版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[Beijing relocations add impetus for growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533078.htm Editor's note: This is the sixth in a series of reports looking back at some of the most important, timely or unusual issues covered by China Daily's reporters last year.

After spending 12 years selling flowers wholesale in Beijing, Zhang Xiaoyan left her rented apartment in Daxing district and moved to neighboring Hebei province, where life is easier and she is seeing an upturn in business.

Having arrived in the capital from her native Sichuan province in 2006, she relocated to Gaobeidian in Baoding, about 70 kilometers southwest of Beijing, about a year ago.

"Initially, I was reluctant to move because I was used to living and working in Beijing," the 42-year-old said, adding that many other wholesalers in the capital's flower markets have relocated in recent years as the government seeks to reduce the number of people engaged in businesses that do not need to be located in the capital.

Key strategy

In 2014, the central government initiated a key strategy to coordinate the development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei, with the transfer of non-capital functions being a major task.

A year into her new life, Zhang has been pleasantly surprised. Her business has flourished in Hebei Xinfadi, a wholesale market and logistics center for agricultural produce.

As an established major relocation cluster in the region, the market has expanded rapidly. Since it was established in 2015, it has become home to 6,200 wholesalers of fruit, vegetables, cooking oil, nuts, condiments, beverages and flowers.

"The costs of business and life are lower, thanks to the market's supporting policies and the low cost of living, plus the wholesale business seems to be better than in Beijing," Zhang said.

She said her store, which covers 160 square meters at Hebei Xinfadi, is rent-free for the first three years, which will save her about 70,000 yuan ($10,000) per annum, which was what she paid in Beijing.

To help newly settled wholesalers develop their businesses, the market, which is spread over 139 hectares, also covers daily expenses, such as lodgings and food, for customers who visit from other places looking to make deals, she said.

The wholesalers supply products to 13 provinces and regions in northern China, including Shanxi, Shandong, Beijing and Tianjin. More than 15 supermarkets in Beijing purchase agricultural products from Hebei Xinfadi, according to the market's publicity office.

"With the market expanding, my business has increased," Zhang said, adding that in the past year, she has sold goods worth 6 million yuan-about twice the value of her annual sales in Beijing.

According to the market's publicity office, about 80 percent of the wholesalers at Hebei Xinfadi-some 20,000 people-come from Beijing.

Many similar bases have been established in Hebei to receive nonessential businesses from the capital, such as the Mingzhu Commodity Trade City in Cangzhou, a clothing wholesale cluster set up as a base for Beijing's clothing industry.

In the past five years, more than 7,900 companies and other entities have relocated to cities in Hebei from Beijing or Tianjin, Hebei Daily reported.

Moreover, in the first half of last year, nearly 300 manufacturing companies moved out of Beijing, and more than 50 markets and logistics centers were either relocated or upgraded, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The major role of Xiongan New Area in Hebei, established in 2017, is to receive and develop Beijing's non-capital functions, as a way to adjust the region's economic structure and provide balanced, coordinated development.

In addition to the industrial and retail transfers, integrated development in the key fields of transportation and environmental protection has also achieved positive results.

For example, a high-speed railway linking Beijing and Hebei's Zhangjiakou opened at the end of last year, cutting the journey time from more than three hours to about 50 minutes, according to 12306, the national online rail ticket platform.

Xinhua noted that environmental programs resulted in the average concentration of PM2.5-harmful particulate matter that can enter the bloodstream via the lungs-in 13 major cities in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region at 57 micrograms per cubic meter in the first half of last year; a major improvement compared with previous years.

 

A store owner arranges a bouquet in Hebei Xinfadi, Hebei province, last year. CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Economic integration to aid Bay Area's expansion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533083.htm Economic integration will be a great advantage in helping the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area increase its international competitiveness and become a world-class bay area.

As an economic powerhouse and one of China's most open areas to the outside world, the Bay Area comprises nine cities in Guangdong province-Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing-plus the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Hong Kong and Macao, where land resources are limited, have greatly expanded their development space after extending cooperation and accelerating integration with the cities in Guangdong, according to local officials.

"Meanwhile, cities in Guangdong will further raise their international status through the expansion of economic ties and integration with the two SARs," they said.

The officials expect Guangdong, a window of China's reform and opening-up, to become a new center of the advanced manufacturing industry and an international innovation hub. Meanwhile, they believe that Hong Kong will consolidate its status as an international shipping and financial center, while Macao plans to become a leisure and tourism center.

"Economic integration will help the three regions accelerate the realization of their goals," they said.

To this end, Ma Xingrui, Guangdong's governor, has urged government departments and cities in the province to use the historic opportunities brought by the Bay Area to expand cooperation and exchanges with Hong Kong and Macao under the "one country, two systems" framework and accelerate economic integration in the years ahead.

Ma said the integration of Bay Area cities would be a great advantage when competing with similar bay areas around the world, and would benefit all 11 cities.

He also promised to speed up construction of major infrastructure projects linking Guangdong with Hong Kong and Macao to accelerate infrastructural connectivity among Bay Area cities.

A highly efficient infrastructure link will help the cities accelerate integration and achieve coordinated development to further improve the Bay Area's competitiveness.

In addition, Guangdong allows Hong Kong and Macao residents who have paid endowment insurance for more than 10 years but less than 15 by the time they reach retirement age to continue making contributions until they have accrued 15 years of payments.

That will allow them to receive a pension in the province.

Meanwhile, those who have still to pay the required amount after a five-year extension are allowed to claim the pension after a one-time payment to make up the shortfall.

In Guangdong, only people who have made payments for more than 15 years can enjoy the pension when they retire.

In terms of transportation, Yang Cheng Tong, a major electronic payment company in Guangzhou, is negotiating with its counterparts in Hong Kong and Macao to introduce a smart card before 2022 that will be accepted in all Bay Area cities.

The cities are currently linked by advanced high-speed railway and expressway networks.

The Bay Area occupies less than 1 percent of China's total land area, but is home to more than 5 percent of the national population. In 2018, its GDP was about 1 trillion yuan.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Demand for face masks surges]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533141.htm People are snapping up face masks to protect against pneumonia linked to a new coronavirus, triggering tight supplies in large areas of China.

The surge in demand has hollowed out face mask inventories of some vendors on e-commerce platforms, including Taobao and JD.

The online store of 3M shows that several varieties of its regular face masks had sold out as of Tuesday morning. More expensive face masks and gel hand wash are still available.

Dingdang Medicine Express, a popular app featuring rapid delivery of medicines to users' doorsteps, has also reported a sales spike in face masks. Total sales on Monday more than doubled that of the previous week, news website Jiemian.com reported.

Owners of brick-and-mortar pharmacies or convenience stores in cities have also complained about difficulties ensuring sufficient supplies of face masks.

In Wuhan, Hubei province, where the virus first appeared, several pharmacies visited by China Daily on Tuesday reported diminishing stockpiles of face masks, with only a few large-scale drugstores capable of providing surgical masks.

"We have sold more than 200 face masks since Monday. The current stock is empty," said a drugstore staff member in Wuhan on Tuesday. "We are not sure if new supplies will arrive tomorrow."

Allmed Medical, a pharmaceutical company based in Yichang, Hubei province, said on Monday that orders of face masks have increased markedly, and the company is actively ramping up production to ensure supplies in the market, particularly in medical institutions.

The company 3M also said on Tuesday that it has mobilized staff to produce more face masks and will maintain production during the Spring Festival holiday.

Zhang Yan, a saleswoman at a chain drugstore in Shanghai, said many branch stores have requested more face mask supplies but received no replies from the headquarters that manages product distribution.

The city has so far confirmed six cases linked to the new coronavirus.

The Shanghai Market Supervision Administration said in a notice released on Tuesday that sellers should refrain from increasing prices of face masks and other hygiene products, which could disrupt normal market order.

Zhong Nanshan, leader of a high-level expert team investigating the pneumonia outbreak, said on Monday evening that it is important to wear a face mask as a preventive measure.

"Regular surgical masks can prevent most viruses traveling on droplets from entering respiratory systems," he said, adding that people do not have to stick to the N95 mask that can prevent a wider range of tiny particles.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Old cooking ways offer taste of New Year spirit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533140.htm HANGZHOU-Fan Chenhai, 69, stood under the eaves of a courtyard spinning the handle of a stone mill as light yellow rice milk trickled into a big wooden barrel beneath.

It was a typical day in the 12th month of the lunar calendar. Fan, a villager in Shuangxikou, a small mountain village in Zhejiang province, rose quite early.

He and his neighbors planned to make a typical local delicacy-rice cake-a normal preparation for the upcoming Spring Festival.

A special plant growing on the mountain was picked to offer a unique scent to the rice cake. Fan burned the plant using lit soybean stalks and poured the ashes into the water, boiling and filtering the mixture before combining it with the rice milk.

"Grinding requires skill," Fan said. "You must grind steadily in a fixed direction so that the rice milk will not flow backward."

Decades ago, rice cake was a special treat only had during Lunar New Year, as the locals barely had the time or rice to make the delicacy.

However, with increased income and more spare time due to the government's rural revitalization efforts, the once almost lost custom has returned.

After grinding the rice, neighbors gathered in Fan's home to help out with the next step of the process.

According to local custom, burning three sticks of incense before steaming rice cakes is a salute to the kitchen god, who is in charge of the stove of the human world in Chinese mythology. As the incense burned, Fan and his neighbors prayed for a promising new year. "It's also called 'the cake of a thousand layers'. While there will not be 1,000-dozens of layers will be baked," Fan said.

A full spoon of rice milk is poured evenly onto the layer underneath after the latter is steamed to a firm texture. The operation is repeated again and again. "It takes time and patience," Fan said.

The Spring Festival atmosphere became thicker as the steam filled Fan's kitchen and rose from the chimney.

Walks of life

While Fan steamed the rice cakes, two other families in the village were also busy preparing something special.

Ding Baoxiang, 85, lives in an ancient house made with clay tiles and walls, carved wooden windows and a square courtyard. Every Lunar New Year, people gather at his house to make steamed buns.

His steamed buns are even famed in surrounding villages for being soft and sweet. He said the secret lies in using special fermented water.

When the buns are finished, each one must be stamped with a red plum blossom. Red is believed to bring good fortune and wealth during the festival.

Brine Tofu is another must-have on the Spring Festival dining tables of the villagers. After grinding soybeans, Cai Chunying poured the soybean milk into a large pot and boiled it.

After boiling, stirring, adding brine, pouring the soybean curd into a prepared lint-free muslin cloth, twisting and squeezing, the soybean milk transformed into tofu.

"Three, two, one," Cai and her fellow helpers chanted as they turned the tofu bag over.

She said making tofu is both laborious and exciting, and brings a sense of ceremony that was disappearing, even in a remote village.

When the dishes were made and served, villagers sang and danced joyously and put on performances with local features. Men and women, adults and children all participated.

They were mimicking the "36 walks of life" in old times, such as harvesting lotus nuts, as well as folklore.

Bamboo flutes, a local musical instrument, were played and folk songs sung on an ancient wooden lounge bridge above a stream. The bridge has been sheltering villagers from rain and accompanied them for hundreds of years as a public space to rest and talk.

The New Year atmosphere will continue into the first lunar month.

 

Visitors attend a New Year goods fair held in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, on Jan 1. XU YU/XINHUA

 

 

Tourists watch rice cake being made at a homestay in Wuyi county on Dec 22. ZHANG JIANCHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

Residents make rice cakes at Shangying village, Taizhou on Jan 1. WANG HUABIN/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

Villagers teach children how to make buns in Huzhou on Jan 5. HUANG ZONGZHI/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Academic donates 82m yuan to ensure his legacy thrives]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533139.htm Inside an undistinguished house in the grounds of a university in Zhengzhou, Henan province, the humble decor and furniture give no clues that the occupant is a multimillionaire.

This month, Wang Zelin, owner of the house in the residential community of Henan Agricultural University, donated 82 million yuan ($11.82 million) to the university.

"I hope the money can be used to build a biological safety protection third-level laboratory, or P3 laboratory, which is needed for research at the university," Wang said.

The 77-year-old retired professor accumulated the fortune by transferring the patents and invention certificates of veterinary drugs to companies who put them into production.

His decision to make the huge donation, which has made ripples outside of academia, has won support from his family. His wife Wang Wumei, 71, who has also retired from the university, said they made the decision together. "Building a lab has a big significance for scientific development," she said.

Vaccine search

Wang Zelin, who calls himself "the doctor for horses, cattle and chicken", attributes his achievements to the country's reform and opening-up since 1978 and the support of the university.

He embarked on his research work in poultry disease prevention in 1984 when he joined the university.

In the early 1980s, China saw growing development of the poultry sector, but breeders had long been challenged by various diseases, and the vaccines were mainly imported. Each year, huge amounts of money were spent on the imports.

The situation prompted many researchers, including Wang Zelin, to work on domestic solutions to prevent poultry diseases.

However, unlike others, he didn't apply for public funding. Instead, he chose to cooperate with companies, a model that has proved a success.

Between 1985 and 1995, he accumulated more than 4 million yuan by providing services to breeders to treat poultry diseases.

The university allowed Wang Zelin to earn income from part-time consulting work, which often dovetailed with his field research work.

Wang Zelin spent the money building two labs at the university, and buying advanced equipment for scientific research and development and for teaching purposes.

Yan Nuoqian, the first postgraduate student tutored by Wang from 1994 to 1997, said Wang Zelin's largesse was during a time of low wages for teachers.

"When a teacher's salary was less than 100 yuan a month, my tutor spent 16,000 yuan buying a PCR device to let us do scientific tests, which was the first of its kind in our school," Yan said. Polymerase chain reaction devices are used in molecular biology to study specific segments of DNA.

Wang Zelin's tutelage helped Yan become the deputy director of the Prevention Center of Animal Diseases of Henan.

In 2005, five new vaccines Wang Zelin invented generated another 5 million yuan after the invention certificates were transferred to companies.

He then spent 2.3 million yuan upgrading the university's labs and donated 1 million yuan to the poultry branch of the Chinese Association of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine to found an innovation fund.

Research rewards

Usually, it takes five to eight years to invent a new drug, but Wang Zelin is hardworking and productive. Since 1984, he has been granted three invention patents and 12 invention certificates for new veterinary drugs.

He and his team have also set up a bank of major poultry viruses and developed vaccines that can prevent several major poultry diseases.

"He came to the lab at 6 am and usually stayed in the lab for a whole day to do tests," said Wang Yongsheng, one of his students.

"When he was in hospital due to gastric disease and diabetes, he continued reading."

Zhang Longxian, a professor at Henan Agricultural University, said: "Professor Wang also has rich field experience. He frequently went to farms to obtain the latest data on chicken, such as what diseases the chicken succumbed to. The field experience allowed him to develop market-oriented drugs."

Wang Zelin's research achievements have been put into production by more than 20 companies. These achievements contribute over 10 billion yuan in economic benefits every year, according to Henan Agricultural University.

In 2015, two companies purchased the invention certificates of two of Wang Zelin's new drugs. According to the purchase agreements, Wang Zelin can cash in 8 percent of the annual sales of the drugs for 12 years.

Last year, he donated the proceeds to the university to establish a scientific research and innovation fund.

"With the fund, I hope more young teachers can create more achievements in the agricultural sector," Wang Zelin said.

 

 

 

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Mayor of Wuhan: Stay away]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533130.htm The mayor of Wuhan, Hubei province, called on people not travel to and from the city in order to combat the ongoing pneumonia outbreak.

Mayor Zhou Xianwang said during an interview with CCTV on Tuesday that reducing the flow of people will also decrease the possibility of the virus spreading and lighten the pressure on disease prevention and control efforts.

Wuhan set up a prevention and control center to combat the outbreak on Monday, the city's health authorities said.

Led by Zhou, the center heads eight task forces made up of authorities involved in emergency management, publicity, transport, market regulation, medical treatment and epidemic control and prevention, according to the Health Commission of Wuhan.

The city will strengthen measures to scan passengers for higher body temperatures at airports, train and bus stations and ports, and reduce or cancel all unnecessary large gatherings.

Patients with serious symptoms should be treated by a team of medical workers with a specific plan, and hospitals should strengthen the protection of their staff to prevent infection within hospitals.

The city will promptly and objectively release information about disease prevention and control.

Traffic management authorities in Wuhan are searching vehicles entering or leaving the city for live poultry or wild animals. Health experts say animals are the likely source of the new coronavirus responsible for the disease.

All exit ports in the city have installed temperature monitoring devices, and all passengers traveling abroad will be required to undergo body temperature checks. Passengers with higher temperatures will be placed under observation or persuaded not to travel, the city's tourism authorities said on Tuesday.

The city has installed 35 infrared thermometers and more than 300 portable infrared thermometers in the city's airports, railway and bus stations since Jan 14, the commission said.

All passengers with higher than normal temperatures will be registered and transferred to nearby medical facilities. They will get a full refund of their tickets and rescheduling charges, it said.

All modes of public transportation in the city have been subject to daily sterilization and ventilation since Sunday, the health commission added.

He Houpeng, deputy director of the commission, said that the government will pay for the remaining medical bills of all confirmed pneumonia patients not covered by medical insurance.

Three hospitals in Wuhan have allocated 800 beds to receive pneumonia patients, and other medical facilities have allocated 1,200 beds, he said.

The city will delay its annual festival at the city's major tourism attractions for the upcoming Spring Festival amid the ongoing outbreak, the city's tourism authorities said on Tuesday. The bureau did not specify how long the event will be delayed.

 

Workers disinfect a market in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Sunday. MIAO JIAN/CHANGJIANG DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533127.htm BEIJING

Professor accused of sexual harassment

A professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, Yao Shunxi, has been given serious warnings for allegedly assaulting female students, the academy said in a statement issued on Tuesday. Yao, 59, a traditional Chinese painter, was suspended from teaching after school authorities received complaints on June 10 that he had sexually harassed female students and demanded bribes. Following a monthslong investigation, the academy decided in August to strip him of his qualification to tutor graduate students, and barred him from teaching activities, it said.

SHANGHAI

Airport's ex-chairman imprisoned for graft

A court in Shanghai on Tuesday sentenced Wu Jianrong, former chairman and deputy Party chief of Shanghai Airport Authority, to 12 years in prison for taking bribes and concealing overseas bank deposits. Wu was found to have accepted bribes of up to 20.5 million yuan ($3 million) to seek benefits for others while serving in various positions between 2006 and 2017, the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court said in the judgment. He confessed to the court, and his personal assets-2 million yuan-were confiscated, the court said.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Yangtze River Delta hones role as innovation hot spot]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533119.htm The Yangtze River Delta region has become an important source of technological innovation for the whole country, with a sharp rise in such advances over the past decade, according to a recent report.

The number of patent applications in the region rose from 281,000 in 2008 to nearly 1.2 million in 2017, accounting for more than 35 percent of the national total and higher than any other Chinese region focused on integrated development, said the report.

It was published on Dec 22 by the Fudan Development Institute affiliated with Fudan University and a think tank affiliated with Guangming Daily.

In November, 2018, President Xi Jinping listed the integrated development of the region as a key national strategy. A plan unveiled last month by the central government mapped out how the delta region would be built into an economic powerhouse that will add to the country's high-quality development.

The plan aims to boost vitality in the region, which is about the same size as Germany and encompasses Shanghai and the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui. It contributes roughly a quarter of national GDP and accounts for one-third of China's foreign trade and investment.

The report also found that Shanghai, Ningbo and Hangzhou in Zhejiang and Suzhou, Jiangsu, have become the main drivers of the integrated development of scientific and technological innovation, said Zhu Chunkui, a professor with the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, who was a leading researcher for the report.

The number of patents among cross-provincial collaborations led by Shanghai, Zhejiang and Jiangsu accounted for more than half of all types of filings nationwide, most of which are in the fields of chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering, he said.

Shanghai plays a leading role in cross-provincial collaborative patents, and as the report pointed out, the city was the main patent holder at the provincial level, accounting for 42 percent of such filings.

Wang Cailiang, executive director and deputy general manager of Shanghai Kindly Medical Instruments Co, which specializes in intracardiac interventional devices, said a raft of new measures have been unveiled in the past year to spur the growth of medical technology innovation in the region.

"For example, the policies allow medical device producers to register in Shanghai and manufacture in other places in the delta region, which helps boost vitality in product innovation and allows enterprises to dig into more potential in the division of labor and a more intensive cooperation network across the region," he said.

The company, which was established in 2006 and sells its products in more than 40 countries and regions, said domestic medical devices only account for 15 percent in the specific areas, and it is confident about future growth at home and abroad with its top-notch technology and the country's encouragement for the development of homegrown devices.

 

Students visit a big data center in Anhui province in July. CHEN BIN/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Travel documents of HK, Macao carry more benefits]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533111.htm Over 8 million Hong Kong and Macao residents and overseas Chinese have benefited from the expanded scope of their exit and entry documents during their stay on the mainland since March last year, the National Immigration Administration said on Tuesday.

The administration worked jointly with 14 departments including the Ministry of Public Security and the State Administration for Market Regulation to expand the services that overseas Chinese can enjoy with their exit and entry documents.

In total, 35 types of services have been streamlined to help Hong Kong and Macao residents and overseas Chinese reduce inconvenience when using such documents.

With their exit and entry documents, they can now take advantage of public employment services, register for social insurance, apply for social security cards, register companies, make medical appointments online and apply for birth certificates for newborns, among other government affairs services.

Further, public services that will allow them to inquire about personal income tax records, manage taxes online, take professional and technical personnel qualification examinations, apply for teacher qualification certification and other services will be implemented soon.

Measures that allow entry and exit documents to buy plane tickets, perform self check-ins at airports, manage telecommunication services, open bank accounts and register for hotels have been almost fully implemented nationwide.

The remaining services are related to internet applications. Tencent, JD.com and Alipay have taken the lead in connecting with the entry-exit identity authentication platform and accept users' registration with valid entry and exit certificates. Online ride-hailing, bike-sharing and online job-hunting platforms have been upgraded to accept such certificates. A service that will allow the opening of online securities trading accounts is still being upgraded.

"The wider applications of exit and entry documents has made it possible for people in Hong Kong and Macao as well as overseas Chinese to enjoy the same convenient, efficient, intelligent and accurate public livelihood services as mainland residents," said Yin Chengji, deputy director of the National Immigration Administration.

Hong Kong and Macao residents and overseas Chinese make 200 million trips to China each year, accounting for 40 percent of the number of Chinese people entering and leaving the country, according to the administration.

The administration has developed an identity authentication platform for entry and exit documents. That platform is connected with the national government affairs service platform, providing technical support for various ministries and provincial government affairs service platforms.

By the end of last year, 257 enterprises and public institutions had applied through the user management system for authentication service, and 4 million people had been checked and verified on the service platform.

The wider applications have expanded online channels for handling business, so overseas residents without mainland bank cards can open online mobile payments after the online verification of the document, Yin said.

"It also enables residents of Hong Kong and Macao and overseas Chinese to apply for jobs, shop, enjoy entertainment and socialize online, and share the new achievements of the development of internet technology in the new era," Yin added.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[2 Zhuhai cases suggest human-to-human transmission of virus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533101.htm Two patients in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, with pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus had close contact with the same family member who had been in Wuhan, Hubei province-the focal point of the recent outbreak-strongly suggesting human-to-human transmission of the virus.

A 76-year-old woman, whose husband had traveled from Wuhan by train, and their 49-year-old daughter showed symptoms including fever. The man had fallen ill after arriving on Jan 11. He sought medical treatment on Jan 15.

The father was diagnosed with the new strain of coronavirus and was admitted to the Fifth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University two days later. The mother and daughter were transferred from medical observation to quarantine.

The three were in stable condition, according to a statement issued on Monday by the Zhuhai health bureau.

Fifteen medical workers have been infected in Wuhan, and those cases also point to human-to-human transmission, said Zhong Nanshan, head of a high-level expert team organized on Monday by the National Health Commission. Zhong spoke at a news conference in Guangzhou on Tuesday.

Quarantining infected people is the most effective way to control the spread of the virus, and close monitoring of anyone who had close contact with an infected person is extremely important, Zhong said.

The risk of transmission through a community exists, but the risk of a major outbreak that way is not high, said He Jianfeng, chief expert of the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Imported cases are expected to increase during Spring Festival family reunions, He said, advising people going to and coming from Wuhan to wear masks, monitor their health and see a doctor quickly if symptoms emerge.

People in Guangdong need not panic, as a well-established medical treatment system is in place, He said.

Meanwhile, 13 new cases of pneumonia caused by the virus were confirmed in Guangdong on Monday, bringing the total to 14 in the province as of 3 pm on Tuesday, said Zhang Guangjun, vice-governor of the province. Nine of those cases had been reported in Shenzhen, three in Zhuhai, one in Zhanjiang and one in Huizhou.

Nine of the patients were male. Nine people of the total were over 60 years old and one was a 10-year-old child.

Twelve of the patients had lived or traveled in Wuhan, where the first cases were reported. Four of the patients were in serious condition and two were in critical condition.

People who had close contact with the patients have been checked, and no abnormal conditions have been found, Zhang said.

An emergency command mechanism for suppressing an outbreak was established immediately after the first cases were confirmed in Guangdong on Jan 14. A team led by provincial Party secretary Li Xi was set up on Tuesday.

Body temperature monitoring has started at public venues, including airports, railway stations and bus terminals in Guangdong on Tuesday.

Cooperation mechanisms for disease control between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have been in place since 2003, and those three places have been actively communicating during the current outbreak, said Duan Yufei, director of the Guangdong health commission.

China has vowed transparency with information about the virus and its effects, said Zhong, the expert team's head, adding that cooperation has been good between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao at the government and technical levels.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[29 officials are held accountable in fatal explosion at factory]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533100.htm Twenty-nine officials have been held accountable for an explosion at a fireworks factory in Liuyang, Hunan province, that killed 13 people last month, the provincial Party committee's Commission for Discipline Inspection said on Tuesday.

It said that the officials had lied when reporting the accident and had been negligent in their oversight and leadership responsibilities.

The commission said the officials had been punished by provincial authorities, while 10 staff members from the enterprise were put under criminal investigation.

The blast at a Liuyang Bixi Fireworks Manufacturing workshop in Chengtanjiang town, Liuyang city, on Dec 4 killed 13 people, injured 13 others and caused economic losses of 19.4 million yuan ($2.8 million).

An investigation team found that the accident was caused by illegal production.

"The company ignored the national safety production laws and regulations, overused the material quota and changed the use of the workshop for illegal production," the commission said, adding that some government departments had failed to put in place sufficient supervision to inspect and effectively stop the illegal acts.

It said some officials from the Party committee and town government of Chengtanjiang in Liuyang, including Liu Fayu, the town's Party secretary, colluded with the company to transfer and hide the victims' bodies and concealed the truth about the accident.

Five public officials, including Liu, who organized and led the false reporting, were suspected of serious violations of laws and regulations and detained by the provincial supervisory commission.

Other officials, including the town's deputy Party secretary, Tang Jianhua, who were involved in the transfer and hiding of the victims' remains, were removed from their Party and government positions.

Ten staff members from the company, including the director of the company Chen Faxue, were detained by police for criminal responsibility.

The provincial authorities also urged a thorough investigation across the province to root out hidden safety hazards in areas such as fireworks, chemicals and road traffic.

The local government had first announced that the accident killed seven and injured 13, but a later investigation by provincial teams found another six deaths.

According to regulations, accidents of more than 10 deaths are "major accidents" and should be reported to the safety supervision department of the State Council.

The Ministry of Emergency Management said the accident reflected problems in the safety supervision in the local fireworks industry and said that "the local government concealing the number of deaths after the accident is of a very bad nature".

The ministry urged the local government to strictly rectify fireworks enterprises, conduct a thorough investigation to root out safety hazards and supervision loopholes, shut down those that could not meet safety standards and severely punish those involved in illegal fireworks production.

]]> 2020-01-22 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Shanghai moves toward becoming innovation hub]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533099.htm Shanghai passed a bill on Monday to push forward the development of the city into an international innovation center.

The bill will support innovative entities to lead, organize and participate in big international science projects and encourage the latest scientific research information, data and big science facilities to be shared to spur more innovation.

Shanghai has long aimed to become an international pioneer in science and technology. The city is planning to build a basic framework for a scientific and technological innovation center with global influence by the end of this year, according to the municipal government.

Statistics from the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission show that Shanghai scientists published 87 papers in top international scientific journals such as Science, Nature and Cell last year, accounting for 28.4 percent of the national total. The commission said that this demonstrates the city's increasing strength in basic research in strategic technological areas such as health, materials and security.

The city has also launched big scientific facilities, such as a super-intense and ultrashort laser system and translational medicine infrastructure. The construction of other major projects, including a seabed observation network and high-efficiency low-carbon gas turbine experimentation facilities, has also commenced.

Wang Nai, deputy director of the Promotion Office of the Construction of Scientific and Technological Innovation for Shanghai, said there are 14 national-level scientific infrastructure projects that will be put into operation by 2025.

A series of research and development institutes have also been inaugurated, including the Shanghai Research Center for Quantum Sciences, the International Innovation Center of Tsinghua University Shanghai, the Fudan University Human Phenome Institute and the China-Israel Innovation Hub.

Liu Minghua, a legislator for the city, said that she and some other lawmakers were delighted to see in the government work report that Shanghai's R&D expenditure accounted for 4 percent of its GDP last year, and the large investment will continue in the new year.

"The R&D expenditure ratio in the United States, Germany and Israel, which are famous for advanced innovation worldwide, were 2.8 percent, 3 percent and 4.6 percent respectively, and Shanghai's figure almost doubled the national average," said Liu, who is also managing partner at East China for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu.

Wang Zhimin, a legislator for the city, said the bill will encourage innovation from not only government-funded research institutes but also companies in the areas of basic and applied research.

"This is particularly important to the further development of some of the city's key innovation zones, such as Zhangjiang in Pudong district, and will play a vital role in realizing Pudong's development goal of breaking 2 trillion yuan ($290 billion) in GDP in around seven years, doubling the figure of 2018," said Wang, who is also a researcher with the Chinese National Human Genome Center at Shanghai.

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Land-sea trade corridor boosts western regions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533098.htm In early November, a batch of fresh "Musang King" durian fruit still in their hard skins arrived in Chongqing from Malaysia. They sold out immediately.

In the past, due to the extended transportation time, it was not easy for residents of inland China to obtain the perishable fruit.

However, thanks to a land-sea freight route launched in September 2017 that connects western China with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, it now takes just 10 days to transport the fruit from Malaysia to China. The journey is 20 days shorter and about 40 percent cheaper than the traditional ocean route.

Eventually, the land-sea corridor will extend primarily from Chengdu, Sichuan province, and Chongqing to a group of Beibu Gulf ports in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Yangpu Port in Hainan province, connecting to Southeast Asia via the sea. It also will better link China's northwestern inland regions to major ports in the south.

The route comprises a network of railways, roads and air connections, with Chongqing and Chengdu serving as the key logistics hubs.

At present, the trade corridor connects 20 railway stations in 10 cities in China, and reaches 84 countries and 200 ports on six continents.

By Dec 6, the ports on Beibu Gulf had seen 2,000 rail journeys since the launch of the rapid transit service that combines rail lines and sea routes.

Transportation has long been a hurdle to the economic development of China's landlocked western provinces, especially in terms of the export and import industries, which used to rely on the Yangtze River as a connection with Shanghai and the outside world.

In a bid to accelerate the opening-up and high-quality development of western China and deepen international economic and trade cooperation, Chongqing started exploring the new trade route several years ago.

The southwestern municipality on the upper reaches of the Yangtze boasts key geographical advantages as a strategic pivot of the development program for the western regions. It is also a connection point for the Belt and Road Initiative and the Yangtze Economic Belt.

The corridor was jointly built by western Chinese provinces and ASEAN members under the framework of the China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on Strategic Connectivity, signed in 2016.

After two years of experiments, the route was developed into a national strategy in August. The development plan, unveiled by the National Development and Reform Commission, aims to build an economical, efficient, convenient, green and safe land-sea corridor for the western regions.

"Now, as China is entering a new era and the development in the western region is facing a new situation, we need new opening-up policies and strategies," said Fan Yijiang, a senior official with the NDRC's Transportation Research Department.

The land-sea corridor will be completed by 2035, providing better transportation capacity and world-class customs clearance and logistics services, according to the NDRC.

 

A train that uses the land-sea freight route departs from Chongqing in September. TANG YI/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Q&A with experts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533096.htm A high-level expert team organized by the National Health Commission on Monday answered some of the most concerning questions about the new coronavirus that has caused the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province, which has spread to multiple provincial regions across China and some overseas locations.

Origin of the virus

Zhong Nanshan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a prominent expert in respiratory diseases, said the virus very likely originated from wild animals.

Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease and Control and Prevention: We have collected evidence that the virus is linked with wild animals in a seafood market in Wuhan, which was closed following the report of the outbreak. We have identified the new coronavirus in the market. We are not certain of the source of infection, as we have not found out which particular animal is responsible. All six coronaviruses known to humans, including the one that caused severe acute respiratory disease, originated from wild mammals.

Yuan Guoyong, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering: We should not eat wild animals. We must respect the life of wild animals and their habitats, because we share the same Earth.

Comparison with SARS

Yuan Guoyong: The new coronavirus is different from SARS, and the two viruses result in different clinical conditions and infectiousness. At present, it is not clear how the new virus will develop and how it affects humans, and a lot of work needs to be done.

Li Lanjuan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering: Since the SARS outbreak, China has built a very good disease prevention and control system, and our capacity to prevent and control diseases has greatly increased. This is why we successfully developed testing methods for the new virus soon after the start of the outbreak.

Zhong Nanshan: I am very confident the SARS outbreaks 17 years ago will not repeat. We successfully identified the new coronavirus within two weeks of the outbreak, and we have very good disease monitoring and quarantine systems. So I do not think the new virus will result in damage to society and the economy as SARS did.

Means of disease control and prevention

Zhong Nanshan: The best way to prevent and control the disease is to identify and diagnose cases as early as possible, and put them under quarantine for treatment. Various authorities, including those in health authorities, should take responsibility. For Wuhan, it is important to minimize the exportation of the virus. The city will take strict measures to identify cases at its airport and railway stations. Temperature measuring should be applied, and we suggest residents in the city with abnormal temperatures not leave, which is very important.

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention: For Wuhan, all the public should act, and all government departments should join efforts for disease control.

Availability of effective drugs for the disease

Zhong Nanshan: Similar to SARS, there is no effective drug for the disease at present, but we are doing animal research and trying some traditional Chinese medicines.

Impact on the peak traffic season around the Spring Festival holiday

Zhong Nanshan: Now it is a critical state. We estimate the number of cases will continue rising during the 40-day travel season, which started on Jan 10.

Zeng Guang: We hope we can take measures so the number of cases will not rise too much and can decrease rapidly after the peak traffic season.

 

Nurses and patients wear masks in the emergency department of Beijing's Peking Union Medical College Hospital on Tuesday, as a sign on the door directs patients with a fever to go to designated departments. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Robot kitchen gears up for service]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533095.htm GUANGZHOU-Lin Chaodai, a 52-year-old chef, had never thought about teaching robots how to cook his award-winning Cantonese cuisine. Nor had he imagined that a robot could be "trained" to cook with the skill and flair of a master chef like himself.

However, in the past year Lin and 10 other chefs from Shunde, a city in Guangdong province known for its exquisite Cantonese delicacies, have been recruited to develop a menu and "teach" robots to cook for a new restaurant in downtown Guangzhou, the provincial capital.

To ensure delicious flavors, Cantonese cuisine relies on meticulous heat control and precise cooking times and portions of ingredients, Lin said. He and other chefs recorded the recipes down to the smallest detail, and fed the data into computers before engineers began their time-consuming adjustments and tests.

Now, these robot chefs are ready to serve dozens of dishes, ranging from noodles to rice dishes, stirfries and desserts in a fancy dining place that also serves cocktails, which has drawn curious food lovers since opening on Jan 12.

Customers place their orders using a touch-screen device inside the restaurant. An ingredient sorting system collects the components of the dishes, selects the right portions and then delivers them to 32 robot-controlled woks.

The woks are set at an angle that allows the customers to watch their food being prepared in front of them.

When the dishes are completed, the machines then automatically clean themselves, consuming much less water than the average dishwasher.

It's not just chefs and bartenders that are replaced, service robots bring orders to customers' tables instead of traditional waiters.

The 46 robots in the restaurant were developed by Foodom Restaurant Group. "The average cooking time per dish of a robotic wok is three to five minutes," said Yan Weixin, head of the research and development department of Foodom.

Yan said the machines are designed to follow standards and instructions closely, while chefs are not up to scratch sometimes.

Intelligent dining is gaining steam in China as the expanding food market prompts the industry to go digital.

China's service robot market was estimated to reach $2.2 billion last year, up 33.1 percent year on year, higher than the global average growth. Robots used in the restaurant industry are in growing demand.

Using robots in kitchens can help solve staff shortages at restaurants, cut labor costs and improve management of staff members, said Qiu Mi, general manager of Foodom.

The robot kitchen is an attempt to innovate the dining business in China while retaining traditional flavors of the cuisine, Lin said.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Bone-snatching game keeps Xibe traditions alive]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533093.htm SHENYANG-As Chinese New Year drew near, people from the Xibe ethnic group gathered on Friday in Silongwan village in Shenyang, Liaoning province, for a traditional game of "galaha snatching".

Before the game, 200 galaha, pieces of bone taken from the joints of goats or pigs, are spread on a blanket. A metal ball is then thrown high in the air and participants snatch as many bones as possible before catching the ball.

The one who grabs the most bones before catching the ball is the winner.

"The game isn't about winning or losing. It's more about getting everybody together and enjoying the festivities of the Chinese New Year," said 74-year-old veteran galaha player Zhang Qingtian.

He said the game had been his favorite pastime since childhood and he had dominated the event in recent decades.

China has 56 ethnic groups, and almost all of them have their own traditional cultural events.

According to experts in ethnic culture, galaha snatching has its roots in the leisure activities of ancient Xibe hunters. When an animal was captured and killed, the hunters would keep the bones and use them for indoor games in winter.

In 2011, the centuries-old game entered the provincial list of intangible cultural heritage.

Shenbei New District, where Silongwan village is located, has a large Xibe population.

The district has facilities to preserve intangible cultural heritage and has been promoting them at schools and in rural communities.

A district museum devoted to Xibe culture opened in 2018, highlighting their history, society and culture.

District official Guan Zhongzhan said, "We have carried out a series of special Xibe ethnic activities, such as galaha snatching, paper-cutting and archery, to preserve the culture".

 

Members of the Xibe ethnic group at Silongwan village in Shenyang, Liaoning province, take part in a game of galaha snatching, on Friday. YANG QING/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Yunnan looks to boost protection of Asian elephant]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533088.htm Multiple efforts will be made in Yunnan province to strengthen the protection of wild Asian elephants.

A total of 7,500 hectares of land will be transformed into a new habitat for the elephants, according to Yunnan Forestry and Grassland Administration.

Based on current surveillance of the province's elephants, the newly-added habitat will cover six areas in the province, including Pu'er city, Jinghong city and Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture.

"We will choose six regions with comprehensive consideration of the elephants' current activity records, the location of existing nature forests and protected areas in the province," according to an official from the administration's wildlife department who requested anonymity.

The Asian elephant, which is included on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species as "endangered", enjoys Class-A protection in China, the same afforded to the giant panda.

In the past three decades, statistics from the administration showed that the number of wild Asian elephants in China-all of which live in Yunnan-has doubled to about 300 thanks to protection efforts.

Yunnan has established 11 nature reserves with a total area of about 510,000 hectares. The area inhabited by wild Asian elephants in the province has expanded from seven counties in 2017 to eight last year.

However, the growing Asian elephant population has resulted in more conflicts between the animals and people.

"About two-thirds of the wild elephants are now living outside the reserves because the increasing forest canopy density has resulted in food shortages," said Chen Mingyong, a life sciences professor at Yunnan University who has been studying the animals for decades.

Such conflicts have caused more than 60 deaths and injuries. Damage to property caused by the animals from 2011 to 2018 is estimated at more than 170 million yuan ($24.7 million), according to the administration.

He said the habitat expansion is expected to encourage the elephants to live within a certain area and avoid conflicts with residents.

The administration started a pilot project in 2016 to use an elephant alert system using drones in Menghai county, successfully avoiding 46 cases of possible conflicts in the past three years.

Moreover, artificial intelligence and broadcast systems have also been introduced to improve the efficiency of the alert system since 2017.

The administration said it will further strengthen technical support to improve the alert system and will train more people with surveillance knowledge to reduce contact and conflict between elephants and locals.

In November, the province's elephant experts committee expanded from seven to 18 members, covering a wide range of fields, including biology, economy, sociology and even charity.

"We hope the stronger expertise will help provide more innovative solutions for the Asian elephants protection work," the official from the administration said.

 

Professional workers guide Asian elephants in a rewilding training session at a major rescue and breeding center in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan province, in November. YANG ZONGYOU/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Outbreak pushes travelers to cancel plans]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533142.htm Yang Bohan has given up her plans to return to her hometown of Zhengzhou in Henan province to celebrate the Spring Festival because of the ongoing pneumonia outbreak.

The 32-year-old designer, who works and lives in Beijing, hesitated to return home because it was difficult at first to buy a train ticket during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush, known as chunyun.

"But after watching a rising number of pneumonia cases, I've decided not to go anywhere during the upcoming holiday, as there is a high risk of infection taking the train with my 3-year-old son," Yang said on Tuesday.

Instead, she asked the boy's grandparents to drive to Beijing from Zhengzhou for their family reunion.

Yang is not alone. A number of Chinese people who were ready to travel to spend the upcoming seven-day holiday with their families have changed their plans because of the new coronavirus spreading across the country.

A Beijing cartoonist who only gave her surname, Mao, said she got a partial refund for two round-trip flight tickets she had bought from Beijing to Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Monday night, but she had to pay a cancellation fee. She and her husband had made their travel plans a month ago.

"I'm unhappy with losing more than 1,000 yuan ($145) for the ticket refund, but staying healthy is the top priority," Mao, 27, added.

In consideration of the changes people are making to their travel plans, many Chinese airlines since Tuesday have begun offering full refunds to passengers who have been prevented from flying in and out of Wuhan, Hubei province, which is ground zero for the coronavirus.

Passengers wanting to enter Wuhan Tianhe International Airport must now pass body temperature checks. Those with fevers will be temporarily quarantined.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has paid a lot of attention to the virus and urged all airline companies to increase disease prevention to reduce the risk of infection for travelers and airline staff members. It also required airline companies on Tuesday to help refund tickets for free if passengers have applied to cancel flights to or from Wuhan.

Meanwhile, the China State Railway Group also said on Tuesday that it will help passengers who have booked train tickets for trips to and from Wuhan to get refunds. Normally, it charges a cancellation fee of 20 percent of the fare during the Spring Festival travel rush, but the group has waived the fees for passengers who submit cancellation requests by midnight of Friday.

Also since Tuesday, several popular Chinese travel-service providers, including Ctrip and Lvmama, are allowing people confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus, suspected cases and those who have been in contact with patients to cancel their booked flight or train tickets and accommodations for free.

Fees for such cancellations will be paid by those online travel agencies, and they said they will help passengers communicate with the national railway group and airlines to apply for ticket refunds and rescheduling.

Nearly 24.4 million train passengers are expected to either leave Wuhan or arrive in the city during the travel rush, which began on Jan 10 and will last until Feb 18, according to statistics released by the Wuhan railway authority.

The travel rush is the world's biggest annual human migration, with about 3 billion trips expected to be made around the country on all forms of transport.

Sun Xiaochen and Cheng Si contributed to this story.

 

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2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xinjiang denies 'forced boarding' of students]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533043.htm The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has never forced students from ethnic groups to go to boarding schools as claimed by some Western media outlets, and the promotion of standard spoken and written Chinese is not meant "to eradicate ethnic minority culture", "to replace Uygur with Chinese" or "to teach students to hate their parents and culture", Xinjiang officials said.

Xinjiang has stepped up the development of boarding schools, an important part of its efforts to push forward balanced development of compulsory education. The move has effectively solved the schooling problem for children in remote farming and herding areas, Elijan Anayit, a spokesman for the regional government, said during a news conference held in the regional capital of Urumqi on Monday.

By the end of 2018, boarding students accounted for 12.9 percent of primary school pupils and 44.7 percent of junior middle school students in Xinjiang, with the boarding rate ranking in the middle among western provinces and autonomous regions and roughly the same as the national average, he added.

While helping students master standard spoken and written Chinese in accordance with the law so they can better integrate into modern society, the students' right to learn and use their mother tongues and written systems is fully protected, said Aniwar Abulimit, head of the Educational Bureau of Kashgar prefecture in southern Xinjiang.

"We provide subjects on ethnic languages in primary and middle schools, and teach Uygur, Kazak, Kirgiz, Mongol, Xibe and so on, thus protecting the rights of students from ethnic groups to learn their own languages and effectively promoting the inheritance and development of ethnic minority languages and cultures," Aniwar said.

The curriculum design and examinations of primary and middle schools have also included subjects of ethnic languages. The schools are also encouraged to organize traditional cultural activities of ethnic groups. These efforts have effectively promoted the inheritance and development of ethnic languages and cultures, Elijan added.

"Whether to apply for boarding or not is entirely a voluntary choice of the students and their parents without any so-called forced boarding," said Kadeerdin Kahar, headmaster of a primary boarding school in a village in Hotan county, southern Xinjiang's Hotan prefecture.

Jiapar Abdula, a farmer from Bageqi township, Hotan county, said she has decided to send her children to a primary boarding school because she is busy with farm work and her house is far away from any schools.

"My children are very happy at the school, and their grades are improving," she said. "What's more, they can eat and study at the school for free. That is a great favor for my family."

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[In Shandong province, value of glass works is crystal clear]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533039.htm Many may consider glass a mundane material of not much value, but the Boshan district in Zibo, Shandong province, could change one's views through its exquisite glass artwork.

Since the 13th century, colored glaze, known to the Chinese as liuli, has been mass produced in Zibo and other places in China.

On a cold winter day, a liuli artwork workshop at Jinxiang Glass Culture and Arts Co in Boshan is warmed by two brick, mud and metal kilns in which roaring fires melt glass materials. Dozens of craftsmen come to the kilns to dip the tips of blowpipes into molten glass.

Then some craftsmen hurry to their seats to shape the ball before it hardened. Some roll the ball on a thick sheet of steel that lay flat to create a cool exterior layer.

To make good shapes, craftsmen need to dip their blowpipes into the kilns to get molten glass several times.

"Liuli works are a kind of artistic beauty born from fire," said Sun Yunyi, a sophisticated liuli artist.

Sun's grandfather and father were also liuli craftsmen. Inspired by this family tradition, he began working on interior painting at Boshan Arts and Liuli Plant in 1983 when he was 16 years old.

"When I was young, every household in Boshan had a kiln in which they made liuli products," Sun said.

Made from locally abundant raw materials such as silicon dioxide, calcium fluoride and potassium nitrate, Boshan liuli appear in a rich variety of colors, including yellow, scarlet, purple, black and green.

Craftsmen in Boshan have been experimenting with different additives to produce glass of different types and higher quality.

Sun has been experimenting persistently to restore the techniques used to make yellow liuli, which is called "chicken fat" by Boshan locals because of its color and quality.

Chicken-fat liuli products were used by royal families during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). But the chicken-fat liuli crafting techniques were not recorded, and as a result they had been lost for some time and were not regained until the Suns began working on them.

"The techniques were passed down orally from generation to generation, so the way to make good quality products mainly depends on experience," Sun said.

With two decades of experimentation, Sun successfully restored the techniques, making him an outstanding liuli artist.

Sun is certified as the national patent holder of the production method of chicken-fat yellow glaze and the relief craft based on the set glaze.

There are six main steps in creating liuli-designing, mixing, blowing, cooling, polishing and carving, according to Sun.

After those steps, Boshan-style liuli artwork is produced through techniques like overlay carving and interior painting.

Carving is an intricate process consisting of a dozen steps, including carding, grinding, patterning, waxing, contouring, engraving and polishing.

Interior painting is a Chinese specialty. With a purpose-built slim pen placed into a pea-sized hole, the artist is able to paint exquisite patterns inside a glass work.

So far, Boshan has over 1,000 craftsmen making liuli artwork, of which 124 are national and provincial-class artists. More than 100 liuli artworks have been collected by museums at home and abroad, including the Baoyun Building of the Palace Museum, Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in England and the National Gallery of Australia.

Boshan liuli is gaining wide recognition on the national and world stages with its special artistic and cultural charms, said Zhang Rong, director of the Palace Museum library.

Thanks to local government support, Boshan has developed into the major trade and distribution base of liuli artwork. Liuli products made in the district have been sold in over 80 countries and regions, generating annual revenue of over 250 million yuan ($36 million), according to the local government.

Sun Yunyi (left), a master in making colored glaze known as liuli (right), creates a product at a kiln in Boshan district of Zibo, Shandong province. CHINA DAILY ]]>
2020-01-21 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Fishermen cast for new jobs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533026.htm HEFEI-Zhu Changhong, who once fished the Yangtze River for a living, skillfully scooped up a plastic bottle with a net while patrolling the water in his boat on a cold January afternoon.

"There is not much trash to collect in winter, as the water is low," the 54-year-old said.

He said farewell to his old job early last year when authorities outlawed fishing along a 58-kilometer stretch of the Yangtze to protect finless porpoises.

A 10-year fishing ban on 332 key areas of the river was fully implemented this year to protect biodiversity in the country's longest river. Among the areas affected is the river section where Zhu lives, Datong township in Tongling, Anhui province.

Yu Kangzhen, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said the fishing ban is regarded as a key move to stop the depletion of biological resources and degradation of biodiversity in the Yangtze River, which has been damaged by overfishing and pollution.

It's estimated the ban will affect more than 110,000 fishing boats and 280,000 fishermen in 10 provincial-level regions along the river. The ministry has promised to provide social security services, financial support and vocational training for fishermen who have to find a new way of earning a living.

Bigger picture

Unlike other fishermen who have found jobs in factories or become security guards, Zhu and his wife continue to earning a living from the river.

With the help of the local government, they joined a team to clean up floating trash and report sightings of finless porpoises, a job that earns them 5,000 yuan ($726) a month.

Known for its mischievous smile, the finless porpoise has a level of intelligence similar to that of a gorilla. However, it needs an abundant food supply and in recent years, overfishing in the Yangtze has contributed to a decrease in its number.

The river mammal is teetering on the brink of extinction, with a population of around 1,000 in the main waterway of the Yangtze, according to research conducted in 2017.

Zhu used to love watching the river dolphins swimming near the shore searching for small fish. However, as he grew older he observed the impact of an influx of fishing boats on the dolphins.

"I even saw dead dolphins injured by the blades of fishing boats as they love to follow them," said Zhu, adding that he and other fishermen in Datong understand the big picture of the fishing ban.

"There used to be a lot of fish in the river, and we always came back fully loaded. But now, we don't catch as much, even with advanced gear," Zhu said.

Instead of fishing on the river, Zhu and his wife patrol 10 to 15 km of the waterway every day, sometimes collecting up to 200 kilograms of trash.

"It reminds me of my childhood when I see finless porpoises during the patrol," Zhu said. "It's an honor to protect these angels of the Yangtze River."

The city of Tongling is not alone in its efforts to protect the Yangtze River. About 100 km downstream from Datong lies Ma'anshan city, which launched a fishing ban on July 1.

A new line

Fisherman Zheng Laigen, 44, still earns a living from fish, but not the traditional way. Taking advantage of expertise he gained over the years, he is now the owner of a fish farm and manages about 13 hectares of ponds, raising crabs, shrimp and fish.

"The last decade has witnessed the depletion of fish stocks. We could catch about 40 kg of fish per day previously, but the number has slumped to less than 15 kg now," Zheng said.

More than 10,000 fishermen like Zheng stopped fishing last year. His nine fishing boats were dismantled in May, and he was given a 200,000 yuan subsidy by the local government. The government also provided him with a 40,000 yuan housing allowance.

His new business has prospered, with annual income estimated at 300,000 yuan. In the peak season in summer, he had to hire four people to help with the work on the fish farm.

To address housing problems, the local government helped families buy or rent houses below the market price. Many of the fishermen and their families lived on their riverboats.

Zhang Laixi, an ex-fisherman, owns a 60-square-meter apartment in a residential area built for fishermen moving ashore. "The government grants 15 square meters for each person. I needed more, so I just paid for the extra space," he said.

Apart from housing, the local government also organized job fairs and training classes for the fishermen.

Zhang, who has been fishing for 20 years, said he has no intention of working in a factory and now runs a convenience store in his community.

"It runs pretty well with an average daily turnover of 1,000 yuan. It's not much, but I really enjoy the freedom I have," Zhang said.

Workers with the fishery administrative department in Wuhan, Hubei province, load a dismantled fishing boat from the Yangtze River onto a truck on Jan 6. XIAO YIJIU/XINHUA

Zhao Zelun (right) and his father sort fishing nets at their home in Jiangjin district, Chongqing. After a fishing ban on the Yangtze River, the father and son will give up making a living by fishing and instead open a homestay on an island in the river. LIU CHAN/XINHUA

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Trash sorting in Shanghai 'a success', mayor says]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533024.htm Domestic trash sorting has continued to be a hot topic at the ongoing annual meeting of the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Shanghai Committee, the city's legislative body and political advisory committee.

While delivering the report on the work of the government at the congress, Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong said that the city's trash sorting program, which was introduced in July, has been "a success", noting that 90 percent of the city's residential quarters had achieved the stipulated standards by the end of last year.

Compared with 2018, the average amount of recyclables collected daily in 2019 increased by 431.8 percent. The amount of kitchen waste and hazardous waste collected also grew by 88.8 percent and 504.1 percent respectively.

The increase in collection of these types of waste, which can either be recycled or processed for further utilization, has resulted in a significant reduction in the city's residual waste, most of which goes to landfills.

"In the past, 41.4 percent of the trash in the city was buried in landfills, and with the support of residents' garbage classification actions, this ratio has been reduced to 20 percent," Ying said. "I give a sincere salute and a big thumbs up to you, the people of Shanghai."

Ying said that the government will strive to further improve the trash sorting and recycling system. Many of the city's legislators and members of the advisory body proposed ideas to aid this cause during the meeting.

The Jiusan Society, one of the democratic parties in the ongoing session of the municipal political consultative conference, suggested that the government set up funds to back scientific research regarding the utilization of kitchen waste. The society said that this could help to bridge the gap between the ever-growing quantity of kitchen waste and the limited treatment capacity for it.

Wang Houfu, a political adviser of the city CPPCC, suggested that the opening of trash stations in residential neighborhoods-usually from 7 to 9 am and 6 to 8 pm-could be extended.

"The current schedule makes it difficult for long-distance commuters who have to leave early in the morning for work and only return late at night," Wang said. "The schedule was first introduced to help develop the habit of trash sorting, and since the majority of people are already compliant with the rule, the government should provide more flexibility for the convenience of the people."

Huang Shaoxing, a political adviser of the association of industry and commerce in Jing'an district, suggested a ban on the production and use of nondegradable plastic kitchenware and packaging used for takeout food.

Huang pointed out that takeout packaging for food accounts for up to 70 percent of the waste collected from office buildings as many white-collar workers tend to eat at work.

"This business creates too much trash that cannot be recycled and is a waste of resources," Huang said, adding that government should encourage use of biodegradable or recyclable materials for food delivery even though this could push the price of meals up.

Workers categorize sorted domestic waste at a center in Shanghai in November. WANG PENG/XINHUA

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[HK's liaison: SAR can learn from Macao]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533023.htm Hong Kong's new liaison chief on Monday pledged to support the special administrative region government in safeguarding national security and enhancing young people's national identity, in a bid to ensure the steady implementation of the "one country, two systems "principle.

Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, made the remarks in his article published in the newspaper People's Daily on Monday.

"Since Hong Kong and Macao's return to the motherland, safeguarding national sovereignty, security and developmental interests have become the basic constitutional responsibility and political requirement of the two special administrative regions," Luo pointed out.

Luo, who took office two weeks ago, stressed that to strictly uphold and precisely implement the "one country, two systems" principle is the foundation of Hong Kong's long-term stability and prosperity.

In the article, Luo said Hong Kong should learn from the successful experience of Macao in implementing "one country, two systems" and President Xi Jinping's speech on the 20th anniversary of the Macao SAR's return to the motherland.

Luo noted that people from different sectors in Macao agree that safeguarding national security is an obligation under "one country", regardless of differences under "two systems".

The office will continue to support the HKSAR government in establishing and improving legal systems and executive mechanisms to safeguard national security as well as strengthening law-enforcement, Luo pledged. Otherwise, the principle could be at great risk of being undermined by the reckless infiltration of foreign forces.

To ensure the steady development of "one country, two systems", Luo also called on the SAR government and relevant social sectors to strengthen the younger generation's national identity by improving education of the Basic Law and their understanding of the country.

Noting that both Hong Kong and Macao have achieved great development since their return to the motherland, Luo stressed that people should have firm confidence in "one country, two systems", despite the tumultuous situation in recent months.

Since June, Hong Kong has endured prolonged violence and chaos during a spate of anti-government activities, during which some also challenged "one country, two systems" by defiling national flags and emblems.

He called on Hong Kong compatriots to shift away from the "political haze" as soon as possible and be focused on economic development.

Hong Kong should grasp opportunities brought by national strategies, such as the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, to give full play to advantages under "one country, two systems" and facilitate further development of Hong Kong as well as the country, Luo pointed out.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Holiday gala to feature both familiar, fresh faces]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533045.htm The annual Spring Festival Gala will be broadcast live by CCTV at 8 pm on Friday to herald celebrations of the Spring Festival, the biggest traditional Chinese festival. This year is the Year of the Rat, the first in the cycle of 12 Chinese zodiac signs.

The gala will feature a variety of shows, including singing, dancing, acrobatics, comic sketches and traditional Chinese art forms such as Peking Opera and xiangsheng (crosstalk). It will also host a gathering of the nation's pop music and movie stars.

During the news conference held in the capital on Monday, CCTV officially announced the lineup for the gala's hosts, some of whom are very new to the audiences, including Zhang Shuyue and Yin Song, both winners of the 2019 TV Hosts Competition by China Media Group, and actress Tong Liya. Veteran CCTV hosts Ren Luyu, who has hosted the annual gala four times, and Xinjiang-born Negmat Rahman, who has been hosting the gala since 2015, will also be hosting the gala.

According to Yang Dongsheng, director of this year's gala, audiences will see new celebrities perform with veteran artists in a variety of shows such as singing and comic sketches, appealing to the younger generation. Apart from Chinese artists, performers from Europe, Asia and Africa will also join in the gala.

"The gala is about family reunion, tradition and having fun together. We will have more comic sketches and crosstalk shows, hoping to conjure up more laughter," said Yang, who is directing the gala for the third time.

Since 1983, watching the Spring Festival Gala has been a national tradition. Yang compares it to "an important dish of the dinner of the New Year's Eve".

This year, the gala will be broadcast live in over 170 countries.

As one of the most-watched shows in the country, the 2020 Spring Festival Gala will combine the latest technology with performances, including LED display, virtual reality and UltraHD, or 4K, broadcast. For the first time, the gala will be turned into a 4K movie, according to director Jiang Wenbo, who is in charge of the gala technology.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Space station prototypes shipped to launch center]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533010.htm Two major prototypes in China's manned space station program have been transported to the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province for prelaunch preparations, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The agency said in a statement on Monday that the arrival of the prototypes of the Chinese space station's core module and the country's new-generation manned spacecraft at the launch center meant that the construction project of the space station will soon begin.

The prototypes were carried by ships from Tianjin, home to the spacecraft's manufacturing complexes, and spent about a week being transported to Hainan, it added.

The core module's prototype will take part in ground drills for the Long March 5B carrier rocket at the Wenchang center while the new manned spaceship's prototype will be launched by the rocket's debut flight from the center, the agency said, without elaborating on detailed schedules.

The first Long March 5B-a variant of the country's biggest and mightiest rocket, the Long March 5-has been made and is receiving ground tests. It will be ferried from Tianjin to Hainan in February, it said.

According to the agency, the space station's core module will be 16.6 meters long with a diameter of 4.2 m and will have a liftoff weight of 22.5 metric tons.

As the biggest spacecraft China has ever built, it will be able to accommodate three astronauts and will be central to the space station's operations as mission crew will live there and control the entire station from inside it. The module will also be capable of hosting scientific experiments.

The new-generation manned spaceship will have a total length of 8.8 meters and a liftoff weight of 21.6 tons. It will be tasked with serving the construction and operation of the future space station as well as the country's manned lunar missions, the agency noted.

According to previously published plans, the nation will start putting together its first manned space station around 2020.

The core module of China's space station in research. CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Dong song singalong keeps ethnic culture strong]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533006.htm GUIYANG-Hu Guanmei, 64, has never quarreled with her family, and she said the secret to a peaceful home life is to sing Dong folk songs.

"We Dong people love singing Dong songs. It's our tradition and favorite form of entertainment," she said, adding that all her family members forget their troubles when they sing Dong songs together.

The folk songs of the Dong ethnic group are performed by a group of singers called a Kam Grand Choir. The performance is not accompanied by musical instruments and the songs are polyphonic with multiple overlapping melodies. Dong songs were added to the World Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2009.

Hu was born in a village in Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture, which is regarded as the birthplace of the Kam Grand Choir, in Guizhou province. She started learning Dong songs from her parents at the age of 3.

"We Dong people always say 'Rice nourishes our body and Dong songs nourish our souls'," Hu said.

The songs are about the legends of the Dong people's heroic ancestors and the wonders of Earth's creatures and give Dong people a positive attitude toward life.

When Hu married in 1973 and moved to her husband's village, she had already mastered around 400 Dong songs. A mother of three, she and her husband started to teach them Dong songs, just as her parents did to her.

"My parents told me when you are happy, sing, when you are sad, sing too. Singing Dong songs keeps worries away, and I want my children to be happy," she said.

Under Hu's guidance, her two daughters became excellent singers and have won many music competitions and performed in France and Spain.

"We have learned not only singing skills but also life lessons from our mother," said Hu's daughter Yang Xiuzhu, adding that Hu always tells them that life is like singing in a Kam Grand Choir, where everybody cooperates.

In addition to teaching her children, Hu has also been teaching children in her village of 716 residents.

Hu's 39-year-old daughter-in-law, Yang Huanzhen was one of her students.

"She always smiles and is kind to everyone. She is patient and never gets upset in front of the kids," Yang said.

She said Hu's kindness and optimism had impressed her and they have always got along.

"I have never seen a member of my family quarrel with others since I got married to her son," she added.

The more Hu brings joy to people, the harder she works.

In recent years, she has been much busier. After the local government decided to introduce Dong songs to local schools to pass on the culture, Hu was invited to teach at primary and secondary schools.

"I teach kids to sing Dong songs at the schools twice a week, which makes me really happy," Hu said.

Student Yang Caiyun, 10, said: "We spend most of our spare time with master Hu both at school and at her home, and we love her and treat her as our grandma because she loves us and treats us as her grandchildren".

Hu said that "kids are the future and we need them to pass on our Dong culture and bring more joy to more people".

A performance of a Kam Grand Choir is staged at Dingdong village in Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture, Guizhou province, for tourists. LONG LINZHI/XINHUA

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Job growth strong in 2019 due to healthy demand, govt policies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533001.htm Growth in the nation's employment showed surprisingly good performance in 2019 thanks to growing domestic demand and sound implementation of supportive State-level policies.

According to the latest data by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday, about 13.5 million jobs were created in urban areas last year, higher than the 11 million target.

The NBS said that it is the seventh consecutive year with more than 13 million urban jobs created.

In addition, the unemployment rate in surveyed urban areas was within a reasonable range of 5 to 5.3 percent, lower than the target of 5.5 percent.

Data from the NBS shows that the population of migrant workers also increased slightly by 0.8 percentage points to over 291 million in 2019. Their average monthly salary also rose by 6.5 percent to about 3,962 yuan ($578).

"The biggest reason for the steady growth of the job market is sound economic development and the policy of 'employment first', which played a key role in stabilizing the job market and the growth of new job creation," said Chen Lixiang, vice-dean at Peking University's China Institute for Occupation Research.

He said that while companies involved in foreign trade may have seen downturns, the rapid growth of domestic demand has strongly promoted employment, especially in the service industry.

"Innovative activities were also intense in 2019, making small and medium-sized companies attractive to job-seekers," he said.

Zhang Ying, employment promotion director of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said at a news conference in Beijing earlier in January that progress in stabilizing the job market is a result of both supportive policies and sound economic development.

"The government has elevated stabilizing employment to be its priority," she said. "The sound economy also plays a key role. The nation is optimizing its economic structure, strongly boosting the emergence of new industries and professions, and bringing more job opportunities."

She said that some preferential policies that the government granted to enterprises and key groups including college graduates, migrant workers and demobilized military staff members in skills training secured the continuous growth of the job market.

However, Chen, the vice-dean, said that the job market still faces challenges.

"The nation is in the process of restructuring its economy, which will be painstaking and take a long time but will affect the job market," he said. "Also, small and medium-sized companies have unstable financial conditions and business operations that may affect employment."

He said that to further stabilize the job market, the government can attach more importance to domestic demand and innovative activities, which are two main drivers to growing employment.

Stabilizing employment will remain the priority of the government's work in 2020, according to a news release by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in earlier January.

Tens of thousands of job fairs were held in 2019, offering job information to over 100 million people, the ministry said.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Austrian engineer builds deep links with China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533060.htm Herbert Mang could have, like many of his peers, retired more than 10 years ago. But the 78-year-old is still relishing the satisfaction that comes with his research and teaching university students.

On Jan 10, the Austrian civil engineer was rewarded for his seemingly endless drive when he was presented with the International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, the highest accolade a foreign scientist can receive in China.

Mang is the first Austrian scientist to receive the honor.

Considered one of the world's leading experts in the field of computational mechanics, Mang is no stranger to awards. He has received accolades such as the City of Vienna Award for Natural Sciences and the Kardinal Innitzer Prize for Natural Sciences.

But this latest award, he said, is the most significant.

"Civil engineering is not always regarded as a very sophisticated field. Some people say it's down-to-earth compared with the more glamorous fields such as physics and chemistry. I'm very happy for my profession that the Chinese appreciate this field," said Mang during his most recent visit to Tongji University in Shanghai.

Computational mechanics refers to the development of mathematical models that can quantify the response of a structure to external forces, or loadings, such as wind, snow, earthquakes and fires. According to Mang, the field is essential to the safe and economical construction of buildings.

"Before the advent of computational mechanics, buildings did not last long. Yes, there are famous structures that have stood for centuries, but in the grand scale of things, these buildings make up only a tiny fraction of everything that has been built," Mang said.

"Today, with computational mechanics, engineers build structures with the aim of seeing them last for more than a century. This was never the case in the past."

The professor's working relationship with Chinese scientists is longstanding and stretches back to 1981 when he arrived in China as a delegate of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization.

Mang spent three months at the Zhengzhou Research Institute For Mechanical Engineering in Henan province, where he conducted courses on computational mechanics. He also helped the institute with its application to the World Bank to purchase mainframe computers.

Changing times

Following his stint in Zhengzhou, Mang went on to lend his expertise to major engineering projects in cities such as Beijing and Xi'an, Shanxi province.

"China had a completely different culture and political system and I was simply curious to learn more about the country. Also, very few people went to China at that time, and I was eager to take on this challenge," he explained.

Mang recalled that Zhengzhou was hardly impressive when he arrived. There were no cars on the roads, just bicycles. The landscape was devoid of tall structures and the computer facilities at the institute were outdated. He was impressed, however, by the local scientists at the institute. In fact, Mang got along so well with them that he eventually invited three of them to Vienna to work with him.

The change that China has undergone, he added, has been dramatic. "China was technologically backward then. Today, China is ahead in the world when it comes to using and developing electronic devices. Just see how all the young people are constantly on their phones," he said.

In 2004, Mang started collaborating with Tongji University on a regular basis. Since receiving a professorship at the university in 2012, Mang has visited the campus up to three times every year. His contributions include helping pave the way for the establishment of the China-Austria Tunnel and Underground Engineering Research Center, a joint venture by Tongji University and the Austrian Eurasian Pacific Academic Association. The center has played an integral role in fostering greater exchange between scientists and students from China and Austria.

Mang's expertise has also been critical in the construction of some of China's most notable engineering feats-the Shanghai Tower and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge. He worked alongside his Chinese counterparts to evaluate the influence of high dynamic loads and extreme temperatures on the undersea tunnels that are part of the bridge.

Although he will soon turn 80, Mang has no intention to quit what he loves doing. In fact, he is planning to submit a research proposal related to China's Belt and Road Initiative to the Austrian Science Fund.

"The new Silk Road will go through mountainous territories and the structures involved will be in danger of landslides, avalanches and earthquakes. This is where my expertise can come in. Also, I'm fascinated with China's goal of connecting with Europe," he explained.

"Besides, all this cooperating with China, attending conferences and working with students on research projects makes me feel young."

Herbert Mang (left) displays his certificate of the International Science and Technology Cooperation Award in Beijing. CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Imports of garbage continue to decline]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533047.htm China imported almost 13.5 million metric tons of garbage in 2019, down about 40 percent year-on-year, and the country expects to realize zero imports by the end of this year, an environmental official said.

The country has banned the import of 56 types of waste since it decided to phase out garbage imports in 2017. So far, imports have declined by 71 percent, said Liu Youbin, spokesman for the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

Liu said the country has continued to crack down on waste smuggling.

While the General Administration of Customs rolled out its third special campaign on garbage smuggling in 2019, the ministry launched a campaign to crack down on environmental violations of companies that recycle imported waste, he said.

Referring to the ban as a landmark measure for the country's ecological progress, Liu said the ministry will promote the work with other government bodies and "make all-out efforts to realize zero imports by the end of 2020".

He also said government efforts are expected to help transform many of the country's small, polluting recycling companies.

The ministry and the State Administration for Market Regulation has issued three national standards to guide companies in their import of raw metal, he said.

Thanks to these policies, "many of China's major recycling companies that used to rely on imports have shifted their focus to the domestic market", he said.

These companies are now building channels for waste paper across the country. The initiatives are expected to force many small, polluting companies to turn to large scale development that adheres to high quality development, he said.

China has been increasingly under pressure from its rapidly growing generation of waste.

According to the ministry's latest report on solid waste control, 162 million tons of domestic waste were generated in 261 large and medium-sized cities across China in 2013. Though only 202 of those cities were assessed in 2017, the amount of waste had jumped to 202 million tons, up 25 percent.

The country also plans to build more waste-to-energy plants. Initiatives by China's local governments, however, are frequently opposed by people who worry that these plants may discharge noxious chemical compounds known as dioxins, which have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Li Ganjie, minister of ecology and environment, said waste-to-energy plants have proved safe and environmentally friendly in many countries.

He said the ministry will strengthen environmental monitoring of these plants to rule out violations as the environmental watchdog makes efforts to avoid the "not-in-my-backyard mentality".

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Academy supports more labs for frontier science]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533012.htm The Chinese Academy of Sciences will support more labs and major projects in frontier sciences, expand international collaboration with other countries and share its data and solutions via more robust and open cloud-based platforms this year, senior scientists said on Friday.

CAS will spend more than 7.7 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) to build four new major scientific instruments, including the world's largest high-energy synchrotron radiation light source, in Beijing's Huairou district, CAS President Bai Chunli said during an annual working meeting on Friday.

Moreover, it will spend another 2.7 billion yuan to build 11 scientific and educational facilities in the districts. All of these projects had been launched by the end of last year, Bai said. The academy will also build new labs in Shanghai, Hefei in Anhui province, the Xiongan New Area in Hebei province and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

"This year is a momentous year for China in eliminating poverty to build a moderately prosperous society," Bai said. "For CAS, this year marks the end of the first phase of the Pioneering Initiative, so it is a year to review the past and prepare for the future."

In 2013, President Xi Jinping asked the academy to be a pioneer in four major areas-making great scientific and technological progress, producing more innovative talent and becoming an influential scientific think tank for China as well as a world-class research institution. The Pioneering Initiative was launched a year later consisting of plans and reforms to meet Xi's four expectations by 2030.

"Our priorities this year will focus on further improving our research capabilities and producing original breakthroughs in basic research," Bai said, adding that more capable State laboratories, advanced research projects and open sharing platforms will be instrumental in fulfilling these goals.

By the end of last year, the academy had launched 58 pilot projects in fields such as space technology, green industry and regenerative medicine, said Xiang Libin, the academy's vice-president responsible for managing these projects. "These projects not only are crucial for producing globally influential breakthroughs, they are also closely related to our societal well-being," he said.

In terms of international collaboration, the academy has signed institutional-level cooperation agreements with 174 foreign institutions from 61 countries. Around 4,000 foreign scientists, as well as 1,600 graduate students, are currently visiting, working or studying at the academy, said Zhang Yaping, the academy's vice-president responsible for global cooperation.

The Alliance of International Science Organizations, a global scientific organization launched by the academy in 2018 to promote research collaboration and sustainable development, gained 15 new members last year, reaching a total of 52 research institutions and organizations, Zhang said.

Zhang said the Chinese academy has made considerable breakthroughs with scientifically developed countries last year. For example, the Academy of Sciences Leopoldina in Germany signed a declaration with CAS, its first supporting basic scientific research with a foreign academy since its founding in 1652.

China-US scientific cooperation on the government level has stagnated due to friction between the countries, but on the academic and civilian levels, such collaboration is alive and well, Zhang added.

"More and more American scientists are beginning to realize that sustained dialogue and cooperation with Chinese peers will benefit both countries in the long run," he said. "I believe the two scientific communities from both countries have the wisdom and capability to address current challenges and continue to contribute to the betterment of mankind."

Chinese scientists have also offered their expertise and equipment to provide safe drinking water to around 4,000 villagers and 1,300 students in Sri Lanka. Disaster mitigation, environmental protection, food safety and public health are some of the top fields for international cooperation, Zhang said.

Li Shushen, CAS's vice-president, said the academy has launched a new version of its scientific cloud database and it is open for researchers around the world to use its plethora of features, including cloud calculation, data search and storage, analytical software and community networking.

The network includes scientific data on energy, oceanography, biosciences, health and other frontier and interdisciplinary fields, according to Li.

"It is a cloud service by the scientists, so they can promote open and global cooperation," Li said.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Macao is set for an even more prosperous future]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532829.htm Last year, Macao celebrated the 20th anniversary of its return to the motherland. In November, I visited for a week to conduct a series of interviews.

Macao is small in both area and population. It's a peaceful, cozy, wealthy place whose residents have a high sense of happiness. The locals speak fluent Mandarin and are hospitable to visitors.

A 40-something taxi driver, surnamed Chan, told me that when the city returned to the motherland in 1999, the economy was poor and there were serious security issues. After its return, the city's stable environment helped tourism to develop.

Chan has been a taxi driver for about 15 years. His wife works in a casino. His elderly parents receive a local government pension of several thousand patacas every month and his son studies at a high school free of charge. I could feel he was satisfied with life.

I was impressed by the city's development during the past 20 years and its high level of social welfare.

Macao's per capita GDP grew fivefold from 1999 to 2018, its fiscal reserves shot up 193-fold, while the unemployment rate fell from 6.3 percent to 1.8 percent.

Local students enjoy free education from kindergarten to high school. Residents age 65 and older receive an average monthly pension of 6,099 patacas ($760) from the government, and life expectancy is more than 80, one of the highest in the world.

"Over the past two decades, Macao has combined its own destiny with that of the motherland," said Ho Hauwah, the city's first chief executive (from 1999 to 2009), during an interview about the city's success.

"This couldn't have been achieved without support from the country or the efforts of the Macao people."

"Loving Macao and loving the country" is Macao's core value. Patriotic education activities, including raising the national flag, are common in its schools. Every year, several groups have an opportunity to visit the Chinese mainland to learn about the country's history and development.

I believe that patriotism will remain Macao's core value in the next 20 years, and the city will embrace even brighter prospects.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Lunar probe to visit unexplored region]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532872.htm The next mission in China's lunar exploration program-Chang'e 5-will land a probe on an area never reached by astronauts or spacecraft and is expected to bring back at least 1 kilogram of samples, a project insider said.

Peng Jing, deputy chief designer of the Chang'e 5 probe at the China Academy of Space Technology, said it is scheduled to be launched atop a Long March 5 carrier rocket, the biggest and strongest in the nation's rocket fleet, at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province during the fourth quarter of this year.

It will land on the northwestern part of the Oceanus Procellarum, a vast lunar mare on the western edge of the moon's near side, after flying for dozens of days.

"This particular landing site was selected because it has never been reached by man or rover and also because scientists are interested in the geological history of that place," Peng explained.

Compared with previous Chinese lunar missions, Chang'e 5 will be more sophisticated and challenging as it will be the first tasked with collecting samples and bringing them back to Earth, he said.

The 8.2-metric-ton probe has four components-orbiter, lander, ascender and re-entry module. After the probe reaches lunar orbit, the components will separate into two parts, with the orbiter and re-entry module remaining in orbit while the lander and ascender head toward the moon's surface.

The lander and ascender will make a soft landing and then get to work on tasks such as using a drill to collect underground rocks and a mechanical arm to gather lunar soil.

After the surface operations are done, the ascender's rocket will lift it into lunar orbit to dock with the re-entry module. It will transfer lunar samples to the module, which will carry them back to Earth.

If the mission is successful, it will make China the third nation to bring lunar samples back to Earth, after the United States and Russia, and also make Chang'e 5 the world's first lunar sample-return mission in more than four decades.

"The quantity of samples it will bring back depends on many factors, such as the landing site's geology. We hope that it can collect at least 1 kg, and if everything goes well, it may bring 2 kg or even more," Peng said. "The samples will be distributed to scientists for research on topics including the moon's physical composition, geological traits and shallow structures, which will consequently help with the understanding of the moon's evolution."

Speaking of future plans in the country's lunar exploration program, Peng said scientists and engineers have proposed that two or three missions could be made to set up a simple scientific outpost on the moon, which would be able to accommodate astronauts for short-term stays, to carry out experiments and explore the feasibility of long-term visits.

In another development, Ma Xiaobing, deputy chief designer of China's new-generation manned spacecraft, which has yet to be named, said that the new spaceship's prototype will make its debut flight during the first mission of the Long March 5B rocket this year at the Wenchang center.

The three-day flight will test and verify several key pieces of equipment on the new spacecraft, which will be bigger than the previous Shenzhou-series manned spaceships, he said, noting the new model will be reusable.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Three seaborne launches planned for Long March 11 rocket this year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532871.htm China plans to conduct three seaborne launches using its Long March 11 solid-propellant carrier rocket this year, Jin Xin, the rocket's deputy project manager, said on Friday.

He told a news conference at China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp in Beijing that the launches will take place in the East China Sea from self-propelled platforms.

"We intend to use these missions to further improve our seaborne launch technologies and procedures," he said. "Compared with the first seaborne flight, the coming missions will feature better ships and streamlined tracking and support systems."

China carried out its first seaborne space launch in the Yellow Sea in June, marking the world's first seaborne launch in the past five years. In that mission, a Long March 11 rocket blasted off from a modified submersible craft, which had no propulsion system, off Shandong province and placed seven satellites into orbits nearly 600 kilometers above the Earth.

In addition to the three sea-based tasks, Long March 11 will also undertake two land-based launch missions this year, Jin said.

In another development, Shang Zhi, head of space programs at China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country's main space contractor, told the news conference that China's biggest and most powerful carrier rocket-Long March 5-is set to undertake three launch missions this year.

He said they will lift the prototype of China's new-generation manned spacecraft, the country's first Mars probe, and its fifth lunar probe-Chang'e 5.

The third mission of Long March 5, the tallest, strongest and most technologically sophisticated member of China's rocket family, was successfully launched from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province in late December, more than 900 days after the rocket's failed second flight.

In last month's mission, the 57-meter rocket placed the Shijian-20 experimental communication satellite, the largest and heaviest satellite China has ever made, into a geosynchronous orbit.

With more than 750 metric tons of propellants, each Long March 5 has a liftoff weight of 869 tons and a payload capacity about 2.5 times bigger than any other Chinese rocket. It ranks third among the world's most powerful operational rockets, following the United States' Falcon Heavy and Delta IV Heavy.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[The country is so beautiful]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532831.htm When I started working at China Daily last year, a colleague told me about an exciting story she had covered.

A few years ago, she followed members of the Xibe ethnic group, who mainly live in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, who were retracing a journey made by their soldier ancestors 250 years ago to defend the nation. From Northwest China, they traveled more than 5,000 kilometers across Mongolia to Xinjiang in 13 days.

They carried guns to guard against the wolves hunting around the steppe in Mongolia, and followed the route taken by their ancestors. Sometimes they had to camp in the desolate Gobi Desert, but in return, they enjoyed the night sky studded with beautiful twinkling stars.

"When we finally arrived in Xinjiang, I felt grateful to be a part of that journey made by the soldiers' descendants, and it was an intriguing experience. From now on, you will have it, too," my colleague said after telling me the story.

It is probably the best job description I have ever heard, and a few days later, I was on a flight to my home in Xinjiang for the first time as a journalist.

Last year, I visited places in China I had never been before, and experienced different cultures as I covered stories I had never heard before: I saw people in a small town in Fujian province invite a team of drummers to a relative's funeral procession; I heard farmers in Jiangxi province speaking the same dialect as my friends from Taipei; and I ate fresh shrimps from the Arabian Sea on the Pamir Plateau.

I never expected to be a journalist. Now, seeing my byline below a headline gives me a sense of fulfillment and all my experiences have made me realize how great my country is.

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, "If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

I think he was right, as I experienced the diversity and inclusivity of Paris when I visited years ago. I have searched for the same feeling since I returned to China.

Now, after visiting many places, talking to different people and experiencing various cultures in China, I have found each province is unique in its own way and the country, made up of them, is like a bigger version of Paris.

If I may make a wish, I hope that by the end of the year everyone is lucky enough to visit China-not through a camera lens, documentaries or the media, but by applying for a visa, buying a ticket, and beginning a journey in this beautiful country.

In November, when I was covering a joint patrol along the Mekong River, the beautiful rainforest of Southeast Asia that Captain Benjamin L. Willard saw in the film Apocalypse Now came into view.

Thankfully, unlike the captain's uneasy trip, mine was safe and pleasant.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Confucius Institute HQ regrets US university's decision to close branch]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532833.htm The Confucius Institute Headquarters said on Saturday it deeply regrets a decision by the University of Maryland in the United States to stop hosting its Confucius Institute.

"We are strongly against politicizing normal bilateral cooperation in education and hope all sides can view Confucius Institutes objectively," the Confucius Institute Headquarters said in a statement, adding it would take necessary measures to safeguard its rights and interests.

In 2004, the University of Maryland became the first university in the US to host a Confucius Institute.

In 2018, the US Congress enacted the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019, which included a provision preventing organizations that hosted a Confucius Institute from participating in certain federally funded programs, the president of the university, Wallace Loh, said in a statement on Friday.

"After evaluating the impact of this legislation on the University of Maryland, it became evident that we can no longer host Confucius Institute at Maryland," he said.

In order to minimize the impact on the schools and communities that depended on the teachers provided by Confucius Institute at Maryland, the university will continue to support ongoing classes through the end of this academic year, he said.

The university has also been working with Confucius Institute Headquarters and independent local organizations in the Maryland and Washington area to potentially transition the Confucius Institute and its activities so there would be continuity of educational offerings for schools after it has separated from the university, he said.

Since its founding, Confucius Institute at Maryland had engaged in educational outreach by providing teachers of Chinese language and culture to kindergartens, primary schools and high schools in Maryland and Washington, as well as offering language classes to the general public, Loh said.

Over the years, such classes had provided thousands of K-12 students with the opportunity to learn the language and culture of what is today the world's second-largest economy, he said.

"The US-China relationship is of global and strategic importance. Amid the rising geopolitical, economic and cultural tensions, the university will remain steadfast in its commitment to engage responsibly with academic institutions in China, and elsewhere in the world, in order to help manage-if not solve-the vexing challenges of our age," Loh added.

There were 550 Confucius Institutes and 1,172 Confucius classrooms in 162 countries and regions as of December, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The HSK exams, a test of Chinese language proficiency organized by the Confucius Institute Headquarters, were taken 6.8 million times in 2018, up 4.6 percent from a year earlier, according to the Ministry of Education.

The Confucius Institute Headquarters had added 60 new HSK exam centers, and there were 1,147 in 137 countries and regions by the end of 2018, the ministry said.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Satellite anniversary promises a stellar future]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532832.htm This year marks the 50th anniversary of China's maiden space mission, which placed the country's first satellite into orbit in April 1970.

As a reporter who usually writes dozens of stories about people and developments in the space sector each year, I am truly looking forward to the country's space program in the coming months.

We will see China's first Mars exploration mission that will release a rover to roam on the red planet; the fourth lunar expedition, which will bring back samples from the moon, 44 years after the world's most recent sample-return mission; and the manned program's new steps that will pave the way for construction of a massive space station and a lunar scientific outpost.

As far as I know, at least five new types of carrier rockets-the Long March 5B, 7A and 8, along with Smart Dragon 2 and Kuaizhou 11-are scheduled to make their maiden flights this year.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country's major space contractor, has announced that it has plans for at least 40 launch missions this year. Another State-owned conglomerate, China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, is expected to undertake about eight missions.

Moreover, some private rocket businesses have published plans to launch their own rockets.

All of this will be a stark contrast to the situation in the first two decades of China's space industry, when there were just four launches a year. There were several years with only one flight or no launches.

In 2018, China conducted 39 orbital launches, more than any other nation and exactly the same number as the country's total space missions in the 1990s.

Last year, China carried out 34 orbital launches, continuing as the world's most-frequent user of rockets. They accounted for one-third of the world's total space missions last year, more than the United States, the European Union and India-ranked from third to fifth in the annual launch list-combined. The second-biggest launch nation was Russia, with 25 missions.

Those numbers may seem dry and dull, but they represent China's rising status in the international space community, as well as its efforts to explore the universe and push forward the boundaries of human knowledge.

From the very first day of its existence, China's space industry has depended on itself, or to be more specific, on the shoulders of numerous scientists, engineers and technicians who could not expect any help from outside.

In the hard days, those scientists and technicians endured hunger, wore shabby clothes and resided in humble houses, but they did not complain or feel sad. They toiled and sweated. They spent almost all of their time and energy on their tasks, leaving little time for their parents or children.

The past year saw my stories about a Chinese rover realizing the world's first journey to the moon's far side; about designers and engineers at a private startup in Beijing breaking State-owned enterprises' duopoly on carrier rockets; and one of the world's largest and mightiest carrier rockets roaring into the night sky after numerous difficulties.

I expect the country's space circles to continue making strides, and I will continue to enjoy the privilege of telling their stories to the world.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Liaoning steps up support for babies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532834.htm Liaoning's provincial government has promised to provide free disease screening for newborns and to build 400 digital vaccination clinics this year to address the province's declining birthrate.

The free screening service, for diseases including congenital hypothyroidism, phenylketonuria, congenital adrenal cortical hyperplasia and hearing impairment, will be provided for newborns to reduce the mortality rate of children under age 5.

Tang Yijun, governor of Liaoning, announced the package at the Liaoning Provincial People's Congress recently.

The 400 digital vaccination clinics will allow parents to book appointments via mobile phone apps.

This will make life easier for new parents, the provincial health authority said in a statement.

"Improving fertility is vital for the province, since it faces a severe aging challenge," said Wang Guifen, director of the Liaoning Health Commission.

Provincial statistics show the number of babies born in the province declined each year from 2016 to 2018. In 2018, when the province's population was 40 million, the number of births recorded was just 279,000.

To compound matters, the proportion of second-child births in the province was only 33 percent, 17 percentage points lower than the national average in 2018.

Experts said 2016 and 2017 were the first two years of the implementation of the second-child policy, but it had not reversed the negative population growth trend in Liaoning, indicating that local people were not keen on having children.

On the other hand, the proportion of people age 65 or older in Liaoning in 2018 was 15.17 percent, the highest among the six provinces in China with severe population aging, said Liang Qidong, vice-president of the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences.

"The aging population poses big challenges," Liang said."The shrinking labor force is unfavorable to economic development and consumption. Moreover, the government's social security pressure keeps increasing."

Experts say Liaoning is representative of China's aging problem. In particular, the problem of "getting old before getting rich" may be one of the major challenges in China in the coming years.

In order to curb the declining birthrate, local authorities have reviewed the province's preferential population policies three times in the past decade. The policy package introduced as a result includes measures to reduce parents' education burden and the provision of extra subsidies for two-child families.

Kong Lin, the mother of a newborn, said it was not a lot of money, but "it warms my heart".

"I really hope our country can provide more welfare policies to relieve stress in terms of education and medical service," she said, "because it is really hard to find a good pediatrician."

Besides support for newborns, the province has introduced policies providing longer wedding leave and special workplace protection for women during pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

Li Dingdian contributed to this story.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Birthrate on mainland hits record low last year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532755.htm The birthrate on the Chinese mainland reached a record low last year, figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Friday showed.

The total number of babies born last year was 14.65 million, a decrease of 580,000 from the previous year, while the birthrate stood at 10.48 per 1,000 population-the lowest over the past seven decades, according to the bureau.

Meanwhile, total population on the mainland narrowly exceeded 1.4 billion by the end of last year, an increase of 4.7 million year-on-year.

Last year marked the third consecutive year of falling births on the mainland despite the universal second-child policy having been adopted at the beginning of 2016.

The policy, which encourages all couples to have two children, was designed to boost births to cope with rapid population aging.

Births reached 17.86 million in 2016, the highest since 2000, according to the National Health Commission, but they fell to 17.23 million in 2017 and to 15.23 million in 2018.

Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS, said at a news conference on Friday that despite the decrease, the total number of births last year on the mainland was still very big, and the universal second-child policy has played a very important role in encouraging births.

The decrease last year was the smallest, he said. Births fell by 630,000 in 2017 and by 2 million in 2018

"Of all babies born last year, 59.5 percent were the second or more child, with the percentage rising over the past few years," Ning said.

The percentage has remained at about 50 percent since the universal second-child policy was enacted, according to the National Health Commission.

Despite the policy, many couples in China were not willing to have a second baby, for reasons such as the high cost of raising children and a lack of nursery facilities, according to a survey organized by the commission.

Before the latest figures were released on Friday, many population experts had predicted a continued fall in births last year and in the years ahead, due to a lack of willingness to give birth among couples and a dwindling number of women of childbearing age.

According to figures released on Friday, the working-age population between 16 and 59 decreased by 890,000 from the previous year to 896 million, accounting for 64 percent of the population, while the number of people 60 or above increased to nearly 254 million, accounting for 18 percent of the population.

China will conduct the seventh national population census this year, which will provide authorities with better knowledge of China's population, including its structure and distribution, so it can provide a scientific basis for formulating the next five-year national development plan, Ning said.

Number of babies born on the Chinese mainland from 2015 to 2019 CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Consulates manage fewer cases overseas]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532777.htm The Foreign Ministry and its overseas embassies and consulates handled about 79,000 cases involving consular protection and assistance in 2019, a decrease from the previous year, an official said on Friday.

The decrease reflected the progress made by the ministry and its overseas embassies and consulates in taking preventive measures in consular services, said Cui Aimin, director-general of the ministry's Department of Consular Affairs.

It also reflected the improving courtesy of Chinese citizens and their awareness of overseas risks, Cui said at a news briefing.

According to Cui, an act on consular protection and assistance is expected to be introduced soon.

He noted that it will be the first legislation targeting consular protection and assistance as well as the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions overseas.

"It will be a landmark in the process of legalization and modernization of consular work," he added.

However, Cui said, the number of reported cases regarding overseas crimes committed by Chinese increased last year.

A number of Chinese citizens have engaged in online gambling and telecommunication fraud in neighboring countries such as Cambodia and the Philippines, which also caused other crimes like kidnapping and blackmail as well as money laundering, he said.

Such criminal activities not only damage the rights of those involved in crimes and the victims, but also harm their relatives in China and negatively impact the overseas image of China and Chinese citizens, he said.

The ministry and its embassies and consulates overseas support other countries dealing with crimes related to Chinese citizens in accordance with the law, he said.

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Xi calls for deepening of overall reform]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532778.htm President Xi Jinping has called for deepening overall reform of the country's political and legal work to elevate its level of modernization.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, told political and legal staff to make safeguarding the country's political security their top priority this year.

The remarks were made in an instruction on the country's political and legal spheres, and was publicized at the annual Central Political and Legal Work Conference held on Friday in Beijing.

The political and legal systems, which mainly include the country's law enforcement and judicial departments, made new achievements last year in safeguarding national political security, fighting organized or gang-related crimes, deepening overall reform and protecting people's personal and property safety, Xi said in the instruction. All these efforts have helped create a good environment for celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the New China.

As the year 2020 is crucial in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and winning the anti-poverty battle, Xi required the political and legal systems to put safeguarding national political security first in their work, continue to combat organized or gang-related crimes, advance pilot programs to modernize social governance in cities, and strive to build China into a country with greater peace and better rule of law.

He called for CPC committees at all levels to support law enforcement and judicial departments to perform their duties in line with the law, and select strong personnel to lead these departments.

Guo Shengkun, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the committee, presented Xi's instructions and spoke at the conference on Friday.

The conference underscored that the political and legal systems nationwide must follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, uphold the Party's absolute leadership, focus on the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and create a favorable political, social and legal environment for the country's development.

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Premier: China has confidence in meeting economic challenges]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532779.htm China has the confidence and the ability to meet challenges this year to keep its economy in the proper range and to make continued social progress, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday in Beijing when meeting with foreign experts working in China.

Last year, China's economy maintained growth of 6.1 percent, which came on top of a very large base and despite a complex global environment featuring significant downward pressure on the global economy, Li said.

"The achievements have not come easily," Li told a number of expats from countries including Israel, the United Kingdom, Germany, Singapore, the United States and France.

Noting that China pursues its development in an open environment and China's development needs a peaceful international environment, Li said China will always be a staunch force for globalization and seek win-win results in cooperation with all countries during further opening-up.

According to the premier, as China transforms its economic development, it must pursue innovation-driven development, a process that needs the power of science, technology and talent.

Though China has the world's largest number of people who have received higher education or acquired professional skills-170 million-Li noted that there is still a big gap between China and developed countries in terms of the capacity of talent in science and technology.

Li said that the Chinese government gives great importance to the development of education and science and technology as they are the most important underpinning forces for China's future.

China will continue to expand opening-up in these areas and its cooperation with foreign countries and partners in such areas will only expand, he said.

Jeffrey S. Lehman, who attended the meeting on Friday, is vice-chancellor of NYU Shanghai, the first China-US joint university.

According to Lehman, the university has achieved good results in helping top students from China and overseas maximize their capacities for innovation and to work effectively in multicultural teams over the past years.

"I love being part of this effort, which I hope will bring benefits to China and to the world of higher education," he said.

During the meeting, speakers shared their suggestions on basic science, science and technology innovation, talent training, cultural exchanges as well as the development of the finance and energy industries.

"We see great value in every piece of intellectual support and suggestion from each and every foreign expert working in China and they all deserve very close and high attention," the premier said.

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[15 supervisors invited to watchdog's meeting]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532605.htm Fifteen special supervisors were invited to attend the second meeting of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Monday.

The 15 come from different sectors including the staff of central and State departments, cadres at the grassroots level, experts from universities and research institutions, and media representatives.

Last year, 13 special supervisors were invited to attend the Third Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection for the first time.

The CCDI issued a document establishing the special supervisor system for the National Supervisory Commission to lead and regulate special supervisors' work in September 2018. It stipulated the qualifications required and the recruitment procedure for special supervisors, as well as their term in office, duties, rights and obligations.

The selection of the special supervisors gives priority to deputies to the National People's Congress. They may also be selected from another seven categories, including members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Congress National Committee, experts and scholars, and members of the media and art industry.

According to the document, the special supervisors should oversee the disciplinary inspection and supervision organs as well as their personnel's execution of their duties. They should also submit opinions and suggestions for enhancing and improving the discipline inspection and supervision work.

The establishment of the special supervisor system is an important measure to introduce external supervision. Inviting special supervisors to attend the plenary is a concrete manifestation of the top anti-graft organs' effort to create conditions for them to perform their duties, which shows that the disciplinary inspection and supervision organs consciously accept the supervision of all aspects with an open attitude, said a statement from the CCDI and NSC.

Before the reform of China's supervision system, supervisory organs had been inviting special supervisors since 1989. The CCDI also formulated a measure for engaging specially invited supervisors in 2013, and 40 people were invited then.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Zhao Zhongxiang, famed television host, dies at 78]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532659.htm Zhao Zhongxiang, one of the most recognizable and popular TV anchors in China for more than four decades due to his trademark TV shows-including the annual Spring Festival Gala, Animal World and Human and Nature-died on Wednesday, his 78th birthday, at a hospital in Beijing.

Zhao's son, Zhao Fang, confirmed on Jan 16 via a post on Sina Weibo that Zhao Zhongxiang died at 7:30 am on Wednesday.

"At the end of 2019 my father was diagnosed with cancer, which had already spread," Zhao Fang wrote. "He remained positive and courageous. My mother accompanied him until he died."

Born on Jan 16, 1942 in Xingtai, Hebei province, Zhao Zhongxiang joined Beijing TV-now known as China Central Television-as an anchor in 1959, becoming the first male TV anchor in the country and second Chinese TV anchor after Shen Li.

When China's former leader Deng Xiaoping made a historic visit to the United States in 1979, Zhao traveled with him to cover the visit. Zhao also visited the White House and interviewed then US president Jimmy Carter, making him the first Chinese journalist to do so.

Since 1984, he had hosted the Spring Festival Gala-one of the most-watched TV shows in China broadcast on Lunar New Year's Eve-13 times, which made him a national celebrity.

On Dec 31 that year, CCTV launched Animal World, a weekly show about wild animals, which Zhao hosted. In 1994, he hosted the TV show Human and Nature. Both of those shows helped raise awareness about animal and environmental protection, and they have been enjoyed by Chinese audiences for years.

"My father was passionate about his job and was loved by many millions of viewers of his popular TV shows … He respected his job and his audience," Zhao Fang wrote. "After retirement, he enjoyed a variety of hobbies, like calligraphy, painting and cooking. He was also dedicated to training the next generation of TV anchors."

On Sina Weibo, the topic with hashtags of Zhao Zhongxiang's death had attracted more than 1.5 billion views and 338,000 comments as of 5 pm on Thursday. Many netizens said in their condolences that they grew up with his show and have his voice etched in their memories.

"Such an unexpected and tragic way to say goodbye to you. Your shows were some of the best parts of my childhood memories," one fan wrote on Sina Weibo in a tribute to Zhao.

Chinese veteran actress Liu Xiaoqing mourned Zhao's death on her Sina Weibo, saying:"Rest in peace. We miss you!"

"I feel grateful to have known you for nearly 40 years. You learned fast and kept me inspired," said CCTV anchor Dong Hao.

Zhao's funeral will be held at the Babaoshan Funeral Center in Beijing on Monday morning.

In recent years, some Chinese reality TV shows had invited Zhao for dubbing, which usually conjured nostalgic feelings.

Along with his longtime partner, Chinese TV host Ni Ping, Zhao appeared in a Chinese reality show on April 13 entitled My Brilliant Masters on the Hunan Satellite TV Station. During their appearance, they shared their memories about their TV careers and their friendship. The show, which was believed to be his last public appearance, was shot at Zhao's home in Beijing.

"He was very professional and a reliable partner. He had a great tempo whenever we hosted a show onstage," said Ni during the show. "I didn't need to worry about lacking words or saying something wrong because he was always able to help me out."

Zhao Zhongxiang
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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Security authorities crack down on cyber gambling]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532650.htm Public security authorities will maintain "zero tolerance" for cross-border online gambling and resolutely curb the spread and development of such crimes, officials from the Ministry of Public Security said on Thursday.

Li Jingsheng, director of the ministry's security administration, said they will carry out special operations focusing on some of the key neighboring countries and syndicates involved in cyber gambling.

They will also guide local police to actively crack down on such crimes, directly supervise the investigation of some major cases and improve their criminal investigation capabilities to form a strong deterrent to criminals, he added.

The ministry launched a three-year special campaign last year dubbed "Chain Break" in a bid to "eliminate" cross-border cyber gambling crimes in China, said ministry spokeswoman Guo Lin.

Since the beginning of the campaign, police across the country have dug deep to trace clues, targeted some key gambling countries and international gambling groups and strengthened supervision measures in key industries such as lotteries, computer games, foreign investment and labor service cooperation, she said.

According to ministry statistics, police in provinces such as Fujian, Hunan, Guangdong, Anhui and Jiangsu have cracked a large number of multinational gambling cases, and more than 1,100 members of Chinese gangs have been deported from overseas.

Local police have also increased efforts to examine, monitor and verify relevant clues and busted a number of internet casinos, the ministry said.

Since 2019, the ministry has handled more than 7,200 criminal cases of online gambling, and seized 25,000 suspects and 18 billion yuan ($2.6 billion) related to online gambling.

Zhang Xiaopeng, deputy director of the ministry's security administration, said that in recent years online gambling crimes have become more organized, internationalized, industrialized and in sync with the rapid development of information and communication technologies.

He said some international groups in gaming industries and domestic gangs have taken advantage of gaming policies, financial consortia and frequent exchanges in neighboring countries to set up cyber casinos in the form of online lotteries or games.

Deterred by police in China, many syndicates transferred their websites' maintenance, customer service, technical operations and fund settlements to neighboring countries with the help of local gaming syndicates, he said.

More than 98 percent of gambling platforms, including some international gaming sites, were leased by overseas servers.

In order to ensure these platforms can operate at high speed in China, the overseas gambling groups often collaborate with illegal operators or cloud platforms in China who provide services such as server acceleration and website redirection, Zhang said, adding this will also be one of their next focuses.

"We have made some achievements in the control of cross-border online gambling. However, we can see clearly that the situation is still grim and complex, and we will face more difficult tasks," Li said.

Li said next up they will facilitate more talks about gambling bans with other countries, better control the "funds chain" and "technical chain" in some major industries and strengthen the supervision on foreign investment and outbound personnel.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China's strongest low-orbiting communication satellite lifts off]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532649.htm China's most powerful low-orbiting communication satellite, also the biggest spacecraft ever built by a private Chinese company, was launched on Thursday morning in Northwest China.

The GalaxySpace 1, designed and built by Beijing-based startup GalaxySpace, has also been widely considered the country's first 5G-capable satellite, which features a very strong capability in data transmission.

The 200-kilogram satellite was lifted at 11:02 am atop a Kuaizhou 1A solid-propellant carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, according to a statement from Galaxy-Space.

It has a transmission capacity of 10 gigabits per second and uses multiple bands such as Q/V and Ka, the company said.

GalaxySpace aims to build a broadband satellite constellation, which will operate in a low-Earth orbit, and create a 5G communication network with global coverage.

China has been making all-out efforts to boost and promote 5G communication technology, regarding it as one of the major driving forces for future social and economic development.

Zhang Shijie, a satellite technology researcher at the Harbin Institute of Technology in Heilongjiang province and partner at Galaxy-Space, said that though the age of 5G has unfolded, existing communication infrastructure around the globe is still far from capable of ensuring sufficient service in remote regions such as deserts, islands or seas.

"Therefore, low-orbiting, broadband satellites are an ideal solution to offering access to and coverage of 5G services to people in those places," he explained.

Zhang also noted that it is very necessary for China to deploy satellites operating with Q/V band and in low orbit as early as possible because orbital positions and the electromagnetic spectrum are limited resources, and the later a country starts using them, the harder it will be to find them, especially given the rapid expansion of commercial communication satellite networks in the global market.

Internationally, commercial space giants such as SpaceX and OneWeb have been racing to develop and construct low-orbiting communication satellite systems.

Thursday's launch marked the eighth mission of the Kuaizhou 1A, the pillar model of the Kuaizhou series.

The 20-meter rocket has a liftoff weight of about 30 metric tons. It is capable of sending 200 kilograms of payload into a sun-synchronous orbit, or 300 kg of payload into a low-Earth orbit, according to China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, a State-owned space contractor that develops and makes Kuaizhou rockets.

A Kuaizhou 1A solid-propellant carrier rocket lifts the Galaxy-Space 1, China's first 5G-capable satellite, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Thursday. LIU WEI/FOR CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Lam espouses 'one country, two systems']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532646.htm Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said she believed the "one country, two systems" principle will continue beyond 2047, as long as the special administrative region can uphold and fully implement the principle.

Lam, in her first appearance in the Legislative Council this year for a question-and-answer session, said so long as the SAR strives to comprehensively implement the "one country, two systems" principle for the benefit of Hong Kong people, there will be sufficient reasons to believe that the institutional arrangement will go far, without the need for change.

The Hong Kong leader acknowledged that the monthslong social unrest has reflected residents' lack of confidence in the "one country, two systems" principle. But she stressed that the SAR is an inseparable part of China, while the city is granted a high degree of autonomy.

She called on people to cherish the principle, which has brought prosperity to the city, stressing that the SAR should safeguard the foundation of "one country" and respect the differences of "two systems".

Lam made the remarks in response to those of legislator Ann Chiang Lai-wan, who said that many young people who took to the streets in the last seven months worried that "one country, two systems" will be replaced by "one system" after 2047.

Article 5 of the Basic Law stipulates that the capitalist system and way of life in Hong Kong shall remain unchanged for 50 years from 1997.

Lam said that many young people in Hong Kong were born after the return of sovereignty to China in 1997.

The "one country, two systems" principle has ensured that they can be educated and find employment in a stable and prosperous city, she said.

Lam urged the city's youth, who have been at the forefront of the often-violent protests stemming from the extradition bill incident, not to undermine the principle because of "temporary misunderstandings".

"Otherwise, the scenario they worry about today may be triggered by their own hand," Lam said.

Responding to lawmaker and convener of the pro-establishment camp Martin Liao Cheung-kong's question on the cultivation of national identity among the young, Lam said the SAR government held that people's national identity is crucial to the successful implementation of "one country, two systems" in Hong Kong.

In the future, the SAR government will strive to enhance civil servants' and the younger generation's understanding of the nation, and the "one country, two systems" principle, through various forms, Lam pledged. This will include tours and field studies on the mainland, she explained.

Lam also said an independent review committee designed to look into the social unrest is expected to be set up in February.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor speaks during a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council, Hong Kong, on Thursday. CALVIN NG/CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Around China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532616.htm HENAN

Man dies after crashing SUV on test drive

A man, surnamed Wang, died and four other passengers were injured, when he crashed a new Lincoln SUV during a test drive in Zhengzhou on Sunday. The tragedy took place in the afternoon when Wang, who was in the vehicle with three friends and a sales agent, drove the SUV into a tree on Yingbin Road. Wang, who was seriously wounded in the accident, died later in hospital. Police are still investigating the cause of the accident.

DAHE NEWS

Marriage offices to open for lucky date

Zhengzhou Bureau of Civil Affairs officials have promised to work overtime to grant marriage certificates to locals who want to tie the knot on the auspicious date of Feb 2, which falls on a Sunday. Bureau official Cai Xurao said they would try to meet the growing demand from local residents who want to marry on "meaningful days", when he was recently questioned by deputies of the local people's congress. Feb 2, 2020, is written as 20200202 on the Chinese calendar, a "perfectly symmetrical" date. The Chinese pronunciation for 2020 is also similar to "love you, love you". Cai said there was no reason to refuse the requests and marriage registration offices will be open on Feb 2.

DAHE NEWS

BEIJING

Doctor couple help heart attack sufferer

A married couple, who are both doctors, took turns resuscitating an elderly man who had a heart attack in Tian'anmen Square on Saturday. Tian Xiaqiu and her husband Qian Xiaosong rushed to help the man after he collapsed during the flag-raising ceremony in the morning. The couple took turns administering cardiopulmonary resuscitation till an ambulance arrived. The elderly man is in a stable condition in hospital. The husband and wife, who both work in Beijing, were praised by onlookers for their quick response to the medical emergency.

BEIJING DAILY

HAINAN

Ex-student fatally stabs teacher at school

A 21-year-old man was detained by police in Chengmai after he fatally stabbed his former teacher, surnamed Xu, in a school playground. The attacker, surnamed Meng, stabbed Xu with a sharp knife at the Chengmai No 2 Middle School on Jan 3, police said. Xu was rushed to hospital but died later. Meng, who reportedly has mental issues, told police he attacked Xu because he had been strict on him when he was at school. Meng was discharged from a mental hospital on Sept 11. Police investigations are underway.

CHENGDU BUSINESS DAILY

Water leak forces family to use umbrella

A Haikou family who have endured water leaking from the apartment above them for a year, said they often have to go to the toilet holding an umbrella. A woman, surnamed He, said life for her, her husband, two children and mother-in-law had become unbearable in their 9th-floor apartment. She told local media the leak from the 10th floor was so heavy that sometimes it resembled rain. The family complained to the property management company, who said the leak was caused by a cracked pipe. However, the 10th-floor apartment was vacant and they were only able to contact the owner recently. The owner, who lives in another city, apologized to He's family and promised to repair any damage, local media reported.

KANKANNEWS.COM

HEILONGJIANG

Holiday homework video of girl goes viral

A video of a crying 9-year-old girl who was required to do homework during the holidays has struck a chord with thousands of netizens. The girl's father, surnamed Li, took the video of his daughter studying at their home in Shuangheshan and put it online "for fun". In it, the girl has to write an essay with the title "The Colorful World in My Eyes". However, the girl bursts into tears and says she can't see a colorful world as she has so much homework every day. Li, who decided against sending his daughter to cram school during the holidays, said he did not expect such a strong reaction to the video. He said he wanted his daughter to improve her grades before school resumed.

THEPAPER.CN

SICHUAN

New Year ultimatum issued to single son

A 33-year-old man has received an ultimatum from his parents to return home to Chengdu with a wife this Chinese New Year. The man, surnamed Tao, recently turned to netizens for advice on how to deal with his mother and father. Tao said his parents had threatened to organize a blind date if he did not come home with a wife or girlfriend. Tao, who has no girlfriend, said he is upset by his parent's demand. His single sister, 30, is facing similar pressure, he said.

RED STAR NEWS

Traveling trio miss target by 1,300 km

An elderly couple and their grandson had to seek police help after they ended up 1,300 kilometers from their travel destination. The trio wanted to travel to Macheng county in Hubei province for Chinese New Year, but instead ended up in Macheng city, Sichuan province, on Saturday. The 67-year-old grandfather, surnamed Liu, said they had departed Zhongshan, Guangdong province, on Friday and traveled by bus. With the help of local police they were able to get a bus from Sichuan to Hubei where they will be joined by the boy's parents.

HUANQIU.COM

HUNAN

Medics treat sick toddler on fast train

Two doctors have been praised for treating an ill 2-year-old boy on a fast train traveling from Shanghai to Changsha on Saturday. The boy had a fever and was convulsing when train staff members asked for medical assistance over the speaker system around 5 pm. Doctors Zhang Aimin and Liu Wanghua answered the call and sponged the boy down and massaged him until they arrived at Changsha. The child, who was accompanied by his grandmother, was taken to hospital for treatment. Videos were published online of the doctors, who have been praised by netizens for treating the toddler.

CHANGSHA EVENING NEWS

ZHEJIANG

Potted plant thief under house detention

A potted plant thief who targeted the same home repeatedly has been placed under detention for two weeks. The thief, surnamed Zhu, was detained by police in Yiwu after his latest pilfering of plants on Sunday. Zhu was identified from surveillance video and the residents reported it was the third theft since last month. Zhu told police he loved potted flowers, but was reluctant to pay for them.

THEPAPER.CN

 

 

 

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Canceled Palace Museum 'reunion dinner' sparks heated debates online]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532625.htm The decision of the Corner Tower Restaurant of the Palace Museum to cancel a $970 "reunion dinner" during Spring Festival a few days after it made the offer has raised heated discussions on the internet.

The restaurant appeared on the top search list on Sina Weibo twice over the past five days, raising debates on whether the Palace Museum should be commercialized.

On Sunday, the restaurant got onto the hot topic list by announcing a "reunion dinner" from Jan 17 till Feb 8, the Lantern Festival.

A table for 10 people was priced at 6,688 yuan ($970) and an additional charge of 680 yuan for each additional person to a maximum of 12 people per table.

There were only three tables to be served each day.

On Wednesday, the restaurant's decision to cancel the dinner raised another round of discussions.

The two pieces of news have been discussed more than 50,000 times together on weibo and read more than 1 billion times.

The Corner Tower Restaurant lies at the north of the Gate of Divine Prowess (Shenwu Men) outside the Palace Museum. It serves fast food featuring traditional Beijing cuisine including pancake with roasted Peking duck and noodles with soybean paste.

The price of the reunion dinner was questioned by netizens. Some wondered whether the dining experience is worth such a high price, while others thought it was quite fair considering the unique location, occasion and culturally added value.

The dinner was meant to serve small hotpots on induction stoves for each guest. A piece of chrysanthemum from Anhui province, which is said to have been a favorite of the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908), was to be included in the soup base, which would have also consisted of chicken from Changbai Mountain and fish slices from the Songhua River.

Besides lamb from Sonid Left Banner, Inner Mongolia autonomous region-which is generally served in honor of the emperors since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)-some premium ingredients that even Cixi hadn't tasted were also on the menu, including abalone from New Zealand and 1.5-kilogram lobster from Australia.

Zhang Yujie, a food critic in Beijing, thought the price was not that high for a reunion dinner on the night of Spring Festival.

"Considering the quality of the ingredients and the dinner prices in Beijing, the price of the dinner is quite fair," Zhang said.

The reunion dinner on the Spring Festival at five-star hotels in Beijing such as Nuo Hotel, Sunrise Kempinski, Puxuan Hotel, and the Opposite House all charge around 600 to 800 yuan per person.

On Monday, the restaurant staff told China News that the reservations were fully booked.

According to Ifeng news on Wednesday, Chen Wenqiang, an employee of the Corner Tower Restaurant, said that all "reunion dinners" had been canceled and booking fees of 2,000 yuan had been returned.

So far, the restaurant has not given an official explanation for the cancellation.

The cancellation led Ifeng to conduct a poll on Sina. By Thursday, more than 438,000 netizens voted. About 181,000 people supported the cancellation and think the commercialization of the Palace Museum is too much, while roughly 184,000 people voted against the cancellation and think there is nothing wrong with the expense of the meal.

Commenting under Ifeng's poll, some netizens think the restaurant did not have the heart to continue the promotion.

During the last Spring Festival, the restaurant launched a hotpot, and people lined up for three hours to try it. The move sparked discussions by netizens about whether it was appropriate to make hotpot next to the Palace Museum, considering the preservation of the cultural relics there.

Although the restaurant explained the hotpot was powered by induction stoves rather than charcoal, the hotpot was suspended in March.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Shanghai scientists detail protein responsible for TB]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532621.htm Scientists in Shanghai have discovered a smart protein secreted by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB), which is responsible for the development of tuberculosis, an infectious disease that has been back on the rise globally partly due to a stagnation in medical research for its cure.

The discovery, published on the website of the UK-based journal Nature on Thursday, was led by a research team headed by Ge Baoxue, a professor from the School of Medicine at Tongji University, and Rao Zihe, an academician from Shanghai Tech University.

After nearly a decade of research, the team found that the protein secreted by MTB can mislead the signal of the human body to attack its own immune system and eventually lead to the development of TB.

The discovery not only offers a new perspective for understanding the infection of the disease, but also paves the way for the accurate development of targeted drugs as it provides a more precise target for follow-up drug development, said Ai Kaixing, head of the Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital affiliated to Tongji University.

TB is an infectious disease usually caused by MTB bacteria.

Traditionally, its treatment requires the use of multiple antibiotics over a long period of time, but antibiotic resistance is a growing problem with increasing rates of drug-resistant TB.

According to Ge, contrary to the general notion that TB has been eliminated, the disease is alive and thriving due to a lack of new drugs to cure it.

"Our research discovered that TB infection has been on the rise worldwide over the past few years," Ge said. "The World Health Organization reported the number of newly diagnosed patients amounted to 10.4 million in 2018, and 1.4 million people died of the disease that year."

In China alone, 550 million people are infected, including 5 million active infections, according to Ge.

"The widely applied TB drugs are seeing a rise in multi-drug resistances, making the treatment of the disease increasingly difficult," Ge said.

There were 480,000 people globally-including 120,000 in China-who reported multi-drug resistance in 2018. Multi-drug resistance has significantly pushed up the cost for treatment worldwide from $1,000 per person to $20,000 per person, Ge added.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Mercedes-Benz gears up to continue premium customer care in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532620.htm German carmaker Mercedes-Benz said it is cautiously optimistic about its performance in China in 2020, planning to offer more than 18 new models and more people-centric services to continue providing premium customer care in the country.

"We will strive to establish a new industry standard in premium customer care and to put the interests of our customers even more in the very center of everything that we do," said Jan Madeja, president and CEO of Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service, in Beijing on Thursday.

"It is not an easy walk but we are firmly convinced that this is the right and the only direction to continue our sustainable development in China."

Current sentiment within the automotive industry is that companies are expected to continue to undergo various challenges, both globally and in China this year.

"But, challenges provide opportunities for the best. The DNA of our brand has always been to strive for the best and we will continue to work hard to fulfill this unwavering brand aspiration."

Madeja uttered these words to China Daily during the Mercedes-Benz New Year Media Reception, an occasion to recap on the previous year and look to the future. The company had a remarkable year in China even though a downward spiral had persisted for 18 months in the overall market and is expected to continue into this year. Total vehicle sales in the country fell 8.2 percent from 2018 to 25.77 million, according to statistics from the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

"The year 2019 was another challenging year for the automotive industry in China with various ups and downs," Madeja said. "But one thing remains unchanged: the Chinese premium automotive market remains our largest market worldwide and still provides enormous potential for the future."

Despite headwinds in the industry, the company delivered a total of 702,088 new vehicles under the Mercedes-Benz and smart brands in China, which has been its largest market since 2015, registering a growth of 4 percent from 2018. Its sales in China accounted for almost one-third of the global total of 2.46 million in the year.

Deliveries of Mercedes-Benz branded vehicles grew 6.2 percent year-on-year to 693,443 units in the same year.

By the end of 2019, the automaker had a customer base of more than 4 million in the Chinese market. With an average age of 35.8 years, it is their youngest and most dynamic customer group in the world.

The automaker's success is attributed to its evolving lineup and improved services. Madeja added that the company launched over 15 new or face-lifted models to the Chinese market in 2019. Among these were the all-new GLB SUV, which is the first 5+2 seater compact SUV in the premium segment, as well as the AMG A 35 L 4MATIC and the company's first battery electric car, the EQC SUV. Both vehicles are locally made at its Chinese joint venture with BAIC Group.

Together with its additional partner BYD, the company launched the all-new DENZA X to reach more customers in China.

Duan Jianjun, chief operating officer of sales and marketing at BMBS, said the company plans to introduce over 18 new models, including the new E-Class, the Maybach GLS and the all-new GLA, in 2020 for its Chinese customers.

"We strive to get close to our customers, putting ourselves in their shoes and being understanding," Duan said."We let them first become our friends before becoming our customers and ultimately, our fans to together discover 'the best' in our hearts."

Last year, Mercedes-Benz ramped up its efforts to highlight its customer-centric business philosophy in China by introducing a code of conduct with its dealers in May 2019.

The code of conduct laid out various standards for Mercedes-Benz sales and service staff for daily business activities, promising among other things to operate with integrity, and ensure that prices are transparent and that customers are always treated with respect.

Zhang Yan, senior executive vice-president at BMBS, said Mercedes-Benz became the first in the industry to implement a series of specific measures to protect consumers' interests, developing a model for sustainable development in the industry.

Meanwhile, the company has spent years optimizing pricing for accessories and services. The latest evidence came last year, with a new vehicle warranty policy and the world's first Mercedes-Benz pre-warranty. Under the latter, potential vehicle defects are detected in 36 dimensions to ensure that customer requirements are met.

With China at the forefront of innovation, customers in this market have some of the highest expectations for digitalization and connectivity in the world, the company said.

"From our O2O tire-replacement service that was rolled out nationwide in 2019, to the expansion of the advanced version of our Digital Order Status to cover about 60 cities in China, we pay close attention to our customers' demands," said Andreas Kleinkauf, executive vice-president of BMBS. In addition to efforts to strengthen products and services, Zhang said Mercedes-Benz is an active participant in social development, as it was in previous years.

He said the company has already invested more than 200 million yuan ($29 million) in corporate social responsibility projects across China.

Among others, it inked a partnership with the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes in 2019, becoming the first international brand to partner with both these and Beijing's Palace Museum, showing its dedication to traditional Chinese culture and history.

Looking toward the future, Mercedes-Benz said it will further upgrade its brand positioning to become more people-oriented with the needs of its customers always in mind.

"We develop our business on long-term perspectives and targets, and the long-term perspectives for China remain very promising," Madeja said.

BMBS executives recap on 2019 and look to the future at the Mercedes-Benz New Year Media Reception in Beijing on Thursday. CHINA DAILY 
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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Strict governance of Party to be maintained]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532619.htm Attendees of a key meeting of the Party's top disciplinary agency agreed that strict governance of the Party plays an important role in ensuring the building of a more prosperous society and the success of the fight against poverty.

President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, said that "strict" governance of the Party must be maintained for a long time, while addressing a plenary session of the country's top anti-graft watchdog on Monday.

Xi stressed strengthening inspections and supervision of the exercise of power and demanded strict governance of the Party. He urged the building of a system under which officials "don't dare to, are unable to and have no desire to commit acts of corruption".

The Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection was held in Beijing from Monday to Wednesday.

Wang Lishan, the top disciplinary inspection official in Hubei province, said, "To maintain strict governance over the Party conforms to the rule of Party management. The fight against corruption has won an overwhelming victory, but the situation still remains complex."

"General-Secretary Xi stressed the main tone of strictness and called for long-term adherence to it, which shows the central leadership's determination to govern the Party with strict discipline is consistent and firm," he said.

Bian Jianlin, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, said that supervision plays a fundamental role in governing the Party, running the country and ensuring the operation of public power.

"We need to innovate oversight methods, taking the intra-Party supervision as the main role and promoting the coordination of all kinds of methods, to truly put power and personnel under institutional oversight," he said.

The three-day session of the top disciplinary body considered that 2020 is a particularly important year-the final year for completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the last year of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).

Disciplinary inspection and supervisory organs should focus on addressing prominent problems that have aroused strong public concern and help promote the fight against poverty, according to the communique of the session.

Wang Yanfei, the top disciplinary inspection official in Sichuan province, said poverty alleviation is an important political task in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and disciplinary departments can play a role in curbing corruption in the field of poverty alleviation.

Song Fulong, head of the CCDI team stationed at the Ministry of Transport, said road building is important to poverty alleviation, and this year the team will increase oversight over the ministry's road building work in villages to improve people's sense of gain.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Prosecutors strive to recover workers' wages]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532618.htm Procuratorial departments across the country approved the arrest of 1,599 people for refusing to pay wages in 2019, the Supreme People's Procuratorate said on Thursday.

They also prosecuted 2,609 people in 2,396 cases and supervised public security organs in filing 203 cases, helping workers recover a total of 250 million yuan ($36.3 million) in wages.

The SPP in November issued a document asking procuratorial organs at all levels to intensify the handling of cases in which employers refuse to pay wages and improve the quality and efficiency of handling such cases.

The procuratorial organs have been making good use of the sharing platforms of the administrative law enforcement and criminal justice departments to promptly uncover evidence in the cases. The procuratorial organs, public security departments and human resources and social security departments have improved the information sharing system, said Miao Shengming, the head of the first procuratorial office of the SPP.

Procuratorial organs are urged to correctly grasp the policy of tempering justice with mercy to severely crack down on those who maliciously refuse to pay wages and protect the legal rights and interests of the enterprises while handling such cases.

In 2019, procuratorial organs denied the arrest of 1,115 people accused of refusing to pay wages and decided not to sue 1,073 people in 917 cases. Another 1,627 people were granted leniency upon the admission of guilt and acceptance of punishment.

"Procuratorial organs should intensify the examination of the necessity of custody, minimize the adverse impact on the normal production and operation of enterprises, and make good use of the system to achieve win-win results," Miao said.

In one case released by the SPP, the defendant owed more than 200 workers over 4.4 million yuan for a local project in Wuhu county, Anhui province, in 2016. The local human resources and social security bureau ordered him to pay the remuneration in January 2019, but he failed to do so before the deadline.

Wuhu county people's procuratorate approved the defendant's arrest in February last year, and prosecuted him in March. He was also urged to pay the wages before sentencing. After he paid all the money, the county's court in May sentenced the defendant to one year and six months in prison with two years probation and a fine of 20,000 yuan.

The Supreme People's Court issued a circular on strengthening the trial and execution of cases for refusing to pay migrant workers' wages at the end of 2019.

It urged courts at all levels to establish and improve a one-stop litigation mechanism for such cases, and fully implement the registration system of filing cases to ensure all such cases involving migrant workers' wages be dealt with in a timely manner.

The circular stressed that such cases should be handled fairly and efficiently in strict accordance with law by applying convenient ways to minimize the cost to workers. Meanwhile, courts were also asked to use combined ways to urge enterprises to fulfill their legal obligations promptly.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532642.htm Man who killed doctor sentenced to death

Sun Wenbin, who fatally stabbed a doctor at a hospital in Beijing last month, was sentenced to death by the Beijing No 3 Intermediate People's Court on Thursday. Doctor Yang Wen was working in the emergency department at Civil Aviation General Hospital on Dec 24 when Sun stabbed her in the neck with a knife. The doctor died the following day. Sun, 55, is the son of a patient at the hospital who has been bedridden for years after a stroke. The court said that although Sun confessed after giving himself up to police, the nature of his brutal crime caused serious consequences and great social harm. It is not known whether Sun plans to appeal.

Military recruitment to take place twice a year

China will change its military conscription from once a year to twice a year, starting from 2020, according to a statement from a teleconference on the recruitment work on Thursday. Recruitment will run from February to March, and again from August to September. Retirement for military personnel, therefore, will also change to twice a year, according to the statement. It said the total number of recruits will remain stable compared with previous years.

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2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Ex-officer, teen, nurse help rescue people in accident]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532419.htm A former armed police officer, a 13-year-old boy and a young nurse are among the people who participated in immediate rescue efforts when a bus plunged into a sinkhole caused by a road collapse in Xining, Qinghai province, on Monday.

Footage shot by security cameras showed several people on the scene rushed to the edge of the hole and leaned forward, apparently in an attempt to rescue passengers as the bus gradually tipped into the sinkhole.

A passerby seen crouching on the edge of the chasm and suddenly falling inside as the road collapsed again was later identified as Sun Wanhong, a former officer with the armed police force in Qinghai province.

Sun, who suffered several bone fractures to his lumbar during the rescue, is receiving treatment at a hospital. He told China Central Television that cable explosions, water pipeline ruptures and tumbling dirt had complicated the danger inside the hole.

"Many people stranded in the hole were crying and shouting for help as water and dirt kept pouring in, so I told them to stay calm and reassured them that rescuers will come and save us," he was quoted as saying.

"I also strived to haul up a man who was halfway buried in mud."

Sun reportedly rescued three people.

Also captured by surveillance footage were the valiant actions of a 13-year-old boy, who was riding the bus with his family members when the incident occurred.

The boy was seen rescuing an infant from the edge of the hole and then heading back to save others. The second collapse also caused him to fall in, a scene that gripped the hearts of many.

The boy is now undergoing treatment at a hospital and is in stable condition, the Beijing News reported. However, his mother was reportedly killed during the incident.

Jiao Baoyun, a nurse with the Qinghai Red Cross Hospital, had just gotten off the bus when it began toppling into the chasm.

"I work at the hospital's emergency department, so my gut reaction at that moment was to return and save people," he said during an interview with Xinhua News Agency.

After another stretch of the road caved in, Jiao found himself trapped inside the sinkhole.

"I immediately called fellow nurses at my workplace to send ambulances because the hospital that I worked with is the nearest," he was quoted as saying. "In the meantime, I kept telling everyone to stay calm and wait for the rescue force."

Jiao is also in stable condition and is now recovering at the hospital.

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Slipper maker takes steps to combat child trafficking]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532426.htm ZHENGZHOU-Over the past four years, Cai Lei has used the slippers he produces in Zhengzhou, Henan province, in the battle against child trafficking.

"I saw a movie about child trafficking years ago, and I was determined to do something to help fight the crime," he said.

Since 2015, Cai has sold more than 8 million pairs of slippers with tags and bookmarks bearing the information of missing children in China.

More than a decade ago, Cai bumped into a child on a long-distance bus trip that he suspected was being trafficked. He called the police and pointed out the suspect to authorities. "I saw families that had lost children, and as a father, I knew how much pain they must have felt," he said. "I saw that child crying desperately in the arms of a strange man, and I thought it was abnormal, so I called the police."

After the incident, Cai decided to join the fight against child trafficking by volunteering at baobeihuijia (Baby Come Home), China's first nonprofit people finder website. He had worked in a Zhengzhou supermarket for years, but had plans to start a business in the slipper trade. In 2015, he came up with a novel idea-if the slippers he sold could reach thousands of families, why not put some information on or inside the slippers so that the customers could also help search for lost children?

Cai contacted the charity and the police department, and together they created a special tag bearing the children's information to be attached to the slippers. In the autumn of 2015, the slippers were delivered to Cai's customers.

But at the beginning, the impact was minimal. "The wholesale vendors did not understand why I wanted to put tags on the slippers," he recalled. "Besides, the customers usually just cut the tags off and threw them away after they bought the slippers."

After a trial-and-error period, Cai replaced the tags with bookmarks that had contact information for the charity and volunteers who sift through the information reported by the customers.

Cai sells about 2 million pairs of slippers every year. Over the past four years, he has spent more than 800,000 yuan ($115,200) on the markers. Each bookmark costs 0.1 yuan to make. "We also work with vendors," he said. "If they are willing to help promote the children's information, we give them bigger discounts."

Child trafficking is a thorny issue that worries many parents in China.

The country has stepped up efforts against child trafficking, with the Ministry of Public Security setting up a platform to report information on missing children. By June, the platform had made public close to 4,000 pieces of information and helped find 3,901 lost children.

However, Cai's efforts have also drawn criticism. Some critics disparaged his campaign as "nothing more than a marketing gimmick".

"If my products are good quality, and if they can help find lost children, what is the problem?" he responded.

So far, more than 20 companies in Henan have contacted Cai, agreeing to join his fight against child trafficking by producing the bookmarks. "If society can focus more on child trafficking, there will be fewer crimes," he said. "Besides, technology is improving, making the chances better for lost children to return to their homes."

Cai said he hopes one day his slippers will no longer need to carry the tags or bookmarks.

Xinhua

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Prosecutors pledge faster handling of violent cases]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532481.htm Beijing's top judicial and prosecution organs pledged to speed up the handling of violent cases to ensure that "justice is never delayed" after the fatal stabbing of a physician at a Beijing hospital in December.

"Prosecution should quickly process the approval of arrests and litigation of seriously violent crimes and perform their duties to guarantee social justice," said Jing Dali, chief procurator of the Beijing Municipal People's Procuratorate. "We need to better perform our duties and build more qualified prosecutor teams."

He made the remark while delivering a work report to the annual session of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress. The report was submitted to the capital's legislative body on Wednesday and will be reviewed by deputies to the congress in two days.

In 2019, Beijing's procuratorial organs handled 95,543 cases and concluded 95,531, an increase of 18.5 percent and 23.4 percent respectively compared with the previous year.

Prosecutors across the capital cracked 88 cases related to endangering public security, according to the report. A total of 142 major illegal fundraising crimes each involving more than 100 million yuan ($14.5 million) were handled last year, and 2,099 people were prosecuted.

By strictly handling criminal cases, prosecutors citywide also paid great attention to innovative mechanisms to complete the social governance system, Jing said.

On Dec 24, Yang Wen, a doctor who worked in the emergency department at Civil Aviation General Hospital in Beijing's Chaoyang district, was stabbed by a man believed to be a patient's relative, Sun Wenbin.

Despite rescue efforts from a team of medical experts from several top Beijing hospitals organized by the city's health commission, Yang, who sustained serious neck wounds, died early the following day.

The city's prosecutors approved the arrest of Sun, 55, on a charge of intentional homicide on Dec 27.

Kou Fang, president of Beijing High People's Court, said the high court maintained a tough stance toward serious crimes and would severely punish violent acts such as murder, robbery and kidnapping.

"Over the past year, we sentenced 1,166 people to more than five years' imprisonment, and we always strive to ensure the safety and security of people's lives and property," he said.

"We will further improve trial quality and efficiency to solve the problem of difficult enforcement of judgments and promote construction of a social credit system," he said.

The capital's legislative body also planned to formulate a new regulation this year to guarantee safety in hospitals, according to a report delivered to the Beijing Municipal People's Congress on Tuesday.

 

CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Rocket lifts Argentine satellites into orbit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532480.htm China used one of its carrier rockets to send two satellites into space on Wednesday for an Argentine company, marking the first launch in a massive launch service contract with the South American satellite developer.

The NewSat 7 and 8 satellites, designed and built by Satellogic, a private Argentine company that specializes in Earth-observation satellites, were lifted atop a Long March 2D carrier rocket at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi province, State-owned space conglomerate China Aerospace Science and Technology said.

Their deployments were the first in a launch service contract signed in January last year by Satellogic and China Great Wall Industry, the international arm of China Aerospace Science and Technology.

According to the contract, Great Wall will use multiple Long March rockets to deploy 90 of Satellogic's Earth observation satellites into space from the Taiyuan center.

After all the satellites are placed in orbit, they will form an Earth-observation satellite system capable of capturing images of the entire world with a 1-meter resolution on a weekly basis. The network is expected to dramatically reduce the cost of high-frequency geospatial analytics, Great Wall said.

Before the new deal, the Chinese launch service provider helped Satellogic send six satellites into orbit on Long March-series rockets.

Though financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, the deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, meaning it is one of the largest contracts China has obtained in the international commercial launch market in the past few years, said Fu Zhiheng, vice-president of Great Wall.

Wednesday's flight also sent a new Chinese optical remotesensing satellite for commercial use into orbit.

The satellite, the latest in the Jilin-1 satellite family, was developed by Chang Guang Satellite Technology in Jilin province. It has superwide coverage and a resolution at the sub-meter level. It is also capable of high-speed data storage and transmission.

It will work with the 15 Jilin-1 satellites already in orbit to form a constellation to provide remote-sensing data and services for governmental and industrial users.

 

A Long March 2D rocket is launched on Wednesday at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in Shanxi province. WU JIADONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Government moves to solve pensions shortfall]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532479.htm Editor's note: This is the fifth in a series looking back at some of the most important, timely or unusual stories covered by China Daily's reporters last year.

A central question for policymakers last year was how to cope with the growing pressure of paying "old age insurance", or pensions, in the country's less-developed regions as the nation ages.

Provincial and municipal authorities manage such funds separately, which has led to a lack of money in areas with rapidly aging populations.

The problem is most acute in the less-developed provinces in China's western regions and the northeast, which have struggled for years to cope with a constant exodus of young workers.

A 2017 report shed light on the pressure facing Heilongjiang, the northernmost province.

The report, released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, found that while the country's collective fund totaled 3.7 trillion yuan in 2016, Heilongjiang had a deficit of 32 billion yuan.

The situation was no better in central and western provinces. A report published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in February last year found that several provinces, including Jiangxi, Hubei, Gansu, Qinghai and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, faced serious funding issues and that deficits are expected in the next few years.

It predicted that nearly half of provincial regions will face deficits by 2022.

"The balance problem is caused by the aging population, exacerbated by the loss of young people to the coastal regions," said Jiang Xiangqun, a professor of social security at Renmin University of China.

He added that the ripple effects of vast numbers of factory workers being laid off in the northeast have complicated the issue in the region.

Rust belt

The northeastern provinces-Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang-were once known as the "Republic's eldest son" because of their crucial status in the national economy as a base for heavy industry.

But the region became a rust belt after large numbers of State-owned coal mines, steel plants and oil refineries were idled amid sweeping economic reforms in the 1990s.

The former employees, mostly born in the 1950s and '60s baby booms, have now surpassed the retirement age for blue-collar workers-55 for men and 50 for women-and large numbers of them have started collecting the State pension.

Meanwhile, the job evaporation in the northeast has seen many young people move to Beijing and other economically vibrant regions, meaning they do not contribute to the pension fund in their home province.

Moreover, their numbers are fewer because many were born after the one-child rule was introduced in 1980.

In the first decade of this century, Heilongjiang saw a net outflow of 1.26 million residents. Meanwhile, starting in 2010, an average 100,000 people moved elsewhere every year, according to the provincial statistics bureau.

More than 30 percent of those people are age 20 to 30, and less than 20 percent have reached retirement age, it said.

The workers' migration to the coastal regions has created a huge discrepancy in the health of pension funds in different parts of the country.

In 2017, Yin Weimin, a former minister of human resources and social security, said that at 1.3-to-1, Heilongjiang had the country's lowest contributor-collector ratio, suggesting immense payout pressure.

However, the ratio was 9-to-1 in Guangdong province, the manufacturing and trading hub in South China, he said.

Experts said that in addition to putting pressure on fund payouts, the fragmented system has caused problems such as a gap in benefit collections, as the contribution rate varies from area to area and the benefits are calculated according to local income levels.

Unified system

To narrow that gap, in December, the Communist Party of China pledged to speed up the process of establishing a national pension fund, which would allow the central authorities to collect the money and plan spending as a whole.

The Party's preference for centralizing management of funds emerged in late 2017, when the CPC's National Congress decided to unify the system as soon as possible.

That commitment was followed by the rollout of a temporary relief plan in 2018, which aimed to direct money from provinces with larger balances to places struggling to pay retirees before the completion of the unifying process.

"The solution is far more complicated than just channeling money between regions," said Nie Riming, a researcher with the SIFL Institute, a public policy think tank in Shanghai.

He said a well-designed system is needed to ensure that urban and rural residents receive equal treatment along with members of different generations "because today's young people could end up receiving much smaller pensions, despite being burdened with high contribution rates".

Concerns

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the UN listing China as an aging society, and people age 60 and older accounted for 10 percent of the population.

That makes China one of the few countries to fall foul of the aging process before becoming fully industrialized.

Given that the country was once dependent on labor-intensive industries for growth, the fading demographic dividend that quickly followed sent a warning to policymakers.

In the past two decades, the country has seen the number of over-65s almost double, reaching 166.5 million in 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The elderly dependency ratio-the proportion of seniors supported by people of working age-was 16.8-to-100, compared with 10.2-to-100 in 1999, the NBS said.

Meanwhile, the pension funds-which used to be reserved for government employees-have expanded to cover nongovernmental workers, who used to be supported by their families during old age.

Those developments have led to concerns that providing cover for so many retirees could put the pension fund under strain.

The fear was reflected by a CASS report in April, which said pension funds could run out before workers born in the 1980s retire. One Sina Weibo user commented, "If the prediction is accurate, many people born after 1975 will also bear the brunt in about 15 years."

At a regular news conference in April, Nie Mingjun, a pension fund official with the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said the report's authors had failed to fully understand how the fund works.

He attempted to assuage fears by saying that adjustments have been made to ensure that benefits do not run out, including cutting the contribution rate to entice a larger proportion of the working population to participate in the pension fund.

Road map

More assurances for worried pensioners came in November, when the central authorities unveiled a guideline on medium-and long-term planning for dealing with the graying society.

Considered a landmark document, it detailed for the first time how China plans to cope with mounting demographic stress in the coming decades.

It called for measures to improve the health of newborns, develop vocational education for seniors and expand the reservoir of social wealth, with the aim of bolstering the workforce and funding a resilient social security system in an aged society.

The ultimate goal is that by 2050, China will be able to support its senior citizens with sufficient incomes, human capital, innovative technologies, healthcare and other services.

Du Peng, vice-president of Renmin University of China and an expert on aging, said the plan would help to assuage people's concerns about the solvency of the pension fund system by detailing reforms in a wide range of areas, including education, employment and the law.

"It indicates that the authorities are doing things on that front," he said.

 

A caregiver helps a senior citizen to put on an apron before a meal at a rest home in Xining, Qinghai province, last month. ZHANG LONG/XINHUA

 

 

An employee shows a senior how to collect a pension via a mobile phone app in Hefei, Anhui province, last year. GE YINIAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

Senior citizens dance in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, last year. YANG SHIYAO/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Novel calendars go beyond their use-by date]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532478.htm TIANJIN-When Du Xin, 32, recently picked up a calendar at a Tianjin bookstore, he was one of a growing number of customers wanting more than an unadorned old-style one.

With a crimson and dark green cover and bound by two golden rings, the beautiful calendar featured many traditional Chinese elements.

"Many people don't use calendars anymore, but I think calendars today have become more delicate, interesting and very different from those in the past," Du said.

Traditionally, calendars have played an important role in Chinese culture. They provide lunar dates that guide agricultural life and advice on what to do each day. Many people used them to select auspicious days for weddings, funerals, moving house or starting a business.

In recent years their popularity has declined, as younger generations turn to digital calendars on smartphones. However, sales have recently rebounded, with creative calendars, novel designs and interesting content regenerating young people's interest.

Du's calendar is one of them. Nearly 300,000 similar calendars were sold nationwide last year, said Wang Lei, manager of Sisyphe bookstore in Tianjin.

Apart from displaying the date, the pages of Du's calendar pages include wise words on how to live, and excerpts from classical literature.

For example, on Jan 24, Chinese New Year's Eve and a day for family reunions, a question on the calendar asks "Have you returned home tonight?" It's accompanied by an excerpt from Chinese writer Lao She describing people's celebrations.

Zhou Xiaowei, product manager of Sisyphe Calendar, said customers buy the calendar more for its creativity than simply checking dates. "They want the calendar to express their individuality," she said.

Wang, the shop manager, said customers also buy the calendars as gifts for relatives and friends.

Another product, the Owspace Desk Calendar, is marketed as an old calendar for a new generation, while drawing inspiration from traditional calendars.

The black-and-white calendar requires people to tear off the date in order to move on to the next one. It was also designed with dos and don'ts, offering advice such as "Don't do nothing today" or "Stop daydreaming".

Xue Jing, product director of Owspace, said that it usually takes eight to 10 months to design a calendar and edit the content. The company sold 70,000 copies in 2015, and sales surged to over 350,000 in 2018.

Creative and specific designs are seen on other calendars. The Palace Museum's themed calendar for 2020 features the architecture of the Forbidden City, as well as images of related cultural relics and stories. It has become one of the museum's most popular souvenirs.

The calendar of movie-rating site Douban, features film stills and classic movie lines, and the National Museum of China has released a 2020 calendar featuring information about cultural relics.

"Calendars can inspire personal feelings," Du said. "For me, I feel a moment slip by when I turn the page."

Xinhua

 

 

Two customers ask questions about Sisyphe Calendar at a Sisyphe bookstore in Beijing, on Wednesday. WANG JING/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Limbless father deals with fame and cynicism]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532477.htm SHENYANG-With a short chopstick held between his lips, Yuan Lidong maneuvered it to use his smartphone.

Yuan was born with no limbs in the rural area of Jinzhou in Northeast China's Liaoning province.

The 34-year-old moves with his waist by leaning on a short but heavy crutch, and wears modified pants so he can lift himself up to a sitting position.

Under the screen name "Brother Chopstick", Yuan does livestreams of his daily life on his smartphone, drawing 420,000 followers on the Chinese short-video and livestreaming platform Kuaishou.

"You can talk about any topic. Just treat me like an ordinary person," he said to the screen, smiling.

His family was devastated when Yuan was born. "He looked like a meatball," recalled Yuan Fengxiang, his father.

The family tried to raise him like a normal child and sent him to school, but the physical difficulty forced him to quit after three and a half years. When Yuan Lidong was 14 years old, his father took him across the country to beg for money. To earn more money, he sang through a loudspeaker.

In 2008, he met his wife, Chai Panxia. She had often come to hear him sing and fell in love with him.

"I like his voice. He is also optimistic, easygoing and caring," Chai said.

Chai's parents did not give their blessings to the couple and refused to attend the wedding. The following year, their son was born.

"Upon hearing that the baby was healthy, I was so thrilled that I fell off a high platform outside the delivery room," Yuan Lidong said. "I couldn't wait to see his tiny arms and legs."

Their newborn son also changed the attitudes of Chai's parents who often request their grandson visits them.

Yuan Lidong is reluctant to say much about his son, who is 10 years old now. "I just want him to live a normal life without being bothered," he said.

In 2015, Yuan Lidong started to play online games. "Seeing a friend play, I found the game League of Legends very interesting. So I tried playing it on his computer," he said. Lying on the bed on his left side, Yuan Lidong held three chopsticks in his mouth-a shorter one to click the mouse and two longer ones to control the keyboard.

To the surprise of many, he was fast and superior when compared with many ordinary players. In the next two years, he hosted online games, which earned him 60,000 yuan ($8,600). "Although we have some allowance from the government to ensure our basic living needs, I want my family to live better lives," he said. "I also want to prove that I can be the breadwinner."

However, long hours of lying on his side affected his organs, which forced him to quit online gaming and turn to livestreaming.

With a smartphone tied to his wheelchair, he sings, plays online games and shows viewers his daily life-how he sits up, moves and eats-often in an amusing way.

Each show lasts around three to four hours, and he can receive up to 100 yuan ($15) of gratuity every day.

While many netizens give him "thumbs up" for his diligence and independence, others accuse him of "showing off" and "selling" his misery to the public.

However, Yuan Lidong has gotten used to such criticism. But his wife always defends him. "I just can't stand the online trolls criticizing my husband," she said. "I know his hardship, and I want to protect him."

Yuan plans to open a grocery store when he has enough savings.

"Although I have no arms or legs, I'm passionate about making progress, just like able-bodied people," he said. "I hope I can raise my family through my hard work."

Xinhua

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Esports is preferred career among the youth, survey finds]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532473.htm Esports is the preferred career choice for those born between 2000 and 2010, according to a recent survey released in Shanghai.

Initiated by He Lingfeng, a psychology professor at Shanghai University of Sport, the report was based on a survey of more than 2,000 students from primary school to high school in Shanghai and data collected from the service center of 12355 Shanghai Youth Online.

It covered a range of issues such as the participants' interests, future career plans, the purpose of learning and the importance of life values.

According to the report, about 50 percent of respondents said they were most interested in animation and esports in their daily lives, followed by social issues, fashion and cosmetics, apparel and accessories, and international news.

With regard to their future ambitions, becoming a wealthy person was the most popular choice. This was followed by becoming a gastronome, remaining an ordinary person, becoming an entrepreneur and an esports star.

"The reason I did the report was because society knows little about this particular generation, which is very different from others," He said.

"The overall feeling about these young people is that they are very diverse, unlike those who were born in the 1950s, 1960s and even the 1970s sharing very similar ideas and values."

Above all, he added, they are a group of confident children.

"In the face of their own diseases, including emotional problems, they are very calm and will take the initiative to seek help from doctors and professional institutions, and they are not afraid to tell others about their wounds," He said.

In particular, He said he found it "very interesting" that many young people are hoping to become professional esports players. It is an undeniable fact that esports had become a serious occupation, with 75 esports players becoming national athletes last year.

According to the Shanghai Esports Industry Development Evaluation Report released in June, the revenue generated from the esports market in Shanghai increased from 7.02 billion yuan ($1.02 billion) in 2016 to 14.64 billion yuan in 2018.

In response, many colleges have introduced related majors. The Shanghai University of Sport, for example, launched an esports commentary major in 2018 for cultivating talent in the field.

"The parents of the post-2000 generation are willing to give autonomous rights to their children, which results in the youth having decision-making power to choose what they like and what they want," He added.

Guo Ran, a freshman who majored in medical technology at Shanghai University of Sport, said many of her friends like to play games and pay attention to esports.

"It has become a competition event in the Asian Games, which means society is serious about esports, and there is a huge market for esports commentary," Guo said.

Guo said she would like to become a rehabilitation therapist for a soccer team, a longtime dream of hers.

Guo said she considers health to be the most important aspect in life, and she is not alone. With regard to what her peers in the survey value the most in life, health was ranked first, followed by wisdom, emotion, wealth, charm, power and fame, according to the report.

The survey also found that 40.3 percent of respondents saw studying hard as a means of achieving their goals, while 27.2 percent saw it as a form of contribution to society.

 

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Aging pipes may lead to more road collapses]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532471.htm As the investigation over a recent deadly road collapse continues, an expert warns that more such accidents may happen because of the country's increasingly aging underground pipe network if precautionary measures are not taken in a timely manner.

The accident occurred on Monday evening in Xining, capital of Qinghai province, as people were getting on and off a public bus. The sudden collapse left so large a sinkhole that the bus sank halfway into the ground, and some people at the bus stop also fell into the hole.

A second collapse and an explosion occurred when some people tried to rescue those trapped in the hole. Rescuers had found the bodies of nine victims as of Tuesday, and 16 people have been hospitalized.

A team dispatched by the Ministry of Emergency Management has arrived in Xining to facilitate the investigation of the initial collapse. While no official conclusion has been made over its cause, multiple media reports point out that the collapse could possibly have been triggered by a broken water pipe.

The accident is just the latest example of the increasingly frequent road collapses in the country's urban areas. According to a report concluded by the Beijing Comprehensive Management Research Center of Underground Pipeline and the Underground Pipeline Committee-part of the China Association of City Planning-a tally based on media reports shows that the country saw at least 142 road collapses from October 2018 to September 2019.

Liu Huizhong, executive secretary-general of the committee, said the country's aging underground pipe network is one of the culprits behind the frequent collapses, though some were also caused by natural means.

China buried its first large batch of underground pipes after 1979, and many of the pipes have been aging, Liu noted.

But the country has yet to make marked progress in repairing or strengthening these pipes despite that fact that the government has known the general situation of underground pipes, Liu said. In addition, there are existing technologies to repair these pipes.

As required by a guideline published by the State Council in 2014, a three-year comprehensive survey of pipe networks under main urban roads has been rolled out in order to assess the situation of underground pipes, and the survey has been completed.

The latest technologies have been advanced enough to repair underground pipes without digging into the ground and disturbing the traffic. The service life period of the aging pipes could be extended for another 50 years by adding internal liners via wells constructed especially for pipe maintenance, he added.

Liu said there are currently 750,000 kilometers of underground water pipes across the country, but only about 800 km of them were repaired with such technologies last year.

He also called on the government to ramp up efforts in repairing the pipes and take more precautionary measures.

"With the aging of the country's underground pipe network and the increase of urban construction projects, instead of taking emergency measures after an accident happens, the government should take more precautionary measures," he said.

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Ministry: Slaughterhouses nationwide pass swine fever virus self-inspections]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532457.htm Slaughterhouses across China have taken effective measures to prevent pigs infected with African swine fever from entering the market, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Wednesday.

Nationwide inspections organized by the ministry recently found all 4,578 pig slaughterhouses have been conducting mandatory self-inspections for the virus. Local agricultural authorities have also dispatched veterinarians to improve supervision, Wang Junxun, an official with the ministry's Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department, said at a news conference.

The nationwide inspection, aimed at ensuring the quality and safety of pork on the market ahead of this month's Spring Festival holiday, concluded on Friday.

Following inspections by local agricultural authorities across China, the ministry dispatched senior officials to conduct random inspections in 11 provincial regions, Wang said. Initial results showed all the companies had followed regulations covering the entire pig slaughtering process, including inspections before entering a facility and disposal of sick pigs.

Pork production in China has been seriously affected by African swine fever outbreaks over the past year. The virus is fatal to pigs, but there is no evidence it can be transmitted to humans. The ministry has banned the sale of sick pigs to ensure food safety and quality.

Pork is the primary meat consumed in China, which produces half of the world's total.

Tang Ke, head of market and economic information at the ministry, said hog production in China started rebounding in October.

Ministry figures show the number of hogs entering the domestic market in December was up 14 percent month-on-month. That meant a 17 percent increase in pork production compared with the previous month, as the average weight of hogs slaughtered also increased.

Meanwhile, China imported 79 million metric tons of soybeans between January and November, down 4 percent year-on-year. However, more soybeans are expected to be imported this year, Tang said, meeting domestic demand for a main source of pig feed as pork production recovers.

Wang said the monitoring of slaughterhouses across China had also shown that the amount of pigs killed had increased for 10 weeks. More than 700,000 tons of frozen pork in stock had also hit the markets.

The supply of pork around the Spring Festival holiday is expected to meet demand, he said.

Wang said the ministry will work with related departments to intensify law enforcement efforts during the seven-day holiday to ensure the quality and safety of pork.

 

Inspectors check the quality of pork at a supermarket in Huaibei, Anhui province, on Tuesday. Market inspectors intensified their inspections ahead of Spring Festival. LI XIN/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532456.htm INNER MONGOLIA

After 33 years, murder suspect finally caught

A murder suspect was captured in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region after being on the run for 33 years, local police said. According to police in Chen Barga Banner under the city of Hulunbuir, the suspect, surnamed Li, stabbed someone to death with a knife after a quarrel with the victim in December 1987. The police launched a manhunt but no progress was made. Thanks to advanced intelligent technologies that led to new clues, they identified a resident who had been living under the surname Quan in the city of Manzhouli as the suspect and arrested the man recently. Li confessed to the murder to the police.

BEIJING

China to push reform of petition system

China plans to promote the reform of its petition system to deal with more cases online, according to a national conference attended by chiefs of local petition-handling administrations. The National Public Complaints and Proposals Administration asked lower level agencies to promote the use of a national online petition submission system to make reporting complaints more convenient. The administration also required an online response and offline communication for each online complaint or proposal, adding that it would strengthen supervision over the work of regional petition-handling authorities.

Xinhua

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Enrollment plan targets basics]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532452.htm The Ministry of Education launched a pilot enrollment plan for colleges on Wednesday that will replace China's independent enrollment scheme this year.

The "strengthening basic disciplines plan" at 36 top universities focuses on students with special talents in majors in basic disciplines including math, physics, chemistry, biology, history, philosophy and ancient characters.

The plan aims to encourage universities to enroll quality students who will be able to alleviate talent shortages in high-end chip and software design, intelligent technology, new materials and advanced manufacturing, and the social sciences, the ministry said.

High school graduates in China normally need to take the national college entrance examination, or gaokao, to be admitted to a university.

Independent enrollment was added as an alternative admission method in 2003 to allow some key universities to enroll students based on subjective criteria.

Students will be able to sign up for the basic disciplines plan in April. After they take the gaokao in early June, the 36 universities will release the list of students qualifying for the plan based on their gaokao scores. The ministry said they should then give those students written and physical tests and interviews before releasing final enrollment lists by July 5.

Student evaluation will be based on a combination of gaokao results, the results of basic discipline tests conducted by universities, and comprehensive quality results provided by high schools. The gaokao score will remain the most important criterion, accounting for more than 85 percent of the final result, the ministry said.

Students admitted through the basic disciplines plan will be put in small, independent classes, with the best teaching resources and learning environment. They will also be given preferential treatment in pursuing postgraduate studies, government sponsored overseas study and scholarships, it said.

Ninety universities previously allocated 5 percent of their enrollment slots to students with special talents, such as those excelling in science competitions and sports. High school graduates admitted via the independent enrollment program enjoyed privileges including lower admission thresholds after the gaokao or priority in selecting majors.

More than 20,000 students were admitted under the program every year.

Chen Zhiwen, editor-in-chief of EOL, China's largest online education portal, said that rather than only focusing on student enrollment, the basic disciplines plan stresses cultivating high-end talent for the country's development, as talent in basic disciplines is very important for breakthroughs in key technologies.

"Compared with independent enrollment, the new plan has also significantly reduced the number of eligible universities, leaving less room for malpractice and corruption," Chen said.

The gaokao is a highly competitive and stressful test, and in some provinces with large numbers of high school graduates, a single point can separate more than 1,000 students. The exams create a lot of anxiety among parents and students hoping to be admitted to the best universities.

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[An aging society can be vibrant]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532443.htm It should be noted that aging is a long-term process, and people have accumulated ample knowledge about it over time.

For years, China has been talking about dealing with problems associated with aging in a preemptive manner.

In light of that, the government recently released a guideline on medium-and long-term planning for dealing with a graying society. It was one of the highlights of last year.

By detailing how the government plans to cope with demographic stress in the coming decades, the document gave a preview of what is to come at different stages of aging, in addition to countermeasures to bolster elderly care, physical accessibility and seniors' social engagement, among other things.

I think it will play an important role in helping people realize that aging is a natural process, and the government is doing what it can to minimize its impact.

The guideline set out the bottom-line requirements for the coming years, which is to establish an aging policy network, which is expected to become efficient by 2035 and fully mature by 2050.

That will make it possible for the central authorities to oversee developments and push the policy through.

The document will help disperse the "aging phobia" sentiment. It will also allow people to see that reformed employment and other policies can allow an aging society to be a vibrant one.

Speaking of yanglao-that is, "supporting the elderly"-we used to refer to providing care services that targeted older people who could no longer take care of themselves. But the term means much more than that now.

Many older people can still work: They want to receive further education; they crave rich cultural nourishment; and they long to be engaged in social development.

Those are the things yanglao officials should focus on in the new era.

Du Peng spoke with Li Lei.

 

Du Peng, vice-president of Renmin University of China, an expert on aging

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Govt boosts benefits for veterans]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532428.htm The central government recently increased benefits for People's Liberation Army, People's Armed Police Force veterans and family members of military personnel, the Ministry of Veterans Affairs said.

The ministry worked with 19 government and departments of the Communist Party of China, including the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee and the National Development and Reform Commission, to produce a set of measures to improve benefits for veterans, relatives of military members and other people eligible for favorable treatment.

The measures, detailed in a document published on Tuesday, aim to boost public respect for veterans and military families and increase the attractiveness of military careers, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

Guidelines listed in the document cover almost all elements of daily life, ranging from medical care, housing and education to transportation and leisure activities.

Members of the armed forces, military retirees and other qualified people will be given priority and favorable policies at designated elderly-care centers or hospitals. They will also be given free admission or discounts at museums, parks and other tourism sites.

In addition, military personnel will enjoy free rides on city buses, subway trains and other public transport, and their family members will have priority when they travel by train, ship or plane, the document said.

China has taken a host of measures over the past two years to improve benefits for veterans and military members' families.

Last February, the National Veterans Service Center was set up in Beijing. It is tasked with supporting and assisting veteran employment and businesses; helping retirees and their families who are in need; surveying and visiting veterans; handling veterans' complaints and petitions; and safeguarding their interests and rights.

Since then, veteran service centers or stations have been established at every administrative level, from community to provincial.

The central government has also published guidelines meant to help veterans find civilian jobs or start their own businesses.

Under the guidelines, each veteran is eligible for two years of free vocational training and will receive a living allowance during the training period. Employers are urged to give preference to veterans in recruitment, set lower requirements for job applicants who have served in the military and arrange periodic training for any veteran they hire.

Enterprises that hire veterans can be eligible for tax benefits if they meet certain criteria.

Authorities at the county government level and above are urged to organize at least two job fairs for military retirees each year, the guidelines stipulate.

Moreover, the Ministry of Veterans Affairs has requested better protection of veterans' rights at all levels of government.

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, about 58 million military personnel have re-entered civilian life, according to official statistics.

 

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Women's fast track to success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532427.htm FUZHOU-At about 5 am, Xiao Lihua got out of bed and put on her uniform before rushing to the train yard for a breathalyzer test-a must-do before a bullet train driver embarks on a journey, which can reach speeds up to 300 kilometers per hour.

At 8:16 am sharp, the train, carrying over 1,000 passengers, departed Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province. Their destination was the southern city of Guangzhou, about 900 km away.

Xiao, 26, is one of China's first female bullet train drivers, after undergoing a three-year training program.

For Xiao and her peers, this month is especially critical as they embrace their first Spring Festival travel rush as assistant drivers.

An estimated 3 billion trips will be made during this year's 40-day travel rush from Jan 10 to Feb 18, according to the National Development and Reform Commission. The flood of passengers presents a challenge for every driver to be efficient and punctual.

As the assistant driver, Xiao is not yet allowed to operate a train by herself. However, she is responsible for checking signals and communicating with staff on board, and those at the stations.

In the past, train driver jobs were dominated by men, when the work was more labor intensive. But now, with the help of technology, the job requires less physical strength but more expertise.

In May, China launched a program to establish the country's first group of female bullet train drivers. At the Fujian branch of the China State Railway Group, 17 women, including Xiao, were selected to join the existing pool of 4,000 male drivers.

Majoring in electronics and electrical engineering at college, Xiao worked as a coach attendant for a year, before working as a clerk for another five years with the railway company.

"I was not happy with my previous job because it required little expertise and had nothing to do with what I'd learned in college," said Xiao, who immediately applied for the position after learning about the recruitment program.

"Now I am a big step closer to my childhood dream of driving a train," she said.

The right stuff

But being a modern train driver is not easy. To operate a train, the trainees have to go through multiple tests on regulations and technical knowledge of high-speed trains, as well as a two-year internship inside the driver's cabin. Xiao is halfway through her internship.

After the tests, only 12 of the 17 female trainees qualified for the job.

However, it is not the first time China has had women train drivers.

In March 1950, Tian Guiying, then 20, became China's first female train driver when the steam train she operated chugged out of Dalian railway station, in Liaoning province. Tian was the head of an all-women train crew for more than 30 years.

In the 1970s, several teams of female train drivers were set up, but all of them gradually quit over the next 10 years due to the hard physical aspects of the job.

Now, a new generation of female train drivers is on the rise.

"Women are more meticulous and patient, giving them an edge as bullet train drivers," said 48-year-old instructor Lyu Xiangyang, 48. As a veteran train driver, Lyu has trained over 600 drivers in his career. But it is the first time he has ever had female apprentices.

Lyu said he had to be strict with his female students because they are only given three years to pass all the tests, with the rapid expansion of China's high-speed rail network and the urgent need for more drivers. The traditional process usually takes five to six years.

"It means they have to work twice as hard as their male counterparts," Lyu said.

Determined to turn her dream into reality, Xiao put all her energy into studying and memorizing all the switches and knobs in the cab.

Xiao's father is a martial arts aficionado. He named his daughter after Fan Lihua, a legendary female general in Chinese folklore in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), in the hope that she would be as daring as the ancient heroine.

"On my maiden trip, I'll invite my parents to ride on the train," Xiao said. "I will try my best to make it happen."

Xinhua

 

 

Xiao Lihua (left) talks with colleague Jin Wanxin in the cabin of the bullet train from Fuzhou in Fujian province to Guangzhou, Guangdong province, while it stops at Fuzhou North Railway Station on Jan 8. LIN SHANCHUAN/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Process complaints promptly, Beijing Party chief says]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532482.htm Public complaints should be processed without delay, and Beijing's municipal government should discover and deal with common problems before residents complain about them, Beijing Party Secretary Cai Qi told the third session of the 13th Beijing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Last year, Beijing handled 2.52 million public requests, with a daily workload of 7,000 on average. The rate of resolving the problems rose from 53 percent at the beginning of the year to nearly 75 percent by its end, with the satisfaction rate reaching 87 percent, according to a report released at the Beijing Municipal People's Congress on Wednesday.

"We are expected to deal with small affairs inside the neighborhood while bigger problems can be solved within the community," Cai told the political advisers on Saturday, adding that Beijing should also develop "Fengqiao experience", based on a township in Zhejiang province that focused on the actual needs of urban residents.

Earlier this month, a village committee in Fengtai district received a complaint that the water pipe in a neighborhood had burst. They immediately appointed a water company to repair the pipe and bought six buckets of drinking water to the resident.

"Thank you so much! I couldn't imagine that the maintenance would be done so fast in the freezing winter. We were not affected at all," resident Wang Guiling told officials of the village committee.

Li Fengqin, a political adviser and deputy director of the healthcare security administration in Shijingshan district, suggested in her proposal that the municipal government should guide grassroots authorities to solve the public's problems ahead of complaints or conflicts.

The most common complaints on the 12345 hotline from residents of Laoshan Dongli, a community built in Shijingshan in 1999, were about the lack of parking lots, mis-sorted garbage and lax security checks.

The grassroots authorities responded by raising money for rectification from government, residents, property owners and community advertising.

"Later, a face-recognition system was installed at gates of the community to enhance security checks, while newly built parking lanes and bins to classify trash have greatly improved the environment," Li said.

As a result, the Laoshan Dongli community has ranked in the top 50 of the capital's 333 communities in a list evaluating their performance in dealing with public complaints.

"Now, fewer people in the community complain through 12345 because most of their problems have been solved in advance," Li said.

Yang Zhaoxia, a political adviser and an official at the Shijingshan Public Complaints Office, said that in addition to the hotline, grassroots authorities also collect public opinions and suggestions on community management from their office WeChat account.

"We also solicited public opinions on certain topics, such as how to optimize the bus routes," Yang said. Among the 29 pieces of feedback they collected, one mentioned inconvenient public transport in the new Gucheng East and Gucheng West communities.

"Considering half the residents there are elderly people, we cooperated with Beijing Public Transport, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport and other departments involved to do research on bus stations along the route and the site of the bus terminal," Yang said.

A new bus route passing the communities and nearby business was established within seven months.

In order to broaden the channels available to the public to express their needs, districts plan to develop their own online 12345 platforms, including on their Sina Weibo and WeChat accounts, this year.

Dong Minghui, a political adviser and the deputy head of Tongzhou district, also urged government departments and experts to help build a database to support responses to complaints.

"Developing the online platform will strengthen the ability of grassroots authorities to receive, resolve and assess the problems of the public," Dong said.

 

Online See more by scanning the code.

 

 

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2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Traditional Chinese weddings back in vogue]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532338.htm LANZHOU-On the first day of this year, Sun Yi finally received the email she had long been waiting for. It contained the final version of her wedding plan.

The plan, which had gone through nearly 10 revisions, offered the 29-year-old a "new Chinese-style" wedding ceremony in March, which she described as being "traditional, but not old-fashioned" and "ritualistic but with style".

Since China's reform and opening-up began in the late 1970s, many couples living in big cities have emulated Western-style weddings, which they thought were more ceremonial and romantic.

However, in recent years, traditional Chinese weddings have been back in vogue among the country's couples, as many of them no longer consider Western-style gowns and vows of "I do" an essential part of the wedding ceremony.

Instead, they now prefer wearing clothes like those in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and performing traditional wedding rituals in the same way their ancestors did hundreds of years ago.

At a traditional Chinese wedding, the couple usually wear red, which symbolizes auspiciousness in Chinese culture, and the venue is also heavily decorated in red. The couple perform a three-bow ritual-to heaven and earth, to their parents and to each other.

In Lanzhou, Gansu province, several wedding planning companies spare no effort promoting their Chinese-style wedding packages, which offer a wide range of choices.

Chinese-style weddings account for nearly 40 percent of the company's orders, and couples often need to make reservations six months in advance.

Wang Yiru, a wedding planner at Lanzhou Xinxin Wedding Service, said the preparation for a Chinese-style wedding is usually very time-consuming and costly.

Chinese-style wedding ceremonies usually cost more than 40,000 yuan ($5,775) and some even exceed 200,000 yuan. That usually covers the expenses of venue design, photography, makeup services and hiring a master of ceremonies.

Wang Zongli, a professor at Northwest Normal University, said: "Wedding ceremonies reflect social and cultural changes. As people's living standards improve, they go for more individualized choices."

Experts believe that the revival of interest in Chinese-style weddings is part of a larger social and cultural trend that prizes tradition over modernity.

"With China's economic and social development, many young people are starting to search for their cultural identity, which is also a reflection of their growing cultural confidence," said Zhu Yongbiao, executive director of the Belt and Road Research Center at Lanzhou University.

 

A "new Chinese-style" group wedding is held in Jimo, Shandong province, on Nov 24. LI ZIHENG/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532341.htm GUANGDONG

Blaze breaks out in petrochemical plant

A fire broke out in a petrochemical enterprise in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, on Tuesday, according to local authorities. The blaze occurred after a blast at the company at about 1:40 pm, according to a statement from the city's emergency management office. About 40 fire trucks and 200 firefighters were sent to the site. The fire was brought under control by 6 pm and no casualties were reported, the statement said, adding that environmental monitoring showed no immediate abnormalities.

HEILONGJIANG

Gold smuggling leads to arrest of 7 suspects

Chinese customs have arrested seven suspects for smuggling 82 kilograms of gold worth about 25 million yuan ($3.6 million) since December last year, according to local authorities. The customs in Harbin, Heilongjiang province, received a tip in early December that a gang based in Qingdao, Shandong province, had been smuggling gold beyond the border from Harbin. In a joint operation, customs in both cities launched two separate raids to capture the suspects, with 22 kg of gold seized on the site.

ANHUI

Crop 'armor' against herbicides developed

Chinese scientists have developed a protective agent that can reduce the effects of herbicide on crops, according to the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The agent can adjust the hydrophilic and hydrophobic state of the crops' leaves under the exposure of infrared and ultraviolet light, said Wu Zhengyan, who led the research in the institute. Under the hydrophobic state, the adhesion of herbicides on plants is reduced, thus protecting the crops. Under the hydrophilic state, the leaves can achieve efficient absorption of fertilizers, he said. The findings have been published by the American Chemical Society's journal Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering.

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[The desert is my lifelong enemy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532393.htm I grew up in the desert and I have been fighting it most of my life. The Babusha sand dune in my home, Gulang county in the northwestern province of Gansu, is my lifelong enemy.

Babusha sits on the southern edge of the Tengger Desert and covers about 5,000 hectares. In the 1970s, the sand dune gradually encroached south, threatening the county's social and economic development and people's livelihoods.

Sandstorms, which most people only know from books or movies, hit our village frequently, and people rarely ate fruit or vegetables due to the lack of water (to irrigate crops).

In the 1980s, my father, Guo Chaoming, and five other villagers decided to combat desertification. They shouldered the responsibility voluntarily for the future of our home.

Faced with a sprinkling of surviving saplings, they were determined not to succumb to the desert's advance and become environmental refugees. It was a fight they had to win.

More than 10 years later, the efforts made by my father and the five brave environmentalists began to pay off. The pace of desertification slowed, grain output rose and half of the Babusha sand dune was covered by thriving greenery.

In the decades that followed, people of my generation and even our children joined the efforts to protect Gulang's environment.

In recent decades, we have transformed 14,467 hectares of desert through afforestation programs, and kept 25,000 hectares of land off-limits to allow the trees and grass to regenerate.

The Babusha sand dune is now a forest farm, and thanks to the plants and trees, fewer sandstorms hit the region.

I am proud and pleased to see more young people joining our battle. The younger generation is putting forward new ideas related to scientific and innovative control of desertification, such as employing remote sensing monitoring tools and techniques to observe changes in sandy land and improve forecasts for pests, such as locusts.

On March 30, the central authorities bestowed the title "Model of the Times" on all three generations for our unswerving efforts to combat desertification and accelerate the country's progress in afforestation.

What was even more inspiring was that I gained an unexpected opportunity to talk with President Xi Jinping during his visit to Gulang in August, when he reviewed our efforts to transform the desert into a green oasis.

Many years ago, he coined the phrase "Clear waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets", and through years of practice, I've become strongly aware of the importance of the ecosystem.

Nature offers us its protection, and it also harbors our future. If we don't protect our homes, who will?

Guo Wangang spoke with Yang Wanli.

 

Guo Wangang, 67-year-old farmer in Gulang county, Gansu province

 

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Young business starters in Tibet get policy push]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532392.htm LHASA-Chagxi Dawa started his winery business from scratch and achieved business success within only a few years.

The young entrepreneur from the Tibet autonomous region attributed his success to the local policies that encourage young people to start businesses.

After graduating from the wine college of Yunnan Agricultural University in 2014, Chagxi planned to be involved with ice wines in his hometown. However, there was no winery in the region at that time.

"Few people knew about ice wines, so there was no market," Chagxi said.

It was not easy to start the business at the beginning. Chagxi's business got better after he took part in a youth innovation and entrepreneurship competition in 2017.

In a bid to support youth entrepreneurship, the regional government set up a 2 billion yuan ($287 million) fund that year to boost youth employment, hold youth entrepreneurship competitions and establish innovation and entrepreneurship service centers.

In the competition, Chagxi placed first and was awarded a 500,000-yuan venture fund. His ice red wine also became more well-known through the competition.

"Thanks to the fund, my winery is able to function well, and we now produce more wine varieties," Chagxi said, noting that the annual yield of wine has grown from 30 metric tons to over 100 tons, and the beverage was sold both in China and abroad.

The entrepreneurship competition also changed Qamba Chinlai's life. Qamba, then a kindergarten teacher, was working part-time as product designer in a cultural education company that sells toys.

In 2017, the company's annual sales were less than 100,000 yuan, making it barely viable. He was then invited to participate in the entrepreneurship competition and came in third, but won an award for the most popular company on the internet.

Qamba's company later received a 400,000-yuan grant from the local government to help him continue the research and product development.

Thanks to the support, their products were purchased by local kindergartens, and company sales soared to over 3 million yuan in 2019.

"We learned a lot of advanced management ideas from the competition. Meanwhile, our products were widely recognized via the event," Qamba said.

He said what made him decide to suspend his teaching job and focus on the work in the company was an entrepreneur-friendly policy, issued in 2018, which ensures entrepreneurs can go back to their original jobs in case their businesses fail within three years.

Tibet has striven to boost employment and entrepreneurship among young people in recent years. For this purpose, a series of policies have been rolled out to attract college and university graduates to start businesses in the region.

In September, the region issued a development plan to further support innovation and entrepreneurship among young Tibetan people aged 14 to 35. Since then, 12 such projects have been launched.

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xinjiang aims to lure more tourists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532382.htm The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region plans to attract 300 million visits from tourists this year in an effort to make tourism a pillar industry to support economic development, as the region has effectively curbed the spread of terrorism and religious extremism, local officials said.

Xinjiang, which is famous for its natural beauty and diverse cultures, has always been a top tourist destination. But for a period of time, the region experienced frequent terrorist attacks lead by religious extremists and separatists. Safety concerns have put off many travelers.

After the region implemented a series of measures to fight terrorism and religious extremism, not a single terrorist attack has happened in the region for more than three years. As a result, tourism, which is seen as the indicator of the region's social situation, has boomed. Xinjiang received more than 200 million visits from tourists in 2019, up 41.6 percent year-on-year, Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the regional government, said when delivering the government work report on Jan 6.

What's more, the region is also working to ensure that locals can benefit from tourism; for example, they will have the opportunity to boost their income by participating in tourist development, Shohrat said.

In addition, the Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, known for its vast grassland in the Ili River valley, drafted a tourism development plan in 2019 to support future development of the industry, which still has huge potential, according to Kurmash Yisjon, head of the prefecture. Ili Kazak received 59.7 million visits from tourists in 2019, up 45 percent year-on-year.

"Tourism has become a driving force in sustainable development of the prefecture," Kurmash said. "We plan to use social media to better promote the unique beauty and experiences in Ili."

The Altay prefecture also saw a 45 percent increase in the number of visits from tourists in 2019. The income brought by tourism reached 36.4 billion yuan ($5.3 billion), up 64.6 percent year-on-year, said Hadan Kabin, commissioner of the prefecture.

"The prefecture, which is rich in snow resources, plans to further boost tourism in the winter, which traditionally is Xinjiang's off-peak season," Hadan said.

Meanwhile, the regional capital of Urumqi is building itself into a famous international winter sports destination while constructing a Silk Road international tourist resort to attract tourists from all over the world, said Yasen Sidik, mayor of Urumqi. The city received 67.3 million visits from tourists from January to October last year, up about 50 percent year-on-year.

The region currently has 13 tourists sites with the top 5A ranking in China, and 16 more sites are in the process of applying for the designation.

 

Tourists ride a horse sleigh on Bosten Lake, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Saturday. LIU XIN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

 

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Courts fight to protect Yangtze River Basin]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532380.htm The procuratorial departments in 11 provinces and cities along the Yangtze River Economic Belt approved the arrest of 7,084 people in 4,336 cases suspected of destroying the environment of the Yangtze River Basin in 2019, said the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Tuesday.

They also prosecuted 22,310 people for polluting the environment, according to a white paper on ensuring the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt issued by the SPP.

Zhang Xueqiao, deputy head of the SPP, noted that procuratorial organs will continue to severely punish criminals who damage environmental resources of the Yangtze River Basin.

In one case released by the SPP, two groups of people illegally dredged more than 12 million metric tons of sand from the Yangtze River from May 2015 to May 2018.

An investigation found that the two groups had violated the provisions of the mineral resources law by mining without licenses. The prosecutor instituted a public prosecution, and on June 11 the convicted were given prison sentences ranging from three years and four months to three years and six months.

The procuratorial organs have fully utilized public-interest litigation in ecological and environmental protection and continue to focus on water and soil pollution as well as strengthening the protection of water resources and biodiversity, Zhang said.

In 2019, the procuratorial organs in the 11 provinces and cities along the Yangtze River Economic Belt initiated 30,212 public-interest lawsuits in the field of environmental resources and issued 24,448 procuratorial recommendations to urge competent departments of environmental resources to perform their duty before issuing the lawsuits.

The paper also noted that the procuratorial organs used judicial means to promote the ecological restoration and the transformation of production development. A total of 7,626 hectares of polluted or illegally occupied forest lands, farmlands, wetlands and grasslands had been repaired.

"Through issuing the annual white paper, we could have a timely and comprehensive review of the prosecution work on serving and ensuring the development of the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and further investigate the problems in our work and improve our capacity and level of professional governance," Zhang said.

Apart from the Supreme People's Procuratorate, the Supreme People's Court has urged courts across the country to continue to hand down harsher punishments to criminals who seriously damage the environment and ecology of the Yangtze River.

Courts along the Yangtze River Economic Belt have also established 488 special environmental resources divisions and collegial panels to explore ways to unify civil, commercial, administrative and criminal cases involving environmental resources under the jurisdiction of specialized judicial organs.

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Green forests help combat desertification]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532369.htm Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series looking back at some of the most important, timely or unusual issues covered by China Daily's reporters last year.

On Aug 15, 2005, President Xi Jinping coined the phrase "Clear waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets" during a visit to Yucun village in Anji, Zhejiang province, when he was provincial Party secretary.

In the years since then, the central government has taken strong measures to reinforce environmental and ecological protection, and several campaigns have been implemented to tackle pollution and improve the environment.

Last year marked the 15th anniversary of the Forest Cities Construction Project and the 20th anniversary of the Natural Forest Protection and Conversion of Cropland to Forest and Grassland programs.

Thanks to these large-scale greening projects, the country's forest coverage expanded from 8 percent in the early 1950s to 22.96 percent last year, according to Zhang Jianlong, head of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

The administration's statistics show that in recent decades, 34.33 million hectares of farmland have been transformed into forest or grassland. Moreover, the green area added in the past two decades accounts for 25 percent of the global increase, the biggest proportion in the world.

Last year, many new projects were launched, Zhang said. Two forests, each covering 66.7 hectares, were planted in Hebei province, while 26 State-level voluntary tree-planting areas were established in five provinces.

Twenty-eight cities were added to the State Forest City list, raising the number to 194. Furthermore, about 7,500 villages nationwide were awarded the title "State Forest Village"-the first batch in this category.

In August, the State Council, China's Cabinet, released a plan to safeguard the country's forests. It pledged to build a mechanism to protect and restore all the country's natural forests by the end of this year.

In 2018, China became the first country to propose banning all commercial logging in its natural forests, and its total forest area is expected to hit 200 million hectares by 2035 under the plan.

"We will encourage forest planting on abandoned mining land and barren hills," said Li Shuming, the administration's deputy head, adding that supervisory work on forest protection and restoration will be included in the local government annual achievement evaluation system.

"We will also encourage residents to tell local government departments about activities that destroy forests. Those responsible will be punished in accordance with the law and regulations."

International recognition

China has not only made great efforts in afforestation, its achievements in combating desertification have gained international recognition as a global model.

From 2012 to last year, more than 14 million hectares of sandy land were brought under control, of which about 2.3 million were added last year. In the past 15 years, the coverage of both sandy and desertified areas has declined.

In the area covered by the Three-North Shelterbelt Program-several lines of trees planted to act as windbreaks and prevent expansion of the Gobi Desert-forest coverage rose from 5 percent in 1977 to 13 percent last year. The program has rehabilitated 336,000 square kilometers of desertified land and recovered more than 10 million hectares of arid grassland.

As a result, the average number of sandstorm days per year has fallen from 6.8 to 2.4. Last year, the program was recognized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, which presented it with a "Good Practice of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Forests" award.

Wildlife has also benefited. In Hainan province, the number of Hainan gibbons-classified as "critically endangered" by the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature-rose from seven in 1998 to 29 last year, according to Jin Min, director of the Natural Forest Protection Office at the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

The nation's anti-desertification programs have benefited countries worldwide. In July, during the Seventh Kubuqi International Desert Forum in Kubuqi, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, several participants in the Belt and Road Initiative, including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan, met with Chinese businesses to discuss measures to improve their ecosystems through greening.

In recent decades, more than 6,000 sq km of desertified land in Kubuqi have been turned green thanks to the combined efforts of the local government, businesses and social organizations. Their greening campaign created total economic value of more than 500 billion yuan ($72 billion) and provided about 1 million jobs.

During the forum, Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan announced that half the country's operational desertified land will be brought under control by the end of this year and full governance will be achieved by 2050.

"China will spare no efforts to help other developing countries, and contribute efforts to combat desertification," she said. "We will strengthen international cooperation, and call for governments of all countries to play leading roles, promoting more exchange programs and communication among research institutes, social groups and colleges outside our borders."

Nature reserves

Last year, China witnessed another major move in environmental protection. In July, the State Council unveiled guidelines to build a network of nature reserves, aiming to improve protection of such areas and reach world-leading levels of management and protection by 2035.

According to Huang Runqiu, vice-minister of ecology and environment, the country has already founded 2,750 nature reserves, covering a total 1.47 million sq km and accounting for 15 percent of the total land area.

Moreover, China has already achieved the target set by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to protect 17 percent of the world's land and conserve 60 percent of its plant species by the end of last year, Huang said.

"Together with other natural protected areas, about 18 percent of China's land is under protection," he added. "As a major component, the network of national parks will further contribute to the construction of a beautiful China."

In October, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration announced that a 10-park pilot program would conclude by the end of this year, with some parks having made many achievements in environmental and wildlife protection.

At the Northeast China Tiger and Leopard National Park, which straddles the provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang, the numbers of Siberian tigers and Amur leopards-both listed as critically endangered by the IUCN-have risen in the past two years.

In the Qilian Mountain National Park, straddling Gansu and Qinghai provinces, 114 mines have been closed and all the facilities and buildings have been dismantled or removed. Moreover, 25 tours that posed threats to the ecosystem have been modified.

"As a major component of the country's aim to build a network of nature reserves, construction of national parks will be given top priority in our future work," said Zhang, from the administration.

Last year, the administration conducted inspections and evaluations of the 10 pilot parks, which cover more than 220,000 sq km. By the end of this year, it will reassess all the applications and grant the official title of "National Park" to those that meet standards.

However, there are still many challenges to environmental safety. According to Zhang, the total area of forests, grassland and wetland is still limited. "Some regions face the degradation of their ecological functions and their ecosystems are fragile," he said.

In addition, the per capita area of forest and wetland is still low, accounting for just one-quarter of the global average. "The high-quality ecoresources that could serve public demands are limited," Zhang said.

"We will further promote President Xi's thoughts on ecological and environmental protection, accelerate construction of the supervisory system for protection work, make more biodiversity protection efforts and improve our management capabilities to build a beautiful China."

 

Workers sow grass seeds to prevent desertification in Zhongwei, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, last year. FENG KAIHUA/XINHUA

 

 

 

 

]]> 2020-01-15 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Livestream hosting becoming lucrative career opportunity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532357.htm Becoming a livestreaming host is an increasingly lucrative career choice, a new report showed.

About 24.1 percent of professional livestreaming hosts can make more than 10,000 yuan ($1,444) a month in 2019, up 3.1 percentage points from 2018, according to the 2019 report on livestreaming hosts.

The report, based on a survey of more than 8,000 users and more than 5,000 livestreaming hosts in December, was published recently by social media platform Momo.

Nearly 80 percent of users are willing to buy virtual gifts for the hosts while watching the livestreaming shows, the report said.

About 28 percent of users spent more than 500 yuan per month on virtual gifts and 20 percent of users spent more than 1,000 yuan per month, it said.

The report also found that most hosts are confident about their career prospects, with 83.3 percent of hosts saying that they will stay as hosts for the coming two years.

Female users and younger users have more favorable impressions of the occupation, with 81.8 percent of female users and 84.5 percent of users born after 1995 viewing livestreaming hosting as a profession.

Many hosts were found to have made large investments in improving their skills-such as singing and dancing-and upgrading their broadcasting equipment. About 70 percent of full-time hosts spend over 1,000 yuan per month on self-improvement, the survey shows.

The mobile internet population surpassed 847 million in China and the country had 433 million livestreaming users as of June, according to China Internet Network Information Center.

According to a report released by Taobao in April, over 100 billion yuan worth of goods were sold with the help of livestreaming in 2018, up 400 percent year-on-year. There are on average over 60,000 daily livestreaming sessions and 180 percent more broadcasters registered on the platform compared with 2017.

During last year's Singles Day shopping spree on Nov 11, more than 100,000 online shops provided a live broadcast for consumer interaction.

A 10-minute broadcast featuring Li Jiaqi, dubbed Taobao's king of lipstick, on Taobao's livestreaming platform now costs 100,000 yuan for lipstick products, 60,000 yuan for other cosmetics or personal care products and 30,000 for food, according to Caixin.

Li, a 27-year-old from Hunan province, gained fame on Chinese social media in late 2017 after he managed to try 380 lipsticks in a two-hour livestream show.

Li impressed netizens again by beating Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, in a livestreamed lipstick sell-off on 2018 Singles' Day by selling 1,000 lipsticks, while the latter sold only 10 during the same period.

Cao Ting, who eats on livestreams in Changsha, Hunan province, said she started as an online eating host in 2018 as she has lots of free time as a stay-at-home mother.

"I have three ways of making money: by advertising for food companies; through fan payments; and by promoting slimming products through my WeChat business."

She said she makes enough to support herself and she will continue her eating career because it provides a stable income.

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Inspectors boost oversight of rural officials]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532355.htm Disciplinary authorities nationwide have actively explored ways to better supervise the work of village committees and officials in the past year, according to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC.

Last year, Yuechi county in Guang'an, Sichuan province, launched discipline inspection teams consisting of people from different occupations in each township to supervise the committees and officials in the villages.

Each team has three to eight inspectors, including Party members, retired teachers or officials. They will hear villagers' opinions and report the problems they found with the village work or officials to the county authority.

Inspectors will avoid inspections in their own villages. The work period for each inspector in the same village usually lasts no more than one year, which will help foster more impartial supervision and reduce villagers' concerns of reporting the real situation.

Gao Yongfu, an inspector of Xinchang township of the county, found the financial affairs of Laomiaozi village of the county were not displayed on the bulletin board as required for public notice during a recent visit to the village.

He took a picture and reported it to the discipline inspection department of the township. He also informed the Party head of the village of the situation and asked for correction.

The problem was resolved the next day.

In the Lin'an district of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, there are about 300 inspectors who are in charge of collecting evidence about officials who have demonstrated problems performing their duties. The inspectors can report to the township discipline department and, when necessary, can directly report to the discipline department at the district level.

For example, Bao Chengcheng, secretary of the Commission for Discipline Inspection in Yuqian township of the district, received a phone call from an inspector in September. He was told that the project design of an elderly care center in Sizhou village of the town was likely to exceed the cost limit.

The investigation found that the report was true, so the construction was halted and the village adjusted the project plan.

"After a year of exploration and practice, we heard the most authentic voice of the masses through those inspectors and collected a large amount of evidence about problems," Bao said.

Because the inspectors at the grassroots level are not professional and are from different walks of life, discipline inspection departments in many counties provided training for them to improve their abilities.

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Credit system assists poor farmers in efforts to operate their own businesses]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532354.htm HEFEI-A small loan was the starting point for Yang Xilun, a villager in Anhui province, in his fight against poverty.

Thanks to a credit rating system established by Jinzhai county in the province, he received a loan for the first time in his life of 5,000 yuan ($726) in 2017. Before that, Yang lived in poverty with his parents, who suffered from mental retardation and poor health.

With the money, Yang invested in a photovoltaic power station in his home village, earning him 3,000 yuan per year. He also started a chicken farm in 2017 to feed his six-member family.

In 2013, Jinzhai county started to explore a credit rating system for poverty-stricken villagers based on information about their family, assets and business credit.

In 2018, Yang paid off his first loan before it was all due, earning him the highest credit rating in the system's credit file. He continued to expand his business with more loans and earned more than 40,000 yuan in 2019.

Anhui province promoted the credit rating system in 337 villages in 2019, of which 60 were poverty-stricken.

"Besides assets and other resources, moral evaluation among villagers is also an important factor of the rating system," said Zhang Ming, an official with the provincial organization department.

"Good credit helps me make a good fortune," said Fang Hengtian, another villager in the county, who earned 70,000 yuan in 2019 by planting traditional Chinese medicinal herbs such as gastrodia elata thanks to the loans granted through the credit rating system.

"The big data application combining financial services and farmers' credit can provide effective financial support for poverty alleviation," Zhang added.

Zhang Hao, president of Jinzhai Rural Commercial Bank, said more than 11.7 million yuan in loans for poverty alleviation have been paid off when due since 2016.

The data from the bank showed that the credit system has benefited 358,600 poverty-stricken village households in the province by the end of 2019.

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[A broken woman heals herself, then others]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532353.htm Over the past 20 years, Zhang Lianfang has helped more than 200 troubled teenagers with their emotional and psychological problems.

However, the 69-year-old from Daqing, Heilongjiang province, is not a psychologist or a schoolteacher. She is a retired worker with a visual impairment and physical disabilities.

In 1985, Zhang was seriously injured in an accident when she was working at a factory. She lost all the fingers on her right hand and a finger on the left hand. She also lost most of her sight.

"When I woke up several days after the accident in the hospital, I wanted to do nothing but commit suicide," she said. "I lost the courage to live because I didn't know how to survive with a damaged body."

However, encouragement from her family members and 5-year-old daughter gave her the will to live.

"My husband and daughter told me that they would have no family without me," she said. "My little daughter was my deepest concern. I couldn't leave her alone without a mother."

It was not easy to accept the nightmarish truth.

Due to the seriousness of her injuries, she stayed in hospital in Daqing for more than 40 days. She was later sent to a hospital affiliated with Harbin Medical University in Harbin for three months of further treatment.

After returning to Daqing, she underwent nine months of rehabilitation, including traditional Chinese acupuncture and massage to recover her limb functions.

She made great efforts to practice writing with her left hand and doing housework with her teeth and feet.

Zhang said she spent nearly three years overcoming her pain and trying to get back to normal.

Reach, don't preach

During the process, Zhang's daughter was deeply affected by her mother's strong will and became a hardworking and excellent school student.

"Some friends as well as parents of my daughter's schoolmates, began to ask about my experience in education," she said. "Especially after my daughter got a very good score in the gaokao, or national college entrance exam, in 1998. I received more calls and visits from strangers who hoped to get help from me."

The most anxious parents were those who didn't know how to change the behavior of their rebellious children.

In 1999, a middle-aged woman visited Zhang with her son and begged for help. "She told me that she had divorced her husband when her son was young and then sent him to her parents' home in the countryside," Zhang said. "When she brought him back for junior high school in Daqing, she found her son had become uncontrollable and often ran away from home to join young street gangs."

Zhang spent two hours talking with the boy. "At first, he seemed quite resistant and refused to talk with me," she said. Zhang just told him her stories and experiences without preaching to him. Gradually, "his features softened and he began to communicate with me".

"When he left, he promised to try to change and pay more attention to his studies, but I knew it would not be so easy," she said. "A month later, I sent him a present-a handmade sweater."

The young boy was shocked by the gift as he knew Zhang had done the knitting with only four fingers.

Zhang said after that he never ran away from home, went to school on time every day and even studied late into the night. She said the boy's mother cried with joy about the change in her son's behavior. "I was also very happy that I was useful to society and I could help others," Zhang said.

Life changer

In September, Zhang was faced with a different problem when a mother visited her with her daughter, a third year junior high school student. "She told me she was quite worried because her daughter had mentioned suicide several times," Zhang said.

The girl said she and two classmates had seriously considered suicide because life was boring and pointless.

"I just showed her the injuries on my body and told her how I fight my pain," Zhang said. "At the end of several hours' chatting, the girl began to cry and told me that she never appreciated that her life was so happy."

She was relieved when the girl promised to enjoy her fortunate life and left holding her mother's hand.

From 2001, Zhang began keeping a diary of what she has done to help others. So far, she has written more than 1 million words in 34 notebooks.

"I hope to compile these experiences into a book that may provide some help for parents who are anxious to educate their children," she said. "Some relatives and friends told me that I will not be able to solve all the problems and asked me to stay at home because of my old age and my bad physical condition. But I want to do something meaningful for me and the rest of society."

On top of her volunteer work and physical injuries, Zhang also has heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. But she never refuses a request for help, even when the phone rings at midnight. "I will stick to the job as long as someone needs my help," she said.

Zhang Lianfang with a young man she helps at her home in Daqing, Helongjiang province. Provided to China Daily
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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[More diversity wanted in 'gray' services]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532352.htm LANZHOU-For more than two years, a homemade detox foot bath has been Wang Xuefeng's relaxing and soothing bedtime ritual.

Boiling enough water to cover his feet in an electric foot basin, the 71-year-old retiree then deftly steeps a bag of Chinese medicine into the basin for several minutes before soaking his feet in it for about half an hour.

Working in cold and high altitude regions during his younger days has left Wang with arthritis. To improve his health, Wang's granddaughter bought him the foot basin in 2018 when he started doing foot soaks to "relieve pain and fatigue".

China started becoming a graying society at the turn of the century, with the number of elderly people and their proportion in the total population continuing to grow.

From 2000 to 2018, the population age 60 and older increased from 126 million to 249 million, and the proportion of the elderly population in the total population increased from 10.2 to 17.9 percent, according to a report released last year by Peking Union Medical College and the Chinese Aging Well Association.

With spare time and money, more Chinese seniors are paying attention to ways to retain their health.

Foot soaks, along with traditional activities such as walking and square dancing, have been in vogue among China's graying population.

"The distribution of passenger flow in foot bath shops has changed significantly in recent years," said He Yong, chairman of Bigfeet Ancestor, a company focusing on foot care in Lanzhou, capital of Northwest China's Gansu province.

"The market used to be dominated by the middle-aged group, but now foot soaks have become a popular choice for more elderly people, especially in the afternoon," He said.

Chinese seniors have diverse and higher-level consumption needs nowadays. To tap the market, He's company organizes health lectures and offers discounts to elderly customers. He also cooperates with nursing homes, providing free or discounted pedicures and footbath services.

Gao Jin'e spends about 6 percent of her 5,000 yuan ($717) pension every month on footbaths. The 70-year-old usually does foot spas with her friends while watching movies.

"The lives of the elderly can also be colorful, and we should love ourselves more," she said.

In November, China unveiled a medium-to long-term plan to respond proactively to population aging, requiring integrated development of the service industry for the aged.

It highlights that healthcare, health tourism, recreational activities and other services should be continuously provided to meet the needs of the elderly.

"If healthcare services can be cheaper with a wider variety, I think more elderly people will join us," Gao said.

 

Foot soaks have become a popular choice for more elderly people in cities. HUANG ZHENGHUA/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

 

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Campaign smashes 'protective umbrellas']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532344.htm The nationwide special campaign cracking down on organized crime has smashed a batch of "protective umbrellas" behind mafia-like organizations and gangs, and major breakthroughs have been made in multiple cases in the past year.

Digging out the "protective umbrellas" behind gangs and organized crime is one of the focuses of the campaign, as the existence of such crimes is usually closely connected with corruption and duty crime, according to the national office against organized crime, operating under the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee.

By November, three rounds of inspection and follow-up visits, which were led by ministry-level officials, to all of the provincial-level regions had been conducted since the CPC Central Committee and the State Council launched the three-year campaign in January 2018, according to the office.

During the past two years, 2,848 mafia-like organizations and 9,304 criminal gangs and groups were busted, the leading group of the national crackdown on gangs and organized crime said in December.

In addition, the discipline inspection and supervision organs around the nation investigated 51,734 cases of corruption involving mafia-like organizations, and 61,227 officials involved in the cases were punished for being "protective umbrellas" over the past two years.

"The campaign assists in clearing the interest conveyor to the officials, which will naturally put an end to some officials' dereliction of duty," said Ji Naili, a political science professor at Nankai University.

"It also facilitates the coordination of government departments in governance to avoid corrupt officials obstructing the legal process," Ji added.

Since multiple historical cases have been investigated during the campaign, a large number of the ringleaders and the officials behind them were punished.

For example, in December, Du Shaoping, the ringleader of a gang responsible for killing and burying a man under a school sports ground over 16 years ago in Xinhuang Dong autonomous county, Hunan province, was sentenced to death. Yang Jun, former political commissar of the public security bureau of the county, and Huang Bingsong, then headmaster of the school, were convicted of duty-related discipline violations.

Sun Xiaoguo, another high-profile leader of a gang in Yunnan province that was wiped out during the campaign, was sentenced to death after a retrial for organized crime, rape and other criminal activities. Nineteen defendants, mainly civil servants, were also sentenced to jail terms of various lengths for ties to Sun's case.

"The retrial of cases that happened 10 or 20 years ago and punishing the criminals has a profound meaning of ensuring justice, although the retrials exposed that there was some problem in the handling of the cases in the past, especially when the cases have a connection with corrupt officials," said Yang Weidong, a law professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance.

"The retrial also reminds the current legal organs to be cautious when handling every case and ensure every step is strictly following the law," Yang said.

"The handling of single cases can restore the public's confidence in the rule of law, while the goal of the campaign is to establish long-term mechanisms to improve and modernize the nation's overall capability of governance."

The campaign of the crackdown has made major achievements since it started two years ago, as the number of mafia-like organizations busted in 2019 increased 23.1 percent from the same period in the previous year, according to the national office against organized crime.

About 44,700 Party committees at the village level were investigated and problems rectified, and 41,700 village officials who had received criminal punishment or were involved in organized crimes were investigated and replaced, according to the office.

"The special campaign has a significant impact, especially on the country's governance on grassroots-level government and some certain sections, as it protects all citizens' legal rights and creates a good environment," Yang said.

"The gangs and mafia-like organizations usually threaten the public order and justice and infringe on other's legitimate rights for their own interests. The campaign can manifest the strength of the rule of law."

The campaign can also restore the authority of the Party and the government and re-establish people's confidence in the rule of law, said professor Ji.

Guo Shengkun, head of the leading group of the campaign, recently urged relevant authorities to thoroughly rectify the weaknesses in public security, key industries, grassroots construction and cyberspace to eradicate the breeding spaces for gang crimes and promote long-term mechanisms on fighting such crimes to secure a complete victory of the campaign.

Guo, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, also urged the handling of all cases in strict accordance with the law to ensure the quality and efficiency of investigation, prosecution and trial.

According to the national office against organized crime, a batch of long-term mechanisms on cracking down on organized crime will be established to normalize relevant work, such as arranging nonlocal forces to investigate organized crimes and uncover whether there are corrupt officials or irresponsible departments behind the crimes.

A sound mechanism for the coordination and interaction between political and legal organs and competent industry authorities will be established to improve the systems for investigating and collecting evidence and reporting problems.

The campaign will focus on 10 fields in the following year including grassroots governance, construction, mining, transportation, illegal loans and online organized crime.

Lu Zhi'an, an associate professor at the Law School of Fudan University, said that the special campaign allows government departments at all levels to learn the problems existing in social governance and key industries.

"Through the analysis of these problems, they can formulate more scientific, reasonable laws and systems in line with the development of grassroots social governance and key industries," Lu said. "It indicates that the construction of China under the rule of law is constantly approaching maturity."

 

A police officer explains to the public the achievements of a special campaign against mafia-like organizations and gangs at a publicity event in Yongtai county, Fujian province, on Jan 6. The county authorities will continue the fight this year and encourage the public to help expose such crimes. ZHANG GUOJUN/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Online folk singer gives a voice to migrant workers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532343.htm YINCHUAN-It was getting dark and Ma Ruifeng, a 46-year-old farmer, put his cellphone on a stand, steadied the microphone and began to sing. Thumbs-up and flower icons and words of praise popped up on his phone screen. His voice swelled and he sang even more passionately.

He was singing a hua'er or "flower ballad", a high-pitched traditional folk song genre popular in Northwest China. It was included on the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2009.

Ma was born in Tongxin county, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, where hua'er is widely appreciated among locals. There are more than 500 hua'er singers from all walks of life in Tongxin.

He learned hua'er from his father and grandfather when they were tilling land or herding cattle. "We often say that hua'er grows on our land and flows in our blood," he said.

Ma became a migrant worker at 18, traveling to do manual laboring jobs in 10 provinces over the years. Whenever he had spare time after work, he sang hua'er to entertain his fellow workers and ease their homesickness.

To hone his singing skills, Ma resorted to the internet and visited professionals. He practiced a lot, no matter how busy he was. Deep down he yearned for a stage to show off his skills. At the end of 2018, he registered a livestreaming account.

"It was just for fun at the beginning. After work or supper, I usually livestreamed for at least an hour on the construction site or in my dorm, sometimes even asking my workmates to join me. I felt so relaxed when singing, and all the fatigue and pain seemed to go away," he said.

To help people understand the folk song, he sang in Mandarin instead of his local dialect and wrote original melodies with lyrics about work and life.

One of his songs goes: "Daring not to go down the street without money in my pocket… But as long as we are safe and sound, we will pull through together in the end."

Ma wrote the song on the eve of Lunar New Year, when he could not sleep on the train heading home. The joy of the family reunion he was anticipating was diluted by disappointment about his poor earnings that year. To his surprise, he received nearly 150,000 views when the song was livestreamed.

"I wrote it for migrant workers just like me. Life can be difficult, but the support and understanding from family can keep us going. As long as you work hard, things will get better," he said. "I do this only to bring joy to my 40,000 online followers, not for economic gain."

To protect and promote the music, the regional government spends 600,000 yuan ($86,000) every year on teaching and performing centers for the folk music. It also subsidizes over 40 inheritors of the tradition across Ningxia, including Ma.

Xu Juanmei, from the Ningxia Folk Artists Association, said Ma's livestreaming room has become an online hua'er hub, which attracts young people. Ma was invited to teach hua'er in a local middle school several times last autumn. He even appeared on national television to perform in front of a live audience.

"Some viewers befriended me on WeChat, which inspired me a lot. As long as someone is listening, I will keep singing," Ma said.

 

People gather to enjoy hua'er singers performing at a folk festival in Hezhen county, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, on June 1. SHI YOUDONG/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Major moves for environmental protection last year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532342.htm On Jan 17, the national conference on natural resources is held in Beijing. During the conference, the Ministry of Natural Resources announces several major tasks for the year. They include conducting a national survey of resources, improving the management of natural resources and formulating a territorial spatial-planning system to integrate the plans for functional zoning, land use, urban and rural areas and others into a unified entity.

On March 7, the first anniversary of The Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking, a report shows that about 1 million illegal products online have been deleted, with more than 10 million online illegal advertisements blocked and 350,000 illegal online accounts removed.

On March 12, National Tree Planting Day, an official from the National Forestry and Grassland Administration announces that China's forest coverage rate has risen by nearly 10 percentage points in the past four decades, with the world's largest planted forests and an 80 percent expansion of forested areas.

On March 29, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and several other departments decide on 24 key activities for the year. They include the launch of a special campaign to combat the smuggling of wild animals, plants and related products, such as ivory.

In May, an official from the Ministry of Natural Resources announces that China has set a goal of establishing a territorial spatial-planning system by 2020, aiming to integrate the country's development plans at all levels to provide more efficient and eco-friendly spatial development.

June 10 marks China's first Cultural and Natural Heritage Day. According to the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, the country has the largest number of world heritage sites as well as cultural and natural heritage sites. The 17 sites account for 6.8 percent of the global total.

In June, a high-ranking official from the National Parks Management Office announces that the first draft of a national standard for permission to establish national parks has been completed and is at the consultation stage.

In July, the China Flower Association announces that the peony has gained overwhelming public support in the search to find China's first official national flower. The association says the peony's elevation to national flower is awaiting approval from the central government.

In August, China's first overpass for wildlife migration is put into use in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, serving as a bridge for thousands of migrating animals. Spanning the newly constructed national highway between Fuyun county and Wucaiwan district, it is the first overpass to link animal habitats separated by the roads.

On Aug 20, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration announces China's strictest forest protection measures, including a ban on all commercial logging nationwide. All manufacturing and other commercial activities are prohibited in natural forests in the core protected area.

Also in August, the administration releases a plan to speed up construction of the country's national scenic trail program, aiming to build a nationwide network of trails by 2050.

In September, the State Council releases opinions on the implementation of three "red lines"-related to ecological protection, permanent farmland designation and urban and rural development-to help guide the formulation of the national territory spatial-planning system that is expected to produce more efficient and eco-friendly development.

 

Tibetan antelopes roam in Sanjiangyuan, Qinghai province in 2017. CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Greenhouses help villagers to grow new lives free of poverty]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532394.htm Heavy snowfall last week pushed down temperatures in Jinyuan village in Qinghai province to a bonechilling-17 C.

Luckily, patches of morel mushrooms planted in greenhouses survived the freeze, with traces of mycelia-the fine, white filaments transporting nutrients-beginning to appear on the surface of the soil.

The scene brought a smile to the face of Wang Yuyun, the village head.

"The mycelia activity is a very encouraging sign for the trial planting," Wang said. "If morel mushrooms can grow here, we will be able to further increase the village's income and provide a stronger safety net for residents."

Last year, potted flowers cultivated in these greenhouses generated more than 350,000 yuan ($50,800) in revenue, a major boost to the collective income. A large portion of the money was used to raise coverage of endowment and medical insurance, offer tutorials for local children and hand out free sustenance to all households.

Jinyuan, with a population of 773, is in Delingha city, where winter drags on for over six months and most agricultural land is plagued by high salt concentrations and is infertile.

"Potted plants can only grow in summer here, so greenhouses often sit idle during the long and frigid winter of Delingha," Wang said. "I am experimenting with morel mushrooms to test other ways to earn more money for the village."

The nine greenhouses covering about 0.74 hectares were gifted to Jinyuan village as a collective enterprise in 2017 by the agriculture, animal husbandry and poverty relief bureau of Delingha, intended to stimulate the development of rural industries.

Additional funds invested in renovating facilities and purchasing equipment came from a collection of poverty alleviation funds allocated by the central government and other higher-level governments.

In Delingha, there were 989 people living in abject poverty and 20 national-level impoverished villages in 2015, according to the city government.

Before the greenhouses went into operation in early 2018, Delingha had already lifted all registered people out of poverty and stripped off poverty labels attached to its impoverished villages, including Jinyuan, by the end of 2017.

The government has since been taking a range of steps to consolidate the achievements of poverty elimination, such as accelerating the development of the collective economy, improving infrastructure and public services and securing the provision of insurance and other social benefits.

In the past four years, nearly 310 million yuan of poverty relief funds were devoted to developing featured industries in Delingha, ranging from planting ornamental flowers and quinoa to breeding yaks and sheep, government data show.

As of last year, such businesses had generated about 3.3 million yuan in income for participating villagers in the form of dividends.

Wang Rui, an official with the bureau, said giving away dividends is not the long-term solution to improving the living standards of villagers.

"The more remarkable benefit of developing rural industries is that they provide local job opportunities that are stable and tailored to fit labor and land conditions of each area," she said. "Many villagers are thus inspired to take the initiative to improve their living."

In 2016, Ankang, another village in Delingha, started growing quinoa, which has become a booming industry. The allocated poverty-alleviation funds were used to cultivate land, buy agricultural machinery and seedlings and train local farmers how to farm the grain.

Dai Cunzhong, 53, a villager in Ankang, has successfully shaken off poverty and has increased his income by engaging in the quinoa industry. He has now contracted more than 6.7 hectares of land to grow quinoa that generates tens of thousands yuan a year. Moreover, he works as a local forest ranger, earning a monthly salary of about 2,700 yuan.

With sufficient insurance plans covered by the government, Dai was grateful that he could finally enjoy a day without worrying about his daughter's tuition fees or skimping on meat.

Kang Junsheng, a poverty relief official of Ankang, said: "Developing rural industries is the most direct, effective and enduring method to ease poverty.

"This year, we are planning to tap into the quinoa processing industry and mobilize villagers to learn how to husk and briefly clean raw quinoa for higher market value."

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2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532205.htm INNER MONGOLIA

Man who kidnapped three people shot dead

A kidnapper armed with a handgun was shot dead at the scene in Xincheng district of Hohhot, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on Sunday, the regional police authorities said. According to a statement issued by the police, the suspect, surnamed Zhou, took three people hostage at around 11 am on Sunday. Zhou, armed with a self-made gun, attached explosive devices to the hostages and threatened to kill them. Police fatally shot Zhou at around 7:15 pm and defused the explosives. Investigations are continuing.

QINGHAI

Bus falls into hole after road caves in; 2 missing

Two people are missing and 13 were injured after a bus sank into a big hole as a road caved in at about 5 pm on Monday in Xining, the city government said. The bus was picking up passengers at a bus stop near a hospital when the road suddenly collapsed. The bus fell halfway into the hole. Video footage showed a small blast occurred soon afterward. All the injured were rushed to hospital and are in stable condition. Rescue efforts are underway.

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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Research breakthroughs produce new medicines]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532257.htm Breakthroughs in drug research and development in China last year saw a number of new drugs become available to patients, a report released on Monday said.

Of 39 major achievements in medicine in China last year, covering six areas including clinical medicine, basic medicine and public health, seven were related to pharmaceutical research and development-including the world's only new drug to treat Alzheimer's disease in the past 17 years-the report, released by the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said.

The 39 achievements were selected by an evaluation committee comprising 197 top medical experts, including members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Wang Chen, president of Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said.

"China's global innovation index has been rising rapidly over the past few years, and scientific and technological development in China has increasingly become a more prominent force globally, including in medicine and life sciences," he said.

New drugs developed by Chinese companies that made it on to the list included Zanubrutinib, a capsule drug used to treat adult patients with mantle cell lymphoma, a rare cancer that lacks effective treatment.

The United States Food and Drug Administration announced in November that it had approved the drug, the first time that an innovative drug developed in the Chinese mainland had entered the US market. Many new drugs in the domestic market, including anti-cancer drugs, are developed overseas and exported to China.

Li Song, a medical chemist and a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the drug was a breakthrough that proved domestic developers had the ability to develop the same high-standard drugs as those in the US. He expects more similar new drugs will be developed by Chinese enterprises.

GV-971, another drug on the list released on Monday, is the world's first innovative therapy for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease in 17 years. It was approved by China's National Medical Products Administration in November, and went on sale in the domestic market last month.

The administration said the drug can improve cognition in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, which is an incurable, irreversible and progressive brain disorder. There are at least 50 million Alzheimer's patients worldwide, including more than 10 million in China, and most of the drugs being researched all over the world to treat the disease have failed over past decades, experts said.

"China used to be called a big country in producing pharmaceuticals, but not a leading country in the pharmaceutical sector," Li said. "But now it is becoming a strong country in this area, and is transforming from a country which mainly produced generic drugs to a one that excels in innovative drugs."

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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Economic crime suspect repatriated from Australia]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532256.htm A suspected Chinese economic criminal was repatriated from Australia, with assistance from the Chinese embassy in Canberra and the consulate general in Sydney. It was the first such case from the country.

The contract fraud suspect, surnamed Liu, had been on the run for 18 years.

His company allegedly signed a contract with another company on July 19, 2001, agreeing to transfer money for that company.

However, after receiving the letter of credit for the payment, Liu allegedly cashed it at a bank in Sydney rather than arranging the transfer, causing the other company to lose 3.6 million yuan ($522,000). Liu then fled to Australia.

After Liu fled, Chinese police maintained close communication with Australian law enforcement agencies, provided evidence in a timely manner, and urged the Australian law enforcement authorities to investigate Liu.

The Ministry of Public Security said foreign countries were not sanctuaries for evading crimes, and the repatriation of Liu demonstrated the public security organs' confidence and determination in pursuing criminals.

It urged fugitives abroad to return to China to surrender themselves to the authorities as soon as possible.

]]>
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Students get close-up view of democracy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532251.htm Political advisers in Beijing invited nine students to observe their annual session, which kicked off on Friday, in a move intended to help the youngsters gain a deeper understanding of the country's political system and cultivate their sense of social responsibility.

The third session of the 13th Beijing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference opened on Friday with more than 700 political advisers in attendance.

At the opening ceremony, a group of teenagers-seven from high school and two from college-drew a great deal of attention from committee members.

The nine students will observe this year's CPPCC Beijing Committee session through to its close on Wednesday, sitting in on panel discussions and even meetings to review proposals.

There were only two "model CPPCC participants" when student attendance was first allowed in 2016.

Zhang Yi, a member of the CPPCC Beijing Committee, said it was important to help young people understand and approve of the country's system of governance so they will carry it out with "China wisdom" when they become adults.

"The CPPCC is a big 'school' and 'classroom' that is worth learning," she said. "The city's model CPPCC will bring more advisers to participate in future."

Li Jisen, a 17-year-old from Beijing 101 Middle School, was excited to attend this year's session as an observer for the first time.

"I only read about this political system in textbooks before, but now I can directly see and feel the system and democracy with Chinese characteristics in action," he said.

He brought along a simulated proposal suggesting companies set up platforms for students to experience different occupations.

Last year, Li participated in the model political consultative conference at his school, an optional course of about 90 minutes a week. During the course, students pretend to be members of the CPPCC and learn how to find problems in society and write proposals.

"After taking the course, I realized how strong a democracy our country has," Li said. "We really find and solve social problems through discussions and making proposals.

"I hope that in future, my model proposals can be received and accepted by members of the committee of the CPPCC."

The course was initiated by the CPPCC Beijing Committee in 2016 and has been held across the capital.

According to the committee, more than 500 teachers and 14,000 students from 364 schools in the capital have participated in model CPPCC practice.

More than 50 proposals from students have been submitted to the CPPCC Beijing Committee and even the National Committee of the CPPCC.

A simulated proposal from students at Beijing 101 Middle School on setting up a mechanism for book transfers from urban schools to rural ones was revised by the CPPCC Beijing Committee and became a formal proposal in 2018.

Bi Wenrui, a politics teacher at Beijing University of Chemical Technology, said the model CPPCC greatly inspired his students.

"After teaching the model political consultative conference course, I found that these students are more interested in the country's political system and policies in general than older students," he said.

They wanted to participate in politics, and many students would like to relate their professional backgrounds to their proposals, like those about air pollution and new energy vehicles, Bi added.

"Thus, this model conference can also motivate them to study hard at their own major," he said. 

 

 

Students sit in on the third session of the 13th Beijing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference on Friday. WEI TONG/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

]]> 2020-01-14 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Model ships keep history alive]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532247.htm HEFEI-Wearing a mask and gloves, Wu Pei, 65, carefully worked the wooden steps on the scale model of the famed Swedish warship Vasa with a file and then polished them with emery paper.

"The middle part of the steps should be made to look dented and old, like the original ship," said Wu in his workshop in Hefei, Anhui province.

In an era when ships are no longer the main mode of transportation for travelers, Wu has spent 30 years painstakingly recreating old ships from different eras and countries.

His 300-square-meter workshop is packed with handmade models of warships, fishing boats and schooners. Many of his works have been exhibited in local museums.

"Each ship has its own story and is part of history. I want to keep the history alive through these ships," the model-ship maker said.

Growing up by the Yangtze River, Wu was fascinated by the vessels that passed along the waterway. His interest grew further when hearing his father tell stories about sailing.

"I have liked handiwork since childhood. I tried to carve a small stone boat during my summer vacation," Wu recalled, thinking of his first handmade boat.

His various work experiences as a carpenter, painter and carver paved the way for making model ships. In the 1990s, Wu decided to focus on the pursuit full time after the factory he worked in was closed.

"Building model ships demands great patience and meticulousness, and it can take months and sometimes even more than a year to complete one," said Wu, adding that all the models are built from scratch, using wood and wire for the hull and canvas for the sails.

Authenticity

However, the biggest challenge is not making a ship, but researching information about it before starting a project.

"We have to respect history and try to recreate the ancient ships according to the historical records rather than by imagination," said Wu, adding that the lack of original drawings of many ancient Chinese vessels made the process even harder.

In one case, Wu spent two and a half years making a treasure ship, a large wooden vessel in the fleet of Admiral Zheng He, who led seven expeditionary voyages during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

"There are no clear records left about its layout and facilities, and I had to find clues from many places and piece them together like completing a jigsaw puzzle," Wu said.

After searching in many public libraries, he even asked a friend in Japan to help him find an art collection that could shed light on the ship's original look.

His final work, a miniature 4 meters high, 3.2 meters long and 1.2 meters wide, retains as much detail as the original, with a watchtower, anchors, guard bars, lamps and dozens of cannons.

The ship was later collected by a museum in Wuhan, Hubei province, for 280,000 yuan ($40,200).

Cultural links

"Ships are also cultural icons, which reflect different cultures, economies and history at different times and regions," Wu said. "The culture embodied in these ships is the part that captivates me the most."

Wu has made a 6-meter ancient Chinese passenger ship, based on a 10-centimeter drawing from the Song Dynasty (960-1279). He was impressed by the wisdom of the ancient people.

"This ship is well-equipped. There are beautifully carved windows, comfortable tables and seats for passengers to have a rest and even coops to raise chickens," Wu said.

He reproduced all the components, including windows, doors and movable rudders and lighting.

Besides Chinese ships, he has also made many Western ships including an ancient Roman warship. "This ship dates back to 50 BC and is shaped like a dolphin because ancient Romans adored dolphins," Wu said.

He has made a total of 600 model ships and hopes to create more famous ancient ships.

To his relief, Wu's daughter and several young people are learning the craft with him, and he hopes they will take up the baton one day. Each Monday, he also teaches students about model ships at a primary school in Hefei.

"I hope more people have access to this type of craftsmanship and understand the traditions and history behind the model ships," Wu said.

 

 

 

Wu Pei teaches children how to make model ships at a primary school in Hefei, Anhui province. GE YINIAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Weather forecasters hone predictions for Winter Olympics on snowy mountain]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532243.htm Meteorologists have improved their ability to provide weather forecasts for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics thanks to exacting preparation and a new weather forecasting system developed for the Games.

Their progress will be gauged next month when a leg of the Alpine Skiing World Cup-the first test event for the Games-is scheduled to be held in Yanqing, Beijing.

Yang Yang, a senior official with the Beijing Organizing Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, said the test event, scheduled for Feb 15 and 16, will be the first of 20 held in China that aim to find out if Beijing is capable of organizing such a large winter sports event.

Weather reporting is one aspect that will be examined, as the Games' schedule depends on accurate weather forecasts.

"Most winter events take place outdoors. If the wind speed exceeds 17 meters per second or the temperature drops below -25 C, outdoor events will have to be delayed or canceled to avoid harm to athletes," he said.

At the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018, the schedule was changed more than 20 times due to the weather, he said, adding that it was very demanding work for meteorologists.

Weather in a mountain area is more complicated than in a city. The vertical distance from the beginning to the end of the main Alpine ski run on Haituo Mountain, Yanqing, is about 800 meters and the weather varies at different spots at different times, Yang said.

To better serve the Games, monitoring systems have been installed to provide minute-by-minute weather updates.

In November, Beijing's meteorological service developed a new device specifically for the 2022 Winter Games that has already been used in Yanqing.

It can target areas as small as one hectare for forecasting, whereas previous devices could only target areas of 9 square kilometers.

"Our sports team has been working closely with the weather team in Yanqing and found that the forecasters are professional and willing to endure hardship," Yang said.

Lacking experience in forecasting for winter sports, the weather team started from scratch.

Shi Shaoying, the leader of the weather forecasting team in Yanqing, said 11 forecasters were transferred from different meteorological services in 2018 and trained to use new devices and, more importantly, learn about the mountain's weather patterns.

Forecasters needed to collect more data and analyze them based on personal experience and theories to make accurate predictions, Shi said.

"It is challenging due to a lack of experience and historical data for the mountain," she said.

Zhao Fei, a forecaster from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region's meteorological service who joined the team last year, said making forecasts for a mountain was something he'd never tried before and he often made mistakes at first.

"Weather on a mountain is very complex," Zhao said.

"Temperatures and wind speeds on the mountain top are totally different from those at the foot. When I first arrived here, I didn't know much about that and made several wrong forecasts, which made me very upset."

Zhao and his teammates, also new to such forecasting, tried to understand the mountain's weather by staying on it day and night.

"The ski track was made of icy snow and slippery. We went up on cable cars and went down wearing crampons," he said.

"We took photos of clouds and experienced winds at every major spot to help us get more experience. Now I make more accurate forecasts and have more confidence. I know more about the weather patterns and characteristics of this place. I believe we are increasingly prepared for the 2022 Winter Games."

]]>
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Standards established for retirement homes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532207.htm The top market regulator unveiled a mandatory standard for care providers on Monday, urging retirement homes to comply with fire, food safety and sanitation rules.

It also moved to ban the peddling of healthcare products at such facilities, a widespread practice that over the last year has snared many seniors in frauds involving expensive yet substandard products. Smoking will also be banned indoors, according to the rules issued by the State Administration for Market Regulation.

The new rules require operators to evaluate each individual for the risk of choking, falling from bed, taking wrong medications, getting lost and developing bedsores. Efforts should also be made to minimize the risks.

The rules will take effect in 2022, which officials say will leave time for facilities to make adjustments.

China removed the approval procedure for setting up retirement homes a year ago, only requiring such facilities to register before they are operational. The move aimed to boost investment in elder care to meet the demand from a quickly expanding older population, and to shift authorities' duty from giving approvals to day-to-day monitoring.

Tian Shihong, deputy director of the administration, said the sixth and latest national standard on elder care included the first mandatory rules in the sector.

"It differs from other recommended standards," he said at a news briefing held by the State Council Information Office in Beijing on Monday.

The new standard works as the bottom-line requirement for care providers, which all parties are obliged to follow, he added.

Gao Xiaobing, vice-minister of civil affairs, told the news conference the standard is expected to play very important roles in promoting the healthy development of the care sector, and to help bolster supervision, especially after the financial threshold for running retirement homes was removed.

She said the standard, together with other rules, will work as a major basis for day-to-day monitoring and a guarantee of seniors' interests.

China has been working to bolster the supply of care services in light of a rapidly aging population.

Last year, the central government required local authorities to put at least 55 percent of central government-allotted money from welfare lottery revenue into fostering elder care, up from an average of around 50 percent in the past few years.

It also ordered further cuts in taxes and other administrative fees for retirement homes.

The Ministry of Civil Affairs pledged last year to train 10,000 facility directors and 2 million attendants over a three-year period starting last year.

China has seen several fatal retirement home fires over the last few years, raising concerns about their management.

One of the most disastrous was a nighttime fire in 2015, which killed 39 and injured six at a retirement home in Lushan county, Henan province.

]]>
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Modernization drive gains momentum in new year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532225.htm As 2020 begins, China's modernization drive continues to gain momentum.

In South China's Guangdong province, one of the country's major economic powerhouses, high-tech and new-industry sectors are powering economic growth, along with the upgrading of traditional manufacturing.

Zhou Zhen, founder of Guangzhou Hexin Instrument, ushered in the new year with a hectic schedule. The entrepreneur attended one meeting after another to lay out this year's development plan for his company, which is emerging as a leader in the mass spectrometry industry, producing devices used to detect microbes, pesticide residues and pharmaceuticals.

Hexin sold more than 300 million yuan ($43.3 million) worth of mass spectrometers last year, its fifth year of rapid sales growth. It is building a research institute in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

"Like many enterprises, we are facing difficulties, but small and medium-sized enterprises are trusted to do great things, and we have the confidence in overcoming difficulties in the new year," Zhou said.

The added value of Guangdong's strategic new industries increased by 7.5 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2019, according to official estimates. In computer, communication and electronic equipment manufacturing it grew by 7 percent, and in electrical machinery and equipment manufacturing it grew by 8.5 percent.

The GDP of Guangdong, home to 45,000 high-tech companies, is expected to have exceeded 10 trillion yuan last year, up from 9.73 trillion yuan in 2018.

Innovation is instrumental as China strives for modernization, and its people are embracing an innovative spirit.

In Chengdu, capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province, which is famous for hot pot dishes, restaurant owners are trying new ways to bring their special cuisine culture to the next level.

In Tianfu Hot-pot Town, hot pot tables stand in gardens, float in the lake and even sit on trees. Each day, crowds of local foodies boil hot pot ingredients in spicy soup as music blasts and lights shine.

The unique way of consuming hot pot is so different that it has made the town a big hit on Chinese short-video sharing app Douyin, know overseas as TikTok.

"In the past, the area was deserted. It was dirty and messy," said Fu Wei, general manager of a local hotpot restaurant. "We later transformed the water and planted a lot of trees here."

Fu invited many farmers and young people to work in the innovative town, which now guarantees an annual income of up to 50,000 yuan for each of them. The restaurant receives up to 3,000 diners a day, with sales revenue reaching 300,000 yuan a day.

"They truly innovate the industry," said local official Yang Yang. "This interesting way of dining also helps impoverished farmers, who either work there or provide agricultural products to the town."

While development is important, China has abandoned the grow-that-all-costs model and switched to green, sustainable and high-quality growth.

Take new energy vehicles for instance.

In the first three quarters of last year, new energy vehicle sales in China rose 20.8 percent year-on-year to 872,000 units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The boom resulted in strong demand for lithium-ion batteries. Contemporary Amperex Technology posted net profit growth of 45.7 percent during the same period. The company, headquartered in Ningde, in eastern China's Fujian province, is the country's largest automotive lithium-ion battery maker.

It achieved a series of technological breakthroughs last year, including self-heating technology that enables batteries to warm up from minus 20 C to 10 C in 15 minutes.

While China's domestic enterprises are on the fast track, the nation has also been welcoming foreign-invested companies to contribute to its modernization drive.

China's Foreign Investment Law took effect on Jan 1 to better protect foreign investors' interests, with unified provisions for the entry, promotion, protection and management of foreign investment.

More than 600 kilometers from Ningde, authorities have released a new plan outlining a blueprint for high-quality growth in Suzhou, in eastern China's Jiangsu province.

According to the plan, Suzhou will be home to 14,000 high-tech firms by the end of 2022, including 3,000 foreign-invested ones.

The dynamic city has 17,000 foreign-funded companies, with its actual use of foreign investment totaling $132 billion.

In Shanghai last week, electric carmaker Tesla, which is headquartered in the United States, delivered the first batch of 10 made-in-China Model 3 sedans to the public, one year after breaking ground on its first overseas plant in the city.

"We'll continue to make significant investments in China, making Model 3, Model Y and future models as well in China," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said.

]]>
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Spring Festival reunion dinners a hot commodity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532223.htm It took Shanghai resident Su Zhihao several rounds of phone calls and personal visits to three restaurants to secure a reservation for a family reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year.

A family feast on the occasion has long been an essential part of celebrating the most important festival in China, also known as Spring Festival, which falls on Jan 25 this year.

"Before I got married, we used to eat at home," said Su, 30. "This year, we will be joined by family from my wife's side."

While Su is looking forward to the big reunion, a family feast at home is a challenge.

"So we decided to go to a restaurant, but it's really difficult to find a suitable one less than a month ahead of the holiday," Su said.

By suitable, Su said, he meant he had to consider the price, cuisine, location and, last but not least, availability. Reservations at major restaurants have run short in major cities despite higher prices due to the rising cost of labor and food, especially pork.

"All of our tables and rooms for Spring Festival Eve have already been booked," said Wang Shijia, deputy manager of Lubolang, one of the most famous traditional restaurants in Shanghai. It has received many foreign dignitaries, including former United States president Bill Clinton and Queen Elizabeth II.

With 10 dishes, three dim sums and a fruit plate, the restaurant, which just completed a renovation in October, offers festival sets for 10 people priced from 3,988 yuan to 6,888 yuan ($570-980).

"Even before our reopening, our patrons were calling in, making reservations for our festival meals," Wang said.

Similar demand is being observed in other cities such as Beijing and Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province.

Guan Na, meeting events director for Crowne Plaza Beijing Lido, said the hotel has launched set meals for the festival, catering to families of various sizes, which have proved popular.

Dong Hui, manager of the newly opened Hualuxe hotel in Xi'an, said the hotel offered 15 tables for Spring Festival Eve meals and most had already been booked.

"Traditionally, Chinese parents make the family reunion meals at home, but as more children want their parents to save the sweat and have a good rest during the last day of the lunar year, people come to us," Dong said.

Su, who eventually booked a 4,000 yuan meal set for 15 people in a private dining room at a restaurant, agreed that convenience is the top reason behind the demand.

"The more people we gather, the merrier the festival atmosphere," Su said, "but only when you don't have to fuss over the cooking."

Visitors admire replica dishes for Chinese New Year's Eve at a folk custom show in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on Saturday. PENG HUA/CHINA NEWS SERVICE
]]>
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Breakthrough in cinema for the visually impaired]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532222.htm After Di Xuehui lost her sight at the age of 8, her passion for movies almost totally disappeared.

"I have always wished that cinemas could be accessible for people like me," said the 29-year-old Shanghai native, who works as a volunteer at Be Your Eyes, a nongovernmental welfare organization.

Her wish came true recently thanks to a project launched by the Shanghai Film Distribution and Projection Industry Association, which enables people with visual impairment to attend 50 cinemas across Shanghai.

Fitted with special equipment, the Red Star Cinema became the city's first film venue to allow visually impaired people to share the theater with others.

Wireless earphones, donated by the Shanghai Film Technology Factory and the Shanghai Charity Foundation, play descriptions of what's happening on the screen.

Before the introduction of such equipment, special movie events had to be held at which commentators would describe the scenes to the visually impaired, said Wu Qiuzhen, deputy chairman of the foundation.

In the future, film companies will have to include a third soundtrack that describes the content of the movie for visually impaired people.

On Jan 6, Lost in Russia directed by director-actor Xu Zheng became the country's first commercial movie to include such a soundtrack. The movie will make its national debut on Jan 25, the first day of the Chinese New Year.

"We spent one month doing postproduction to add the soundtrack. We believe that they (visually impaired people) will have a good impression when they go to the cinema with other people on the first day of the New Year," Xu said.

Wu said the project, which is set to include more cinemas and films, will also be extended to major cities in the Yangtze River Delta through the Yangtze River Delta Film Distribution and the Projection Industry Association.

"We're not only able to meet the visually impaired people's demands for watching movies but also show respect for them. We hope that they attend the cinema with other people and with dignity," Wu said.

Di said she was looking forward to Chinese New Year.

"It has been years since I could enjoy a movie by myself. I can't wait," she said.

Visually impaired people experience a movie at Shanghai's Red Star Cinema. CHINA DAILY
]]>
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA['Monkey King' cares for his primate pals]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532219.htm CHANGSHA-Shi Zhi'an speaks a rare dialect used in Central China's mountainous area, but his 200 "monkey friends" understand him.

Braving the biting winds, Shi walked along the narrow and rugged mountain path, summoning his primate friends. His loud voice broke the silence in the mountains. In the jungle, a few macaques came into view.

Xiyou village, where Shi lives, gets its name from the classical Chinese novel, Journey to the West. The sprawling mountains around the village in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture, Hunan province, used to be a paradise for macaques. However, human activities have made the animals scarce.

"Three or four decades ago, some people came to catch monkeys," Shi said, explaining that he had learned the skill of communicating with primates from the hunters. However, he could not bear to catch the monkeys, and only occasionally called them in order to feed them.

Hearing Shi's voice, macaques jumped out of the woods and ran across a mountain stream toward him. Shi took out a handful of peanuts and a few oranges, and the macaques immediately came forward to pick them up, circling around him and whooping.

A monkey climbed on Shi's shoulder, and started playing with his hair. "This monkey is responsible for keeping watch," Shi explained. "The other monkeys won't come over until it ensures there is no danger."

A little more than 10 minutes later, Shi had nearly 100 macaques in front of him.

Shi has been a "Monkey King" for nine years. He used to work at a mine in the neighboring county. The work kept him away from his home and caused the macaques to lose theirs.

But in recent years, Xiangxi prefecture has reviewed mining operations and even closed some of them. The mountain, which once echoed to the sound of coal carts, has quieted down again.

After leaving his mining job, Shi chose to stay on the mountain to feed the monkeys whenever they were short of food, especially on rainy and snowy days.

After spending so much time with his monkey friends, Shi can quickly identify each of them. He has even given some of the macaques names.

"This is Older Sister and that one is Younger Sister. They always appear together," he said.

In order to store food for the monkeys, Shi first built a thatched cottage on the mountain top. After it collapsed under heavy snow, he built a cabin and paved a stone path from his village to the mountaintop.

Under his care, the number of local macaques has grown from 28 a decade ago to almost 200 today.

Shi's efforts in helping the monkeys has also raised animal protection awareness among the local villagers. Even though the monkeys often rummaged through the village for food, the villagers have tried their best not to disturb them.

"The locals are now living in harmony with the wild species," Shi said.

Clockwise from top: Shi Zhi'an feeds macaques and plays with them in the mountains near Xiyou village in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture, Hunan province. ZHANG YUJIE/XINHUA
]]>
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Modernization drive gains momentum in new year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532218.htm As 2020 begins, China's modernization drive continues to gain momentum.

In South China's Guangdong province, one of the country's major economic powerhouses, high-tech and new-industry sectors are powering economic growth, along with the upgrading of traditional manufacturing.

Zhou Zhen, founder of Guangzhou Hexin Instrument, ushered in the new year with a hectic schedule. The entrepreneur attended one meeting after another to lay out this year's development plan for his company, which is emerging as a leader in the mass spectrometry industry, producing devices used to detect microbes, pesticide residues and pharmaceuticals.

Hexin sold more than 300 million yuan ($43.3 million) worth of mass spectrometers last year, its fifth year of rapid sales growth. It is building a research institute in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

"Like many enterprises, we are facing difficulties, but small and medium-sized enterprises are trusted to do great things, and we have the confidence in overcoming difficulties in the new year," Zhou said.

The added value of Guangdong's strategic new industries increased by 7.5 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months of 2019, according to official estimates. In computer, communication and electronic equipment manufacturing it grew by 7 percent, and in electrical machinery and equipment manufacturing it grew by 8.5 percent.

The GDP of Guangdong, home to 45,000 high-tech companies, is expected to have exceeded 10 trillion yuan last year, up from 9.73 trillion yuan in 2018.

Innovation is instrumental as China strives for modernization, and its people are embracing an innovative spirit.

In Chengdu, capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province, which is famous for hot pot dishes, restaurant owners are trying new ways to bring their special cuisine culture to the next level.

In Tianfu Hot-pot Town, hot pot tables stand in gardens, float in the lake and even sit on trees. Each day, crowds of local foodies boil hot pot ingredients in spicy soup as music blasts and lights shine.

The unique way of consuming hot pot is so different that it has made the town a big hit on Chinese short-video sharing app Douyin, know overseas as TikTok.

"In the past, the area was deserted. It was dirty and messy," said Fu Wei, general manager of a local hotpot restaurant. "We later transformed the water and planted a lot of trees here."

Fu invited many farmers and young people to work in the innovative town, which now guarantees an annual income of up to 50,000 yuan for each of them. The restaurant receives up to 3,000 diners a day, with sales revenue reaching 300,000 yuan a day.

"They truly innovate the industry," said local official Yang Yang. "This interesting way of dining also helps impoverished farmers, who either work there or provide agricultural products to the town."

While development is important, China has abandoned the grow-that-all-costs model and switched to green, sustainable and high-quality growth.

Take new energy vehicles for instance.

In the first three quarters of last year, new energy vehicle sales in China rose 20.8 percent year-on-year to 872,000 units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

The boom resulted in strong demand for lithium-ion batteries. Contemporary Amperex Technology posted net profit growth of 45.7 percent during the same period. The company, headquartered in Ningde, in eastern China's Fujian province, is the country's largest automotive lithium-ion battery maker.

It achieved a series of technological breakthroughs last year, including self-heating technology that enables batteries to warm up from minus 20 C to 10 C in 15 minutes.

While China's domestic enterprises are on the fast track, the nation has also been welcoming foreign-invested companies to contribute to its modernization drive.

China's Foreign Investment Law took effect on Jan 1 to better protect foreign investors' interests, with unified provisions for the entry, promotion, protection and management of foreign investment.

More than 600 kilometers from Ningde, authorities have released a new plan outlining a blueprint for high-quality growth in Suzhou, in eastern China's Jiangsu province.

According to the plan, Suzhou will be home to 14,000 high-tech firms by the end of 2022, including 3,000 foreign-invested ones.

The dynamic city has 17,000 foreign-funded companies, with its actual use of foreign investment totaling $132 billion.

In Shanghai last week, electric carmaker Tesla, which is headquartered in the United States, delivered the first batch of 10 made-in-China Model 3 sedans to the public, one year after breaking ground on its first overseas plant in the city.

"We'll continue to make significant investments in China, making Model 3, Model Y and future models as well in China," Tesla CEO Elon Musk said.

]]>
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Spring Festival reunion dinners a hot commodity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532216.htm It took Shanghai resident Su Zhihao several rounds of phone calls and personal visits to three restaurants to secure a reservation for a family reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year.

A family feast on the occasion has long been an essential part of celebrating the most important festival in China, also known as Spring Festival, which falls on Jan 25 this year.

"Before I got married, we used to eat at home," said Su, 30. "This year, we will be joined by family from my wife's side."

While Su is looking forward to the big reunion, a family feast at home is a challenge.

"So we decided to go to a restaurant, but it's really difficult to find a suitable one less than a month ahead of the holiday," Su said.

By suitable, Su said, he meant he had to consider the price, cuisine, location and, last but not least, availability. Reservations at major restaurants have run short in major cities despite higher prices due to the rising cost of labor and food, especially pork.

"All of our tables and rooms for Spring Festival Eve have already been booked," said Wang Shijia, deputy manager of Lubolang, one of the most famous traditional restaurants in Shanghai. It has received many foreign dignitaries, including former United States president Bill Clinton and Queen Elizabeth II.

With 10 dishes, three dim sums and a fruit plate, the restaurant, which just completed a renovation in October, offers festival sets for 10 people priced from 3,988 yuan to 6,888 yuan ($570-980).

"Even before our reopening, our patrons were calling in, making reservations for our festival meals," Wang said.

Similar demand is being observed in other cities such as Beijing and Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province.

Guan Na, meeting events director for Crowne Plaza Beijing Lido, said the hotel has launched set meals for the festival, catering to families of various sizes, which have proved popular.

Dong Hui, manager of the newly opened Hualuxe hotel in Xi'an, said the hotel offered 15 tables for Spring Festival Eve meals and most had already been booked.

"Traditionally, Chinese parents make the family reunion meals at home, but as more children want their parents to save the sweat and have a good rest during the last day of the lunar year, people come to us," Dong said.

Su, who eventually booked a 4,000 yuan meal set for 15 people in a private dining room at a restaurant, agreed that convenience is the top reason behind the demand.

"The more people we gather, the merrier the festival atmosphere," Su said, "but only when you don't have to fuss over the cooking."

Visitors admire replica dishes for Chinese New Year's Eve at a folk custom show in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, on Saturday. PENG HUA/CHINA NEWS SERVICE
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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Environment watchdog says situation grim]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532240.htm China's top environmental watchdog has reiterated its zero-tolerance attitude to one-size-fits-all approaches in environmental governance and vowed to take more measures to serve high-quality development amid challenges from the external economic environment.

Li Ganjie, minister of ecology and environment, made the remarks at the ministry's two-day annual work conference, which ended on Monday.

"The pollution control campaign yielded key progress. The ecological environment in the country has generally improved," Li said in summarizing progress last year.

Emissions of major pollutants continued to fall last year, and the density of PM 2.5 particulate matter in cities that had yet to see air quality reach the national standard continued to decline, Li said.

The national standard for PM 2.5 concentrations is 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Li said 3,626 violations in 899 county-level areas that are sources of drinking water were rectified in 2019. The ministry also managed to clean up 2,513 black and odorous water bodies in cities above the prefecture level.

The ministry imposed administrative penalties totaling about 11.9 billion yuan ($1.7 billion) in 162,900 cases of environmental violations last year, he added.

Despite the improving environmental governance system and the effective implementation of many reform measures in promoting ecological progress, Li said the situation remains grim for environmental protection work.

"Profound and complex shifts are taking place in both international and domestic environments," he said.

"As (China's) external economic environment tends to be more complicated and grimmer, there are more uncertainties. The situation environment protection work confronts remains grim."

Li demanded his colleagues wage the pollution control fight this year with "resolute confidence to win" and "without relaxing the strength", while better serving high-quality development.

Vowing to resort to more precision and tailor-made measures in accordance with law and regulations, he said the ministry resolutely opposed one-size-fits-all approaches in environmental management.

"Upholding a pragmatic approach, we should make work arrangements and draft planning based on the least favorable situation and win the trust of the people with real achievements," he said.

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2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Political advisers urged to give Bay Area proposals]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532106.htm The chairman of the top political advisory body in South China's Guangdong province has urged its members to give more valuable advice on accelerating construction of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and supporting construction of the Shenzhen Pilot Demonstration Zone of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.

Construction of the Bay Area is a national strategy and the Guangdong Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, which includes many experts and scholars, should contribute their wisdom and strength, Wang Rong said in Guangzhou, the provincial capital, on Sunday while delivering the opening speech at the 3rd session of the 12th CPPCC Guangdong Committee.

Guangdong is sparing no effort in speeding up construction of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Macao scientific and technological innovation corridor, he said, adding that development of an internationally competitive, modern and advanced manufacturing industry was its priority.

"Guangdong CPPCC members should actively put forward their valuable proposals to help achieve the goals," Wang told 741 members of the CPPCC Guangdong Committee attending the session, which ends on Wednesday.

Wang also urged members to learn from the experience of other world-class bay areas and carefully study and compare the systems, policies, regulations and rules in Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao in the fields of finance, logistics, market supervision and industrial standards under the "one country, two systems" framework to help government departments construct an open economic system in line with international standards and remove obstacles preventing development of the three regions.

He also asked them to expand exchanges and cooperation with Taiwan compatriots in Guangdong to boost integrated development across the Taiwan Straits and oppose separatism.

Wang praised members of the CPPCC Guangdong Committee from Hong Kong and Macao for supporting Hong Kong's chief executive and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government's law-based governance, which was putting the city back on track after last year's turmoil.

"The Hong Kong CPPCC members have led local organizations and communities to visit Hong Kong front-line police and formed volunteer groups to safeguard the legal interests of Hong Kong residents and support the chief executive and SAR government to end violence and restore social order," Wang said.

Ma Guangyu, vice-chairman of the CPPCC Guangdong Committee, said its members put forward 113 proposals on construction of the Bay Area and expansion of exchanges and cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao last year.

Yang Qi, a member of the CPPCC Guangdong Committee, said he proposed further integrating the patriotic cultural resources of Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao to help introduce special patriotic cultural tourism routes in 2021, when the Communist Party of China celebrates its 100th anniversary.

"The special patriotic culture tourist routes are expected to become a brand name of tourism in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, playing an important role in enhancing cultural and tourism exchanges and cooperation in the three Chinese regions in the following years," said Yang, who is director of the Guangdong Museum of Revolutionary History.

In addition to Hong Kong and Macao, the Bay Area includes nine cities in Guangdong: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing.

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Pneumonia in Wuhan claims first fatality]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532159.htm An elderly man with a previously unknown form of viral pneumonia has died in Wuhan, Hubei province, and seven other people with the disease are in critical condition, local health authorities said on Saturday.

The National Health Commission said on Saturday it will publish the genome sequence of a new coronavirus suspected of causing the recent outbreak of viral pneumonia.

A draft genome will be shared with the World Health Organization in an attempt to safeguard global health security, the commission said in a statement on its website.

On Thursday, Chinese researchers initially identified the new virus behind a mysterious, pneumonia-like illness suspected of infecting 59 Wuhan residents over the past month.

Local health authorities said on Saturday they had completed sequencing the genetic material on Friday and found 41 cases were linked to the newly identified virus.

Of the confirmed cases, one died, seven were in critical condition and the rest were in stable condition, they said, adding that two have been discharged from hospital.

They said 739 people in close contact with the pneumonia patients-including 419 medical staff-had been placed under medical observation and no related cases had been found. There was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

Local authorities said the patient who died was a 61-year-old man who was a regular visitor to a market in Wuhan that sold live fish, animals and birds. Many of the pneumonia cases have been traced to the market, and it was disinfected and shut down on Jan 1.

The man died of respiratory failure on Thursday night, they said. In addition to serious pneumonia, he was also found to have an abdominal tumor and chronic liver disease.

All 59 suspected cases were reported between Dec 8 last year and Jan 2, with no more since then.

Wang Guangfa, a member of the national medical expert team dealing with the situation, told Xinhua News Agency that the patients' condition and the epidemic situation are currently controllable.

The proportion of severe cases is similar to that among common pneumonia cases, he added.

The new illness emerged just weeks ahead of the Chinese New Year travel rush, which is expected to see hundreds of millions of people travel.

The authorities have urged the public to be on the alert for pneumonia-like symptoms like fevers, body aches and breathing difficulties and to go to hospital when they have such symptoms. They have recommended the use of facial masks, and warned the public to avoid crowded places.

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Wealthy province's poverty claim sparks online debate]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532152.htm The claim that "only 17 people live in poverty" in the coastal province of Jiangsu-one of China's wealthiest regions-has sparked online discussions over the veracity of poverty figures and how to define "poverty".

Experts said such doubts showed there's a knowledge gap among the public and called for better explanations of poverty relief measures.

The discussions started after Zhu Guobing, head of the poverty relief office in Jiangsu, told a local legislative gathering on Tuesday that only 17 people from six families remain in poverty across the province.

The topic "Jiangsu has only 17 people in poverty" quickly began trending on the Sina Weibo microblog, where many users wondered how the province of more than 80 million residents obtained the ultra-precise statistics.

Other netizens lamented that they felt poor themselves but were not included in the relief system, suggesting that the national poverty line-defined as an annual per capita income of 2,300 yuan ($332), set in 2010 and adjusted regularly for purchasing power parity-was too low for today's China.

In response, the provincial poverty relief office told Beijing News on Wednesday that 17 was the head count of registered poor people as of Dec 31, and it is an accurate and floating figure based on comprehensive national and provincial databases.

The data may change on a weekly basis, as some may escape or slip back into poverty, the newspaper said, quoting an unnamed official.

The report said the standard Jiangsu adopted to determine "absolute poverty" is an annual income of 6,000 yuan per person.

Defining 'out of poverty'

China started a massive poverty alleviation campaign in late 2012, aiming to wipe out absolute poverty by the end of this year. To have a precise understanding of how many people suffer from poverty, relief authorities created a profiling system that requires local officials to register poor people one by one and specify the causes of each person's impoverishment.

Before that, China only had murky numbers about the poor, usually estimations based on previous surveys.

As for the doubts over how to define poverty, Yan Jirong, deputy director of Peking University's School of Government, said such suspicion showed there's a knowledge gap among the public over some basic concepts in poverty alleviation.

"People have many questions: How is absolute poverty defined? Will the poverty line change? What affects the change?" he said.

Although China still adopts the national poverty line set in 2010, which is an annual income of 2,300 yuan a year, the standard has been adjusted regularly for purchasing power parity. This year, the standard is roughly 4,000 yuan a year, but many better developed regions have adopted a much higher standard.

For example, Jiangsu, the second-richest provincial region in China in terms of GDP, raised its poverty line to per capita income of 6,000 yuan a year. Jiangsu had a GDP of 9.26 trillion yuan in 2018.

Yu Aizhi, a professor at Central University of Finance and Economics who specializes in the rural economy, said the poverty line in Jiangsu is more than sufficient to sustain a farmer's life, given that many farmers have land.

Apart from per capita income, the central government has introduced other criteria for shaking off poverty: being free of worrying about food and clothing, and having access to compulsory education, healthcare, safe housing and safe drinking water.

Both experts emphasized that getting out of "absolute poverty" does not equal a well-off life, and warned of the risk of raising the current poverty line, as it will sharply increase the number of have-nots, which could dilute the relief effort and jeopardize the interests of the poorest of the poor.

Although Jiangsu has neared the elimination of absolute poverty, many regions across the country, particularly mountainous areas in western China, still face an arduous task to pull all their people out of poverty by the end of this year.

At the end of 2018, 16.6 million people were still living in absolute poverty. Joint efforts made by government and society pulled more than 10 million people out of poverty last year, according to official data.

Yan also suggested the government and the media do more to explain the basic concepts of poverty alleviation to the public to reduce doubts such as those expressed about Jiangsu's figures.

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Site of old quarries turned into leisure destination]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532107.htm Standing in a mountainous area dotted by more than 30 lakes and covered by a wide expanse of evergreen trees, one can hardly imagine that two decades ago the area was an ugly environmental mess of quarries.

In deep winter, snow adds seasonal flavor to the leisure destination known as Huaxiacheng Scenic Area in Weihai, Shandong province.

The project is testimony to the concept that "green mountains and clear water can be mountains of gold and silver", said Wang Jihu, Party chief of Hebei community, one of the communities nearby.

"Combining environmental protection and tourism, the project not only brings a healthy environment to the 13 villages that surround Huaxiacheng, but also provides quality of life," Wang said.

Zhang Fulan, a villager of Hebei community, said, "It makes our village rich and the village committee buys insurance for each of us seniors who are older than 60 years old."

Late last century, the site of Huaxiacheng was torn by 44 quarries. Residents were bothered by dust on windy days and mud flows when it rained.

The government decommissioned the quarries because of concerns over pollution and called for the community to join in restoring the ecosystem.

In 2003, Xia Chunting, chairman of conglomerate Huaxia Group, who grew up in the area, shouldered the tasks. "My heart was broken when I saw the beautiful and peaceful place of my childhood was damaged. I wanted to restore it to let our children enjoy it," Xia said.

But he never thought the renovation project would take longer than a decade to complete. "There was no soil on the mountain, so we had to transport soil from far away," he said.

Another thing Xia hadn't considered initially was the huge amount of money the project would cost. Together with funding from local government, a total of 4.43 billion yuan ($640 million) has been spent.

More than 11 million trees have been planted and some pits have been transformed into lakes.

To realize sustainable development, Xia developed Huaxiacheng Scenic Area, featuring sightseeing, horticultural, educational and leisure programs. It received the highest 5A category tourism rating in 2017.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million people visited Huaxiacheng, generating around 200 million yuan.

"When President Xi Jinping came here in June 2018, he instructed us to continue putting the construction of ecological civilization as the top priority," Xia said. "We always bear his instruction in mind."

The tourism project has provided jobs to more than 1,130 villagers nearby, with average annual incomes exceeding 40,000 yuan, according to the Huaxiacheng management office.

"We are building an exhibition hall at Huaxiacheng to show visitors how green mountains and clear water can be mountains of gold and silver, with our own case of restoring the environment," Xia said.

A hill in Huaxiacheng Scenic Area in Weihai, Shandong province, before and after the transformation project. CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532150.htm BEIJING

Farm mechanization rate exceeds 70 pct

China has seen an outstanding shift in its farming sector with the mechanization rate exceeding 70 percent last year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said. The production of three staple crops-wheat, rice and corn-is now mainly completed with farming machines, it said. China has been promoting complete mechanization in the agriculture sector. In 2019, the country established 153 model counties for complete mechanization in agricultural production.

SICHUAN

Canadian-born panda twins return to China

Canadian-born panda twins, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue, flew into Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, early Sunday morning. The twins will be kept in quarantine for a month at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. They were born at Toronto Zoo on Oct 13, 2015. Their mother, Er Shun, and father, Da Mao, were sent to Toronto in 2013 as part of a loan agreement between China and Canada. They will stay there until 2023.

 

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Digging for oil and dreams in the northwest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532144.htm URUMQI-In the middle of the remote, mighty Qiulitag Mountains in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Wang Zijian carefully collects water and daily necessities dropped from a helicopter hovering in midair.

"The helicopter comes once a week and provides two buckets of water for cooking, drinking and washing for the three of us," Wang said, referring to his colleagues. "Geological conditions are difficult deep in the mountains, and sometimes we save rainwater."

Wang is a surveyor for the State-owned China National Petroleum Corporation. He is responsible for measuring and locating the spots for oil and gas exploration, and placing oil rigs through a global positioning system before any project starts. As part of his work, he marks prospective strike locations for future exploration with small flags.

The job is tough, but extremely important.

Authorities have made major oil and gas breakthroughs in the Qiulitag Mountains in the Tarim oilfield. They recently found a gas field able to produce 330,000 cubic meters of natural gas and 21.4 cu m of condensate on a daily basis, in the middle of the mountains.

Not far away from the Qiulitag Mountains, a huge gas field powers China's massive west-to-east gas transportation project, providing energy for more than 3,000 enterprises and 400 million residents in over 120 cities.

China produced 157.5 billion cu m of natural gas in the first 11 months of 2019, up 9.2 percent year on year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The potential in the Qiulitag Mountains is set to add tremendously to the supply.

"We have to blaze new trails in places where no one ever sets foot," Wang said. "No matter how difficult the road is, we carry on."

No man's land

The Qiulitag Mountains stretch across the counties of Kuqa, Xinhe and Baicheng and have no roads or telecommunication. Labeled the "Barren Mountains", the ranges are steep and jagged, and the valleys they form drop away like abysses.

There is a saying among locals that "even gazelles and eagles cannot cross the mountains"

While the area is one of the most difficult places for oil and gas exploration, it also boasts the potential for almost a trillion cu m of natural gas, according to geologists.

In 2017, Wang and his colleagues arrived to take on the challenges in the Qiulitag Mountains.

"The potential was unexpected, and we began our surveys in the fields," Wang said.

Phase one of the project covers more than 240 square kilometers, with cliffs everywhere. Every step taken in the area requires extra concentration to avoid a mishap. "Because the mountains are high and there are many cliffs, we haveto get living supplies from helicopters," Wang said.

As there are only eight places for the helicopters to land, most of the time they just hover in the air and drop the supplies.

Wang has to walk the jagged mountain terrain daily to take measurements, place equipment and collect data.

He wears out a pair of gloves every day, and runs through a pair of shoes a week. "It is one of the toughest projects I have ever worked on," he said.

Perseverance

The most difficult part is the rigging. A rigging machine usually weighs up to 800 kilograms, and an individual part can weigh as much as 100 kg. Wang and his colleagues also have to carry the water and oil needed to operate the rigging. "Digging is not that hard, but carrying the machine parts sure is," Wang said.

The job is highly technical, and each worker has to go through intensive training before working in the mountains.

In less than four months, Wang and his colleagues have managed to explore more than 500 sites in the mountains. Many workers have developed calloused shoulders from carrying heavy machinery.

But their hard work has paid off.

The Tarim oilfield will churn out 30 million metric tons of oil this year and 36 million in 2025, according to official estimates.

"We have a strong spirit of perseverance," Wang said. "Even though the job is hard, it is worth it."

 

 

 

Wang Zijian, a surveyor for the China National Petroleum Corporation, guides a helicopter to unload supplies in the Qiulitag Mountains in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in July. MA KAI/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Capital gears up for start of new waste-sorting rules]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532151.htm Beijing will strictly enforce its newly revised garbage-sorting regulation this year to help guide residents' participation in garbage classification, according to the government report delivered by Mayor Chen Jining at the opening session of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress on Sunday.

Chen said municipal government organs will encourage departments to implement mandatory classification.

"Garbage sorting in neighborhoods will also be carried out this year to complete the whole process of garbage disposal, collection and transport," he said.

Ninety percent of the streets, villages and towns in Beijing plan to set up waste classification pilot areas this year, Chen said.

The transport of mixed garbage will be forbidden and domestic garbage sorting will be strictly controlled at the source.

The building of waste-processing facilities will be sped up this year to better regulate construction waste and improve the reuse of construction materials, Chen said.

The revised regulation will go into effect in the capital on May 1, and specific rules to implement waste sorting have also been drafted.

Kang Kai, an official from the city's Municipal Urban Management Commission, said Beijing will unveil a catalog of single-use items in February designed to restrict the use of disposables, and a specific action plan to encourage residents not to waste food at home or in restaurants will be drafted before the end of March. An allocation standard for trash cans and garbage stations will be formulated in April.

Regulations for municipal department garbage sorting, residential community waste classification, as well as trash sorting, collection and transport will also be drafted and will be made public soon.

According to the revised regulation released in November, Beijing residents who fail to meet classification standards may face fines of up to 200 yuan ($28.50) if they refuse to rectify their behavior.

Beijing will also encourage more residents to participate in the governance of grassroots communities and neighborhoods to build a world-class metropolis.

Chen said the capital resolved difficulties raised by residents promptly last year, dealing with about 2.52 million cases filed by the public and resolving 75 percent of complaints.

"To establish an access system for community workers and reduce neighborhood burdens is a way to better guide policymakers to explore the long-term mechanism for community management in the city," he said. "We will encourage more residents to participate in community-level governance and complete the efficient mechanism to resolve conflicts."

Cai Qi, Party chief of Beijing, said each subdistrict community is a big neighborhood in the capital and important in city management.

"Everyone in the community counts and residents should have better ways to express their concerns and appeal to officials at the grassroots level," he said, adding that communities should try their best to mediate cases more quickly and effectively.

"We should make it easier for ordinary people to deal with matters through using artificial intelligence and let grassroots officials use their authority to better solve problems," Cai said.

Beijing's Dongcheng district established a 24-hour response mechanism for community services in 177 communities on 17 streets in April to better meet residents' demands.

The district also took the lead in Beijing last year in carrying out garbage classification.

Nanluoguxiang, a tourist street in Dongcheng, issued China's first business street guideline on garbage classification to regulate trash sorting.

 

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2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Nation saw great steps in weather prediction]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37532040.htm A mathematical breakthrough by a Chinese meteorologist six decades ago that dramatically improved the accuracy of weather forecasts has seen him honored with the country's top scientific award.

Chinese meteorology has advanced greatly over the past century, with the country now matching many developed countries in its use of high-end technologies to monitor atmospheric conditions and make accurate forecasts. But those achievements would not have been possible without basic theoretical research led by meteorologist Zeng Qingcun, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

His scientific breakthroughs are still widely used today in weather forecasting and the study of global climate change, meteorological hazards and disaster risk reduction.

It was because of these contributions that he received the State Preeminent Science and Technology Award, the highest scientific award in China.

Zeng, 85, was born in 1935 in Yangjiang, Guangdong province. Growing up in a peasant family in the countryside, he was involved in farm work when he was young and knew how changes in the weather could affect harvests.

In 1952, Zeng enrolled in Peking University to study physics and was assigned to the field of atmospheric physics.

In 1954, an overnight frost froze about 40 percent of the wheat in Henan province, dealing a severe blow to food production.

"If we could predict the weather in advance and take precautions, we would reduce great losses," Zeng said, adding that the event reinforced his understanding of the significance of weather prediction.

Weather forecasts in China in the 1950s were highly dependent on observations and personal experience.

"In the past, people drew a weather map and used their previous experiences to predict the weather, which is obviously too subjective," Zeng said.

"You need to use science. You have to understand why the weather changes this way and what rules the changes follow. According to the rules, you can write them into equations and solve them mathematically, this is called numerical weather forecasting."

Numerical weather prediction was pioneered in the 1920s by a British scientist. However, such models require vast data sets and very complex calculations and it was not until the 1950s, with the advent of computers, that the United States embarked on numerical weather prediction.

The equations used-known as primitive equations-are now the core of every general circulation model for atmospheric research, taking into account the fundamentals of atmospheric dynamics, including the Earth's rotation, fluid dynamics and thermodynamics.

The models can simulate real-world atmospheric activities such as the formation and evolution of tropical cyclones.

They are so complicated that the ability to solve them is one of the indicators used to determine the power of today's supercomputers.

Due to their complexity, scientists in the 1950s focused on simpler models that left the indicators out, but that limited the accuracy and timeliness of their forecasts.

In 1957, Zeng was sent to the Soviet Union to pursue his studies in numerical weather prediction.

His tutor assigned him a dissertation topic that had puzzled the world: how to use primitive equations to approximate atmospheric flows and predict short-range weather.

Zeng said many of his teachers and classmates urged the tutor not to give such a difficult project to a young man, saying it could affect his graduation prospects.

But Zeng's tutor trusted his mathematical capabilities and Zeng did not fail the tutor's expectations.

In 1961, Zeng's dissertation was published in Russian. In it, he described a mathematical integration method called "semi-implicit scheme" he designed to separately solve the primitive equations for atmospheric motions on different time scales.

The Moscow World Meteorological Center has applied the scheme in operational predictions since 1963, raising forecast accuracy by 61 percent.

"Zeng is the first in the world to solve the most complicated equations using a semi-implicit scheme, which opened a new chapter in the world's numerical weather predictions. It is a milestone contribution," said Wang Huijun, a CAS academician who works at Nanjing University of Information Science and Technology.

In 2016, the World Meteorological Organization awarded Zeng the IMO Prize, the most important award in meteorology.

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2020-01-12 09:14:05
<![CDATA[Shanghai moves to secure supply of nannies during Spring Festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531982.htm Shanghai, where around one-third of families resort to regular domestic service, has taken a range of steps to secure a sufficient supply of nannies, especially those caring for seniors and newborns, for the upcoming Spring Festival.

These measures include signing holiday working agreements in advance, finding substitutes from within and providing affordable hostels for nannies' families to assist reunions in the municipality, according to the Shanghai Domestic Service Association.

"Actually, the ratio of the nearly half a million nannies from outside Shanghai who choose to continue working in the municipality is climbing these years, mostly with an intention to save money earned from the peak season travel," said Zhang Lili, chairwoman of the association, adding that some prefer returning to their hometowns during other holidays.

Zhang said that most families who employ nannies for domestic cleaning can endure one to two weeks without their assistance around the Spring Festival, which begins on Jan 25, and therefore their focus is to ensure that those who provide care services for the elderly and new mothers and newborns are sufficient.

As early as October, nearly 120 nanny agencies began asking employees about their Spring Festival plans so they could work out solutions for families in need.

For example, Minxin, a Shanghai-based agency that mainly provides care for the elderly, guaranteed that more than 500 of its employees will work in Shanghai during the holiday. Moreover, Big Thumb, an agency of mainly maternity matrons, said that nearly 150, or about half its workers, will continue working during the festival.

Xia Yingyuan, who has worked as a care provider at an elderly care facility in Shanghai's Changning district since August, decided to stay in Shanghai for the holiday. The 55-year-old said her husband and son also worked in the city, so returning home is no longer a compulsory option.

"More importantly, there is a never-ceasing demand for care from the senior residents in cities like Shanghai," said Xia, an employee of Yijia Shanghai Elderly Service Co."In addition to my regular work at the facility, I'm also assigned to work in at least three homes with elderly patients when their nannies return to their hometowns during the festival."

She said most nannies and care providers can earn at least double pay during the holiday week.

Meanwhile, Zhang, from the domestic service association, said that for the first time the association will provide nannies with direct bus service from downtown Shanghai to Xuancheng city, Anhui province, one day before Chinese New Year's Eve, to ensure that they can work as much as possible in the municipality.

Without such service, some might be inclined to leave Shanghai two weeks in advance to secure a long distance bus ticket home before the eve, she added.

The association plans to expand such direct bus services for nannies to other areas in Anhui as well as Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces next year if it proves effective this year.

 

 

 

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2020-01-12 09:14:05
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531981.htm ANHUI

8 dead in Hefei after truck hits car head-on

Eight people were killed in a traffic accident on Wednesday afternoon in Hefei, Anhui province. According to the local public security bureau, the accident occurred at around 1:50 pm near Changfeng county when a truck collided head-on with a car, killing seven people. Another person died later in hospital.

BEIJING

Favorable policies for rural college students

Students from China's rural and poor areas will continue to enjoy favorable policies when they apply for major universities in 2020, according to a circular released by the Ministry of Education. China will continue to carry out special enrollment plans to enable more students from rural and impoverished areas to go to major universities and colleges, said the circular, adding that a stricter review of applicants' qualifications will be carried out. With disparities in teaching standards among different regions, high school graduates from underdeveloped areas are at a disadvantage in the competition for a spot in the country's major universities.

300 festival activities held in poor areas

About 300 cultural activities featuring various forms of intangible cultural heritage will be held in China's impoverished counties during the upcoming Spring Festival and the Lantern Festival, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. A total of 140 teams will be dispatched to 142 impoverished counties to hold cultural activities featuring traditional operas, paintings, sports and other forms of intangible cultural heritage. The activities will include performances, folk festivities, exhibitions, lectures and exchange events.

 

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2020-01-12 09:14:05
<![CDATA[Nation moves to reinforce research integrity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531980.htm Editor's note: This is the third in a series looking at some of the most important, timely or unusual stories covered by China Daily's reporters last year.

During a lecture at the Great Hall of the People in November, Wang Zeshan, winner of China's highest scientific honor, urged the nation's scientists and students to be "responsible and honest" in their research.

"We must prohibit academic corruption, plagiarism, fraud, shortsighted pursuit of success and other misconduct that goes against the spirit of science," said the 84-year-old explosives expert, who won the 2017 State Preeminent Science and Technology Award.

Upholding and promoting academic integrity has been a priority in the country's scientific development in recent years. In May 2016, President Xi Jinping stressed that China must build an environment where high standards of academic integrity and research ethics can thrive.

Government records show that by the end of 2018, the central leadership had issued 108 official documents related to academic integrity, with 82 of them being published in the previous 12 years.

However, those efforts had limited success, because different government agencies had their own standards and procedures for dealing with academic misconduct. Scientists and the media have long complained that the disparate rules and sometimes overlapping jurisdictions make it hard to evaluate, investigate and deal with violators.

In May 2018, the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, China's Cabinet, issued a set of comprehensive guidelines to better address problems with research integrity. The guidelines contained details of the agencies responsible for investigating and managing scientific misconduct.

In November that year, 41 national government agencies endorsed a set of 43 penalties for researchers found guilty of misconduct. The measures included terminating grants, losing academic positions or restricting promotion, and revoking the business licenses of companies owned by violators.

Last year, China continued to put more political weight behind raising research standards. The work included issuing documents with an "unprecedented" amount of detail to curb academic misconduct, said Huang Xiaoru, an expert on academic conduct with the Institutes of Science and Development at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"The new regulations allow a more methodical and unified approach to dealing with academic misconduct and violations," she told Xinhua News Agency in October.

Core issues

Scientists said a lack of incentives and resources to actively investigate academic misconduct, as well as excessive emphasis on published works as an indicator of career development, are among the key reasons for problems related to research integrity.

Results from the 2019 edition of Statistical Data of Chinese Science and Technology Papers, published by the Ministry of Science and Technology, show that the nation has made considerable progress in the quality and global impact of its research publications in recent years.

From 2009 to October, a total of 30,755 Chinese scientific papers were ranked in the top 1 percent by the number of citations, accounting for about 20 percent of the global total and second only to the United States. Last year, in terms of citations by subject, China became the world's most-cited country in materials science, chemistry and engineering, the report said.

However, according to an article in the journal Nature written by Tang Li, a professor with the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University in Shanghai, China has had a disproportionately high number of retracted papers in the past four decades.

From 1978 to 2017, nearly 31 percent of the 21.8 million scientific papers published globally came from the United States. China ranked second with 8.2 percent, followed by the United Kingdom with 7.9 percent, Japan at 6.8 percent and Germany at 6.2 percent.

However, of the 2,859 retractions during the four-decade period, the US accounted for 28.1 percent, while China was second with 24 percent.

"What counts as misconduct rather than acceptable practice differs across cultural settings and disciplines," Tang wrote. For example, she said reusing content without proper citation or duplicating submissions for different publications are not considered inappropriate in China, but the international scientific community regards them as misconduct.

In addition, institutions, publications and funding agencies in China check for plagiarism and other academic misconduct before accepting papers or granting awards, but such proactive efforts are costly to enforce consistently. Therefore, China's scientific agencies and universities often wait for whistleblowers or controversies to emerge, and then react with investigations, Tang said.

"The 'fire alarm' tactic leads to selective investigations and uncertainty. It punishes past offenses, but does little to deter future ones," she added.

Sun Xuejun, a professor at the Second Military Medical University in Shanghai, said on his Sina Weibo account that an overemphasis on papers to obtain promotion and evaluation is a key reason Chinese scientists are willing to take risks to get their work published.

"Doctors' promotions are dependent on the quality of their published articles; the bigger and more reputable the hospital, the more prestigious the journals in which the doctors must publish their work," he wrote.

Solutions

According to rules regarding academic integrity published in June, the general offices of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council said China will aim to substantially improve academic integrity and practices within three years.

The rules forbid scientists from outsourcing their work without obtaining the permission of their research institution or relevant government agencies, using unrelated research results to meet project requirements, boasting about the value of their research or making unsubstantiated claims publicly.

Moreover, the promotion and evaluation of scientists will focus less on the number of papers, titles, prizes and educational experiences, and more on scientific significance and socioeconomic impact.

Dai Guoqing, head of the Department of Supervision and Scientific Integrity at the Ministry of Science and Technology, said improper evaluation and management, lax regulations and punishments for misconduct, as well as the pursuit of instant success are still present in China's academic system.

"The new regulations focus on tackling these issues at the root and creating a basis for developing effective, long-term solutions that support our scientists to focus on their research, make breakthroughs and benefit society," he said.

During a conference on the promotion of academic integrity in August, Wang Zhigang, minister of science and technology, said China's research capability is largely dependent on its research environment.

As a result, the ministry has launched a nationwide online database to record research behavior by scientists, and as the information is accessible by other government bodies and institutions "wrongdoers will be restricted wherever they go", he said.

"In general, Chinese researchers uphold a high degree of academic integrity, but we must see the issues, and if we don't solve them, they will pollute our research environment and affect our good scientists."

In late September, the ministry issued two documents defining plagiarism, fabrication, falsification and other violations of research integrity, as well as providing detailed procedures and operating rules for handling investigations.

The rules have been adopted by 20 government agencies, ranging from the Supreme People's Court to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

He Guangxi, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development, said the regulations will encourage regulatory bodies and supervisors to actively investigate academic misconduct.

He said another highlight is that violation of research ethics has been placed in the same category as academic misconduct, which is prompting scientists and administrators to pay greater attention to ethical practices in their research.

"These new measures, which include punishments, joint investigations and information-sharing mechanisms, will maintain full pressure against academic misconduct," He said.

LIANG LUWEN/FOR CHINA DAILY
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<![CDATA[Last year's major events in academic probity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531969.htm January: Preliminary investigations by government authorities show that He Jiankui, the scientist behind the world's first gene-edited baby, deliberately evaded oversight by forging documents to enlist volunteers for his illegal experiment and by substituting blood test results.

February: Popular actor Zhai Tianlin is stripped of a doctorate awarded by the Beijing Film Academy after investigations by the school and the Ministry of Education into plagiarism. Zhai's PhD adviser, Chen Yi, is banned from supervising doctoral students.

March: Wang Zhigang, minister of science, pledges that China will continue to improve its research environment by issuing more guidelines to curb academic misconduct and enhance ethical regulations in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and gene editing.

April: New legislative oversight of human-related scientific research and medical tests is added to the draft civil law. The new regulation requires all medical and scientific research related to human genes and embryos to adhere to strict rules, pose no threat to people's health or violate moral or ethical codes.

June: The general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council issue a guideline on improving academic integrity and behavior. The rule emphasizes the social impact of a person's research and reduces the weight given to the number of papers published.

August: The Ministry of Science and Technology announces that it has established a national database to evaluate scientists and research projects for academic misconduct. The data is accessible to other government bodies so they can jointly supervise and uphold academic integrity.

September: The Ministry of Science and Technology issues two documents containing new definitions of a range of academic misconduct and clarifying the chain of command for handling and handing out punishments during different stages of research activity.

October: Gao Qinglei, a distinguished professor at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Hubei province, is accused of duplicating images in at least eight of her published papers. Gao denies the accusations, calling them "sinister slanders" that are designed to tarnish her reputation.

November: Cao Xuetao, president of Nankai University in Tianjin, is accused of image duplication in a set of papers he supervised. Cao publicly apologizes for any lapse in supervision, but says he is confident about the validity and reproducibility of the work.

December: Rao Yi, a noted neurologist and president of Capital Medical University in Beijing, accuses three of his peers of academic fraud in a letter he drafted that was later leaked. The claims prompt the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the nation's top funder of basic research, to investigate.

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<![CDATA[School nutrition project improves students' physical well-being]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531961.htm While cooking mushrooms and leafy greens on a stovetop, Wu Kejian explained to 50 students attending a catering class how to make a nutritious meal with less oil and salt.

When the mushrooms were tender, he turned off the flame, served the steaming dish and invited students to taste it.

Wu is a cook at the Experimental School Affiliated to Niulanshan First Secondary School in Beijing's Shunyi district. He and four other school cooks have been trained to teach students how to make nutritious dishes at biweekly classes.

The class is part of the Nutrition School project in Shunyi.

With a focus on nutrition education, the project aims to explore new methods that can help students change their eating habits and become healthier.

Zhao Wenhua, a dietitian in charge of the project, said nutrition education focuses on the role of food, knowledge about nutrition and the cultivation of good eating habits in promoting the development and growth of children and adolescents.

The State Council issued a new guideline to implement the Healthy China initiative and promote people's health in July.

With a focus on disease prevention and health promotion, the guideline proposed 15 special campaigns to "intervene in health-influencing factors, protect full-life-cycle health and prevent and control major diseases".

An action plan for 2019-2030, devised by a State Council special committee, was made public in July, specifying the objectives, tasks and responsibilities of each campaign.

Major health concerns, including psychological health, student myopia, childhood obesity and cancer are covered by the campaigns.

Global efforts

Malnutrition, undernutrition and obesity threaten the survival, growth and development of children and young people, according to the State of the World's Children 2019 report released by the United Nations Children's Fund.

According to the report, obesity levels among children and adolescents continue to rise around the globe.

From 2000 to 2016, the proportion of overweight children and youth (aged 5 to 19) rose from one in 10 to almost one in five.

Under the guidance of several national health and disease and control agencies, Shunyi launched the Nutrition School pilot project in 2016.

UNICEF supported the preliminary research work of the project, including through financial and technical support, and promoted obesity intervention.

"The project aims to promote nutrition education and physical activities to prevent children and adolescents from becoming overweight and obese," Zhao said.

As one of the pilot schools of the project, the Experimental School offers the class on nutritional food and runs a "happy farm" for its 3,400 students to experience farming.

Fan Hongyu teaches students how to recognize different vegetable seeds, explains the growth characteristics of plants and guides them on growing herbs and vegetables, including chives and cucumbers.

When the vegetables are harvested, she encourages students to take some home and cook for their parents.

Vice-principal Zhao Jinlong said the school plans to invite vegetable farmers to take students and teachers through the cultivation process step by step. He expects the students will learn about planting knowledge and better appreciate the ups and downs of being a farmer.

To help students become healthier, the school also encourages physical exercise through rope jumping and long-distance running.

The prevention and control of chronic diseases should start with children and should be jointly run by the health and education authorities, according to Li Yindong, head of the Center for Disease Prevention and Control of Shunyi District.

Seeing results

Shao Chunyan, a health educator, said the school plans to assign sports homework during the winter vacation this month. Students will be required to complete a number of daily exercises such as sit-ups and rope skipping, "so we can ensure that students exercise regularly and maintain a healthy lifestyle at home," she said.

To make the campus more supportive of the Nutrition School project, the school has also held plays on nutrition and lectures by nutritionists, and has imparted health tips to students.

The changes are obvious. Fan Hongyu can hardly recognize some of her ninth graders when looking at their old pictures given the dramatic changes in their appearance over the past three years.

One of the boys told her that he was 1.73 meters tall and weighed 90 kilograms in the seventh grade. Now he is 1.78 meters tall and weighs 70 kg.

Since the implementation of the project, the rate of undernutrition among students at the pilot school has dropped by 0.5 percentage points, and the overweight rate and obesity rate dropped by 0.5 and 1.7 percentage points, respectively.

In 2017, the pilot project expanded to seven other districts and counties of seven provincial-level regions including Shandong and Sichuan.

The campaign has brought changes not only to the students but also their parents.

Lyu Yanqiu, mother of seventh grader Zhang Tengyue, said that when she heard of "nutrition education" for the very first time, she thought the program was focused on "appetite" because the two Chinese words are homophones.

After a visit to the school canteen and dining with the students, she said she understands the importance of food nutrition and safety and the need to apply the lessons at home.

Gao Shan, deputy director of the education committee of Shunyi district, noted that tackling students' health-related problems requires concerted efforts by schools, families and society as a whole.

 

 

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<![CDATA[Regulators to improve supervision over TCM]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531960.htm Authorities will step up supervision this year over the quality of traditional Chinese medicine to ensure the quality of the drugs improves, a top health official said on Thursday.

Traditional Chinese medicine regulators across the country will intensify supervision over TCM to be sold at hospitals and clinics, covering the whole chain including purchasing, inspection and storage of the drugs, to prevent fake or substandard medicine being used, said Yu Wenming, head of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

As a major measure to improve quality at the source, the administration will work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to establish 150 production bases for raw materials in their native areas across China and promote standardized production of raw materials such as herbs, he said at a national conference on TCM in Beijing.

The administration will try to work with other government departments to set up a mechanism to jointly supervise enterprises that grow herbs for TCM, and make progress in establishing a tracing system for 50 kinds of raw materials grown in their native places, so the sources and flow of major products can be traceable, and perpetrators involved can be held accountable, Yu said.

TCM produced with raw materials from their native places normally have better medicinal effects.

On Thursday, Ma Xiaowei, minister of the National Health Commission, also urged TCM authorities across China to improve product quality. A multidepartmental cooperative mechanism will be set up for the purpose, he said.

According to a guideline released by the central government last year on promoting the development and innovation of TCM, authorities will establish a trace system that covers production, distribution and use of raw materials and drugs to ensure quality. Local governments should also take more efforts to protect the environment around production areas and to intensify supervision over the use of pesticides and fertilizers, the guideline said.

Wei Feng, a TCM researcher at the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control, said although the general quality of TCM drugs in China has been rising in recent years due to improved supervision, problems still exist such as using raw materials polluted by pesticides or other chemicals, and improper storage, which affect the safety of TCM drugs.

"Ensuring quality and safety of traditional Chinese medicine is of great significance to the sustainable development of the sector, and emphasis should be put on the sources of TCM production," he said.

Yu, head of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, also said on Thursday that TCM will play a more important role in promoting public health in China this year, and a number of measures will be taken to promote TCM among the public so it contributes more to disease prevention, healthcare and treatment of chronic diseases.

 

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<![CDATA[Courts to continue efforts to aid Yangtze]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531959.htm Courts across the country will continue to hand down harsher punishments to enhance legal awareness and improve environmental and ecological protection of the Yangtze River, China's top court pledged on Thursday.

Since 2016, Chinese courts at all levels, especially those in provinces along the river, have intensified criminal penalties for polluters who seriously damage environmental safety and harm people's health, said Jiang Bixin, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court.

Such acts include individuals and enterprises that discharge pollutants into the river's main streams or branches, illegally transfer dangerous objects or illegally mine sand.

"Tougher criminal punishment as a bigger threat to polluters is a key judicial step to implementing requirements for concerted efforts in river protection," he added.

As of December, courts nationwide had heard 42,230 criminal cases relating to the environmental and ecological protection of the river, offering effective legal services for regional sustainable development, according to Wang Xuguang, presiding judge of the court's environment division.

In a case heard by Sucheng District People's Court in Suqian, Jiangsu province, for example, Yao Duoyou was sentenced to five years and six months in prison and fined 100,000 yuan ($14,400) for polluting the environment, a statement from the top court said.

Thirteen others were given fines and sentences ranging from one year with an 18-month reprieve to 42 months, it said.

The Jiangsu court said that Yao illegally opened a company in Zhejiang to provide technological services for environmental protection and, along with the other defendants, poured and discarded a total of 5,540 metric tons of industrial sludge into ponds in Jiangsu.

"The disposal was done without antipollution measures, and they had no permission to transfer the sludge across provincial borders," Wang said.

"The worst was that the sludge contained lots of heavy metals, including mercury, chromium and arsenic, seriously damaging the environment and ecology."

Although courts have helped fight river pollution in recent years, Wang said legal protections should be strengthened.

He suggested government departments play a stronger role in punishing polluters.

He added that those who turn themselves in or repair the polluted areas could be leniently punished.

 

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<![CDATA[Suzhou's opening-up symbolizes start of golden age in new era]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531955.htm Suzhou has long been known globally for its ancient gardens, canals and culture-but today it is increasingly known for its contributions to globalization.

The ancient city that has become a modern metropolis is now poised to play a greater role in the future through a slew of measures to accelerate its opening-up.

At the Conference on Further Opening-up in Suzhou on Jan 3, the city government announced tens of billions of yuan in incentives for investment, talent, innovation and special development.

Suzhou accounts for 0.09 percent of China's land area but contributes 2.1 percent to the country's GDP. The city's GDP was the highest among mainland cities at 1.93 trillion yuan ($278 billion) in 2019.

Suzhou hosts over 300 foreign-funded headquarters, and 156 Fortune 500 companies have invested in more than 400 projects in the city, according to the city government. Foreign investment reached $132 billion last year.

Zhang Fu, operations department plant manager of Carel Electronic (Suzhou) Co, said the wholly foreign owned company decided to enter the Chinese mainland via Suzhou in 2005 because "the business policy for industry is very good. There are many policies that are incentives for industries to work better."

While Suzhou has continued to flourish, it faces challenges such as trade friction. For instance, the city accounts for one-eighth of China's and two-thirds of Jiangsu's trade with the United States.

The Communist Party of China's Jiangsu Provincial Committee specifically called upon Suzhou to set the pace for greater opening-up after President Xi Jinping called for the construction of a new Jiangsu that embodies prosperity, civility and sustainability during a tour of the province in 2014.

It is positioned to not only benefit from but also contribute to the Belt and Road Initiative, the integration of the Yangtze River Delta and coordination along the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

"We need to make sure our mind is freed to the utmost," Suzhou's Party secretary Lan Shaomin said at the conference. "It is necessary for Suzhou to further emancipate the mind, pursue further opening-up and scale new heights. The general requirement is to challenge the ultimate limit and climb the highest peak."

Wang Lianhua, head of overseas investment and operations at Hengtong International Business Group, which was founded in and is headquartered in Suzhou, agreed that attitude is key.

"Opening-up isn't only about the market, about the companies, about your activities," he said.

"It's more about the people of the world. They can learn from and exchange ideas with each other, and basically improve from all these kinds of ... exchanges. I think that's one of the things that helps humans continue to improve."

Hengtong owns 25 percent of the domestic and 15 percent of the international market share in fiber optics, and is a major international player in electricity generation and transmission.

"Being based in Suzhou, we had the advantage of being touched early by opening-up," he said.

"For the Chinese government and the Suzhou local government to accelerate opening-up again sends a kind of message not only to people living in Suzhou but also to everybody who is doing business with Suzhou natives or international people living in Suzhou," Wang said.

"We're talking with each other to send this clear message, which says opening-up is the only way to bring the people together, to work together, to think together and to create the future together."

Indeed, Suzhou's enhanced opening-up seems set to usher in a golden age in the new year, in the new decade and in the new era.

 

 

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<![CDATA[Iron painting is reshaped for a new era]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531946.htm HEFEI-As Xu Gang lays an iron rod on an electric welding machine, the high temperature instantly reddens and softens it.

He immediately bends the rod and shapes it with a hammer. Soon, an iron crane takes form.

Xu is an "iron painter" in the city of Wuhu, Anhui province. The city has abundant iron mines, and iron painting became an important part of local art thanks to advanced metal refining skills in ancient China and the emphasis on traditional culture.

"I have been in this business for 30 years," Xu said. "It's a difficult job, but I love it."

Recently, Xu's iron paintings stole the spotlight at the Jiuzi Old Town in Wuhu last month, when the expanded tourist attraction officially opened to the public as part of the local government's attempts to promote the province's cultural heritage.

An ironman

Wuhu iron paintings took shape at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Artists use hammers, tongs, iron blades and rods to create a variety of shapes and forms. China listed the craftsmanship as a national intangible cultural heritage in 2006.

The iron paintings draw inspiration from traditional Chinese brush paintings, but the delicate ironwork replaces the brush strokes. They mostly depict mountains, water, plants and birds, and exude elegance and charm.

Before Xu became an iron painter, he was an ordinary, skilled worker at an iron plant in Wuhu.

"Although I was working at the iron plant, my heart yearned for iron paintings," he said.

In Wuhu, there were already workshops specializing in iron paintings, and Xu made up his mind to learn the art.

"The lessons were basically one-on-one," Xu recalled. "There was no systematic way of teaching, so we had to follow our masters very carefully."

To craft a good painting, it is important to understand the delicate strength when making the curves of iron.

"Every detail requires extra attention," he said.

At first, Xu did not master the techniques, and his failures often frustrated him. However, he would spend hours learning until he owned the skills.

"It was boring. We mainly spent our time pounding the iron rods to learn about precision," he recalled. "I needed to make sure that every blow pounded the thin iron wires."

Xu said he would beat the rods thousands of times a day. The practice lasted a month, before he started working on entire paintings. "Because there were sparks everywhere, it was normal to get burned," Xu said. "It was tiring, but I am glad I made it."

Xu said iron painters often have burns on their hands, and the fingerprints on their thumbs, index and middle fingers because they are constantly bending the iron wires with their hands.

Solid career

Making the paintings requires eight complicated procedures, Xu said.

"We need to have a picture first, fire the furnaces, and bend the iron rods into the shapes and add lacquer and color," he said.

"Works like the crane I can swiftly create because I have done it so many times."

But for tailor-made products, it usually takes more time and energy."There are no two identical iron paintings in the world," he said. "Every painting is unique."

Xu said that the majority of iron paintings are not adorned with colors these days because "the black color perfectly represents the styles of Chinese calligraphy and brush paintings."

The intricacies involved in the craft have scared away many young people from learning the craftsmanship.

"You need to have a deep understanding of iron paintings and work really hard," he said.

In 2017, the Wuhu government issued a regulation to protect iron painting. It encouraged colleges and vocational schools in the city to set up courses to produce artists in the field.

Xu said he is working with universities to increase the art's influence among young people.

"I often invite students to come over to visit, and we communicate," Xu said."I want them to appreciate the essence of the art."

Visitors watch a demonstration of Wuhu iron painting at an exhibition in Hefei, Anhui province, in 2017. HU WEIGUO/FOR CHINA DAILY
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<![CDATA[Ministry helps protect traditional cultural heritages]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531938.htm Having long been concerned about the future of raolongdeng-or Pudong Dragon Dance, an intangible cultural heritage-72-year-old master Lu Dajie has finally obtained a sense of relief now that an organization has been designated to protect it.

On Nov 29, Shanghai Pudong New Area Sanlin Town Cultural Service Center was assigned as the protection and promotion organization of raolongdeng by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism.

Together with raolongdeng, a total of 55 intangible cultural heritages-including Shanghai proverbs, Shanghai opera, Shanghai festive lanterns and Shanghai paper-cutting-will be protected by 63 local departments and organizations, according to a list compiled by the ministry.

"The list defines the responsibility of project protection and improves management mechanisms including support, supervision and exit," said Zhang Liming, office director of Shanghai Intangible Cultural Heritage Center. "It somewhat helps solve the deep-rooted problems for intangible cultural heritage protection."

Lu, who is also the founder of Sanlin Dragon Dance Team, said he feels more confident about the cultural heritage with the organization as its protector.

The dragon dance first appeared 2,000 years ago as a ceremony for sacrifice when people prayed for rain and good fortune.

But over the years it has been used for various purposes, including celebrating festivals, foundation construction ceremonies and the grand opening of new stores. Since 1995, it has also been included in sports competitions, according to Lu.

"In recent years, the dragon dance has entered into the army, communities and campuses, which means the intangible cultural heritage is still alive," he said."Some schools began to enroll the students who were good at it, and about 300 to 400 universities have set related courses."

Moreover, Shanghai has more than 10 dragon dance competitions at different levels.

Exhibitions, exchange performances and folk culture festivals have been organized regularly, according to Lu.

"With so many people caring about it, I believe it will survive and continue to be developed," said Lu.

Xi Xiaoqin, a Shanghai paper-cutting master, expressed the same thought.

"The original characteristics of paper-cutting should be preserved," Xi said. "This is part of the history and foundation of Shanghai, and as long as it is conducive to the inheritance and the development of the intangible cultural heritage, I will strive to preserve it."

Born in 1956, Xi has already retired. But as the master of a traditional culture, the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum rehired her to promote the art.

Founded in 1956 as the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Research Office, the museum used to sell items to foreign guests.

With the transformation of national arts and crafts research institutes from public institutions to enterprises, there has been a severe talent drain, according to Xi.

"A group of senior artists retired, the young artists chose to go abroad or change careers. The popular traditional culture such as boxwood, bamboo, ivory and porcelain carving disappeared from the institute one by one," Xi said.

After 2000, the nation recognized the problem and the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum officially opened in 2002 to help restore the traditional crafts.

Now, teaching paper-cutting is Xi's most important task and she gives paper-cutting lectures in many colleges, including Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts and Shanghai Art & Design Academy.

"The overall situation has been improved," Xi said.

 

 

 

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<![CDATA[Punishments need to be much tougher]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531937.htm In recent years, China has paid more attention to improving research integrity and optimizing our institutions and mechanisms for dealing with related issues.

The purpose of upholding research integrity is not to police scientists, but to efficiently generate accurate and reliable knowledge that can be used to benefit society. After all, the skyscraper of science is built on the foundations of sound knowledge. If the knowledge is false, then the whole building could fall apart.

Thus, research integrity plays a pivotal role in quality control by ensuring that research work is done properly and the knowledge produced is of high quality. Moreover, research integrity is a complex issue that mixes social morality, scientific institutions, public policy, governance and other factors, so it deserves deeper examination.

For example, much scientific research requires government funding and support. Therefore, research integrity has become a branch of public management, and the government has an incentive to ensure a high degree of integrity so money is spent well and the research is conducted efficiently.

Definitions of academic misconduct differ widely from country to country, but some have argued that in addition to the "three cardinal sins"-plagiarism, fabrication and falsification-actions that seriously deviate from the common consensus should also be regarded as misconduct.

For example, in Denmark, the illegal transfer of authorship, inappropriate applications for funding and selectively disclosing or hiding research results are considered to be academic misconduct. In Australia, violations of bioethics in research are now starting to be listed as academic misconduct.

In China, the development of research integrity faces new challenges; one of them is the proliferation of third-party paid services in the research process, such as ghostwriting, translating and faking peer reviews. The mass retractions of Chinese scientific papers in 2015 and 2017 were largely due to this factor.

Another issue is that the punishments are mostly administrative penalties, such as revoking funding and positions.

There are no relevant laws or criminal charges to tackle those who violate academic integrity, so the cost of violation remains low.

What we should do is let the scientific community become the key judge and auditor of academic research, and change the status quo of overemphasizing tangible and quantitative indicators, such as the number of titles or published works, for the evaluation and promotion of scientists.

Second, the government should play a bigger role in establishing a strict legal and regulatory system to combat academic misconduct. It doesn't need to get directly involved in reviewing academic work, but it should supervise the scientific community and optimize the public governance system related to research integrity.

Li Zhengfeng spoke with Zhang Zhihao.

]]> 2020-01-12 09:14:05 <![CDATA[Land placed in zone for protection of environment]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531927.htm The Tibet autonomous region listed nearly half its land area under the strictest ecological supervision in 2019, according to the ongoing regional people's congress that kicked off on Tuesday.

In 2019, the region spent 9.77 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) on various types of ecological compensation and subsidies. It also designated 17 counties, 213 towns and 2,373 villages as key security barrier areas for strict ecological supervision.

Dubbed the "roof of the world", "the Earth's third pole" and "the water tower of Asia", Tibet remains beautiful and harmonious, Qizhala, chairman of the regional government, said in his government work report on Tuesday.

"Tibet is one of the regions in the world with the best environmental quality," he said.

According to the government work report, 99 percent of the days in 2019 were classified as "good" in terms of air quality, up from 98.2 percent in 2018 in the region's cities and prefectures, and the region's surface water qualification rate was 100 percent in 2019.

There was a 20-percent growth of investment in ecological protection in 2019. In addition, more than 86,600 hectares of forest coverage was added, and 4,058 people moved out of extremely high altitude areas in 2019.

Qizhala said this year the region will continue efforts to build a beautiful Tibet. It will also better perform various eco-protection regulations and strengthen the work of ecological protection and restoration.

These works include the ecological protection of mountains, rivers, forests, wetlands, fields and grasslands.

"The year 2020 is the final year of the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20). Tibet will make sure all major ecological protection tasks meet the targets," Qizhala said.

Tashi, a villager from the region's Drongba county and a deputy of the region's people's congress attending the ongoing session, said 21 out of 45 families in the village work as ecological protection patrollers, and 30 people from these families each received 3,500 yuan as a subsidy.

"Ten families of the 21 families hired as patrollers were from poverty-stricken families. They benefited from receiving extra income, and the environment gets better protection in this smart way," said Tashi, 66.

He said the work of these ecological patrollers includes the protection of wildlife, grasslands, wetlands, rivers and lakes.

With an average altitude topping 4,500 meters above sea level, the village is located on a remote mountain and grassland area, where villagers rely on herding yaks and sheep as a main source of income.

"Together with the government's efforts in ecological conservation, we feel the environmental condition is getting better, and we see the number of brown bears increasing as they frequently appear in the village," Tashi said.

"I think the number of wild yaks has been increasing in recent years as well. I could not see them near our village decades ago. However, now they always visit villagers' yak herds, or we see them wandering near the village."

 

 

 

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2020-01-12 09:14:05
<![CDATA[Researcher assisted on 1st nuclear submarine]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/11/content_37532061.htm When Huang Xuhua was selected to join the research team designing China's first nuclear submarine at the age of 32 in 1958, his director had a talk with him and made three things very clear.

One, "you are selected because the Party and the country trust you". Two, "this job is highly confidential. Once you enter this field of work, you won't be able to get out, even if you make mistakes". Three, "you will be unknown forever".

For the next three decades, Huang remained incognito and never returned home.

It was not until 1987, when a Shanghai magazine published a story about the life of the chief designer of China's first generation of nuclear submarines, that even his family name was mentioned publicly.

At the time, Huang never thought about being known to the public, let alone standing under the spotlight one day in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and receiving the country's top science and technology award from the president.

Huang was born in 1926 in Guangdong province and graduated in 1949 from Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a degree in shipbuilding studies. The project to develop China's first nuclear-powered submarine was launched in 1958 and Huang was selected as one of the 29 researchers on the team.

However, China lacked the basic conditions to develop the submarine at that time. Huang said none of the 29 researchers had any knowledge in that field, and since other countries were extremely protective of such technologies, they barely had any technical reference materials.

To bolster the country's national defense capability and break the monopoly on nuclear submarine technology held by the United States and the Soviet Union, Chairman Mao Zedong urged China to develop its own vessels, even if "it would take 10,000 years".

Huang and his colleagues started by scouring newspapers and magazines for information.

"It was extremely difficult to find a little piece of information," he said. "The information was either too fragmented or hard to tell whether it was true or false."

They finally came up with five plans after piecing together all the information they found and carefully analyzing and studying two US submarine models.

"We believed the complex cutting-edge technologies were still based on basic knowledge," Huang said.

The team members didn't have any computers or digital calculators, so they used abacuses and rulers to solve problems. To ensure accurate calculation results, they were divided into three groups to do the math at the same time and would recalculate if the three values reached were not the same.

Their work continued, even when the project was suspended from 1962 to 1965, when China endured economic difficulties.

In 1970, China's first nuclear attack submarine underwent maritime tests. Named Long March No 1, it entered Navy service in 1974, making China the fifth nation to have a nuclear submarine.

In 1988, the vessel was ready for its initial dive test, a very dangerous task that had led to the sinking of the US sub Thresher in 1963 with all the crew in one of the deadliest submarine disasters in history.

Although the research team, the Chinese sub's manufacturer and the Navy overhauled all equipment and prepared comprehensive emergency plans for all operating systems and devices, many personnel still wrote farewell letters in the event of their deaths.

Under those circumstances, Huang, 62, decided to go onboard and participate in the test himself.

"As its chief designer, my feeling for the sub is like a father to his child. I not only love it, but also have full confidence in its quality," he told the crew."Plus I can assist the captain in time should any problem occur."

The sub reached its depth limit and Huang became the first chief designer in the world to be onboard a sub for its test dive.

Huang also directed the upgrading of the first-generation of nuclear submarines, greatly improving the vessels' combat capability, organized advance research and provided constructive suggestions on new generations of subs. He still goes to the research institute to work and chat with young researchers.

"I'm positioning myself as a cheerleader now," Huang said."I wave the flags, give cheers and support our younger scientists. When necessary, I can be their coach to offer some guidance."

Huang said he summarized his life in two words: obsession and joy.

"I have been madly obsessed with nuclear submarines in my life. It was my lifetime aspiration, with no regrets. And no matter how hard the life and work are, there is joy in pain," he said.

"Scientific research is boring, but it has infinite charm in the pursuit of truth and the unknown. There is endless joy once you can make a breakthrough."

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2020-01-11 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tech awards handed out to top scientists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/11/content_37532032.htm The winners of the 2019 National Science and Technology Awards featured younger scientists and more breakthroughs in science and technology that support green development in China and the world.

The State Preeminent Science and Technology Award, the top scientific honor, was granted to two researchers: one on nuclear submarine design and the other for meteorological studies.

The first prize winner of the State Natural Science Award, the nation's highest accolade for basic research, went to Zhou Qilin and his team at Nankai University for discovering a class of advanced catalyst called "chiral spiro catalysts" that can speed up molecular creation for products ranging from chemical materials to new drugs.

Material sciences, the chemical industry, construction, mechanical and agricultural engineering, pollution monitoring, environmental protection and other fields that support green and sustainable development are among some of the biggest winners this year, according to the National Office for Science and Technology Awards.

The overall age of the award winners this year is also younger at 44.6 years of age, two years lower than the prior year, according to the office data.

More than 60 percent of all winners are below age 45, meaning young scientists are starting to play a major role in spearheading breakthroughs in China's basic research, the office said, adding some of the methods and products emerging from such research even have global appeal.

Li Jinmin, a researcher from the Institute of Semiconductors of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said his work focused on improving the efficiency and life expectancy of LEDs, one of the most commonly used sources of light in the world.

"The incandescent light bulb lit up the 20th century, and LEDs will light up the 21st century," he said.

LEDs use less energy, last significantly longer, and produce greater brightness compared to compact fluorescent and incandescent bulbs, thus it has played a crucial role in cutting electricity costs for homes and cities across the globe, he added.

Given its significance, the 2014 Nobel Prize in physics went to three Japanese scientists who developed blue LEDs in the early 1990s, which led to the creation of the white-light LED bulbs we use today.

Li said his research focused on making LEDs brighter, longer-lasting, and cheaper to produce.

His work received the first prize in the 2019 State Scientific and Technological Progress Award for transforming China into a global LED producer and bolstering the nation's own LED industry, which was valued at over 730 billion yuan ($105 billion) in 2018, according to Common Sense Advisory, a global market research firm.

Another example is Wang Jing, a researcher from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, whose team invented new ways to efficiently detect toxic chemical residues on farm produce.

Her testing methods are currently being used in over 3,000 companies in China whose products have been sold in 21 countries around the globe.

For her contribution in ensuring food safety in China and international trade, she was awarded the second prize of the State Technology Innovation Award.

"If we can efficiently identify the toxic materials in our produce, we can effectively supervise the quality of our product and ensure the health of our consumers," she said.

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2020-01-11 00:00:00
<![CDATA[New coronavirus is linked to outbreak]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531951.htm The mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has sickened about six dozen people in central China is linked to a new strain of coronavirus, Chinese researchers said on Thursday, adding that more investigation is required to unravel the novel strain.

Coronavirus represents a large family of viruses whose impact on people ranges from mild common cold to life-threatening respiratory conditions.

So far, six types of coronavirus are known to be able to infect people, including severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS.

The outbreak of the mysterious pneumonia emerged in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Dec 12.

As of Sunday, 59 cases had been confirmed, with seven patients in critical condition, according to the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission.

Fifteen patients have tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus, and researchers have obtained its full genome sequence based on a sample isolated from one patient, according to Xu Jianguo, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering who is leading an expert team on pathogen detection.

He said more analysis and research are needed on the virus following the preliminary result.

The World Health Organization, which is closely monitoring the outbreak, also said on Thursday that further investigations will be devoted to determining the source of the virus, its mode of transmission and extent of infection, as well as what countermeasures should be taken to curb its spread.

"As surveillance improves, more coronaviruses are likely to be identified," the WHO said.

According to Xu, it will take weeks to isolate the virus from those infected and determine how it attacks human bodies.

"To create a drug targeting the virus or a vaccine is likely to take years," he added.

According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, six types of coronavirus have been identified, including SARS, which killed 774 people during an outbreak from late 2002 to 2003, and the Middle East respiratory syndrome that has claimed 851 lives since 2012.

Both of the fatal viral infections had already been ruled out by researchers as the cause of the cluster of pneumonia cases in Wuhan last week, as well as bird flu, adenovirus infection and influenza.

The remaining four members of the coronavirus family make up 10 to 30 percent of upper respiratory infections worldwide.

In most cases, these viral infections will lead to mild symptoms such as headache, fever and sore throat, the center said.

In Wuhan, health authorities have put 163 people who had close contact with the infected people under medical observation, and efforts to trace others who might have been exposed to the virus are ongoing.

On Wednesday, eight hospitalized patients were discharged from the hospital after showing no fever or other symptoms of pneumonia for several days, according to a China Central Television report.

On Jan 1, a local seafood market in Wuhan where some patients worked was temporarily shut down and thoroughly disinfected.

 

 

 

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2020-01-10 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China, Japan jointly save crested ibis]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531977.htm XI'AN-The crested ibis, an endangered bird once thought to be extinct, is thriving thanks to decades of joint cooperation between China and Japan.

The "Oriental Gem", with its iconic red crest and long black beak, was believed to be extinct in China until seven wild birds were observed by Chinese ornithologist Liu Yinzeng and his research team in 1981 in Yangxian county, Shaanxi province.

"We felt both excited and pressured after the discovery," said Lu Baozhong, then head of the crested ibis protection team. "Team members safeguarded the birds 24 hours a day, spreading butter on trees and installing protective devices to deal with their natural enemies such as snakes."

One of the oldest bird species in the world, the crested ibis population has been increasing under joint protection efforts between China and Japan. China started captive breeding of crested ibises in 1991, producing more than 400 birds in Shaanxi and expanding their habitats. China now has over 3,000 crested ibises.

China donated five crested ibises to help rebuild the species in Japan in the 1990s, while Japan has been supporting the protection of the crested ibis habitat in China.

As an iconic bird deeply rooted in Japanese history and culture, the crested ibis decreased in number last century and Japanese-born ibises became extinct in 2003. The crested ibises in Japan today now number more than 500 and are all descendants of those from China.

"Crested ibises have become a bridge of friendship between China and Japan, and we hope there will be more of such exchanges in the future," said Yoshinori Kaneko, a vet at the Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center.

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2020-01-10 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Chongqing balances economic, green efforts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531793.htm A BASF safety helmet was presented to Li Dianxun, vice-mayor of Chongqing, on Sept 15, 2018, by BASF SE Asia-Pacific, a German chemical company.

The helmet was presented by Sanjeev Gandhi, a member of BASF's board of directors, during a meeting of the Chongqing Mayor's International Advisory Council in recognition of the company's 5 million safe working hours during the production of methylene diphenyl diisocyanate, or MDI, at the BASF facility in Chongqing.

MDI is an important component of polyurethane, a plastic material that contributes to improved insulation, which helps save energy in buildings, and provides lighter materials for cars.

The chemical company's 8 billion yuan ($114 million) project is one example of local government efforts to balance economic development and environmental protection.

BASF's Chongqing facility, located in Changshou district, is about 60 kilometers east of the city's downtown and on the northern bank of the Yangtze River, which provides water to more than 400 million people.

It has drawn a lot of attention since it cleared China's environmental impact assessment in 2009. BASF started its MDI production at the Chongqing facility in 2015.

Changshou, which means "longevity" in Chinese, has been a chemical manufacturing hub since the 1950s, thanks to its ample water resources and natural gas reserves. Its economic zone and technological area has attracted chemical giants, including BASF, BP and Sinopec.

Ecological and environmental issues have always been priorities in the district because they are critical and sensitive, said Zhao Shiqing, head of Changshou.

"We have invested over 10 billion yuan to build the environment risk control system in the industrial zone," Zhao said. "So far, there has been no major environmental emergency in many years."

The Yangtze, the third-longest river in the world, flows 6,300 kilometers from glaciers in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau through Chongqing, Wuhan of Hubei province and Nanjing of Jiangsu province, before reaching the East China Sea in Shanghai.

But the river has been facing severe environmental challenges after years of exploitation.

Roughly 691 km of the river run through Chongqing, leading the city to concentrate on ecological restoration and protection and avoid large-scale development, especially after President Xi Jinping's inspection tour of the city in January 2016.

Xi had urged the municipality to become a "pleasant place with clear water and green mountains".

In order to restore water quality, Chongqing's environment authorities banned new chemical projects within 1 km of the major branches of the Yangtze and within 5 km of new industrial parks.

In the Changshou economic and technological area, a closed circuit television camera network monitors every vehicle and production area. Five sewage treatment plants, along with a main sewer pipeline measuring more than a 60 km, collect all wastewater, according to Zhao.

"We have built a five-level water pollution risk control system and online monitoring system to ensure no untreated industrial sewage flows into the Yangtze," he said.

In addition, the area's 24-hour all-weather emergency response center connects with the local police and fire departments as well as the medical emergency system and environmental protection hotline to give immediate notice if any accident occurs.

Thanks to its green development strategy, Changshou has achieved high-quality economic development with an 18 percent reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP in the past two years, Zhao added.

In the future, Chongqing will try to become part of the pilot program for becoming a zero waste city, according to Xin Shijie, director of Chongqing ecology and environment bureau.

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[12 in pyramid scheme sentenced, fined]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531799.htm Shu Yuhui, founder of a Tianjin-based health product manufacturer, was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Tianjin court on Wednesday for organizing and leading a pyramid scheme.

The Tianjin Wuqing District People's Court also fined Shu, 51, chairman of Quanjian Nature Medicine Technology Development Co, 50 million yuan ($7.2 million).

Eleven others who participated in the pyramid scheme were convicted of the same charge, and given fines and sentences ranging from three to six years in prison.

The company was fined 100 million yuan, and all illicit money gained was confiscated.

Since 2007, the company had lured people to buy its products at very high prices, and then ordered them to recruit more buyers in exchange for rewards from the company, the court said, identifying it as a serious pyramid scheme.

In handing down the sentences, the court recognized that all of the defendants pleaded guilty, and some of them, including Shu, turned themselves in. Some of the company's illicit gains had been confiscated.

Quanjian's scandal drew public attention on Dec 25, 2018, when popular healthcare information sharing platform, Dingxiang Doctor, claimed in an article that the company made huge profits by misleading consumers.

The article cited Zhou Erli, who said his daughter got a tumor at the base of her tailbone at the age of 4 in 2012 and died in December 2015 after he stopped her hospital treatment. Zhou had decided to have his daughter take Quanjian's herbal products, which were advertised as cancer cures.

In January last year, Shu was detained and the case was publicly heard at the court on Dec 16.

Zhou told Beijing News on Wednesday after he learned of the sentences that he regretted easily trusting the company, which aggravated his daughter's disease.

He said he hopes parents of children suffering from similar illness will not be defrauded by such makers of health products.

Ruan Chuansheng, a law professor at Shanghai Administration Institute, said the pyramid scheme not only cheated people out of money but also disturbed the country's economic order.

"The case related to people's lives, so publicly hearing it and announcing the verdict, I think, is the best way to show the authority of justice on such an issue," he added.

 

Shu Yuhui

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Last year's highlights]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531845.htm January: The government orders courts to improve the quality of legal services and offer quick and efficient services for litigants. It also requires courts to establish a cross-regional case-filing system and improve efforts in mediation.

March: In a work report, the Supreme People's Court says it has decided to intensify efforts to build systems that will help litigants file cases online or through self-service platforms, and diversify dispute resolutions.

July: The SPC begins a pilot program on cross-regional case filing in some provinces. This means litigants can file a case at the court nearest their home, even if that court has no right or jurisdiction to hear it.

August: The top court issues a guideline on establishing "one-stop" legal service centers and helping litigants resolve disputes in diverse ways.

December: The SPC announces the success of the pilot program, adding that the cross-jurisdiction case-filing system has been extended to all courts nationwide.

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Smart courts ease access to legal services]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531837.htm Editor's note: This is the second in a series looking back at some of the most important, timely or unusual stories covered by China Daily's reporters last year.

On Nov 14, three university students wrote and submitted a civil complaint asking for compensation from an errant driver, just two days after they had been involved in a traffic accident in Beijing's Changping district.

Having collided with the students' car, the driver fled the scene, so they needed to locate him to claim the compensation.

The process was completed successfully and promptly, even though the women had no legal background and were unfamiliar with judicial documents.

"I never thought initiating a lawsuit would be so easy; it is all thanks to a self-service machine in the district people's court in Beijing that helps people write civil complaints," said one of the litigants, identified only as Liang.

When she and her classmates arrived at the court's litigation and legal service center, the machine provided a list of questions about the accident. After the students had answered the questions, a complaint was generated automatically and their case was filed by the court.

On Dec 6, the case was concluded through mediation, and the women received compensation.

"The legal services offered by the smart machine lowered our litigation costs, and we had no need to hire a lawyer to solve the problem. It was so convenient, especially for people like us, with little legal knowledge," Liang said.

Last year, the machines, which help write legal documents as part of "one-stop" services to provide easier access to litigation, were introduced in courts across the capital. Later, their use was gradually extended to tribunals nationwide.

"Building and improving the one-stop litigation service center was our priority last year. It is intended to help local people obtain as many litigation-related services as possible at one time when they come to a court, including filing cases, researching the law and drafting legal documents," said Zhang Zhifu, a judicial official at Haidian District People's Court.

In August, the Supreme People's Court, the nation's top court, issued a guideline that ordered tribunals at all levels to strengthen adoption of the internet and related technologies in each step of the litigation process. The move was intended to further improve judicial efficiency and to end disputes quickly via a wider range of resolutions.

"That is to say, people not only enjoy litigation-related services in the court, but can also obtain mediation or arbitration at the same time. They decide the way they want to deal with their problem and we integrate the legal services into one platform to help them resolve the dispute easily and effectively," Zhang said.

"In short, all-in-one legal service centers are being established in more courts."

Surging workload

Yang Yan, chief judge with the case-filing division at Beijing High People's Court, welcomed the introduction of one-stop services and diversified dispute resolutions, as they are helping to alleviate the burden on judges at a time when they are drowning in a rising flood of cases.

Statistics from Beijing High People's Court show that fewer than 3,000 judges in the capital resolved more than 998,000 cases in 2018, while the average number of cases solved by each judge rose to 357 from 257 in 2017.

The number of disputes is still surging as a result of rapid economic development and people's growing legal awareness. From January to August last year, 745,244 cases were filed with Beijing's courts, about 80,000 more than during the same period in 2018, the statistics showed.

"We have taken measures, such as the adoption of technologies, to intensify the efficiency of litigation, as well as guiding or encouraging people to end cases through diversified resolutions," Yang said, referring to the rapid growth in the number of disputes and the corresponding increase in hearings.

Haidian District People's Court deals with more than 100,000 cases a year. Local residents can obtain a wealth of legal services at the court's one-stop litigation service center, such as one-on-one consultations with lawyers, assistance with legal matters, help with writing and researching judicial documents, and case analysis to help them decide the best way to handle their dispute, according to Zhang.

To ensure efficient services, the court cooperated with four universities, including China University of Political Science and Law and Renmin University of China, and dispatched law school students as volunteers to share their knowledge and offer legal assistance to litigants.

"By providing supplementary knowledge, the volunteers can help our judges satisfy people's growing demand for simple legal services," Zhang said. "Meanwhile, the students can also guide some older people to better use the technology available at the center."

In addition, litigants who find it difficult to attend court can complete the legal process, such as filing cases, via the tribunal's online platforms, like its website and WeChat account.

"These online services prevent litigants' questions from being overlooked when the judges are busy hearing other disputes," Zhang said.

Last year, more than 13,000 cases were filed through the online platforms, and over 4,000 of them came via the court's WeChat account, he added.

Mediation

According to Yang, from Beijing High People's Court, while litigation is now more easily accessible, a large number of disputes have been resolved through mediation or arbitration services provided by the courts.

From January to August last year, 203,472 disputes were resolved through mediation in the capital's courts, a rise of 47 percent year-on-year, Yang said.

"Most of the cases were simple, with clear facts and sufficient evidence, so they didn't need to be resolved via time-consuming, costly, litigation," she said. "We must focus on helping people find the best way to end disputes."

Zhang agreed with that sentiment. In addition to mediation during hearings, his court has turned to 177 external mediators and eight mediation institutions, all of which are experts in the fields related to specific disputes.

"Some are legislators and political advisers who are good at solving family and inheritance disputes brought by community committees, while others are specialists from health associations and internet companies, who have deep knowledge of medical disputes and intellectual property," Zhang said.

Diverse resolutions

He added that the external mediators assist the court, and their professional services have accelerated dispute resolution.

Yang said that thanks to the non-litigation services, "judges have more time to deal with complicated disputes and study the laws to improve the quality of case hearings and further promote the rule of law".

Since August, many courts outside of Beijing have taken action to diversify dispute resolutions and ease access to litigation-related services.

Last year, mediation associations in Fujian province helped conclude about 119,000 disputes, while some 38,000 cases were resolved before their trial date, according to a report in People's Court Daily, the top court's official newspaper, last month.

From January to October, some 156,000 cases heard in provincial courts were ended by mediation or were concluded after litigants withdrew their lawsuits, a rise of 5.1 percent year-on-year, the paper said.

Zhang, from the court in Haidian, said many more improvements can be made, even though there have been a number of achievements in judicial efficiency and more cases have been resolved in diverse legal ways.

Most of the cases filed online are brought by representatives of internet and technology companies, "because lots of litigants, especially older ones, have insufficient trust in the online services", he said, adding that many people prefer to settle disputes via face-to-face discussions with judges.

Therefore, to further improve ease of access to litigation, it is essential to deepen people's trust so they will understand that the legal services provided online are the same as those offered in courts, he added.

He suggested that the internet software or technologies applied in building smart courts should be unified and updated promptly to ensure that the legal data and services they provide are accurate and of the highest quality.

 

A robot that provides automatic legal advise attracts media attention in Beijing in 2018. CAO LU/XINHUA

 

 

 

]]> 2020-01-09 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Official says earthquake reports were issued faster, more accurately in 2019]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531836.htm China was quicker and more accurate when issuing earthquake reports in 2019, a senior emergency management official said.

On average, it took 9 minutes and 32 seconds for the administration to issue official earthquake information last year, 88 seconds faster than the previous year, Zheng Guoguang, head of the administration, told his colleagues at an annual work conference on Tuesday.

As for automatic issuing of the information, it took an average of 1 minute and 51 seconds, 22 seconds less than in 2018. The administration also managed to make reports of magnitude 22 percent more accurate, added Zheng, who is also vice-minister of emergency management.

In addition to improving its capabilities, the China Earthquake Administration will also continue to enhance earthquake monitoring and rescue capabilities in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

However, Zheng noted the uneven distribution of the country's earthquake monitoring stations.

Currently, there are fewer monitoring stations in western parts of the country, which are prone to tremors. Many monitoring stations have not been well maintained or calibrated since they were installed, and almost half the devices in use have been in operation for over 10 years, he added.

He vowed to roll out a national plan for station construction and upgrading.

"We have drafted a plan in accordance with locations of seismic zones and hope to distribute monitoring stations more properly," he said, adding that 100 stations across the country had been upgraded according to national standards in 2019.

According to the administration, it has selected construction sites for 72 monitoring stations in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and completed the construction of 11 test stations in extremely cold areas of high altitude in 2019.

Zheng said the administration has helped Nepal and Laos each build up a network of monitoring stations, and it will help more countries, including Myanmar and Bangladesh, with network construction, he said.

He also said an international training center is expected to be completed this year in Xinjiang to help central Asian countries enhance their rescue capabilities.

China was stricken by 30 earthquakes above magnitude 5 last year, claiming 19 lives and injuring more than 400. Twenty of the tremors occurred in the mainland region, four less than the yearly average, according to the administration.

In Southwest China's quake-prone region, five earthquakes of magnitude 5 and one of magnitude 6 occurred in Sichuan province past year, but no earthquakes of such levels took place in Yunnan, which has not seen earthquakes above magnitude 6 since 2014.

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[No issue is too trivial for our officials' attention]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531835.htm My major task every day is to offer legal services to litigants who come to our court, including filing cases and collecting related material. Sometimes, I help the judges mediate in disputes.

I feel a great sense of achievement when providing this assistance, even though some people think such tasks are not as important as case hearings or even regard them as trivial.

Last year, a litigant, a man in his 60s, impressed me a lot. He was agitated when he arrived at our court in Fengtai district. When I learned he had traveled from the city's outskirts, about 80 kilometers, to initiate a lawsuit that he hoped would prevent his house being demolished, I brought him a bottle of water and started a simple conversation to help him relax.

He looked so anxious when he told me that the large amount of money he had spent on hiring two lawyers had not led to a resolution of the dispute. I could feel his helplessness.

I discovered that his document was lacking crucial aspects of the case, so I helped him revise it and told him about materials he should prepare for the ensuing legal process.

I also demonstrated our online legal services. I showed him that materials or evidence could be submitted via his smartphone and that judges could also be contacted in this way at appropriate times.

I suggested that his children could help him use the online services if he had any difficulties. He agreed, knowing that it would save him a lot of time and reduce his travel costs.

Sometimes, I work with judges to mediate in simple cases before trial. Timely mediation is often the best way to minimize losses-in terms of money and time-for people or companies involved in disputes.

However, if someone persists with litigation, I'll respect his or her choice and help them file a case.

I graduated from China University of Political Science and Law, and began my court career in 2017. Initially, I traveled across the country dealing with cases related to ruling enforcement.

Early last year, I was transferred to the case-filing division, so I make fewer business trips.

However, I have never thought that providing services is a trivial matter. Instead, I often compare it to a court's name card that can help people better understand judicial affairs.

The better we serve litigants, the more effectively we can uphold justice and improve judicial credibility.

Xu Yuxiang spoke with Cao Yin.

 

Xu Yuxiang, 28, judge's assistant at Beijing No 4 Intermediate People's Court.

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Fishing town cashes in on first rays of New Year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531833.htm HANGZHOU-The sun finally emerged from the horizon off the coast near Shitang township in Zhejiang province, greeting the Chinese mainland on the first day of the New Year.

Shitang became an instant hit 20 years ago when the mainland's first rays of sunshine in the new millennium hit the town.

Before then, Shitang was a tiny and little-known fishing town, with stone houses facing the East China Sea that have stood in the wind and rain for thousands of years.

The town's overnight fame brought with it enormous business opportunities.

In 1999, the city of Wenling, which administers the town, only received 556,000 domestic and foreign tourists with a revenue of just 334 million yuan ($47.8 million).

But in 2000, thanks to the sun, Wenling received 1.03 million tourists.

Since then, the "sunshine economy" has become an engine of Wenling's tourism. From 2001 to 2018, the number of tourists to Wenling continued to grow at an average annual rate of over 20 percent.

In 2018, it received 18.9 million tourists with total tourism revenue of 20.76 billion yuan.

The once trash-filled beach has been transformed into a spotless stretch ideal for sun viewing, with trails stretching along the sea and recreational facilities everywhere.

Shitang was once known as a "vacant village" as fishermen usually stayed out at sea for several months on end, leaving behind an unattended village.

However, incoming tourists have brought tremendous changes as the local government has increased investment and strengthened management.

Stone houses decorated with carved granite windows have been erected, and the clean bay and sea fascinate tourists.

Staying on

Chen Bin, 46, was among the first arrivals to strike gold. He visited Shitang in 2014, and decided to stay and operate a homestay.

There were 19 homestays as of 2017, and the number rose to 39 within a year.

Yang Biao, 56, used to be a fisherman like his father and grandfather. But he gave up his fishing boat and started a hospitality business in 2016.

"Fishing is dangerous and tough. Some of my neighbors even lost their lives. I felt bad and wanted a safe, stable life," he said. "I used to live on the untamed sea. Now I rely on the sunshine."

All of his rooms for the last day of 2019 and the upcoming Chinese New Year are booked out. During the peak season from July to September, the occupancy rate of his homestay is around 70 percent.

The local seafood industry has also benefited from the boom.

Zheng Jie, 30, grew up in a fishing family, but thanks to the rising popularity of Shitang and its delicious seafood, she started her e-commerce business in 2017.

"When tourists come to enjoy the sunshine, they usually take some local seafood when they leave. Some of them have become my regular customers and place orders on WeChat," she said.

She plans to establish a cooperative to bring in more fishermen to the business.

Xinhua

A traditional dance is performed in Shitang township, Zhejiang province. CHEN YEHUA/XINHUA

 

  

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Worms turn problem of vegetable scraps into profits]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531832.htm LANZHOU-In a field in Gansu province, piles of earthworms wriggle in mulch made from discarded vegetables.

"We turn the unwanted vegetables into fodder and the worms consume them," said Wang Gang, deputy general manager of Gansu Kangyuan Modern Agricultural.

Located in Gansu's Yuzhong county, the company churns out a huge number of fresh vegetables for sale across China and is one of the biggest companies in the region.

The earthworms are alleviating a major headache for locals as China's poverty-relief campaign gathers pace.

The waste matter comes from the burgeoning highland vegetable industry, which the government encouraged with subsidies to help locals out of poverty.

But as the industry grew, so did the glut of leftover vegetable scraps generated by transportation and preparing them for supermarket shelves.

The unwanted scraps proved difficult to dispose of without spending a lot of resources, Wang said. "The earthworms truly handled a hard nut to crack for us," he said.

The company raises 0.7 hectares of earthworms, but it plans to increase the scale.

Waste disposal

Despite years of prosperity in the coastal regions, pockets of residents still lag behind in some underdeveloped rural areas, which poses a challenge for the country in its battle to wipe out absolute poverty by the end of this year.

For residents in the dry, mountainous Yuzhong, life has been hard due to a lack of resources.

But the county has a great advantage-it stands about 2,000 meters above sea level, and is perfect for vegetable cultivation, thanks to the large swing in temperatures from day to night, long daylight hours and an absence of pests.

To help lift locals out of poverty, the government encouraged them to grow highland vegetables and provided subsidies.

They also called on people in coastal areas such as Tianjin to buy the farmers' vegetables.

The measures gave rise to an expanding vegetable industry and lifted many out of poverty. But they also produced a lot of vegetable scraps.

One metric ton of vegetables can create 0.3 tons of useless vegetable scraps, according to Wang.

"The disposal of the useless vegetable scraps has troubled people here for quite some time," Wang Gang said.

"We tried a variety of ways (to solve this), but the results were less than satisfactory."

Worms to the rescue

Just when locals were scratching their heads for solutions to the problem, earthworms came to the rescue.

Last year, an earthworm-raising company sent a representative to Yuzhong to conduct a field survey, and suggested using worms to consume the vegetable scraps. "We thought it would be a good idea, and purchased a batch of earthworms from them in May for a trial," Wang said.

The leftovers proved to be popular with the worms.

"It has been quite efficient," Wang said. "We finally found a way to get rid of the leftovers effectively."

The worms also brought economic benefits. According to Wang, his company managed to extract protein from the earthworms to make healthcare products.

"For each mu (0.06 hectares) of earthworms, we can get a production value of about 30,000 yuan ($4,320), which is even more profitable than growing vegetables," Wang said.

The company will purchase more earthworms next year.

"We will also raise chickens next year, which feed on the worms, so that we can create a circle among the vegetables, earthworms and chickens," Wang said.

Xinhua

Highland vegetables, which produce waste, are displayed at an agricultural products fair in Lanzhou, Gansu province. ZHANG RUI/XINHUA

 

 

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531828.htm BEIJING

University's ex-VP expelled for graft

Cai Xiang, former vice-president of Communication University of China, has been expelled from the Communist Party of China and removed from his post, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission said on Wednesday. Cai violated Party discipline and obstructed investigation and review of his behavior, they said in a statement. He colluded with others to prevent investigators from accessing evidence and instigated others to interfere in verification work. He used public funds to travel abroad; buy gift cards, expensive alcohol and tobacco; maintain his private cars; and cover personal expenses, among other violations. Cai's case, and the money and property involved, have been transferred to prosecutors.

HUBEI

Eight pneumonia patients discharged

Eight patients who were diagnosed with unidentified pneumonia in Wuhan, Hubei province, were discharged from the hospital on Wednesday, according to the health commission of the city. The eight patients received treatment at the city's Jinyintan Hospital, which specializes in treating infectious diseases. They had not showed any clinical symptoms such as fever and pneumonia for many days and were discharged after appraisals from medical experts, the commission said in a statement. The cause of the pneumonia is still under investigation.

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Design, construction underway in Hebei's Xiongan New Area]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531822.htm Hebei province's Xiongan New Area, a new economic engine near Beijing, has entered the next stage of design and construction, a top provincial official said on Tuesday.

The construction of 67 key projects-including a high-speed railway and an expressway linking Beijing and Xiongan-are underway, Hebei Governor Xu Qin said in an annual government work report.

Eleven supporting policies have been rolled out in finance, investment approval and other areas, said Xu, who delivered the report at the opening of the annual session of the Hebei Provincial People's Congress, the local legislative body.

The new area-about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing-was established in 2017 as a major step in the almost six-year coordinated development effort of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei.

The area's national significance is similar to the economic engines of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and Shanghai Pudong New Area, according to an official outline about Xiongan's development.

"We are building Xiongan to be a model of high-quality development in the new era, with world vision, international standards, Chinese characteristics and high goals," he said.

This year, designs for beautiful villages, buildings and landscapes will be made, he said.

The transferring of "noncapital" functions, including colleges and research institutions, medical institutes, enterprise headquarters, financial institutions and administrative organs, has also started.

China Electronics Technology Group Co, a State-owned enterprise in electronic information, and a smart lab project conducted by Tsinghua University have set up branches in Xiongan, Xu said.

Further, an innovation institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a national medical center in Xiongan will be established this year, Xu said.

To support the transferred functions, the area will roll out policies in public services, including residence registration, education, medical treatment and housing, he said.

The water quality of Baiyangdian Lake, a wetland in the area seen as a key to its environment, has been improved and the water level raised through replenishment, he said.

More than 13,000 hectares of land were planted with trees last year to improve the environment, and another 6,700 hectares will be planted this year, he added.

"It's a good thing for us locals that everything is changing to a better state, especially the environment of Baiyangdian," said Yang Bingjun, 54, a deputy to the Hebei Provincial People's Congress from Anxin county in Xiongan who grew up at Zhainan village bordering the lake.

As a master craftsman of reed paintings, a provincial-level intangible cultural heritage, Yang plans to use his works as a medium to spread local traditional culture.

He used to make mats with reeds growing in Baiyangdian and is now carrying out research on reed paintings.

Wang Dongfeng, secretary of the Communist Party of China Hebei Provincial Committee, made an inspection visit to Xiongan on the first day of the year, stressing construction projects in the area should be done with high standards, high quality and high efficiency.

"We should strive for perfection on each process and lay a solid foundation for the development of Xiongan," Wang said.

Yao Lin contributed to this story.

 

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Nation kicks off busiest year for launches]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531816.htm China used a Long March 3B carrier rocket late on Tuesday to send an experimental communication satellite into space, marking the first launch in what is expected to be the busiest year for the nation's space industry.

The launch took place at 11:20 pm at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. It was the 324th mission for the Long March series carrier family, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country's major space contractor.

The company said the satellite-Communication Technology Experimental Satellite 5-was designed and built by its Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and is tasked with communication, broadcasting, data transmission operations and high-throughput technology demonstration.

China's space industry is getting ready for an extremely busy year, with at least 50 launch missions likely to take place.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp has announced that it will strive to carry out more than 40 launch missions to serve national space programs, such as the completion of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, as well as demands from commercial satellite operators.

China Daily has learned that all of the 40-odd planned missions will be carried out by the conglomerate's Long March-series rockets, the nation's backbone rocket fleet, and do not include those to be made by the company's newly developed Smart Dragon solid-propellant rockets.

This means the space magnate's actual launch number this year will be even bigger.

At least four of the company's new rockets-the Long March 5B, Long March 7A, Long March 8 and Smart Dragon 2-are scheduled to conduct their maiden missions this year, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

Another State-owned giant-China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp-has plans for at least eight launch missions using its Kuaizhou carrier rockets.

Kuaizhou 11, a new type in the Kuaizhou family, will make its debut flight this year and will become the biggest and most powerful solid-propellant rocket in China.

Moreover, several private rocket companies have announced plans to launch missions this year with their own rockets.

China became the world's most frequent user of carrier rockets in 2018, and in 2019 had 32 successful orbital launches and two failures.

 

A Long March 3B carrier rocket lifts an experimental communication satellite into space at 11:20 pm on Tuesday at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. GUO WENBIN/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Court rules AI-written article has copyright]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531812.htm A court in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, ruled recently that a work generated by artificial intelligence qualified for copyright protection.

The ruling came after tech giant Tencent sued an online platform that provides loan information for copying an article written by Tencent's robot Dreamwriter without authorization.

The Shenzhen Nanshan District People's Court said the defendant, Shanghai Yingxun Technology Company, infringed on Tencent's copyright and should bear civil liability.

Given that the defendant had removed the infringing work, Shanghai Yingxun Technology Company was ordered to pay 1,500 yuan ($216) to Tencent for economic losses and rights protection.

Dreamwriter is an automated news writing program based on data and algorithms developed by Tencent in 2015.

On Aug 20, 2018, Dreamwriter wrote a financial report including that day's Shanghai index, foreign exchange and capital flows. The article, published on the Tencent Securities website, noted that "the article was automatically written by Tencent Robot Dreamwriter".

Shanghai Yingxun Technology Company later copied the article onto its own website.

The court said that the article's form of expression conforms to the requirements of written work and the content showed the selection, analysis and judgment of relevant stock market information and data.

It said that the article's structure was reasonable, the logic was clear and it had a certain originality.

The court didn't say whether the Shanghai company would appeal. With the development of artificial intelligence, the technology has been used to generate some traditionally creative works such as music. However, whether such works should be protected by copyright is still debatable.

According to an article published by the World Intellectual Property Organization in 2017, case law in the United States specifies that copyright law only protects the fruits of intellectual labor that are founded in the creative powers of the mind. In addition, a court in Australia also declared in a case in 2012 that a work generated with the intervention of a computer could not be protected by copyright.

"According to our copyright law as well as some international conventions, the definition of a work first emphasizes that the creation is original, reproducible and produced based on human intellectual activity. So human intelligence is the core and premise," said Wang Guohua, a lawyer at Beijing-based Zhongwen Law Firm.

He said if content was produced by machines after people typed in some keywords, then the machines should be the author rather than human intelligence and the content should not be protected in the sense of copyright law.

"Since machines can be used by anyone and generate the same content under the same keywords, we need to think about what exactly the copyright law protects-the intellectual activity of choosing keywords or a work really created by human intelligence," he added.

Cao Yin contributed to this story.

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tibet expects better 5G network coverage in 2020]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531804.htm The Tibet autonomous region plans to accelerate the application of 5G networks in the region this year, according to the regional government's work report published on Tuesday at the ongoing regional people's congress.

Qizhala, chairman of the regional government, said at the ongoing third session of the 11th Tibet People's Congress that the region expects all the seats of its cities and prefectures to be covered with 5G networks by the end of this year.

"In 2019, the region enabled more than 98 percent of its villages to be linked with 4G networks, optical fibers and broadband internet services," Qizhala said.

"Together with other provinces, the region has completed the task of telecommunication coverage in its rural areas ahead of the schedule of the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) in 2019."

Data show that by the end of November, the region's telecommunication industry saw revenue of more than 4.51 billion yuan ($650 million) generated from various telecommunication sectors. The region's total number of phone subscribers hit 3.96 million, or about 115 phone numbers for every 100 people. There are 3.24 million cellphone users.

During the same period, the region's number of fixed broadband internet users reached 926,000, an increase of 144,000 over the previous year.

Pema Jamyang, Party secretary of Pebar, a village in the region's Dingri county, said 380 out of 530 people in the village own cellphones thanks to overall social development and telecommunication.

"Years ago, without better telecommunication services in the village, life was not as convenient as today. Now we can no longer live without internet networks in our lives," he said.

Pema said his four family members have their own cellphones, and his two children study in high schools.

Located about 120 km from Mount Qomolangma, known in the West as Mount Everest, Dingri is in a remote area.

"In the past, if the villagers' yaks or sheep got lost, they had to travel days to find it. Now, in a few seconds, villagers can call other people to help," Pema said.

"I cannot always spend time with my children or wife," he said. "However, with a call or especially with a video chat, I feel we are very close because I can see them smiling or talking."

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Desert blooms with Chinese expertise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531803.htm Three years ago, agricultural expert Ren Xueshan accepted a seemingly impossible task-growing pasture in the world's largest desert.

A researcher at the Forestry and Grassland Administration of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, he recalled that many agricultural experts from China doubted whether Mauritania's hot climate was suitable for growing alfalfa in the Sahara.

Ren, then 57, had accepted an assignment to work at the Mauritania Animal Husbandry Technology demonstration center to provide technical guidance and training on planting pasture and forage material.

"I had no confidence in growing pasture in the Sahara desert," Ren recalled.

Despite the doubts and concerns, Ren traveled to the Northwest African country in April 2017, determined to take on the challenge before his retirement.

His team soon learned that rural people in Mauritania still adhered to natural grazing methods.

In the long dry season, the desertified grassland could barely meet the basic food needs of cattle, sheep and camels.

As a result, during the eight months from the end of each year to the following July, many animals starved, and even died, due to insufficient feed.

As soon as Ren arrived, he began to experiment with the introduction of various pastures.

"But when I stood on the sands of the endless Sahara desert and saw that a bucket of water poured on the ground did nothing, I could not help but have some doubts," he said.

Trial and error

However, Ren was determined to conduct successful field tests.

With the cooperation of other experts at the demonstration center, he explored various water-saving irrigation methods.

They used cow and sheep manure and other organic matter to improve the soil quality. A fertilization plan was devised according to the soil test reports, and to coincide with crop growing periods.

According to Ren, there was virtually no pasture planting industry in Mauritania at that time.

During his experiments, he tried 21 varieties, screening out the unsuitable ones and perfecting sowing times for each variety.

Ren often worked under the hot sun to observe the impact of the temperature, the growth of the crops, and the damage caused by diseases and pests.

The observation data provided valuable reference material for the growing of different types of pastures.

Ultimately, alfalfa proved to be the best option for pasture crops, although it had never been grown on a large scale in Mauritania before.

After three years of experimentation, the planting area of alfalfa reached more than 20 hectares, and that of Gaodan grass nearly 13.3 hectares.

Hope sprouts eternal

From the third crop of alfalfa, the average yield of air-dried grass per mu (0.06 hectares) was about 300 kilograms, and the maximum up to 400 kg.

Alfalfa can be harvested 11 to 12 times a year, and the annual yield of alfalfa per mu is about 3.6 metric tons.

The average yield of Gaodan grass per mu is about 4.2 tons.

For his outstanding contribution to agricultural research, Ren was recently awarded a national medal by the government of Mauritania.

He also conducted experiments on the introduction of silage corn, which is widely used for forage feed in the United States.

The first two experiments with silage corn failed because the pollination took place during the hot months.

After the sowing date was changed, the third trial finally succeeded.

Alfalfa and silage corn are important food supplies for dairy cows and cattle that produce high-quality beef.

Using forage sorghum and several grass varieties, the demonstration center raised more than 200 plump and sturdy cows.

Mauritania's animal husbandry department sends technicians and farmers to receive training from Chinese agricultural experts at the center.

The forage planting and processing of the demonstration center has become a successful example of the Chinese government's assistance to African countries.

 

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Hainan park aims to protect ecology]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531801.htm Hainan province has established a national park research institute, issuing invitations to top experts, especially primatologists worldwide, to work on the province's rainforest and endangered wildlife protection.

The Hainan National Park Research Institute, established on Jan 5, is expected to play a crucial role in protecting rare species including the Hainan gibbon, according to Xia Fei, director of Hainan Rainforest National Park's management office.

The park contains China's biggest rainforest and habitat of the Hainan gibbon, which is listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List.

Over the past four decades, the Hainan gibbon has witnessed a slow recovery of its population from seven in the late 1970s to 30 now, according to the park.

"The study of Hainan gibbons is very challenging as they usually spend most of their time on the top of the rainforest about 15 to 20 meters above the ground," Xia said.

Different from monkeys, he said, gibbons do not enjoy intimate contact with humans, although they share more genetic similarities. "That makes observation even harder," Xia said.

"We are calling for corporations with experts worldwide on the management of the national park as well as the wildlife protections. The world's top primatologists are especially welcomed," he said.

According to a report by Hainan Daily, the province's 30 Hainan gibbons belong to five groups. In recent years, some have moved from their original habitat at an altitude of about 1,000 meters above sea level to lower regions.

Jiang Haisheng, a professor from South China Normal University's School of Life Sciences, said that the relocation shows the Hainan gibbon's increasing demands for habitat expansion due to its growing population.

"The rainforest recovery and further study of the species' diets are both in urgent need," he said.

"We should speed up construction of the national park's ecological corridor-a functional zone of passage between several natural zones for a group of species dependent on a single environment."

Jiang said corridors help maintain and recover a certain degree of cohesion in fragmented ecosystems. Through the connection of fragmented habitats, the viability of animal and plant species is improved by enlarging habitats, the dispersion of young animals and the re-use of "empty" habitats.

As one of China's 10 pilot national parks, the Hainan Rainforest National Park, established in April, covers 4,400 square kilometers, accounting for one-seventh of the province's area.

This year, 498 residents from three villages in the park will be relocated and another 1,387 people will be removed in 2021 to protect the environment, according to Xia.

He said several draft plans, including those regarding ecological corridors and park management, have been finished and are now awaiting approval.

Xia said public transportation surrounding the national park is now under construction.

"The strictest protection will be conducted in the core protected area. But we also hope to develop a sustainable way to benefit both local people and the public by scientifically exploring the general protected area, such as eco-friendly tourism or facilities for ecological education," Xia said.

 

Two Hainan gibbons play on the top of pine trees. CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Ministry vows fewer accidents in workplace]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531849.htm The country's top emergency watchdog vowed to keep reducing the number of accidents and causalities in the workplace, as well as those caused by natural disasters, by enhancing law enforcement, scientific research and talent cultivation.

Huang Ming, Party chief of the Ministry of Emergency Management, made the comment during the ministry's two-day annual work conference that concluded on Tuesday. He also stressed that "safety supervision cannot be relaxed in the name of optimizing the business environment".

The ministry will resolutely roll out measures to address permissive and slack law enforcement, Huang noted.

"Enterprises' legal representatives and management teams should be closely watched, and punishment will be resolutely imposed for any violations," he said.

Huang also said the ministry will attach even greater importance to prevent and defuse major safety risks to ensure that the number of accidents will continuously decrease.

According to the ministry, the number of workplace accidents declined by 18.3 percent year-on-year in 2019, and the death toll dropped by 17.1 percent. The country also saw fewer major accidents that claimed more than three lives.

Regarding natural disasters, the number of people left dead or missing in 2019 was 25 percent less than the average number from 2014 to 2018.

"The national comprehensive rescue teams and other professional teams for workplace and earthquake rescue should be ready for battle all the time," Huang said. "In addition, to enhance rescue capability and flexibility, these teams should also make efforts to respond even quicker."

The ministry, which was established in April 2018, created 27 rescue teams that specialize in operations in earthquake-stricken and mountainous areas or have expertise in water and air rescue across the country in 2019. Six teams that could implement crossborder missions on forest and prairie fire control have been ready to accept tasks, the ministry said.

It said the national fire and rescue teams rescued 158,000 people and evacuated another 497,000 in these accidents. The value of the properties saved by the teams stood at 24.2 billion yuan ($3.5 billion).

Huang also disclosed that the ministry will enhance scientific research and talent cultivation as part of its efforts to establish an efficient national emergency response system.

The ministry launched a special research institute on natural disaster prevention and control on Dec 30. It's the first national institute of its kind, according to the ministry.

In the latest institutional reshuffle, the ministry was established to take over the responsibilities of the former State Administration of Work Safety, along with functions from other ministries including firefighting from the Ministry of Public Security and disaster relief from the Ministry of Civil Affairs.

 

 

 

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2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China, Pakistan launch 6th joint naval exercise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531601.htm China and Pakistan launched a joint naval exercise on Monday in Karachi, a coastal city in Pakistan, according to the People's Liberation Army.

The nine-day "Sea Guardians 2020" exercise was organized to strengthen security cooperation, enhance and develop the nations' strategic partnership, foster joint efforts to safeguard seas and improve the two militaries' capabilities to handle sea-based terrorism and crime.

The exercise consists of two sessions-joint training in Karachi and live-fire drills in northern parts of the Arabian Sea-and will include workshops, tactical simulation, joint patrol, air and missile defense, law enforcement inspection and anti-submarine operations, the PLA said in a statement.

The operation will enable the two navies to test and improve their technical and tactical capabilities, maintain regional marine security, learn from each other and enhance the level of cooperation and synergy, according to the Pakistan Navy.

China sent four ships from the naval force of the PLA Southern Theater Command-CNS Yinchuan, a Type 052D destroyer; CNS Yuncheng, a Type 054A frigate; CNS Weishanhu, a Type 903 supply ship; and CNS Liugongdao, a submarine rescue vessel.

The Pakistan Navy sent two frigates and two missile boats.

A total of four helicopters and one fixed-wing anti-submarine patrol plane from both countries will be used during the exercise.

More than 60 members from the PLA Navy's Marine Corps and over 60 of their Pakistani peers will also take part.

This is the sixth joint naval exercise between the two nations, according to the PLA.

Their militaries have also conducted seven joint drills for their ground forces and eight for their air forces.

 

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2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[The Xiangjiang River ferryman who saves souls for a living]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531656.htm Over the past 35 years, ferryman Tang Shiguo has saved more than 24 souls from drowning as he plied his trade on Xiangjiang River in Hunan province.

Every time he heard a cry for help, the 61-year-old rushed to the scene without hesitation.

"When there is an emergency there is no time for me to think too much, saving people is always the priority," he said.

Tang grew up in Guiyang town near the river and became a ferryman at the age of 26. When he is not ferrying people on the river, he is also required to stop leisure activities and children playing too close to the water.

But for decades, he has done much more than his duty, risking his life to save people who place themselves in danger after ignoring warning signs.

He clearly remembers his first rescue on July 15, 1984.

A woman washing vegetables on the riverbank slipped and fell into deep water.

As she struggled and began sinking, Tang, who was on duty nearby, jumped in and pulled the drowning woman to the bank. She was rushed to hospital for treatment.

"The accident was during the flood season," Tang said. "And in this dangerous season tourists and some local people like to move around or even swim and paddle in the river."

Tang has lived by the river most of his life. He learned to swim at the age of 5, was able to cross the Xiangjiang River at the age of 8, and could dive and catch fish at the age of 10. As a result, he developed excellent swimming skills.

The river is more than 600 meters wide, and about 1,000 kilometers long. Tang is in charge of 700 meters of it.

Risky business

"Those who play in the river regardless of the signs don't have any awareness of their physical safety or good manners. After being saved, some of them don't even say thank you," he said.

However, saving people from drowning often means putting the rescuer's life at risk. In 2016, two people died during a rescue operation in Tang's hometown, according to the local government.

Tang experienced a dangerous situation in July, 2012. A local woman and her two daughters were washing clothes at a wharf. The two children, aged 10 and 11, who were playing and splashing each other, fell into the river and were pulled into deep water.

Tang, who was resting on the shore with an acute pain in his side, immediately ran to the scene.

His wife ran after him and shouted: "You are going to die. If you are not feeling well, don't try and save other people!"

Tang plunged into the water despite the warning. He swam to the middle of the river, grabbed the 10-year-old girl and placed her hand on his right shoulder.

With one girl clinging to his shoulder, Tang swam further into the river to rescue the other girl.

"When I swam to the second girl, the 11-year-old girl struggled and panicked because the river current was too strong," he said. Tang failed to clutch her several times, and she began to sink.

He eventually grabbed the 11-year-old's hair and lifted the little girl out of the water. With both girls clinging to his back he swam to the river bank.

After the rescue, he walked home with the help of his wife. Later, he was rushed to the hospital by his neighbor, where he was diagnosed with acute appendicitis.

Tang's rescue efforts remained largely anonymous, until one day in 2012 when a relative of one person he saved took a video of the rescue and posted it online. The story of Tang's heroics quickly spread.

In 2013, 2017, 2018 and last year, he received bravery awards from the local government.

Tang said as he ages and grows physically weaker, more effort is needed to keep up with the demands of the job.

"I keep exercising every day so that I can still do something once an emergency happens," he said.

 

 

 

Tang Shiguo, a 61-year-old ferryman in Changsha, Hunan province, registers a passenger in August. CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Yangtze estuary topped up with marine life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531655.htm SHANGHAI-A total of 130,000 fish, 1,000 kilograms of shrimp and 20,000 mitten crabs, were recently released into an artificial reef in the Yangtze River estuary.

The 13th marine life release since 2001 was done under an environmental restoration program affiliated to the Yangtze deepwater navigation channel project.

The artificial reef, with a total length of 147 kilometers, is a former embankment of the diversion channel, which was submerged after the navigation channel was built.

Since 2001, a total of 1.496 million fish, 2.15 metric tons of shrimp, 110,000 mitten crabs and 171 tons of shellfish have been released to restore the estuary's natural environment.

The Yangtze, the longest river in China, is regarded as the country's "golden waterway".

China has invested heavily to smooth out the deepwater channel of the lower stream of the river to allow container ships to travel upstream.

The throughput of standard containers shipped via the river in the first half of last year topped 9.4 million twenty-foot equivalent units, up 5.3 percent year-on-year.

"The Yangtze Estuary Deepwater Channel Project is the largest and most complicated estuary channel regulation project in the world. Since the beginning of its construction, great importance has been attached to ecological protection and restoration," said Chen Yaqu, an expert in restoring environments from the East China Sea Fisheries Research Institute, who participated in the release of the marine animals.

Chen, 82, has been participating in the restoration of the Yangtze River estuary for nearly 20 years.

He said from 2002 to 2004, the artificial oyster reef system in the estuary was constructed using a concrete dike as a substrate and replenishing the area with oysters.

So far, the aquatic resources have brought economic benefits.

Chen said the reef has become an important spawning ground and habitat for a number of aquatic animals including rare fish.

Local companies have joined in the restoration efforts. On Dec 23, the Shanghai Shenergy Chongming Power Generation also released marine animals into the estuary.

 

 

 

]]> 2020-01-08 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Govt targets intrusions of Yangtze shorelines]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531648.htm The authority that manages the Yangtze River plans to put prices on shoreline use and enhance law enforcement to end illegal intrusions into the country's longest watercourse.

A special campaign against illegal intrusions launched in 2018 has already seen some 2,000 construction projects demolished or corrected.

Chen Guangcai, deputy director of the Changjiang Water Resources Commission's development department for the Yangtze River Economic Belt, said the commission wants to see a pricing mechanism included in a special law protecting the river. That law is currently being worked on.

The commission will research systems to approve, transfer and withdraw shoreline use rights. The application of the pricing mechanism is expected to "promote conservation and intensive use of shoreline resources", he said.

Chen stressed that the utilization of Yangtze shoreline resources will strictly observe "red lines" for ecological protection. "For shorelines that need protection, development and utilization will be forbidden and strict compulsory protection will be carried out," he said.

Red lines in China often take the form of geographical boundaries that should not be crossed.

Chen said the commission will also seek to establish a joint law enforcement mechanism involving different regions and government bodies to enhance governance of the Yangtze's shorelines as it continues special campaigns to stamp out violations, such as illegal sand excavation and the intrusion of construction projects into the waterway.

The Ministry of Water Resources, which oversees the commission, said 710 construction projects that intruded into the Yangtze had been demolished as of the end of last year, with 73 others marked for demolition. Of the 1,658 projects with violations that could be rectified without demolition, 1,410 have been fixed, it said.

In another campaign launched in 2018, the ministry found 1,376 sites where trash had been dumped along the Yangtze. All were cleaned up in the first half of last year.

Liao Zhidan, director of the commission's policy, law and regulation department, said, however, that disordered utilization of the Yangtze's shoreline resources is still an issue. While some regions overdeveloped their shoreline resources, some failed to use them efficiently. And illegal utilization of the Yangtze's shoreline had hindered flood prevention and environmental safety.

Liao said the Yangtze protection law is expected to address many of the river's outstanding problems. It will take into account the integrity of the whole river system, the diversity of ecological environments and the different socioeconomic development stages of areas along the river, he said. It will also consider the relationship between the river's upstream and downstream areas, its main stream and tributaries, and its conservation and development.

The draft of the law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Dec 23 for a first reading.

The Changjiang Water Resources Commission said the river has seen continuous improvement in water quality since Jan 5, 2016, when President Xi Jinping presided over a national conference in Chongqing about the Yangtze River Economic Belt. At the conference, he demanded concerted efforts to protect the Yangtze and the avoidance of excessive development.

According to monitoring data, in 2016, 82.6 percent of the Yangtze featured water above Grade III quality, the third-highest in the country's five-tier water quality system. That increased to 88.2 percent in 2018, the data showed.

 

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2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Authorities urged to allow marriages on Feb 2]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531646.htm Many soon-to-be brides and grooms in China are calling for civil affairs authorities to work one extra day on Feb 2, a Sunday, so they can tie the knot on the special day, a perfectly symmetric date.

Feb 2, 2020, is written as 20200202 on the Chinese calendar, and Chinese people often like to get married on an even date as they believe that good things come in pairs.

In a response to one citizen's appeal to allow people to get marriage certificates on Feb 2, the Wuhan City Bureau of Civil Affairs in Hubei province said recently that people can apply online to get married on that Sunday.

Zhou Shanping, head of the bureau's social affairs department, said many people have applied to get married on Feb 2 and all 15 marriage registration offices in Wuhan will work that day.

He added, however, that though marriage is one of the most important events in people's lives, if everyone gets married on the same day, that day becomes less special.

Xiamen City Bureau of Civil Affairs in Fujian province said that all marriage registration offices at the city will also work on Feb 2, according to Xiamen Daily.

The hashtag "There is a rare symmetric date in 2020" had been viewed 320 million times by Tuesday, with many netizens expressing that they want to get married on Feb 2.

The Chinese pronunciation for 2020 is similar to "love you, love you", adding special meaning to the year and the date.

Liu Yue, 26, said she will seriously consider getting married on Feb 2 if the civil affairs authorities in her hometown in Baoding, Hebei province, also work on that day.

It will be very special to get married on Feb 2, since it is rare to encounter such a symmetric date, she said.

"A wedding is a very important ceremony, and a special date adds to the significance of the occasion," she said. "That's why people want to get married on Valentine's Day, or on May 20-"520", whose pronunciation in Chinese sounds similar to 'I love you'."

However, Liu's soon-to-be husband, Kang Hao, disagrees.

"Any date is more or less similar to me to get married," he said. "I prefer to get married on a public holiday, since both of us work in Beijing and we need to get married in our hometown in Hebei."

Chen Lina, who plans to wed her boyfriend in March, said she will not consider getting married on Feb 2.

"I think there's no magic day that is going to be better than all the days of the year," she said. "Instead of getting married on such a special date, I prefer to get married on dates that are special to me and my boyfriend, like a birthday, the first day that we met, our first date, or the first time we kissed."

For every couple, the process of choosing the wedding date is completely unique, and that's part of what makes your wedding date so special to you, Chen said.

Choosing a wedding date can be a little bit like putting together a puzzle. You have to find a date that fits with your schedules and the schedules of your loved ones, while also keeping season, availability and budget in mind, she said.

 

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2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Transport hub to feed Beijing subcenter]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531645.htm Beijing will build a comprehensive transportation hub in its city subcenter in Tongzhou district, a senior official said on Tuesday.

The project will be the capital's first large-scale transportation infrastructure project since the Beijing Daxing International Airport, Zeng Zanrong, Party chief of the district, said at a news conference in Tongzhou.

It was the first news conference by the subcenter after Beijing's municipal government moved to the district last year.

According to the authority, the transportation hub, which is designed to connect three subway lines and two railways, began construction on Nov 30.

Wang Chengjun, head of the subcenter's project construction office, said the hub, which covers 61 hectares, will be put into operation by the end of 2024.

It has an underground section consisting of three stories and is expected to be the largest underground transportation hub in Asia. Investment for the underground part reached 34.5 billion yuan ($4.97 billion).

"It will take only one hour by public transportation from the city subcenter to Xiongan New Area and only 35 minutes to Daxing airport," he said. "The hub will be green and smart, and it will drive regional economic growth and bring convenience to people."

According to the authority of the subcenter, up to 115 city-level projects with an overall investment of 166 billion yuan were planned in 2019. The projects will focus on culture, sports, education, medical care, environmental protection and more.

Also among the projects under development is a 11.2-square kilometer city park that will be completed and open to the public by October. The park will be in the shape of a five-pointed star with an 8-meter wide cycling lane and a 3-meter wide footpath.

Lin Lei, a white-collar worker in Tongzhou, said the park is the project that he looks forward to most.

"From the description, I have a cool and green and relaxed feeling about the park and can't wait to ride in the lane," he said.

There are also plans to build a theater, a library and a museum with a total investment of 4.4 billion yuan by the end of 2022.

 

 

 

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2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Scientists unravel 'abominable mystery' of water lily]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531635.htm BEIJING-Scientists have unraveled the genome sequence of the blue-petal water lily, an ancient flowering plant, shedding new light on Charles Darwin's "abominable mystery".

More than 300,000 species of flowering plants, or angiosperms, have emerged since their origin 200 million years ago, compared with 800 of its "brother" organisms, gymnosperms.

As one of the first diverging branches of flowering plants, water lilies may hold the key to explaining how flowering plants became dominant in ecosystems across the world, a problem termed an "abominable mystery" by Darwin.

In a study published online by the journal Nature last month, researchers acquired the high-quality genome sequence of the blue-petal water lily and found a whole-genome duplication event during the species' ancestor period.

The study showed that the duplication event contributed to the origin and wide distribution of water lilies, said the paper's first author Zhang Liangsheng, from Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University. The research results are key to revealing the origin and evolution of flowering plants, he added.

The researchers also studied the genes that form the color of blue-petal water lily, which may help gardeners cultivate blue flowers.

 

 

 

]]> 2020-01-08 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Zhangjiakou ski venues to be ready this year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531631.htm Venues for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, will be completed and put into use for ski competitions this year, a Hebei top official said on Tuesday.

"This year's major task is to start operating the ski venues and prepare for test competitions, continuing preparation work for the Olympic Games with high standards and high quality," Xu Qin, governor of Hebei, said in an annual government work report.

He delivered the report at the opening of the annual session of the Hebei Provincial People's Congress, the local legislative body.

The venues include centers for ski jumping, cross-country skiing and biathlon, all of which are prepared for ski competitions in the city's Chongli district, according to Xu.

The city will host seven test events at the beginning of next year, according to Gao Yingxia, head of the marketing department of the city's Winter Olympics preparation office.

One of those events is the International Ski Federation world championship of freestyle skiing and snowboarding, which will feature 28 games that will be attended by athletes from more than 45 countries and regions, Gao said.

The construction of other major projects, such as an Olympic village and an ice-snow town, will be finished by the end of August, Xu said.

"All of them will be high-quality and environmentally friendly projects embedded with cultural characteristics," he said.

The city also strives to improve its overall ability to provide services for the Olympic Games including transportation, accommodation, catering, medical treatment, volunteer and security, Xu said.

The construction of high-speed railways, highways, public transport hubs and upgrading work on the local airport is underway and will all be finished this year, said Wang Xiangming, head of the city's bureau of transport.

According to Wang, all vehicles used for serving the 2022 Winter Games will be clean and green because they are hydrogen fueled. The city has been using nearly 200 hydrogen-powered buses since 2018, Wang said.

While preparing for the Olympic Games in the city, the province is taking the opportunity to develop winter sports and related industries as legacies.

By holding different kinds of ice and snow activities for the public across the province, Hebei saw about 13 million people involved in winter sports, accounting for 17.3 percent of its population. The number is expected to reach 17 million this year, according to Xu.

The winter sports industry is emerging as sports on ice and snow are becoming more popular. Last year, 32 projects settled in a winter sports equipment manufacturing base in Zhangjiakou. In addition, more than 30 industry projects will be put into operation this year, Xu said.

 

 

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2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Penalties to increase for failing to pay migrant worker salaries on time]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531625.htm Defaulting on salaries for migrant workers will be harshly punished under a new State-level regulation that will take effect May 1, senior officials said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office on Tuesday.

The new regulation, signed by Premier Li Keqiang on Dec 30, was unveiled on Tuesday.

According to the regulation, construction project contractors are required to set up different accounts to keep migrant workers' salaries separate from expenses for construction materials and management.

Subcontractors are also responsible to ensure workers get their salaries on time.

Contractors who refuse to open separate bank accounts or can't pay workers on time will face punishment varying from financial penalties to project suspension or revoking the contractor's certificates.

The regulation also defines responsibilities of government. For example, extra money should be set aside in case government-sponsored projects default on salaries for migrant workers.

Also, officials who fail to properly supervise companies paying arrears to migrant workers will be punished.

A blacklist of companies with poor credit, put into use Jan 1, 2018, has also helped migrant workers claim their salaries.

Wang Cheng, director of labor and social security inspection from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said at the news conference that people or companies that default or skimp on migrant worker's salaries without an excuse will be blacklisted, especially in situations that led to violent events due to arrears.

"Those blacklisted people or companies will be restrained in tendering and bidding, getting certificates or tax preferences," he said. "They will also be prohibited from consuming luxury goods, taking planes or high-speed trains. And those refusing to pay arrears will be transferred to judicial organs."

Last year, the number of cases of migrant workers facing delayed payment decreased by 33.1 percent compared with 2018, according to the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

Zhang Yiquan, vice-minister of human resources and social security, said at the news conference that migrant workers have become an important group supporting the nation's development.

"The government has made great efforts to protect migrant worker's rights, especially their salaries, and has seen notable progress," he said.

"However, the problem of defaulting on migrant worker's salaries has not been effectively eradicated because of poor management, supervision and imperfect regulations, which required us to take stronger measures."

"Getting paid is the basic right of migrant workers," he said.

 

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2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[We need to change people's mindsets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531623.htm I was born and raised in a small village near a landfill in Shanghai. There was a river running through the village-the water was clear and I used to swim in it when I was little. By the time I entered fourth grade, it had turned black and swimming in the river was not possible anymore. In summer, the wind blowing from the landfill was smelly and trucks dumped trash illegally, covering the wetland and contaminating the soil.

That was more than two decades ago. People, including my family, quickly grew accustomed to it and became indifferent to the pollution. It took a visit to Tasmania in Australia, where the water is so clear and the leaves are so green, for me to realize that what was happening in my village wasn't normal. I was 27 at the time.

I quit my steady job in Shanghai and worked for several nonprofits in China and the United States that focused on environmental protection.

Later, I applied to Harvard University. In my application, I wrote that I wanted to change the Chinese people's mindset, especially farmers, so we could develop our economy and feed ourselves while still protecting the land, air and water from pollution.

When I graduated in 2016, I returned to Shanghai and started promoting eco-friendly agriculture. I got into waste sorting in 2018, a year before the city passed its regulation on domestic waste management. My project-Trash to Treasure-helps residential committees and property management companies implement the trash-sorting program.

The behavioral shift toward trash sorting requires a change in people's mindsets. Therefore, plans tailored to different neighborhoods, and good communications with residents are essential. Those things should be done before all-in-one trash cans are replaced by separate garbage bins, which won't do any good on their own.

At first, people misunderstood the nature of our work; they thought we just stood by the trash bins and monitored others sorting their waste. Actually, that's the last step in our program. We coordinate with property management companies, talk to residents to educate them about trash classification and create a favorable atmosphere for it.

Only after we finish all those seemingly simple and insignificant tasks, when we finally remove the old trash bins and ask people to drop their garbage at centralized stations, will they listen and make the change.

Since Shanghai implemented the trash-management regulation in July, many communities have asked my team to help implement the program. Other projects include training volunteers and using kitchen waste as compost. In the past year, our program has covered more than 300 of the city's residential quarters.

The good results of the initiative have prompted a nationwide trend for domestic waste management. I have received many calls from people in other provinces, who were asking for advice.

Recently, a mayor in Zhejiang province invited us to launch our first project outside of Shanghai.

Though it was more difficult to push forward the work there, we made good progress.

Our experience shows that the successful implementation of trash sorting requires concerted efforts from many government departments and strong community governance. Shanghai has both, which is why the city has achieved amazing results in such a short time.

I am optimistic about the future because the central government has emphasized the building of trash-sorting systems. However, I don't think it can be done overnight. Each city has to adapt the program in a way that fits its level of economic development and governance.

Maybe it will take another 10 years for the whole country to implement trash sorting, but we should encourage concrete work and heed calls for change because there's still a long way to go.

Zhou Chun spoke with Xing Yi.

 

 

 

]]> 2020-01-08 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Out of poverty and into the opera]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531622.htm TAIYUAN-Guo Wenying slips into her costume, dons a headset, tests her microphone and belts out a traditional local opera in front of her 34,000 online followers.

Guo, 57, is a farmer in Loufan county, Shanxi province. The county was mired in poverty for decades and only recently said farewell to financial hardship.

"I was just making ends meet and didn't have the time and energy to focus on music," Guo said. "But I did want to stick with my hobby, which is singing and performing the Shanxi Daoqing, a traditional opera."

The average per capita annual income in Loufan now exceeds 7,500 yuan ($1,070), according to the latest government figures. "Now I can perform every day because there are no more financial worries," she said. "I feel happy."

Since she was a child, Guo's passion for Daoqing Opera has grown. The musical form originated during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and rural folk popularized it in the province. Performers usually wear colorful costumes and sing in local dialects.

Guo became a Daoqing performer in her village at the age of 17. She would swagger on stage and sing her heart out to the crowds during traditional festivals. "I was a cool kid," she recalled.

In the 1970s and 1980s, money was tight, and performing on its own wasn't enough to get by in a poor county like Loufan. "After I got married, I spent all my days doing chores, growing crops and taking care of my husband and kids," she said. "I simply couldn't afford to get on stage again."

For many years, she ate yams and cornmeal every day. A large mountain separates the village from the nearest town, and Guo would have to walk for up to eight hours just to buy supplies.

In 1990, when Gao was 28, farmers survived on 328 yuan a year in the county, according to the local government.

Guo's husband was the only income earner, as she had to attend to her two sons and daughter. "Life was really, really hard," she said.

As China's anti-poverty campaign gained steam, authorities in Loufan began to boost agriculture and rural tourism, liberating people like Guo from hardship.

Last year, the county officially lifted itself out of poverty.

New voice

With life improving, Guo has more time to take up her singing hobby again. This time around, she has moved her stage from the open air to the internet.

"I saw someone livestreaming on the phone once, and I quickly learned how to do it," she said.

"I used to live for others, but for the first time in my life, I feel like living for myself by livestreaming myself singing."

To improve her performance, Guo spent about 7,000 yuan on equipment, including a microphone, a stereo system and a smartphone.

"I perform in my costumes for my followers every day," she said. "They feel like family."

Sometimes she sings about Taoist stories, shares anecdotes about historical royal families and advocates benevolence.

Besides the opera, she also broadcasts herself toiling in the field and making local specialties. She livestreams even when she is traveling.

"Many people don't know what the countryside looks like, so livestreaming helps them understand," she said. "This also brings you many, many followers."

China's increasing prosperity has improved seniors' quality of life, and enhanced their self-awareness, said Xing Yuan, a professor of sociology at Shanxi University.

"Guo's story highlights their need to search for their own values and spiritual pursuits," Xing said. "It is also the result of the soaring internet economy."

Through livestreaming, Guo rakes in more than 1,000 yuan a month. Her New Year's resolution is to reach 50,000 followers.

"I want to hang out more with my friends in the opera community to improve my performing skills," she said. "I also want to take my parents to tour Shanghai."

 

 

 

Guo Wenying sings Shanxi Daoqing, a traditional opera, during a livestream last week in Loufan, Shanxi province. CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Alibaba opens channel to report offline fraud]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531619.htm A new online channel for consumers to report suspicions of counterfeit goods or fake shops offline was opened by China's e-commerce giant Alibaba on Tuesday, another step by the enterprise to improve protection of intellectual property.

In the past, consumers were only allowed to report fake products they found on the company's online shopping platforms, such as Taobao. "But now, thanks to the new reporting channel, they can also provide evidence of issues at real shops," said Li Xihan, who is in charge of IP protection in the enterprise.

If a consumer suspects commodities sold in a shopping mall are counterfeit or thinks they infringe IP rights, he or she can submit the evidence, including pictures and the store's location, through the reporting channel opened on Alipay, the company's mobile payment application, according to Li.

After receiving the evidence, "we'll take advantage of our technologies to do the data matching and send them to the IP owners and trademark registrants to verify whether the reported goods are counterfeit or not," he said.

The company is also closely cooperating with judicial authorities and can pass infringement incidences to them once they are verified by the trademark owners.

Successful reports or useful evidence will be identified by Alipay as consumer action for public welfare, and their credit records can be improved in this way. The new channel also aims to encourage consumers to play a role in fighting counterfeits, "as taking a photo that can both protect their legitimate rights in consumption and contribute to safeguarding IP rights for them is just a matter of lifting a finger," Li added.

Alibaba's statistics show that the number of law enforcement departments that joined hands with it to fight counterfeits increased to 439 last year from 227 in 2018. Due to evidence offered by the company, 4,125 people suspected of selling or making fake goods were caught last year, 2,172 more than in 2018.

Liu Xiaochun, a specialist on internet governance from the University of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, applauded the new reporting channel because it means the fight against fake goods has gone from online to offline.

"The anti-counterfeit job cannot only rely on one company. Instead, it needs people of all walks of life to increase efforts, especially our large number of consumers," she said. "After all, an e-commerce platform can just review goods uploaded on its own platform, but consumers can reach more areas, both online and offline."

Luo Houru, an official from the Ministry of Justice, said they have guided several internet enterprises, including Alibaba, and have worked with them to solve disputes in this digital era, such as those caused by online shopping or online privacy release.

"We'll improve policies to further regulate the online environment and better govern cyberspace," he said.

 

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2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Trash-sorting program heralds a zero waste future]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531605.htm Editor's note: This is the first in a series looking back at some of the most important, timely or unusual stories covered by China Daily's reporters last year.

Wang Jiaxue can still remember the garbage classification rules she learned during her first overseas studies in Germany eight years ago.

"In Germany, do as the Germans do," she quipped. "We had to separate glass, plastics, paper and food waste from other residual trash at our dorm and dispose of them one by one in different places. Though it felt troublesome at first, I soon enjoyed doing it because it kept our living environment clean and tidy."

The 30-year-old lives in Shanghai, where a trash-sorting campaign has rekindled her memories of life overseas. "We are experiencing the same process here; some people found it inconvenient at first, but now the majority recognize the benefits."

In January last year, Shanghai's legislators passed a municipal regulation on domestic waste management that requires people to sort their trash into four categories or face fines of up to 200 yuan ($29).

The law went into effect in July, and its strict enforcement and huge media exposure have resonated in cities nationwide, leading experts and industry insiders to say it is a milestone in China's recycling revolution and the long march toward a zero waste society.

"Trash sorting is the hottest topic in the recycling and waste management industry right now," said Fu Tao, president of the E20 Environment Platform, during the think tank's annual forum on solid waste in Beijing on Dec 19.

"In the past, there were more words than concrete acts of trash sorting-because it's tough work," he said. "But it has been pushed along the road this year, and will change the whole industry chain of waste management."

China tested trash sorting as early as 2000, when the central government chose eight cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, Guangdong province, as pilots to implement garbage-classification programs, but they bore little fruit until this year.

A report by the Shanghai Municipal People's Congress in November showed that 90 percent of the city's 12,000 residential neighborhoods met municipal trash-sorting standards. In 2018, the figure was just 15 percent.

The report said that in October, the collection of recyclables had risen by 4.6 times from the same month in 2018, while the collection of hazardous waste had risen ninefold and the amount of kitchen waste collected had doubled.

"The results are beyond expectations," said Tang Zhiping, vice-mayor of Shanghai. "The implementation of the new law has greatly increased people's knowledge of, and participation in, trash sorting."

Becoming a habit

A survey released on Dec 3 showed that more than 70 percent of citizens of Shanghai dispose of trash in accordance with the four waste categories, and almost 80 percent have got into the habit of sorting their trash and abiding by the regulation.

Shanghai's move is in line with a more ambitious national plan. In 2017, the State Council, China's Cabinet, stated that it planned to establish standards and duplicable models of domestic garbage sorting systems in all 36 municipalities, provincial capitals and cities under separate planning-those with greater freedom regarding economic planning-by the end of next year. The cities' domestic waste recycling rate must be 35 percent or higher.

In April, nine government bodies-including the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment-issued a work plan for sorting domestic garbage. It added 10 more cities to the 2020 list, saying that all 300-plus cities at prefecture level and above must establish similar systems by 2025.

Many cities have already formulated waste-management laws or renewed existing legislation. In November, an amendment was approved to Beijing's regulations on the management of domestic waste. It will become effective on May 1. Despite adopting slightly different trash categories, the regulation closely resembles the one in Shanghai because of an economic incentive-a 200 yuan fine for violators.

However, regulations alone won't do any good. Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, introduced a new regulation on domestic waste in August, but has failed to achieve significant progress in terms of participation.

"It's not that you promulgate a new law and people will abide by it," said Yu Wei, vice-secretary-general of the Zhejiang Province Environmental Federation, adding that although the trash bins have been changed in his neighborhood, residents still use them to dispose of mixed trash.

In August, Yu's organization joined other social groups to launch a competition for novel ways of promoting trash sorting. The move attracted 111 proposals, such as a trash-sorting song, a trash-identification program based on artificial intelligence, and collection of expired drugs.

"We are reaching out to people and engaging them in various ways. I think this is the best time to launch trash-sorting initiatives, because there's strong government support," Yu said, adding that more fundamental work will be needed before the rules will translate into daily action.

Zhou Chun, founder of the NGO Trash to Treasure in Shanghai, echoed Yu's words. In 2018, she started implementing trash-sorting programs in Shanghai's residential neighborhoods, and has witnessed the incremental changes in people's behavior. At first, residents were reluctant, so volunteers had to go door to door to explain the program, then stand by garbage stations and correct wrongdoers.

"Now, after thoroughly communicating with residents and property management staff, the 80 neighborhoods in our program don't need supervision anymore," she said.

Business opportunities

The recent development of trash-sorting initiatives has brought business opportunities for Zhou, who has started another project in Zhejiang.

However, she acknowledged that it is harder to push forward trash sorting in other places, because they don't have the same level of governance as Shanghai.

In addition to public advocacy and education, domestic waste management requires separate transportation systems and the construction of dedicated treatment facilities.

A report by Orient Securities, an investment bank and brokerage, estimated that Shanghai's waste-management project has cost 7.6 billion yuan so far. It predicted that the Shanghai model would be extended to every city in the country, producing a market worth about 200 billion yuan.

Wen Zongguo, director of Tsinghua University's Centre for Industry and Circular Economy, said the aim of the national campaign is to reduce the generation of trash to prevent megacities becoming "besieged by waste".

"The nation's move toward recycling and the circular economy through waste management started because China faces a developmental bottleneck-limited natural resources, limited land resources and serious pollution."

In January last year, the State Council issued a plan to build several "waste free" cities, and in May, 11 cities and five areas, including Chongqing, Sanya, Hainan province, and Shenzhen in Guangdong, were selected to pilot waste-free programs led by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and 17 other ministry-level agencies.

"There are many opportunities and investments in the areas of recycling, waste treatment, renewable resources and the circular economy in the pilot cities," Wen said.

Alizee Buysschaert, a Belgian expat who co-founded the Zero Waste Shanghai project which provides training and workshops on sustainability, said she has been contacted by a growing number of companies in recent months.

"Many are thinking ahead; they asked me that in addition to recycling and waste sorting, what more can they do," she said.

She added that she was recently invited to provide a workshop for employees of a company in Guangzhou, Guangdong's capital.

"Everyone is looking at China right now in terms of recycling and sustainability."

Buysschaert has been interviewed by many foreign media outlets since July. "They want to know what's going on here in China… and you cannot deny that China is the No 1 sustainability leader in the world, and it will remain like this for a very long time," she said.

"We're working toward a greener future every day."

 

 

 

A woman disposes of trash in accordance with the waste-classification program in Shanghai last year. ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILY

 

 

]]> 2020-01-08 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Cultural relics rescued by Shanxi coal firms]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531427.htm TAIYUAN-In the city of Jiexiu, Shanxi province, a 1,600-year-old, once dilapidated underground tunnel has been returned to its original glory.

The 10-kilometer tunnel was used for military defense in ancient China. However, due to a dearth of proper protection, it decayed along with Zhangbi Castle situated just above it.

"We have spent almost 600 million yuan ($86 million) to restore the cultural tunnel and the castle," said Zhang Jinxiang, who works for a local coal company. "We repaired the decaying old buildings and consolidated the tunnel."

In coal-rich Shanxi province, many have joined efforts to protect local cultural relics through social capital, including those from the coal industry, seeking changes amid scrutiny of safety and environmental woes.

So far, 88 relics have received sufficient funds for restoration in Shanxi, according to the latest government figures.

More than 5,500 ancient buildings have survived in the province, but the local government has been shy of funds.

"Only about 3,000 cultural remains have obtained funds for protection, and the rest are still vulnerable," said Zhao Shuguang, with the Shanxi cultural relics bureau.

Under such circumstances, many traditional coal companies are using this opportunity to begin transforming themselves by switching to the tourism industry.

Zhang said they signed a development agreement with the Shanxi government, with every detail of the repair under government supervision.

The government entrusted the company to turn Zhangbi Castle and the tunnel into a national-level tourist attraction in 2009. Today, the castle generates 10 million yuan in ticket revenue annually.

The change in the company's role also benefited many local villagers who used to depend on the coal industry for survival.

"I feel relaxed selling tourism souvenirs here," said villager Li Qijin, who used to be a coal miner in the city. "Men and women in the village now rely on tourism," he said.

The central government is also encouraging social capital to protect relics. However, that also increases the risk of damage to cultural relics.

To enhance supervision, authorities are building a digital platform where all local cultural relics will fall under their watch.

"This will allow us to prevent any relic vandalism," Zhao said.

]]> 2020-01-07 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Heavy snowfall blankets north regions as coldest period of winter commences]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531486.htm Heavy snowfall swept across the capital late Sunday night, covering shrubs and plants along roads in Beijing on Tuesday, marking the start of the coldest days of the winter season.

In the capital's downtown area, snow and sleet reached their greatest density at the junction of Chaoyang and Tongzhou districts, with snow accumulation of 8 centimeters. Blizzards also hit areas in the northern and central region of China, making it the first widespread storm of 2020.

The overnight snowfall hit most parts of the city with an average precipitation of 4.3 millimeters citywide, according to the Beijing meteorological bureau.

The snowfall reduced visibility, further burdening motorists on icy roads and prompting the bureau to issue an alert. As of 4 pm on Monday, the Beijing Jishuitan Hospital had received 70 patients who tumbled and got injured in the snow.

The first snowfall of this year also forced the closure of highways, cancellation of flights and train delays in the capital.

For example, according to the Beijing Capital International Airport, 108 flights had been canceled by 1 pm.

It is expected that the snow will last until Tuesday around 8 am, affecting the provinces of Heilongjiang, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan and Hubei as well as the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, where snowfall up to 18 millimeters is forecast, said the National Metrological Center.

The center renewed a yellow alert for heavy snow on Monday afternoon, the third-highest level of the country's four-tier system.

Nationwide, highways and roads were also shut down. According to the Ministry of Transport, 131 highways and 135 sections of roads were closed in northern China as of 7:45 am on Monday.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Monba pioneer pays back her people on plateau]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531475.htm Some people regard working in a remote village as a hardship that they hope finishes as soon as possible. But Luo Hongying sees it as an opportunity to devote her efforts to helping her people in the Tibet autonomous region.

"Having a thankful heart is the secret of my happiness, whenever and whatever I do," said Luo, an associate professor at the regional agriculture and animal husbandry college in Nyingchi city.

The 49-year-old said setbacks and discontent are inevitable in life, but being thankful for what you have can generate a positive energy. "I also have unpleasant moments and distress like other people, but I am grateful that I can breathe the fresh air and enjoy the sunshine on the plateau, which people may not have in other places," Luo said.

A member of the Monba ethnic group, Luo has also worked as a government official in the remote Kibu village, Tsawarong township, in Zayul county, since August.

But Luo has another string to her bow.

After studying water conservation and hydropower, she is expected to graduate with her doctorate from Wuhan University, Hubei province, later this year.

If she gains her PhD, she will become the first Monba to achieve the academic goal. It would also mean that people from 54 of China's 56 ethnic groups have gained a doctorate.

The Monba are one of the smallest ethnic groups in China numbering just 10,000 people, according to the sixth national census in 2010.

They mainly live in the southeastern part of Tibet. More than 77 percent of the Monba population was illiterate in the 1990s, according to a report by Wuhan-based Changjiang Daily.

"Obtaining a doctoral degree is important not only to me, but also to the whole ethnic group," Luo said.

Village person

In August, Luo and her colleagues drove more than 800 kilometers in two days through mountainous terrain to Kibu village to help serve the needs of the local residents.

Luo and her four-member team were scheduled to stay until December, and chief among their aims was to help the locals understand and use a new stable electricity supply.

All but four of 40 village households had been connected to the new power supply.

"Most villagers only knew how to use solar power, so I conducted power usage training for them and I instructed the villagers how to safely use electricity," she said.

Luo's team also proposed to the Tsawarong township that they provide 400,000 yuan ($57,300) so that the village could set up a supermarket and a teahouse.

Rescue mission

Kibu is located in steep and treacherous terrain, and when two of the villagers fell ill in August it was up to Luo to get them to a hospital.

A woman in her 40s had had a stroke, while a 7-year-old child was suffering from loss of bladder and bowel control.

They hired a van to take them from Kibu to Dongshan county, Yunnan province, from where they took buses to Kunming.

In all, Luo and the two patients traveled more than three days to get to Kunming for medical treatment.

"From 6 am to late in the evenings, for one month, I helped the two patients in everything, from interpreter to traffic guide," Luo said.

"It was really hard to get all the things done by myself in a strange place, however, what I did was really worthwhile as the two of them have almost recovered now."

Duty bound

Luo's mission to work in the rural village was supposed to be finished by late last month. However, the projects they had discussed-such as the teahouse, the supermarket and a pomegranate plantation in the village-are in the process of final inspection and approval by the government.

Luo's work mission to Kibu has been extended until later this month.

"I had to work longer in the village," she said.

"I missed spending more time with my family, however, I have no complaints or regrets. The government has given me a lot, and I would not have obtained what I have today without the care and support of the government.

"I am always grateful to the government and my own people, and I hope what I have been doing will become a minor part of my paying back what I gained from the government."

Luo Hongying (front) and her colleagues work in a remote village in Tibet's Zayul county last year. CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Schools to offer mental health services by end of 2022]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531458.htm All schools across China will be able to offer psychological services on campus by the end of 2022, as part of efforts to curb the increase in mental health issues confronting the country's young population, according to an action plan released by 12 government bodies including the National Health Commission.

Such services will either be based on platforms dedicated to mental health support on campus or rely on school doctors. Preschools and institutions receiving students with special needs are required to be staffed with full-time or part-time mental health educators, according to the action plan released recently.

By that time, 60 percent of psychiatric hospitals at the secondary level of the country's three-tier system or above should provide outpatient mental health services for children and teenagers, and 30 percent of pediatric hospitals, maternal and child care institutions, and general hospitals at these levels are also required to offer such services, the action plan said.

Incidences of mental and behavioral problems along with the rate of mental health disorders among the nation's children and teenagers have been rising in recent years, the commission's disease prevention and control bureau said in a release explaining the action plan.

About 30 million people under the age of 17 in China are dealing with emotional or behavioral disorders, according to a report published by the China Youth & Children Research Center.

Some who are suffering severe conditions have developed depression. Data from the World Health Organization show that an estimated 1.2 million youth in China aged 15 to 24 suffer from depressive disorders.

Lu Lin, president of Peking University Sixth Hospital, said last September that such burdens are particularly demanding for teenagers and young adults, with repercussions that could affect the entire society.

Early diagnosis and timely intervention are crucial in reining in the progression of mental health issues, but in China, only three in 10 patients with mental disorders seek professional assistance.

Liu Huaqing, a physician with the Beijing Huilongguan Hospital, said children and teenagers are prone to developing mental health issues due to their inability to handle setbacks and lack of life experience. Anxiety is also common.

Wang Changbin, a primary schoolteacher in Jiangsu province, said he also noted an increasing number of mental health problems in students, largely due to academic pressure.

"The awareness of the importance of mental health is also rising," he said. "If we notice some symptoms, we report to their parents who will decide if they want to use medical care offered by part-time psychologists on campus or seek treatment from professional service providers off campus."

Gaming addiction has been in the spotlight since it was recognized by the WHO as a mental health disorder last June. In China, the rate of overdependence on the internet, which sometimes takes the form of gaming addiction, stands at about 10 percent, compared with the global average of 6 percent.

Therefore, the latest action plan also calls for enhanced oversight over the country's online sphere. Internet watchdogs are required to tighten monitoring of online content and remove illegal or harmful information targeting youth.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Most advanced satellite starts orbital operations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531439.htm China's biggest, heaviest and most advanced satellite has started its formal orbital operations to conduct demonstrations and verifications for advanced satellite and communication technology.

Shijian 20, a technology demonstration satellite developed by the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing, was lifted by a Long March 5 carrier rocket at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province on Dec 27 and reached its preset position in a geosynchronous orbit about 36,000 kilometers above the Earth on Sunday, according to China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the nation's major space contractor.

The satellite performed seven orbital maneuvers before flying into orbit. Its components functioned well during those processes, the company said in a statement.

Shijian 20 is the second satellite based on China's new-generation satellite platform, the DFH 5, after the Shijian 18 that was lost during Long March 5's failed second flight in July 2017.

The spacecraft's major tasks are to test the overall design and reliability of the DFH 5 platform as well as to verify several key space-based technologies and new equipment, according to the statement.

With a liftoff weight of more than 8 metric tons, the satellite carries more than 10 world-class technological payloads and is equipped with the country's largest, longest and most sophisticated solar arrays.

It is expected to function for at least 16 years in space.

Zhou Zhicheng, chief engineer at China Academy of Space Technology and project manager of Shijian 20, said that compared with DFH 5's predecessors, the new platform features larger carrying capacity, higher transmission capability and longer life span and will better serve the needs of high-capacity satellites in the next 20 years.

Hao Yanyan, a supervisor in the Shijian 20 program, said that DFH 5 can be the basis of a wide range of satellite models for different operations ranging from high-orbiting communication and microwave remote sensing to space-based scientific exploration and technological experiments.

She explained that each DFH 5-based satellite is three times stronger than those developed on its most recent predecessor, DFH 4, in regards to operational capacity.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Universities for the elderly enrich the lives of graying population]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531443.htm CHANGSHA-One week before the end of her course at a university for the elderly, Wu Yue'e was making notes for her speech as a student representative at the closing ceremony.

Wu, 72, has been a student for more than 10 years at Changsha Senior Cadre University in Hunan province, where she learned a number of new skills including reading and writing pinyin, using traditional Chinese medicine and playing the erhu.

Heading back to school for further study and cultural enrichment is becoming a choice of many Chinese senior citizens.

Self-improvement

The greatest regret of Wu, an active participant in all facets of school life, is that she did not receive a full education when she was young.

"I have always loved literature, even though I dropped out of school very early," Wu said.

Before retirement, Wu was a textile worker who loved to read in her spare time. Her favorite book is The Count of Monte Christo by French author Alexandre Dumas.

After her retirement, she was able to fulfill her dream of studying at a university for the elderly. "I felt the elderly should keep up with the pace of social development, and I hadn't done well enough," said Wu.

Yin Jianlin, 57, had a similar experience. Five years ago, Yin retired, but was unable to adapt to retirement. "Once a person stops working, a sense of loss comes," Yin said.

In 2015, Yin enrolled at a university for the elderly to study folk dance and mental health. With the help of the mental health class, Yin also accepted her new role in life and learned to deal with her emotions.

"I used to take care of my family as my sole responsibility. Now I have learned to take care of myself, too," Yin said.

"Although we are old, we feel like we are still teenagers when dancing with our classmates," she said.

Caring family

Although an increasing number of seniors are heading off in pursuit of self-fulfillment, a large percentage of the elderly in China remain the primary caregivers of their grandchildren, whose parents are tied down with busy work schedules.

Since 2014, Liu Yanping, a 37-year-old psychological consultant, has run courses on parenting and positive disciplining of children with her team in Changsha. Liu found that many children relied on their grandparents, rather than their parents, to learn about the world.

In 2017, Liu and her team set up a course of alternate-generation education at Changsha Senior Cadre University.

Huang Qijian, 60, who attended the course, has twin grandchildren, and learning how to properly educate and guide them has become his major concern. "My educational method is outdated," Huang said.

By learning advanced educational concepts and methods in the alternate-generation education class, many older people, like Huang, have learned how to balance the relationships between themselves, their children and their grandchildren.

"Having practiced the knowledge learned from the classes, I've found our family has become warmer and closer," Huang said.

Policies taking shape

Since China started becoming an aging society at the end of the 20th century, the proportion of the elderly in the total population has continued to grow.

From 2000 to 2018, the number of people age 60 and above increased from 126 million to 249 million, and the proportion of the elderly in the total population increased from 10.2 percent to 17.9 percent.

Chinese seniors now want to enrich their spare time and improve their quality of life by attending university and participating in community activities.

Statistics from the China Association of Universities for the Elderly show that by the end of 2018, China had 62,000 universities and schools for the elderly, with more than 8 million students attending classes and more than 5 million students participating through distance learning.

In November, the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council jointly unveiled a medium-and long-term plan for responding proactively to the aging population, proposing to build a social environment marked by filial piety, respect for the elderly and protection of the aged.

The plan highlights improving the effective supply of labor in an aging society, which requires improving the quality of new members of the labor force, establishing a lifelong learning system for senior citizens, and striving to achieve more employment and create better-quality jobs.

Yin Jianlin and her classmates were sketching the image of perfect grandparents during a class. After counting more than a dozen virtues, all the students gathered to share their feelings.

Some said that perfect grandparents should be literate and good tempered, while others said a decent appearance was also indispensable.

Yin, however, had a different perspective. "There are no perfect grandparents, we can only try our best to be better," she said.

Students at a university for the elderly in Changsha, Hunan province, rehearse for a program before the Double Ninth Festival in 2018. ZHANG XIAOYU/XINHUA
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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Couriers may see delivery surge in 2020]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531441.htm China's courier industry is expected to handle 74 billion parcels this year, according to the country's postal service regulator, an average of 52 deliveries per person.

The figure will represent an 18 percent year-on-year increase by the end of this year, Ma Junsheng, head of the State Post Bureau, said at its annual work conference on Monday, adding that revenues in the sector will reach about 866 billion yuan ($127 billion).

According to the bureau, over 63 billion parcels were delivered through express delivery last year, up 24 percent year-on-year. The sector raked in 745 billion yuan in revenues, surging 23 percent.

Ma also called for the expansion of delivery services to rural areas to boost the sales of agriculture products and promote poverty alleviation.

"In 2020, we will further upgrade the service by establishing delivery service outlets in every township across the country," he said.

China achieved the goal of covering all 556,000 administrative villages with direct postal services last year, one year ahead of schedule. Over 30,000 express delivery outlets have been set up in townships so far, covering over 96 percent of all such locales, according to the bureau.

He Ying, branch manager of JD Logistics in Huichang county, Jiangxi province, said that with the improved transportation infrastructure and easy access to delivery service between every township, farmers enjoy more convenient logistics than before.

The delivery service helps the farmers, most of whom make their living planting oranges and tangelos, reduce their logistics costs and avoid serious losses in the low season or in an uneven market, he added.

"But locals in dispersed villages still rely on township-level delivery service stations and had to drive long distances to pick up their goods," he said, "With the goal accomplished, it will help rural people make the best use of the service in a bid to further facilitate the transportation of local products and boost rural household consumption."

Ma also stressed that the country will step up efforts in strengthening the interconnection of the global postal network and promoting the development of international postal services this year with the focus on Southeast Asia.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Infrastructure picks up speed in Xinjiang]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531440.htm The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region accelerated infrastructure construction in 2019, including starting a record number of airports to boost economic development, the chairman of the regional government said.

"The construction of nine airports kicked off in 2019, which is unprecedented. Now, 56 regional air routes have opened, which is a great step forward in achieving the goal of connecting northern and southern Xinjiang as well as making travel inside and outside the region faster," Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the regional government, said on Monday while delivering the government work report during the opening ceremony of the annual session of the Xinjiang regional People's Congress.

Of the nine airports under construction, four are in less-developed southern Xinjiang, including Tashkurgan county in Kashgar prefecture and Yutian county in Hotan prefecture.

Covering one-sixth of Chinese territory, Xinjiang currently has 21 airports-the most among all provinces and regions.

What's more, all prefectures and cities in Xinjiang were connected with highways by 2019. Meanwhile, the power transmission network around the Tarim Basin was put into operation in 2019, solving the problem of shortages in Kashgar and Hotan, he said.

The region plans to further invest in infrastructure construction and boost connectivity by improving rail and highway networks this year, making it a key corridor on the Silk Road Economic Belt. The highway connecting Kashgar city with Pakistan is expected to be completed this year and will support the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, Shohrat said.

Meanwhile, the region's annual GDP achieved growth of 6 percent in 2019 as the implementation of measures to root out religious extremism and fight terrorism in accordance with the law continues.

The measures have kept the region-which had experienced frequent terrorist attacks in the past-stable for more than three years. As a result, tourism in the region has boomed and significantly contributed to economic growth, he added.

Tourists visited the region, which is famous for its natural scenery and ethnic cultures, more than 200 million times in 2019, an increase of 41.6 percent year-on-year, according to the government work report.

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2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Local governments to monitor child-care centers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531457.htm China is requiring local authorities to keep a record of child-care centers in a bid to enhance oversight over the booming sector.

A regulation released on Monday by four government bodies, including the National Health Commission, said for-profit child-care centers receiving children under 3 years old should register with local market regulators, while community child-care institutions should register with local civil affairs authorities.

All centers are also required to file information-ranging from staff health certificates to fire safety certificates-with local health commissions, who are responsible for detecting and reporting violations of industry standards, according to the regulation.

Information should be shared and exchanged in a timely manner among the local health authority and other departments to facilitate long-term supervision, it added.

The regulation takes effect immediately.

There are about 50 million children under the age of 3 in China, straining the country's limited childcare options, Yu Xuejun, vice-minister of the commission, said in May.

Some parents have complained about a shortage of affordable options, making them reluctant to conceive.

Many regions have thus begun to address such concerns, such as by extending maternity leave and motivating social organizations and institutions to offer child-care assistance.

To better regulate the growing sector, the commission released two documents in October laying out specific requirements for child-care facilities and staffing levels, and specifying key responsibilities of centers.

The new rules will step up supervision and bolster the development of services targeting infants and young children, the commission's department of population monitoring and family development said.

]]> 2020-01-07 00:00:00 <![CDATA[China races to rescue rare 'smiling angel' of Asia's longest river]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531289.htm NANJING-Along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, a slick black back briefly arches above the silvery surface as one of the world's most endangered animals emerges, gulping for air.

Glimpses of the Yangtze finless porpoise are taken by many Chinese as a good omen since the aquatic mammal is critically endangered, being even rarer than the giant panda, the country's poster child for species conservation.

The latest research on the species released by the Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Affairs in 2018 showed there was a wild population of just 1,012 still navigating the twists and turns of the longest river in Asia.

After its more-storied cousin, the baiji dolphin, was declared "functionally extinct" in 2007 in the same waters, the finless porpoise is believed to be the Yangtze's last surviving mammal, said Jiang Meng, secretary-general of the Nanjing Yangtze Finless Porpoise Conservation Association.

Permanent grin

The freshwater porpoise with no dorsal fin is native to China. They only live in the central and eastern parts of the 6,300-kilometer Yangtze-including Dongting and Poyang lakes-according to conservationists.

With its mouth fixed in a permanent grin, the rotund finless porpoise is adored in China as a "smiling angel". But after living in the waters for some 25 million years, the species is now fighting for its very survival.

The riverbank of the Yangtze used to be studded with steel mills and petrochemical factories that took advantage of cheap water transport, causing its water quality to deteriorate.

"Unsustainable fishing, which reduced its natural prey, collisions with ships and water pollution have all had an impact on the porpoise's health, making it critically endangered," Jiang said.

The extinction of the baiji stung the collective conscience of the Chinese people.

"We cannot afford to let the 'smiling angel' go extinct," Jiang said. "Its fate foreshadows the health of the whole river ecosystem. So the crisis is also our own."

The finless porpoise requires healthy river ecosystems, and so do the millions of people who live in the Yangtze River basin. Protecting the creature will also help alleviate China's food and water security issues, said Karin Krchnak, director of the World Wildlife Fund's freshwater program.

"Fortunately, people have awakened and are racing to save them," Jiang said.

Concerted efforts

Nanjing, capital of eastern China's Jiangsu province, is the only Chinese city where visitors can observe the finless porpoise in an urban setting. More than 50 finless porpoises have been spotted in the Yangtze in Nanjing.

In 2014, the local government opened a protection zone that covers an area of nearly 87 square kilometers along the Yangtze for the endangered species.

Last year, Nanjing made several design adjustments in building new Yangtze river infrastructure to minimize the impact on the endangered animal.

Eagles and migratory birds can always be seen flitting around the 30-sq-km core part of the zone, where the construction of any factories is strictly prohibited, Nanjing's environmental protection bureau said.

Jiang set up the conservation association in 2015 in the hope of teaching local people to care for the finless porpoise and has organized over 100 public engagement activities in local schools and communities.

The quality of the porpoise's habitat is a bench mark for its protection, said Sun Lifeng, an official with the Nanjing Dolphin Nature Reserve.

"We have been devoted to the afforestation of the Yangtze River shoreline as wetlands are critical for the entire ecological environment," Sun said.

Since 2016, the environmental protection of the Yangtze, rather than large-scale development, has become the dominant focus of the country's river development plans.

The rallying call was heard as authorities across China carried out a series of measures, including preventing water pollution, restricting ship movements and patrolling the nature reserves every day.

Jiangsu, in the lower reaches of the Yangtze, closed more than 6,000 chemical factories near the river in the last three years. And Chongqing, lying upstream, aims to remove all factories with dilapidated equipment from the river this year.

"Official clampdowns on overfishing and polluting activities have gradually restored the water quality of the Yangtze," Jiang said.

Encouraging signs

The 1,012 finless porpoises in the river in 2018 was only a slight drop from 1,040 in 2012, said Wang Ding, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with protection work showing encouraging signs.

Chinese lawmakers have started deliberating on the country's first legislation covering a specific river basin, a draft law on Yangtze River conservation aimed at protecting the ecological environment and facilitating green development.

The central government is also pushing for a 10-year fishing ban in 332 conservation areas along the Yangtze from this year, which will be expanded to the entire river and its main tributaries next year.

Yang Jinlong was once a fisherman in Nanjing. The 45-year-old chose to be a patrolman in an all-volunteer monitoring team consisting of dozens of fish farmers in 2016, when the city closed a large number of fishing-related enterprises along the Yangtze.

Yang gradually came to understand the finless porpoises after years of hard work recording their sightings at the monitoring sites in the protection zone.

"I grew up near the Yangtze and it brings me peace of mind," Yang said. "It doesn't matter that we can't fish, but it matters that the 'smiling angel' keeps smiling."

In recent years, the monitoring team has captured countless precious pictures and footage of the porpoises, providing support for scientific research on the endangered animal.

With increasing environmental awareness, more Chinese people are willing to volunteer to protect the porpoise, Yang said.

"When I see the animal jumping out of the water, I feel fulfilled. It's like everything we've done is worth it," he said.

"And we see changes. Little young finless porpoises can often be spotted now, which indicates the endangered mammal is thriving."

]]> 2020-01-06 00:00:00 <![CDATA[MICROPLASTICS: A HIDDEN DANGER]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531310.htm Plastic pollution poses a major threat to the world's oceans. When the material breaks down to become microplastics, it can be more easily ingested by fish, and enters the human body via the food chain.

The 2018 China Marine Ecology and Environment Bulletin, published in May by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, indicated that plastics account for about 80 percent of the waste in China's oceans. Microplastics were found in the Yellow and the South China seas.

The report-the result of ministry research in 57 marine areas-also said plastic waste, such as bottles and bags, accumulates at tourist sites, fishing areas and harbors.

It added that an average of 47,000 pieces of plastic were found in each square kilometer of beach, while the number was about 910 per sq km in the deep sea.

However, Huo Chuanlin, deputy director of the ministry's Department of Marine Ecology and Environment, said China should not be the most-blamed country for plastic pollution.

"China is the largest producer and exporter of plastics, but it doesn't mean it is the largest polluting country. Lots of studies prove that," Huo said in a media release on Oct 29.

In 2018, Li Daoji, a professor of oceanography at East China Normal University in Shanghai, released the results of his team's research at the Eco Forum Global Annual Conference in Guiyang, Guizhou province. The research showed that the density of microplastics in China's oceans was at a medium level, compared with other countries.

"Sometimes, research groups from different countries adopt different methods to take samples, which may cause differences in the results. A unified standard of monitoring and calculation should be promoted across the world," he was quoted as saying by China Profiles magazine.

Regardless of the pollution ranking, the amount of microplastics in the world's oceans is rising and a global war on ocean pollution is urgently needed.

According to the UN, there will be more plastic than fish in the world's oceans by 2050. Research conducted in 2014 by the 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to the elimination of plastic waste, said that from 2007 to 2013, some 5.25 trillion plastic particles were floating in the oceans, weighing about 269,000 metric tons.

A 2016 report by the UN showed that about 800 marine and coastal species were found to have been affected by plastic garbage entanglement or inhalation, and microplastics have been detected in about 40 percent of cetaceans and 44 percent of seabird species.

The garbage could find its way onto our dinner tables through the food chain or sea salt, the UN said.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 2017, humans are likely to consume 7 micrograms of microplastics with every 225 grams of shellfish.

Sea salt in the United Kingdom, France and Spain, China and the United States has also been found to contain microplastics, according to The Guardian in 2017.

Shi Huahong, professor of environmental science at East China Normal University, said that to date, there is still no strong evidence to show that microplastics can cause obvious damage to the ecosystem.

"The natural environment is complex and full of various kinds of pollutants and other environmental impact factors, so it is difficult to relate negative effects on creatures to specific pollution factors," he said.

"However, large numbers of laboratory tests have proved that creatures exposed to a certain amount of microplastics in the lab can have various toxicological reactions."

China has introduced a national campaign aimed at curbing microplastics pollution in the oceans.

In 2016, the density of marine microplastics was introduced as a routine monitoring item for the marine environment, and results are regularly posted on the official website of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

Also, by November, 237 cities at prefectural level or above had adopted waste-sorting programs after a nationwide campaign started in June.

"This will help to recycle plastic and prevent waste from flowing into the oceans," Huo said.

MUKESH MOHANAN/LI XIAOTIAN/LI XINLEI/CHINA DAILY
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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[2 ex-Shaanxi officials expelled from CPC]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531292.htm Two former senior officials in Shaanxi province were expelled from the Communist Party of China for serious violations of Party disciplinary rules and State laws over the weekend, the country's top anti-graft watchdogs said.

Zhao Zhengyong, former Party chief of Shaanxi and a former senior national legislator, was expelled from the CPC for serious violations of disciplines and laws, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission said in a statement.

Zhao had been under investigation by both commissions for almost a year. He was expelled from his public office in March.

Zhao strayed from his ideals and convictions and was disloyal to the Party, according to a statement jointly issued by the watchdogs on Saturday.

The investigation found that Zhao performed his duty perfunctorily, resisted investigation by the authorities, sought privileges waywardly and allowed his relatives to interfere in personnel promotions, the statement said.

It also said Zhao abused his power to seek benefits for others in terms of job promotions, energy resource exploration and utilization, business activities and project contracting and received a huge amount of gifts and money in return.

Zhao violated the Party's disciplinary standards on politics, organization, clean governance and life, and was suspected of taking bribes, the statement said.

Chen Guoqiang, former vice-governor of Shaanxi province, was also expelled from the Party and dismissed from public office over serious violations of Party discipline and State laws, the watchdogs announced on Saturday.

They said in a statement that Chen lost his ideals and convictions, was disloyal to and dishonest with the Party, played up to people of power to seek personal promotion and resisted investigation by the authorities.

Chen violated CPC policy by accepting banquet invitations and free travel offers, and he sought profit for others in business operations and personnel promotions while illegally accepting huge amounts of property in return, according to the statement.

Chen also violated the Party's political and organizational rules and its policy on upholding integrity, it said.

Zhao and Chen were disqualified as delegates to the 13th CPC Shaanxi Provincial Congress, with their illicit gains confiscated. Their cases will be transferred to the procuratorate for further investigation and prosecution, the watchdogs said.

The Shaanxi provincial Party committee and the Party leading group of the provincial government held separate meetings on Saturday to convey the decisions on the two former officials, Shaanxi Daily, the provincial Party newspaper, reported.

The meetings called on Party members to learn a lesson from their cases, it said.

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Time to tackle heart disease, expert warns]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531295.htm China will see "explosive" growth in the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases in the next three decades if effective prevention measures are not implemented in time to tackle the No 1 killer of Chinese people, a top cardiologist said recently.

Hu Shengshou, director of the National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases and an academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said although the mortality rate for those with heart and blood vessel conditions is on the decline thanks to medical advances, the number of newly diagnosed patients has been rising at a worrisome pace for years.

"As the total population of China is growing and aging, it is estimated that from 2010 to 2030, the annual incidence of cardiovascular diseases for people between 35 to 84 years old will jump by 50 percent," he said at China Heart Congress 2019, which was held in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in early November.

The epidemic is expected to worsen given that an increasing number of people are suffering high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels and diabetes. These conditions, along with being overweight or obese and smoking, are considered the five key risk factors that can cause deadly or paralyzing cardiovascular events.

Currently, about 245 million people in China suffer high blood pressure; 200 million report abnormal lipid levels; 240 million are overweight or obese; 300 million smoke; and 90 million live with diabetes, according to Hu.

"Prevalence of such conditions is projected to result in another 23 percent increase in cardiovascular events annually," he said.

More people have adopted unhealthy lifestyle behaviors that could lead to the development of cardiovascular conditions, including tobacco use, physical inactivity and high-salt intake.

For instance, from 1991 to 2011, levels of physical activity had fallen by 44 percent for men and 36 percent for women, Hu said.

The worsening trend has placed China in a tough battle against the widespread but preventable and curable diseases.

Currently, there are about 290 million people with cardiovascular conditions in China, and two in five deaths in the country are caused by such diseases, ranking first among all illness categories, according to a report released by the center in June.

A health promotion plan released by the State Council in June said China aims to reduce the mortality rate of cardiovascular diseases to 209.7 per 100,000 people by 2022 and to 190.7 per 100,000 by 2030. The number stood at about 238 per 100,000 in 2015.

Hu has called for awareness of cardiovascular diseases to be boosted and for intervention measures to be implemented so that high risk factors can be diagnosed and controlled in a timely manner.

"Grassroots health institutions will play a crucial role in the process," he said. "We are actively connecting larger hospitals with community clinics through online platforms, as well as launching training programs and deploying intelligent tools to help grassroots health workers improve the precision of their diagnoses and prescriptions."

Zheng Zhe, deputy director of the center, also stressed the significance of early detection of risk factors at a recent news conference.

"Adults are encouraged to measure their blood pressure, cholesterol and lipid levels regularly, and people who are over 40 years old or under great pressure at work should conduct such examinations more frequently," he said.

The health promotion plan additionally called for providing lifestyle guidance targeting patients and people who are at high risk of falling ill due to heart and blood vessel conditions.

Wang Zengwu, a physician with the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences' Fuwai Hospital, said the control rate of high blood pressure in China has increased in recent years to about 15 percent.

"The ratio is expected to reach 30 to 50 percent if we can keep good momentum," he said.

"While health workers in community clinics are supposed to learn more about how to prevent and control high blood pressure, patients are also encouraged to collaborate with grassroots workers and be more active in their own care."

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Heavy snowfalls to hit more than 10 regions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531293.htm A powerful winter storm lasting through Wednesday will bring heavy snowfalls to more than 10 provincial-level regions in China, including the western parts of Beijing, the National Meteorological Center said.

Blizzards first appeared in parts of North and Central China on Saturday and then headed southward to affect wider regions with stronger force, prompting the center to issue a blue alert for blizzards-the lowest level in the country's four-tier system-on Sunday morning.

By Monday afternoon, heavy snowfalls with an average snow accumulation of 2 to 6 millimeters are expected to hit areas including Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei and Henan provinces, as well as Beijing, Tianjin and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, making it the first widespread storm of 2020, the center said.

The hardest-hit areas will be parts of the Tibet autonomous region and Yunnan province in Southwest China, which are forecast to see up to 18 mm of snow.

Beijing, especially its mountainous western regions, including Shijingshan and Mentougou districts, were expected to see the third snowfall of this winter from late Sunday to early Monday, but this round of snow was likely to be less intense than the last two, the Beijing Meteorological Service said.

Meanwhile, moderate to heavy rain will pound widespread areas stretching from the western part of Yunnan province, across large swaths of eastern and central provinces, and into parts of North China.

Chen Tao, a chief forecaster at the center, said some regions, including Shandong and Henan provinces, will see up to 70 mm of rainfall, approaching or even surpassing regional historical records.

"It is not common to see heavy rain in Southwest China, such as Chongqing, during winters, so extra precautions against weather-related risks should be taken," Chen said.

China Meteorological Administration spokesman Zhang Zuqiang told a news conference on Friday the winter storm would create slippery and icy conditions on roads, with reduced visibility.

With chunyun, the 40-day travel rush around Spring Festival, set to kick off on Friday, Zhang said authorities across China were implementing measures to reduce hazards brought by the winter storm.

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Court orders confiscation of couple's assets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531309.htm A court in Hunan province has ordered the confiscation of the illegal assets of fugitive couple Peng Xufeng and Jia Siyu, who are on Interpol's Red Notice list.

Peng, a former official in Changsha, Hunan's provincial capital, and his wife face bribery and money laundering charges related to 239 million yuan ($34 million) in bribes. They fled abroad in March 2017, the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission said in a statement on Friday.

Prosecutors applied to the Yueyang Intermediate People's Court in Hunan for permission to confiscate Peng and Jia's domestic and overseas assets and properties.

The court heard the application on Dec 31 and said on Friday it believed there was sufficient evidence to prove Peng was involved in bribery and Jia was involved in bribery and money laundering.

The court ordered the confiscation of their illegal gains, including over 103 million yuan, gold products, five overseas properties, 2.5 million euros ($2.79 million) in bonds and $500,000. Authorities are still searching for the rest of the couple's illegal gains.

The court will ask foreign judicial organs for assistance in retrieving the couple's overseas assets.

The investigation found that from 2010 to 2017, Peng took advantage of his positions as deputy director of the Housing and Construction Committee of Changsha and Party chief and chairman of Changsha Metro Group to help businesses and individuals win contracts for projects, lease land and procure facilities. In return, he accepted money and properties worth 239 million yuan either directly or through Jia.

From 2012 to 2017, Jia transferred 43 million yuan overseas through underground banks and other people's bank accounts. The two fled abroad separately in March 2017 and have not been found.

Peng fled to Australia in March 2017 and then headed to the United States. In May 2017, Interpol issued a Red Notice requesting that law enforcement agencies worldwide locate and arrest Peng and Jia.

Peng, born in Hunan in 1966, became the chairman of Changsha Metro Group in August 2010 while still serving as deputy director of the city's Housing and Construction Committee. He left his committee post in 2012 and became the group's Party chief as well as its chairman in April 2015. In March 2017, he was appointed Party chief and chairman of Hunan Infrastructure Investment Group, which has since been renamed Hunan Rail Transit Holding Group.

In 2015, the central government issued a list of 100 high-profile Chinese fugitives subject to Interpol Red Notices. Sixty have since been arrested.

Four Chinese suspects on the Red Notice list, Mo Peifen, Xiao Jianming, Liu Baofeng and Huang Ping, returned to China and turned themselves in last year.

Also, four duty crime suspects who had fled to Cambodia were returned to China last year after the National Supervisory Commission asked Cambodian law enforcement authorities for assistance.

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2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Scientists declare Chinese paddlefish is extinct]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531257.htm The Chinese paddlefish, one of the world's largest freshwater fishes and native to the Yangtze River, was recently declared extinct by scientists.

Reaching up to 7 meters in length, the Chinese paddlefish might have become extinct between 2005 and 2010, according to a research paper published online by the Science of The Total Environment journal on Dec 23.

"The Chinese paddlefish was once common in the Yangtze River. However, its population has declined drastically since the late 1970s as a result of overfishing and habitat fragmentation," the paper said.

Surveys from 2017 to 2018 found 332 fish species in the Yangtze River, but did not find a single live Chinese paddlefish, according to the paper jointly released by Chinese experts from the Yangtze River Fisheries Research Institute and two experts from the UK and Czech Republic.

Furthermore, it also showed that 140 historically reported fish species have not been found, and most of them are considered highly endangered.

"Based on 210 sightings of the Chinese paddlefish during the period from 1981 to 2003, we estimated the timing of extinction to be by 2005, and no later than by 2010," the paper said. In addition, the paddlefish probably became functionally extinct, unable to reproduce, in 1993, the report said.

"It is likely that the lack of reproduction was among the major causes of extinction. As no live specimens exist in captivity, and no living tissues are conserved for potential resurrection, the fish should be considered extinct according to the IUCN Red List criteria," it said.

In September 2019, Wei Qiwei, one of the authors of the paper, said experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature estimated that this unique and firstclass protected fish was already extinct.

On Friday, the IUCN China office said on its Sina Weibo account that it has not officially announced the species' extinct. It said an expert team was making further evaluations and the result will be released in June.

"Under the current research, the situation of Chinese paddlefish is not optimistic," it said.

If its extinction is officially confirmed, the Chinese paddlefish will be another species to have disappeared from the Yangtze River in recent years, following the Yangtze River dolphin and reeves shad.

The Chinese paddlefish, or Psephurus gladius, normally grows to about 2 to 3 meters long, and sometimes longer than 7 meters. The fish is estimated to have existed for 15 million years.

The last sighting of the Chinese paddlefish was in 2003. Scientists tried to track it, but a boat accident ruined the efforts. Since then, no sighting has been reported.

"The Chinese paddlefish was so big that it was hard to raise in captivity," Wei said. He said between 1984 and 1993, he tried to save four trapped fish, but only one survived and returned to the river.

The extinction of the fish has aroused public attention as people expressed sadness over the paddlefish's disappearance, hoping that more animals can be better protected for future generations to enjoy.

From Jan 1, China began a 10-year fishing ban on key areas of the Yangtze River to protect biodiversity in the country's longest river, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Scientist Wei Qiwei shows an album of unique fishes of the Yangtze River, with a Chinese paddlefish on the cover, in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Friday. LIU ZHONGCAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Rain and snow may hamper holiday rush]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531255.htm Rain and snow will sweep across the central and eastern parts of China over the next 10 days, which may influence the Spring Festival travel rush, according to the National Meteorological Center.

The 40-day travel rush, or chunyun, will kick off on Jan 10 and last till Feb 18, with about 3 billion trips expected to be made over the period.

The rain and snow, which will be heavy and across a wide area, will bring potential hazards such as low temperatures, slippery roads and poor visibility. The conditions could hamper transport operations at the start of the travel rush, center spokesman Zhang Zuqiang told a news conference on Friday.

Ai Wanxiu, chief forecaster at the National Climate Center, said that the average temperature in southern parts of China will be higher compared with previous years. The chance of extensive snowfall in southern China is small, she said.

Central and southern parts will experience rainy days, while northern provinces will face heavy snowfalls during the travel period, she said at the news conference.

"We encourage people to closely follow the weather forecast to better schedule their trips," she said.

The center said it will enhance weather information over the period, including issuing warnings about major weather events on Sina Weibo, WeChat and weather apps.

It also warned of possible haze in Beijing and Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shanxi and Shaanxi due to the weaker cold air.

Heavy snow and rain will start Saturday and last till Tuesday, with the average temperature in most parts of China falling by 3 to 6 C, according to the center.

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Last village without a road is connected to the outside world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531099.htm Qiesha Secong, a 30-year-old resident of Abuluoha village in Sichuan province, sold his family's only horse early last month.

The pony, which he bought four years ago, was valuable to the Yi man, whose home village is in Wuyi township, Butuo county in Sichuan's Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture.

"My village had no access to any road and I had to trek with the pony along a mountain path to carry home seeds, fertilizer, salt and rice. The pony is not tall but can carry more than 200 kilograms," he said.

He parted with his precious horse because a 3.8-kilometer road is expected to open in April and he will be able to ride a much faster motorcycle.

Abuluoha, which means a valley surrounded by rolling mountains and a less-traveled place in the language of the Yi ethnic group, is located in the deep valley of the Jinsha River and is surrounded by mountains on three sides and cliffs on the other.

Before the construction of the road linking the village to the outside started in June 2018, Abuluoha was believed to be the last village without a road in the country, said Song Ming, an information officer with the Liangshan prefecture government.

Villagers used to spend more than three hours traveling from their homes in a valley to the road being built, where they could go to the county seat through another village.

Workers have installed a 420-meter steel cable linking the valley with the road. There, a cable car can transport a 1 metric ton load.

Liangshan, which boasts the country's largest number of Yi people, is one of the least developed areas in Sichuan.

To alleviate poverty in Abuluoha-which has 253 people and is 60 kilometers from the Butuo county seat-the Sichuan provincial Department of Transportation is building the road.

Due to the village's inaccessibility, an M26 helicopter was rented to transport eight large excavators and other equipment.

As the construction site was very narrow, excavators could not be used at the same time and the pace of construction was very slow.

Sometimes only five meters of the road were built on a single day, said Hu Wei, an official in charge of the construction site.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ahdame Youzha, a 23-year-old grocery store owner in Abuluoha, spent about 20 minutes reaching the road from the cable car station.

"It used to take nearly seven hours to reach the county seat from my home. Thanks to the cable car, it takes less than three hours," she said.

Jinie Ziri, the village Party chief, said villagers would expand the growing area of seedless pepper and konjac, two local specialties, and build an eco-tourism base to increase income in the wake of the opening of the road in April.

Villagers dressed in Yi ethnic clothes wait for a cable car to reach their far-flung village of Abuluoha in Butuo county, Sichuan province, on Tuesday, when the cableway was put into operation. HE HAIYANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Space sector faces a busy year ahead]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531095.htm China's space industry is poised for an extremely busy year, with about 50 launch missions likely to take place in 2020, according to major contractors and space industry sources.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country's leading space contractor, said in a statement on Thursday that it will strive to carry out more than 40 launch missions to serve national space programs, such as the completion of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, and meet demand from commercial satellite operators.

Sources at the State-owned space giant who wished to remain anonymous said the 40-odd planned missions will be carried out by the conglomerate's Long March-series carrier rockets, the nation's backbone rocket fleet, and do not include those to be made by the company's newly developed Smart Dragon solid-propellant rockets.

This means the actual number of launches by the company in 2020 will be even bigger.

An employee at the company's China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing, the biggest developer and maker of carrier rockets in the country, said: "In 2020, all of our academy's operational rocket models, ranging from Long March 3A to Long March 5, will make flights, and four new rocket types-Long March 5B, Long March 7A, Long March 8 and Smart Dragon 2-are scheduled to conduct their maiden missions."

He said the academy expects to launch more rockets than any other year.

Another State-owned space industry player-China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp-has plans for at least eight launch missions by its Kuaizhou carrier rockets, according to Zhang Di, a senior rocket scientist and chairman of Expace Technology, a CASIC subsidiary that builds the Kuaizhou rocket, which is based in Wuhan, Hubei province.

Kuaizhou 11, a new member of the Kuaizhou family, is set to make its debut flight in 2020, becoming the biggest and most powerful solid-propellant rocket in China, he said in an earlier interview.

Several private rocket enterprises have also announced plans for launch missions in 2020 with their own rockets.

China was the world's most frequent user of carrier rockets last year for the second consecutive year, with 32 successful orbital launches and two failures.

Twenty-six of those missions-25 successes and one failure-were conducted by the Long March series.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp also carried out the debut flight of the Smart Dragon 1 solid-propellant rocket in August.

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp made five launches with its Kuaizhou 1A rockets.

Two Beijing-based private rocket makers, OneSpace and i-Space, each carried out a flight using their own carrier rockets, trying to become the country's first private orbital launch mission.

OneSpace failed and i-Space succeeded.

Major space exploration missions scheduled this year that have been made public include China's first Mars mission, which aims to place a rover on the Martian surface, and the Chang'e 5 mission, which aims to bring lunar samples back to Earth.

In 2018, China made 39 orbital launches, matching the number of space missions it carried out in the entire 1990s.

Those launches accounted for one-third of the world's total space missions in 2018, more than Russia, the European Union and India-ranked from third to fifth in the annual launch list-combined. In second place in 2018 was the United States, with 34 missions.

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Ex-academician gets 12 years for embezzlement]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531219.htm A former academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Friday for embezzlement of research funds.

The Songyuan Intermediate People's Court, Jilin province, announced the sentence of Li Ning, also an ex-professor specializing in biology at the China Agricultural University, and fined him 3 million yuan ($430,000).

Zhang Lei, a former associate researcher who worked with Li at the university, was sentenced to five years and eight months in prison and fined 200,000 yuan for the same criminal charge, the court's ruling said, adding the two defendants' corrupt gains were confiscated and turned over to the national treasury.

The court said that from July 2008 to February 2012, Li took advantage of his professor's job and various positions he held. As head of the university's agricultural biology technology laboratory, a national-level lab, Li and Zhang managed funds for scientific research projects. The pair embezzled over 37.56 million yuan by faking bills or falsifying expenses.

The embezzled money was transferred by Li and Zhang to accounts controlled by Li for investment in several other companies, the court ruling said.

According to the latest scientific research funds management rules, over 3.45 million yuan of the 37.56 million yuan was considered illegal gains instead of embezzlement. The amount embezzled by Li and Zhang was finally identified to be more than 34.1 million yuan, the verdict said.

The court showed leniency to Li after taking into consideration that some of the embezzled funds had been recovered. Zhang was also shown leniency after he confessed his crime.

The case aroused public attention in 2014 after Li, then a leading academician, was placed under investigation for allegedly swindling the country's scientific research funds. A year later, the academy terminated Li's academician qualification after a review.

Due to the complexity of the case and the flexibility of the research fund policies, the case spanned five years and two trials. The latest hearing was opened on Dec 30, the court said in the statement, adding that the legal process was in line with the Criminal Procedure Law.

During the trials, Li did not confess to any charges, claiming the money and companies were both used for his research.

"But evidence provided by prosecutors and our investigation showed that most of the money was used by him for investments, and the companies he invested in had conducted no scientific research by the time he was put under investigation," said the judge in charge of the case.

"The companies involved, meanwhile, were neither set up by Li's university nor engaged in academic projects, and the university knew nothing about their establishment."

Although Li and Zhang made contributions to national scientific developments, "no one can be above the law," he added.

The court did not disclose if the two would appeal to a higher court.

Gao Mingxuan, a law professor at Renmin University of China, said: "Corruption in any industry should be punished by law. Scientific or educational industries are no exception."

"It not only upheld justice, the ruling also showed the country's determination to fight corruption and will play a role in regulating the use of research funds," Gao added.

]]> 2020-01-04 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531220.htm BEIJING

Man, 55, charged over doctor's stabbing

Sun Wenbin, who is accused of stabbing to death an on-duty doctor, was charged by the No 3 Branch of Beijing People's Procuratorate with intentional homicide on Friday. The prosecutors decided to take the prosecution to the No 3 Intermediate People's Court. Yang Wen was working in the emergency department at the Civil Aviation General Hospital in the capital's Chaoyang district on Dec 24, when she was attacked by Sun, 55, a relative of one of her patients. Yang suffered serious neck injuries and died early the following day.

LIAONING

Highly radioactive manganese ore returned

Customs officers in Dalian, Liaoning province, said on Friday they had intercepted more than 270 metric tons of manganese ore with excessive radioactivity. The cargo was seized on Nov 15 during checks, when the natural radionuclide level was found to be 4.4 times higher than the limit, said customs officials, adding the substandard ore, worth 4.14 million yuan ($594,000), was imported from Mozambique. Customs has sealed and isolated the cargo and will send it back to its port of origin.

]]> 2020-01-04 00:00:00 <![CDATA[44 infected in Wuhan pneumonia outbreak]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531222.htm A total of 44 people in Wuhan, Hubei province, have been diagnosed with viral pneumonia as of 8 am on Friday, local health authorities said.

Of the patients, 11 were in a serious conditions and the rest remained stable, the Wuhan Health Commission said in a release, adding symptoms include fever and breathing difficulties.

Tests on the virus pathogens and the search for the cause of the infections are still underway. Common respiratory illnesses, such as flu, avian influenza and adenovirus infection have been excluded, the release said.

All the patients have been quarantined and are receiving medical treatment in hospitals in Wuhan.

A further 121 people who had close contact with the patients are under medical observation and health authorities are tracking others who had close contact, according to the commission.

Investigation shows that some of the patients are vendors at a seafood market in Wuhan. "So far, there is no clear signs of human-to-human transmission, and no medical worker has been infected," the release said.

The market has been sanitized, according to the release. Local media reported that a notice posted outside the Huanan Seafood Market said that the commission had decided to suspend the seafood market's operations to improve its environment and sanitation.

A team dispatched by the National Health Commission has arrived in Wuhan to help local authorities.

]]> 2020-01-04 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Shanghai jails Yangtze River oil smugglers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531245.htm Shanghai prosecutors have started handing down prison sentences for smuggling diesel and oil products and trying to conceal the crimes.

Police busted 35 diesel and oil smuggling cases worth 60 million yuan ($8.6 million) on the Shanghai section of the Yangtze River last year, prosecutors and police said at a news conference on Friday.

The cases were detected during an eight-month police campaign along a 125-kilometer stretch of the river.

In November, the Shanghai Huangpu district people's procuratorate gave three men involved in the first of the smuggling cases penalties of up to four years' prison and fines of 20,000 yuan each.

The three men illegally transported refined oil products totaling 250 metric tons on a cargo ship. They were detected by police on waters near Shanghai Pudong International Airport on April 9, and were found to have previously leaked diesel into waters near Shanghai Waigaoqiao container terminal, contaminating an area of 120 square meters.

In the past, similar offenders would have received an administrative penalty, involving fines and confiscation of the oil products.

The district procuratorate said it was the first time such violators had received jail terms for covering up or concealing crimes. The harsher penalties were intended to deter similar violations and help preserve the environment of the Yangtze River Economic Belt.

"Moreover, the cargo ships involved in the case were also confiscated by the court for the first time to increase the cost of committing the crime," said Bai Yingxi, deputy chief procurator of the district procuratorate.

Violators used to receive fines as an administrative penalty, but could easily make hundreds of thousands of yuan from each smuggling of goods.

Bai said that the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Supreme People's Court in October clarified that several activities related to smuggling constituted intentionally committing a crime.

These included; using a fake ship license, turning off GPS systems to dodge supervision from shipping authorities, transporting oil products at unreasonable times and on unreasonable routes, and using bank accounts of third parties to claim payments.

Nine of the cases detected from April to December, which involve 31 people, have been prosecuted.

Most of them clearly knew the diesel products came from irregular sources, navigated during the night, hid diesel barrels under sacks, and threw their cellphones into the sea to destroy records when police approached, the prosecuting agency said.

Shi Guorong, head of the criminal detection team of the Shanghai branch of the Yangtze River Shipping Public Security Bureau, said that most of the diesel was smuggled from overseas. The ship owners did not have licenses to conduct refined oil business or permits to transport dangerous goods.

]]> 2020-01-04 00:00:00 <![CDATA[New rice strains offer brighter future for nomadic herders in Xinjiang]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531079.htm Large swathes of barren salty land in Akto county, in the southwest of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, were close to worthless for members of the nomadic Kirgiz ethnic group.

However, this year more than 660 hectares of saline-alkaline soil are being cultivated with new rice varieties that can tolerate high salt concentrations in soil, putting the nomadic herders on track to embrace a more secure way of life.

The area planted with such rice strains in Akto will eventually be expanded to about 6,667 hectares to diversify sources of income for the traditional herders and foster the development of a production model that combines herding with farming, said Mi Tiezhu, deputy director of the Qingdao Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Research and Development Center, which is based in Qingdao, Shandong province.

Akto is just one of many regions across China pinning their hopes on saline-alkaline tolerant rice to transform arid, salty areas into productive rice fields, and the prospects for scaling up cultivation of the advanced rice strains have never been brighter.

Nationwide, about 1,300 hectares of experimental fields sown with the resilient rice strains have averaged yields of nearly 6 metric tons per hectare, crossing the threshold that determines if total profits gained from selling rice can balance out production costs, Mi said.

"In addition to the expanding fields in Xinjiang, in Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the Tumd Left Banner of Hohhot and the Hanggin Banner of Ordos will each see nearly 10,000 mu (667 hectares) of salty land being planted with the highly tolerant rice seeds this year," he said.

The two banners-similar to counties in terms of administrative level-are home to thousands of hectares of saline-alkali soil.

Trial planting on a smaller scale will also be carried out in South China, including Beihai in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, to test the tolerance of rice strains in infertile soil in coastal areas.

"From the very beginning, our goal has been to achieve commercialization of the technology, and the improved average output is a key determinant and will accelerate commercial production in the future," Mi said.

The average output has already outstripped goals set three years ago by renowned Chinese agricultural scientist Yuan Longping.

During the Fourth International Saline-Alkali Tolerant Rice Forum held last week in Sanya, Hainan province, Yuan, who is also a chief scientist of the R& D center, lauded the progress.

"Crops planted in test fields in Dongying, Shandong province, are capable of yielding as much as 11.99 tons per hectare," he said.

"In Taizhou, Zhejiang province, the average output was about 10 tons per hectare despite an onslaught of typhoons.

"The momentum of improvement is truly miraculous."

To further facilitate use of the new rice strains, research into effective processing and sales methods that will help maximize profits for farmers is also underway.

"The age-old image of one lone laborer tending to small parcels of land is no longer applicable," Mi said.

Applications to agriculture authorities for certification for several saline-alkaline tolerant rice strains are in the pipeline.

Mi said about three to five strains are expected to be approved early this year, meaning "more people and enterprises can access this innovation".

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2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Chinese fishermen bid farewell to Yangtze]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531138.htm On a rainy afternoon in late December, a group of ex-fishermen came to the bank of the Yangtze River to bid farewell to their longtime workmates.

They stood in solemn silence as an excavator dismantled one fishing boat after another amid deafening roars. Xia Mingxing, one boat owner, couldn't hide his tears.

"It's so hard to part with the boat that has been with my family for so many years, but I know for the environmental greater good, I have to let it go," the 57-year-old villager said.

Xia is from Changjiangbulao village in Hubei province. In Chinese, the name of the village means "fishing in the Yangtze", a term that will likely retreat into history as China pushes for a 10-year fishing moratorium on Asia's longest river.

Facing depleting fish stocks and degrading biodiversity in the Yangtze, the Chinese government decided to step up fishing bans and pollution control measures.

From the start of this year, the ban will be observed in 332 conservation areas along the waterway, before expanding to the entire river and its main tributaries next year.

The historic moratorium will last for a decade, grounding an estimated 110,000 fishing boats and driving nearly 280,000 fishermen ashore.

Conservationists hail the fishing moratorium as a crucial step to stem the free fall in the river's biodiversity.

In recent decades, the ancient aquatic paradise has seen its iconic white-finned dolphins declared functionally extinct, and another freshwater mammal-the finless porpoise-is teetering on the brink of extinction due to pollution, overfishing, busy river traffic and other human-induced changes.

Even the river's more mundane denizens are struggling.

Official surveys suggest the fry of four common Yangtze fish (herring, grass carp, silver carp and bighead carp) have fallen by 90 percent from the levels of the 1950s.

The shrinking fish stocks prompted fishermen to employ denser nets and illegal means like electrocution, which further exacerbated the environmental woes.

"Fishermen were caught in a vicious circle-the more they fished, the poorer they became because of the worsening environment," said Cao Wenxuan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Since 2003, China has put in place a seasonal fishing ban, leaving Yangtze fishermen without work for three months each year.

The ban expanded to four months in 2016, but Cao, who has called for a decadelong moratorium since 2006, said longer periods are needed to allow most Yangtze fish to thrive for two to three generations to restore populations.

"Moreover, fishing in the Yangtze produces less than 1 percent of China's total aquatic products. The fishermen's withdrawal from the river will have minimal impacts on China's fishing industry," Cao said.

However, persuading fishermen to forego their ancestral line of work and life on boats was not easy.

"Some people have seasickness, but we have land sickness," said 55-year-old Long Kaiyun, who was reluctant to move off his boat in Nanxian county, Hunan province. "The government allocated houses for us, but we rarely spend nights there. When we sleep in beds, we feel as if the floor is wobbling."

Luoshan town, which administers the villages of Changjiangbulao and Honghu, faced the same reluctance.

"We've opened training courses on welding, computer operation and aquaculture, and every year we held four to five job fairs for the fishermen," said Yue Guanhui, Party chief of Luoshan.

For older fishermen who lack skills or motivation to work in companies and factories, plans are also afoot.

"These fishermen are familiar with water and have special feelings for the Yangtze River. We plan to set up ecological positions and transform them into fish protectors and river patrollers," Yue said.

]]> 2020-01-03 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Taiwan gangster gets suspended death sentence in Zhuhai]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531123.htm A gang leader from Taiwan was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve on Tuesday for organizing a mafia-style gang in Guangdong province's Zhuhai Special Economic Zone.

Zhuhai Intermediate People's Court said the sentence given to Huang Jianwei, 57, would not be eligible for commutation. It also ordered the confiscation of all his illegally gained assets.

Huang was found guilty of organizing a gang that had kidnapped and imprisoned people in the Pearl River Delta cities of Dongguan, Zhongshan and Zhuhai since 2008.

Huang, who claimed to be a leader of a triad-related criminal gang in Taiwan, was found to have used coercion and inducements to take in new gang members in Guangdong.

Huang and his gang had seriously damaged social order and brought about a very bad social influence in the three cities when they used violence, threats, intimidation and other illegal and violent methods to forcibly demand repayment of debts and grab illegal profits, the verdict said.

Five other members of Huang's gang were given jail sentences ranging from one year and seven months to life.

The case was the first in recent years handled by a court in Guangdong involving a Taiwan resident coming to the Chinese mainland to organize a secret society related violent gang.

Meanwhile, the Zhuhai intermediate court sentenced five members of another violent gang to jail terms ranging from four to 20 years on Tuesday.

Wu Yilin, the gang leader, received the heaviest sentence and was also fined 300,000 yuan ($43,000). He was convicted of kidnapping, illegally owning weapons, false imprisonment and extortion.

Also on Tuesday, the Jiangmen Intermediate People's Court upheld a ruling by a lower court that sentenced 21 members of a criminal gang to up to 25 years in jail.

Jiang Nongda, the key leader of a local criminal gang, was sentenced to 25 years in jail, while 20 other gang members were sentenced to jail terms ranging from three years and seven months to 19 years and six months.

Jiang and his gang were convicted of using violence to force people to trade with them, offering bribes to local Party and government officials, opening secret casinos and intentional injury since 2009.

 

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2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Outcry after illegally parked cars block fire trucks]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531081.htm A large fire in a residential building in Chongqing on Wednesday afternoon ended with no major casualties thanks to firefighters' timely rescue efforts, but illegally parked cars that blocked fire trucks' access to the blaze triggered heated public debate.

The fire broke out around 5 pm in a high-rise building in a densely populated residential community in Chongqing's Yubei district during the New Year's Day holiday. The fire started on a balcony on the second floor and spread to the top of the 30-floor building through external wall insulation and awnings, according to the results of a preliminary investigation.

The local fire and rescue team dispatched 38 trucks and 197 firemen to the site and they put out the fire at 7:20 pm. They rescued and evacuated about 260 people from the building. No casualties were reported, besides a few who were startled, choked by the smoke or sprained ankles during evacuation.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. The local government has helped the affected residents find accommodation in nearby hotels.

The first emergency response vehicles to arrive at the scene were not able to enter the community because the passageway for fire trucks was packed with the private cars. A video showing dozens of people moving a white sedan off the road went viral online. Later, several cars were towed away by police to clear the way for the rescue trucks.

"The fire trucks arrived very soon but couldn't get in," said a resident surnamed Wu. "We were so anxious and angry. We worked together to move a car away."

The Jiazhou Garden residential community, one of the oldest commercial real estate projects in the city downtown, was built in 1997 and has 3,848 apartments.

It has no proper parking spaces as the project developer did not foresee the increasing number of private cars. Therefore, its narrow community roads and fire passageways have become the residents' parking lot.

The Ministry of Transport estimated the number of private cars in China reached 200 million by the end of last year. In many big cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, limited parking space has long made illegal parking in fire passageways a headache for urban management.

Winter is the high season for fires and Chongqing has recently witnessed two major blazes. In both cases, fire passageways were blocked by illegally parked cars, impeding rescue efforts.

According to China's Fire Prevention Law, those who block fire control passageways will be given a disciplinary warning or fine of less than 500 yuan ($71).

"People always have wishful thinking that a fire will not happen to them. After this fire, people will probably soon forget the importance of the fire passageway again and park their cars in it if they fail to find a parking space," an opinion piece by Xinhua News Agency said on Thursday.

It said more severe punishment was needed for those who block fire control passageways and there was also a need to improve the fire facilities and parking spaces in residential communities.

 

Firefighters hose down a residential building in Chongqing early on Thursday morning to prevent rekindling after a fire broke out in the building on Wednesday. CHEN CHAO/CHINA NEWS SERVICE

 

 

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2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Last village without a road is connected to the outside world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531105.htm Qiesha Secong, a 30-year-old resident of Abuluoha village in Sichuan province, sold his family's only horse early last month.

The pony, which he bought four years ago, was valuable to the Yi man, whose home village is in Wuyi township, Butuo county in Sichuan's Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture.

"My village had no access to any road and I had to trek with the pony along a mountain path to carry home seeds, fertilizer, salt and rice. The pony is not tall but can carry more than 200 kilograms," he said.

He parted with his precious horse because a 3.8-kilometer road is expected to open in April and he will be able to ride a much faster motorcycle.

Abuluoha, which means a valley surrounded by rolling mountains and a less-traveled place in the language of the Yi ethnic group, is located in the deep valley of the Jinsha River and is surrounded by mountains on three sides and cliffs on the other.

Before the construction of the road linking the village to the outside started in June 2018, Abuluoha was believed to be the last village without a road in the country, said Song Ming, an information officer with the Liangshan prefecture government.

Villagers used to spend more than three hours traveling from their homes in a valley to the road being built, where they could go to the county seat through another village.

Workers have installed a 420-meter steel cable linking the valley with the road. There, a cable car can transport a 1 metric ton load.

Liangshan, which boasts the country's largest number of Yi people, is one of the least developed areas in Sichuan.

To alleviate poverty in Abuluoha-which has 253 people and is 60 kilometers from the Butuo county seat-the Sichuan provincial Department of Transportation is building the road.

Due to the village's inaccessibility, an M26 helicopter was rented to transport eight large excavators and other equipment.

As the construction site was very narrow, excavators could not be used at the same time and the pace of construction was very slow.

Sometimes only five meters of the road were built on a single day, said Hu Wei, an official in charge of the construction site.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ahdame Youzha, a 23-year-old grocery store owner in Abuluoha, spent about 20 minutes reaching the road from the cable car station.

"It used to take nearly seven hours to reach the county seat from my home. Thanks to the cable car, it takes less than three hours," she said.

Jinie Ziri, the village Party chief, said villagers would expand the growing area of seedless pepper and konjac, two local specialties, and build an eco-tourism base to increase income in the wake of the opening of the road in April.

Villagers dressed in Yi ethnic clothes wait for a cable car to reach their far-flung village of Abuluoha in Butuo county, Sichuan province, on Tuesday, when the cableway was put into operation. HE HAIYANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-03 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Students spared from entry on debtor blacklist]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531088.htm College students who fall into debt as a result of using peer-to-peer lending platforms cannot be included in a list of dishonest debtors, China's top court said on Thursday.

The requirement was written into a guideline issued by the Supreme People's Court with the aim of guiding judges dealing with cases of noncompliance with court rulings and ensuring disputes are resolved more humanely, Meng Xiang, the head of the top court's enforcement bureau, said.

The top court established an online blacklist in 2013 to publish personal details, including names and identity card numbers, of individuals and legal representatives of companies who refused to comply with court orders to shame them into compliance.

A year later, it worked with other authorities, including banks and the Ministry of Transport, to compel defaulters to comply with verdicts by placing restrictions on their daily lives, including barring them from buying tickets for flights or high-speed trains and purchasing houses.

"The blacklist and restrictions have played a bigger role in urging defaulters to comply with verdicts, but the legitimate rights of these people should also be guaranteed," Meng said, adding the guideline, effective since Thursday, will also prevent courts from misusing or abusing the measures.

Xu Hao, a lawyer from Beijing Jingsh Law Firm, welcomed the removal of college students from the blacklist.

"Some students are still shouldering an economic and credit burden in debt disputes, even though our country prohibited online platforms from lending money to students three years ago," he said.

While lending by internet platforms was banned, "students, as the debtors, still need to repay the debts in line with court rulings and valid contracts," he explained.

"But given that many students have little savings and the debtor records will influence their future, such as in employment, further studies, or bank loans, the top court's decision on removing them from the dishonest list, I think, is timely, humane and necessary," he said.

China banned online lending platforms from campuses in 2017 after the lives of some young people were damaged, with some pushed to commit crimes, as they sought to repay their debts. A few even killed themselves because they were unable to pay off their debts.

Xu said the ban had helped clear up unauthorized or unregulated online lending platforms, adding that students could still seek loans from State-owned banks or apply for subsidies from schools.

Ruan Chuansheng, a law professor at Shanghai Administration Institute, said not blacklisting college students would alleviate the burden on young debtors.

The guideline also clarified a controversial rule that said defaulters' children were not allowed to be educated at expensive private schools, saying courts should not ban such education if they found the expenses, such as tuition fees, were reasonable. However, it did not specify what a reasonable amount was.

Ruan said whether tuition fees were regarded as expensive could vary in different regions according to their economic development, "and I'm glad to see the top court highlight educational protection, which is essential".

The guideline also permits courts to temporarily lift travel restrictions when defaulters have to take a train or fly home for medical treatment or when family members fall ill or die.

 

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2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Taiwan senior military official among 8 killed in helicopter crash]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531085.htm A Taiwan senior military official was among eight people killed after a military helicopter with 13 people on board was forced to land in a mountainous area of northern Taiwan on Thursday morning, the island's military authority said.

The wreckage of the UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter was found in the mountainous area of New Taipei City, where eight passengers were found "with no signs of life" and five were rescued, the authority said.

The island's "chief of general staff", Air Force General Shen Yi-ming, died in the accident, which the island authorities called a huge loss. The cause of the accident is under investigation, the authorities said.

The helicopter was carrying three crew, nine officers and a military reporter to visit soldiers in the northeast county of Yilan ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year at the end of this month, China News Service reported.

In February 2018, a Black Hawk helicopter carrying six people, including two patients, crashed off the island's east coast with all on board killed, it said.

The accident came just over a week before the island leadership election on Jan 11. The ruling Democratic Progressive Party canceled campaign activities for three days and its rival Kuomintang party for two days.

]]> 2020-01-03 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Space sector faces a busy year ahead]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531112.htm China's space industry is poised for an extremely busy year, with about 50 launch missions likely to take place in 2020, according to major contractors and space industry sources.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the country's leading space contractor, said in a statement on Thursday that it will strive to carry out more than 40 launch missions to serve national space programs, such as the completion of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, and meet demand from commercial satellite operators.

Sources at the State-owned space giant who wished to remain anonymous said the 40-odd planned missions will be carried out by the conglomerate's Long March-series carrier rockets, the nation's backbone rocket fleet, and do not include those to be made by the company's newly developed Smart Dragon solid-propellant rockets.

This means the actual number of launches by the company in 2020 will be even bigger.

An employee at the company's China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing, the biggest developer and maker of carrier rockets in the country, said: "In 2020, all of our academy's operational rocket models, ranging from Long March 3A to Long March 5, will make flights, and four new rocket types-Long March 5B, Long March 7A, Long March 8 and Smart Dragon 2-are scheduled to conduct their maiden missions."

He said the academy expects to launch more rockets than any other year.

Another State-owned space industry player-China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp-has plans for at least eight launch missions by its Kuaizhou carrier rockets, according to Zhang Di, a senior rocket scientist and chairman of Expace Technology, a CASIC subsidiary that builds the Kuaizhou rocket, which is based in Wuhan, Hubei province.

Kuaizhou 11, a new member of the Kuaizhou family, is set to make its debut flight in 2020, becoming the biggest and most powerful solid-propellant rocket in China, he said in an earlier interview.

Several private rocket enterprises have also announced plans for launch missions in 2020 with their own rockets.

China was the world's most frequent user of carrier rockets last year for the second consecutive year, with 32 successful orbital launches and two failures.

Twenty-six of those missions-25 successes and one failure-were conducted by the Long March series.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp also carried out the debut flight of the Smart Dragon 1 solid-propellant rocket in August.

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp made five launches with its Kuaizhou 1A rockets.

Two Beijing-based private rocket makers, OneSpace and i-Space, each carried out a flight using their own carrier rockets, trying to become the country's first private orbital launch mission.

OneSpace failed and i-Space succeeded.

Major space exploration missions scheduled this year that have been made public include China's first Mars mission, which aims to place a rover on the Martian surface, and the Chang'e 5 mission, which aims to bring lunar samples back to Earth.

In 2018, China made 39 orbital launches, matching the number of space missions it carried out in the entire 1990s.

Those launches accounted for one-third of the world's total space missions in 2018, more than Russia, the European Union and India-ranked from third to fifth in the annual launch list-combined. In second place in 2018 was the United States, with 34 missions.

]]> 2020-01-03 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Beijing to strengthen hospital security after stabbing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530967.htm The capital's health commission will introduce a more effective mechanism to protect medical workers after a fatal stabbing at a Beijing hospital triggered a public outcry last week.

"We will further strengthen a joint response mechanism with public security organs to tackle medical disputes and incidents involving violence," the Beijing Municipal Health Commission said in a statement released on Tuesday. "We strongly condemn the extreme behavior and brutal acts that the attacker committed."

Yang Wen, a doctor who worked in the emergency department at Civil Aviation General Hospital in Beijing's Chaoyang district, was allegedly stabbed by a man believed to be a patient's relative, Sun Wenbin, on Dec 24.

Despite rescue efforts from a team of medical experts from several top Beijing hospitals organized by the city's health commission, Yang, who sustained serious neck wounds, died early the following day.

Sun, 55, was detained and formally arrested three days later for further investigation, Beijing police said.

In the statement, the capital's health commission expressed sincere condolences to the doctor's relatives.

The commission will ask local legislative bodies to research legislation on hospital security and urged district-level medical institutions to strengthen their security forces and ensure safety, the statement said.

It said the commission will strictly crack down on criminal acts, such as assaults, disturbing order and provocations, and handle disputes according to law.

It also stipulated that medical organizations should cooperate with local public security departments to establish police stations.

China's top legislature and health commission also condemned the stabbing on Saturday, calling it a serious offense rather than a medical dispute.

China introduced a new law on Saturday to protect medical workers from violence and to protect their personal safety and dignity.

It bans illegal acts targeting medical staff and institutions, and said those disturbing the medical environment, threatening or harming medical staff's personal safety and infringing on their dignity, or illegally obtaining, using or disclosing citizen's personal health information, will be in violation of public security regulations and will be given administrative punishments, such as detentions or fines.

The law will take effect on June 1.

The Chinese Medical Doctor Association said earlier that hospitals should strengthen security checks to better protect medical staff and patients to reduce the chances of conflict because medical disputes often occur randomly and are hard to predict.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi's remarks voice HK hope for harmony]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37531016.htm President Xi Jinping's comments in his New Year's speech about Hong Kong clearly demonstrated the central government's concern for the city and voiced local people's hope for a stable society, the city's opinion and community leaders said.

In his speech on Tuesday, Xi reiterated his concerns for Hong Kong's situation, stressing that the city's prosperity and stability are not only desired by its residents, but also by people on the Chinese mainland.

"Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can there be a home where people can live and work happily?" Xi asked.

Xi's remarks were well-received in the city. Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies-the nation's leading think tank on Hong Kong affairs-said the New Year's speech made to a global audience showed the central government's concern for Hong Kong, which has been divided by protests for more than half a year.

In past weeks, the scale and intensity of the violence has eased, yet there is no sign of it ceasing, Lau said. Noting such a situation may continue into the beginning of 2020, Lau said ending the violence remains the most urgent task for Hong Kong.

As the worst of the situation has passed, Lau also held that more efforts could be put into reviving the city's hard-hit economy and mending its deep social rifts.

The protracted turmoil landed a blow to the city's economy in 2019. Hong Kong's GDP fell by 2.9 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, marking the first yearon-year decline since the global financial crisis of 2009.

It also sounded an alarm for the city's education sector because of the high participation rate of youngsters, especially children, in the anti-government activities.

According to the Hong Kong Police Force, more than 6,000 people have been arrested during the six months of protests, originally over an extradition bill, with over one-third of them students. One in six of those arrested have been minors.

Wong Kwan-yu, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, said the education sector should not turn a blind eye to teachers and students who were involved in violent protests and indulged in illegal acts. He called for joint efforts by all sectors to get the city back on the right track.

Wong said a "harmonious and stable environment" and "living and working happily", as mentioned by Xi, were exactly what Hong Kong residents were longing for and would be good for the city's youth as well.

After the monthslong social unrest, all the people hoped the city could restore order and return to peace as soon as possible, Wong said.

Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong's member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, highlighted the significance of the Hong Kong community's concerted efforts in maintaining the city's stability.

He emphasized that ending violence and restoring order remain the most urgent task for Hong Kong.

"At the new beginning, I hope every Hong Kong person puts the city's overall benefits first. Otherwise, it will bring no good to any of us," Tam said.

In 2020, Tam said he also hoped the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government could learn a lesson from the political crisis and be more committed to connecting with the public.

Besides handling the aftermath of the protracted social unrest, he also hoped the government could ramp up efforts to improve people's livelihoods and address deep-seated social problems.

Steven Ho Chun-yin, a Hong Kong lawmaker, said while the city faced unprecedented challenges, he hoped it could solve its problems in the new year under the "one country, two systems" principle and with a high degree of autonomy.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Chinese vaccine for HPV approved]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37531002.htm China has approved its first domestically made vaccine against the cancer-causing human papillomavirus for use by females aged 9 to 45, providing an alternative to foreign drugmakers' products, according to the National Medical Products Administration.

The newly approved vaccine is designed to protect against Type 16 and Type 18 HPV, the two most common virus strains that lead to cervical cancer, the administration said in a notice released on Tuesday.

Worldwide, only two pharmaceutical companies are able to produce HPV vaccines-Glaxo-SmithKline, headquartered in the United Kingdom, which makes a two-valent HPV vaccine, and United States' company Merck & Co, which produces four-valent and nine-valent vaccines that protect against a wider range of HPV strains. A nine-valent vaccine can protect against nine types of HPV.

As of April 2018, they had all gained approval for commercial release in China, but some consumers had complained about a shortage of vaccines due to a sudden surge in demand following their approval in the country.

The administration said the green light granted to the domestically developed vaccine was intended to meet public demand.

The new vaccine, known as Cecolin, was jointly developed by INNOVAX, a biotechnology company based in Xiamen, Fujian province, in cooperation with Xiamen University.

The company said more than 7,300 females across five provincial-level regions took part in the vaccine's third-stage clinical trial in China's four-tier drug approval system.

During the trial, the vaccine was able to provide protection against precancerous lesions related to HPV for all recipients and protection against persistent HPV infection for 97.8 percent of them, while demonstrating its safety.

The results put the two-valent vaccine on a par with the imported types in terms of its efficacy and safety, making it a world-leading vaccine product, the company said.

While most HPV vaccines are administered as a three-dose injection, the new vaccine will require only two doses for a full vaccination procedure.

The company added that it will accelerate efforts to submit applications for World Health Organization prequalification, which examines the capacity and quality of a manufacturer, in order to expand the reach of the Chinese-made HPV vaccine and step up the global fight against cervical cancer.

Zhang Jun, deputy dean of Xiamen University's School of Public Health, told the online news website Jiemian.com that the domestic HPV vaccine was made using E. coli bacteria, which will cut production costs compared with its foreign counterparts and boost manufacturers' production capacity.

China accounts for about 28 percent of the approximately 500,000 new cervical cancer cases around the world each year, according to the National Cancer Center.

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[GMO crops set to pass biosafety tests]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530968.htm A total of 192 genetically modified plant species-including two corn species and a soybean species-are expected to pass biosafety evaluations by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, opening the way to their commercial use in China.

The ministry released a list of the genetically modified organisms on Monday to solicit public opinion until Jan 20, and will award biosafety certificates for them if no objections are raised during the period.

The GMO soybean species, which is resistant to weedkiller, was developed by Shanghai Jiao Tong University and is suitable to grow in South China. The two GMO corn species feature qualities such as being resistant to insects and weedkillers, according to the ministry.

In a similar move in 2009, the ministry awarded biosafety certificates to a genetically modified corn species and two GMO rice species, but none of them has been approved for commercial production.

However, insect-resistant GMO cotton has been grown on more than 31 million hectares across China, helping to reduce the use of pesticides by more than 70 percent, according to the ministry.

"After passing safety evaluations, GMO researchers and developers must complete some other procedures before the GMO species can be put into commercial use and be available on the market, including gaining different permits for the production of the seeds and production of the species," said Wang Xiping, a professor of life sciences at Beijing Normal University.

Academic opinion generally accepted that GMO products were safe, she said, but safety evaluation standards varied in different countries. GMO crops, such as soybeans, were already grown extensively in countries such as the United States and Brazil, she said.

GMO technology helps improve the quality of crops, such as making them more productive and resistant to insects, and therefore also protects the environment through reduced use of pesticides and fertilizers, Wang said.

Of all agricultural species, only GMO corn and papaya have been approved for commercial planting in China, while some GMO plants, such as soybean and corn, are allowed to be exported to China as material for food processing, according to the ministry.

All GMO products available on the domestic market have passed strict safety evaluations and are safe, the ministry said.

The ministry encourages scientific research and development in GMO technology, but remains cautious in its commercialization. Commercial promotion efforts will first focus on agricultural species that cannot be eaten, such as cotton, and products used as staple food, including rice and soybeans, will come last, it said.

Research into GMO crops in China started in the 1980s, among the earliest in the world, and breakthroughs in the research and development of GMO species, such as insect-resistant rice, drought-resistant wheat and weedkiller-resistant soybeans, have been made in recent years, according to the ministry.

 

 

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[National reunification 'irresistible']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530987.htm The general trend toward national reunification is irresistible and compatriots on both sides should strive for the bright future of cross-Straits relations, a senior Chinese mainland Taiwan affairs official said in a New Year's greeting to people in Taiwan.

In a New Year's message carried by Relations Across Taiwan Straits magazine on Wednesday, Liu Jieyi, head of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, called on both sides to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties.

Liu said the Chinese mainland will continue to promote the peaceful reunification of the motherland and he hoped that people in Taiwan can grasp the chance to work with people on the Chinese mainland to create a bright future.

He said that if cross-Straits relations enter the new year on the path of peaceful development, people in Taiwan will fully enjoy the benefits of development.

However, if a small number of people continue to create confrontation and hostility across the Straits, the interests and well-being of the majority of Taiwan residents will be severely damaged, Liu said.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, strongly condemned the passing of a law on the island on Tuesday that may criminalize many people involved in cross-Straits exchanges.

Zhu said the island's ruling Democratic Progressive Party was creating tensions between the two sides for political and electoral gains by pushing forward the bill. The island leadership vote is scheduled for Jan 11.

The legislative department of the island passed an "anti-infiltration law" on Tuesday to combat what the DPP called "infiltration" and "threats" from the Chinese mainland, through funding people on the island for political aims.

Under the bill, anyone who receives instructions or funding from "external forces" to conduct election campaign activities could be jailed for up to five years and fined up to NT$10 million ($332,000).

Han Kuo-yu, the Kuomintang party's candidate for the leadership election, said in an election debate on Sunday that the law was like "bombs around people's necks", and with the DPP holding control, people could "break the law" at any time.

James Soong Chu-yu, candidate of the People First Party, said in a debate on Friday that the law was not clearly defined and could make suspects of the millions of Taiwan businessmen and students who travel frequently between the two sides.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[20 QUESTIONS for 2020]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530985.htm Editor's Note: With the arrival of the new year, China Daily has invited experts to share their outlooks on a number of issues that are likely to be in the news this year. Reporting by Wang Yiqing, Liu Jianna, Yao Yuxin, Pan Yixuan, Wang Kan and Zhang Zhouxiang:

Wang Wen, executive dean of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China

Q: Will there be a ceasefire in the Sino-US trade war?

A: With the two sides agreeing on a phase one trade deal, the first stage of the Sino-US trade war is already over.

The United States has had to accept that China's economy today is more able to withstand external pressure. But the fact that the US triggered the trade war shows that it is desperate to contain China's rise in order to maintain its global hegemony. Therefore, the trade war is unlikely to end quickly, and continuous negotiations are likely to be the new normal this year with the frictions becoming more severe.

One of the influencing factors being that 2020 is a presidential election year in the US, which will make the situation more complicated than before.

Under such circumstances, it is of great significance that China focuses on developing its own economy well and further promotes reform and opening-up.

To further fortify its economy, China should accelerate its economic transformation and upgrading to realize innovation-driven high-quality economic development.

Li Xuesong, deputy director of the Institute of Industrial Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Q: Will China's GDP growth rate further decline?

A: With policymakers giving top priority to economic stability and job creation, it is expected that China's GDP growth rate this year will basically remain the same as last year at about 6.0 percent.

Through positive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, as well as measures that give full play to the fundamental roles of consumption and investment, benign interaction among various sectors is being promoted that will boost both manufacturing and household consumption.

China's infrastructure and manufacturing investment will be boosted by the recovering external demand as well as the government's countercyclical regulation. Domestic consumption upgrading will create more demand for the manufacturing industry, and the positive effects of measures to further open up the economy and the reduction in taxes and administrative fees will become further evident in the coming months.

All these measures will be conducive to improving the efficiency of enterprises and stimulating their vitality.

They will also help to attract foreign investment, stabilize economic growth and strengthen the country's economic growth potential.

Ni Pengfei, director of the Center for City and Competitiveness, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Q: Will housing prices fall?

A: Commercial housing prices will remain stable but show a significant tendency of differentiation among various cities in 2020. The annual growth rate of total commercial housing sales volume will probably be 5-10 percent.

The main reason that commercial housing prices will remain stable this year is that there is still purchasing demand, but the central government is maintaining price-control policies to keep the market from overheating.

There is still huge demand for commercial housing from the three main sources-the demand of new urban residents, that of existing urban residents to change their housing and the relocation demand of some urban citizens due to renovation projects.

But while the attractiveness of first-and second-tier cities will increase, the appeal of third-and fourth-tier cities and below will continue to decline, with the differential trend becoming more marked.

And since speculation still exists in the real estate market, the central government's price-control policies are likely to be adjusted as necessary to keep the operation of the real estate market within a targeted range.

Tian Xu, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Q: Will Brexit be realized?

A: Since the Conservative Party decisively won the December election, the impasse over Brexit will probably end this year.

Yet even though the Conservative Party has won a majority of the seats in Parliament, Prime Minister Boris Johnson still needs to coordinate different voices within the party so as to guarantee a Brexit deal is passed.

Compared with the 2017 election that exacerbated the Brexit contradictions within the Conservative Party, the recent election may have been beneficial to the party finding common ground, which may enable Johnson to accelerate the Brexit process.

An act prohibiting a no-deal Brexit that was passed in September has been backed by other political parties, which means the chance of a hard Brexit has been minimized. Twenty-one Conservative Party members even risked their careers to support the act. Which indicates that most of the members of Parliament are opposed to a hard withdrawal, even to using the possibility as a bargaining chip in the negotiations with the EU.

So it seems that with the United Kingdom's position settled, the pressure is once again on the EU.

Zhang Dinghuai, a professor on Hong Kong and Macao studies at Shenzhen University

Q: Will Hong Kong restore order?

A: The months of rioting in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region have inflicted heavy damage on the city, but it is unlikely that order and stability will be restored any time soon.

The rule of law has been seriously undermined by the rioting and the SAR economy is suffering.

But although the rioters' logic of defending the rule of law by breaking the law is unacceptable in any society, there will be more uncertainty ahead as the opposition camp now dominates the district councils.

The Hong Kong government is making efforts to improve people's livelihoods, such as providing more affordable public apartments to ease the difficulty caused by high housing prices, but the main problem-the diverse values among Hong Kong residents-remains unresolved.

Especially since the rioters will attack any Hong Kong residents who hold a political view different from theirs, and use mafia-style intimidation to silence them.

It is vital for the SAR and central governments to enhance communication with different parties in Hong Kong society, as more efforts need to be made to bridge the gaps between people holding different values.

Zhu Songling, a professor at the Institute of Taiwan Studies, Beijing Union University

Q: Will cross-Straits ties improve?

A: Any thaw in the cross-Straits relationship rests on acceptance of the 1992 Consensus that there is only one China. The administration of Tsai Ing-wen refuses to uphold that consensus, which is the political foundation for cross-Straits exchanges.

The reason why her administration is sparing no effort in trying to hinder cross-Straits exchanges is that since its stance means it has no way to reap any benefits from cross-Straits relations, so it is trying to shut the door on other parties and individuals that uphold the 1992 Consensus so they too are unable to benefit.

Her administration is also exploiting the violent demonstrations in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to try and leverage political gains. By stigmatizing "one country, two systems", the Tsai administration is attempting to inflame political hostility across the Straits and divert voters' attention from the poor state of the economy and people's worsening livelihoods.

She is also trying to make Taiwan part of the US's strategy to contain China's rise, which means if Tsai is reelected as the island's leader in January it may cause greater turbulence in cross-Straits relations.

Ba Dianjun, head of the Institute of International Politics and deputy director of Northeast Asia Research Center, Jilin University

Q: Will tensions on the Korean Peninsula continue?

A: Since the historic summit between the leaders of Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States in Singapore in June 2018, there has been a deterioration in the two countries' relations, which has caused worries that the Korean Peninsula issue will worsen.

It is difficult for the DPRK and the US to agree to each other's requirements. Although the US has expressed willingness to maintain communication, there has been no sign that it is considering easing sanctions against the DPRK, which, on its part, has made no commitment to completely give up its nuclear weapons.

Therefore, there is a growing possibility that the Korean Peninsula will return to the tensions that existed in 2018 before the Singapore meeting.

Even though the Six-Party Talks have ground to a halt, they taught the lesson that multilateral participation can provide more room for mediation, so China, Japan and the Republic of Korea are showing they are willing to take more active roles as mediators which may help push forward the Korean Peninsula peace process.

Shen Dingli, a professor at and former executive dean of the Institute of International Studies, Fudan University

Q: Will the United States withdraw from the World Trade Organization?

A: The US will not quit the WTO, otherwise it would become marginalized in global trade. Instead, the US will stay in the WTO system but seek to weaken it.

The US testing of the WTO has begun. Blocking the dispute settlement system is one means. Another important approach is to establish free trade zones with countries with strong economies and large markets, such as the recent trade agreement reached with Canada and Mexico, the bilateral trade deals with Japan and the Republic of Korea, and the proposed trade deals with the European Union and the United Kingdom.

With the smaller FTAs covering most developed countries in the WTO, the organization itself will suffer from internal decoupling, declining total trade volume, and a lower level of free trade. Washington will thus get a chance to force a change in the WTO so that it meets its requirements again.

Meanwhile, Washington may leave China in the weakening WTO system in a bid to force it to end its subsidies to State-owned enterprises and keep expanding opening-up.

Zhang Deyong, a research fellow at the National Academy of Economics Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Q: Will pork prices return to normal?

A: The most important factor affecting the pork prices in 2019 was the outbreak of African swine fever.

Now the outbreak has been controlled, the pork production cycle will start to recover, especially with the government introducing support policies to encourage pig raising and increase pork imports. Pork prices are therefore likely to further fall.

And since pork prices are the main factor behind the rise in the consumer price index, the rising CPI trend can be arrested if pork prices are reduced to a reasonable level.

Should the CPI continue to rise, it would have a negative impact on efforts to stabilize overall economic growth. So to cope with the pressure of the economic downturn, the authorities will take measures to stabilize the CPI.

The government will therefore continue to support the pork production cycle, and as pork producers are expected to increase investment in the sector, the pork supply will increase and prices will fall.

Lu Zhian, a researcher at the Research Center of Human Rights, Fudan University

Q: Will China take effective measures to better safeguard bio-identification privacy?

A: Face, voice and fingerprint recognition technologies are being increasingly used in different sectors. How to strike a balance between the convenience and security they bring to people and protection of the collected personal information is a pressing issue.

The security of bio-identification technology depends on who uses the technology and how it is used. China already has 40 different laws and rules on online information security and an individual information law is being drafted, but future legislation should stipulate the use and management of bio-identification technology and the information collected, make clear the requirements and conditions for the use of relevant information and technology, each party's responsibilities and set out a clear supervisory mechanism and means of redress.

Moreover, an appraisal mechanism for the use of bio-identification technology and information should be established. And a system should be set up jointly by the government and enterprises to provide effective redress for victims of bioidentification information theft or leaks.

Liu Ying, a researcher at the Institutes of Science and Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Q: Will the application of 5G be transformative?

A: It is apparent that 5G technology will be profoundly applied and utilized in a wide range of sectors, and it will enable the internet of things, virtual reality, augmented reality and the industrial internet.

The internet of vehicles and driverless cars are considered one of the immediate applications of 5G technology. But fields such as manufacturing, energy, public security, healthcare and finance have enormous potential for 5G.

And it is apparent that with the increasing popularity of short video clips and maturity of augmented and virtual reality, the users' demand for mobile traffic data is increasing.

The drawing up of standards for 5G has defined the technology requirements, and 5G's potential to transform our lives has been welcomed by society. Since 5G technology is equipped with unparalleled advantages, network construction will advance. But the construction of 5G networks will probably be rolled out in a gradual way as they require immense financial support as they cost more than 4G networks.

In the initial stage of 5G's rollout, the fees for 5G will be high. However, the cost of 5G will come down over time.

Yuan Xin, a professor at the Institute of Population and Development, Nankai University in Tianjin

Q: Will China raise the retirement age?

A: A plan for raising the retirement age is due to be discussed this year, and it is likely that people will be required to work longer for a number of reasons.

First, the average life expectancy has increased from 43 years in the 1950s to 77 years in 2018. Since Chinese people now live longer than they used to, it is reasonable to increase the number of working years.

Second, raising the retirement age would ease the pension pressure on the government's coffers. The extra five working years would pump more money into the pension pool while reducing expenditure.

Third, China has a rapidly aging society, and therefore a declining working age population. Delaying the retirement age from 60 to 65 would mean an additional 100 million workers.

But apart from raising the retirement age, sustaining economic growth serves as the foundation for supporting an increasing number of old people. It's vital to keep boosting the national economy.

Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Research Institute

Q: How can the quality of undergraduate education be improved?

A: There is no doubt that higher standards have to be imposed on students for graduation.

It would be unfair though if stringent requirements were merely placed on the students without enhancing the quality of courses and teachers.

While teachers accuse students of not taking classes seriously, surveys show students complain of having to learn boring and pointless subjects which make them lukewarm about studying.

It is high-quality courses that serve as the foundation of overall improvement of undergraduate education. Colleges should enjoy more autonomy over the majors they offer and provide more elective modules for students in accordance with the specialties of colleges and changes in employers' needs.

It is also imperative to change the criteria for evaluating the performance of teachers.

Currently, the government and society usually judge the level of a university in terms of its academic results. Accordingly, universities commonly evaluate teachers' work by the number of papers and prizes they have, which prompts professors to invest most of their energy and efforts into research rather than teaching.

Gao Yuan, an assistant research fellow at Tsinghua University

Q: What areas might blockchain be applied to?

A: First, blockchain could be applied to better protect communication privacy and security, because the existing internet and communication technology system of storing all data on servers is not foolproof.

While providing the same user experience, blockchain can better protect the privacy of users. It will ensure that when you chat with others, you don't have to worry about your chat information being leaked or intercepted by anyone.

The application of blockchain to communication requires the deployment of the internet of things equipment on a certain scale. Yet at this stage, the procurement and deployment costs of IoT equipment are relatively high. In addition, the lack of a unified technical standard and implementation plan are also problems.

Second, blockchain could be used in wireless edge computing. Edge computing is a typical distributed computing technology that processes data at a location close to the terminal of an IoT device. For example, the functioning of air conditioners, water heaters and refrigerators and security cameras can be coordinated through edge computing, ensuring optimal energy saving and service status even when the cloud server is not connected.

Li Lifeng, a professor of law at Jilin University

Q: How can school bullying be curbed?

A: With more severe cases being reported. Chinese people are increasingly concerned about school bullying. However, it is a complicated issue to address.

There is a growing call from the public to address school bullying in terms of the Criminal Law. But there are many difficulties involved.

A judgment under the Criminal Law for juvenile misbehavior can stick to a person throughout their life, especially when the social credit system is playing a growing role in social life. Some involved in bullying may deserve a second chance. There needs to be a distinction between school bullying and violence that is a crime by juvenile perpetrators.

Those juveniles responsible for extremely violent acts should be judged under the Criminal Law, but less serious bullying, the sort that young people often engage in while growing up and becoming socialized should be carefully measured for its effects and treated accordingly.

Then another problem appears: how to establish a discipline system for perpetrators of different levels of mild violence and bullying. How to let them realize and seriously reflect on their wrong deeds? Where to discipline those minors?

The government should support the establishment of special institutions where misbehaved minors can continue their education instead of staying at school. Those children should accept special education and discipline according to their deeds.

Shi Hao, a scientist with the space mission engineering program at China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation

Q: What space missions does China have planned for this year?

A: On Dec 27, Long March 5, China's new-generation rocket, was successfully launched. Compared with the Long March rockets in service, it represents significant progress in terms of its carrying capacity.

The Long March 5B, the Low Earth Orbit version of Long March 5, will make its maiden flight this year and will be used to send the next-generation manned spacecraft into orbit. This will play a major role in China's coming manned moon missions.

Two HJ-2 optical remote sensing satellites will also be put into use this year to help with environmental monitoring and disaster mitigation work.

China also plans to launch a Mars explorer, which is expected to realize orbiting, and then landing and roving over the surface of Mars in 2021.

China will also carry out the country's first lunar sample-return mission, which will be the world's first since 1976. Chang'e 5 is expected to come back with 2 kilograms of samples taken from the moon's surface and will test the lunar ascent stage and lunar orbit rendezvous and docking technologies for China's future manned missions to the moon.

And the construction of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System will be finished, forming a high-accuracy satellite positioning and navigation system that serves global users.

Beate Trankmann, UNDP resident representative in China

Q: What changes will there be in poverty alleviation work after China eliminates absolute poverty?

A: China is on track to end extreme rural poverty this year, a key goal in its 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20).

To address the new set of complex and interconnected challenges in 2020 and beyond, it is important to recognize that poverty has many dimensions besides income. China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) should therefore focus on reducing relative poverty, while addressing inequalities between rural and urban areas as well as within cities, and between generations and genders.

As China continues its journey toward a prosperous society, having already reached upper-middle income country status, measures for income poverty should evolve with it to reflect improving living standards and rising costs of living. The World Bank sets the poverty line for lower and upper middle-income countries at $3.20 and $5.50 per day respectively, compared with China's national poverty level of 2,995 yuan ($428) per year.

Liu Ying, a researcher at the Institutes of Science and Development, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Q: How to strike a balance between scientific development and research ethics?

A: The rapidly developing technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and gene-editing have unleashed huge innovation potential. But people are also concerned that these promising technologies, if unregulated, could become a Pandora's box, which might bring about unexpected dangers and have unintended consequences.

Given the crisis of science ethics, several countries have stepped up efforts to formulate legislation and set up ethical standards for scientific research. China too needs to accelerate legislation on emerging technology fields, set up standards for the application of technology, and launch publicity campaigns to raise people's awareness of science education.

Xie Laihui, an associate researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy and the Research Center of Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Q: What achievements has the Belt and Road Initiative made over the past year?

A: The Belt and Road Initiative made four major achievements in 2019. First, new participants from Western Europe, North America and Latin America signed cooperation agreements with China on the Belt and Road Initiative and the initiative has expanded cooperation in third-party markets.

Second, a framework on debt analysis was established during the second forum on international cooperation in April to make participants make more scientific decision-making, which could help them control debt risks and promote the high-quality development of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Third, mechanisms for a clean Belt and Road have been developed through treaties and pilot projects. That means countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative have strengthened their anti-corruption cooperation, and dealt a heavy blow to business bribery.

Fourth, participating countries have deepened cooperation to promote green development of the Belt and Road. Low-carbon and sustainable development have been included as the goals of Belt and Road projects.

Qiao Xinsheng, a professor of law at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law

Q: What can the authorities do to improve the doctor-patient relationship?

A: First, it should be noted that the most recent violent hospital incident that has sparked so much public anger, in which a doctor named Yang Wen was killed on the Christmas Eve, was not a doctor-patient conflict, but a severe criminal case. However, it has exposed some deep-rooted problems that may arouse some patients or their families to take the doctors as scapegoats for problems such as expensive medical bills and the huge difficulty in seeing a doctor.

The authorities need to introduce reforms to change the regime whereby doctors rely on the rebates of medicines they prescribe since their salaries can't support them to live a decent life compared with their huge workloads.

Also law enforcement needs to be strengthened to protect medical staff from any illegal claims or even attacks from the patients or their families.

 

CAI MENG/CHINA DAILY

 

 

Online Scan the QR Code for the video interviews.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[National reunification 'irresistible']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530977.htm The general trend toward national reunification is irresistible and compatriots on both sides should strive for the bright future of cross-Straits relations, a senior Chinese mainland Taiwan affairs official said in a New Year's greeting to people in Taiwan.

In a New Year's message carried by Relations Across Taiwan Straits magazine on Wednesday, Liu Jieyi, head of the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, called on both sides to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties.

Liu said the Chinese mainland will continue to promote the peaceful reunification of the motherland and he hoped that people in Taiwan can grasp the chance to work with people on the Chinese mainland to create a bright future.

He said that if cross-Straits relations enter the new year on the path of peaceful development, people in Taiwan will fully enjoy the benefits of development.

However, if a small number of people continue to create confrontation and hostility across the Straits, the interests and well-being of the majority of Taiwan residents will be severely damaged, Liu said.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the Taiwan Affairs Office, strongly condemned the passing of a law on the island on Tuesday that may criminalize many people involved in cross-Straits exchanges.

Zhu said the island's ruling Democratic Progressive Party was creating tensions between the two sides for political and electoral gains by pushing forward the bill. The island leadership vote is scheduled for Jan 11.

The legislative department of the island passed an "anti-infiltration law" on Tuesday to combat what the DPP called "infiltration" and "threats" from the Chinese mainland, through funding people on the island for political aims.

Under the bill, anyone who receives instructions or funding from "external forces" to conduct election campaign activities could be jailed for up to five years and fined up to NT$10 million ($332,000).

Han Kuo-yu, the Kuomintang party's candidate for the leadership election, said in an election debate on Sunday that the law was like "bombs around people's necks", and with the DPP holding control, people could "break the law" at any time.

James Soong Chu-yu, candidate of the People First Party, said in a debate on Friday that the law was not clearly defined and could make suspects of the millions of Taiwan businessmen and students who travel frequently between the two sides.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Livestock and poultry gene bank to be established in Xinjiang]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530988.htm The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region will establish the first national gene bank for domestic livestock and poultry breeds in the west of the country by the end of this year.

The bank will be based at a sheep-breeding farm in the regional capital, Urumqi.

It aims to raise the region's capacity to conserve animal genetic resources, and provide materials for selecting new breeds of livestock and poultry, according to the Xinjiang Academy of Animal Sciences, which will run the gene bank.

Xinjiang has a variety of livestock and poultry breeds with unique qualities due to its vast territory and diverse ecological environment, and they make up an important part of the region's biodiversity, said Zheng Xinbao, a researcher from the academy.

The improvement of people's living standards in recent years had stimulated greater consumer demand for greener, high-quality livestock products, he said, and some local breeds, particularly those raised in desert areas in Xinjiang, could not meet the requirements or adapt to the market changes, so their numbers had been declining.

"Therefore, using scientific methods to reveal and record the traits of local breeds has great significance in promoting the sustainable development of Xinjiang's animal husbandry, protecting national biodiversity and supporting future research in using gene-breeding or gene-editing technologies to shorten the breeding cycle and raise the breed quality," Zheng said.

According to the academy, after the project is completed, research institutes and universities across the country will conduct surveys in Xinjiang and other provinces in Northwest China to collect information such as breed characteristics, living environment, appearance, production performance and population growth in the past 10 years and evaluate their development.

They will freeze the genetic resources, including tissues, semen, embryos, cells and genomes and finish the preservation of the genetic resources of more than 10 local breeds, including Duolang sheep and Hotan sheep, which are on the national protection list of livestock and poultry genetic resources.

The bank will have five parts: a preservation bank for genetic materials such as tissue, sperm and embryos; a somatic cell bank for culturing primary somatic cells and future cell quality evaluation; a genomic library for long-term storage of DNA; an exhibition hall to demonstrate the distribution, exploitation and utilization of endemic species; and a platform for monitoring and sharing the resources, and issuing warnings when necessary.

The bank will also apply big data, multimedia and cloud computing technologies, and be equipped with machines and devices to help preserve the genetic materials, according to the academy.

China has some of the most abundant genetic resources of livestock and poultry in the world, with 545 local breeds accounting for about one-sixth of the world's total, statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs show.

To better preserve the resources, China has, in recent years, set up six gene banks as well as 165 conservation farms and 24 conservation areas, according to the ministry.

 

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2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China and Iran to strengthen cooperation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530899.htm China and Iran said they will strengthen cooperation to implement the Iran nuclear deal and uphold multilateralism, as Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif visited China for the fourth time in 2019.

When meeting Zarif in Beijing on Tuesday, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the deal faces serious challenges, and the root cause of tensions is that the United States withdrew unilaterally from the deal, gave up its due international obligations and applied maximum pressure on Iran.

The deal, which has been endorsed by a United Nations Security Council resolution, is an important outcome of multilateral diplomacy, Wang said, adding that to maintain its authority and validity is to maintain multilateralism, international law and basic norms that guide international relations.

China supports all kinds of constructive efforts that help ease tensions and uphold the deal, and hopes parties involved will continue to implement the deal effectively by sticking to the right direction, standing up against external pressure and settling differences through talks, Wang said.

Also, China will firmly safeguard international fairness and justice, oppose any kind of unilateral behavior or bullying, and work for political and diplomatic resolutions to the Iran nuclear issue, Wang added.

Wang said he hopes to work with Zarif to implement the consensus reached by the top leaders of China and Iran, and consolidate political mutual trust and deepen pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.

Zarif praised China's role in maintaining the Iran nuclear deal, and briefed Wang on Iran's talks with Russia and Europe over the Iran nuclear issue.

Iran hopes to keep close contact with China to uphold multilateralism, oppose unilateralism and take effective measures to safeguard the deal as well as its own legitimate interests, Zarif said, adding that Iran greatly values its ties with China.

The meeting came after China, Russia and Iran started a joint military exercise in the Gulf of Oman on Friday. The exercise lasted until Monday.

Tensions in the Persian Gulf region have risen since the US announced in May 2018 it was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Iran, in spite of opposition from the other parties to the deal-Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia and Britain.

 

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi meets Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Beijing on Tuesday. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Kiribati president to make first visit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530920.htm Kiribati President Taneti Mamau will kick off his first state visit to China on Saturday at the invitation of President Xi Jinping.

The eight-day trip, which will be the first state visit hosted by China in the new year, will bring Mamau to Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces.

It will be the first visit to China by a Kiribati president since the two countries formally resumed diplomatic ties in September after the central Pacific island nation severed its so-called "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan.

"China stands ready to work with Kiribati at the opportunity of this visit to strengthen pragmatic cooperation and friendly exchanges with Kiribati on the basis of equality and mutual respect, to better benefit the people of both countries," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a news conference in Beijing.

According to Geng, Xi will hold talks with Mamau, and Premier Li Keqiang will meet with him. The leaders of the two countries will exchange in-depth views on bilateral ties as well as international and regional issues of common concern.

"China and Kiribati have carried out comprehensive exchanges and cooperation in all areas since the two countries resumed diplomatic relations and a batch of early harvests have already been achieved," Geng said.

In response to media reports that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will raise issues concerning Xinjiang with Central Asian countries during his upcoming tour there, the spokesman said Washington's "old tricks are doomed to fail".

According to Geng, the US side had tried, but did not succeed, to sow discord between China and Central Asian countries during Pompeo's meeting with Central Asian foreign ministers in September.

"As close neighbors of Xinjiang, Central Asian countries know better than the US the real situation in Xinjiang and have a bigger say in it," Geng told reporters at the news conference.

Central Asian countries always understand and support China on issues concerning Xinjiang and speak positively of China's measures on anti-terrorism and de-radicalization, Geng said.

"We firmly believe that the governments and people in Central Asian countries are determined to jointly fight with China against the three evil forces of terrorism, separatism and extremism," he said.

Geng also said that China and Central Asian countries have achieved fruitful results in jointly building the Belt and Road, which plays a positive role in facilitating regional interconnectivity, developing the economy and improving people's livelihoods.

"If the US side really cares about development and people's well-being in the Central Asian region, it should take more concrete steps to achieve good results with sincerity and substantial financial contributions," he added.

 

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2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[27 quarantined in Wuhan due to viral pneumonia]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530913.htm Twenty-seven people infected by viral pneumonia have been quarantined in the Hubei provincial capital of Wuhan, and those who were in close contact with them are being watched closely as the local health authority investigates the cause of the infection.

Seven of the infected are in critical condition, while the others are "stable" with "controllable" symptoms, according to a media release from the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission on Tuesday.

Two patients may be discharged from hospital in the coming days, it added.

Their main symptom is fever, though a few of them also have breathing difficulties. "So far, no person-to-person transmission has been found as the investigation continues. No medical worker has been infected," the release noted.

The commission recently received reports from some medical institutes that they received patients, infected with viral pneumonia, who work in a local seafood market.

White-clad medical workers were busy spraying sanitizer in the market with their faces masked, as shown in some videos uploaded on Tuesday morning. The operation of the market, however, has not been interrupted.

Without responding directly to online rumors that these cases may be related to severe acute respiratory syndrome, widely known as SARS, the release said viral pneumonia is "preventable" and "controllable".

"Those with the symptoms, especially persistent fever, should seek medical services in a timely manner," it said.

People's Daily reported, however, that the cases in Wuhan are unlikely to have been caused by the SARS virus.

"Multiple medical professionals in Wuhan said the causes for the viral pneumonia have yet to be identified and no conclusion could be made that they are related to SARS as the online hearsay stated," the newspaper said on its Weibo account.

Even if they are caused by the SARS virus, Wuhan citizens don't need to worry because "there has been a mature system to control and cure" it, the newspaper said, citing undisclosed professionals.

A team dispatched by the National Health Commission has arrived in Wuhan to facilitate local authorities in their work.

 

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2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Villagers weave threads for better lives]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530900.htm In a narrow workshop built outside rows of neatly arranged twostory villas, Phuntsok Tsering was offering guidance to villagers learning Tibetan embroidery.

The 37-year-old has been running an embroidery cooperative for three years in a newly constructed village named Tashi Dushi, or happiness all year round. The village is a two-hour drive from downtown Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region.

For all of his students, with most of them having relocated from several high altitude locations, Phuntsok Tsering repeatedly stresses that there should be no room for error in their needlework if they wish to get good prices for their work. These include tapestries, curtains and apron-like accessories that Tibetan women wear.

Originating in the 9th century, Tibet's embroidery features highly religious subjects ranging from Buddha to monasteries and the holy Potala Palace, which towers over downtown Lhasa against a backdrop of rolling mountains.

"The color of thread filling for Buddha's skirts must be exactly the same as the one from the thangka," said Phuntsok Tsering, referring to the ancient Tibetan Buddhist painting.

"The width of the ribbons should also be accurate, otherwise it will be a failure-in a cultural sense and monetary as well."

An exquisite tapestry requires 15 days of work by a skilled embroider and can fetch thousands of yuan. That is a good salary for Phuntsok Tsering's apprentices, considering that not long ago many people were still impoverished by national standards-defined as living on less than 2,300 yuan ($328) a year.

In a village of relocated farmers and herders, Phuntsok Tsering's workshop has offered plenty of opportunities for locals to socialize, to be in awe of their own legacy, while at the same time increase their incomes during cold seasons when job opportunities are rare. Phuntsok Tsering started his eight years of studying religious painting and needlework at age 22, with a master in Qamdo, Tibet.

Tsedrub, 45, who was bent over an embroidered apron at a sewing machine, said she liked to be at the workshop in the winter. People would sit idle if not for Phuntsok Tsering's cooperative, she said.

Phuntsok Tsering and Tsedrub were among hundreds of people who applied for a place in a relocation program aimed at helping farmers and herders who live in isolated places escape poverty.

In 2016, each family was given a two-story house, decorated with colorful cloths in traditional Tibetan style. They were also offered jobs at a nearby base for growing medicinal herbs and a cattle farm.

To diversify available jobs, local authorities offered incentives to Phuntsok Tsering, providing him a space free of charge, and exempting his workshop from electricity and water bills, in the hope that he could teach his trade to more villagers.

"I now have five villagers on board," he said. "I am happy to see people lead better lives because of Tibetan embroidery."

 

A father and his two children pose for a photo in front of their new house in Tashi Dushi village, a two-hour drive from downtown Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet autonomous region. The village was constructed to accommodate herders who were relocated. LI XIN/XINHUA

 

 

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2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Book sharing opens a chapter of progress]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530911.htm Duan Mengyuan knows a good story when she sees one, especially if it involves helping people to read. The graduate student of social and cultural psychology in the London School of Economics and Political Science is one of 544 volunteers that helped the same number of students, on a one-to-one basis, in rural China to finish reading a book over long-distance communication in November.

The 21-year-old shared Japanese author Keigo Higashino's The Miracles of the Namiya General Store by phoning Yu Yanli, a 14-year-old girl from a village school in Nanjian Yi autonomous county, Southwest China's Yunnan province, once a week.

Since childhood Duan has wanted to become a volunteer teacher in rural areas, but she is not able to spend a whole month there, usually the minimum requirement.

"Everyone is eager to do something great. So am I," Duan said.

Her opportunity came when she learnt about a project after reading a recruitment request this year. The reading-tutor project was initiated in 2016 by a volunteer teacher with the Teach For China program. The program recruits young volunteers to serve as full-time teachers in low-income, rural areas to help students boost the academic and life skills they need in life. The program has been launched in provinces of Yunnan, Guangdong, Gansu and Fujian, and Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

The reading tutor and his/her student will use the first two calls to get to know each other and select a book that they would like to read. In the following four weeks, they will finish reading the book by phone, making contact once a week, usually at the weekend.

So far, a total of 2,752 reading tutors in China and abroad have been recruited to accompany rural schoolchildren, aged from 11 to 16 years old, to finish reading a book in a month via electronic means of communication such as phone calls or video chats.

Recalling this experience, Duan felt "a little bit upset" because her efforts didn't seem to receive enough feedback from Yu when she tried to share with the seventh-grader more of her philosophy of life.

But she remembered the chuckling over the phone when Yu described how her request for an easier math test, to enable her to get better scores, was refused by the math teacher.

You see, this was inspired by a plot in the book they had read.

"At that moment I realized that as long as my work has an impact on her, that's enough," Duan said.

In a letter written to Duan, Yu said in real life she is an introverted person who is not good at expressing her ideas, is nervous and blushes easily.

"I'm a very ordinary person and you changed me. Thank you for your company over the past weeks," she wrote. "In the future, I will do more thinking and study hard and take step-by-step efforts to realize my dream."

Seven students in Hu Wanlai's classes also applied for November's reading project. Hu, a former programmer, now teaches Chinese for two classes of 58 ninth-graders at a boarding school in a mountainous town in Chengxian county, Longnan city, Gansu province.

"Many students want to read books, but they either have few books available or do not know how to start reading a book. They need more guidance outside the classroom," he said. There is a marked improvement already among the students, especially in their ability to express themselves.

As one of eight volunteers responsible for the project's recruitment work in October and November, Hu is considering arranging an offline meeting between the students and their tutors.

Growing up in rural China, Hu has a strong thirst for knowledge which was not satisfied until he went to college. As a mechanical engineering and automation student, he spent most of his time reading literature works in the library.

"I can tell from my personal experience how much difference it can make on a student's view of life if they know more about the outside world," Hu said.

Two years ago, the 28-year-old decided to apply for a two-year volunteer teacher post at the program when he saw a 20-second video advertisement in a cinema in Qingdao, Shandong province. He was waiting to watch the movie Coco.

Hu acknowledges that both hardware and software facilities have improved a lot in rural schools. But he still feels a sense of frustration when some students tell him that they believe they can only become migrant workers in the city or stay in rural areas as farmers.

"As volunteer teachers from different walks of life, we want to tell them through our work that they should expect more of life in the future," he said.

But he points out the very real challenges these students face.

"Most of them are being taken care of by grandparents. For those who live with their parents, the parents are so busy making a living they can provide very limited help in their children's study," he said.

According to the report, Child Welfare and Protection Policy Stocktaking 2019, China had 6.97 million "left-behind" children in rural homes. These are children whose parents work in cities to support their families and 96 percent of the children are taken care of by grandparents.

Analysis conducted by the State Information Center said that lack of family care, hidden safety hazards, lack of home education, psychological problems and poor education conditions are the five major problems facing these "left-behind" children.

"Education runs through the whole process of one's growth and qualified education is not the only thing absent for rural children," Hu said. "I sincerely hope more and more excellent young volunteers can join and offer a hand to education in rural areas."

Lu Xun, a Chinese writer known for his critical thinking, once wrote: "Send out as much light as the heat inside can produce, even though it may well be as dim as a shimmer, so that we will retain a tiny glow in the darkness without having to await the arrival of a firing torch."

This is also what Hu believes.

 

Sixth graders fly "bamboo dragonflies" at a boarding school in Chengxian county, Gansu province, last year. HU WANLAI/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

Hu Wanlai teaches poetry in his class in Chengxian county, Gansu province. CHINA DAILY

 

 

Students in science class. CHINA DAILY

 

 

Duan Mengyuan

 

 

Hu Wanlai

 

 

 

 

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2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi, Putin vow joint efforts in new year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530905.htm President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin hailed on Tuesday the extraordinary ties between China and Russia and vowed to lift their bilateral relations to a new level in the new year.

As they exchanged New Year's greetings, the two presidents pledged to work together to intensify coordination between their countries in international affairs to inject stability into the changing world situation.

Xi, in his message on behalf of the Chinese government and people, extended sincere greetings and best wishes to Putin and the Russian people.

Xi said that 2019 was an extraordinary year in the history of the development of China-Russia relations.

Xi recalled he and Putin jointly announcing in June, when he made a state visit to Russia, the upgrading of bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era, a move for the countries to open a new chapter in their friendship.

During his visit, he and Putin signed a joint statement on strengthening contemporary global strategic stability, demonstrating their firm determination to jointly safeguard global strategic stability, Xi said.

He hailed the two countries' fruitful cooperation in such fields as economy and trade, energy, people-to-people exchanges, and science and technology. He noted that this collaboration also played out on subnational levels and said that altogether it has not only delivered tangible benefits to the two countries and their people but has also contributed greatly to world peace and development.

Speaking of the highlights of this cooperation in the new year, Xi said that 2020 has been designated the Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation between China and Russia, and that the two sides will also jointly celebrate the 75th anniversary of victory in the World Anti-Fascist War and the founding of the United Nations.

Xi said he stands ready to maintain close contact with Putin and work together to guide the bilateral relationship.

China and Russia will also jointly safeguard multilateralism and the international system with the United Nations at the core, he said, so as to inject more stability and positive energy into a world changing in ways unseen in a century.

Putin, for his part, extended his sincere New Year greetings to Xi and wished the Chinese people happiness and good health.

Putin said that he and Xi have met several times and reached a series of important consensuses, which have opened new prospects for mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields.

He also highlighted the bilateral cooperation, and said the governments, legislative bodies and various departments of the two countries have engaged in productive coordination and that the Russia-China east-route natural gas pipeline was completed and put into operation.

Putin said he firmly believes that with joint efforts, the two countries' comprehensive cooperation and their constructive coordination on international issues will be upgraded to higher levels.

This was the seventh consecutive year that Xi and Putin have exchanged New Year's greetings since Xi took office as president in 2013.

Premier Li Keqiang and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, also exchanged New Year's greetings on Tuesday.

Li said in his message that 2019 was a special and greatly significant year in the development of the China-Russia relationship, and that he will work with Medvedev in the new year to give full play to existing procedures and platforms and inject more impetus into the common development and revitalization of the two countries.

Medvedev said that Russia-China ties are at their best level in history and he believes that the two countries will achieve even more through their cooperation in various fields in the new year.

 

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2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Rwandan ambassador praises an innovative land of opportunity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530901.htm For James Kimonyo, China is a country worth careful examination for its valuable development experience. Since his arrival in China in October, the Rwandan ambassador has traveled to several cities, including Shanghai in East China and the Southwestern municipality of Chongqing.

The 55-year old veteran diplomat, who is on his first ever posting in China and Asia, said what he saw in the cities was "just unbelievable".

China used to be "more or less like what Africa is today", he said. "But in four decades this country has been able to really tremendously transform into something ... very, very forward looking and promising."

Kimonyo said one of his focuses is to study key drivers of China's transformation, and see how they fit into Rwanda's development agenda.

"As I travel across this country, I look at technology, ... for instance, how China applies technology in education to give young people the necessary skills, to be innovative, ... and how technology is used in agriculture to increase productivity," he said.

China's commitment to openness is another aspect that the ambassador finds impressive.

Recalling his visit to a market of imported commodities in Yiwu, Zhejiang province in early December, Kimonyo said he was surprised to see goods from a number of developed countries on display for Chinese consumers to choose from.

"I saw goods from Australia. From Canada. From Germany. From France," he said, adding that Rwanda wants to boost its trade and expand exports of coffee, tea and other products to China, its largest trading partner.

Kimonyo didn't hide his urge for increased Chinese investment in his country.

"Initially, whenever you invited investors to come, they would say, yeah, but you don't have enough energy, you don't have enough this and that. I would say, Ok, energy is also an opportunity for investment. Come and invest in energy generation," he said.

"The approach (of Rwanda) is that we have a lot of challenges, a lot of problems, but they also come with a lot of opportunities," he added.

Rwanda's economy has been growing rapidly over the past two decades, according to the World Bank. Its annual GDP growth hit 8.6 percent in 2018.

The country ranks among the best African countries in terms of government integrity and ease of doing business, and is one of the safest and cleanest African countries, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

By the end of 2017, Chinese companies had invested $140 million in the country, mainly in the garment, mining, real estate and hotel sectors, the ministry says. In 2017, Rwanda's trade with China reached $157 million, with a year-on-year increase of more than 10 percent.

Kimonyo, who has served as Rwandan ambassador to South Africa, the United States and Kenya, said he is happy to work in China at a time when the bilateral relationship "is at its best level", and that China has contributed to his country's economic growth in different ways.

The ambassador said there are more than 900 Chinese companies, big and small, operating in Rwanda, and they have created jobs and generated tax revenue in Rwanda, and have increased the country's exports.

Chinese companies have also taken up a major share in the country's construction industry. The companies have contracted to building infrastructure, including roads, hydropower plants and landmark buildings in the capital, Kigali.

Kimonyo praised the Chinese companies for the "extremely good" quality of their work.

"There is not any preferential treatment to Chinese companies," he said. "It's just based on the fact that they are very competitive. They are very hard working. And they deliver projects on time. In the end, the client would say, this is the contract I need."

Besides inviting investment and developing infrastructure, Rwanda is eyeing further growth in tourism, the largest source of its foreign exchange earnings.

The country, also called "the land of a thousand hills", is known for mountain gorillas and other wildlife species, and has four national parks.

According to Kimonyo, there has been "a sharp rise" of the number of Chinese tourists in Rwanda since President Xi Jinping paid a state visit in July 2018. "We want to build on that momentum," the ambassador said.

In order to further tap into the large potential of the Chinese market, Rwanda carried out a road show in Shanghai and Guangzhou in November to promote its tourist attractions.

The road show will continue, Kimonyo said, adding that the embassy will hold a photo contest, like it did in 2018, inviting photographers to share their images taken in Rwanda, as a way of encouraging more people to visit the country.

Speaking of how ties between China and Rwanda will develop, Kimonyo said the outlook is "very positive", and Rwanda's cooperation will grow with China within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation.

 

James Kimonyo, Rwandan ambassador

 

 

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2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Milestones in poverty relief]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530912.htm 1978: The rural poverty rate is more than 97.5 percent.

1986: The central government establishes a cross-department office responsible for poverty relief and development. The office is currently responsible for poverty alleviation campaign.

2000: The government launches a landmark program to aid development in vast, poverty-stricken western regions.

2011: The government raises the national poverty line to annual income level of 2,300 yuan, a 92 percent increase compared with 2009.

2012: About 98 million Chinese people live below the poverty line.

2013: A total of 128,000 villages are impoverished; targeted poverty relief effort proposed.

2015: China attains UN Millennium Development Goals.

2017: Rural poverty rate falls to 3.1 percent; poverty relief listed as one of three "battles" that must be won over next three years, alongside tackling of pollution and financial risks.

2018: The government steps up the fight against corruption in poverty relief efforts; more than 100,000 villages stripped off poverty label, with rate falling below 2 percent; more than 80 million farmers lifted out of poverty.

 

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2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Bridge tower as tall as 110-story skyscraper]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530810.htm A super-tall bridge inaugurated in Southwest China's Guizhou province on Monday will connect the province's industrialized north and mountainous, less developed south and halve travel time between the impoverished counties of Pingtang and Luodian.

The 2,135-meter-long Pingtang Grand Bridge, supported by three towers and numerous cables, will be fully open to the public on Jan 1, the provincial transport authorities said.

It will allow drivers to travel between the two counties in about an hour via a newly completed highway with a speed limit of 80 kilometers an hour.

Construction of the cable-stayed bridge started in April 2016 and the provincial government said it cost 1.5 billion yuan ($214 million) to build.

Its tallest tower is 332 meters tall, equivalent to a 110-story skyscraper, and is the world's tallest reinforced concrete bridge tower, while the deck of the bridge is about 190 meters above the ground, authorities said.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony, provincial transport official Long Pingjiang said that with the completion of the bridge, Guizhou's highway network has reached a length of 7,000 km.

Figures provided by the provincial government show it had 6,453 km of highway last year, the seventh-longest nationwide.

Guizhou, once one of China's most isolated regions, has been charging ahead with infrastructure development in recent decades.

Provincial government figures show that by August, Guizhou was home to 47 of the world's highest 100 bridges, earning it the title of "global center of bridges".

The bridges soaring over the mountains and hills that account for more than 90 percent of Guizhou's landscape have been boosting tourism and investment in the province and turning it into a gateway in southwestern China, said Sun Zhigang, the province's Party secretary.

He said the improvements had led to surges in flows of people, goods and information.

 

The Pingtang Grand Bridge in Guizhou province will open to traffic on Wednesday. YAN CHUNGUI/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[More factories moved out of downtown Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530870.htm Beijing authorities have moved 399 manufacturing enterprises out of the city's downtown area since January to further transfer noncapital functions and improve urban management, the city's economic planning body said.

By November, Beijing had relocated 3,047 factories to neighboring areas since 2017, renovated 630 local markets and closed 122 logistics centers, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform said in a document released on Sunday.

"The spatial layout of the capital's public services was frequently adjusted and optimized in 2019 to ensure the city's living environment was improved," said Zhou Hao, director of the commission's coordination and general office.

For example, construction of five new college campuses, including a new campus for the Beijing Film Academy, had speeded up and the reconstruction of several hospitals, including the east branch of Chaoyang Hospital, had also started, Zhou said.

"The overall effect of urban management improvement in downtown Beijing is obvious," he added.

For more balanced and sustainable development, Beijing's urban planning authorities also speeded up the process of drawing up regional plans to maintain an appropriate population density and reasonable development scale.

According to the Beijing Overall Urban Development Plan, approved by the State Council in September 2017, the capital will cap its permanent resident population in the downtown area at 10.85 million next year.

But hitting that target had been accompanied by challenges, Yang Zhongyuan, vice-chairman of the urban construction and environmental protection committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, said in a report delivered on Thursday to the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress.

The decreases in noncapital functions and industries and the population in the downtown area were proceeding more slowly than expected, he said.

Zhang Wei, director of the Beijing Municipal Commission of Planning and Natural Resources, said, "It is important to explore new methods to further move out Beijing's noncapital functions."

He suggested the city preserve space for sustainable development, similar to the three ecological belts along mountains and rivers to be built between the capital's downtown area and Beijing Capital International Airport, for the region's future industrial development.

He also urged district-level urban planning authorities to introduce new methods in city management to achieve more coordinated and sustainable development.

On Dec 11, Beijing's 14 districts each issued a district plan, setting limits on populations and land for development, and standards for ecological protection.

The district plan for downtown Dongcheng and Xicheng was unveiled on Monday, with public opinion being sought. A detailed urban plan for the capital's Tongzhou district subcenter will be published soon, according to the city's planning and natural resources commission.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[English an option in resolving disputes in Shanghai's Lingang Special Area]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530853.htm Foreigners involved in commercial disputes in the Lingang Special Area, newly added to the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, will be allowed to use English in litigation materials and court hearings if both parties agree, the Shanghai High People's Court said.

A simultaneous interpretation system will be used during court hearings to aid the process, Pan Yunbo, director of the court's commercial tribunal, said on Monday.

The court unveiled 21 measures on Monday designed to provide efficient, international standard judicial services as part of the city's effort to forge a top-class business environment that will enhance the international influence and competitiveness of the Lingang Special Area.

"The use of the English language is an international practice in litigation and trials involving parties from different countries," Pan said.

The Supreme People's Court started to embrace the practice in recent years. It established its first international commercial tribunal in July last year and began to allow the parties involved to submit litigation materials in English.

The adoption of the practice in Lingang was imperative due to a sharp increase in cross-border cases since the area's establishment in August, Pan said.

Since it was launched on Aug 20, the Lingang Special Area, which covers an initial area of 119.5 square kilometers, has become a pilot zone for new industries and business and trading models.

Commercial disputes related to the cross-border trade of goods, international investment, international shipping, the offshore services trade and offshore financial transactions have cropped up accordingly, the court said.

Nearly 2,500 lawsuits related to the Lingang Special Area were received by Shanghai courts from September to Dec 25. In disputes involving at least one foreign party, the number of intellectual property cases rose 133 percent year-on-year, the number of financial disputes was up nearly 17 percent and the number of commercial disputes rose 12 percent.

"It showed that after the establishment of the special area, commercial transactions increased rapidly and so did the need for judicial settlement of commercial disputes," said Chen Meng, vice-president of the Shanghai High People's Court.

The adoption of English as an official language in such cases was aimed at offering better and more efficient legal services, Chen said.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Foreign Ministry refutes US 'lies' about Tibet and Xinjiang regions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530852.htm The United States is telling lies about China's policies in the Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions out of "ulterior motives", and China is firmly opposed to that, Beijing said on Monday.

"By disregarding truth and repeating lies time and again, the US has left itself in deficits of morality, credibility and reputation," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

Geng made the remark at a daily news conference after a tweet by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Saturday that attacked China's policies in Tibet and Xinjiang. The US Department of State posted a similar tweet the same day.

"The fact that China's Xinjiang and Tibet are enjoying political stability, economic development, ethnic unity and social harmony is the most powerful refutation of the US' slanderous words," Geng said.

Xinjiang is witnessing sustained economic growth, social harmony and stability, as well as religious harmony, Geng said. The lives of people in Xinjiang have been improving, and cultures are prospering in the autonomous region, he said.

The population of the Uygur ethnic group in Xinjiang has increased to 11.65 million, accounting for more than 46 percent of the region's population, Geng said.

There are more than 24,000 mosques in Xinjiang, which means there is a mosque for every 530 Muslims there, he said.

Speaking of the situation in Tibet, Geng said that since its peaceful liberation in 1951, the region has enjoyed vigorous economic growth and social stability, and its traditional culture has been protected and promoted.

There are more than 1,700 venues for religious activities and about 46,000 monks and nuns in Tibet, and about one million religious people make pilgrimages to Lhasa, the regional capital, every year, he said.

Instead of interfering in other countries' domestic affairs, the US should "mind its own business" and focus on addressing its own "persistent problems", Geng said, citing statistics from an Associated Press report.

The report, published on Saturday, cited figures from a database that showed there were more mass killings in the US this year than in any year dating back to at least the 1970s.

In 2019, there were 41 mass killings, defined as when four or more people are killed, excluding the perpetrator, of which 33 were mass shootings, the report said, adding that more than 210 people were killed.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530811.htm BEIJING

Prosecutors review stabbed doctor case

The case of a fatal stabbing of a doctor at a Beijing hospital has been sent to prosecutors for review, the Beijing People's Procuratorate said on Monday. On Dec 24, Yang Wen, who was working in the emergency department at Civil Aviation General Hospital, was stabbed in the neck by a man named Sun Wenbin, a patient's relative. The doctor died early the following day. The review will decide whether Sun, 55, will be charged with the crime of intentional homicide.

CHONGQING

6 dead as fire engulfs residential building

Six people were killed in a residential building fire in Chongqing on Monday, local authorities said. The fire broke out on the 12th floor of an apartment block in Fuling district at 6:40 am and was put out at 7:55 am, the district's publicity department said. The six were believed to be from one family. Further investigation into the cause of the blaze is underway.

Xinhua - China Daily

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[15 years' prison for pair who helped shield killer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530849.htm A former school headmaster and a former police chief in Xinhuang Dong autonomous county, Hunan province, were sentenced to 15 years in prison for bending the law to shelter a killer 16 years ago.

Another seven police officers and a school staff member who were involved in the investigation were sentenced to jail terms ranging from seven to 14 years for bending the law and dereliction of duty.

Yang Jun, a former political commissar of the county's public security bureau, and Huang Bingsong, a former headmaster of Xinhuang No 1 Middle School, had provided shelter for Du Shaoping, Huang's nephew, a court in Jingzhou Miao and Dong autonomous county said on Monday.

According to a statement from the court, Du was contracted to build a sports ground for the school in December 2001 and hired Luo Guangzhong to take charge of the project.

During construction work, Du became angry after being questioned by Deng Shiping, who had been entrusted by the school with ensuring the project's construction quality, the court said.

On Jan 22, 2003, Du and Luo killed Deng in an office on the construction site.

The pair buried Deng in a pit in the playground that night, and the next day, Luo ordered workers to fill the pit up.

To cover up the crime, Du and Huang asked Yang to interfere in the investigation of the case, which resulted in Deng being listed as a missing person.

Du was detained during a crackdown on a local crime gang in April and confessed to killing Deng.

On June 19, police dug up bones buried on the campus that were identified as Deng's after a DNA test.

On Dec 18, Du was sentenced to death by the Huaihua Intermediate People's Court in Hunan for multiple crimes, including intentional homicide. Luo, who helped Du with the killing, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve for intentional homicide.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Prosecutors told to ignore evidence illegally collected]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530840.htm Prosecutors will strictly exclude evidence obtained through illegal means such as torture to prevent wrongful convictions and protect people's rights, the Supreme People's Procuratorate said on Monday.

The top procuratorate issued a revised version of the Rules for Criminal Procedure of the People's Procuratorate on Monday to adapt to new circumstances since its last revision in 2012.

"The revised rules embody the emphasis on the protection of human rights and make citizens feel justice in each case," said Tong Jianming, deputy procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

The rules stipulate that prosecutors should verify the legitimacy of interrogations in major cases and drop any evidence that is found to be collected through torture.

The scope of illegal evidence is clarified in the new version.

Confessions of suspects collected by illegal means shall be excluded, including those causing them unbearable pain by the use of violence, such as beating, illegal use of tools, or corporal punishment.

The illegal means of gaining evidence also include restricting personal freedom by illegal detainment and threatening by undermining suspects' relatives' rights, according to the rules.

Procuratorial organs will strictly restrict the approval of extensions of detention to prompt police to actively investigate cases.

If they find police have failed to start an effective investigation as a detention period nears its end, they can reject the police request to extend detention.

Tong said the rules also stipulate that when procuratorial organs make the decision not to approve an arrest because the suspect is innocent, they should also request and supervise the investigation organs to withdraw the case or terminate the investigation of the person.

Tong said the revision also emphasizes the protection of minors when they are involved in cases as suspects, victims or witnesses.

He said that in seeking evidence from victims who are minors, the one-time rule should be adopted, that is, trying to ask them all questions in one session to avoid hurting them again and to increase efficiency.

From January to November, procuratorial organs arrested 29,000 juvenile suspects, up 7.6 percent year-on-year.

A total of 44,000 suspects were arrested for infringing on the rights of minors, up 19.4 percent, with an increase in cases of sexual assault against minors, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

 

 

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Authorities work to boost pork supplies]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530827.htm Agricultural authorities will redouble efforts to boost the production of pork, which has already shown signs of recovery following a slump caused by African swine fever, an agriculture vice-minister said on Monday.

The stock of hogs increased by 2 percent in November over the previous month, while the stock of breeding sows saw a month-on-month increase of 4 percent, marking the first time since April last year that both stocks had increased, Yu Kangzhen, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said.

With a narrowing of the gap between supply and demand, pork prices began falling across China early last month, figures released by the ministry showed.

The average price for wholesale pork in China was about 43 yuan ($6.20) a kilogram on Friday, a fall of more than 18 percent from the peak level on Nov 1, according to the ministry.

"It is a very good sign, and we will further the momentum to ensure a stable supply of pork in the market during the New Year's Day holiday and the Spring Festival holiday," Yu said, adding that a range of measures to encourage pig farmers to replenish stocks since September and high pork prices were behind the recent increase in stocks.

Authorities at various levels have made full preparations to ensure an adequate supply of pork during the two holidays, including a significant rise in the quantity of reserve meat to be released to the market, he said.

Niu Qingbao, vice-mayor of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, said the city government had released 10 measures to boost production of pork-a major ingredient for local dishes-including providing financial support, promoting more productive breeds and intensifying disease control and prevention at pig farms.

As a result, the number of hogs in stock in Chengdu stopped falling and started to rise in October, and has kept increasing since. More than 4 million hogs will be available on the market in Chengdu next year, Niu predicts.

Yu said promoting hog production will be an important task for the ministry and ordered local agricultural authorities to learn from the ministry to set up special offices for promoting pork production.

The ministry will also improve guidance to ensure measures previously released by it and other central government departments can be carried out effectively across China, such as allowing the raising of pigs in multistory facilities, and streamlining environmental evaluation procedures for pig farmers to ensure the replenishment of stock, Yu said.

The ministry will improve technical services for pig farmers to help them expand production, and will try to link restoration of pig production with poverty alleviation efforts, so impoverished farmers in rural areas can climb out of poverty through raising pigs in cooperation with major pig breeding companies, he said.

Pork production in China has been seriously affected by African swine fever outbreaks since August last year, with experts estimating pork production declined at least 20 percent year-on-year this year. Pork production is expected to keep recovering next year and rebound close to normal levels before the end of next year, the ministry said.

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Guideline safeguards app users' personal information]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530851.htm The operators of smartphone applications will be deemed to have illegally collected or misused personal information if they fail to inform users why they need to collect such information and how it will be used, a guideline released by the authorities on Monday said.

The Cyberspace Administration of China, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the State Administration for Market Regulation issued the guideline, which clarifies the behavior required of app operators when they collect personal information.

The guideline, a move to implement the Cybersecurity Law that came into effect in 2017, will help law enforcement departments detect and fight privacy-related violations, the authorities said.

Under Chinese laws and regulations, personal information mainly deals with a person's identity or private activities, and can include their name, identity card number, telephone numbers, and details of their properties or their whereabouts.

The guideline orders app operators to have clear rules on collecting or using personal information, which must be disclosed when users open an app for the first time.

As well as being required to specify what private information of users will be collected, app operators must also inform users why and how they collect or use the information, especially when the information is sensitive-such as identification card and bank account numbers.

App operators who mislead users to get their permission, or intentionally hide or cover up their aims in collecting or using the private information of users, will be deemed to have illegally collected or misused it.

In January, the four authorities launched a campaign against the illegal collection or use of personal information and ordered law enforcement departments to crack down on such behavior. Monday's guideline will help them identify such misconduct.

Li Ya, a Beijing lawyer from Zhongwen Law Firm, welcomed the guideline.

"Detailing the illegal behaviors is crucial for app enterprises to regulate their behaviors when running their businesses and also helpful for users to distinguish whether the app companies are infringing their privacy or not," he said.

The guideline, effective from Monday, will help the authorities supervise the app market and prevent excessive collection or use of private information by operators, he added.

Xu Hao, another Beijing lawyer from Jingsh Law Firm, said, "Users are the ones with the right to decide whether their private information can be used or collected, so the requirement that app companies should offer clear rules on collection or usage to ensure users can understand the rules is, I think, a must."

As legislators draft the country's first law on personal information protection, Xu said the practical guideline will better fight illegal behavior and help maintain market order.

 

 

 

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2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Hotpot on ice offers a warm welcome to Xinjiang]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530689.htm URUMQI-Winter sports enthusiasts can now feast on hotpot while skiing in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The popular spicy dish is now being served at the Ice and Snow Festival of Hotpot, part of the regional winter tourism celebrations at Urumqi's Baiyun Ski Resort.

"What a meal of ice and fire," said Xu Xu, a visitor from Sichuan province-a region known for its spicy hotpot. "It's my first time to have it in the ice and snow. It feels wonderful."

As the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games are fast approaching, Xinjiang, having abundant ice and snow, has seized the opportunity to promote winter tourism in recent years.

A variety of activities, including ice sculpture exhibitions, snow marathons and soccer matches on ice now beckon tourists to discover the delights of winter in Xinjiang.

More distinctive souvenirs have also been developed to cater to the needs of tourists.

"Products with ethnic features are great choices for souvenirs and gifts," said Gao Jie, a visitor to the just-concluded Xinjiang Winter Tourism Trade Fair, which presented over 1,000 award-winning pieces.

"I used to purchase fruits and snacks as souvenirs, but now I have more options," said Gao, holding a piece of pottery.

To further boost winter tourism, a total of 41 preferential policies have been rolled out in 11 cities in the region, including discounts for scenic spots and plane tickets.

The number of tourists to Xinjiang during winter has risen significantly thanks to these efforts. Before 2006, only about 900,000 tourists visited the region during winter. The figure surged to more than 30 million last year, according to local tourism figures.

In the first 10 months of this year, Xinjiang received a record 201.9 million tourists, up 42.62 percent year-on-year.

 

 

 

A skier prepares to descend a slope at a resort near Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Ski resorts around Urumqi have turned the city into a winter tourism destination. WANG FEI/XINHUA

 

 

A skier prepares to descend a slope at a resort near Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Ski resorts around Urumqi have turned the city into a winter tourism destination. WANG FEI/XINHUA

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[BITTERSWEET HARVEST]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530744.htm In 2012, orange grower Huang Zhiwen was angry when he learned the local government had issued an order for the removal of all the orchards around a nearby reservoir, including his citrus trees.

Born and raised in the small village of Sanbiao in Xunwu county, Jiangxi province, the 49-year-old had taken care of the citrus trees for almost 20 years.

"They became my 'money tree' after the first harvest. How could I just say 'yes' when they told me to chop down all the trees?" he said.

His orchard, with more than 1,000 orange trees, earned nearly 10,000 yuan ($1,420) a year, and was the family's main source of income.

"After October was the harvest season for my navel oranges, and I usually collected almost 500 kilograms of ripe oranges. After the fruit was turned into cash, you could hardly imagine how happy it made a grower like me, who used to be very poor," Huang said.

Orange county

Huang's county shares a famous past with other parts of the province as it is considered the cradle of the Chinese revolution. Many leaders of the Communist Party lived in and organized revolutionary activities from Xunwu, located in Jiangxi's south. It is where Mao Zedong wrote Report from Xunwu, a seminal 1930 investigation into the people, economy, administration and social structure of the then obscure county.

But after the country's reform and opening-up in 1978, Jiangxi did not fully seize the development opportunities available the same way that the neighboring province of Guangdong did. In addition, most parts of Jiangxi are surrounded by mountains, which contributed to the province's economy remaining undeveloped.

"I still remember when people from Guangdong preferred to work and live in Jiangxi," said Chen Renxiang, a 50-year-old Sanbiao villager.

"But after 1978, you hardly saw any outsiders and many of our people went to Guangdong to make a living."

The situation in Xunwu and southern areas of Jiangxi improved in the early 1990s when navel oranges were introduced from North America. The right climate and plentiful water resources encouraged the growers to plant citrus trees.

"Most of the farmers in my county started to grow navel oranges," Chen said. "There were citrus trees all over the mountains, and like Huang our incomes all increased. One-third of the farmers in the villages bought houses. It was probably the best time for farmers in Xunwu, a situation which is difficult to replicate today."

Green menace

While extensive planting changed the farmers' lives, it also led to environmental problems.

Pesticides used to help produce bumper crops of oranges leached chemicals into the soil, and in the rainy season, these chemicals were washed into streams, rivers, and eventually, a nearby reservoir. When the temperatures climbed in the hot season, blue-green algae started to appear in the water.

Blue-green algae is a cyanobacteria that thrives in warm, nutrientrich water. As more chemicals emptied into the reservoir, the bacteria grew quickly, forming "blooms", which produced cyanotoxins that can make humans and animals sick.

In 2012, hydrology experts found the bacteria was being produced on a massive scale and contaminating Xunwu's water supply. The local government took drastic measures. Farmers were forced to stop planting new orange trees and ordered to chop down all the citrus trees close to the reservoir.

"I knew the bacteria was harmful, but once you have a better life it is really hard to go back and find yourself in financial dire straits," said Huang, adding he had no choice but to cut down all his "money trees".

But the problems created by the contaminated reservoir not only posed a threat to the health of locals, but also to tens of thousands of people 450 kilometers away.

Helping Hong Kong

In 1963, Hong Kong experienced a drought, and at its height, the city only had enough water reserves to last 43 days.

Local associations, including the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, sought assistance from the central government. In December 1963, the government committed 38 million yuan to the construction of the Dongjiang-Shenzhen Water Supply System.

On March 1, 1965, about 68 million cubic meters of water began flowing into Hong Kong from the Dongjiang River.

The main source of the Dongjiang River is at the foot of the Yajibo mountain close to Huang's orange plantation and many others.

Over the past five decades and after three large-scale expansion programs, the project increased its annual water supply to Hong Kong from 22 million cubic meters to about 820 million cu m. The Dongjiang-Shenzhen Water Supply System now supplies up to 80 percent of the city's freshwater.

"I'd known since I was a kid that we share the water of the Dongjiang River with Hong Kong," said Chen, the 50-year-old farmer, who was also forced to remove his orange plantation. "We never intended to contaminate the water. When most of us became aware of the water problems we decided to make sacrifices," he said.

After an internal struggle and discussions with his family, Huang decided to chop down all the orange trees himself. It took him five days to fell 1,000 trees. For his sacrifice he received 110-130 yuan compensation for each tree. One hectare of land supports about 60 orange trees.

Zeng Kunming, Party head of the local township said: "I understand his loss, and his final decision proved that he was not a selfish man."

He added that poultry farmers were also forced to move to other places as excrement from their birds had also contaminated the river. "I can say that all the farmers have made efforts to provide better water quality for the rest," he said.

Huang said: "The compensation I received from the government relieved my economic pressure. But still, the best days were gone, and soon it was not only over for the people farming near the river source but for all the orchardists in Xunwu."

In all, 370 households around the water source relying on oranges for income were forced to chop down their citrus trees.

Natural causes

But mother nature also played a major role in deciding the fate of the orange growers.

In late 2012, citrus greening disease hit the southern part of Jiangxi province, and within two years one-third of the citrus trees in Xunwu county died.

The disease, also known as Citrus Huanglongbing (HLB), is caused by a bacteria and results in bitter, misshapen oranges with a mottled appearance.

"Since 2012, as more citrus trees were affected, farmers have no longer been willing to grow navel oranges and our income has declined rapidly," Huang said. "Our local economy has been going backward."

Farmers turned to other crops, and got used to living on lower incomes.

"It was the worst news, and the consequences are still affecting the locals' lives today," Huang said. "To ensure better water quality for all the people depending on the Dongjiang River, villagers in Xunwu have made enormous sacrifices, including giving up their ancestral homes."

In 2015, Zhu Meifang, 49, a farmer who lived in the small village of Taihu on a mountainside in Xunwu county, received an order from the local government to leave his land. Along with two other villages close to the reservoir, they were ordered to vacate their farms, as their farming practices were directly damaging the water source.

"I'd been living in Taihu for more than 60 years, and it is also my ancestral home. I was reluctant to leave, but to my surprise my family members, especially my sons, were happy to leave the mountain," Zhu said.

"I found most of the younger generation in our village was willing to move. In fact, life is quite inconvenient there as the local infrastructure is pretty poor. I understand them and, like me, the majority of villagers decided to move," he added.

At the end of 2015, a total of 1,153 people in Taihu had moved to the Xunwu township where the local government had built new houses and community facilities for them.

Villager He Jiabin, 56, said his son not only got a job there, but also married a local woman.

"I am quite satisfied with where I live now, and younger generations are even more pleased," he said. "Everything has become easier since we moved here. Our new community is close to the industrial zone where people can easily find a job," he added.

Huang said all the farmers had made sacrifices to ensure a better life and environment for others.

"We believe there is no gain if there is no pain," he said. "I hope more people can understand what we did, and treasure the fruits of it."

 

Villagers weigh and wrap up oranges for delivery last month in Xunwu, Jiangxi province. AYBEK ASKHAR/CHINA DAILY

 

 

Huang Zhiwen tends to citrus trees he planted in his new orchard after relocating from land near a reservoir. AYBEK ASKHAR/CHINA DAILY

 

 

An aerial view of the Dongjiang River in Xunwu, Jiangxi. CHINA DAILY

 

 

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Art competition helps boost image of county]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530739.htm The poverty alleviation team in Xunwu hosted its first National College Digital Art and Design Awards last year to raise the profile of the county, which is one of the most impoverished in Jiangxi province.

The competition is jointly organized by Talent Exchange Center of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, and was first held in 2011.

"It aims to inspire passion for artistic creativity among university students in China and reflect the hot spots of social welfare through their works," said Guo Qingsheng, secretary of the competition.

Every year, students from universities nationwide are invited to draw or design artworks about a range of topics, which are judged and awarded prizes.

This year's competition required students to create works based on the county's culture.

"Except for a few plains, Xunwu's typical topography is mountainous, and the navel orange is one of the few products people can count on to get rid of poverty," said Zhang Hai, director of the local poverty alleviation team.

"I believe that with more students producing works of art based on Xunwu, more people will get to know the place, which may prompt them to visit or buy local goods, such as navel oranges."

By the end of September, the organizing committee had received more than 1,300 entries from over 130 universities, and 80 works were awarded certificates.

The organizing committee selected 15 award-winning designs to advertise local products, such as packing boxes for oranges or postcards.

Guo said this year more than 100 students were invited to visit Xunwu from May to September to gain inspiration for the competition. The annual competition runs from February to August, and Xunwu has been selected as the host for three consecutive years.

"I think after the visit they may be left with a profound impression of the place, which may better inspire them to produce an original work," Guo said.

"What is more, there are a large number of university students in China and we believe that without their attention and effort, poverty alleviation will be harder to accomplish in the future."

Zhang said: "The locals were surprised when a group of students visited the county, and they told me that they were pleased to see the students as they brought life to the town. The competition will be held again next year, and I hope more students will join it and visit Xunwu."

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Chats and microblogs to count as evidence in civil lawsuits]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530738.htm Information posted on social media platforms such as Sina Weibo and conversations on instant messaging tools like WeChat will be accepted as digital evidence by Chinese courts hearing civil lawsuits.

A guideline released by the Supreme People's Court on Thursday identifies text messages, emails and content published on websites, blogs, microblogs or instant messaging platforms as digital evidence.

The guideline, to take effect on May 1, stipulates that information relating to internet users' registration of online accounts, identities, online transactions or online communication records-as well as online documents, including archives, pictures, audio and video recordings, and computing programs-can also be considered digital evidence admissible in court.

"This is the first time the Supreme People's Court has clarified the scope of digital evidence, especially on social media platforms and instant messaging services," said Li Ya, a lawyer at Zhongwen Law Firm in Beijing.

Li said the new rule makes it clear what kind of digital evidence will be admissible.

The Civil Procedure Law introduced the concept of "digital evidence" in 2012, but did not define its scope and categories. Jiang Bixin, vice-president of the top court, said on Thursday that the previous unclear definition of "digital evidence" had presented difficulties for judges in practice.

Jiang said the new guideline will help courts at all levels identify evidence when handling civil lawsuits, and suggested judges conduct more research on the application of digital evidence to improve the quality of case hearings.

But some legal professionals are worried it could be difficult to verify the authenticity of digital evidence.

"Some netizens have registered through real identity systems, but others have not," Li said. "How to make sure a microblog is posted by the microblogger, especially when he or she is not identified via a real name system, remains a challenge."

Zheng Xuelin, head of the top court's No. 1 Civil Division, said courts will approve digital evidence after its authenticity is reviewed and verified by notary institutions.

To keep pace with the rapid growth of the internet and other technologies, China has opened three internet courts since 2017. As of Oct 31, more than 80,000 cases had been decided in those courts, mainly covering disputes about online loans, intellectual property rights and online purchases.

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Top legislature condemns fatal stabbing of doctor at hospital]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530734.htm China's top legislature and health commission have condemned the fatal stabbing of a doctor at a Beijing hospital by a patient's relative last week.

"Instead of a simple medical dispute, the stabbing was a serious offense. Any harm to medical staff cannot be tolerated," Zhao Ning, head of the National Health Commissions' law and regulation division, said on Saturday.

She made the remark at a news conference after the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the top legislative body, voted to pass the country's first fundamental and comprehensive law on basic medical and healthcare on Saturday.

Yuan Jie, an official from the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission, highlighted the protection for medical staff in the law during the news conference, adding that assaults on medical workers must be condemned by moral standards and punished by the law.

In a bid to deter illegal acts targeting medical staff and institutions, the law stipulates that the personal safety and dignity of medical workers must not be infringed upon and that their legitimate rights are protected by law.

On Tuesday, Yang Wen, who was working in the emergency department at Civil Aviation General Hospital in Beijing, was stabbed by Sun Wenbin, a patient's relative. She died early the next day from serious neck injuries.

The city's prosecutors approved the arrest of Sun, 55, on a charge of intentional homicide on Friday.

Calling for all walks of life to care about and respect medical workers, keep the medical environment in order and establish better relationships between hospitals and patients, the law also bans any organization or individual from threatening or harming the personal safety or dignity of medical staff.

It clarifies that those disturbing the medical environment, threatening or harming medical workers' personal safety and dignity, or illegally obtaining, using or disclosing people's private healthcare information, will be given administrative punishments, such as detentions or fines.

The attack on the doctor sparked concern among political advisers and the Chinese Medical Doctor Association.

"About 6 million medical workers are responsible for the healthcare of 1.4 billion Chinese people, which has been a big difficulty. If the work environment of medical staff cannot be kept in order, the damage will affect residents in the end," said political adviser Huang Yuguang, a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member who works at Peking Union Medical College Hospital.

Ling Feng, another CPPCC member, said medical staff should learn from such tragedies.

"Disputes between hospitals and patients won't be prevented if medical workers are not warm or sympathetic enough," said Ling, a doctor from Xuanwu Hospital Capital Medical University.

On Thursday, the Chinese Medical Doctor Association strongly condemned the attack, calling for improved security for medical staff.

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Hundreds mourn medic killed at emergency ward]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530720.htm People have been sending flowers and cards to mourn the sudden death of a doctor at a Beijing hospital, who was allegedly stabbed by a patient's relative.

Early Tuesday morning, the doctor, Yang Wen, was working in the emergency ward at Civil Aviation General Hospital in Beijing when she was attacked by a man who appeared upset over what he perceived as inadequate treatment of his 95-year-old mother.

Graphic surveillance footage shows the man approach Yang from behind as she was seated behind a counter and then say something to her before taking out a knife and cutting her throat.

The doctor was pronounced dead within 24 hours. Sun Wenbin, 55, was arrested by the Beijing People's Procuratorate on Friday.

Hospital security guards and janitors helped people place flowers in a corner on the first floor of the emergency ward. There were more than 200 bouquets of flowers by Sunday afternoon with attached cards paying tribute to Yang, according to one hospital security guard, who wanted to remain anonymous.

The hospital has increased security measures after the incident, and only one family member can now accompany hospitalized patients, he said.

The cards were mostly anonymous, with words wishing Yang peace in heaven. One card read: "I am a doctor from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. I heard about what happened to you and felt very shocked and angry. Doctors are responsible for saving people's lives. We are not supposed to be the victims. The person who killed you should be punished to the fullest extent."

There were also cards sent by Yang's former patients who thanked her for curing them and praised her for her professionalism and patience.

A patient in her 80s, surnamed Wang, visited the first floor to mourn Yang's death.

"Doctors at the hospital are very nice. What's wrong with the man? Is he crazy? Does he have no heart? He will face karma," she said.

She then turned to the front desk staff and told them to take care of themselves. "Please tell the hospital dean to install security equipment to ensure the safety of doctors and patients."

There will always be violent and even crazy people, and there must be safety measures to prevent them from destroying the lives of good people, she said.

Sun Yang, who lives in Beijing's Haidian district, brought his 10-year-old son to the hospital on Sunday to pay their respects.

"I want my son to know that life is not always full of sunshine and rainbows and bad things can happen to good people," Sun said. "However, people will remember good people for their good deeds and they will always live in people's hearts."

One of Yang's colleagues from the emergency ward told China Central Television that when Yang received the 95-year-old patient on Dec 4, the elderly woman was delirious and vomiting and suffering from complications from a lack of blood and oxygen to the brain.

The patient's family refused to let her be examined, asking only that she be hooked up to an IV drip. When the patient's condition did not improve, her family blamed the doctors.

Though the medical team explained to the family that the patient had suffered from complicated infections and heart failure, and that it can take older patients longer to recover, the family repeatedly quarreled with the staff, the colleague said.

"Yang was a very good doctor. All the patients had good things to say about her. She was a mild person and would not quarrel with a patient," the colleague said.

 

Bouquets are laid at the emergency ward of Civil Aviation General Hospital in Beijing to mourn Yang Wen, a doctor who was allegedly stabbed to death by a patient's relative. WU XIAOHUI/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Designer leaves her stamp on 70 years of New China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530690.htm Yuan Yishan, a designer and engraver in her late 30s, works with the Postage Stamp Printing Bureau of China Post.

During her childhood in Shandong province, Yuan's father worked at a printery next to the local post office.

"My father was fond of collecting stamps and often took me to weekend markets to exchange stamps with other collectors," Yuan said.

Her father died two weeks before her college entrance exam. All he left to the 19-year-old Yuan was a box of stamps.

Earning the highest academic test score in the country, Yuan entered the predecessor of today's Tsinghua University Academy of Arts and Design to study painting and sculpture. She did not realize that her future would be so closely linked to stamps, but the connection would soon take off.

On Oct 1, China Post issued stamps commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Yuan was the designer. The five-piece set presents China's coordinated economic, political, cultural, social and environmental advancement.

The stamps feature the Chinese people and reflect the idea of them sharing in the accomplishments of China's development. Yuan used red, pink, purple and blue to depict colorful images.

New China is young and vigorous, Yuan said. "In my view, China is like the stamps-colorful and gorgeous," she said.

"I was born at the beginning of reform and opening-up, and have personally experienced the changes brought to China over the past 40 years. The prosperity of the country can enable each and every Chinese to live a happy life when the government has done so much to benefit many aspects of our lives."

The Chinese people expect better education, stable jobs, satisfactory income, advanced medical services and comfortable living conditions, Yuan said.

Chinese people now expect their children to live better lives than previous generations, she said.

"Now, as a mom, I feel the same. I hope my child will grow up in a prosperous era, and genuinely hope my country will be prosperous and our people happy. Designing these stamps allowed me to express that hope," Yuan said.

In 2011, China Post hosted an engraving training course, taught by Martin Morck, a renowned engraver from Denmark.

The workshop marked the first time that China had invited a famous overseas engraver to host a training class in the field since 1949.

At the end of the seven-month course, Yuan's engraving works received the highest score.

"She is very talented. In her own style, she presented Chinese elements in her work," the Dane recently told Xinhua.

"There is so much power in her, and she can do a lot more beyond her limitations," added Morck, now a guest professor at Tsinghua.

Stamps are important in China, even though many countries no longer attach as much importance to stamp engraving due to the rise of the internet. "China stands strong in the field," Morck said.

 

China Post workers display stamps designed by Yuan Yishan, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on Oct 1. HAO QUNYING/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Chinese Alzheimer's drug hits the market]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530714.htm A Chinese drug that is the world's first innovative therapy for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease in 17 years became available domestically on Sunday.

Extracted from brown algae, GV-971 can treat mild to moderate forms of the disease and improve cognition, China's National Medical Products Administration said. It announced approval of the drug on Nov 2.

The drug provides new choices to patients with Alzheimer's, and continued research will be conducted on its long-term effects and safety, the administration said.

Alzheimer's disease, which mostly affects elderly people, is an incurable, irreversible and progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory, thinking ability and the capability to carry out simple tasks.

There are at least 50 million Alzheimer's patients worldwide, including more than 10 million in China. The numbers are expected to increase to 150 million worldwide and 40 million in China by 2050, which will impose great burdens on society.

Zhang Xiaodong, vice-president of the Chinese Pharmaceutical Association, said the drug is the only Alzheimer's medicine out of a number of drugs developed by pharmaceutical companies around the globe to have survived clinical trials over the past two decades, despite the investment of hundreds of billions of US dollars.

"Worldwide, progress in the research and development of drugs for the disease has been very slow, and the needs of patients are increasingly urgent," he said.

Lyu Songtao, chairman of Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceuticals, one of the drug's developers, said the drug will cost about 40,000 yuan ($5,700) for a patient a year.

"We will try to include it in the basic medical insurance program so it will be reimbursable, so the drug will be affordable to most patients," he said.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences' Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, and Ocean University of China joined in the research and development of the drug.

Zhang Zhenxin, a professor in neurology at Peking Union Medical College Hospital and a leading participant in the third-phase trial of the drug, said many patients taking part in the trial had shown great improvement in their cognitive abilities, and some improvement even persisted after they stopped using the drug.

"We expect to have further research on the drug after its availability in the market, to explain more clearly how the drug works," she said.

Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceuticals also announced on Sunday that it will invest $3 billion for further research on the drug, including conducting clinical research involving more than 2,000 Alzheimer's patients in 200 clinical research centers overseas, including North America, the European Union and the Asia-Pacific region.

The research will show the drug's safety and efficiency in people of different races, it said. The international clinical trials may finish in 2024, paving the way for its approval overseas, the company said.

 

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Adventure travel grows in popularity among Chinese]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530713.htm Climbing, skydiving and paragliding are sources of wonder for 64-year-old Ding Zhendong, a retired editor from North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

"Real life begins after retirement," Ding said. He first tasted adventure tourism in 2015 when he drove a minibus with a friend from Inner Mongolia to the Tibet autonomous region.

Despite difficulties during the trip, the adventure was worthwhile for Ding thanks to the stunning landscape and thrilling experience. Since then, he has driven to Tibet by four different routes and visited the Arctic and Antarctic.

"Adventure helps me learn the limits of my body and boosts my physical strength. Now more retirees are joining our expedition team," he said.

Ding is among a growing number of Chinese who want more than relaxation from their travels.

China's per capita disposable income was 49.7 yuan in 1949 but reached 28,228 yuan ($4,050) in 2018, an increase of nearly 60 times in real terms after inflation.

As Chinese tourists become wealthier and more experienced, there is a growing desire to explore the world and try more adventurous activities, from African safaris to polar adventures.

Adventure travel is a kind of niche tourism, which includes numerous activities such as caving, climbing, cycling and hiking.

Market consulting firm Allied Market Research estimated that the global adventure tourism market was valued at $586 billion in 2018, and is projected to reach around $1.63 trillion in 2026.

"Chinese travelers are playing an increasingly important role in the global adventure tourism economy," said Han Bo, chairman of the China Adventure Association.

According to a report released by the association, there are 130 million to 170 million people on the Chinese mainland participating in outdoor adventures, with annual growth of around 15 percent.

Among them, the number earning an income from adventure travel reached 60 million. More than 100,000 enterprises are dedicated to providing services for adventure seekers, the report said.

"Only a few Chinese such as scientists and archaeologists were engaged in adventure travel in the past," Han said, adding that more ordinary and uninhibited people aged between 15 and 60 have now joined them to explore the unknown.

Luo Hong, 52, founder of leading Chinese bakery chain Holiland, has journeyed to Africa 53 times, to the Arctic four times and the Antarctic twice, photographing wildlife and nature to raise public awareness of environmental protection.

When he first visited South Africa in 2001, the locals asked him: "Are you Japanese?" They were shocked when he answered he came from China as few Chinese tourists visited Africa at that time.

Things are different now. "This year, when I had a meal in a barbecue restaurant in Kenya, the locals sang the popular Chinese folk song Jasmine Flower in Chinese. I was very happy," he recalled.

Luo opened a personal photography museum in Beijing in 2016, which has received around 15 million visitors. His adventurous journeys have taken him through many dangerous places and extreme climates, but he never stopped.

Han said: "Seeking adventure is one of the best ways to satisfy people's spiritual needs. The popularization of adventure travel reflects China's improved national strength and people's better life.

"With a more affluent life, a growing number of Chinese will be keen to chase thrills the world over."

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA['Custody and education' penalty for prostitution abolished by lawmakers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530705.htm China's top legislature voted on Saturday to abolish the "custody and education" system, a penalty for legal violations related to prostitution.

The decision, passed at the end of a six-day bimonthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, went into effect on Sunday.

Those undergoing "custody and education" will be discharged from the penalty without serving their remaining time, according to the decision.

Prostitution remains illegal under Public Security Administration Punishments Law, while the Criminal Law stipulates the penalties for the crimes of organizing prostitution or forcing people into it.

The "custody and education" system, established by the State Council in the 1990s, states that prostitutes and their customers face detention ranging from six months to two years after they are caught by public security authorities.

Detainees were given legal and ethical education, taken for medical checks and reformed through labor.

The "custody and education" system played an important role in maintaining a good social atmosphere and public order following its introduction more than 20 years ago, but the punishment has been applied less frequently in recent times as China's legal system has improved and law-based governance has advanced.

Community corrections

Apart from the abolishment, the closing meeting of the session also adopted a series of laws, including the Community Correction Law and a revised Forest Law.

The Community Correction Law stipulates the applicable subjects, management and working mechanism, procedures, supervision, and education and support measures for community correction.

Community correction targets criminals sentenced to public surveillance, given a reprieve, released on parole, or permitted to temporarily serve their sentences outside prison, it says.

The law aims to advance and standardize community correction work, help the subjects better reintegrate into society and prevent and reduce crime.

It calls for efforts to improve the use of information technology in community correction organizations and makes provisions in areas such as information verification and electronic positioning.

The law also encourages and supports participation by enterprises, public institutions, social organizations and volunteers in community correction.

Although the law, which will take effect on July 1, is China's first law on community correction, the country began community correction pilot programs in 2003 and initiated trial implementation nationwide in 2009.

About 4.78 million people have undergone community correction since 2003, Jiang Aidong, head of the Ministry of Justice's community correction administration, told a news conference.

Wang Aili, from the NPC Standing Committee's Legislative Affairs Commission, said, "The recidivism rate was only about 0.2 percent."

Improved forests

The revised Forest Law aims to better protect the country's forests and facilitate green development.

It categorizes forests into public benefit forests and commercial forests, which will be managed differently.

Public benefit forests will be rigorously protected, while commercial forests will be managed by authorized operators in accordance with the law. The authorized operators will also be tasked with conserving forest resources, according to the law.

Governments at and above the county level should incorporate the protection of forest resources and the development of forestry into their economic and social development plans, it says.

China's National Tree Planting Day has also been enshrined in the law to raise people's awareness of forest protection.

The revised Forest Law will take effect on July 1.

The session also decided to submit a draft civil code for deliberation at next year's annual NPC session, which is scheduled to open on March 5.

The draft consists of general provisions and six sections on property, contracts, personal rights, marriage and family, inheritance and torts.

The draft will be sent to all national lawmakers next month to solicit opinions, and the opinions of local legislatures, various authorities and the public will also be sought to improve the draft before it is submitted to the annual NPC session, said Shen Chunyao, vice-chairman of the NPC's Constitution and Law Committee.

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Record 2.96m yuan paid for first catch of winter fishing season]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530700.htm The first catch of the fishing season-a 13-kilogram fish-set an auction record of 2.96 million yuan ($423,000) at the opening ceremony of the annual fishing and hunting festival on frozen Chagan Lake in Northeast China's Jilin province on Saturday.

The buyer, Fujian Panpan Foods, paid the record sum as a donation to the well-being of the lake, including protecting its water quality and stocking it with fry.

Despite the extremely cold weather, the 18th Chagan Lake Fishing and Hunting Cultural Tourism Festival attracted more than 100,000 visitors to witness an impressive winter fishing ritual on the lake that dates back to the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234).

Dances were performed by Buddhist lamas and the head fisherman addressed heaven, the land and the lake in chants, asking for a good harvest and a safe fishing season.

After he signaled the spot where fish were expected to gather, more than 400 holes were drilled around the spot, 60 meters apart.

About 60 fishermen worked together to cast a 2,000-meter-long net through the holes and under the ice. Several hours later, the net, filled with many metric tons of fish, was pulled out by horses.

"I feel so lucky to appreciate such a visual feast," said Wang Jiaqi, a tourist from Shanghai. "It is so spectacular and I can also feel the strong cultural atmosphere."

Chagan Lake, the country's seventh-largest lake and the largest freshwater body in northeastern China, is home to 68 varieties of fish.

In the following 40 days, hundreds of fishermen will work on the frozen lake.

"The quota meets the needs of the market and maintains the ecological balance," the head fisherman said. "Furthermore, we choose nets with relatively large holes that help catch adult fish and allow the smaller fry to escape. Only in this way can we go fishing every year."

The traditional skills required for Chagan Lake winter fishing are now listed among China's intangible cultural heritage.

"The quality of the environment in the region has been constantly improved while the excellent traditional hunting and fishing culture has been preserved," said Cao Baoming, an expert on Jilin folk culture and literature. "It is the persistence of the culture that promotes the green development of Chagan Lake."

During the festival, 19 activities will be held, including a winter fishing contest, an ice dragon boat contest and an international cross-country skiing race.

 

Fishermen set up nets in Chagan Lake, Jilin province, for a catch on Sunday. WANG QIANG/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Digital economy helps disabled workers find jobs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530698.htm CHANGCHUN-Unfamiliar with customer service patter, Zhang Jiayuan was often mistaken for an automated message when he started to work for fintech company Alipay three years ago.

With a computer in his small bedroom, the 34-year-old hemophiliac managed his own work on an average hourly pay of up to 25 yuan ($3.60).

"Bills, refund orders, train tickets … Where there's a customer with a problem, I'm here to help," Zhang said. A big part of his job is to calm down irritated individuals.

Zhang gradually developed various conversation techniques to address both their irritation and problems, which led to a sense of fulfillment.

His ability to earn money from home surprised Zhang's parents at first.

"I'm grateful to live in this era and have this new job," he said. Zhang was diagnosed with hemophilia when he was in primary school and used to shut himself away from the world, depressed, with an injured left leg.

In 2015, a job ad in an online chat group helped drag him out of his despair. He signed up with some 100 others, completing various training programs and evaluations, and was hired as an Alipay "cloud customer service clerk".

According to Zhang, more than 20,000 people are currently doing the same job, scattered over some 350 cities and counties across the country.

Some of them suffer from rare diseases, just like him, while others were previously held back by physical disabilities.

With over 40 new occupations unveiled on its platform, Alipay has created nearly 7 million jobs, showing the great benefits of the digital economy on the labor market, as well as the infinite possibilities it brings, according to an Alipay report.

He Jianhua, a researcher and former deputy head of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, said the digital economy has spurred the gig economy and provided more flexibility to the labor market. A much more efficient collaborative revolution is almost upon us, He added.

Bus route planners, garbage sorters, AI data annotators and other jobs are just around the corner.

More importantly, over two-thirds of these jobs are part-time ones, and about one-third can be completed online, the report said, also noting that half of the new workers live in small cities and counties.

These gigs are not only for young people. The 180,000 planters and forest rangers who planted trees for numerous online users of the green initiative Ant Forest were all herders and farmers, more than half of whom were age 40 and older.

After finishing his rehabilitation exercises, Zhang sat back down before his computer and resumed his work.

"I don't like to be labeled as disadvantaged," he said. "In this era, every job deserves some applause."

 

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530694.htm BEIJING

Illegal online payment platforms busted

Chinese police have cracked several cases of illegal online payments and busted several platforms engaged in the business, the Ministry of Public Security said. The platforms, unlicensed for payment services, were found to have set up their own payment channels, received money paid by customers to businesses, and later settled the accounts with businesses after levying service charges averaging around 1 percent, the ministry said. The platforms also became breeding grounds for transactions involving gambling and pornographic material.

TIBET

Remains of Neolithic crops found in region

Archaeologists have discovered mixed crops believed to have been grown during the Neolithic period, about 1000 BC to 2000 BC, in the Tibet autonomous region. A scientific team found the crops at the Luding relics site. The site came to light when multiple archaeological agencies conducted surveys at the point where the Nyangchu and Yarlung Tsangpo rivers meet.

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Border guard crosses the language barrier]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530718.htm A hectic scene unfolds at the Burang crossing on the China-Nepal border in the Tibet autonomous region every morning.

Traders in puffer jackets wait anxiously as a fully loaded truck approaches from the Chinese side. Taking a cue from the engine's fading roar, workers gathered on the dirt track spring to their feet to get ready to unload the vehicle. Police officers from China and Nepal circle the truck to inspect it.

At first glance, it is not easy to single out from the crowd Chinese officer Thubten Tsewang, who is 1.6 meters tall. But he soon becomes noticeable as the only one who is able to navigate a cacophony of conversations, thanks to his trilingual talents.

Thubten Tsewang, 37, has been working at the Burang Entry-Exit Border Inspection Station in Tibet's Ngari prefecture for 17 years. Tibetan is his mother tongue. He also speaks fluent Mandarin with a Tibetan lilt, and is able to converse with Nepalese officers and workers in their native language.

But he is no linguistic prodigy, nor did he learn multiple languages at a young age. Born into a herding family in Maldrogungkar county, an impoverished area about 70 kilometers east of Tibet's capital Lhasa, Thubten Tsewang finished primary school and, due to financial difficulties, never attended middle school.

"For several years, I picked up some temporary jobs in different areas to earn a livelihood," he said.

"I worked for 12 hours a day on average for a daily wage of 16 yuan when I had one job in Nyingchi city."

In 2002, he joined the border inspection team at Burang, an opportunity he jumped at.

"For me, it was either serving in Ngari as a border patrolman or heading back to my hometown and being a herdsman," he said.

Talk the talk

Thubten Tsewang soon realized that proficiency in Mandarin was a crucial skill in the workplace. "I was clueless when my colleagues talked in Mandarin and I was unable to utter a complete sentence in Mandarin, which made me feel dumb and frustrated," he said.

Motivated by the belief that he could be the master of his own fate, Thubten Tsewang devoted all his efforts to learning Mandarin.

There were brief moments when self-doubt would creep in. "Tibetan and Mandarin are very different in grammar, pronunciation and syntax. Sometimes, I had to chase after my colleague who is fluent in Mandarin to get to the bottom of a question," he said. "It was a painstaking process, but giving up was not an option."

After three years of intensive study, Thubten Tsewang mastered Mandarin.

However, he was far away from being satisfied with his language skills.

Hilsa, the nearest Nepalese village to Burang, is less than 30 minutes' walk away and is home to about 160 households. The villagers, who sell handicrafts such as bowls and bracelets in the local market, get their groceries and construction materials from China.

Friend to many

In the early 2000s, one of the duties of border officers like Thubten Tsewang was to check the identification documents of Nepalese residents who crossed the border for shopping. "To be fluent in Mandarin and Tibetan was not sufficient in these circumstances," he said.

During a patrol in July 2008, Thubten Tsewang and another officer, Chen Hui, encountered a Nepalese man who had suffered a heart attack.

Chen, who could speak Nepali, helped get the man to the nearest hospital for treatment.

The incident prompted Thubten Tsewang to accelerate his study of Nepali. A stack of notebooks with Nepali words and sentences gradually piled up by his bedside.

"I had developed the habit of reviewing my notes for about half an hour before going to sleep, no matter how tired I was at the end of the day," Thubten Tsewang said.

His perseverance earned him a place in a language program at Tibet University.

Karma Tamang, a Nepalese businessman who is building a hostel in Hilsa village, said he has known Thubten Tsewang for more than a decade. "He is a very helpful and calm man, and fluent in Nepali," he said. "We are practically neighbors. To be able to talk with him helps us address misunderstandings and difficulties when we trade with people, and we have built a friendship over the years."

Thubten Tsewang is also tasked with translating meetings between Chinese border authorities and their Nepalese counterparts, aimed at deepening collaboration.

Despite his achievements, Thubten Tsewang is a humble man.

"I remember the difficult times when I had to eat barley flour every day to save money," he said. "I am more than grateful to be a police officer at the border."

 

 

 

Thubten Tsewang (left) talks with a Nepalese police officer at the Burang crossing on the China-Nepal border in the Tibet autonomous region. WANG XIAOYU/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Bruce Lee's daughter sues restaurant over logo use]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/29/content_37530667.htm The daughter of Bruce Lee is suing a Chinese restaurant chain over its use of the kung fu legend's image in its logo.

The lawsuit, alleging infringement of personality rights of the late martial arts star by Real Kungfu Catering Management, was filed by Bruce Lee Enterprise LLC, a California-based company run by Lee's daughter, Shannon Lee.

A Shanghai court accepted the case earlier this month.

The Chinese fast-food chain said on Thursday the series of trademarks were registered and approved by the State trademark bureau, which now is under the State Intellectual Property Office, and have been used for 15 years.

"There were disputes years ago over whether our trademarks infringe other's rights, but no verdict was given by authorities or courts. We feel confused by this lawsuit, and are preparing for court," the company said.

Many netizens said they have long dined at the fast-food restaurant and thought the logo was Bruce Lee.

"The company has been playing on the edge to attract customers," said Zhang Ran, a music producer. "Many foreign music bands that I receive in China demand to dine at Real Kungfu, and ask me if that restaurant chain was opened by Bruce Lee."

However, experts on trademarks and intellectual property said this case is complicated.

Hu Gang, a trademark lawyer at the Patent and Trademark Law Office of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, said whether the trademark infringes personality rights should be left for court to judge.

"After all, the image is not a photo of Lee, and there was a similar case a few years ago of Michael Jordan suing a Chinese company that was using the image of his slam dunk posture. However, the Supreme People's Court didn't support Jordan's claim," he said.

A search in the trademark database of the State Intellectual Property Office showed that the company registered the logo with a cartoon image resembling Bruce Lee in 2004.

According to China's trademark law, an interested party may only apply for invalidation of the registered trademark within five years of the trademark's registration.

Ye Fang, a lawyer with All Bright Law Offices representing Bruce Lee Enterprise, told Chinese news website The Paper.cn that her client is demanding the fast-food chain immediately cease usage of her father's image, make a public clarification, and pay 210 million yuan ($30 million) as compensation plus 88,000 yuan generated by other legal procedures.

All Bright Law Offices declined to comment when contacted by China Daily.

Bruce Lee Enterprise stated on its website that it is the exclusive owner of all commercial merchandising and allied rights relating to the use of and not limited to Bruce Lee's name, image and likeness.

Zhang Naigen, director of the Center for Intellectual Property Study at Fudan University, said, "The draft of China's Civil Code, which includes a new section on the protection of personality rights, will be submitted for reading at the National People's Congress in March.

"I am interested in observing this case in this big context, because through it the court can clarify the relationship of different rights, the personality rights and trademark rights, that somehow conflict with each other in this kind of scenario," he said.

]]> 2019-12-29 12:12:49 <![CDATA[Young workers lured to capital cluster]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/29/content_37530636.htm Young workers are being lured to the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei province cluster with golden opportunities in the industries that have relocated there, experts said.

A study released by the Beijing Municipal Party School recently found that the permanent population-people who lived in a place for more than six months-of the region exceeded 112 million in 2018, up 1.28 million over 2015, even though the number of permanent residents of the capital dropped in 2017 and 2018.

Under the regional development plan, some manufacturing industries like automotives have moved from the capital to Hebei province, attracting a large group of migrants and benefiting from becoming an industrial cluster, said Lu Jiehua, a professor of sociology at Peking University.

Wang Guangzhou, a population and labor economy researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, pointed out that as the national technology and science hub, Beijing attracts more high-tech talent to the city and many professionals also came for the educational and cultural resources.

At the same time, neighboring Hebei province took over some of the factories and wholesale markets from the capital, bringing together a large number of labor-intensive industries, he said, adding that Beijing also transferred part of its economic development role to Tianjin, which started to boost its service industry in 2014.

"It's one result of the regional economy. The transformation of industrial structures gradually filled the revenue gap between Beijing and Hebei, and brought more job opportunities to residents of the region," Wang said.

To some degree, regional economic development shifts the population structure in the capital.

Increasing numbers of migrants have relocated to the neighboring area from the central city over the past years, he said.

China's regional development blueprint changes with local situations, and development trajectories vary from region to region.

For example, in the Yangtze River Delta region, the interior provinces near Shanghai provide abundant financing opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises, as they are highly market-driven to promote economic development. But in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster, the regional goal is to be a globally renowned technology hub and more industry-focused, Wang said.

"Thus, targeted regional development plans are necessary to facilitate overall development in a more efficient way," he said.

The study found that the population in Hebei last year grew significantly-by 1.31 million-compared with 2015.

The relocation of Beijing's wholesale market in Xicheng district to Hebei brought about 20,000 people to the province, which also shaped the demographic structure of Hebei as more migrants relocated to the region and gathered more labor-intensive workers, said Lu, the professor.

With the relocation of many factories to Hebei, livelihoods in the province improved as well, providing a better living environment for the migrants.

"It is in line with the plan for the integrated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster, to promote Beijing as the center for national politics, cultural industries, international exchange and technological innovation," he said. "The population shift would ensure the capital eases the 'big city diseases' in a move to improve people's livelihoods."

According to an urban development plan released in 2016 by the Beijing government, the capital planned to cap its population at 23 million by 2020, with 10.85 million in the city's six core districts.

Huang Shisong, a researcher of the National Academy of Development and Strategy at Renmin University of China, said the booming industrial upgrade in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region also attracted some workers from southern provinces.

"Beijing's population shift and the agglomeration of population in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region reflect the changing industrial upgrade and the expansion of market scale in the area, which also contribute to part of the plan of building the cluster into a world-class metropolitan area, to better help the capital's overall city development," he added.

High real estate prices and strict housing registration in Beijing have resulted in a large number of people working in Beijing but living in neighboring towns and counties in Hebei province, Lu said.

"Tianjin also benefits from this," said Lu. "In the last three years, as the city introduced several demographic policies to lure talent, its population grew rapidly."

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2019-12-29 12:12:49
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/28/content_37530645.htm ZHEJIANG

Sheep from frozen embryos give birth

Eight 16-day-old lambs, whose parents were born from embryos frozen some 20 years ago, have survived and are growing normally at a breeding base in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. Their healthy survival marks the success of China's first long-term frozen embryo experiments. "Reproductivity is a key indicator that determines whether cryopreservation is feasible," said Zhang Xiaowei, an official with the provincial animal husbandry station.

HENAN

Archaeological park to display ancient capital

The construction of a national archaeological park began on Thursday in Henan province at the former capital of the Shang Dynasty (c.16th century-11th century BC). With an investment of about 15 billion yuan ($2.1 billion), the project will cover the whole protection zone of the Yin Ruins, which were added to the World Heritage List in 2006 by UNESCO. The ruins boast archaeological remnants of the ancient city of Yin, the last capital of the Shang Dynasty. The oracle bone scripts discovered within the ruins are considered to be the oldest Chinese inscriptions. Construction of the park will take eight to 10 years.

GUANGXI

Border region cracks down on telecom fraud

The Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region has stepped up efforts to combat telecom fraud this year, with over 2,500 cases cracked and 3,600 suspects detained. The regional public security department said on Thursday that gangs have been carrying out telecom fraud abroad in the face of an intensified clampdown at home. Guangxi police have teamed up with Vietnamese police to bust two gangs in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang, which were responsible for at least 1,400 cases worth more than 7 million yuan ($1 million). A total of 21 suspects were sent back to China on Dec 12.

]]> 2019-12-28 00:00:00 <![CDATA[ETC payment slated to ease holiday traffic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/28/content_37530655.htm The popularization of the automatic payment service nationwide will greatly improve the efficiency of road transport during this year's Spring Festival travel rush, the country's transportation authority said on Friday.

The country has more than 197 million electronic toll collection (ETC) users, an addition of 120 million from last year, said Wu Dejin, director of the highway department of the Ministry of Transport.

The change is expected to facilitate travelers who drive home on freeways during the upcoming 40-day Spring Festival travel rush starting Jan 10, a period when some 2.43 billion road trips are expected.

The service enables drivers to automatically pay tolls without stopping, which will reduce emissions and logistics costs and relieve traffic congestion, he said.

Ministry statistics show that a vehicle with an ETC device only needs 3 seconds to pass a toll booth, compared with 14 seconds for a manned booth.

However, the service triggered controversy recently after a few local transport authorities removed all staffed toll booths on freeways, inconveniencing drivers without ETC devices.

The local authorities made such moves to meet a target set earlier this year when the ministry issued a circular saying that it aimed to install at least 190 million ETC devices by year-end, but only some 80 million drivers had signed up for electronic toll collection by March.

In Tianjin, all staffed toll booths at its six provincial borders were closed to force drivers to install the devices. In Xiamen, Fujian province, banners were hung saying "Drivers without ETC are not welcome on the freeway", which were later taken down after being criticized.

Wu said that it's forbidden to force drivers to install ETC devices or set up obstacles for drivers without ETC.

"We will make sure there are lanes with staff to collect tolls at every toll station," he said.

China has modified 487 physical tollgates on provincial borders into ones that can offer the ETC service and has 48,211 lanes for ETC service so far, according to the ministry.

During the Spring Festival travel rush, manned booths will still be available for drivers without ETC devices to guarantee a smooth and satisfactory travel experience for them, Wu added.

Yang Xinzheng, an expert at the China Academy of Transportation Sciences, said in-vehicle ETC devices collect data on route choices and emergency brake usage, which can help to predict traffic patterns and possible accidents.

"They are a crucial part of connecting vehicles and road infrastructure in a smart traffic management system, and it plays an important role in pushing forward a national intelligent transport system for connected cars," he added.

]]> 2019-12-28 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Hundreds infected by bacteria in emissions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/28/content_37530661.htm Contaminated exhaust from a vaccine factory has been blamed for more than 200 cases of bacterial infection in Lanzhou, Gansu province, local authorities said on Thursday.

The infections were caused by the use of expired disinfectant at a factory that produces animal vaccines between July 24 and Aug 20, according to a statement from the provincial health and agricultural authorities and the government of Lanzhou.

The failed disinfections resulted in the brucella bacteria entering the exhaust emitted by the factory, a branch of China Animal Husbandry Industry Co, which infected students and faculty at Lanzhou Veterinary Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, which is near the factory, said the statement.

As of Wednesday, 181 students and faculty from the institute had tested positive for the brucella antibody since the first two cases were reported on Nov 28. Only one of them showed symptoms, though, the statement said.

Since December, 22 students and faculty of Lanzhou University also tested positive for the brucella antibody, among whom six had been to the institute. Another 13 cases in Heilongjiang province also worked at the institute in August.

The brucella bacteria, transmitted by contact with infected livestock including cattle and sheep or by eating unpasteurized dairy products, can cause brucellosis, also known as the Mediterranean fever.

Cui Buyun, a researcher in infectious diseases at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said patients with the disease can display symptoms such as fever, joint pain and sweating, but it is sensitive to antibiotics and rarely causes death or other serious consequences. There has been no reported human-to-human transmission of the disease, he said.

The workshop for producing animal brucellosis vaccines in the factory has been suspended from production since Dec 7. Local authorities have urged the factory to conduct thorough inspections and rectifications, and production will remain suspended until approval is received.

Major hospitals in Lanzhou have opened priority services so people living near the factory can receive free consulting, diagnosis and treatment, the statement said.

The bacteria that caused the infections was meant for the production of vaccines and was weakened in toxicity, so it generally will not cause symptoms in people infected after being transmitted over a distance. Cases with slight symptoms can recover with proper treatment, the statement said.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

]]> 2019-12-28 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Nepalese forage grass brings prosperity over Himalayas]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530549.htm LHASA-A row of trucks full of green forage grass were particularly conspicuous in Sa'kya county, under the city of Shigatse in the Tibet autonomous region, as everything else was covered with thick white snow.

Fresh grass, mixed with corn, bran, soybean meal and salt, was processed into pellets to help tens of thousands of cattle and sheep get through the frigid winter.

The grass came from the other side of the Himalayas in Nepal's Chitwan, where flat plains and the pleasant climate provide a superior environment for grass planting.

In April, Tianyu International, a Shigatse-based agricultural investment company, invested over 17 million yuan ($2.4 million) in planting and purchasing Chitwan's grass. Over 400 metric tons of grass have been transported to Tibet so far.

Liu Wei, president of the company, said large shipments are expected before and after the Spring Festival, which will fall in January.

He said that thanks to the short growth cycle and high yields, the price for Nepalese grass is only 1.6 yuan per kilogram including the freight cost-cheaper than locally produced hay, which costs about 2.6 yuan per kg.

Liu said the total investment of the project will reach 90 million yuan. When the six bases that integrate forage grass production and processing are built, the annual grass output will reach 198,000 tons, creating jobs for 30,000 Nepalese residents.

Ramesh Dhital, 35, earns about 35,000 Nepalese rupees ($315) a month from selling forage grass from local farmers, three times his previous income doing part-time jobs. Farmers grow grass during the fallow season to make extra money from their land. An average income of 2,000 yuan is expected for each household.

In Shigatse, the incoming grass has also brought wealth to local Tibetans. Penpa, 33, earns 200 yuan a day unloading grass to a feed mill. He used to work in Nagchu and Ngari, cities far from his family. Now he works near home and earns more.

About 111,800 farmers and herders, including over 70,000 from low-income families, are involved in 778 grass processing and animal breeding cooperatives in Shigatse, partially thanks to Nepalese grass.

"With the coming construction of the Nepalese bases, Tibet's import of forage grass will soon increase, which will improve beef and mutton yields," Liu said.

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[What they say]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530608.htm Editor's Note: The State Council Information Office invited exemplary figures in prosecution to meet the media and answer questions on the issues of strengthening legal supervision to uphold justice.

It's our procurators' responsibility to uphold justice and objectivity, which is not limited to the theoretical level but should be put into practice. Also, facts are the most important criterion for us to handle cases. Actually, we're often bothered with the temptation of money or so-called "guanxi" during the process of handling cases, which is a test for every procurator. The law is made to protect every single citizen and requires absolute justice to sustain its authority. Upholding justice is a principle that can't be broken.

Fang Gong, former deputy chief procurator of People's Procuratorate of Beijing

 

Every procurator should follow the principle of upholding justice. We, who serve as procurators in criminal prosecution, should protect the rights of interested parties, not only cracking down on crimes. Also, it's important to improve our procurators' quality and use high-tech assistance to better our capability to handle cases.

Shi Jinglan, procurator of People's Procuratorate of Shanghai Pudong district

 

From my perspective, upholding objectivity and justice is to sustain facts, which is what a procurator should stand for. The procurator should be loyal, dedicated, persistent and ready to take responsibility. The nation's legal environment has been greatly improved with the steadily implemented policy of "rule of law", but we procurators should keep making efforts to meet people's expectations. We should identify problems with sharp eyes and help solve the problem with laws. It's our responsibility to maintain justice in society and treat people fairly during the process of handling cases.

Zhang Biao, former procurator of People's Procuratorate of Shihezi, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps

 

The procurators should uphold justice and show their respect for facts when handling cases. Years before when we handled a burglary, the suspect claimed he was 17 years old. I had doubts that he might be using his older brother's identity. Then we visited his hometown and found he was 16 years old and had not reached the age for criminal liability. It's very important for us procurators to uphold justice and take facts as the basic criterion for handling cases.

Mei Mei, fifth department director of People's Procuratorate of Chongqing's Dadukou district

 

I grew up in a grazing area of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and have been serving in the area for years. I think that it's very important to unite different official departments when we crack down on cases, which is of great help for reaching a good result. The cases we handled were usually related to environmental protection, food and drug safety and groundwater resources protection.

Pan Zhirong, member of Procuratorial Committee of People's Procuratorate of Baotou city's Darhan Muminggan Joint Banner, Inner Mongolia autonomous region

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Pig breeder profiting by protecting unique species]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530606.htm Zhao Bo, who operates a pig conservation farm in Qingdao, Shandong province, has found that protecting a unique local species can also be profitable.

His stock of Licha pig-a locally bred black pig-has been selling for more than 100 yuan ($14.30) per kilogram, about twice the price of the ordinary pork produced by intensive farming, due to its unique flavor and texture.

What makes Zhao even happier is that none of the 4,000 pigs in the conservation farm has been infected by African swine fever, which has hit some nearby farms.

"We were afraid that African swine fever outbreaks may wipe out the whole species of Licha pig, which is only found in this area," he said. "This has reaffirmed that the Licha pig is highly resistant to diseases, which also adds to its commercial value."

Like the Licha pig, many other indigenous livestock and poultry species in China have been under improved protection in recent years, and market-oriented utilization of the species is expected to accelerate, along with conservation.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said over the past year it has collected genetic samples of additional 22 locally bred livestock species across China, including the Yushan pig in Jiangxi province and Jinnan ox in Shanxi province, to better preserve the species.

As of mid-December, more than 560 local livestock and poultry species in China had been included in the national species conservation program, with more than 670,000 samples of their genetic material being properly preserved, according to the ministry.

Although traditionally cultivated and raised for meat in China, many local animal species have been sidelined in recent years by animals introduced from overseas that are more productive and suitable for large-scale intensive farming.

Some species have declined so fast that they face the danger of extinction. For example, there has been a sharp drop in the number of Chenghua pig-a stout-bodied, short-legged animal with a higher fat content originating from Sichuan province-which is particularly suitable for the local specialty, twice-cooked pork slices.

Yang Hongjie, an official at the National Animal Husbandry Services, said that in addition to meeting diverse demand for food, protecting locally bred animal species is important for biodiversity and cultural diversity.

Although many local species are less productive than foreign species, they have other attributes such as being resistant to disease, and genetic diversity is also crucial to the creation of higher-quality species.

Zhao, from Qingdao, said the Licha pig has more economic value and he plans to breed new pig species based on the Licha pig to meet diverse market demand.

"I think the best way to conserve the species is to make better use of it," he said.

Ma Youxiang, chief livestock specialist at the ministry, said that while priority should be placed on the conservation of locally bred species of livestock and poultry, commercial utilization of the species should be accelerated to meet people's increasingly diverse demand for high quality meat.

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Around China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530595.htm ZHEJIANG

Showoff student hurt in road accident

A high school student, surnamed Chen, recently suffered serious injuries when his scooter collided with a fast-moving vehicle in Cangnan county, Wenzhou. Before the accident, Chen had been weaving the scooter through busy traffic while his friends shot a video, which was later posted online and went viral. After the collision a pedestrian phoned police and an ambulance took Chen to hospital. He underwent surgery to repair broken bones in both legs. Chen later issued an apology and said he regretted his actions.

ZHEJIANG TV

GANSU

Teenager's care for brother touches hearts

A 14-year-old girl who has looked after her young brother for four years, even attending parent meetings at his school, has become a celebrity in Lanzhou. He Keqian's care for her 8-year-old brother became public after local media reported on her selfless acts. The teenager took over the role after her father was killed in a traffic accident four years ago, and the children's mother remarried and moved to another city. The children were left with an impoverished aunt who is a street vendor. The girl not only looks after the boy, but also helps him with his homework while doing most of the chores around the house.

LANZHOU EVENING NEWS

BEIJING

12345 selected as 'weakest' password

The figure 12345 was selected as the worst password of the year by a network security companies' survey in the mainland. The security companies conducted their own survey of password security, and received 100 million responses, including those on hacked and leaked passwords. A total of 830,846 people used the weakest password-12345-which was broken more than 2.8 million times this year, the survey found. Other weak passwords included; 123456, 111111,123321, 12345678, test, qwerty and asdf.

THEPAPER.CN

Woman held for alleged property swindle

A woman, surnamed Han, who allegedly defrauded a man out of more than 2 million yuan ($286,000) was recently detained by police in Chaoyang district. Han met the man, surnamed Zhang, in April and they quickly became friends and added each other on WeChat, police said. Han soon asked Zhang to help her purchase an apartment priced at about 10,000 yuan per square meter in Chaoyang district. Han told Zhang she was responsible for government demolition and land acquisition work in the district, which meant she could get a low price. But after giving Han a large sum of money in October, Zhang lost contact with her. Zhang later reported the incident to police. Police detained the woman who was jobless and had previous fraud convictions related to property.

BEIJING NEWS

HEILONGJIANG

Meth gang busted at remote public toilet

Police recently detained 11 suspected gang members and seized more than 11 kilograms of crystal meth, or ice, after busting a drug den operating out of a public toilet in Dumeng county. Police set up a special task force two months ago after receiving reports of noisy nighttime activity at a remote public toilet. After months of investigation, police found the toilet had become a gang's drug bazaar at night. Headed by a man, surnamed Deng, the gang produced its own methamphetamine, police said. Deng and his gang were busted during a police operation on Dec 16.

WWW.KANKANEWS.COM

SICHUAN

Retiree donates 100,000 yuan to pupils

An 89-year-old retiree who donated more than 100,000 yuan ($14,290) to a fund for poor Tibetan students has won people's hearts after his act of generosity was made public. Liu Rirong made the donation to a primary school in Chengdu two years ago when it was setting up the fund. He said his only wish was to help those who come from poor families to go to school. Since making the donation, Liu has become a "grandpa" to many students who benefited from it, and is respected by many of the Chengdu pupils. Liu is a member of Communist Party of China and his act of kindness became widely known when he was recognized as a special retiree on Dec 16.

HUAXI METROPOLIS DAILY

SHANGHAI

Trucker takes traffic officer for a ride

A truck driver, surnamed Zhang, who drove off with a parking officer clinging to the front of his delivery vehicle, is facing prosecution. On Dec 16, Zhang became angry with an urban management officer, surnamed Han, who tried to issue him with a ticket for illegal parking in Songjiang district. He refused to pay the ticket and drove off with the officer clinging to the window of his truck. The truck was stopped by police after traveling about 200 meters. Police said Zhang would be charged with dangerous diving and disrupting a public servant in his duty. If guilty, he faces a fine and points deduction from his license.

XINMIN EVENING NEWS

Family praised for care of comatose ex-spouse

A special family in which a woman, surnamed Jia, has looked after her comatose ex-husband for 20 years has received a special commendation. Jia married her first husband, surnamed Dang, 23 years ago. Three years later he was involved in a serious road accident and went into a coma. Jia divorced Dang, who is still in a coma, and married another man, surnamed Li. When Li married Jia he promised he would help her look after Dang. In the 20 years since, all three have lived together harmoniously, according to local media. Jia also cares for Dang's parents, while Li works at a local company to financially support the extended family. They were recently commended as a good family by their neighborhood committee.

WWW.KANKANEWS.COM

TIANJIN

Snubbed woman in 'revenge' shoes theft

A middle-aged woman, surnamed Wang, who stole two pairs of shoes from a store in revenge for an apparent snub was recently detained by police in Binhai district. Wang said she stole the shoes as payback after employees snubbed her when she was asking about two pairs of shoes a few days earlier. She told police she was rich and could pay for the shoes, but her actions were driven by revenge.

WWW.KANKANEWS.COM

CHONGQING

Pork thief motivated by New Year delicacy

A woman stole pork from supermarkets in the Shapingba area because she wanted to make cured meat for Chinese New Year, police said. The woman, surnamed Zheng, was detained in a supermarket on Dec 17 when staff suspicious of her actions called police for help. Police seized more than 38.8 kilograms of cured pork in her home and Zheng admitted to stealing the pork on 20 separate occasions. She said she wanted to make cured meat as the Chinese New Year was approaching. Zheng said she decided to steal the pork when she noticed the recent price rises.

WWW.KANKANEWS.COM

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[High-speed rail eases travel to 'cradle of revolution']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530594.htm A high-speed railway service that opened on Thursday will make it easier for tourists to visit the "cradle of the Chinese revolution," in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province.

The Nanchang-Ganzhou High-Speed Railway, with a designed speed of 350 kilometers per hour, takes visitors through the city of Ji'an, which is only a short distance from Jinggangshan by regular train.

The railway is connected with the Beijing-Hong Kong High-Speed Railway and the Shanghai-Kunming High-Speed Railway.

Jinggangshan has become a popular destination for domestic and international visitors, as it boasts pristine natural scenery and the cultural heritage of the revolution.

The first railway tracks were laid in the city in 2006, and in May 2004 the Jinggangshan Airport opened, injecting great vitality into the mountainous area.

"The opening of the high-speed railway service has further accelerated the development of the old revolutionary base," said Chen Shenghua, professor at the China Executive Leadership Academy Jinggangshan.

An economic development zone has been planned near the Ji'an West Railway Station in Jinggangshan, which has a planned area of 7.6 square kilometers.

Xiao Xin, chairman of Ji'an City Investment Holding Group, said the development zone, with an investment of more than 15 billion yuan ($2.14 billion) will feature exhibitions and tourism.

"The high-speed railway has opened up a new channel for Jinggangshan," Xiao said. "Many enterprises from the coastal provinces are eyeing mountain tourist resources in the area."

 

Performers sing on a train running on the Nanchang-Ganzhou High-Speed Railway in Jiangxi province on Thursday, the first day of the railway's operation. WAN XIANG/XINHUA

 

 

A high-speed train stops at Ji'an West Station on the newly opened railway line in Jiangxi province on Thursday. ZHU WENBIAO/FOR CHINA DAILY

 

 

Nanchang-Ganzhou High-Speed Railway CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Ex-newsreader gives a textbook performance]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530570.htm Zheng Yingyan had worked as an anchor at China Central Television for more than a decade, but had never read anything to her son in her professional newsreader's voice.

But in March 2016, the then 8-year-old turned to her for help on the correct pronunciation of words in his Mandarin textbook for Grade two students.

"I turned to the internet immediately as I was trying to find an audio version with the right pronunciation," she said. "My voice is familiar to my son and he might listen more carefully if the reader is someone else."

But what astonished her was that she couldn't find an audio version of the Mandarin textbook, from either the education department or volunteer readers.

"For English-language learners, from primary school to university, audio material can be easily found online. But what I found were only a few articles from Chinese textbooks that were recorded in the 1970s, or even earlier, of a poor quality," she said.

Zheng made a decision, which she described as "the most meaningful cause driven by a mother's impulsion"-she was going to invite the country's greatest news anchors to read the Mandarin textbooks for primary students.

With support from Yang Liu, her former colleague at CCTV who is also the director of the Chinese Culture Promotion Society's anchors' branch, Zheng attracted about 60 newsreaders in Beijing to the project, most of whom are known nationwide.

In only two months, they finished recording 500 lessons from the Mandarin textbooks-all for no charge.

"China is a big country with a great diversity of language. People from south to north, from east to west, have accents that sometimes differ like a foreign language," Zheng said.

She said the audiobook series is expected to help children learn and experience the beauty of the Chinese language.

"Our efforts are not simply to promote the right pronunciations. A good reader will lead audiences into the interests of Chinese literature and help them to better understand the emotion and meaning behind the words."

Ready on time

On Sept 1, 2016, the first day of a new school semester, the series was officially released on a WeChat public account named Mei ("beautiful" in Chinese) Sound Audio Library.

It is also available on several major domestic audio platforms, including QingTing FM and Ximalaya FM for free.

Yu Jianjun, chief executive officer of Ximalaya FM said in many remote areas, students had never had the chance to learn the correct pronunciation of Mandarin. "The series will bring them a precious chance."

Yu said some rare pronunciations were at risk of disappearing, as they only appeared in ancient books.

"The series that covers some classic ancient articles will also contribute to the preservation of some of those polyphones," Yu said.

On the first day of this year's Mid-Autumn Festival, Zheng and her team released another album consisting of 208 ancient Chinese poems, selected from Mandarin texts for primary and high school students.

Both series have been fed into 30,000 computers donated to schools in remote areas by nongovernmental organizations and enterprises. About 150 kindergartens nationwide are also permitted to use the series.

Zheng said the series documents some of the most beautiful voices in China. "The background music is also carefully chosen and edited by our campus volunteers. Many of them are in their 20s and have similar tastes to those of younger generations," Zheng said.

Feedback from youngsters and their parents has been encouraging. "Many of them leave messages strongly supporting our efforts. On our WeChat public account, lots of children and even their parents use the voice-recording function to read the articles and poems following the anchors," Zheng said.

The audiobook series has been listened to more than 20 million times on China's major audio service platforms and popular education apps.

A few months ago, Zheng received a phone call from a Chinese mother in New York, who paid a lot of money for her child to attend a private school that offers Mandarin class. But the mother said she was disappointed with the class as her child was only taught basic sentences for daily use.

"She told me that she was impressed by our audio series and said interests in learning Mandarin can only be triggered when people truly realize the beauty of Chinese characters. She asked me to consider promoting the series overseas, which I had never thought about before," Zheng said.

Fate soon knocked on her door. VIPKid, one of China's biggest education platforms, told Zheng of their desire to teach 30,000 overseas subscribers Mandarin using the audiobook series. The contract has signed recently.

Next year, Zheng plans to cooperate with overseas social media platforms, such as YouTube, and turn the audiobooks into short animations featuring Chinese characteristics, such as traditional paintings.

"Chinese characters possess beauty in sense, sound and form. The beauty of sound has been shadowed by the modern way of communication that mainly relies on text messages. I hope the beauty of sound can be further explored and spread, not only in China, but also the world," she said.

Zheng Yingyan, an anchor at China Central Television for more than a decade, prepares to record an article from a Chinese textbook for school student. CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Campaign targeting breaches of copyright proves successful]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530584.htm A special campaign this year targeting copyright infringement on the internet has been fruitful and achieved good legal and social effects, a copyright official said on Thursday.

From May to November, copyright law enforcement agencies at all levels, supported by cyberspace and information administrators as well as public security departments, cracked down on copyright infringement, especially in films, social media and images, said Yu Cike, director of copyright administration of the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

Authorities deleted 1.1 million links related to piracy, seized 10.7 million pirated products and investigated 450 cases of online copyright infringement, of which 160 were criminal cases and involved 524 million yuan ($75 million), he said.

The campaign, called Sword Net 2019, was launched in April by the National Intellectual Property Administration, the Cyberspace Administration of China, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, and the Ministry of Public Security.

With an aim to strengthen copyright law enforcement and supervision, it particularly targeted independent social media accounts that reproduced, plagiarized or tampered with news content produced by mainstream media outlets without their authorization.

It also cracked down on filming and recording in cinemas, the spread of pirated films or television programs via social media, e-commerce platforms and cloud storage services, the abuse of rights and false authorization in the image market, as well as other copyright infringements in music, short videos, audiobooks and animation.

By the end of the campaign, Yu said authorities in various provinces, including Hebei, Zhejiang, Henan and Guangdong, had handled over 30 cases regarding the filming and recording of movies in cinemas and had arrested more than 200 suspects. They had also busted 418 websites and applications that spread pirated films.

One of the major cases included a Beijing company releasing news content through its network called "Xinhua Silk Road". The content was found to have infringed the copyright of 140 written works and 110 photographic works owned by Xinhua News Agency. The company was fined 200,000 yuan in July by the Beijing cultural law enforcement agency.

In September, authorities also set up eight inspection teams and visited 14 provinces to directly supervise and handle 90 major cases of infringement, he added.

Yu said these results helped regulate copyright on the internet and ensured a good cyberspace environment, especially for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China this year.

Sun Xiaohui, deputy director of the Ministry of Public Security's public security administration, said the ministry will continue its tough line on copyright infringement, improve its level of investigation, summarize successful experiences from previous cases, make full use of big data to improve efficiency and work closely with other departments to push forward practical regulations related to the application of laws.

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Transport to get injection of funding]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530583.htm China will spend nearly 2.7 trillion yuan ($386 billion) on transportation infrastructure projects in 2020, according to Minister of Transport Li Xiaopeng on Thursday.

That amount consists of 800 billion yuan on railways, 1.8 trillion yuan on roads and waterways and 90 billion yuan on civil aviation facilities, Li said at an annual work conference, adding that transportation will play an important role in eradicating poverty next year.

In line with the country's goal of wiping out extreme poverty in 2020, one of the ministry's main targets for next year is to make sure that all townships and administrative villages have access to bus service.

The central government aims to lift all impoverished rural residents out of poverty by next year.

So far, about 95 percent of China's poor will have shaken off poverty by the end of this year, according to State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

Over the past 12 months, the ministry has stepped up efforts to ensure economically struggling villages are connected to other regions, with construction or renovation of 290,000 kilometers of roadways in rural regions.

The goal is for all administrative villages to have access to asphalt roads by the end of this month.

Yang Xinzheng, an expert at the China Academy of Transportation Sciences, said that strengthening the construction of rural transport infrastructure is key to boosting various rural industries since better rural roads will reduce travel time, facilitate trade and allow more movement of people and goods.

"However, it is not enough to simply build rural roads," he said. "Maintenance of the roads requires doubling efforts. It is a long-term task requiring consistent efforts."

Official statistics showed that China has paved or renovated over 4 million km of roads in the vast rural areas since the founding of New China in 1949, which has benefited more than 600 million farmers.

Li also noted that 98 percent of the townships across the country will have delivery outlets by 2020 as part of efforts to leverage postal services to vitalize rural areas.

By the end of this year, the country is expected to have invested over 3.2 trillion yuan in transportation projects, with total mileage of roads increasing by 330,000 km and railways in operation by 8,000 km, according to the ministry

Further, the country will also add over 385 km of inland waterways and five new civil airports, including Beijing's new Daxing International Airport, by year's end, it said.

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530581.htm HUBEI

4.9-magnitude quake strikes Xiaogan city

A 4.9-magnitude earthquake hit Yingcheng of Xiaogan city, Hubei province, at 6:36 pm on Thursday, according to the China Earthquake Networks Center. The epicenter was monitored at 30.87 degrees north latitude and 113.4 degrees east longitude. The quake struck at a depth of 10 kilometers. No casualties were reported.

GUANGDONG

7 killed, 2 injured in accident in Lianzhou

Seven people were killed and two injured in a deadly car crash on Thursday morning that involved a minibus and a motor tricycle traveling on a road in Lianzhou, Guangdong province, according to local police. In a statement posted on Sina Weibo late Thursday, the city's public security bureau said that after the collision, the minibus ran into a tree on the roadside and started burning. The driver was only identified by his surname Shi, 50. The motor tricycle was driven by a man surnamed Hu, 53, the statement said. Seven people died at the scene, it said, without specifying if Shi and Hu were among those killed.

GANSU

Police capture 27 for drug trafficking by air

Airport police in Gansu province have captured 27 suspects in eight provinces in a major operation targeting drug trafficking via air routes. The airport police said their operation has effectively severed cross-border drug trafficking air routes to five provinces.

JIANGSU

Chinese customs seizes tree pests

Customs authorities in Jiangsu province said on Thursday customs officers had intercepted several kinds of pests from a Panamanian vessel. One of the pests is the beetle Platypus cavicepts, a nonnative species intercepted by Chinese customs for the first time, according to sample tests sent by Nantong Customs to the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine.

 

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2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Official: Eco-protection not stifling economic growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530573.htm Despite downward economic pressure, China will not relax its efforts to strengthen environmental governance, a senior official said on Thursday.

Xu Bijiu, director of the general office at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, dismissed concerns that intensified efforts would hinder the country's economic development.

Xu said at a news conference in Beijing that there had been suggestions that environmental protection had exerted a negative impact on the economy in recent years, with those concerns heightened as downward economic pressure continues.

But Xu said that despite such pressure, the ministry will stick to the path of pollution control and spare no efforts in the campaign, as required by President Xi Jinping at the annual Central Economic Work Conference that ran from Dec 10 to 12.

Xu said 90 percent of the work had been done but the remainder would be the most challenging, adding that with the campaign in its final phase, the ministry has no choice but to keep moving forward.

He also said economic data showed enhanced environmental governance efforts could actually boost development. "Most of the industrial sectors confronting marked economic downturns are not those listed as key targets in environmental governance," Xu said.

In addition, industries with high-energy consumption-such as steel, construction materials and power generation-which were key targets in the pollution control campaign, saw higher increases in their value-added production than the average for the entire industrial sector in the first 11 months of this year, Xu said.

For example, the steel sector saw year-on-year growth of 10.7 percent, over 5 percentage points higher than the average for the entire industrial sector, he said.

Many key regions targeted for pollution control have also seen marked growth in many industries in the first 11 months this year. Shandong province, for example, saw the production of its cement industry increase by 9 percent and that of its coke industry rise by 24.8 percent, he added.

The nation has seen a harmonious, win-win relationship between economic development and environmental protection, Xu said.

As the country's GDP shot up from 59 trillion yuan ($8.43 trillion) in 2013 to 90 trillion yuan last year, air quality improved significantly. China began to monitor PM2.5 particulate matter in 74 major cities in 2012. From 2013 to 2018, those cities saw PM2.5 concentrations fall by an average of 42 percent and sulfur dioxide concentrations fall by an average of 68 percent, he said.

Environmental protection and economic protection are not in conflict with each other, Xu said.

"As the country enters a high-quality development stage, enhanced efforts on environmental protection could play a role in boosting economic growth while exerting no negative impact on the economy," he added.

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Pioneering group swapping spreadsheets for soil]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530585.htm Dressed in a beanie paired with a striped, collared shirt and horn-rimmed glasses, Zhang Meng looked more like a rapper than a young farmer as he stood by his stall at the F2N market at the Kerry Center in downtown Beijing selling organically grown produce.

Twice a week, the 27-year-old, who completes his hip-hop look with earrings that stretch his ear lobes, visits the capital's downtown to sell fresh vegetables from his farm. However, most days he toils on the land in suburban Shunyi district.

While most people see moving to the city as a form of upward mobility, Zhang is among a small group who are moving to the countryside to become farmers and enjoy a better quality of life. At a time when many villages lack young blood, farmers such as Zhang seem like a much-needed boost to village life that is rejuvenating the farming "culture".

After studying at university and taking jobs in the city while still a student, Zhang decided that urban life was not for him. So, after graduation, he moved to the outskirts.

"When I was at university, I really wanted to be an entrepreneur," he said. "So, I stayed in a small house by myself. When I was not in school, I would stay in that small house and plant vegetables to eat. After that, I felt there was a possibility it could be a good project and I should head to the countryside to do something like that. It would be very meaningful."

This role is not unfamiliar to Zhang. He grew up on his grandfather's farm in Mentougou district in rural Beijing, so transitioning to country life was not a problem. However, he said it is not easy to be a farmer in a place like Beijing. Some problems such as financing, farming techniques and marketing on social media can be hard to overcome. Despite the challenges, he is one of several young farmers who see value in maintaining the rural culture.

Trading places

For a large part of his life, 34-year-old Wang Xin lived in suburban Tongzhou district. His university studies, involving landscaping and plants, eventually led to a job, so he moved to the city, just like many young people. However, the stresses of city life overwhelmed him, so he packed up and left for the countryside.

"In the city, I had to travel on the subway for two hours every morning. At night, I spent another two hours on the subway," he said. "Then I had to work overtime and stare at a computer every day. I couldn't continue like that anymore, so I needed to change my life."

As Wang liked plants, he decided to farm so he could get closer to them. Now, the former landscape designer is settled at a farm in Daxing district and is well-known at the Beijing Farmers' Market for the quality of his strawberries.

Unlike Zhang and Wang, Ding Jiazi has spent a large part of her life in cities. The 33-year-old also spent nine years studying and working in the United States before returning to China. However, after working for two years in Beijing, she called it quits last year and left to attend a farming school. Now, she works with a group of young farmers at an orchard.

"From the beginning, I paid close attention to organic produce," said Ding, when asked how she got into farming. "I liked to browse shops that sold organic goods. At the time, I was working in the US and I liked to go to places like Wholefoods (a well-known superstore). I felt that the items at those places were really delicious. I felt closer to the land, and I could understand something more about nature by buying such organic products."

It was not a difficult decision to leave her job and become a farmer, despite no previous experience of rural life. "Once I had carefully thought through my decision, I just stepped into it with little hesitation," she said.

Food safety

While the pressure of city life seems to be the major reason this new generation turned to farming, the motivation was different for those who came before. Nearly a decade ago, food security was a big issue in China and there was widespread concern about food safety, which led to people like Qi Jing becoming interested.

"At the time, a new movement started in China," said Qi, a 40-something who works in the interior design industry while also managing a farm. "Then, a lot of small and independent farms and farmers' markets started appearing, so I decided to try to do it, too."

Eight years ago, Guo Shengnan, who lives in an urban area in Hebei province, started a farm with two friends.

"We decided to start our own farm so our children and families could eat safe vegetables and eggs, and to have a piece of land with clean soil to embrace nature and have a happy life," said Guo, who gives lessons about agriculture to city families who have registered with her farm's membership program. Occasionally, she visits the capital to participate in activities organized by the Beijing Farmers' Market.

Even before food security became a nationwide concern, Zhang Zhimin had been a farmer for more than 10 years. Before she made her life-changing decision, she had worked in international trade for a long time. Her deep knowledge of the import sector and understanding of the difficulties farmers face were among the many reasons that led her to become a farmer.

"At that crucial point in time, my specialized knowledge of imports helped break a roadblock (regarding the World Trade Organization)," she said. "After the breakthrough, China was able to smoothly join the WTO. However, there were also some people who believed that opening up the market would lead farmers to suffer, so I felt quite guilty.

"I have always helped farmers to sell their produce, and they are a vulnerable group in society. They are poor and lead hard lives. So, if China joined the WTO and their lives became even harder, then I would have some responsibility for that, too."

Her job was not the only thing she left behind in Beijing, as her husband and then-12-year-old son remained in the city. Fortunately, they both fully supported her decision.

Her conviction is so strong that even when she ran into difficulties in 2005 and had to go back to full-time employment for three years, she returned to farming once she had earned enough to keep the farm afloat.

"Farming is a kind of art. It needs talent," she said. "It doesn't matter where you were born or the type of family you were born into to farm well. As long as it is an art, you will need talent, affection and dedication; then can you do this art well."

Interaction

Farmers' lives are hard for many reasons, so it is unlikely that droves of tired city dwellers will migrate to the countryside anytime soon. Still, city people seek and appreciate a taste of farm life and enjoy visiting the countryside on weekends with their families.

Zhang Meng organizes at least one event on his Shunyi farm every season, attracting sizable crowds. In addition to showing children how food is grown, he brews his own beer for the events and invites bands to perform, which reflects his hippie nature.

Chung Hsueh-ling, a 50-something Taiwan native, runs a farm in Beijing's Changping district with her husband. She estimates that about 60 families rent vegetable plots there every year, and she welcomes customers any day of the week.

"I like them to come to my farm, because it is easy to say a lot of nice things about it. But if you come, you can experience it for yourself and see whether you like it or not," she said.

On the morning of Nov 3, staff members from two schools led two groups of young students and their parents on a tour of Chung's farm. Dressed in cute Halloween costumes, the young visitors followed the tour guides, learning about the different types of vegetables grown at the farm, pulling the largest cabbage heads out of the soil, and cutting fresh sugarcane and pushing the stems through a hand-powered machine to extract the juice.

Amid the bustle, Luo Dan worked quietly on her small vegetable plot in a corner of the farm. She is one of Chung's long-time customers and has rented a plot for more than three years.

"The motivation for renting a vegetable plot is to give my child a well-rounded education," Luo said. "We often do simple things like sowing seeds, harvesting produce and experiencing the cycle of the seasons, so my child will become attuned to nature and will also gain a good perception of it."

However, it is difficult for many city people to maintain a rented vegetable plot. Zhang Zhengang, who frequents Chung's farm with his 8-year-old son, said: "Most people still only come for the experience. To actually farm your own plot takes up a lot of time. Children in China are having a tough time (in terms of educational pressures and extracurricular classes), so they probably don't have a lot of free time."

Luo, who visits her plot at least once a week to work or allow her son to play on the land, agreed. "This is really normal; every family's priorities are different. We have already formed a habit by coming to the farm regularly," she said.

Despite the many challenges facing the urbanites-turned-farmers, none has regretted the rural migration.

Wang completed a three-year apprenticeship under accomplished farmers after he experienced failure in his first year, and his parents still disapprove of his choice to this day. Despite that, he is undeterred.

"From the start to this day, my parents have been really against this," he said. "Compared with my previous job, this is definitely more laborious and the income is not as good-that's how they see it." Fortunately for Wang, his income has risen in the past few years.

Ding was luckier in that her parents and friends were mostly supportive of her decision to turn to agriculture.

"They didn't oppose it," she said, when asked about her parents' reaction. "They are more curious about what farming is about, as they have not tried it before."

Several of Zhang Meng's customers have urged him to reconsider his current lifestyle choice, asking him to seriously evaluate how it will affect his family in the future.

However, the father of a 4-year-old is keen to continue because he wants to do something he believes is worthwhile. His customers are another reason he wants to continue.

"I have been in a dilemma several times. There are a lot of times when I don't want to do it anymore because there are a lot of complicated problems. Even though it's been going very well, I am already 27. I don't have accumulated wealth. Though I live a more leisurely life than people leading fast-paced lives in the city, I also have tough times. Accumulating wealth takes too long," he said.

"This profession needs young people to join in. If they don't, it (farming culture) is not possible. Young people need to join in to make it like other jobs with a stable income and a normal work-life balance, and at the same time healthier than other jobs. Then, more young people will choose the profession. If this can't be done, no one will do it. If no one does this, it will represent the decline of farming (culture)."

A city family enjoys a visit to a farm in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in May. CHINA DAILY

Clockwise from top left: Wang Xin (center) displays his sweet potatoes to a customer at the Beijing Farmers' Market held at a hotel in October; a mother and daughter harvest carrots at a farm in the Beijing suburbs; farmer Chung Hsueh-ling teaches two girls how to plant seeds. CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Regulation to help target dioxins at waste plants]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530322.htm The Ministry of Ecology and Environment will roll out a regulation on waste-to-energy plant management in the coming years as it beefs up efforts to stop them from discharging noxious chemical compounds known as dioxins, which have been linked to increased risk of cancer.

According to the regulation, which will come into effect on Wednesday, real-time data from online monitoring facilities placed in the plants last year could serve as a basis for law enforcement to suspend a plant's operations.

Even though it was a time-consuming and costly way to monitor dioxin emissions, the mechanism in the regulation could help shorthanded environmental law enforcement teams identify plants engaged in wrongdoing and roll out monitoring actions accordingly, experts with the ministry said.

The regulation mainly targets five pollutants in waste-to-energy plants' emissions and the internal temperature of their incinerators.

If the daily average density of any of the five major pollutants, including sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, surpasses national standards, the plants will be subject to fines of up to 1 million yuan ($143,100). Their operations will be restricted or even suspended if they are found with excessive emissions for more than five days in a month.

The average internal temperature of a plant's incinerator every five minutes should be at least 850 C in normal operation. If plants fail to meet that requirement five times a day, they could be fined up to 100,000 yuan. Their operations could also be suspended if they fail to rectify the problem, according to the regulation.

All waste-to-energy plants in China were asked to install online monitoring facilities before October 2017. They were also asked to make real-time data from the facilities public and give environmental authorities access to the data.

Hai Jing, a researcher with the South China Institute of Environmental Sciences, an affiliate of the ministry, said the measures included in the regulation will help enhance dioxin emission control, though the regulation does not directly target such compounds.

"It can be hard to regularly monitor the emissions of dioxin chemical compounds in waste-to-energy plants because monitoring requires airborne vehicles to collect samples and 22 days to get test results," she said.

Hai said it was almost impossible for the ministry to monitor dioxin emissions in the over 1,000 incinerators in 394 waste-to-energy plants across the country, even with its competent personnel fully mobilized.

While excessive emissions of the five major pollutants included in the regulation may suggest dioxin violations, 850 C was an internationally accepted temperature that could significantly reduce the emission of dioxin compounds, she said.

That meant the performance of waste-to-energy plants in accordance with the regulation would help law enforcement officers identify the key targets for dioxin monitoring, she added.

As for dioxin control, "this is the most efficient approach for law enforcement and could also work well in addressing the public's concern", she said.

Lu Jiawei, an associate researcher with the institute, dismissed concerns that monitoring could be falsified without being discovered.

In addition to the density of the five major pollutants and the temperature, the ministry also had access to other data, Li said.

"All the data are highly correlated, so it's almost impossible to falsify data without leaving any hint," he said.

Waste-to-energy plants have increasingly been viewed as a solid choice to address the country's rapidly growing generation of waste.

According to the ministry's latest report on solid waste control, 162 million metric tons of domestic waste were generated in 261 large and medium-sized cities across China in 2013. In 2017, when only 202 of those cities were assessed, the amount of waste had jumped by 25 percent to 202 million tons.

Landfills have traditionally been the first option for waste disposal, but many sites are almost full and it has become increasingly difficult for local governments to find new ones.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Panda recognition tech a boon for wildlife rangers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530331.htm LANZHOU-An encounter with a wild giant panda could be a once-in-a-lifetime event for a wildlife ranger in northwestern China's sparsely populated giant panda habitat, but infrared cameras augmented with panda recognition technology can capture them more frequently.

In the administration office of the Baishuijiang Nature Reserve in Gansu province, images of wild pandas captured by six field cameras can be seen on screens.

There are about 110 wild giant pandas living in the reserve, which has an area of more than 1,800 square kilometers.

He Liwen, director of the nature reserve administration's giant panda management office, said the panda recognition system built in October enables the cameras to automatically identify giant pandas and begin recording. The system can generate folders to store and manage video clips of panda sightings.

"Bear face recognition is similar to human face recognition technology, but more difficult," He said.

While human facial recognition could distinguish facial features, it was difficult to capture wild animals' faces when they appeared, and cameras more often only captured part of the animals' bodies.

He said the system was very sensitive to panda images.

"The administration began to develop the panda recognition system in 2017 with a massive archive of panda photos taken in the reserve over the years," he said. "This has enabled the system's panda recognition capability."

He said animal protection staff using the system can stay in the office to observe the pandas in their habitat and study their activities.

Forest rangers replace the infrared cameras' batteries and memory cards every three months.

With the introduction of the cameras, a large amount of video footage and many pictures of wild giant pandas have been captured, including video and photos of a panda mother and her cubs.

Workers check an infrared camera (right) in the Baishuijiang Nature Reserve in Gansu province earlier this month. Such cameras have captured images of pandas in the reserve (left). DU ZHEYU/XINHUA

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Killing of doctor at hospital condemned]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530389.htm The fatal stabbing of a doctor at a Beijing hospital by a patient's relative has been condemned by a national doctors' association, which called for improved security for medical staff.

"We are beyond fury and strongly condemn the atrocity," the Chinese Medical Doctor Association said in a statement released on Wednesday. "We hope a safety net is being built so incidents of violence against doctors and nurses will not happen again."

Yang Wen, who was working in the emergency department at Civil Aviation General Hospital, was stabbed by a 55-year-old man surnamed Sun on Tuesday, Beijing police said. Sun has been detained for further investigation.

The hospital said in a statement early on Wednesday that Yang sustained serious wounds to her neck. It took immediate steps to try to save her life, and the Beijing Municipal Health Commission organized a team of medical experts from several top Beijing hospitals to assist in those efforts, but she died early on Wednesday morning.

Zhang Yanling, the association's president, instructed the association to provide relief assistance to Yang's family, the statement said.

The association said it hopes society will work together to ensure medical staff are not harmed while practicing medicine.

Beijing police are investigating the incident. Sun's motive for the attack is not clear.

Various authorities have released regulations in recent years aimed at combating violence against medical staff, with harsh penalties meted out in serious cases. Many hospital staff have called for improved security at work.

Deng Liqiang, director of the association's legal affairs department, said hospitals should increase security checks to better protect medical staff and patients, but such security measures were generally lacking.

"We have been dedicated to fighting law violations against medical staff, and progress has been made," he said. "But many incidents can happen randomly and are very difficult to predict."

Doctors should also stay alert to risks and try to reduce the chances of conflict when communicating with patients, he said, adding it was not rational to consider all patients potentially harmful.

Meanwhile, hospital executives should place more importance on ensuring the safety of staff members, he said.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Guizhou urged to step up checks on coal mines]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530388.htm The State Council's Work Safety Committee has urged authorities in Guizhou province to step up safety checks on coal mines and curb the high incidence of deadly accidents, the Ministry of Emergency Management said on Wednesday.

Guizhou has had the country's highest death rates resulting from mining accidents for two consecutive years, signifying a series of issues including weak awareness of safe production, poor planning of the development of its coal mining sector and inefficient oversight, it said in a statement.

The committee held talks with officials from Guizhou's provincial government, the government of Guizhou's Qianxinan Bouyei and Miao autonomous prefecture, and the Guizhou Energy Administration on Wednesday.

It urged local authorities to resolutely phase out small coal mines that produce less than 300,000 metric tons a year and halt production at outdated mines.

Concerted efforts will also be devoted to addressing risks related to gas, a major cause of fatal accidents in coal mines.

The committee added that coal mining enterprises needed to be held accountable for safety hazards.

Key areas and major businesses will face particularly stringent supervision to stem violations of safety regulations, the committee said.

Guizhou is one of the most important coal production regions in China.

The most recent accident occurred on Dec 17, when a gas outburst in a coal mine in Anlong county resulted in 16 deaths.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Cosplay helps students appreciate art masters]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530379.htm Reenactments of some of the world's most famous paintings, from Girl with a Pearl Earring by Dutch master Johannes Vermeer to a self-portrait by Vincent Van Gogh, recently went viral on social media.

Students from Erlian Primary School in Shanghai's Yangpu district, imitate the paintings through cosplay and striking poses similar to the subjects.

Sometimes, the objects and subjects depicted in the paintings are replaced with whatever is available. In one instance, a fly swatter becomes a violin, while young siblings and pets are used as substitutes in other reenactments.

Photos of the reenactments are on display at the school.

The school believes that recreating the paintings helps give children a deeper appreciation of fine art.

"We hope children experience the beauty of such famous paintings in a more playful way, and through the whole process-from selecting a masterpiece to imitating it, preparing costumes and hairstyles and copying facial expressions-they have a better understanding and appreciation of classic and renowned art," said Chang Jie, a teacher at the school.

While art competitions help some children display their skills, the reenactments aim to involve all children in art appreciation, the school said.

First-grader Zhang Jiayue said she looked at more than 100 famous Chinese and Western paintings before deciding to imitate Lady with an Ermine by Italian Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci.

"I have a pet at home which is exactly the same as the one in the oil painting, and I love the idea of humans and animals living in harmony," Zhang said.

The 7-year-old said she carefully observed the facial expression of the woman in the painting and studied the history and culture of European nobility and their pet ermines, a type of weasel whose fur is often used in royal robes and cloaks.

"Like the lady in the painting, I also love and take care of my ermine every day. I hope people can protect all animals and nature," she said.

Fifth-grader Zhang Chen said he read a geat deal about Mexican artist Frida Kahlo's life experiences, following her ups and downs, before imitating one of her self-portraits. Kahlo, who was debilitated by a bus accident, painted many self-portraits with vivid colors in a naive style.

"My understanding of the self-portrait (of Kahlo) is that life is usually not easy, but there is always hope and beauty if we proceed with determination and calmness," he said.

Many netizens applauded the use of cosplay in school art education, saying it helped all children participate to better understand what constitutes a masterpiece.

Zhang Jiayue from Erlian Primary School in Shanghai imitates Lady with an Ermine. CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[High-tech crossing keeps schoolchildren safe]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530378.htm A high-tech pedestrian crossing equipped with flashing lights, audio warnings and the ability to video traffic offenders was recently put into use for the first time in Bishan district, Chongqing.

In addition to the safety alert, its facial recognition system can identify traffic violators, such as jaywalkers and drivers who fail to yield for pedestrians.

The crosswalk is installed at a busy road in front of a gate at Bishan Middle School, to try to ensure students' safety when they cross the road after school.

The zebra crossing area has light strips and when people walk across the street, they flash to alert approaching drivers to be cautious.

At the same time, display screens on either side of the crosswalk broadcast a reminder to pedestrians to only cross the street when the light is green.

"This smart crosswalk can use facial recognition technology to catch those jaywalkers and make their behavior public," said Jiang Fei, a traffic officer in Bishan.

"It can also record the license plate numbers of the vehicles that don't yield to the pedestrians and put them into the traffic management system."

He said that the lighting system was especially useful in the evenings and on rainy and foggy days.

Rong Sheng, from the school's safety department, said that students felt safer after the installation of the smart crosswalk.

"In the past, our safety guards had to stand in the middle of the road after school to stop the cars and let the students cross," he said.

"But sometimes, it was still dangerous for the students to cross the busy road."

The school filed a report with local education authorities to address the safety issues.

Bishan traffic police decided to put a smart crosswalk in front of the school. If it works well, similar technology will be used at other busy intersections, they said.

Pedestrians use the crosswalk equipped with flashing lights in Chongqing's Bishan district. CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Obesity found to be a major risk factor for diabetes among Chinese]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530371.htm Doctors have found that obesity is a bigger risk factor for diabetes among Chinese people than the insufficient secretion of insulin, which the medical community long considered the prime cause of the disease in Asia.

The finding, by a team of researchers from a number of Chinese medical centers, changed the stereotypical view that diabetes in China, a country with a high rate of the disease, was only related to the insufficient secretion of insulin, a common congenital deficiency in Asia, doctors said.

It provided an important health reminder that weight control can reduce the prevalence of diabetes, they said.

Obesity can lead to insulin resistance, the culprit for most diabetes cases in countries such as the United States and Germany where the intake of high-calorie food is common and the proportion of the population that is overweight is relatively high, experts explained.

Insulin resistance happens when cells in the human body do not respond properly to the hormone insulin, which allows cells to take in glucose to be used as fuel, and glucose is more likely to build up in blood, leading to high blood sugar levels.

Statistics show the obesity rate among adults in the US rose from 30.5 percent in 1999 to 37.7 percent in 2014, while the incidence rate of diabetes among US adults rose from 10.3 percent in 2003 to 13.2 percent in 2014.

In comparison, the obesity rate among adults in Japan has remained at around 3.5 percent, and the incidence of diabetes in that country has been stable at around 8 percent.

The research, led by Ruijin Hospital Affiliated with the Shanghai Jiao Tong University's School of Medicine, showed that the high prevalence of diabetes in China comes from a combination of the main risk factors in the US and Japan.

"A rising trend of fast food intake among Chinese people has led to a higher obesity rate," said Wang Weiqing, a leading researcher on the team.

The team's research found that 24.4 percent of patients had diabetes due to insulin resistance, 12.4 percent had the disease because of the insufficient secretion of insulin, and the rest were diabetic due to a combination of the two factors.

A paper about their research since 2010 was published on the website of the medical journal The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology on Tuesday.

The prevalence of diabetes in China has increased dramatically over the past four decades. It soared from 0.67 percent among adults in 1980 to 10.9 percent in 2013, official data showed, with the number of patients reaching 116 million.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Briefly]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530369.htm CHONGQING

Man jumps to death, kills two pedestrians

A 31-year-old man surnamed Li jumped to his death from a flat on the 30th floor of a building in Chongqing on Tuesday night, killing two female teenagers walking beneath him. The police bureau in Shapingba district, where the incident occurred, said the two pedestrians, aged 15 and 17, were high school students from the city's Qijiang district who were in the city center to take an entrance examination for students hoping to major in art at Chongqing University. The man was from Wuhan, Hubei province.

INNER MONGOLIA

North China pasture hit by snowstorm

Ten days of continuous snowfall have left 2.8 million hectares of grassland in Inner Mongolia autonomous region buried under deep snow, affecting herdsmen and their livestock. Bayannuur's agriculture and animal husbandry bureau said on Wednesday it has received reports that the snowstorm has left 1,244 livestock dead, and caused direct economic losses of 40.36 million yuan ($5.7 million) to herdsmen. The city government has sent rescue teams to help farmers and herdsmen.

NINGXIA

Region to open first high-speed railway

Ningxia Hui autonomous region will open its first high-speed railway on Sunday, according to local authorities. The railway opening means all Chinese mainland provincial-level areas except for Tibet autonomous region will offer high-speed rail services. The 212-kilometer line will link Yinchuan, the regional capital, with Wuzhong and Zhongwei, with trains traveling at a maximum speed of 250 kilometers per hour.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Special penalty tied to prostitution could be abolished]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530357.htm Chinese lawmakers held panel discussions on Tuesday morning to deliberate on a draft resolution to abolish the "custody and education" system, a penalty reserved for breaches of law related to prostitution.

The draft resolution was submitted to the ongoing bimonthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

Members of the committee and others who attended the discussion agreed that as China's law-based governance keeps advancing, the legal system has replaced the function of the "custody and education" system.

Abolishing the "custody and education" system in a timely manner was in line with current developments and social reality, the lawmakers said, noting that it would be good for the protection of human rights, as well as being an inevitable requirement to promote law-based governance.

They suggested that related departments and offices should continue to investigate and handle violations related to prostitution and work on prevention and control of sexually transmitted diseases.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Tibetan 'wild man' scales new heights]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530354.htm XINING-Once again, Sa Karma came down from the mountains alone, scorched by the sun and in need of a shave and haircut.

If it wasn't for his enormous backpack, the wild-looking man would be unrecognizable to his fellow villagers.

Sa Karma has no fixed abode. The 29-year-old Tibetan herdsman is a wanderer, a native of Nangqian county where the Lancang River has its sources in Qinghai province.

For nine years, he has been trekking the streams that flow into the Lancang, which is known as the Mekong outside China, finding 273 uncharted water sources in the snow-capped mountains and glaciers.

He has also hiked and climbed up 862 mountains near his hometown, many of which had never been conquered by man.

"Pushing the limits of the human body makes me hover like an eagle, affording me a wonderful view of the magnificent mountains and rivers," Sa Karma said.

His name, meaning "earth and stars" and given to him by his father, evokes a romantic and adventurous spirit. It seems like his years alone in the mountains were his destiny.

Studying traditional thangka painting has also provided Sa Karma with a different aesthetic perspective. Unlike others who focus on modifying portraits and Buddha images, he is fascinated by the flowers, trees and wildlife which usually make up the background in artworks.

Yet the scenes captured on canvas pale in comparison to what Sa Karma saw during an expedition in 2010.

In the five years leading up to his journey, the Chinese government pumped more than 2.8 billion yuan ($401 million) into the ecological restoration of the once-degraded Sanjiangyuan area. Known as China's "water tower", it is home to the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers.

Heightened senses

Sa Karma hit the road that summer without telling his friends and family. Three days later, he climbed the highest mountain near the village, a peak no one had previously scaled.

Standing on the sandstone peak at an elevation of over 5,800 meters, he saw three naturally formed lakes of clear turquoise, as well as a panoramic view of the source area of the Lancang River.

His eyes welled with tears, whether it was because of the biting wind or the stunning beauty that lay before him.

Since that day, Sa Karma has lived his life as a wanderer. He has turned his back on society and human relationships, accompanied only by his camera gear and 50-kilogram backpack, and he spends more than 300 days a year in the mountains.

But his romantic notions of life in the wild have not always been matched by the harsh reality. He was often surrounded by animals, especially at night, which kept him awake.

Over time, Sa Karma was able to recognize and imitate the different roars of snow leopards and howls of wolves. He was even able to elicit a response from the predators at times. "I'm not afraid of them now, because they know that I'm not an intruder," he said.

One winter, at an altitude of 6,000 meters above sea level, Sa Karma warmed himself with Tibetan dancing, out of fear his camera would be frozen solid.

He said he cherishes every beautiful thing he has seen. Over the past nine years, he has recorded 507 kinds of wild plants, 18 species of wild animals, including lynx and snow leopards, as well as 16 types of birds in his hometown.

The natural

He has memorized the names and properties of numerous wild plants based on what he learned from traditional Tibetan medicine lists, treating himself with wild herbs when he fell ill.

In 2017, Sa Karma decided to share what he saw, felt and learned by spending over 10,000 yuan on printing an illustrated handbook on ecological protection, which contains pictures of the landscape, plants, birds and wild animals he took in the mountains.

He also made a 4-square-meter sand sculpture that models his village and the surrounding landscape, with all the places he had been.

His hefty backpack is full at most times, stuffed with food supplies in readiness for his departure, or trash he has cleared away during his travels in the mountains.

One night in his home village, the clear mountain sky is hung with stars. Sa Karma felt the heartbeat of the earth, closed his eyes and spread his arms outward.

Unashamed of his wild appearance, he chanted episodes from the legendary epic of King Gesar, lauding Mother Nature and praying for her blessings. Gesar was an 11th century hero who fought evil and helped the weak, and whose exploits have been told by folk artists for centuries. "I'm the son of Sanjiangyuan, and the way I look is just a reconnection with nature," Sa Karma said.

An aerial view of a frozen lake in Qinghai province, which is home to the headwaters of the Yangtze, Yellow and Lancang rivers. ZHANG HONGXIANG/XINHUA

A flock of blue sheep wanders around the wilderness in Sanjiangyuan area, Qinghai. ZHANG LONG/XINHUA

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Ancient yoga provides exercise in prosperity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530348.htm Editor's note: This is the 10th in a series of stories about the Tibet autonomous region, focusing on the area's history, poverty alleviation measures and the cultural and business sectors.

Dressed in leggings, Tsering Palmo bent down, and twisted her body into a compact shape. Then, she hopped forward like a frog on a yoga mat in her studio, which overlooks a mosaic of diners and milk tea houses dotting the bustling streets of Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region.

Minutes later, she sat cross-legged in a Buddha-like posture and suddenly bounced up and down in a series of gravity-defying movements.

"These are the most typical moves in Tibet's native Shangshung yoga," said the 23-year-old, her eyes focused on her reflection in a mirror.

Measuring only a few square meters, the studio she runs with two partners in a three-story complex in the east of Lhasa offers a revolutionary view of yoga.

In China, mainstream yoga has long been known as a set of health-preserving practices imported from ancient India, and with a rapidly expanding global reach. It has impressed people with its instantly recognizable slow, gliding moves-as seen in movies, television commercials and brochures that advertise numerous studios hidden in residential communities and busy streets nationwide.

But its Tibetan relative, which features frequent displays of incredible strength, is barely known outside a limited number of hardcore fans. Even members of the Tibetan ethnic group, who traditionally take pride in their unique culture, are often unaware of it.

"I had never heard of it, nor had my friends, until I took it on as a career in June," said Tsering, whose lack of knowledge does not reflect the time she spent living and studying in Tibet and East China.

The Shangshung culture is widely believed to have laid the foundations for Tibetan culture in the pre-Buddhist era.

Practitioners of its style of yoga are required to foster a range of physical and mental habits, including conscious control of everyday speech and communication, emotions and sleeping postures, in addition to mastering up to six separate breathing techniques.

Tibetan yoga also has a strong astrological slant, and advocates the mystical "five elements" theory, which attempts to guide people's exercise by establishing connections between the movements of the celestial bodies and the functions of the human body.

Tsering and her partners have 15 students, hailing from several age and ethnic groups in Lhasa. Each pays 888 yuan ($127) for 13 sessions a month, with each lesson lasting about 90 minutes.

Occasionally, tourists seeking relief from the hustle and bustle of city life via a temporary stay in the regional capital will attend a couple of classes.

Incubator

Being relatively new to Tibetan yoga, Tsering and her colleagues try to hone their skills every day.

For the past few months, they have been studying the ancient art with Yadrang Yudruk Tsering, a recognized master of Tibetan yoga who acts as a counselor at the studio.

He is hired and paid by the Tibetan Medicine Mass Creation Zone, an incubator-like outfit that aims to foster businesses that will help preserve Tibet's time-tested traditional healing techniques.

The zone was established in May last year by Gonpo Dorje, a master of traditional Tibetan medicine who is also head of the Association for the Conservation of Tibetan Medicine in Nagqu city, and his friend Karma Lhundrup.

By providing funds and rent-free offices to college graduates and startups, and hiring counselors with medical and business expertise, the zone has managed to conserve a string of health-preserving practices that originated in traditional Tibetan medicine or culture. They include medicated baths, moxibustion and medicinal diets.

It has also helped college graduates from rural Tibet start micro-businesses, a move the central government has been promoting via a nationwide campaign to bolster the entrepreneurial spirit to sustain jobs and economic growth.

"Many college graduates in traditional Tibetan medicine come from the rural areas. In most cases, they lack the funds and experience to start a business using what they learned on campus," said Gonpo, who like many Tibetans only uses one part of his given name.

In Tsering Palmo's case, that business is Tibetan yoga, which dates back 3,800 years. However, despite being born and raised in rural Shigatse city, she never heard of yoga-Indian or Tibetan-as a child.

She regarded the gaokao-the national college entrance examination-as the most practical way to start a life away from the snowcapped plateau, so she quit vocational school after two years of nursing studies and enrolled at a high school.

In 2016, she was admitted to a college in the eastern province of Jiangsu to study law. Having combed through myriad student societies, she decided to join a yoga club, where she became captivated by the stress-relieving effects of traditional Indian yoga.

Her passion for the art gradually outgrew her academic interests, and by the time she graduated this year she had decided to find a job that could serve her new interest.

This summer, she returned to Lhasa to look for a job, but, to her dismay, she found few yoga studios. It was a sharp contrast to the situation in Jiangsu, one of China's most-active yoga markets.

In recent decades, Tibet has seen rapid urbanization. However, a growing number of new urban dwellers are struggling to adapt to fast-paced city lifestyles.

By the end of last year, Tibet's urban population had reached 1.07 million, almost four times the 287,000 recorded in 1980, according to regional government figures.

But the growth of studios devoted to yoga-a fashionable pastime intended to reduce the stress felt by office workers and help them lose weight-lagged in the region.

Figures from a 2017 industry report show that the region, which is home to more than 3 million Tibetans, had just one yoga studio, the lowest number among the 31 provinces and regions surveyed that year. By contrast, neighboring Qinghai province had 16, despite being last but one on the list.

The survey, conducted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Food and Drug Development and Supervision Center, found that the number of studios in Guangdong province surpassed 1,300, the most that year, followed by Shandong (1,067) and Jiangsu provinces (922).

Encounter

While visiting a job fair, Tsering Palmo was delighted to see that Gonpo's company was recruiting trainers for a program aimed at promoting Shangshung yoga.

At the time, she had no idea what the practice involved, and assumed that it was a branch of mainstream yoga.

The company dangled tempting benefits in front of applicants, promising 50,000 yuan to start a Shangshung studio and a rent-free, well-furnished space that can be used as a classroom.

Tsering Palmo was told that there would be plenty of opportunities to talk with healthcare experts-most of whom were skilled in traditional Tibetan medicine-and counselors, who could offer guidance to young entrepreneurs regarding the selection of business models. Moreover, she would be able to quit the program when she no longer needed its support.

She and many other young entrepreneurs quickly reaped the benefits.

Penpa, a Tibetan medicine graduate in Nyingchi who joined the company this year, said the arrangement enabled him to improve quickly in terms of clinical practice and taught him to tap his academic expertise for a financial payback.

With the help of counselors, the 25-year-old from a farming and herding family in rural Nyingchi designed a sachet containing a dozen fragrant herbs that produce a nerve-soothing aroma. Penpa discovered the recipe in classic Tibetan medicine literature.

The sachets, decorated with traditional patterns and characters representing good luck and happiness, are intended to be hung in cars or bedrooms.

"Many traditional medicine graduates help experienced practitioners. They don't need to think too much, because the experts dictate the medicines they should prescribe," he said.

In addition to acquiring the skills of the rapidly disappearing Shangshung practice, Tsering Palmo quickly discovered that her unplanned, partially understood career choice enabled her to delve into a realm that embodies the classic Tibetan values and worldview, but with great financial prospects.

"Indian and Tibetan yoga have their respective features," she said. "But, as an ethnic Tibetan, I see greater significance in pursuing in-depth study of our own style of yoga."

She said her confidence comes from her rising income and people's greater awareness of health, plus a tourism boom in Tibet.

Figures from the regional government show that in the first half of the year, per capita disposable income in Tibet reached 7,792 yuan, a 12.7 percent rise year-on-year and 3.9 percentage points higher than the national average.

Liang Min, 35, who has run a noodle restaurant opposite the Hospital of Tibetan Medicine in Lhasa for two years, said she sees countless herders from rural Shigatse and Nagqu heading to the building to access healthcare, usually ahead of Tibetan New Year.

"After a soothing medicated bath, they come to my place for a bowl of noodles, and stay in a nearby hotel until the celebrations are concluded," she said.

 

Tsering Palmo practices Tibet's native Shangshung yoga at her studio in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region, this month. LI LEI/CHINA DAILY

 

 

College students promote Tibetan medicine to high school pupils in Lhasa in April. ZHANG RUFENG/XINHUA

 

 

Gonpo Dorje (center) discusses a book about traditional Tibetan medicine with university graduates. LI LEI/CHINA DAILY

 

 

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2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Govt continues pouring funds into pollution fight]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530347.htm China has continued to increase funding to treat pollution and restore nature reserves over the past three years, according to a report submitted to the ongoing bimonthly session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee for review on Wednesday.

Next year, the government will prioritize financial aid to combat air pollution, Finance Minister Liu Kun said in the report.

The report said governments at all levels spent 2.5 trillion yuan ($350 billion) on ecological and environmental protection from 2016 to 2018, with spending increasing by an average of 14.8 percent a year during that period. As a proportion of the nation's total fiscal expenditure, it rose 0.5 percentage points to 4.2 percent.

The central government's contribution accounted for nearly half of that funding, and it has given more money on forestation and cleaning the country's air than on any other environmental issues, the report said.

From 2016 to the end of 2018, the central government spent 264 billion yuan on forest and wetland restoration and desertification control. As a result, the forest coverage rate nationwide rose from 22 percent in 2016 to 23 percent last year.

About 200 billion yuan of the central government's money went toward air pollution control and treatment, of which more than half was used to aid new energy car companies. In response, 338 cities measured last year, had, on average, 79 percent of days with good air quality, a 1.3 percentage point increase year-on-year.

Liu said the central government had stepped up its efforts to ensure money was spent where it mattered most.

"We give more financial support to those performing well in treating pollution," he said. "Local authorities who received money from the central government but did not achieve any results are held accountable."

Liu said the ministry plans to save money for more urgent environmental problems.

Combating air pollution will be the top priority in areas such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster and its vicinity as well as the Yangtze River basin. Funding for the protection of water sources for major rivers and heavy metal pollution treatment will also be prioritized.

However, Liu added that the government should not always play the main role in investing in ecology and the environment. Enterprises should also take responsibility, he said.

"In the future, we will adhere to the principles of 'who pollutes, treats' and 'who destroys, restores'," he said. "Whoever pollutes or damages the environment will be assessed for their responsibility and need to compensate accordingly."

Meanwhile, the central government will provide more social capital to help promote green development.

A national green development fund will be established as a joint effort between the government, social organizations and enterprises, the report said.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Judges join livestreaming to auction seized goods]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530336.htm HANGZHOU-Judges have joined celebrities and social influencers in using online shopping platforms to livestream auctions of seized goods.

In the middle of this month, two judges from Ningbo Intermediate People's Court auctioned a sea-view mansion, a parking lot, mobile phone numbers and other assets seized in legal cases. They received more than 8,000 views in an hour.

"I did not expect the livestream to be so successful, although we had prepared for half a month," said Jin Shou, one of the judges.

The turnover of the livestreaming auction exceeded 100 million yuan ($14.28 million) after the judges introduced the items to the judicial auction.

"It is adorable to see the judges doing the livestream compared to how serious they must look in court," said a netizen using the name "Ocean's miracle".

Almost all Chinese courts have registered on the judicial sales platform of Taobao, the shopping site of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, since the service was launched in 2012. The courts have auctioned assets ranging from diamonds, cars, land use and Boeing 747s to company shares.

Online auctions can help save time and service fees for bidders and at the same time increase transparency and prevent under-the-table deals in legal affairs, according to the Suzhou Industrial Park People's Court in Jiangsu province.

A total of 566,000 items have been auctioned, with the turnover reaching about 1.3 trillion yuan on the Taobao judicial sales platform, where 3.43 million buyers have registered, according to the platform.

More people can participate in judicial auctions through the internet, especially livestreaming platforms, which helps raise the success rate of transactions and the premium rate, Jin said.

"We have also introduced the work of courts and the rules of judicial auctions to the public through the platforms," Jin added.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Capital and counseling are essential]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530334.htm I was born in Nagqu city into a family known for practicing traditional Tibetan medicine for generations. At age 7, I was hand-picked by my uncle to become his apprentice, kicking off my decadeslong journey as a practitioner.

In 1997, I enrolled at a local school of Tibetan medicine. Later, I studied Chinese literature at Minzu University of China in Beijing and then pursued advanced medical training at the University of Tibetan Medicine in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region.

I wanted to start a busi