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April 28, 2020

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Digital plan for epidemic recovery

Shanghai recently issued its plan to promote development of the online economy, focusing on 12 key aspects such as unmanned factories, industrial Internet, remote work, online finance and digital entertainment.

Under the plan, the new way of doing business is described as “online, intelligent and interactive.” It utilizes new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, 5G, the Internet, big data and blockchain, combining them with traditional sectors such as manufacturing, business finance, culture, education and health care.

The COVID-19 outbreak, which disrupted production and lifestyles, has fueled the development of the online economy. Shanghai authorities now want to harness those gains as a driver of the economic recovery after the pandemic.

“The online economy has accelerating growth, a surprising benefit amid a disaster,” said Wu Jincheng, director of the Shanghai Commission of Economy and Informatization. “It will result in some deep changes.”

Those changes are already underway.

Dingdong, a three-year-old online grocery-shopping platform based in Shanghai’s pilot free trade zone, reported that revenue hit a record 1.2 billion yuan (US$169 million) in February, when the city was experiencing its darkest days of the epidemic.

Many people came to rely on Dingdong to deliver food to their homes. With success under its belt, the company is now expanding into more cities and going beyond just grocery deliveries to give people advice on how to prepare meals at home.

The city’s new plan aims to encourage and promote Dingdong and similar businesses emerging from the crisis.

‘Hundreds’ of goals

Its goals for this year are summarized as “100-plus.” They seek to mobilize more than 100 innovative companies with core technologies, intellectual property rights and international competitiveness. They seek 100 applications that can be turned into commercial products. They seek to develop no less than 100 new brand products, and they seek to achieve breakthroughs in the development of at least 100 key technologies.

A number of platforms for research and development will be established to boost technological innovation in the fields of artificial intelligence, 5G, the Internet, big data and blockchain.

One specific target is to build no less than 100 unmanned factories, unmanned production lines, and unmanned workshops focused on advanced manufacturing models, such as “flexible” manufacturing and cloud manufacturing.

Meanwhile, 20 industrial Internet platforms with national influence will be set up.

Development of online culture and entertainment, such as short videos, livestreaming, online gaming and eSports, is also a highlight in the city’s plan.

According to the plan, other key areas to be boosted include telecommuting, online finance, online exhibitions, fresh food retail sales on e-commerce platforms, contactless delivery, intelligent-connected vehicles, online education, online research and development and online health care.

To ensure practical implementation of the plan’s policies, Shanghai aims to further improve public services, increase regulation monitoring, fine-tune the professional evaluation system for new types of talent such as freelancers, and construct “ecological parks” for the online economy, according to the city’s Commission of Economy and Informatization.


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