Staff check stored goods at a warehouse in Lianyungang city in east China's Jiangsu province. Photo: AFP.

China’s online retail sales of goods rose 14.8% year-on-year to 9.8 trillion yuan (US$1.5 trillion) in 2020, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MoC).

China has ranked the largest online retail market in the world for eight years in a row, the MoC said, noting that online retail sales accounted for 24.9% of the country’s total retail sales volume last year.

Surging online sales boosted the courier sector, with a total of 83.36 billion parcels being delivered last year, up 31% from 63.52 billion parcels in 2019. In 2020, e-commerce sales via live streaming also gained popularity, with more than 20 million live streaming marketing activities taking place.

The MoC data also showed that the country’s imports of consumer goods increased by 8.2% year-on-year to 1.57 trillion yuan.

Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment (FDI) into mainland China, in actual use, expanded 6.2% to a record high of 999.98 billion yuan in 2020 from a year earlier, the MoC said Wednesday. In US dollar terms, the FDI inflow grew 4.5% to US$144.37 billion.

China managed to emerge from Covid-19 and meet its target of stabilizing foreign investment in 2020, bucking the downward trend in global foreign investment, the ministry said.

In 2020, China’s foreign investment touched a record high, with its growth pace quickened and global share increased.

The structure of the country’s foreign investment was further optimized. Foreign investment in the service industry came in at 776.8 billion yuan in 2020, up 13.9% year-on-year, while that in the high-tech service sector rose 28.5%.

Investment from the Netherlands surged 47.6% year-on-year, while that from Britain rose 30.7%, according to the ministry.

Macro policy

China’s macro policy this year will definitely match the actual needs of stable economic growth and there will be no U-turn on the policy, the country’s top economic planner said in a press conference on Tuesday.

“We’ve noticed that some voices in the society believe that the policy in 2021 will be fully regressed or even withdrawn. I think this is not correct,” said Yan Pengcheng, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Yan noted that the Central Economic Work Conference has made policy arrangements for 2021, and that the main purpose of the macro policy was to ensure the healthy growth of the economy. He said the NDRC will deal with all kinds of economic uncertainties.

“In particular, considering that some entities have been experiencing a period of recovery, and some small-and-medium-enterprises have just survived from the pandemic without recovery, the macro policy will continue to give them the necessary support,” Yan said.

Yan also pointed out that some temporary policies cannot work in the long term. As the economy gradually returns to normal, it is necessary to use reforms and innovations to stimulate market entities, and leave policy space to deal with more complex situations in the future, he added.

Company news

Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which owns Volvo Cars, signed an agreement on Tuesday with Tencent to develop smart onboard functions. The two will develop smart car functions including infotainment as well as mobility service applications, and explore autonomous driving, Geely said in a statement.

The deal with Tencent is the latest of partnerships the carmaker has signed with companies in the tech sector.

Earlier this month, Geely partnered with Baidu to build a standalone carmaker, which will use Geely’s dedicated EV platform. Geely also signed a deal with Apple maker Foxconn to establish a joint venture that provides contract manufacturing for other automakers.

The stories were compiled by Nadeem Xu and KoKo and first published at

Xu Yuenai is a Beijing-based columnist specializing in international relations.