China's ongoing efforts to spur new forms of consumption will help stimulate market players' vitality, boost domestic demand and support economic recovery, the country's top economic regulator said on Tuesday.
"Facing a grim situation both at home and abroad, we will come up with more targeted measures to spur consumption, such as promoting new types of consumption and creating a better consumption environment," said Gao Gao, deputy secretary-general of the National Development and Reform Commission.
"With booming internet, digital and other information technologies, China has attained a good development base in terms of e-commerce, new retail, mobile payment, logistics and related supporting fields," Gao said at a news briefing in Beijing.
"Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, China has witnessed growth opportunities for new internet-based forms of consumption. And a large amount of new consumption models appeared amid the pandemic, boosting online consumption of goods and services in fields such as medical care, education, entertainment, tourism, sports and fitness."
His comments came after the central authorities announced a string of measures on Monday to spur new types of consumption, including promoting the growth of online and offline consumption, to drive the nation's economic recovery.
Under the plan, the nation is set to see an improved policy system for promoting new forms of consumption in three to five years. By 2025, a group of demonstration cities and leading enterprises in new types of consumption should be formed, with online retail sales accounting for a significant share of total retail sales.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, online retail sales of physical goods grew in the first eight months of the year by 15.8 percent year-on-year, accounting for nearly a quarter of total retail sales of consumer goods.
"China's online consumption surged significantly despite the coronavirus impact, effectively meeting the daily needs of residents and helping to promote the steady recovery of the economy," Gao added.
The NDRC will make a big push to speed up the construction of new consumption infrastructure, improve consumption policies and the consumption environment and promote the healthy and sustainable development of new types of consumption, Gao said.
More efforts will also be made to strengthen policy support in terms of taxation, finance, employment and land use, encourage companies to use new models to expand globally, boost innovation in technologies, management and markets, and deepen cooperation among government, banks and enterprises, Gao added.
Li Ying, an official at the information technology development division of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said information consumption is an important part of the new types of consumption, and it has become a new driving force to expand domestic demand and stimulate economic growth.
"New models such as online education, online medical services and livestreaming e-commerce flourished amid the pandemic," Li said.
Key growth engine
After years of development, consumption has become a key growth engine for China. In 2019, consumption accounted for 57.8 percent of the country's economic growth, becoming the major driving force of economic growth for the sixth consecutive year, official data showed.
"The COVID-19 outbreak will not change the consumption upgrading trend or people's pursuit of a better life," said Wang Yun, director of the consumption office of the economics institute at the Academy of Macroeconomic Research of the NDRC.
"After the outbreak, residents' consumption habits will undergo some changes, such as being more inclined to online consumption of services such as online shopping, education and medical services."
Wang said the outbreak will have a short-term impact on employment and income growth in the country.
"However, for the year as a whole, residents' incomes will still keep pace with economic growth.
"As China's business gradually returns to normal, the pent-up consumption potential will gradually be unleashed," Wang added.