China work­ers switch to on­line

RE­SPONSE: VIRUS SHUTTERS FAC­TO­RIES AND SHOPS

The Citizen (KZN) - - World - Shang­hai

Work-from-home apps see record users telecom­mut­ing in face of clo­sures.

Virus pho­bia has sent hun­dreds of mil­lions of Chi­nese flock­ing to on­line work­ing op­tions, with schools, busi­nesses, govern­ment de­part­ments, med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and even mu­se­ums and zoos wrap­ping them­selves in the dig­i­tal cloud for pro­tec­tion.

China re­mains in cri­sis mode weeks af­ter the epi­demic ex­ploded, with much of the coun­try shut down and the govern­ment push­ing work-from-home poli­cies to pre­vent peo­ple gather­ing to­gether.

That has been a boon for telecom­mut­ing plat­forms de­vel­oped by Chi­nese tech gi­ants such as

Alibaba, Ten­cent and Huawei, which have sud­denly leapt to the ranks of China’s most-down­loaded apps, leav­ing them scram­bling to cope with the in­creased de­mand.

Ten­cent said its of­fice col­lab­o­ra­tion app WeChat Work has seen a year-on-year ten­fold in­crease in ser­vice vol­ume since Fe­bru­ary 10, when much of the coun­try of­fi­cially came back from a virus-ex­tended Lu­nar

New Year hol­i­day.

Alibaba’s DingTalk has ob­served the most traf­fic in its fiveyear ex­is­tence, com­pany of­fi­cials told state me­dia, with around 200 mil­lion peo­ple us­ing it to work from home.

Huawei said its WeLink plat­form is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a 50-fold in­crease, with more than one mil­lion new daily users com­ing on board.

Eric Yang, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Shang­hai-based iTu­torGroup, which op­er­ates a range of on­line cour­ses, said his com­pany’s busi­ness has surged 215%.

“We just helped an art ed­u­ca­tion school open on­line paint­ing classes and are also help­ing an­other mu­sic school to open vir­tual classes,” Yang said.

“More kids in third- and fourthtier cities are in­creas­ingly tak­ing our on­line cour­ses be­cause of the out­break. In the past, most users came from first-tier cities (such as Beijing and Shang­hai).”

The mi­gra­tion re­ceived an im­plicit en­dorse­ment from Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping who gave a pep talk on na­tional TV to med­i­cal staff in the epi­cen­tre city of Wuhan via Huawei WeLink.

The virus, which has killed more than 1 100 peo­ple and in­fected nearly 45 000, has shut­tered fac­to­ries across the coun­try.

More kids are tak­ing on­line cour­ses be­cause of the virus

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