BEIJING - Internet-related industries such as e-commerce, short video, and online medical service are expected to usher in new development amid the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) outbreak, according to Peng Bo, chair professor at Peking University. The novel coronavirus epidemic will only have a temporary impact on China's economy, and the country's good economic fundamentals for long-term growth remain unchanged, said Lian Weiliang, deputy chief of the National Development and Reform Commission, at a press conference in Beijing on Monday. While the epidemic put a damper on industries like transport and tourism, fast growth has been registered in the burgeoning online service sector covering shopping, education, entertainment as well as virus control. 

5G commercial use to accelerate, laying foundation for online services

The novel coronavirus outbreak has led to huge demands for information flow and called for the communication channels at a faster  speed, implying the key role of 5G in the Internet industry, according to Peng. It is noted that China had built 130,000 5G base stations by the end of last year and shipments of 5G smartphones had topped13.77 million. The country officially kicked off 5G commercial use in 2019. Telecom carriers have invested a lot to build a 5G network, while mobile phone producers have scrambled to introduce 5G smartphones. The country is expected to accelerate the 5G commercial use, which will help promote the 5G applications in the sectors such as telemedicine, distance education, and telecommuting, Peng added.

Online services in high demand

The epidemic has forced millions of people across the country to stay at home and even work from home, generating robust demand for online services in medical treatment, telecommuting, etc. Alibaba launched free consultation services on its online shopping platform Taobao and mobile payment app Alipay, where hundreds of professional doctors from all over the country are providing medical services. Its service homepage received nearly 400,000 visits within 24 hours after launching, with 97 percent of them from central China's Hubei Province, where the epidemic is most severe, according to data from service provider AliHealth. Data from Weblink, a cloud service supplier affiliated with tech giant Huawei, showed that the average number of new enterprise users per day has increased by 50 percent in the past week. On Feb. 3, the first working day after a prolonged Spring Festival holiday, 120,000 meetings were conducted on the platform. "We can expect digital technologies and tools to speed up penetration in Chinese people's lives, work and entertainment. Business models will further evolve to cover both online and offline channels, "Zhang Tianbing, managing partner for the consumer products and retail sector with Deloitte Asia Pacific.

Internet + manufacturing empowering virus control

Short videos featuring camera drones with speakers reminding the passerby of wearing masks or the elderly residents of staying indoors have gone viral on China's social network platforms. It shows the great potential of Internet plus manufacturing during the virus control as products such as drones and robots can help reduce face-to-face contact and reduce contagion risk. In addition to the drones, robot is also an effective tool to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. It is reported that the country's major robot manufacturer Siasun and the Shenyang Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have started R&D of a robot that can replace nurses in conducting throat testing. 

The robot, which will include a snake-shaped mechanical arm and a swab collection part, can be controlled remotely to protect the medical staff from being infected, according to Siasun Robot and Automation Co., Ltd. In recent years, China has been seeking to deploy a large number of robots to turbocharge its manufacturing sector amid rising labor costs and an aging population. The smart manufacturing wave is creating vast opportunities for the robotics industry. The virus outbreak will quicken the country's pace in the smart manufacturing. A report by the Chinese Institute of Electronics shows that China is the world's largest industrial robot market, accounting for a third of global sales and with an estimated value of 5.7 billion dollars in 2019.