Digitalizing Rural Areas, Cases from the PRC

About 44% of the world’s population lives in rural areas. Extreme poverty tends to concentrate on and affect rural more than urban populations. Rural development therefore remains a key agenda of many governments, not only to eradicate poverty, but also to stimulate economic activity in the rural areas.

The PRC has achieved a stellar record lifting over 800 million people out of poverty. A key driver of this has been the increased digitalization of the rural economy. From 2016-2020, the last five-year plan, the PRC’s rural online retail sales grew at an average annual rate of about 39%, from CNY 350 billion (US$ 52.24 billion) to CNY 1.8 trillion (US$ 270 billion).

In the current 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), the development of digital economy in rural areas and the promotion of integrated urban-rural development are further emphasized. Meanwhile, the Digital Rural Development Action Plan (2022-2025) was released in January 2022 to ensure significant progress in digital rural development focusing on smart agriculture, rural e-commerce brand, rural digital governance system, and popularization of 4G and 5G.

Against this backdrop, this webinar series will feature PRC practitioners, who have introduced and implemented information and communication technology to revitalize rural areas, and in doing so, help the rural populations achieve sustained income and improve their wellbeing. Developing member countries’ officials, policymakers, and experts will have this rare opportunity to exchange views and learn from front-line experts in some of the most successful digital rural revitalization initiatives in the country.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region. Recognizing the goals of the UN2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, CIKD in the PRC was launched in August 2017 with the aim of promoting international development cooperation through researching and communicating with other countries on development theories and practices.


Moderator: Xiheng Jiang, Vice President, CIKD                                                                                                    Opening remarks: Changwen Zhao, President, CIKD; Yolanda Fernandez Lommen, Country Director, ADB Resident Mission in the PRC.

Liang Chen, Secretary of the Party Working Committee of Shaji E-commerce Transformation Demonstration Zone in Suining County, Jiangsu Province, will introduce the “Shaji E-Commerce Model”, a bottom-up rural inspired entrepreneurship that taps into the large online market. With low barriers of entry, the first successful business further inspires other rural folks to setup similar businesses, and also related businesses that together creates a powerful effect in revitalizing the rural areas.  

Moderator: Yoonee Jeong, Senior Digital Technology Specialist, ADB

Haihe Hu, General Manager, Alibaba will share how its staff seconded to rural areas study local strengths and resources to drive the development of rural industries by leveraging on the market, technology, and infrastructure. The seconded staff, also known as commissioners, studies a product’s entire value chain, and mobilize all available Alibaba’s resources to support product development and in turn the rural areas.  


COVID-19 Experiences and Lessons From the PRC

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has affected all parts of life from health (or death), social, economics, commerce to politics. As the first country which reported the initial outbreak, and the first country to ease lockdowns, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is showing propitious signs of leading the world out of the pandemic and economic funk. While this should be in itself a cause for optimism—of how other countries may keep a lid on the pandemic and reboot their economy—many continue to question the effectiveness and disproportionate trade-offs of measures, efforts, and sacrifices made by the country.

Against this backdrop, this webinar series aims to (i) understand first-hand from PRC experts in various fields how they have fought COVID-19—what they have learned, what have and have not worked, what are the next steps; and (ii) to shed light on a slew of COVID misinformation directed at the PRC.

ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region. Recognizing the goals of the UN2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, CIKD in the PRC was launched in August 2017 with the aim of promoting international development cooperation through the sharing of the PRC’s development experiences with other countries.


The PRC’s Health Response to COVID-19: Where Are We and What’s Next

While new COVID cases in the PRC have slowed, life is still not quite back to normal. Fears of a second wave remain real without a vaccine in sight and, among other factors, potential of contagion from asymptomatic carriers and false-negative patients. In this webinar, the speaker will discuss how the PRC managed to contain the outbreak so quickly—and the shortcomings in epidemic prevention and control mechanisms and the national public health system. In addition, the speaker will shed light on, among others, whether the case number should have been higher, whether the authorities were slow in announcing the outbreak, how they addressed the shortage of resources (beds, health personnel, personal protective equipment, ventilators, and others), prioritize patients’ treatment given the shortage, how the battle of COVID-19 in Wuhan evolved and what can be learned from its experience, what is the progress in vaccine development, the role of traditional Chinese medicine, and how the authorities will handle a potential second wave.


  • James Lynch, Director General, East Asia Department, ADB


  • Zunyou Wu, Chief Epidemiologist of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China (China CDC);  and
  • Rongmeng Jiang, Director of Office of National Infectious Disease Medical Quality Control Center, Director of Infectious Disease Diagnosis and Treatment Center of Beijing Ditan Hospital Affiliated to Capital Medical University, Member of Experts Committee of National Health Commission. (Stayed in Wuhan for 109 days to guide and support local efforts in combating COVID-19).

Economic Impact of COVID-19 and Response of the PRC

COVID-19 has led the PRC to record its first negative quarterly growth of 6.8 percent year-on-year since the quarterly series began in 1992. The near two-month lockdown of all non-essential activity saw a major decline in all (industrial, services, and primary) sectors. In this webinar, the presenter will discuss the COVID impact on output, consumption, investment, trade, fiscal, debt, and unemployment, and whether this setback will derail the country’s target of doubling the size of the economy by end-2020 from 2010. In addition, the presenter will shed light on the extent of resumption of work and production, disruption to the country’s global supply chains in particular the production of daily necessity during lockdown, the conditions of and measures taken to help small-and-medium enterprises and self-employed businesses, avoidance of hoarding and price gouging, and some novel ideas being implemented to boost consumption. The presenter will also share insights on the omission of the GDP target in the 2020 government report at the People’s National Congress, and what this implies for future economic prospects in the PRC and beyond.


  • Yolanda Fernandez Lommen, Country Director, PRC Resident Mission, ADB


  • Sen Gong, Executive Vice-President, CIKD
  • Yang Yao, Professor and Dean of National School of Development, Executive Director of Institute of South South Cooperation and Development, Peking University.
  • Wei Xu, Deputy Director General, Macroeconomic Research Department, the Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC).

How IT Aided the Fight Against COVID-19 and How the Industry Is Being Transformed?

The IT and online industry has played a pivotal role in the fight against COVID-19. For those kept at home, the food and grocery delivery apps of Meituan or Eleme have been a life savior sustained by an army of delivery personnel who typically ensure all takeaways be delivered within 30 minutes. Similarly, those who require medical attention but fear of infection in hospitals, can turn to one of the online health apps offered by Baidu, Alibaba, or Tencent. For primary and secondary students, a national online learning platform was quickly developed by the government in cooperation with internet and mobile companies. More pressingly to control people’s movements and contain the spread of the virus, a national health QR code was developed and integrated into WeChat, a ubiquitous social messaging app, and Alipay, a popular online payment app. These are some of the issues which the speaker will share together with how he sees the industry will change and innovate going forward as a result of COVID-19.


  • James Lynch, Director General, East Asia Department, ADB


  • Xiheng Jiang, Vice-President, CIKD.
  • Jianjun Dai, Deputy Director General, Research Department of Innovation Development, the Development Research Center of the State Council (DRC).
  • Song Liu, Vice-President, Alibaba.

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