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Nation set to cash in on sharing economy

By Ouyang Shijia and Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-23 07:49

Buoyed by the success of the nation's ride-hailing and bike-sharing sectors, Chinese companies and consumers are set to benefit from the country's intensified efforts to drive the rapidly expanding sharing economy.

Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said it is important to develop the new economy to cut overcapacity and generate sustainable long-term economic growth.

The central government approved a guideline to boost the blossoming sharing economy at a State Council executive meeting on Wednesday, saying it will help the nation adapt to the global technological and industrial revolution and foster new growth momentum.

According to the guideline, entrepreneurs are encouraged to tap into the sharing economy, and the authorities will introduce new access and supervision policies to remove industrial and regional barriers to the sustainable development of the sharing economy.

A report released in February by the State Information Center and the Internet Society of China reveals the market for the sharing economy reached 3.45 trillion yuan ($505 billion) in 2016, an increase of 103 percent year-on-year.

Having taken notice of the ballooning sharing economy, the Chinese government expects it to grow 40 percent year-on-year over the next few years. By 2020, it is set to account for more than 10 percent of total GDP.

Li Heng, a student at Peking University, is a frequent user of shared bikes and ride-hailing services.

"The sharing economy has really brought convenience to my daily life. I can easily take a ride by simply tapping my smartphone. But some problems still bother me, such as the lack of shared bikes when I am in a hurry or the high cost of booked cars during peak times," Li said.

Zhang Xu, a senior analyst at Beijing-based internet consultancy Analysys, said the new guideline will help to remove regional barriers from the development of the sharing economy.

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Mobike riding into Japan

Chinese bicycle-sharing startup Mobike Technology Co Ltd is charging ahead into Japan as the company scrambles to expand overseas and bring the China-originated bike-sharing service to more countries.

Mobike announced on Thursday that it has established its Japanese subsidiary Mobike Japan Ltd in Fukuoka, and it plans to begin services in the city later this year.

The move came shortly after Mobike raised more than $600 million in its latest round of financing from investors including Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Soichiro Takashima, mayor of Fukuoka, said the local government welcomed Mobike's bike-sharing service to the city.

"With Mobike's bike-sharing platform, Fukuoka residents, as well as tourists, can enjoy greater mobility and convenience when traveling around the city. We look forward to the benefits Mobike will bring with the reduction in the number of automobiles," Takashima said.

Mobike was first launched in Shanghai in April 2016, and has since expanded across China, into Singapore, and the United Kingdom. The company said that within 14 months it has expanded to 100 cities, with more than 100 million registered users and 5 million bikes in operation.

Mobike is locked in fierce competition with arch-rival Ofo Inc for supremacy in the burgeoning sector both at home and abroad. Mobike aims to have presence in 200 cities by the end of this year.

Chris Martin, head of international expansion at Mobike, said: "The Fukuoka city government and the Fukuoka Directive Council have given Mobike an incredible platform from which to expand our business in Japan."

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