Is e-commerce part of the real economy? That has long been a question. On March 19, People’s Daily published an article on its front page, saying that the new, real economy is rising. Beijing Youth Daily comments:
Official data show that more than 470 million domestic residents purchased goods online last year. As a result, the total sales revenue of e-commerce exceeded 5 trillion yuan ($724 billion), 26 percent higher than it was in 2015 and accounting for 12.6 percent of the country’s total retail sales.
However, the debate has continued about whether e-commerce is part of the real economy. Many people argue that only bricks-and-mortar supermarkets and shops are the real retail economy and they say everything online is virtual.
That is wrong and might cause people to refrain from opening online shops at a time when the top leadership has vowed to further support the real economy. This will in turn hinder the development of e-commerce.
That’s why the People’s Daily article comes in time. It clears up any ambiguity over the real economy, and gives people confidence to participate in e-commerce.
Actually, e-commerce is not the enemy, as it too is part of the real economy. Real goods are bought and sold, and all these goods are produced in factories. E-commerce thus helps the real economy as a whole to prosper. Just as the People’s Daily article pointed out, Alibaba’s sales created more than 30 million jobs.
Maybe some bricks-and-mortar stores face fierce competition, but that’s not the fault of e-commerce. Competition helps all stores sharpen their edge and improve their customer service, which in turn upgrades the service sector.