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China's sharing economy: $501 billion market volume | Updated: 2017-05-17 08:17

China's sharing economy: $501 billion market volume

A Chinese mobile phone user uses the taxi-hailing app Didi Chuxing on her smartphone. [Photo/Xinhua]

From carpooling to shared phone chargers, China has witnessed explosive growth in its sharing economy, whose market trade volume topped 3.45 trillion yuan ($501 billion) in 2016. That amount is up 103 percent from 2015, a State Information Center (SIC) official revealed.

Specifically, trade volume in skills- and technology-sharing saw the fastest growth rate, at 205 percent, while life service platforms yielded the highest trade volume at 723.3 billion yuan. Investments in the sharing economy have also been on the rise, with total financing reaching 171 billion yuan, according to Zhang Xinhong, director of the Sharing Economy Research Institute under SIC.

"In my opinion, China is indeed a top player [in the sharing economy], whether on a pure scale or when judging by economic innovation," Zhang said at a seminar in Beijing on May 13.

Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University and author of "The Sharing Economy," observed at the seminar that this new crowd-based capitalism is thriving all over the world, facilitating an asset-light consumption mode in almost all aspects of life.

Sundararajan pointed out that China, along with many other countries in the world, should enjoy the most profound impact of the transition to a sharing economy. The professor explained that it is easier for Chinese consumers to leap from the previous mode, which valued ownership, straight to the more efficient sharing economy.

Estimates show that over 600 million people were involved in the sharing economy in China in 2016, 100 million more than in 2015. The number of people employed in sharing economy businesses also rose to 60 million in 2016, according to Zhang.

Yang Weiguo, dean of the School of Labor and Human Resources at Renmin University of China, said that the sharing economy can help to reduce discrimination and provide more employment opportunities.

"The sharing economy is becoming a major trend, and eventually everything that can be shared will be shared, as long as it is ethically and legally feasible," Zhang noted.

Lu Wei, secretary general of Internet Society of China, urged sharing economy businesses in China to remain people-oriented and work to serve small and medium-sized enterprises, promoting the national strategy.

Looking to the future, Sundararajan said the sharing economy will further boost overall economic growth, as it brings more efficient allocation of capital and assets. It also provides more diverse products and services to consumers, increasing economic activity.

Regarding China specifically, SIC predicted an annual growth of 40 percent in sharing economy market volume. By 2020, the sharing economy is estimated to account for over 10 percent of China's GDP, according to Zhang.

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