in vertical sub-industries of industrial internet.

One of the highlights of the action plan lies in cultivating new business models for the growth of industrial internet, said Gu Weixi, an official with the CAII.

The action plan outlines the prospects of industrial internet from five aspects, including developing intelligent manufacturing, strengthening network-based collaboration, promoting personalized customization, extending services and realizing digital management.

China aims to develop a number of typical business models and application scenarios for the vertical sub-industries of individual internet, and replicate and promote them in at least 200 industrial enterprises by 2023, according to the action plan.

Bikeway in air benefits Xiamen commuters

An aerial view of an elevated bicycle lane in Xiamen, east China’s Fujian province. (Photo/Xiamen Daily)

A 7.6-kilometer-long elevated bicycle path in Xiamen, east China’s Fujian province, has brought great convenience to commuters while witnessing the city’s endeavors to promote green and low-carbon means of transport.

Lai Tingsi, a citizen in Huli district of Xiamen, is one of the commuters who have benefited a lot from the bikeway. The bikeway is also China’s first bicycle path built in the air and the longest elevated bike lane in the world.

Lai lives three kilometers away from where she works. Although the commute to work may not be long, it still distressed her.

“It takes too long to walk to work, and if I drove, it might take me more than half an hour as there are often traffic jams during the morning and evening rush hours. Besides, I would have to pay a considerable amount of parking fees if I parked my car near my office building,” Lai said.

Most of the time she commuted by bus, but buses are always packed during the rush hours, and it can be difficult to judge when a bus would come, according to Lai.

Fortunately, Lai found a new choice for commuting last year, thanks to the city’s innovative bike lane built in the air. Since she can cycle on the special lane for 2.7 kilometers of her commute distance, her commuting time has been shortened to less than 20 minutes.

“At first I just wanted to give it a try. I didn’t expect it to be so convenient and fast,” recalled Lai, who explained that there is no traffic light or motor vehicle on the dedicated lane.

The elevated bicycle path has adopted steel box girder structure and is mainly built on either side of the city’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, hanging around the middle section of the BRT lanes, according to Xiao Zhibiao, technical director of a municipal development company under Xiamen Municipal Construction Group.

The gate machines at the entrances of the bicycle path are equipped with a multi-sensor surveillance system. It can quickly identify bicycles, electric scooters, and motorbikes when they pass, thus ensuring bikes can pass through the entrances and run on the dedicated lane smoothly.

There are a total of 11 entries on the elevated bicycle lane, which help connect the path with not only the city’s BRT lanes, but also 11 regular bus stations and two subway stations.

Lai said she has gained a lot from cycling over the past more than one year. At first she merely rode a bike for the convenience of commuting, but she soon found that it is also a good form of exercise, Lai pointed out.

Lai becomes increasingly interested in cycling, she said, who added that besides commuting by bike, now she also enjoys touring around the city by bike in her spare time.

In recent years, Xiamen has made great efforts to improve its bike lane network. Taking into consideration key factors concerning Xiamen’s transport system, such as the natural environment of the coastal city, as well as its popular transportation means and layout of road network, the city has created a unique system of bicycle paths, Xiao noted.

“By building bicycle lanes, Xiamen aims to meet people’s needs for green and low-carbon transport,” Xiao said, adding that the city’s green and slow traffic system including bicycle lanes has witnessed constant improvement since it was created.

It’s believed that relevant authorities and government departments will provide citizens with greater transport resources and create better conditions for green and low-carbon transport through concept and technological innovation, Xiao stressed.

Spring Festival drives consumption boom

People visit an ancient town in Changxing County, Huzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Feb. 17, 2021. (People’s Daily Online/Wu Zheng)

The Spring Festival is an important period that gauges China’s economic vitality.

During the past 7-day Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, huge high-quality and upgraded consumption demand was released in the country, leading to thriving businesses of online shopping, house call services and short trips, as more and more residents tended to avoid physical contacts and aggregations, and turned to reserved and staggered leisure activities.

“I didn’t go out this Spring Festival, and instead I did some fitness practices at home. It felt good,” said Li Bin, a teacher with a college in Beijing’s Haidian District. In order to keep an hour of fitness practices each day, he specifically bought a treadmill, dumbbells and a yoga mat.

The sales of household goods witnessed robust growth during the Spring Festival, and the consumption of jewelries, cosmetics and flowers also surged during this period that coincided with the Valentine’s Day.

During the 7-day holiday, the sales of jewelries, garments, communication devices and home appliances of enterprises monitored by China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) grew 160.8 percent, 107.1 percent, 39.0 percent and 29.9 percent year on year, respectively. The sales of fitness equipment on some e-commerce platforms surged 49 percent.

According to relevant departments, the number of people visiting shopping centers more than doubled in 10 first- and second-tier Chinese cities, reaching 86 percent of that in the same period two years ago.

Cai Xiang, who works for a construction enterprise in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province used to bring home stuffs he bought every Spring Festival. However, it was never easy to carry big-size luggage on the road. This year, everything he bought for his parents was ordered online and shipped to his hometown in western Hunan, which he said was much more convenient.

China’s online shopping and express industries maintained operation during this year’s Spring Festival, which enabled people staying put and their families back in their hometowns to send each other new year gifts. An online Chinese New Year shopping festival was organized by the MOFCOM and local authorities, and the sales exceeded 120 billion yuan ($18.5 billion) in the first 6 days of the holiday.

As the application of 5G and 4K goes wider, more and more Chinese are spending the Spring Festival “on the cloud.” Yunnan, Guangdong, Hubei, Heilongjiang, Xinjiang and Tibet launched various online activities and issued online and offline coupons to benefit the residents. Besides, Beijing, Shenzhen and Suzhou gave out tens of millions yuan of digital red packets.

“It was safe and interesting to spend the holiday in a B&B,” said Tang Wei, a citizen from Shijingshan District, Beijing, who booked a B&B in the capital’s Shunyi District where he and his family had a taste of local Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner and visited surrounding scenic spots.

The “stay-put” Spring Festival also led to a rise in short trips. The number of visits in parks, tourist attractions, museums, theaters, and ski resorts across the country significantly climbed. There was also a boom in the reservation of hotels and B&Bs in city outskirts. Statistics indicate that the accommodation consumption in the Beijing’s suburban districts of Yanqing, Miyun and Huairou more than tripled during the Spring Festival, and that in Shanghai’s Chongming, Qingpu and Jiading also surged more than 200 percent.

Multiple Chinese films came out during the holiday and ignited theaters. During the Spring Festival, the box office of Chinese films exceeded 7 billion yuan, creating a historical high. The total box office crossed the 10-billion-yuan mark in just in the first one and a half months this year, close to half of the whole-year figure in 2020.

COVID-19 boosts sales of game consoles

The “homebody economy”, which has gained steam as people spend more time at home to curb the spread of COVID-19, has provided a boost to what are now brisk sales of game consoles, which follows an industry-wide boom in home entertainment amid the pandemic.

(Photo/pixabay.com)

Japan’s Nintendo Co., Ltd. revealed on Feb. 1 that it sold 24.1 million Switch game consoles in the last nine months of the 2020 financial year from March through to December, an increase of 35.8 percent over the same period the previous fiscal year. The company has now sold a total of 79.87 million Switch units worldwide, surpassing the Nintendo 3DS’ sales over its lifetime.

Its operating profit in the nine months ending Dec. 31 last year soared 98.2 percent from a year earlier to 521 billion yen ($4.98 billion), while its net profit surged 91.8 percent year-on-year to reach 376.6 billion yen ($3.6 billion). The company’s overall sales revenue for this period reached 1.4 trillion yen ($13.4 billion), with overseas sales revenue accounting for 77.6 percent of the total.

In the late 1980s, Nintendo’s Famicom consoles were introduced into the Chinese market and soon became a hit with Chinese gamers. Since then, related video game franchises, such as Super Mario, Contra, Street Fighter, Adventure Island, and The Legend of Zelda, have become popular among gamers in China.

The popularity of gaming consoles, including those of Nintendo, can be attributed to the interactive features and long-term playability of its games.

Compared with mainstream mobile games and online games, console games are better able to offer interactive and immersive experiences for multiple gamers. According to Nintendo, a majority of its top 10 most popular games are multiplayer games.

For example, gamers can create and share side-scrolling Super Mario courses in Super Mario Maker 2 for Nintendo Switch, whose elements greatly enhance the multiplayer gaming experience.

The sales revenue generated by China’s gaming industry increased 20.7 percent year-on-year to reach 278.69 billion yuan ($43.2 billion) in 2020. Last year, the country’s online gaming industry maintained its rapid growth momentum amid the pandemic.