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Chinese e-commerce platforms play active roles in battle against novel coronavirus

(People's Daily Online)    08:56, February 10, 2020

Since the pneumonia outbreak caused by the novel coronavirus in China in late December 2019, e-commerce platforms in the country have taken active moves to help the country tackle the crisis, working hard to ensure timely supply of items for daily use as well as much needed medical supplies.

On Jan.30, a staff member of a supermarket in Wuxing district, Huzhou in east China’s Zhejiang province, helps a woman buy goods for daily use. Wuxing district recently launched online supermarkets on an e-commerce platform of the district and provides home delivery services for citizens. (Photo by Xu Yu/xinhuanet.com)

On Jan.25, 2020, many Chinese e-commerce platforms, including Alibaba and JD.com, issued a joint proposal to resolutely perform responsibilities as well as making all-out efforts to guarantee the provision of emergency supplies.

Many e-commerce platforms and express companies in China have run as usual during this year’s Spring Festival holiday, thanks to which people in the country have been able to get goods and materials for daily use without leaving home.

A Xin, an English teacher in Wu’an in north China’s Hebei province, had an unforgettable Spring Festival this year. Since communities around the country have all been warning people about the epidemic and urging them to stay at home to avoid infection during this extended holiday period, A Xin has also followed the advice. 

However, on Jan.27, the third day of the lunar Chinese year, she was a little bored with her life at home. She wanted to go shopping at a supermarket and take a walk outside. A Xin finally gave up on the idea of going out as she was very concerned about the epidemic situation. 

Instead, she ordered the goods she needed on the JD APP. Around 4 p.m., the products A Xin bought via her mobile phone, including rice, cooking oil, and fresh vegetables were all delivered to her home. 

Since the outbreak of the epidemic, face masks have been in hyper-demand across the country. As people find it merely impossible to get face masks at offline drugstores, convenience stores, or supermarkets, some greedy online stores began to jack up the prices of their remaining face mask inventories. Face masks that used to cost 1 or 2 yuan (about $0.14) each were being sold for 10 yuan or more.

Operators of relevant platforms immediately took actions to strengthen management and monitor prices of face masks and relevant goods. According to a report released by Alibaba on Feb.4, the e-commerce giant had intercepted and deleted web links of 570,000 questionable face masks and permanently removed 15 online stores suspected of selling face masks with quality issues, five of which being have been reported to law enforcement agencies. 

Besides sending notices about banning face mask price hikes to all shop owners selling face masks on its e-commerce platforms, Alibaba has contacted face mask factories in nearly 60 regions of the country, asking which to resume production for the emergency and speed up production of medical supplies.

Pintduoduo, a Groupon website in China, also carried out real-time supervision of prices of popular products during the epidemic like face masks, disinfectant and thermometers, removing relevant products that were being sold at unreasonably high prices.

In addition, in an effort to ensure consumers buy relevant commodities at low prices, Pinduoduo has launched dedicated sections for products concerning prevention and control of the novel coronavirus, and have furthermore provided more than 10 billion yuan subsidies for relevant products. 

A man surnamed Wang, who works in Beijing, checks e-commerce apps on his mobile phone every day to see whether face masks are available. Although there are shortages of some commodities in certain regions, Wang bought the products he wanted, including face masks and hand sanitizer.

“Sometimes I find that certain products are only available for Wuhan, but I think it’s understandable. I bought some products for my friends in Wuhan,” said Wang.

Since the evening of Feb.2, a poster about the launch of a “green channel” on Cainiao Network, a logistics arm of Alibaba, has been forwarded frequently by netizens on social media platforms. Cainiao Network launched the channel to provide transportation services pertaining to global relief supplies aimed at fighting the epidemic in China free of charge.

Prior to that, Alibaba announced the establishment of a dedicated fund of 1 billion yuan designated for realizing supply of medical materials on Jan.25 and started activities to search relevant medical resources for the battle against the crisis around the world.

The company has purchased a great number of key supplies, including face masks, protective clothing, and safety goggles from more than 10 countries, and delivered them to dedicated hospitals treating patients infected with the novel coronavirus in Hubei province. 

JD.com has also started to transport emergency medicine for local pharmaceutical companies in Hubei since Jan.21, and officially opened free channels for transportation of relief supplies from various parts of the country to Wuhan.

By Feb.4, JD.com has delivered more than 1,300 tonnes of supplies for prevention and control of the epidemic as well as emergency supplies to Wuhan and its neighboring areas for daily use. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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