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A stodgy state-owned enterprise becomes an innovator

THE POSTMAN’S AT THE DOOR. Is he holding a bundle of letters? No. He hands you a week’s worth of choi sum, some gai laan and a bag of onions. During difficult periods of Covid-19, China Post started providing a hassle-free home delivery service of vegetables for local communities.

But that’s not all. If you go to the post office in Xiamen, you can buy stamps and envelopes, but also meet friends to have a soy-latte and some pastries. It’s a coffee shop too.

And during the recent Winter Olympics, branches of China Post made sure people could get the stuffed toys of Bing Dwen Dwen (冰墩墩), the popular panda mascot, alongside normal postal goods.

What’s going on? It seems that several of the stodgy state-owned enterprises of China are now waking up to the fact that they need to innovate and grow new businesses, just like any large-scale conglomerate.


Popular drinks have tempted several of them. Tongrentang, a time-honored medicine brand in China, started selling “healthy” coffee. The North China Pharmaceutical Group, began to offer milk tea combined with traditional Chinese medicine. Even Sinopec, a gasoline company, set up a coffee sideline.

But China Post appears to be ahead of them all. The postal company set up a medical website to help patients living in remote areas to get the right treatment. After logging in, patients can be diagnosed and buy medicine at the lowest price according to the prescription provided by doctors online. The costs invested in the website every year was a huge sum of money. In spite of this, China Post still adheres to the principle of offering affordable medicine to patients and carefully dealing with large numbers of diagnoses.


It should be said that China Post was definitely in need of a new image. As slick new courier companies sprang up, such as SF Express, which started in Shenzhen, the old postal service appeared dreary, slow and old-fashioned.

In Douban, a social media service like Twitter, there was a lot of criticism, and there was even a group set up for People Who Swear Never To Use China Post.

In July last year, Henan Province was ravaged by rainstorms and floods, leading to suspension and cancel of many express services. Most courier enterprises stopped package delivery to Henan, but at that tough moment, China Post took the responsibility to keep the service going.

Staff trekked through heavy rains to successfully deliver tens of thousands of College Entrance Examination Admission Notices to the students’ homes. The notices are synonymous with the hopes of ordinary families to have bright future in China.


In remote Southwestern mountain areas, villagers can only send or receive mails via China Post because other popular courier enterprises do not provide services to them due to the difficulty of making a profit there.

Wang Shunyou, hero postman, up in the mountains with his horse.

One postman, named Wang Shunyou (王顺友), became known for having devoted his entire life to delivering goods on that mountain road. Wang took over the reins from his father at the age of 19, and has stayed with it for four decades. Every day, Wang walks on cliffsides and mountain paths with his horse, bearing large sacks of mail.

In cold, rainy seasons, when the road became slippery and muddy, Wang usually got to his destination bearing visible wounds – not to mention a covering of mud on his legs. But how else can the mountain villages stay in touch with the outside world, he asks?

It’s an exciting new image for a boring old company. It’ll be interesting to see if other state-owned enterprises can also reinvent themselves.

This article includes information and pictures from Ten Cent. If you can read Chinese, follow the original source.

Image at the top from Sam Lions/ Pexels

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