Employees arrange deliveries at a courier firm facility in Huzhou, Zhejiang province, on Feb 8. [Photo/Xinhua] China used to be called "the kingdom of the bicycle", but now it has become a country of express packages. Latest data released by the State Post Bureau showed that China handled more than 20 billion parcels so far this year as of Wednesday, roughly the same number as in the whole of 2015. On a daily basis, the country handled 240 million parcels and served nearly 500 million customers. It has also set a new record as it took only 83 days for the turnover to reach 20 billion, 45 days ahead of that in 2020, the bureau said in a release on Thursday. "The new record shows the vitality and huge development potential of the express industry," the bureau said, attributing the growth to China's quick recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, strong domestic consumption, the integrated development of online and offline shopping as well as the expansion of markets in urban and rural areas. For the entire year of 2021, China is expected to handle 95 billion parcels, according to the bureau. Last year, the country handled 83 billion parcels, a year-on-year growth of 30.8 percent. During this year's weeklong Spring Festival holiday in February, 660 million parcels were handled from Feb 11 to Feb 17, a stunning year-on-year increase of 260 percent, according to official data. Since China's coordinated pandemic containment measures discouraged travel during this year's Spring Festival, courier sector workers gave up the holiday break to satisfy people's online shopping needs and ensure customers received parcels over the period. Many express delivery companies kept working during the holiday, including China Post, SF Express and ZTO Express. More than 1 million couriers worked through the holiday to ensure the smooth operation of the network, according to the bureau. The bureau required companies to pay bonuses to couriers and adjust their holidays accordingly to ensure their legal rights. The courier sector has witnessed rapid development in the past decade and has broken records annually in recent years. In 2014, the number of parcels received and delivered across China reached 10 billion. Since then, the number has increased by 10 billion annually. And the sector is expected to maintain its high growth. A high-profile blueprint for the country's transport development said that a more convenient logistics network will be built by 2035. Parcels will be delivered to customers in China in only one day, to neighboring countries in two days and reach major cities around the world in three days. By that time, 80 logistics hubs will be established to handle international and domestic express deliveries and mail.