Beauty products popular among men

Men’s grooming is becoming an emerging market in China, with the group’s adoption of beauty products already starting to take off.

The country’s male cosmetics market has registered an average annual growth rate of 7.7 percent over the past four years in the country, with the total value of the market standing at about 16.7 billion yuan (about $2.6 billion) last year, according to statistics. The market is expected to exceed 20 billion yuan by 2023.

From May 1 to 3, sales of men’s makeup products soared by 1,692.6 percent year on year in county level cities, indicated statistics from a subsidiary App owned by Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platform Taobao.

According to data released by iiMedia Research, a data mining and analysis organization, stock for imported men’s makeup products during last year’s “Double 11” online shopping festival increased by 3,000 percent year on year. Meanwhile, sales of men’s skin care products jumped roughly 30 percent.

Among them, sales of liquid foundation and eyeliners for men born after 2000 grew twice and four times as fast than those for women, respectively.

In a survey conducted by Alibaba, 18.8 percent of post-95 male respondents said they used BB cream, while 18.6 percent have at some point applied cosmetics such as lipstick and eyeliner.

In addition to makeup products, Chinese men are also increasingly turning to medical aesthetic procedures. A report from iiMedia Research indicated that men accounted for 30 percent of all consumers who went under the knife to improve their physical appearance in 2020.

A young man surnamed Liu in Beijing is one of them. To remove his acne, he became a frequent visitor to an aesthetic medical services provider.

“I was a bit uncomfortable when I first went there for acne treatment. Then I found out that there are many male customers there,” said Liu, further disclosing that “to my surprise, after learning about my treatment, many of my male friends also want to have a try.”

China fuels high-quality economic growth

A primary school student experiences virtual skiing events of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games at the 4th Digital China Summit & Exhibition in Fuzhou, southeast China’s Fujian province, April 26, 2021. (People’s Daily Online/Chen Bin)

Digital technologies are vibrantly facilitating China’s high-quality economic progress as a wave of digitalization is arriving at a faster pace.

The country is currently the second largest digital economy in the world, and has established the second largest fiber-optic and 4G networks. By the end of the last year, the GDP portion of the added value of core digital economy industries had hit 7.8 percent.

The prospering digital economy in China was mirrored by the 4th Digital China Summit, held at the end of April in Fuzhou, southeast China’s Fujian province, where a series of digital products were exhibited, including an AI-driven education robot that is able to interact with teachers and students on classes, a prototype smart plant that can help increase productivity, and an autonomous aerial vehicle that is able to carry passengers. Besides, a light show was staged at the event by 1,500 unmanned aerial vehicles which “lit” the sky. They all envisioned a new prospect of China’s digital economy.

Digital economy is regarded as the future of global development, and high-quality development calls for sci-tech innovation and digital transformation to generate new development impetus.

For instance, vein pattern recognition technology allows people to pay and confirm their identities by a simple scan of their palms, and windows of vehicles could be turned into giant touch screens that display all kinds of information when equipped with AI, Internet of Things and 5G technologies. Besides, mobile communication stations that integrate core network, base station and dispatch system functions are playing a vital role in ensuring stable communication for disaster relief missions.

As general-purpose technologies, digital technologies have seeped into various aspects of the economy and society, powering livelihood improvement, social governance and economic progress.

Digital technologies have forcefully pushed economic transformation and upgrading, and made high-quality development more effective.

Driven by digitalization, new business models have constantly emerged in recent years, generating massive new jobs and industries.

In the fight against poverty, Chinese farmers have sold their agricultural products to every corner of the country, and today, mobile phones are a new “farming tool” for them to increase their income.

China’s digital economy registered 39.2 trillion yuan ($6.1 trillion) last year, which made up 38.6 percent of the country’s GDP, according to a report on the country’s digital economy development. Digital economy exceeded one trillion yuan in 13 provinces and municipalities of the country, the report said.

When expanding, digital economy is also releasing huge dividends to benefit the people.

At present, local governments across China are pacing up to digitalize their services. Twenty-one provincial-level and 122 prefecture-level regions across the country have established digital platforms, opening over 98,000 datasets to the public. Amid the COVID-19 epidemic, the Chinese government rolled out a digital health code system that worked as e-passport reporting the real-time health condition of individuals, which realized targeted epidemic prevention and control for around 1.4 billion Chinese. Besides, 24/7 online service platforms that support the handling of all kinds of administrative affairs have been launched by Chinese local governments, connecting and synergizing different government divisions and making possible information sharing among them.

Embracing the digital era, China will unleash the potential of digital production factors, and speed up building a digital economy, society and government, according to the country’s latest economic and social development blueprint, the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

By taking the pulse of the ever-changing trends of big data, sticking to the national big data strategy, developing digital infrastructure, and promoting the integration and sharing of data resources, China will better serve economic and social development and livelihood improvement with digital construction.

China diversifies elder care services

With China faced with a growing aging population, it has been stepping up efforts to provide a more diverse array of elder care services to its silver-haired citizens by integrating homes, communities, and healthcare facilities.

Photo shows seniors having lunch at a canteen offering free lunches to those aged 80 and over in a village in Xiazhuang town, Rongcheng city, east China’s Shandong province. The city operates 363 similar canteens. (Photo/Xinhua)

A vivid example of such efforts is the establishment of home-based elder care centers, where seniors can receive a variety of services that include personal care, consolation, and dining services. Staff dispatched from the centers are also able to provide door-to-door visits to stay-at-home seniors who are being cared for by their family members.

“Many simply think that home-based elder care means that the elderly are cared for by their children and family members, which is one-sided,” said Gao Huajun, executive vice president of the China Philanthropy Research Institute at Beijing Normal University.

Gao explained that stay-at-home seniors also need door-to-door professional care services offered by senior care providers sent from elderly care centers.

The outline for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) proposed to integrate home-based elder care together with communities and professional nursing institutions, said Xie Lili, an associate professor with Renmin University of China.

Photo shows a 91-year-old man holding emergency calling equipment provided to those using home-based care services in Xinhong neighborhood, Minhang district, Shanghai. (Photo/Xinhua)

It indicated that the government is fully aware of the need to give full play to the respective advantages of families, communities, and elder care institutions, Xie said, adding that China will promote the integration of various elder care services moving forward.

Professional nursing institutions are the best option for elderly people living with physical and intellectual disabilities who need access to long-term care, Xie said, noting that China should promote integrated medical and elder care services to meet the needs of these seniors.

Beijing has set up more than 260 old-age care centers that can provide basic services, with these institutions covering more than two-thirds of the city’s neighborhoods and townships.

One of them is the Huafang old-age care center, a nursing home that was jointly established by the Shichahai neighborhood in Beijing and Huafang Old-Age Care Investment Co., Ltd.

Inside the center, there are health care workers and well-trained caregivers who can provide professional services to the elderly, including bathing assistance, haircuts, pedicures, and mental health services, explained Su Guilan, executive director of the center, noting that the center also plays host to a large number of elderly-friendly facilities on site.

“The center offers both round-the-clock and door-to-door old-age care services,” said Su, adding that the civil affairs department subsidizes the center according to the number of beds in use and the specific services provided.

“We used the subsidies to renovate and upgrade our center. Furthermore, government supervision enables our staff members to constantly review their work. With these measures, we can better serve the elderly,” Su observed.

“Elder care services that are accessible for all will become a trend in the future,” Xie Lili pointed out while explaining that social and government resources will be further mobilized to make elder care services more affordable to a larger number of senior citizens.

The number of people aged 60 or above in the country is expected to exceed 300 million-more than 20 percent of the total population-during the 14th Five-Year Plan period, making China a moderately aging society, according to forecasts provided by China’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Meanwhile, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics indicate that there are now 17.8 older persons per 100 working-age persons in the country. China is also home to tens of millions of seniors living with physical and intellectual disabilities.

China paces up for modern energy system

Photo taken on May 5, 2021, shows a photovoltaic power station built on an abandoned mine in Dongshi township, Pingyuan county, Meizhou city, south China’s Guangdong province. (People’s Daily Online/Feng Xiquan)

Attaching great importance to low-carbon energy development, China is actively promoting energy consumption, energy supply, technology and innovation, and institution upgrading.

The country is making multi-faceted efforts to push forward energy revolution for the purpose of building a clean, low-carbon, safe and efficient energy system and improving the capacity to guarantee energy supply, just as projected in China’s new national development blueprint, the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Range Objectives Through the Year 2035.

In March, Taihu electric No. 001, an electric workboat, was launched in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu province. It was the first of its kind in the basin of Taihu Lake, China’s third largest freshwater lake. The lithium batteries of the workboat can store as much electricity as the combined amount of electricity of five electric vehicles.

According to preliminary estimates, when all the 1,100 workboats in the Taihu Lake basin become electrified, the transformation from fuel oil-powered boats to electric ones will reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 75,000 tonnes a year, which is equivalent to the amount of CO2 discharged by more than 27,000 private cars.

“In the past, the fuel oil-powered workboat would leave an oily track on the surface of the water and the smell of greasy dirt on the shoreside. Now the electric workboat is more powerful and faster, yet it doesn’t leave any pollutants,” said Li Fenglei, a driver of the workboats in the Taihu Lake basin.

Since the beginning of this year, non-fossil energy has been developing more rapidly in China, while the country’s power generation has also seen a relatively fast year-on-year growth.

Based on corresponding data of the same period in 2019, China’s output of electricity generated by wind, solar, and nuclear power plants rose by 17.6 percent, 12.5 percent, and 9.6 percent respectively on average in the first quarter this year from two years ago.

Meanwhile, power supply projects in the country received a total of 79.5 billion yuan (about $12.37 billion) of investment, which represented a 31.3-percent year-on-year growth rate and an average growth rate of 39.9 percent from two years ago. In particular, about 91 percent of the investment was channeled to power generation projects using non-fossil energy.

“Our dining hall and kitchen have stopped using coal or natural gas, and switched to induction cookers, which are safer, produce less lampblack and smoke, and cut our energy consumption cost by half,” said Lai Yong, an executive of a hot pot restaurant in Chengdu, capital of southwest China’s Sichuan province. Lai is very satisfied with the decision to replace the cooking stoves of the restaurant with induction cookers.

More than 10,000 hot pot restaurants in Chengdu are using electric cooking appliances, accounting for about 70 percent of the total number of hot pot restaurants in the city.

These hot pot restaurants with electric cookers have effectively advanced the development of clean and low-carbon energy of the city, as they consume approximately 837 million kWh of electricity a year, which means they reduce over 710,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions for the city every year.

In fact, many cities in China have taken active measures to promote the replacement of traditional energy with electricity in key sectors and industries, comprehensively improve resource use efficiency and facilitate the country’s energy revolution.

South China’s Guangdong province has come up with the idea of establishing a budget-management system for energy consumption to strictly regulate the launch of energy-intensive projects.

The southern island province of Hainan plans to add 25,000 new energy vehicles (NEVs) to the city, start building a world NEV experience center, and make sure the combined floor area of prefabricated buildings in the province reach 17 million square meters this year.

In addition, Shaanxi province in northwest China is intensifying efforts to promote eco-friendly products, such as NEVs, green building materials, energy-efficient home appliances and efficient lighting products.

Smart restaurants give dining more fun

Smart restaurants, which offer a dining experience characterized by partly automated operations that eliminate the need for human waiters and waitresses, have continued to flourish across China as an up-and-coming business model.

Photo taken on Jan. 15, 2020 shows the dish delivery robot working at a smart restaurant in Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong Province. (Xinhua/Deng Hua)

Since it opened up a smart restaurant in Beijing’s Chaoyang district in 2018, the hotpot restaurant chain Haidilao has garnered even greater acclaim by offering a new unique experience to its patrons.

At the restaurant, processes such as ordering, preparing, cooking and serving food, as well as dining and checking out, are all facilitated through the use of robots and an artificial intelligence-enabled (AI) system.

The intelligent system is also able to identify food items approaching their expiry date and will properly dispose of these items before processing a new order, explained Hu Jie, an R&D manager with Haidilao.

Haidilao is one of the many restaurants in China that has undergone changes in their operations by embracing the latest information technologies and related equipment.

Starting last year, there has been a rising demand for automated systems to promote contactless dining at restaurants, a dining mode that was eagerly sought after to prevent the further spread of the novel coronavirus virus after the initial outbreak.

To seize upon this new business opportunity, various domestic robot manufacturers, including Siasun, Uditech and Keenon, have become increasingly more engaged in R&D in the area of robotics since last year.

The robots developed by Keenon can perform tasks such as food delivery and clearing empty plates away from the table. They can also avoid obstacles and return to their original position after completing a food delivery run. Moreover, the robotic droids are able to display a QR code to customers for scanning prior to making a payment. All these functions can help to significantly reduce instances of human-to-human contact.

Two Keenon robots are able to serve 20 to 30 tables, as statistics from Keenon showed, while indicating that such an operational arrangement can effectively save labor costs and improve efficiencies. The whole catering industry will become more and more dependent on robotic systems for fulfilling their food delivery needs in the future with an aim to raising efficiencies, lowering costs and guaranteeing food safety, said an executive with Keenon.

Industry insiders believe that compared with traditional dining scenarios, smart restaurants can better guarantee food safety, providing a means for monitoring food safety information and reducing the chance for food contamination from human handlers.

China’s catering industry is becoming more intelligent, with new business scenarios constantly emerging, while the relationship between online and offline channels is becoming even closer, as was pointed out in a report on China’s catering industry development in 2021. Meanwhile, the continued development of the catering industry has also promoted further growth among product manufacturers and service providers, the report added.

An official with the Ministry of Commerce mentioned recently that efforts should be made to accelerate digitalization, smart transformation, and cross-industry collaboration for brick-and-mortar businesses, promoting the development of smart restaurants and working towards deeper integration between online and offline business models.

Digital RMB coming soon to citizens

Photo taken on Feb. 14, 2021, shows an advertisement board for digital RMB at Wangfujing shopping street, Beijing. (People’s Daily Online/Chen Xiaogen)

A Chinese senior citizen surnamed Liu was recently surprised by the convenience of digital RMB, or e-CNY, during a visit to Bo’ao, south China’s Hainan province.

He told People’s Daily that he bumped into a digital RMB promotional activity in the city that was piloting e-currency, and finished payment by simply placing his smart watch on a POS machine.

“This ‘wallet’ came in very handy,” Liu said. He hoped that the new payment method could be applied in China as soon as possible.

A Shanghai resident surnamed Chen, who’s an owner of a vegetable stall at a farm produce market, holds similar points with Liu. “Thanks to digital currency, my daily turnover is automatically saved in my bank account. Besides, it also offers real-time and free transfer of money,” she said.

Digital RMB is essentially a legal currency issued by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank of China, under national credit guarantee. It is digital cash, and completely equivalent to banknotes and coins in terms of value.

At the end of 2019, digital RMB was put in pilot tests in Chinese cities like Shenzhen, Suzhou and Chengdu, Xiong’an New area, a state-level new area in north China’s Hebei province, as well as future scenarios for the Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

By October 2020, six more pilot areas were added, including Hainan province, Shanghai, Changsha, Xi’an, Qingdao, and Dalian.

Experts pointed out that digital RMB has attracted wide attention for its convenience and efficiency. It transfers money in real time as there’s no intermediary agency between the payers and payees. Besides, it also works like cash in offline scenarios.

More importantly, digital RMB can better protect the privacy of users as it promises controllable anonymity and denies merchants and third-party platforms the access to consumers’ ID information and payment data.

As a key feature of e-CNY, controllable anonymity not only helps guarantee individuals’ legitimate anonymous transactions and personal information security, but also contributes to preventing, controlling and cracking down on money laundering, terrorist financing, tax evasion and other illegal and criminal activities for higher level of financial safety, said Mu Changchun, head of the Institute of Digital Money under the PBOC.

With multiple banks in the pilot areas testing the innovative payment method, e-CNY has been applied in a variety of scenarios ranging from catering services and daily payment to shopping and transportation.

It is expected that digital RMB will extend to online businesses like e-commerce and short video platforms, and play a major role in real economy sectors such as corporate trade and supply chain finance.

In the era of digital economy, digital currency boasts huge potential for development, and can help improve the efficiency of economic operation and may even give birth to new business forms and economic models, said Mei Xinyu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce.

China enjoys many advantages in pushing forward with digital currency, Mei noted, explaining that the country has developed relatively complete infrastructure and payment systems, and electronic payment enjoys high acceptance among Chinese consumers and merchants.

Mei also believes that digital currency will make cross-border settlement more efficient as the COVID-19 epidemic prompts consumers across the world to develop a habit of online shopping and payment.

During the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021, Li Bo, deputy governor of the PBOC, made it clear that the PBOC would focus on the following aspects in its work related to digital RMB, including advancing pilot projects and expanding their scope, further improving the infrastructure of digital RMB and enhancing the security and reliability of relevant systems, and formulating relevant legal and regulatory frameworks.

When asked whether digital currency would replace banknotes and general electronic payment as it gradually becomes mainstreamed, Mu stressed that the issuance of digital RMB is not based on administrative enforcement, but market-oriented, which signifies that paper money, electronic payment, and digital RMB will coexist in the foreseeable future.

Niche cultures see growing market

Nobody would have imagined that niche cultures, such as Han costumes, Lolita fashion and JK uniforms are in fact now favored by far more than a few minor groups on the sidelines, instead propping up a market of around 10 billion yuan ($1.55 billion) today.

In fact, online searches for Han costumes exceed those of T-shirts on e-commerce shopping platforms, and a single JK dress may garner a sales volume of 300,000 units within several days after its initial launch.

Photo shows Hanfu enthusiasts appreciating pear blossoms and sipping tea in Chengdu, southwest China’s Sichuan province. (Xinhua/Liu Mengqi)

“In the past, the number of fans for these cultures and fashions was very limited. However, about two years ago, I began to receive inquiries from a vast number of neophytes,” said Fu Linying, a fan of these types of distinctive clothes and also a vendor of JK uniforms on the online Chinese e-commerce marketplace Taobao.

That was why Fu, who had been studying and working overseas, decided to return to China and start a JK uniform business with her boyfriend in 2019. According to Fu, people aged 17 to 28 are the main target consumers for her online shop.

Last year, Fu rolled out a JK dress design whose color differed from that of ordinary ones. Within a couple of days, over 20,000 units of the dress were sold.

“Most of the girls in my time could only follow trends, but the young girls today have become trend settlers,” Fu said.

Last year, Fu’s store achieved a sales revenue of over 2 million yuan, with the number of followers linking to her store rising to nearly 200,000.

Consumers of these kinds of unique clothing items will usually select and shop for items at one or several stores, and then share their comments and personal feelings about the dresses they purchase from individual stores on the platforms.

“A Lolita outfit costs somewhere between 1,000 yuan to 2,500 yuan,” said Mu Mu, a college student who has a passionate interest in Lolita outfits, adding that she spends over 10,000 yuan on Lolita costumes every year.

She said that Lolita costume fans respect and prefer original designs and will shun any knockoffs, which is why they have become increasingly more loyal to specific brands.

Taobao now has over 1,000 stores like Fu’s. The constant expansion of China’s emerging consumer demand has provided merchants in the niche market with significant room for continued growth. Data from Taobao showed that the number of new active merchants on the platform hit its peak during the period from April 2020 to March 2021 over the past five fiscal years since 2017.

China continues to better Internet services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Toy doctor’ strives to repair broken toys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yunnan gears up to protect biodiversity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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