BUSINESS Coronavirus crisis spurs demand for nation’s online economy

BUSINESS

Coronavirus crisis spurs demand for nation’s online economy

Global Times

03:27, February 05, 2020

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A student takes an online course at home in Yuncheng, North China's Shanxi Province during the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo: IC)

The digital economy, which includes online shopping, food takeaway services and home entertainment, remains brisk amid the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, according to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Due to the outbreak, the Chinese New Year holiday has been extended, and most people have been advised to work from home following the holiday to reduce their contact with other people.

"I have spent most of my free time recently on online video games and online shopping at home," said Xiong Xiao, a woman in her 20s who has not left her house since she returned to Beijing from her hometown Chongqing three days ago.

The longer period at home has spurred demand for online services, notably demand for food delivery. Online orders on Meituan Maicai, a service allowing users to buy groceries under meituan.com - one of the most popular food takeaway service companies in China - surged to two to three times their usual number in Beijing during the Spring Festival, and are still rising, according to a report by financial media platform caijing.com.

"People's demand for high-quality life through food and entertainment is not going away because of the virus," Tian Yun, vice director of the Beijing Economic Operation Association, told the Global Times. "And it will boost new channels to meet this demand."

With the increasing demand for e-commerce platforms, online businesses are also coming up with new delivery methods to minimize the risks for both couriers and their customers. Meituan.com introduced "contactless" delivery on January 26, according to a company statement sent to the Global Times. E-commerce platform suning.com also introduced a similar delivery policy.

The epidemic has pushed up the home entertainment market as well. Although movie theaters are among the establishments hardest hit by the crisis, people are shifting to watching films online. Lost in Russia became the first theatrical play to premiere online due to the coronavirus outbreak, and it has generated over 600 million views within three days.

"In the long run, this could be the beginning of the transformation of China's filmdom, which may shift toward online viewing rather than offline," Tian said.

Like Lost in Russia, other movies that were scheduled to premiere during this time have followed suit and are set to broadcast online. Enter the Fat Dragon, which was originally scheduled to hit cinemas on Valentine's Day, has reached a "swift agreement" with China's video streaming platform iqiyi.com for rights to the movie's online release, according to news outlet yicai.com.


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