版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[Chinese ahead in world's top wealth bracket]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/24/content_37518090.htm

With 100 million among richest 10%, country overtakes the US, survey finds

For the first time, there are more people from China than the United States in the top 10 percent of holders of global wealth, according to a survey from Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse.

In its annual Global Wealth Report, Credit Suisse says there are 100 million Chinese in the top tenth, versus 99 million people from the US.

The authors attributed the fact to the "rapid transformation of China from an emerging nation in transition to a fully fledged market economy".

Using Credit Suisse's calculations, an individual with net assets worth $109,430 or more makes it into the top 10 percent of global wealth holders. People need assets of $7,087 or more to make it into the top half.

To determine wealth, researchers looked at both financial and nonfinancial assets including property, minus debt. When assessing China, the authors used data that included farmland as a key household asset.

The survey also found that China now has 4.4 million millionaires, an increase of 158,000 from 2018.

Credit Suisse analysts said that during the past decade, emerging markets, including China, have become increasingly important to the world economy and account for two-thirds of real wealth gains since 2008, or double the contribution of the North American region.

"With almost two decades of data at our disposal, we can see two distinct phases of wealth growth," said economist Anthony Shorrocks, who co-authored the report. "The century began with a golden age of robust and inclusive wealth creation. But wealth growth collapsed during the financial crisis and growth never recovered to the level experienced earlier. There was a seismic change at the time of the financial crisis, when China and other emerging market economies took over as the engine of wealth creation."

Credit Suisse found that, since mid-2018, China has contributed $1.9 trillion to global wealth growth, the second-most of any country or region, behind the US($3.8 trillion) and ahead of Europe ($1.1 trillion).

"China has had a difficult year, having been slapped with tariffs by the United States," the report said. "Trade conditions and debt levels are causing concern, but signs for the coming years are otherwise fairly positive."

China lies in second place behind the US and ahead of Japan in terms of total household wealth, according to Credit Suisse.

Wealth in the US rose for an 11th consecutive year, according to the report, but the authors warned of challenges ahead, including the protracted trade war with China, tension in the Middle East, stock market volatility, and mounting government debt.

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2019-10-24 07:32:31
<![CDATA[Blockbuster Louvre show honors da Vinci]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/24/content_37518089.htm PARIS - A blockbuster retrospective of Leonardo da Vinci's works will open on Thursday at the Louvre museum to mark 500 years since the death of the Renaissance master in the historic town of Amboise, France.

Nearly 200,000 people have already reserved their place in line for the exhibition, the biggest one organized to showcase the Tuscan polymath's indelible contributions to humanity - with an emphasis on his painting.

A decade in the planning, the show, simply titled Leonardo da Vinci, groups 162 works, including 24 drawings loaned by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain from the Royal Collection.

The British Museum, the Hermitage of St. Petersburg and the Vatican have also contributed, as well as, of course, Italy - after a sometimes acrimonious tug-of-war between Rome and Paris over the loans.

The exhibition in the Hall Napoleon features 11 of the fewer than 20 paintings definitively attributed to the Renaissance master, as well as drawings, manuscripts, sculptures and other objets d'art.

The show walks the visitor through the timeline of the master's peripatetic life under the tutelage of dukes, princes and kings, from Florence to Milan, Venice and Rome, and finally France, where he spent the last three years of his life.

Two no-shows

Two works are missing from the show, starting with Mona Lisa.

Organizers decided the world's most famous painting should remain in the Louvre's Salle des Etats - its normal home - to help avoid overcrowding.

As it is, the masterpiece attracts nearly 30,000 people a day.

Mona Lisa's ineffable smile will however beguile visitors in a virtual reality experience at the end of the show, which runs until Feb 24.

The other notable no-show is Salvator Mundi, the work that became the most expensive painting sold when it fetched $450 million at a Christie's auction in 2017.

Mystery now surrounds the painting - whose authenticity is disputed by some experts - as it has not been seen in public ever since the stunning sale.

Officially, it was to be displayed at the Louvre Abu Dhabi but an unveiling set for September 2018 was inexplicably postponed. The Louvre said the museum's request to borrow the work is still pending.

Iconic Vitruvian Man

The final act in the row between Paris and Rome over Italy's contributions to the show came with a last-minute legal effort to halt the loan of the iconic Vitruvian Man drawing.

Last week an Italian court rejected a bid by an association advocating for the protection of Italy's heritage - Italia Nostra (Our Italy) - to block the loan of the work dating from the late 15th century, arguing that it was too fragile to travel.

A spat over Italy's contributions to the Louvre show erupted late last year when the new populist rulers in Rome took issue with the previous government's agreement with Paris.

Lucia Borgonzoni, the number two in Italy's Culture Ministry and a member of the anti-immigration League party, argued that the accord was lopsided in favor of France.

At the height of the row, it appeared that Italy would cancel the accord altogether. It was finally resolved with Paris pledging to loan several Raphaels to Rome next year, the quincentenary of that artist's death.

Vitruvian Man - which Italian media say is insured for at least one billion euros - joined the Louvre show with just days to spare before the opening. It will stay only eight weeks rather than the full four months.

The drawing, kept in a climate-controlled vault in the Accademia Gallery in Venice, is rarely displayed to the public.

The exhibition was curated by the Louvre's Vincent Delieuvin and Louis Frank, the heads of the museum's painting and graphic arts departments. It includes infrared reflectographs that offer an insight into the master painter's techniques.

Agence France-presse

 

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is displayed at the Louvre museum on Sunday in Paris. The museum will unveil an exhibition of works by da Vinci on Thursday.Rafael Yaghobzadeh/ap

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2019-10-24 07:32:31
<![CDATA[Programmers' festival aims to boost Xi'an's reputation as tech hub]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/24/content_37518088.htm The third Global Programmers' Festival is kicking off today in Xi'an, capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi province.

Its goal is to enlighten innovative thinking and promote the programmer spirit of "enthusiasm, perseverance and struggle", while contributing to the city's growth as "China's Software City", according to the local government.

With a theme of "Connecting the Digits, Coding the Future", the two-day event includes a main forum held at its permanent venue Xi'an High-tech International Convention Center, a roundtable forum, a project signing ceremony, seven parallel forums, a carnival and an exhibition of scientific and technological innovations from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The project-signing ceremony attracts diverse projects which have distinct industrial features and broad market prospects.

The projects are of great significance to promoting the development of digital economy of Xi'an and its high-tech zones, officials said.

These projects come from companies and universities such as Shengdou Electronic and Information Technology, Xi'an Jiaotong University and Chang'an University.

The CAS exhibition, another highlight of the event, lasts through Oct 31.

It will focus mainly on the academy's major breakthroughs and achievements made since 2018. Exhibits are divided into different sectors, including health, agroecology, energy, manufacturing and large science facilities.

The Xi'an branch of CAS will also display the local advanced innovations and applications in sectors of photonic information and technology, global environment, and plants, animals and microorganisms.

Top scientists, academicians and corporate leaders from around the world gather during this major event to explore and forecast the future of the software industry.

The event is chaired by famous hostess Yang Lan and attracts big names including Ni Guangnan, an academician from the Chinese Academy of Engineering; Arieh Warshel, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in chemistry; Adi Shamir, a Turing Award recipient; Li Deyi, an artificial intelligence expert and academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering; and Chen Yuhong, chairman and CEO of Chinasoft International, a leading information technology and software service provider headquartered in Hong Kong and Beijing.

The festival also aims to serve as a multi-level communication channel for talented people of information technology, as well as to accelerate the construction of a digital Silk Road and to boost cooperation and exchanges between Xi'an and cities involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, event organizers said.

In honor of programmers' outstanding contributions to China's software industry and social development, the festival puts them under the spotlight by unveiling a list of the top 10 programmers in Xi'an and leading exponents in China.

The provincial capital has an adequate supply of human resources in the software industry, with about 200,000 programmers working at the city's software park, a core area of the Xi'an Hi-tech Industries Development Zone.

The park is home to about 90 percent of the city's companies in the sector.

Ma Kun, founder of Clover Sec, a network security solutions provider based at the park, said network security is an emerging sector in China and so far the country has not formed a related educational system.

"Xi'an has 200,000 software industry practitioners, but less then 1,000 work in the network security sector," Ma said.

The company has resorted to media publicity, competition and cooperation with universities to enlarge the network security talent pool. It has so far maintained cooperation with internet companies including Ant Financial, Baidu and Tencent.

"We will reach cooperative agreements with more internet companies in the future, and let more people see the power of Xi'an companies," Ma said.

Last year, Ma participated in the second session of the programmers' festival as a guest, saying he was deeply impressed by its various activities covering different topics such as defining the world with software and pragmatic innovation in the IT industry.

"I hope this year's event continues to bring a whole new experience to programmers in terms of vision, body and mind, and makes them feel respected," he said.

 

Representatives from China and abroad attend last year's Global Programmers' Festival in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.Photos Provided To China Daily

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2019-10-24 07:32:31
<![CDATA[Attenborough happy to share green script]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/23/content_37517784.htm Veteran British wildlife filmmaker and television presenter David Attenborough has told China Daily he welcomes the international environmental initiative inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg - and he takes heart from the fact that the younger generation are holding their elders to account over the climate change crisis.

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Young people's defiant spirit inspires broadcast legend in battle for planet

Veteran British wildlife filmmaker and television presenter David Attenborough has told China Daily he welcomes the international environmental initiative inspired by Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg - and he takes heart from the fact that the younger generation are holding their elders to account over the climate change crisis.

In an exclusive interview to coincide with the launch of his latest series Seven Worlds One Planet, which is coproduced with CCTV9 and Tencent Penguin Pictures and will be available to viewers in China through Tencent Video, the 93-year-old said the planet faces serious environmental dangers, but the worldwide growth in awareness of the issues was a cause for optimism.

"I think it's a very good thing that it's happened," he said. "Greta Thunberg is right. At the age of 16 you can't pretend you have the knowledge and science of a lifetime but you can see things very clearly, and young people do see things very clearly. It's their future so they have a better right to a powerful opinion.

"The fact she has invited kids from her age group to say'it matters to us because it is us, and you (older people) are the ones who ruined it, so you should take notice' - I welcome that."

Seven Worlds One Planet devotes one episode to each continent. It highlights the continents' distinct identities and environments, while also showing how they all play their part in the global story. Even by the standards set by Attenborough and the BBC Natural History Unit's previous output, it is something of an epic work.

More than 1,500 people worked on the four-year project, which saw 92 shoots take place in 41 countries, with more than 2,200 hours of material shot.

The Asia episode looks likely to be one of the most popular, featuring rare footage of China's golden snubnosed snow monkey, an animal Attenborough had long wanted to see, and which is sure to become one of the iconic images of the series.

While Attenborough has been a fixture in the lives of television viewers in the United Kingdom for decades, traveling all over the globe in pursuit of nature's most fascinating sights and commenting on them with his distinctive voice and delivery, the streaming era has seen his audience reach previously unimagined size.

In 2017, it was reported by The Sunday Times newspaper that demand for online streaming of an episode of his series Blue Planet II was so heavy in China that it drew around 80 million viewers and temporarily slowed down the country's internet.

Attenborough now confines his involvement to writing and voicing the script, and says that when broadcasting to such a diverse audience, the key thing is to keep it simple.

"These days my contribution is the words, and the fewer the better," he said. "Just keep it simple. You don't need to use adjectives, people can see things for themselves. The more straightforward it is, the more effective it is."

The full effectiveness of the combination of carefully chosen words and stunningly evocative pictures was made apparent by the impact of Blue Planet II's coverage of the issue of plastic pollution, which established the subject as a major international talking point.

"In the past I've worked on things where a couple of months later, something had an impact on a smaller group of people, but this was within weeks and at a national and international level," said Jonny Keeling, executive producer of Seven Worlds, One Planet and a long-term member of the BBC's Bristolbased Natural History Unit.

Such was its impact on the audience in China that when then-British prime minister Theresa May met Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2018, she presented him with a DVD boxed set of the series signed by Attenborough. His message was being heard at the very highest level.

Attenborough admitted to having been stunned by the reception that episode received. "It had an impact greater than anything else I've ever known, but I've been saying that sort of thing for 30 or 40 years but nobody took a blind bit of notice before," he said.

After innumerable international trips alerting millions of viewers across the generations and continents to the wonders and frailties of the natural world, and inspiring them to appreciate it, value it and protect it, Attenborough shows no sign of slowing down or slackening the pace of his work.

His next two series after Seven Worlds One Planet, called Extinction: The Facts and Life in Colour, are already lined up. And given his enthusiasm for the fighting spirit of the young, it was fitting that at a preview screening of Seven Worlds One Planet, a five-year-old boy in the audience asked him what he could do to save the planet.

"You can do more and more and more the longer you live," said Attenborough.

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2019-10-23 08:05:00
<![CDATA[$260m deal reached to avert federal trial on opioid crisis]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/23/content_37517783.htm Three major US drug distributors and a drug manufacturer reached a $260 million settlement on Monday to avoid a trial in federal court seeking to affix blame for stoking the opioid crisis in two Ohio counties.

Drug distributors McKesson, Cardinal Health and Amerisource-Bergen agreed to pay the counties a total of $215 million. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, an Israel-based drugmaker, agreed to pay $20 million over the next two years and donate addiction-treatment drugs valued at $25 million.

Cuyahoga and Summit counties, which include the cities of Cleveland and Akron, sought to recover costs incurred during the opioid epidemic, including medical care, emergency services and foster care for children born to addicted parents.

Overdose deaths have hit Ohio hard. Federal data for 2017 alone ranked the state second in the nation for opioid overdose deaths, with 4,293 reported, a rate of 39 per 100,000 people compared with the national rate of 14.6 overdose deaths per 100,000. Nationwide, about 400,000 people have died from overdoses of legal and illegal opioids since 1999, US government statistics show.

"The proposed settlement will make significant progress to abate the epidemic by providing resources for and applying funds directly to necessary opioid-recovering programs," government attorneys said in a joint statement.

The settlement was reached in US District Court in Cleveland as opening statements in the first federal trial were scheduled to begin. The trial was expected to last two months and would have been decided by a jury drawn from citizens in the area.

Walgreens Boots Alliance, a fifth defendant in the case, didn't participate in the settlement. A trial to hear the evidence against the company was postponed.

Monday's deal with the drug distributors adds to prior settlements valued at about $66.4 million that Cuyahoga and Summit counties reached with drugmakers Mallinckrodt, Endo International, Johnson & Johnson, and Allergan.

The defendants denied any wrongdoing. The distribution companies countered that they distributed a legal product with federally approved warning labels, followed federal regulations and monitored suspicious orders, pretrial filings show.

Many viewed the trial as a bellwether case that could establish the outline for settlement of about 2,500 pending lawsuits against other opioid drug manufacturers and distributors.

The lawsuits filed by states, cities, counties and Native American tribes allege the pharmaceutical companies aggressively sold opioid painkillers without adequately warning doctors and patients of potential risks of addiction and death by overdose. The plaintiffs claim that the actions of the distributors and drugmakers allowed millions of pills to flood communities throughout the United States.

In August, Johnson & Johnson lost at trial in Oklahoma, where a judge ordered the company to pay $572 million for its part in the state's opioid crisis.

Purdue Pharma, maker of Oxy-Contin, and the company's owners, the Sackler family, have reached a tentative agreement with 23 states and thousands of local governments to settle pending lawsuits. The proposed deal would cost the company and its billionaire owners between $10 billion and $12 billion.

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2019-10-23 08:05:00
<![CDATA[Study finding toxins in baby food questioned]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/23/content_37517782.htm

A study that found 95 percent of baby food sold in the United States contains traces of heavy metals that could harm infants' brain development has come under fire from organic products and rice trade groups.

The research by Healthy Babies Bright Futures, or HBBF, an alliance of scientists and child safety advocates, tested 168 products from 61 brands for arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury.

It found that 95 percent of the products contained lead, 73 percent contained arsenic, 32 percent contained cadmium and 32 percent contained mercury. At least 25 percent of all the baby food tested from major retailers contained all four, according to the study.

Charlotte Brody, a registered nurse and national director of the HBBF, said that if a baby food or snack contained rice, it tended to test positive for toxins.

Michael Klein, a spokesman for USA Rice, a global advocate for the US rice industry, told China Daily: "The study is pretty deeply flawed. It's not using peer review stuff, and it tries to do a link between IQ and exposure to chemicals, which is something that has never been done.

"They rely on some study out of Bangladesh where arsenic levels are 400 times what they are in the US. They make a lot of leaps, and while the issue is something we don't deny and take seriously, this is an alarmist approach to it."

Heavy metals are found in soil and water. Crops like vegetables and rice absorb them as they grow.

HBBF's tests revealed that four out of seven infant rice cereals contained levels of arsenic that exceed the US Food and Drug Administration's guidance of 100 parts per billion. For this reason, HBBF advised parents to limit rice-based foods from their babies' diets.

Klein hit back: "Rice is the least allergenic of the grains. It's gluten free. It's GMO free, so it's one of the reasons it's frequently recommended as baby's first food because there is less likelihood they'll have allergic reactions."

'Top priority'

The Organic Trade Association also played down the results of the study. It told China Daily in a statement: "Providing consumers the safest and cleanest foods is the top priority of every organic farmer and processor, and the organic industry takes the issue of heavy metals in baby foods - and in any food - very seriously.

The HBBF report said the problem of carcinogens in baby food is decades old. It criticized the US Federal Drug Administration, or FDA, for having "no enforceable federal safety limit" for heavy metals that are found in infant food and called on them to enact tougher measures.

A spokesperson for the FDA told China Daily in a statement: "Our work includes actively monitoring levels of arsenic, lead and other elements, which occur naturally in some foods, and working to identify the most effective and feasible ways to reduce exposure to these elements from food. While we have seen progress in this area, more work can be done to further decrease exposures to these elements from foods."

US Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, called on the FDA to "investigate this new report and finally get a move on something that they said they'd do two-and-a-half years ago, which is study ... toxicity of metals in baby food and take preventive action".

A representative for Nestle, the parent company of Gerber, the leading seller of baby food in the US, told Fox News that it regularly tests its food, saying: "Given their natural occurrence in our soil and water, many food safety and agricultural experts suggest it's not feasible to achieve a zero level of these elements."

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2019-10-23 08:05:00
<![CDATA[US judge upholds vaping ban amid flaws]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/23/content_37517781.htm

A judge in Massachusetts ruled on Monday that the state's temporary ban on sales of vaping products can remain in place, but said there are legal flaws in the ban that must be addressed.

Owners of vape shops fought the ban, saying they will lose significant business, and some were forced to close.

Governor Charlie Baker announced the ban in September, declaring a public health emergency and ordering a four-month halt on sales of all vaping products.

There have been 29 cases of people suffering lung illnesses linked to vaping in the state, and one death. With the Massachusetts figures, the number of deaths as of Oct 17 in the United States stood at 33, up from 26 the previous week, and 1,479 suffered lung illnesses, an increase from 1,299, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

In announcing the latest increase in deaths and illnesses, the CDC reiterated that products containing tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, are a main culprit and should be avoided.

About 78 percent of patients say they used vaping products containing THC, according to the CDC, and nearly one-third of patients reported using only THC products.

THC-containing products bought off the street or obtained from friends, family and illegal dealers are particularly dangerous, the federal health agency said.

Last year, San Francisco-based Juul Labs Inc - the biggest marketer of the battery-powered vaporizers called e-cigarettes - stopped selling popular fruit-flavored nicotine cartridges in retail stores, but continued to sell them on its age-restricted website.

On Oct 17, Juul said that it was temporarily stopping online sales of the fruit-flavored e-cigarettes until the US Food and Drug Administration reviews vaping devices and flavored cartridges. But it will continue to sell menthol and mint nicotine cartridges online and in retail stores.

Among high school students who vape, mint and menthol were the second-most popular flavors behind fruit, according to preliminary data from the CDC's 2019 National Youth Tobacco Survey.

Wells Fargo analysts estimated that flavored e-cigarettes, including mint and menthol, represented about 80 percent of Juul's roughly $3.3 billion in sales over the past year.

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2019-10-23 08:05:00
<![CDATA[Utah building stronger ties with China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/22/content_37517543.htm Many Utah business leaders and legislators are strong advocates for a close relationship with China, so much so that US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, during a visit to the state in July, commented that other states would benefit by following Utah's example.

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State Senator Anderegg confident of taking relationship to a higher level

Many Utah business leaders and legislators are strong advocates for a close relationship with China, so much so that US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, during a visit to the state in July, commented that other states would benefit by following Utah's example.

One of Utah's legislators with close ties to China is state senator Jacob Anderegg, who also has strong personal ties with China.

In 2005, Anderegg spent time at two universities in China as part of his master's degree program.

Speaking about his time in China, he said: "I was amazed how normal it was. The Chinese are very loving, very kind and were very gracious to us. They are very smart and inquisitive, too. I told my wife then that I felt like we are in the United States."

In Shanghai, Anderegg and his wife visited an elementary school where some students were from the neighboring orphanage.

"The 5-year-old kids put on performances for us. We also did a service project to improve the playground. I started to play with some of the kids and had fun," Anderegg said.

The Republican senator said he took away something else from that experience. "It was a strong feeling I had; I felt something that said: 'You have children here.' Later, I found my wife felt the same thing separately," he said.

As a result, in 2011, the Andereggs returned to China and adopted a 23-month-old girl from Zhengzhou, Henan province. Two years later in 2013, they adopted a 2-year-old girl from Zhoukou, also in Henan province.

Explaining why they adopted two children from China, he said: "We did enough research to know that if you adopt from a different culture, it's really beneficial that someone else in the family looks like them, experiences a lot of the same things they experience," Anderegg said. "If you adopt only one, their transition into teenage years can be very hard. They (the two girls) are like sisters now, and I think they will be a great comfort to each other."

Anderegg has three biological children and calls his family a "part-Chinese family". "They are our daughters for sure, but they are daughters of China, too. When they get a little older, I will take them to tour and get to know China."

In 2012, Anderegg was elected to the Utah House of Representatives. And in 2014, he won a seat in the state Senate. As a member of Utah legislators' International Trade Relations Committee, his involvement with China extended into his official capacity, and he sought to strengthen the state's ties with China.

In 2017, Anderegg and scores of Utah officials visited China to promote the bilateral relationship.

"We were in Liaoning province. And I could not believe the number of power plants built there. We counted 17 new power plants. It's a testament to me that this huge middle class of China is coming of age, from now to the next 20-30 years. Where is the world economy to go? It will not be US dominated," said Anderegg.

Between 2005 and 2017, China's modes of transportation were transformed. "In 2005, most people had bicycles; in 2017, most people had cars. I could not believe the traffic," he said, pointing to another indicator of China's economic growth.

Utah has many links with China as it is one of the top import sources and export destinations for the state.

According to Anderegg, Utah sells about 40,000 tons of hay to China every day.

In addition, Hong Kong-based shipping carrier Orient Overseas Container Line - one of the world's largest shipping companies - recently opened an office in South Jordan near Salt Lake City.

"China played a key role in Utah's railway construction; 30 percent of the labor force for the railway came from China. And now Utah is trying to set up an inland port and trying to be a global hub for trade. And China again will play a key role," he said.

More prominent, however, is Utah's educational and cultural exchanges with China, Anderegg said. Almost every major university in Utah has 3,000 to 4,000 Chinese students. And the state has the most and best dual-language immersion programs in the country, and Chinese immersion students accounted for more than half of that.

Anderegg is also proud of Utah's dual-language programs. "Within the next five to 10 years, when these students are headed to college and graduating, our ability to have an even closer relationship with China will be unparalleled because we have Chinese-language capability on a very technical level. We are preparing our next generation to have the ability to have a much stronger relationship with China and other countries," he said.

Anderegg said the relationships at the subgovernmental level are vital. "Those bridges and partnerships which we build between Utah and China, with people's congresses and the provincial governments, are vital for the long-term interests of Utah. And they will ultimately benefit the country as well," Anderegg said.

Speaking about the trade friction between the US and China, Anderegg said that it makes no sense to cut trade ties with China. "I don't think either China or the US is really served by allowing this to continue for very long. I don't think it's in either country's long-term interest to have an adversarial relationship.

"If we were to lose all the goods and services we receive from China, like cutting it out 100 percent right now, that would devastate our economy as well as China's economy. That does not make any sense," Anderegg said.

Anderegg is hopeful and optimistic about the future of relations between his state and China.

"It (the relationship) will be a much longer-term one. I am very excited about continuing to develop this relationship and strengthening ties even more," said Anderegg, referring to the Utah state government's planned visit to China next year.

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2019-10-22 07:30:41
<![CDATA[Drinking tea may improve brain function]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/22/content_37517542.htm Legend has it that the first cup of tea was made in about in 2737 BC in China, when leaves from an overhanging Camellia sinensis plant fell into Emperor Shennong's cup of boiling water.

Tea is the world's second-most-consumed drink after water. But more importantly, several studies have shown that tea is packed with vital health benefits, from reducing heart disease and cancer to boosting weight loss and improving dental health.

One of the most recent studies was carried out by researchers at the National University of Singapore, or NUS; the University of Cambridge and the University of Essex. And it found that drinking tea regularly could help keep the brain sharp and reduce mental deterioration as one advances in age.

Feng Lei, an assistant professor at NUS' Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, said the study provided the "first evidence of positive contribution of tea drinking to the brain structure".

The study surveyed 36 participants, aged 60 and above. Fifteen drank green tea, oolong tea or black tea at least four times a week for at least 25 years, while 21 drank tea rarely or did not consume it.

Researchers kept track of their psychological well-being between 2015 and 2018. And MRI scans revealed that regular tea drinkers had better organized brain regions than those of nondrinkers.

Peter Goggi, the president of the Tea Association of the USA, told China Daily: "The health benefits of tea are becoming more well known. Green tea is related to the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women."

There are five types of tea, which come from the leaves of the warm-weather evergreen Camellia sinensis plant: black, white, green, oolong and pu-erh.

The global tea market was valued at nearly $50 billion in 2017, and is expected to grow to more than $73 billion by 2024, according to Statista.com, an online German research firm.

The majority of tea drinkers are in Turkey, Ireland, Iran, Russia, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. And the biggest tea producers by volume are China, India, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

Tea can be served with loose leaves without a bag (popular in China) or with a tea bag dunked in hot water, with a splash of milk.

The invention of the tea bag is credited to New Yorker Thomas Sullivan.

In the early 1900s, he used to send samples of his loose tea leaves in small silken bags. And when his customers received the tea, they began to keep the tea in the bags, sparking the tea bag fad.

In Britain, Anna Maria Russell, the duchess of Bedford, came up with the idea of afternoon tea in 1840. The British working class helped to create "high tea", as they would have a cup after returning home from work.

In the United States, coffee is still king, with more than 400 million cups of coffee served per day, making the US the leading consumer of coffee in the world, according to the National Coffee Association.

In contrast, US consumers drink more than 84 billion servings of tea per year, according to the tea association.

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2019-10-22 07:30:41
<![CDATA[Manila seeks way out of traffic jams]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/22/content_37517541.htm MANILA - Kit Reyes lives in a city in northern Metro Manila, and works at a call center in Taguig, a city 18 kilometers away but still within the capital city.

To get to work at 9 am, he needs to get up as early as 5 am. Otherwise, he will fail to make it to work on time.

"The distance sounds manageable, to be honest. But if I don't wake up early, I'll lose my job to traffic, and to the unreliability of the train system," he said.

Reyes is not alone in trying to beat the traffic to his job every day in Metro Manila. Traffic congestion is a growing problem for its 12.88 million population.

Felino "Jun" Palafox, the principal architect, urban planner and also the founder of Palafox Associates, an architecture company in the Philippines, said that these transport problems have very bad effects on commuters, who lose nine to 15 years of their 40-year economic lives sitting in traffic every day.

Economically, it costs the Philippines 3.5 billion pesos ($68 million) in "lost opportunities" due to traffic congestion every day, according to a report by the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Palafox cited the example of Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue, or EDSA, Metro Manila's 23.8-km long circumferential highway that passes through six cities.

"Today, the average speed on EDSA is 11 kph, and if it's payday Friday and raining, we are down to only 2. We are like prisoners on the road," Palafox said.

With the current administration's major infrastructure project, the "Build, Build, Build," the country's transport department remains optimistic that it will be able to deliver better services to commuters in the coming years.

On Oct 15, a Chinese-manufactured train was deployed on the Metro Rail Transit System 3, an above-ground rail line that runs on a north-to-south route along a major highway. It is expected to carry 1,050 passengers per trip. The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, meanwhile, conducts daily clearing operations in an effort to rid roads of illegally parked vehicles and traffic obstructions.

"We are seeing gradual improvement. For instance, our maintenance provider is rehabilitating our rails. We will start the actual digging for the Metro Manila subway system by December, and a new airport outside of Metro Manila is about to be completed," an official from the transport department said.

"This short-term struggle for commuters is hard, but let's face it, this is all for a long-term goal of providing them better transport. We are focused on that goal," the official added.

Xinhua

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2019-10-22 07:30:41
<![CDATA[Chile extends state of emergency]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/22/content_37517540.htm

SANTIAGO, Chile - Chile on Sunday extended a state of emergency to regions swept by violent protests, which caused at least three deaths and 716 arrests, authorities said.

The protests, sparked by rises in public transit fares, began in the capital and spread to other regions across the country. The state of emergency is in effect in the capital and the regions of Coquimbo, Valparaiso and Metropolitana.

President Sebastian Pinera on Friday made the declaration in Santiago as protesters set metro stations on fire.

"We are at war against a powerful enemy, who is willing to use violence without any limits," Pinera said in a late-night televised statement at army headquarters in Santiago on Sunday.

He cited 70 "serious incidents of violence" on Sunday, including the looting of 40 supermarkets and other businesses. Interior Minister Andres Chadwick said military and police numbers were at 10,500 in Santiago and would be reinforced where necessary.

Santiago and other Chilean cities have been engulfed by several days of riots, along with protests, after the increase in public transport fares. The violence prompted Pinera to reverse the move and declare the state of emergency.

Pinera said Santiago's metro and bus systems would operate a partial service on Monday, along with hospitals and some schools and creches. He appealed for Chileans to band together and help their neighbors to get on with their lives and remain safe.

"Tomorrow we will have a difficult day," he said. "We are very aware that (the perpetrators of riots) have a degree of organization, logistics, typical of a criminal organization," he said.

"Today is not the time for ambiguities. I call on all my compatriots to unite in this battle against violence and delinquency."

According to a government report, two women died on Saturday when a supermarket was sacked and set on fire in the San Bernardo district of Santiago. The third victim died hours later with no details provided.

Also, two protesters were shot by soldiers at a military checkpoint and are reportedly in a serious condition.

A further 15 civilians and 61 police officers have been injured nationwide in the demonstrations.

Fires and damage were reported at scores of metro stations in Santiago, and several schools suspended classes for Monday. People were lined up in front of gas stations to have their tanks filled up for the coming workweek.

Xinhua - Agencies

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2019-10-22 07:30:41
<![CDATA[ASEAN sees key role for BRI projects]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/21/content_37517263.htm Participants speak of how China can help enhance regional cooperation

The Belt and Road Initiative has proved conducive for strengthening regional cooperation and collaboration for common prosperity, ASEAN speakers told a recent forum in Macao.

As a maritime member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, the Philippines is keen to explore new opportunities as China works to revive the ancient maritime Silk Road that once passed through Southeast Asia, said Delia D Albert, former foreign secretary of the Philippines. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road is a key component of the BRI which also includes the land route of the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Albert, who is also a senior adviser to leading Philippine professional services firm SGV & Co, was speaking at the 2019 World Chinese Business and Economic Summit, or WCBES, held in Macao from Oct 17 to 18.

China had been a great partner of Southeast Asian countries since ancient times, and this partnership had been successfully revived in recent years, he said. By the end of 2018, China had been ASEAN's largest trading partner for nine consecutive years. ASEAN became China's second-largest trading partner, after the European Union, in the first half of 2019.

Albert also said that the Philippines could benefit from the BRI to enhance the connectivity of the archipelago of the island nation. And the BRI could also help to achieve the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, a priority task for the regional bloc of 10 countries.

Ravindra Ngo, the president of the Cambodian Association of Hong Kong, said digital connectivity through smart cities and new technologies is also an essential element of the BRI.

Ngo also said that the Cambodian authorities support the digital transformation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, but there are challenges including the lack of talent and infrastructure to build the ecosystem. He said joint cooperation among BRI countries will be conducive to tackle these challenges.

Trade potential

One of the panelists at the summit, Chin Yew Sin, an adviser for the Asia Pacific region at the Global One Belt One Road Association, said that sea port connectivity should be promoted under the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road as this is important for exporting goods and will help reduce transportation costs.

For example, goods can now be directly transported between Qinzhou, a coastal city in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and Kuantan on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, thanks to the establishment of sister industrial parks in the two cities under the framework of "two countries, twin parks", a pioneering model of international cooperation under the BRI.

Chin said the BRI also had the potential to create the largest free trade area in the world if all its participating countries and regions sign a free-trade agreement.

As of July, 136 countries and 30 international organizations have signed 194 Belt and Road cooperation documents with the Chinese side, according to the Belt and Road Portal, the initiative's official multilingual website.

"The economic opportunity (of the BRI) is the bond that brings us together," said Wang Huiyao, counselor of the Chinese State Council and president of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization, a co-organizer of the WCBES, adding that the BRI will provide a big boost for the future of Asia.

Under the theme "Enhancing Partnerships and Shared Prosperity through the BRI", the summit brought together government officials, industry leaders and experts to share their insights and perspectives on the BRI.

Malaysian Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok said in her opening remarks that the summit provided an "excellent platform" to connect the East and the West with the global Chinese diaspora like herself.

A special session on the Bay Area was held by China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable during the WCBES on Thursday, with the theme "Greater Bay Area - Connecting Hong Kong, Macao and Southern China, Enhancing Collaboration and Partnership with Southeast Asia".

Speaking at the event, Zhou Li, publisher and editor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pacific, said: "The development of the mega Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has taken off, and is pushing full steam ahead for the benefit of enterprises."

And he noted that Southeast Asian companies, in particular those with a vast pool of Chinese business links and information, would find the opportunities created by the Bay Area attractive and potentially rewarding.

In his welcome remarks at the roundtable, Michael Yeoh, the chairman of the WCBES organizing committee, said: "The Belt and Road Initiative will be a powerful force for regional connectivity to enhance prosperity".

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said more collaboration should be encouraged between the Bay Area and other city clusters around the world.

Wilfred Wong Ying-wai, the president and chief operating officer of Sands China - a subsidiary of global resort developer Las Vegas Sands - said the Bay Area has unique advantages.

For example, Hong Kong is the world's biggest offshore renminbi business center, Macao is one of the region's biggest tourism destinations, and Shenzhen is recognized as a hub of high technology.

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2019-10-21 07:51:12
<![CDATA[Nuclear power is the answer to Africa's electricity crisis, experts say]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/21/content_37517262.htm

Africa should increase nuclear power investment as a solution to the continent's current electricity crisis and to help fight global climate change.

Sector experts said that, without significantly increasing the use of nuclear power, it will be difficult for African countries to produce adequate electricity for industries and reduce carbon emissions.

Currently, South Africa is the only African country with a commercial nuclear power plant. However, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan are already being assessed for their readiness to embark on a nuclear energy program. And Algeria, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia are also considering the power source.

According to James Ngomeli, CEO of Women in Energy Conference and Awards in East Africa, the continent will need an investment of $32 billion to construct six nuclear plants, within the next eight to nine years.

Currently, more than 640 million Africans have no access to electricity. That means only 40 percent of households in the entire continent have access to electricity, according to the African Development Bank Group.

Per capita consumption of energy in sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa, is 180 kilowatt-hours, compared to 13,000 kWh per capita in the United States and 6,500 kWh in Europe, according to the African Development Bank Group.

In total, 42 percent of total energy consumption in Africa consists of oil, followed by gas at 28 percent, coal at 22 percent, hydropower at 6 percent, renewable energy at 1 percent and nuclear 1 percent, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

Ngomeli said most of the countries will finance the program through reinvesting pension funds, which could be huge, noting that the Africa's population is doubling.

Another source of financing will be country to country agreements, where a foreign country will construct nuclear plants with the focus of exporting the power to neighboring countries.

Ngomeli said training is currently ongoing in different African countries in preparation for operation of the nuclear plants.

China, Russia and South Korea have also been offering scholarships to African students to study nuclear energy-related fields in their countries.

Last year, 35 master's and PhD students from Africa and South Asia received scholarships under China's Atomic Energy Scholarship to study at the country's largest nuclear engineering school, part of Harbin Engineering University.

The program, an agreement between China Atomic Energy Authority and International Atomic Energy Agency, began in 2012.

Michael Gatari, associate professor of nuclear sciences applications at the University of Nairobi's Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, said nuclear energy is the only stable power option that can better serve Africa.

With the underground water receding at an alarming rate, hydropower will no longer be dependable, especially with the challenge of supplying the growing population with adequate clean water, Gatari said. So, African countries should make a concrete decision to invest in nuclear energy.

He also believes solar, wind and geothermal power, mostly considered safer and cost-effective, are not stable and may not see Africa through its economic development plans.

A key is nuclear safety, and reactor accidents may cause a lot of trauma. But Gatari said very few accidents have taken place because of thoroughness during the construction period.

"The radioactive waste disposal is another public concern because people don't understand that the nuclear power generation installation facility is highly protected, well-guarded and ethically driven," he said.

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2019-10-21 07:51:12
<![CDATA[Australia's Qantas masters longest nonstop New York-Sydney flight]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/21/content_37517261.htm SYDNEY - The longest nonstop passenger flight touched down in Australia on Sunday morning after more than 19 hours in the air, a milestone journey from New York that Qantas Airways hopes to parlay into commercial success.

Qantas flight QF7879 took 19 hours and 16 minutes to fly directly from New York to Sydney in the first of three "ultra long-haul" journeys planned by the airline this year.

The national flag carrier is operating the test flights - which also include one from London to Sydney - as it weighs a rollout of regular services on marathon routes from the United States and Britain to Australia.

Just 49 people traveled on the Boeing 787-9 to minimize the weight on board and give the plane sufficient fuel range to travel more than 16,000 kilometers.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce called it "a really historic moment" for both the airline and world aviation.

"This is the first of three test flights that's going to come up with recommendations about how we manage pilot fatigue (and) how we actually manage passenger jet lag," he told reporters after arriving in Sydney.

"After 19 hours on this flight, I think we've gotten this right."

Qantas partnered with two Australian universities to monitor how jet lag affected the health of passengers and crew members as they crossed multiple time zones.

After boarding the flight, passengers set their watches to Sydney time and were kept awake until night fell in eastern Australia with lighting, exercise, caffeine and a spicy meal.

Six hours later, they were served a high-carbohydrate meal, told to avoid screens, and the lights were dimmed to encourage them to sleep through the night.

Marie Carroll, a researcher from Sydney University who conducted the experiment, said that she expected the innovative approach would result in "absolutely minimal" jet lag.

"I expect that they will have a normal day today and a normal night's sleep tonight," she said, adding that she felt "amazingly good" considering the flight time.

The Australian and International Pilots Association, which represents Qantas pilots, has raised concerns about whether pilots will get enough quality rest during ultra long-range flights to maintain peak performance.

It has called for a "scientific long-term study" into the impacts on crews.

Agence France-Presse

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2019-10-21 07:51:12
<![CDATA[Chinese publishers look for cooperation at book fair]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-10/21/content_37517260.htm

FRANKFURT, Germany - The 71st Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest of its kind in the world, attracted more than 7,400 exhibitors from 104 countries and regions, where business cooperation as well as exchanges of ideas took place over the five-day event, which started on Oct 16.

More than 100 publishers from the Chinese mainland attended the fair this year. And dozens of new books, ranging from multilingual editions of Chinese literary classics to the latest book series on China's development, were launched during the fair.

Cooperation agreements were signed between Chinese publishers and their counterparts from the United States, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia and Romania.

This year, several publishers and institutions were also seeking ways to promote Chinese arts and culture, offering dialogues between the old and the new, the East and West in front of an international audience.

On a digital screen - 22 meters long and 3 meters wide-an illustrated panorama of the Grand Canal of China and its changes through history were turned into animation, with 1,700 figures, 200 boats and a myriad of details to look at.

Based on the illustrations by Chinese artist Du Fei and produced by the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, the installation China Through Time was brought to an overseas book fair for the first time and was an eye-catching project at the book fair's THE ARTS+ exhibition area.

Holger Volland, vice-president of Frankfurter Buchmesse GmbH and founder of THE ARTS+, said the installation was a wonderful example of the effort to showcase arts through new technologies.

According to Yang Zhen, head of the project, a brand has been registered for producing physical books and other products in the future. In fact, they have reached an agreement with British publishing company DK to launch multilingual editions of an illustrated book under the same title to international markets as early as January 2020.

Ian Hudson, CEO of DK, said he was very impressed by the creativity of the artist. He hopes the decadelong cooperation between DK and the Encyclopedia of China will be even closer with the new book, which combines Encyclopedia of China's experience and expertise and the design and editorial expertise of DK.

Platform for dialogues

Forums organized by Chinese institutions at the book fair this year created spaces for dialogues between authors, publishers and artists from the east and the west.

The renowned Sinan Book Club from Shanghai debuted at the book fair this time, with a conversation on Thursday between guests from China and Germany on the vitality and international influence of online literature. It was jointly organized by Shanghai Writers' Association and Shanghai Century Publishing Group.

The event is part of the official program of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which marks an important effort to promote international exchanges through the window of literature, according to Sun Ganlu, vice-president of Shanghai Writers' Association.

"While introducing first-class international authors to the Chinese readers, we hope to continue introducing Chinese literature, publishing and reading activities to an international readership through platforms like the Frankfurt Book Fair," he said.

One of the guests, Michael Kahn-Ackermann, Sinologist and former director of the Goethe-Institut China, said the Sinan Book Club is one of his favorite organizations, and face-to-face exchanges between authors and readers are a great way to promote literature.

Xinhua

(China Daily 10/21/2019 page10)

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2019-10-21 07:51:12
<![CDATA[Sandy beaches, rich history make ideal place to unwind]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-09/15/content_37509941.htm Peaceful, magical and unspoiled by tourism, visitors will find it a haven of tranquility

Apart from the fascinating annual wildebeest migration, the dramatic Great Rift Valley, mountain highlands and the national parks and reserves filled with roaming wild animals, Kenya's coast offers up some beautiful beach holiday spots and unique Swahili culture.

The port city of Mombasa is popular for beach destinations in Kenya. However, the little-known and overlooked Lamu Island is a unique tourist spot boasting a wealth of unrivaled experiences for holidaymakers.

In addition to the island's unique culture, rich history and breathtaking long sandy beaches and rolling dunes, visitors can feel the slow pace of life there, which makes it an ideal place to unwind.

 

Visitors can relax and escape from the hustle and bustle of city life on the beach in Lamu Island, Kenya. Jiang Aimin / For China Daily

Situated in the Indian Ocean off the north coast of Kenya and a part of the Lamu Archipelago, Lamu Island is peaceful, magical, relaxed and unspoiled by mass tourism. It is also the best preserved Swahili settlement in East Africa.

The island's mesmerizing antique Swahili architecture and remoteness earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site title in 2001.

Historical explorations

The first place that any visitor should go to is the Lamu Old Town. There are several beautiful and historic buildings with unique coral stone decorations.

Dating back to the 14th century, the town is the oldest inhabited Swahili settlement and it is comparable to Zanzibar Island's Stone Town in Tanzania. Lamu Old Town has about 1,200 old structures, and the architecture shows years of influence from Europe, Arabia, India and Persia among others.

While walking through the Lamu town's narrow streets, visitors are greeted with intricately carved wooden doors, coral-stoned buildings, verandas and rooftop patios. There are no vehicles on the island, and donkeys, dhows and motorbikes - which were introduced recently and mostly used during low tides - remain the dominant forms of transport.

Lamu Museum, Lamu Fort, Swahili House and Shela village are some of the must-visit places at the island.

Located at the seafront, Lamu Museum is housed in a grand Swahili warehouse. The museum displays artifacts of the Swahili culture and the archipelago's rich history.

It also exhibits interesting artworks and sculptures such as Chinese porcelain and ceramics - an indication of trade contacts between China and Kenya in the past.

Featuring a central courtyard and located in the center of town, Lamu Fort dates back to 1813.Between 1910 and 1984, it was used as a prison.

Today, the fort has a museum with an environmental conservation exhibition on its ground floor. The second floor houses offices, laboratories, a workshop and a rental conference venue hosting various local functions. It also houses a library with an excellent collection of Swahili poetry and reference material on the island. The courtyard serves as a local community area for meetings, celebrations, weddings and public performances.

The Swahili House Museum gives a glimpse into ancient Swahili home architecture. The house has thick walls, small windows and a high ceiling to provide a cool atmosphere, which does away with the need for air conditioners. The interior of the house features a reception room, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a kitchen.

Shela Village is one of three villages in Lamu Island, with the other two being Kipungani and Matondoni. Located 3 kilometers from Lamu town, Shela features pristine white sandy beaches and rolling dunes dotted with palms and acacia tortilis trees.

It is also a great spot for photography during sunrise and sunsets, with the sandy pathways of Shela Village as a backdrop.

Shadrack Charo, a front manager at Peponi Hotel, said Shela is a must-see for any visitor to Lamu Island.

"If you come to Lamu and don't step into Shela and specifically the beach, then you have not been in Lamu," Charo said.

"It's very safe to walk on the 12-km beach to Kizingoni at low tide. Peponi Hotel has employed policemen to walk along the beach to ensure safety of visitors. They are mostly in civilian wear."

Shela Village is popular with Western expats and celebrities who visit the quiet settlement to unwind. Most property in Shela are owned by westerners.

In addition to sightseeing, visitors can participate in fun activities like boat rides on traditional dhows, snorkeling and diving.

Sunset and nightlife

A sunset sailing trip is the best experience to conclude the day's activities, as visitors watch the sun set over the beautiful Lamu Archipelago. Visitors can also get the opportunity to explore mangrove bushes and view different species of birds on the sunset sailing cruise.

The Floating Pub and Restaurant is the local favorite for parties and dinners, and is mostly packed from 4 pm to midnight. It is also a fantastic spot to watch the sunset as visitors drink whisky and beer.

The pub is on a wooden pontoon supported by 250 plastic drums and floating in the channel between Lamu Town and Shela Village. The pontoon is made from traditional makuti and coconut timber lined with Swahili mats. The pub is only accessible by boat.

According to Pascal Baya, who has been working in the floating pub as a barman for the last five years, the pub is packed on Fridays and Saturdays with both local and foreign customers.

The food prices range from $1 to $12, while drinks cost $3. The pub is solar powered. The 10-year-old pub also hosts birthday and wedding parties.

Lamu town is Muslim dominated and its culture prohibits people from drinking beer in public. Thus, the pub is a favorite spot for clubbing and partying.

Lodging and dining

Lamu offers accommodation for all types of travelers, ranging from premium and luxurious to midrange and budget.

In terms of dining, one can feast on traditional Swahili cuisine, tasty and fresh seafood, or intercontinental cuisines.

Lamu has so many spacious restaurants serving nice and affordable Swahili cuisine such as pilau, biryani, coconut chicken curry, bhajia, coconut rice with mango chutney, and snacks like kitumbua and mahamri.

According to Charo, Lamu Island is a safe place and there have not been any recent security incidents involving tourists.

How to get there

It is advisable to fly to Lamu because there are safety concerns on the road to the island.

Lamu Island is serviced by an airstrip on the neighboring Manda Island. There are daily scheduled flights from Nairobi, Mombasa, Diani and Malindi. The average direct flight duration from Nairobi's Wilson Airport to Manda Airport is 1 hour and 30 minutes, while a connecting flight is usually 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Passengers are then ferried by dhow to either Lamu town or Shela. A private boat ride from the airport costs between $5 and $10, while a ride on a public boat costs $1. From Shela to Lamu or vice versa, a private boat costs $5 in the daytime and double the price at night.

edithmutethya@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-09-15 12:46:09
<![CDATA[Culture, yoga events help preserve Lamu Island's traditions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-09/15/content_37509940.htm In addition to sightseeing and water sports, Lamu Island is famous for its cultural and religious festivals that attract thousands of visitors from across the globe.

The island hosts 17 festivals annually, with the most famous ones being the Lamu cultural, Maulid, yoga, arts and Lamu food festivals.

Held in the last week of November, the annual Lamu cultural festival is the oldest and the most popular event on the island.

The week-long event is aimed at promoting peace and harmony, as well as appreciating diversity and fighting marginalization on the island.

It is also designed to give visitors a taste of the Swahili life, traditions and culture.

Lethu Moti, a South African, is one of the tourists planning to attend the festival. She toured Lamu for the first time in August, and plans to go back for the cultural festival.

Moti, who runs a tour company in Cape Town, said her friends have been attending the cultural event annually and she looks forward to accompanying them this year.

"I'm already in love with Lamu Island. It's nice, quiet and people are friendly," she said. "For the first time, I'm in a place where there are no cars, but many donkeys. In fact, I took a photo with a donkey."

Several competitions are staged during the festival. Competitions include traditional Swahili poetry, henna painting, dhow races and swimming competition.

The donkey race is the real highlight of the event because the animal is a symbol of Lamu's culture. Donkey jockeys literally spend the entire year honing their riding skills for this event.

Traditional activities like dhow building, fish-trap making and palm weaving are also demonstrated. Traditional dances are also performed, livening up the magic of the event.

The annual Lamu Yoga Festival is another popular attraction for tourists, especially those yearning for a detox vacation. Held in March, the festival brings together yogis from all over the world.

The festival lasts for five days with over 25 teachers, 150 yoga classes, meditation and workshops in Shela, Lamu town and Manda Island. The next event is scheduled for March 4-8.

Another popular event on Lamu Island is the Maulid celebrations, a religious event marking the birth of Prophet Muhammad. It is held during the third month of the Muslim calendar between February and April.

The climax of the month-long celebration is a three-day festival organized by religious leaders and the National Museum of Kenya.

According to Said Mohamed, a tour guide based in Lamu Island, the festival brings together visitors and pilgrims from other parts of Kenya, East Africa as well as Arabian countries.

The main activities include recitals of praise poems, music, dance, calligraphy and art exhibits.

This is in addition to dhow and donkey races, swimming competitions and a lively parade finale, or zeffe, that winds through the narrow alleyways of the town lined with cheering crowds.

The main religious celebrations take place in and around the Riyadha Mosque, which was founded in the late 19th century.

Amina Salim, a Lamu local, said the annual events have livened up Lamu Island and strengthened friendship among the locals.

"The events have enabled us to preserve our Swahili culture, exploit our talents as well as attract tourists," she said.

Carol Korschen, the owner of Peponi Hotel, said tourist arrivals are encouraging, adding that her hotel is already fully booked for the December holidays and visitors have already started making February bookings.

"Our peak season is from October to March, with the minimum stay for visitors being three days," she said.

Rachel Feiler, the owner of Diamond Beach Village, said the port under construction in Manda Island is likely to open Lamu up to more tourists.

"The port will come along with more development and infrastructure, as well as access, further opening up Lamu," Feiler said.

edithmutethya@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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2019-09-15 12:46:09
<![CDATA[Miluo offers special treat for culture lovers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/09/content_37478700.htm Miluo has a special place in Dragon Boat Festival celebrations. The city in central Hunan province is where the ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC) ended his life.

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City in central Hunan province commemorates life of ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan with Dragon Boat Festival

Miluo has a special place in Dragon Boat Festival celebrations. The city in central Hunan province is where the ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC) ended his life.

The Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the great poet's life, and Miluo is considered the home of the festival and base of dragon boats.

As the city is an important part of the festival it was put on the UNESCO world cultural heritage list in 2009.

Miluo has a whole set of customs for the festival, including eating zongzi (pyramid-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice and reed leaves), drinking realgar (xionghuang) wine, dragon-boat racing and dragon-head sculpting.

And one can also take part in events along the Miluo River, where Qu drowned himself.

For the festival, the Quzi (also known as Quyuan) memorial temple hosts a grand celebration, which traces its roots back to 278 BC.

The temple sits atop Yusi Mountain in northwest Miluo, and Qu Yuan lived there for a while during his exile.

The Quzi temple was first built in the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), and was then moved to Yusi Mountain by Empeor Qianlong (1711-99) of the Qing Dynasty in 1756. It has become a key national cultural site since 2001.

The temple celebration comprises royal rituals from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and ancient music and sacrificial items are showcased to give visitors a taste of what it was like in the past.

The celebration was put on the provincial intangible cultural heritage list by the Hunan government in 2009.

Separately, a pavilion, a cave and a bridge that are believed to bear Qu Yuan's footsteps are all within walking distance of the temple.

A forest with more than 350 calligraphy and painting tablets in honor of Quyuan takes up an area of 16,000 square meters to the east of the temple.

Besides the Quzi Memorial Temple, the former residence of Ren Bishi (a Communist Party leader), national wetland parks and the Xinshi ancient town are all worth visiting.

And while immersing themselves in various traditional activities for the Dragon Boat Festival, visitors can also enjoy the local scenery.

Miluo's dragon boat competition is a must-see. And last year, the mass drum-beating event, the poetry recital and a song-and-dance show featuring historical elements were added among all the attractions along the Miluo River bank.

This year, a large-scale modern music opera Qu Yuan is to be launched for the festival. The show explores innovation, integration of Chinese history and stage art and showcases the poetic and romantic elements of Li Sao (The Sorrow of Parting), one of the most influential of Qu Yuan's works.

The show hopes to showcase Qu's ideas and state of mind leading up to his suicide in multiple dimensions during the show, which is jointly developed by top Chinese art institutes, including the Central Academy of Drama, the Beijing Film Academy and the Beijing Institute Of Fashion Technology.

The show which premiered at Beijing's Century Theater over May 31-June 2, will be staged in Miluo during the festival.

For those who seek more varied experiences, the traditional towns and villages in Miluo may be of interest.

In 2016, the local government spent 5 billion yuan ($724.6 million) to develop a 20-km tourism corridor, which connects several idyllic towns featuring wetlands, old tombs and folk culture.

So, one can walk on old stone streets and sip sweet wine at Changle town; tour a botanical garden, visit a culture park and ancient business blocks at China poetry town or experience ancient architecture at Xinshi ancient town.

The area is ideal for those who want to leave behind a city life for a while and recharge their batteries.

Contact the writers at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

A view of Miluo city which is the home of the Dragon Boat Festival and a base for dragon boats in Hunan province. Provided to China Daily

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2019-06-09 15:00:12
<![CDATA[Zigui striving to boost tourism potential to fuel development]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-06/09/content_37478699.htm Zigui could be one of the best places to explore the charm of the Dragon Boat Festival. The county in central Hubei province used to be the hometown of ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan from the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

Since people have long celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival to commemorate Qu, Zigui has many folk customs and history related to Qu and the festival.

In the eyes of many locals, the festival has more significance than Chinese New Year.

Zigui's folk customs are one of the four parts of the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, which was listed as intangible culture heritage by the UNESCO in 2009.

The other three elements are from Hubei's Huangshi; Miluo in Hunan province and Suzhou in Jiangsu province.

For those who have booked trips to Zigui for this year's festival, the local government has arranged 15 major programs featuring intangible culture heritage and gourmet food.

A sacrificial ceremony and zongzi making competition will be staged on June 6 to kick off the celebrations.

About 10,000 people will join the contest to make zongzi - from glutinous rice and reed leaves, according to the Zigui government.

At the same time, a dragon boat race and poetry event will be held.

The goal is to allow more visitors to experience the celebrations, a local government official said.

Zigui's celebrations have been held for hundreds of years and mostly take place along the Yangtze River in local villages, temples and households.

And they are characterized by diverse rituals and distinctive cultural elements.

Typically, people set up altars and worship Qu Yuan. And this involves lighting incense, chanting and paper-burning. The music, costumes and props at the worship ceremony feature elements from the ancient Chu State (1115-223 BC).

Also, as part of the celebrations, red fabric is draped on dragon boats. And boat rowers dress up as Qu's sister and beat drums, while calling his name to ask him to return. People also sing traditional songs after the boats start to move.

Visitors should also not miss the dragon boat race, which is a relatively new addition. It's fun, with rowers competing to reach the finish line.

It's also a sight to see locals recite Xu Yuan's works or exchange poems with each other during the festival.

The celebrations conclude with households inviting relatives and neighbors to dance and sing until sunrise.

The celebrations are part of the local government's efforts to boost tourism and local life.

As of the end of 2018, Zigui had developed five national scenic spots, including the top-rated cultural tourist area of Quyuan's hometown.

And star-rated hotels, homestays and upgraded rural entertainment facilities have also sprung up to cater to travelers.

Zigui received 9.40 million tourist visits in 2018, and tourism income was 13.3 billion yuan ($1.92 billion).

In recent years, a growing number of visitors have been present at the Dragon Boat Festival in the county where they try on ancient clothing from the Warring States Period, and pay respect to Qu Yuan, besides reading related literature at the cultural tourist area in Quyuan's hometown, according to local officials.

The large-scale opera, Our Dragon Boat Festival, has been performed more than 130 times in the area, attracting more than 90,000 viewers.

The rural culture and tourism events featuring local specialities have also helped local farmers increase their incomes.

In a related development, more than 10 million people tuned in to the live broadcasts of the local celebrations on major video streaming sites over the years.

The Zigui government is striving to turn the city into a core tourism zone along the Yangtze River by tapping into its rich culture and ecological resources.

The county was named China's most beautiful filming location at the 74th Venice International Film Festival in 2017. And the goal is to develop a 10-billion-yuan tourism industry to boost Zigui's development.

Contact the writers at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

People get together in Zigui for the Qu Yuan cultural festival on June 8, 2016. It’s a tradition for the locals to make zongzi during the festival. Zheng Jiayu / For China Daily

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2019-06-09 15:00:12
<![CDATA[NO GUTS, NO GLORY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/03/content_37465271.htm Their willingness to risk abject failure in pursuit of ultimate success transforms ordinary athletes into stars

 

A skier in a festive costume crashes while attempting to cross a pool of water at the foot of a slope during the annual Gornoluzhnik amateur event to mark the end of winter skiing at Bobrovy ski resort in the suburbs of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on April 14.Ilya Naymushin/reuters

(China Daily Global 05/03/2019 page12)

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2019-05-03 07:51:49
<![CDATA[BULLET TRAINS STAY ON TRACK]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/04/content_37465131.htm

China's high-speed rail network carries 4 million passengers every day, connecting some of the country's top draws

China has built the world's longest high-speed rail network and is continuing to expand it rapidly.

With a total length of 29,000 km by the end of 2018, high-speed rail now covers 30 of the country's 34 provincial-level administrative divisions, accounting for more than two-thirds of the total high-speed rail lines in the world.

According to the China Railway Corporation, the country's top rail operator, China's originally planned "4+4" network of four north-south and four east-west main lines is nearing completion. An extended "8+8" network of 38,000 kilometers of high-speed rail lines is projected to be operational in 2025. Later improvements are likely to focus on speed rather than distance.

Notable high-speed rail lines in China include the Beijing-Guangzhou high-speed rail line, which at 2,298 km is the world's longest high-speed rail line in operation; the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed rail line, with the world's fastest operating conventional train services; and the Shanghai Maglev, the world's first high-speed commercial magnetic levitation line, whose trains run on non-conventional track and reach a top speed of 430 km/h.

This year, China will continue to expand the coverage of high-speed trains. According to the rail operator, 3,200 km of high-speed rail lines will be built this year, which is part of a planned development of new rail lines as the country will keep fixed-asset investment on railway on a large scale.

More than 4,000 bullet trains run in China, carrying 4 million passengers every day. High-speed rail lines have greatly cut down the journey time and attract travelers with their comfort, convenience, safety and punctuality. In China, most major cities are connected by high-speed rail lines.

China's high-speed rail technology has also gone global. In 2014, China completed the construction of its first overseas high-speed rail link in Turkey. In June 2015, China and Russia inked deals for 770 km of high-speed track connecting Moscow and Kazan.

In October 2015, China and Indonesia signed a joint venture on the construction of a high-speed rail link between Jakarta and Bandung.

panmengqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-05-04 07:07:00
<![CDATA[Easier access to scenic spots in Huangshan, Hangzhou]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/04/content_37465130.htm During my recent visit to Hongcun village, a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in Huangshan city in East China's Anhui province, there were barely any vacant rooms in the family inn run by Wu Qing.

Wu, 31, rented the houses, which are about 200 years old, from three local villagers last year and renovated them, making 25 rooms available to tourists.

At breakfast in the dining room, some people were heard recalling the breathtaking scenery they saw on Huangshan Mountain, more widely known as Yellow Mountain, and were talking about their trip to Qiandao Lake, or Thousand Islands Lake, in Zhejiang's provincial capital Hangzhou.

Hongcun is known for its history and the preservation of residences built in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) reigns.

The houses are typical Huizhou-style architectural marvels with delicate carvings on wood, brick and stone, and a large number of them were built by Huizhou merchants in ancient times. Huizhou was the old name of Huangshan.

Huangshan Mountain, listed as a UNESCO cultural and natural heritage and World Geopark site, boasts spectacular landscapes thick with vegetation and lofty peaks.

There is a saying that people who have been to Huangshan Mountain will not want to visit any other mountain.

Qiandao Lake was formed during the construction of the Xin'an River Reservoir in 1959 and it is now a well-known scenic spot thanks to its beautiful landscape.

Earlier, visiting these places was time-consuming, as the bus or car journeys would take hours.

But with the opening of the Hangzhou-Huangshan high-speed rail line in December 2018, visiting the tourist attractions in the two cities has become more convenient.

The 287-kilometer line, with a speed of 250 kilometers per hour, connects popular tourism zones, including seven State-level 5A-rated ones in Hangzhou and Huangshan city in Anhui province.

The spots in Huangshan include Huangshan Mountain, the Ancient Huizhou Cultural Tourism Zone, the Xidi and Hongcun villages jointly listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and the Longchuan ancient town. The Hangzhou spots include West Lake, Xixi Wetland National Park and Qiandao Lake.

According to Lvmama, an online travel service provider headquartered in Shanghai, the line has carried more than 1.5 million passengers in the first 100 days after its launch on April 3.

The number of tourists who visited both Huangshan and Hangzhou in the course of a single vacation also climbed 13 percent in March compared to the same period in the previous year, according to the company.

There are usually 28 bullet trains in operation between Hangzhou and Huangshan daily, while during the four-day May Day holiday, there will be as many as 31.

zhulixin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-05-04 07:07:00
<![CDATA[New rail line lures mainland travelers to Hong Kong's sights]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/04/content_37465129.htm For Lin Shaobin, the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, or XRL, that started operation last September is pushing him to visit Hong Kong, a shopping paradise, more frequently.

The travel enthusiast from this Guangdong provincial capital says his family plans to visit the Hong Kong special administrative region during the coming May Day holiday, beginning May 1.

"In addition to shopping, I want to take my 10-year-old daughter to Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park," says the 38-year-old, who is now employed in a foreign-funded company in Guangzhou.

"My primary school-going daughter has been longing to visit the two major parks in Hong Kong, and now is the right time," he says.

"With the XRL, it takes only 47 minutes to reach Hong Kong from Guangzhou by train, and there is a flight operating between Guangzhou and Hong Kong, which takes less than 30 minutes," he adds.

The 141-km XRL includes 115 km in Guangdong province and another 26 km in the Chinese SAR. And it has been designed to reach a speed of 350 km an hour in the mainland section and 200 km an hour in the Hong Kong section.

The XRL that starts with Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station includes five other stations in the Shenzhen special economic zone, Dongguan's Humen town and Guangzhou's Nansha district before it terminates its run at Guangzhou South Railway Station in Panyu district.

And it takes only 14 minutes to arrive in Futian station in Shenzhen from Hong Kong's West Kowloon Station.

Lin says the XRL offers him more opportunities to visit Hong Kong as it provides a quick, comfortable and convenient option for commuters between Hong Kong and Guangdong.

"The XRL will certainly help draw more tourists from home and abroad to visit attractions in the cities, districts and towns on the route," he says.

The Yuyin Ancestral Garden and the Keyuan Garden, located in Guangzhou's Panyu district and Dongguan city, respectively, are two of the four famous Lingnan gardens in Guangdong province that reflect a unique design style popular during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

The Yuyin Ancestral Garden was designed in 1864 and it was built by local official Wu Bin who hired famous artisans to create a garden like the famous ones in East China's Suzhou and Hangzhou cities.

An arched and roofed bridge divides the garden into two parts.

The western part is centered around a square lotus flower pond while a pentagonal waterside chamber is the focus of the eastern part.

Pavilions, ponds and halls are distributed throughout the garden, which also features a winding corridor, an arched bridge, flower paths, artificial hills and verdant trees, all fusing together to create a seemingly endless vista of beauty.

As for the Keyuan Garden, it was first built in 1850. The finely designed garden combines buildings and courtyards into an integral whole. The garden's 2,000 square meters of space holds about 20 scattered structures, including pavilions, chambers, halls and a surrounding corridor, all laid out in such a way that the smaller structures are contained within the larger ones.

Shenzhen has also long been known for its beautiful beaches, subtropical natural scenery and large theme parks.

zhengcaixiong@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-05-04 07:07:00
<![CDATA[The green experience]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/02/content_37464950.htm A once barren town is now a haven for nature lovers, Chen Meiling reports in Nyingchi, Tibet.

Lunang, a town in Nyingchi, Tibet autonomous region, which once depended on lumbering has transformed into a hot ecotourism scenic spot where tourists, who are suffocated by the crowds and chaos of cities, can enjoy its pastoral beauty and experience its traditional culture.

Its idyllic landscape has earned Lunang the nickname "Switzerland of the East", where visitors can see a sea of flowers, forests and clouds, ride horses, shoot arrows, pick mushrooms and enjoy Tibetan cuisine.

The town began to receive visitors from early 2017 and saw more than 1 million visits in 2018. It now has a number of five-star hotels, family inns, restaurants and a tourist information center - all with wooden roofs and white walls - a far cry from 20 years ago when most of the local residents lived off logging, and the town had only two or three stores.

Local Tibetans display the whistling arrow-archery, an ethnic heritage with about 1,000 years of history, in Lunang, Nyingchi, Tibet autonomous region. Provided to China Daily

 

"In the old days, the mountains were barren due to logging. And sometimes houses were damaged by mudslides," says Gao Jun, the Party chief of Norbu village in Lunang.

Now logging is prohibited and many families have members working as forest rangers.

"No geological disaster occurred over the last two years. And many people have opened bed-and-breakfast inns or restaurants. We live off tourism now," says Gao.

According to Gao, over 40 from the 62 families in Norbu have rooms for tourists. And Gao has about 40 beds in his house and earned about 200,000 yuan ($29,800) from tourism in 2018.

He says he serves tourists with homemade Tibetan-style pork, buttered tea and highland barley wine. Tourists can also rent Tibetan costumes or horses to ride.

"In July, tourists can pick mushrooms in the mountains. And they often ask me which ones are safe to eat. Well, most of the mushrooms are not edible, but tourists are very excited nonetheless," he says.

In the early 2000s, visitors mostly hiked or cycled to reach Lunang. And some had to sleep on the floors of villagers' houses.

In 2011, as part of a key poverty alleviation project, Lunang received an investment of about 3.8 billion yuan from South China's Guangdong province.

Explaining the investment, Liu Kejiang, the mayor of Lunang town, says: "The goal was to develop tourism based on the natural resources and local culture with immersive experiences and improved services."

According to Liu, Lunang, which is known as the "gene pool of plants" in China, is home to over 3,000 kinds of plants, including about 300 flowers.

Study tours will be arranged for children and adults to learn about different plants in the forest.

A man from Guangdong, whose surname is Liang, visited Lunang with several friends recently.

Speaking about his experience, he says: "It reminds me of a Swiss town that I saw on TV.

"Such scenery cannot be found in cities. I feel very relaxed."

But natural beauty is not the only thing on offer in Lunang, says Liu.

"Tourists can also get involved, or participate, in local people's lives," he says.

So, besides letting visitors live with the locals, the town also hosts campfires, offers horse riding, arrow shooting, boat sailing, drifting, hiking and other activities.

A ski resort is also under construction.

Every July the town holds a folk song festival, where villagers sing, dance and have horse-racing and whistling arrow-archery contests.

Whistling arrow-archery is a cultural heritage of Tibet with about 1,000 years of history. The whistle on the end of the arrow produces a shrill sound when it is fired.

And the trapezoidal target symbolizes the "heart of devil", according to Balu, an inheritor of the tradition.

"By shooting the 'heart', we kill the 'devil', which gives the sports an auspicious meaning," he says, adding that Tibetans like to take part in whistling arrow-archery events.

For tourists, shooting "whistling arrows" once costs 1 yuan. But if you hit the target, you get your money back, says Gao.

For horse-racing, riders wear red and yellow riding suits, either to compete in long-distance races or shoot targets from a running horse.

Speaking about the Tibetan bond with horses, Kalzang, the Party chief of the management committee of Lunang, says: "Horses used to be vehicles and are friends of the Tibetan people. They share close emotional links. Though most families have motorbikes or cars now, the horse is irreplaceable."

To improve services in the area, Liu says the town has introduced an intelligent system in 60 bed-and-breakfast rooms. There, tourists receive a password for the room booked online, so they can open the door whenever they arrive.

In the next step, the authorities plan to develop customized tourism that helps tourists to plan their accommodation, entertainment and traffic online in advance.

Now it takes about two hours to drive from the center of Nyingchi to Lunang, over the snowy Segrila Mountain.

But Liu says when the tunnel through the snow mountain opens in 2021, the drive will take only 30 minutes.

Lunang is also on the route of Sichuan-Tibet Railway that is under construction.

Contact the writer at chenmeiling@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-05-02 07:49:32
<![CDATA[Nyingchi a nice way to get introduced to Tibet]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/02/content_37464949.htm My altitude sickness mysteriously disappeared when I arrived in the city of Nyingchi, Southwest China's Tibet autonomous region, after a six-hour road journey from Lhasa, the region's capital.

Compared with most areas in Tibet, Nyingchi is at a lower altitude, has higher humidity and a milder climate, which is believed to be an ideal first stop to explore Tibet - "the roof of the world", with an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters, where oxygen content is only 60 percent of that in the plains.

The average altitude of Nyingchi is about 3,000 meters.

The Nyangchu River and the Yarlung Zangbo River run through the city, giving it a moist weather and fatty fish.

Data from the local government shows the forest coverage is over 53.6 percent, forming a lush and green landscape that is both good for the eyes and the lungs.

I was heading for the Nyingchi Peach Flower Tourism and Culture Festival, an annual event held from late March to April, a good time to visit the "pink ocean" in the deep mountains.

The ride along the National Highway 318 was amazing.

The highway, which connects Shigatse in Tibet with Shanghai on the east coast, is described as one of the most beautiful and dangerous ones in the world.

On the way, I experienced the baking sun, rain and snow on the same day while riding in the wilderness. But what attracted me the most were the peach flower trees swirling in the breeze all over the mountains and plains, which turned the fields into a fairyland.

The trees, budding or in full blossom, were much taller and stronger than those planted in gardens or parks, showcasing the beauty of the wild, besides its confidence and vitality.

The attraction of Nyingchi is more than the peach flowers.

Manling county in Nyingchi, known as "the valley of Tibetan medicine", also hosts a fair as part of the festival. Sangye Chophel, the owner of two stores in the county, displays a dozen medical items at the fair.

The 33-year-old says he hopes more people can learn about traditional Tibetan medicine.

According to Sangye Chophel, Manling is home to more than 100 Tibetan medicinal items such as fritillary, cinnamon, lucid ganoderma and the root of red-rooted salvia.

These items are said to be good for health and effective against conditions like arthritis and high blood pressure.

Many of his products are sold to pharmaceutical factories, but few people know they are from Manling, he says.

Speaking about how the flower and culture festival helps him, he says: "The show brings more visitors and it's good to promote Tibet's medical heritage," he says, adding that he earned over 3,000 yuan ($450) per day during previous events.

Tashi Phuntso performs a traditional dance of the Lhoba ethnic group at the event, something which used to be seen earlier only before men went to the battlefield or when they celebrated victory in wars.

The black woolen clothes he wore can keep out the rain, sun and insect stings, and the animal feather-like headgear can help to hide in the woods and grass.

Tashi Phuntso has attended the festival six times - each time bringing a different dance. "We want to showcase our customs, traditions and hospitality to visitors," he says.

Besides the onstage performances, tourists can also experience horse riding, visit food fairs, dress in ethnic clothing and accessories, and savor local specialties.

I was very impressed by the local enthusiasm for the festival, as even old men - with walking sticks or in wheelchairs - were there to watch the performances. Small children sat on their fathers' shoulders to have a better view.

The festival is part of the local government's efforts to attract more visitors from around the country.

The number of visits to Nyingchi surpassed 7 million in 2018, up 37.56 percent year-on-year. The tourism revenue was 5.9 billion yuan, according to the city's tourism authority.

Li Muzhi, the Party chief of Manling, says it works to combine ecological tourism, development of Tibetan medicine and protection of folk culture to bring wealth to the local people.

The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, Namcha Barwa Mountain and Neyul Valley, the birthplace of Tibetan medicine, have natural beauty. And the cultures of Monba, Lhoba and Tibetan ethnic groups are unique, says Li.

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2019-05-02 07:49:32
<![CDATA[Set to make a splash]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/01/content_37464844.htm

While still in its infancy, China's cruise market is set to swell over the next decade thanks to a surge in demand and a springboard of favorable policies, Yang Feiyue reports.

The potential for market growth and ongoing government support are putting a rosy complexion on the Chinese cruise market, as bookings with surge ahead of the May Day holiday.

The most popular trips last for five or six days and family bookings are a major market force, says Ctrip's Liu Xiaolyu, a senior executive for the online travel agency's cruise operations.

Trips from Tianjin to Japan's Okinawa and Miyako islands and those from Beijing to Vietnam and Singapore enjoyed brisk bookings before the holiday.

Trips from Tianjin to Japan's Okinawa and Miyako islands and those from Beijing to Vietnam and Singapore enjoyed brisk bookings before the May Day holiday. Jin Yu / Xinhua

Young people in particular are buying into cruise travel. The number of cruise passengers aged between 18 and 30 for the May holiday has increased by 10 percent compared with the same period of last year, according to a Ctrip report.

Although the country's cruise industry saw a dip in liner and passenger numbers last year, April bookings show Chinese travelers still have an appetite for cruise holidays, Liu explains.

The country's economic and social development and rising living standards have made cruise travel the latest craze for leisure and vacations among Chinese travelers, says Wu Chungeng, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport.

The Xiamen International Cruise Terminal in southeastern Fujian province received 32 cruise liner visits over the first three months of this year, an increase of 433 percent compared with the same period last year, the Transport Ministry reports.

Cruise passengers paid 89,300 visits to the port from January to March, a rise of 283 percent.

Last year, China's cruise industry received 2.5 million passengers, a gain of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to ministry data.

The development of the cruise industry is shifting away from high-speed toward high-quality, according to a report jointly conducted by the Shanghai International Cruise Business Institute.

Although the number of cruise liners berthing at the country's home ports has dipped in recent years, passenger numbers are still rising as larger vessels service the market, the report says.

Another factor buoying up the market are the raft of supporting policies for the cruise industry rolled out by a number of government departments in recent years.

Ten government authorities, including the National Development and Reform Commission and the Transport Ministry, launched a guide document aimed at boosting the country's cruise economy in September.

The favorable policies outlined in the document aim to nurture China's cruise tourism market, upgrade port services, promote cruise and auxiliary industry development and develop talent.

The authorities expect the country's cruise market to become one of the most dynamic in the world by 2035, transporting 14 million passengers annually.

The Shanghai government has plans in place to develop a cruise industry chain over the Yangtze River Delta region by 2022, while the Guangzhou government has earmarked 30 million yuan ($4.47 million) annually to support cruise development and a newly proposed global cruise liner distribution, shipbuilding and repair center.

Qingdao in East China's Shandong province has also launched a series of favorable policies to boost its cruise tourism sector.

The city has simplified the entry procedure for cruise passengers and offered monetary incentives ranging from 100,000 yuan to 3 million yuan to cruise operators, depending on the number of trips they arrange via the city, local authorities say.

Authorities are looking to improve the port's capacity for receiving vessels and plans to upgrade its infrastructure, such as by increasing the number of boarding bridges this year.

The idea is not just to enable tourists to take cruise trips from Qingdao, but also to encourage them to stay and travel in Qingdao.

The city's home port received 71 cruise visits in 2018 and took in 112,000 tourist visits, an increase of 3 percent over the previous year.

Xiamen, Guangzhou and Hainan province's Haikou have also offered support, including financial incentives, to local cruise operators.

This support has also encouraged industry players to make inroads into the cruise market.

A purpose-built cruise liner that was renovated for the luxury Asian and Chinese market was launched at the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal in mid-April.

Named Explorer Dream, the cruise liner belongs to Dream Cruises' fleet under Genting Cruise Lines, and is the first of its kind in eastern China.

The vessel offers 928 cabins and can host 1,856 passengers. Genting aims to tap into the eastern and northern Chinese market, which they estimate to be five times larger than the market in the south, according to Hui Lim, the deputy chief executive officer of Genting Hong Kong.

Sailing from its home port of Shanghai, the cruise liner will take guests to popular destinations in Japan, offering a range of three-to six-night itineraries, including three-night trips to Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe, and two-night round-trips to Okinawa.

Set to debut in 2021, Dream Cruises' first 200,000-ton Global Class ship will also be deployed in Shanghai as the largest cruise ship in the Asia-Pacific, the operator says.

In July 2017, Genting Cruise Lines launched their Golden Sea Route seven-night itinerary in Shanghai, ahead of signing a strategic memorandum of understanding in October 2018 with the government of Shanghai's Baoshan district to boost cooperation.

"The arrival of Explorer Dream will bring premium cruise travel products that will help propel the development of the cruise industry in China," says Su Ping, a senior district government official.

Genting is just one of several cruise operators who are looking to make a splash in the China market.

The US-based cruise company Royal Caribbean International will launch a new cruise ship with upgraded facilities in Shanghai in June 2019 along with new itineraries tailor-made for the Chinese market.

The company's cruise lines will this year stop at the Chinese ports of Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Shenzhen in Guangdong province, according to Liu Zinan, president of the China and North Asia-Pacific region at Royal Caribbean International.

Genoa-headquartered Costa Cruises is due to put its Costa Venezia liner - which was designed and built especially for the Chinese market - into operation later this year, ahead of another new cruise liner scheduled to launch in 2020.

The Switzerland-based MSC Cruises will also roll out its latest flagship for China, the MSC Bellissima, next year.

"There's no doubt that China's cruise industry is still in infancy, and the whole industry, especially the numbers of cruise passengers, will continue to rise over the next five to 10 years," says Ye Xinliang, deputy director of the Shanghai International Cruise Business Institute.

"There appears to be huge potential when you examine the country's per capita disposable income and the current proportion of Chinese cruise passengers compared to other outbound travelers," Ye adds.

He proposed to improve market mechanisms among cruise companies, distributors and travel agencies to tap into the potential of the Chinese market.

He also urged market players to improve their understanding of the diverse consumption behaviors of Chinese travelers and develop more pertinent products accordingly.

Ye predicts that the numbers of Chinese cruise tourists will catch up with that of their counterparts in the US by 2035.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2019-05-01 07:19:04
<![CDATA[Chinese top spenders in Hawaii]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-05/01/content_37464843.htm

Chinese travelers have pushed their foreign counterparts aside to become the top spenders in Hawaii.

Per capita spending hit $356 per day among Chinese visitors, who stayed at the island group destination for nearly eight days on average in 2018, an increase of 8 percent compared with 2017, Hawaii Tourism reports.

"It lets us see the continuously evolving needs of domestic (Chinese) travelers for high-end island experiences," says Reene Ho-Phang, a strategic consultant with Hawaii Tourism's China operations.

Hawaii tourism authorities launched more than 300 new travel products aimed at attracting Chinese tourists to the US state at a promotional event in Beijing in mid-April.

The evolving taste of Chinese travelers has prompted an increasing need for high-end island experiences. Provided to China Daily

A range of tailor-made packages were unveiled, covering themes as diverse as honeymoons and weddings, natural wonders, expeditions, self-drive holidays and luxury travel experiences.

They all aim to satisfy the increasingly diverse needs of Chinese travelers and attract more visitors from China, according to the tourism authority.

Hawaii boasts splendid natural landscapes, diverse interactive programs and well-developed tourism facilities and is an ideal destination for families or groups interested in water sports.

For travelers with children, visits to the Bishop Museum, Pearl Harbor and the Iolani Palace provide an opportunity to better understand Hawaii's culture and history, Ho-Phang says.

Children can learn more about the importance of animal welfare and environmental protection by watching green turtles on a local black-sand beach or from taking offshore whale-watching trips.

"We also pay attention to local sea ecology protection and sustainable development, and hope tourists will continue to come and enjoy these charming islands," she says.

Many hotels offer traditional culture experiences for Chinese travelers, such as lei-making (Hawaiian wreath), hula dancing, and ukulele lessons.

The traditional Polynesian cultural performance and tasty luau dishes at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu are also not to be missed, Ho-Phang adds.

"The idea is to convey Hawaii's unique 'Aloha spirit' to more Chinese travelers," she says. Local tourism authorities are launching a Rainbow Route program for Chinese travelers to fully enjoy the range of outdoor activities Hawaii has to offer.

Various water sports, and surfing in particular, will be offered to spice up the visitor experience, according to Ho-Phang.

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2019-05-01 07:19:04
<![CDATA[Fishing for flavor]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-03/29/content_37453537.htm Wang Delu was a traditional fisherman born in Sichuan province in 1919, who frequently caught Tuojiang yanian - a catfish variety that takes its name from the Tuojiang River that runs through Neijiang city's Yuxi town.

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A Sichuan restaurant chain focusing on aquaculture is bringing its local delicacies to Beijing, Li Yingxue reports.

Wang Delu was a traditional fisherman born in Sichuan province in 1919, who frequently caught Tuojiang yanian - a catfish variety that takes its name from the Tuojiang River that runs through Neijiang city's Yuxi town.

Wang supported his family and cooked the fish every day, using homemade pickles and liquor.

And his culinary skills - especially when it came to preparing catfish - developed over time, until he became known throughout the region for his cooking.

People would often visit him to try his fare or learn from him. And his son, Wang Yongjiu, also started to learn from him in 1969, at age 20.

Wang Yongjiu set up the restaurant brand Yongjiuwang in 1984. Yongjiu is not only his name but also means everlasting, and he hopes his family's brand can last for more than a century.

Wang Yongjiu's daughter, Wang Shiyi, has developed the brand into a chain.

Sichuan hosts a number of Yongjiuwang restaurants along highways, in high-end shopping malls and on business streets.

And Wang Shiyi brought the brand out of Sichuan last year, when she opened a Beijing branch with a team of cooks who average 18 years of experience.

Her father told her before she headed to the capital: "Don't return within six months. And you shouldn't come to see me if the restaurant isn't doing well."

Wang Shiyi says they were invited to open a Beijing branch a decade ago, but her father refused. He was concerned they couldn't bring the same flavor to the capital.

"Now is the time because we have better logistics to bring fresh ingredients to Beijing daily," Wang Shiyi says.

She recalls hating the business when she was in elementary school. Her parents were too busy to look after her and her sister. The two girls had to watch customers' cars.

"However far away they parked, we had to walk there to look after them," she says.

Wang Shiyi initially refused to take over the family business and worked at a bank for eight years after graduating from college.

But her father persuaded her in 2000.

Every day, she buys vegetables at a market at 3 am before heading to another market to buy meat.

She once had to visit markets six times in one day to get everything.

"My father told me that I have to first know every ingredient," she says.

"So, I spent eight years buying them every morning to become familiar with them."

Wang Shiyi took the chance when Yongjiuwang was again invited to open a Beijing branch last year. She decided to source all of the ingredients from Sichuan to ensure the flavors were the same as back home.

Tuojiang yanian catfish, for instance, are distinctive from other varieties in that they have larger mouths and survive only in clear water.

"They eat fingerlings. So, we feed them live fish so that their meat is fresh and tender," she says. The catfish are ordered two days in advance and are, like most ingredients - including ginger, garlic and pickles - transported from Yuxi to Beijing via Chengdu's airport daily.

"We even use water from Sichuan. Only some fresh vegetables are bought in Beijing. Our cooks select them to ensure they're of the same quality as Sichuan's."

Wang Shiyi and her team created and taste-tested the entire menu at least five times before opening the outlet last year. They adjusted each dish to ensure meals taste like those in their restaurants in Sichuan.

"Working outside of Sichuan has helped me learn a lot - like plating and service - that we didn't know since we used to be a roadside eatery."

She reveals the secret to the brand's fish dish - pickles.

"Every family in Sichuan makes their own pickles. Our fish uses our home recipe."

Wang Shiyi's family has a cook who has focused on making pickles for more than three decades like her father.

They make four kinds - ginger, radishes, vegetables and peppersto create different flavors of fish.

Her family has a pickling plant in their hometown in which ingredients are preserved in hundreds of clay jars. Those served with catfish are marinated for at least three years.

Yongjiuwang serves other aquaculture in Sichuan style, including Yangtze long-snout catfish, rock carp and yellow catfish.

Its signature dish is a spicy-soup base, but it also offers a tomato base for guests who can't take the heat.

It also serves such typical Sichuan fare as blood curd in chili sauce, kung pao chicken, mapo tofu, double-cooked pork and hot-and-spicy diced rabbit.

Yongjiuwang also serves homemade sausage made from pigs raised at their own farm in Sichuan.

"The pork we use to make our Sichuan-flavor sausage is from 11-month-old piglets fed only sweet potatoes and corn," Wang Shiyi says.

"I've fallen in love with catering. We're not expanding quickly. But I want to make our restaurant last for more than a century."

Contact the writer at liyingxue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Wang Yongjiu (left), who set up the restaurant Yongjiuwang, and his daughter, Wang Shiyi, who has helped develop the restaurant into a chain.

 

Wang Yongjiu shows his cooks how to make pickles. Some of Yongjiuwang's signature Sichuan-cuisine dishes. Photos provided to China Daily

(China Daily 03/29/2019 page16)

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2019-03-29 07:48:37
<![CDATA[Eat beat]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-03/29/content_37453536.htm Grill 79 unveils weekend lunch

The eatery Grill 79, located on the 79th floor of the China World Summit Wing, is launching a new weekend "forest and ocean semi-buffet lunch" with a fresh seafood counter, featuring lobsters, oysters, mussels and crabs and a range of a la carte main courses, including roast beef, roast chicken, grilled beef ribs and baked prawns.

No 1 Jianguomenwai Ave, Chaoyang district, Beijing. 010-8571-6459.

Michelin restaurant offers customized menu

Fudao Art Gallery Restaurant is collaborating with French Michelin-star restaurant Auberge de L'Ile Barbe by inviting its chef, Jean-Christophe Ansanay-Alex, to create a new customized menu. The chef, who grew up in Lyon, studied cooking from French chef Pierre Orsi. Though he lost his right arm in a car accident at age 24, he kept pursuing his culinary dream. Now, he has brought his signature dishes to Beijing. They include frog legs with garlic nougat and flounder and lobster.

No 3 Hepingli Xijie, Chaoyang district, Beijing.

Sichuan fare goes upmarket

Michelin-star chef Andre Chiang and his culinary team are working with Wynn Palace in Macao to launch Sichuan Moon, which focuses on modern Sichuan cuisine paired with rare Chinese tea. One of the highlights is "88 fortune treasures", a selection of eight cold dishes that reveal the flavors of Sichuan cuisine. Other must-tries include "secret-recipe" king crab legs, which blend Pixian county broad-bean sauce with Cantonese "typhoon shelter powder" crab. Chiang also gives traditional mapo tofu a modern twist by using tender tofu, hard tofu, Japanese egg tofu and black tofu in the dish.

Avenida Da Nave Desportiva, Cotai, Macao. 853-8889-3663.

China Daily

(China Daily 03/29/2019 page16)

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2019-03-29 07:48:37
<![CDATA[Love up your spice life]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-03/29/content_37453535.htm Stinky mandarin fish is a traditional dish from Anhui province that combines a pungent aroma with a delicious taste, which the cooks from Xiang'ai have updated with the flavors of Hunan.

Specializing in modern Hunan cuisine, the Beijing-based restaurant's version of the pan-fried dish involves marinating the fresh fish in preserved bean curd for two days to give it an extra kick.

According to executive chef Shi Jianjun, a native of Hunan province's Changde, the aromas created by the two cooking methods are slightly different, since in Anhui cuisine the smell comes from the fish, while in Hunan cooking, the smell derives largely from the fermented bean curd.

"We also use a different sauce to cook the fish, and our version uses smaller fish," says Shi.

Located in the Sanlitun area of the capital, Xiang'ai focuses on the authentic flavors of the Xiangxi (western Hunan), Xiangjiang (Xiangjiang River) and Dongting (Dongting Lake) regions of Hunan cuisine which are traditionally spicy but plated in a contemporary style.

Xiang'ai, which has the same pronunciation of "falling in love" in Chinese, is decorated in a modern style that makes it an ideal place to celebrate a birthday, anniversary - or even a proposal.

Steamed Thousand Island Lake fish head topped with two peppers is one of the restaurant's signature dishes. It's based on a traditional Hunan favorite but offered with the choice of salty-chili or pickled-pepper sauces.

The fresh fish is flown in daily from Qiandao Lake (Thousand Island Lake) in Zhejiang province. Each weighs around 5 kilograms.

"A fish head weighs around 3 kilograms, and because the water in the lake is so clear and sweet, the fish meat is fresh and tender - especially the meat in the fish head," says Shi. "The meat from the fish head is the most delicious part of a fish, as it's both tasty and nutritious."

According to Shi, the salty-chili sauce is made with two types of peppers, and the pickled-pepper sauce is made in Hunan.

"The peppers are marinated in jars for two weeks before being shipped to Beijing, and we add fresh peppers when we fry them together to make the sauce," Shi says. "The salty-chili sauce is actually much spicier than the pickled pepper, which has more of a sour flavor."

The fish head is steamed with salt, tea-seed oil, beer and lemon juice, before it's cooked in the sauce for around 15 minutes and served in the same pot.

"Experienced Hunan chefs know precisely how long each fish head should be steamed for, which is a skill that takes years to master," Shi says.

After eating the fish head, the best way to finish the dish is to add a bowl of noodles to the fish soup, according to Shi.

Fried preserved pork is another must-try dish that's made in the traditional Hunan cooking style with preserved meat made in the province.

"We heat the preserved meat over a fire to make the skin soft and then steep whole chunks of meat in warm water overnight, before steaming the meat to prepare it for frying," says Shi.

A sweet way to offset the heat of the food and round off dinner is to opt for the durian ice cream, which features two kinds of cream mixed with durian and frozen to - 23 C. This helps to reduce the spicy flavors and clean the palate.

liyingxue@chinadaiy.com.cn

 

Hairy tofu with special sauce (left) and stewed abalone with taro are two highlights of Xiang'ai's modern twist on Hunan cuisine. Photos provided to China Daily

(China Daily 03/29/2019 page16)

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2019-03-29 07:48:37
<![CDATA[Admiring art in fuel tanks]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-03/10/content_37446146.htm Anew cultural landmark called Tank Shanghai, an art space which comprises five repurposed giant oil tanks, will open in the West Bund area along the Huangpu River on March 23.

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Set in a former airport, a new cultural landmark in the West Bund area will hold three exhibitions as part of its grand opening in late March, Zhang Kun reports in Shanghai.

Anew cultural landmark called Tank Shanghai, an art space which comprises five repurposed giant oil tanks, will open in the West Bund area along the Huangpu River on March 23.

The tanks that make up this art space used to be part of the facilities of Longhua Airport, the city's first aviation hub.

The West Bund area that flanks the Huangpu is one of the most active art and culture centers in downtown Shanghai. The area is home to a cluster of important art and cultural institutions, such as the Long Museum, the Shanghai Center of Photography and the new Pompidou Centre Shanghai, which is still under construction. Situated across Longteng Avenue from the art space is the West Bund Art Center, the venue for an annual art fair in November that was attended by more than 100 leading galleries around the world.

Occupying 60,000 square meters, the art space was founded by Qiao Zhibing, a renowned collector of contemporary art. According to Qiao, the space is a multifunctional cultural hub that combines exhibition venues with parkland, a plaza, a bookstore, an education center and a restaurant. The project took more than five years to complete.

Three exhibitions will be held in celebration of the art space's grand opening. The largest tank, No 5, will host TeamLab, a renowned group in the global contemporary art scene that dabbles with new media. Here, the group will present a large interactive digital art show called Universe of Water Particles in the Tank.

The art space exhibition will be TeamLab's largest show in China. The title work Universe of Water Particles in the Tank, Transcending Boundaries, will feature an enormous waterfall which appears to cascade down the interior surface of the tank. Other works will depict flowers throughout the seasons, as well as a projection of waves.

Over at tank No 3, visitors will find Argentinean sculptor Adrian Villa Rojas' exhibition titled "Sometimes you wonder, in an interconnected universe, who is dreaming whom?"

Meanwhile, tank No 4 will be used to host a group exhibition titled Under Construction that showcases works by leading Chinese artists such as Ding Yi, Liu Xiaodong and Zhang Xiaogang.

The opening exhibitions were designed to reflect the vision of Qiao, a collector of contemporary art globally. The 52-year-old entrepreneur, who started collecting contemporary Chinese art in 2006, says the reason behind setting up the art space was his desire to work with artists and introduce their new ideas to the public as well as channel the spotlight onto emerging young Chinese artists.

Shanghai's first airport, Longhua Airport, was located in the area surrounding the art space since 1917. Although the airport was closed in 1966, it wasn't until 2008 that it was demolished to make way for the construction of the new Longyao Road Tunnel under the Huangpu.

In 2012, State-owned enterprise West Bund Development Co was founded to carry out the comprehensive development of the Xuhui waterfront area by the Huangpu, which includes the establishment of 20 cultural institutions and six theaters in the area. Aside from culture and art, the West Bund area is also a thriving zone filled with finance and high-tech enterprises.

There were originally seven tanks used for fuel storage at the airport. Following the redevelopment, two of the tanks were torn down and a new heliport was built at the site. The remaining five oil tanks, the highest of which has a height of 19 meters and a diameter of 28 meters, were redesigned by the award-winning firm Open Architecture to become the new art space.

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2019-03-10 14:51:18
<![CDATA[An integration of design, nature and heritage]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-03/10/content_37446145.htm At award-winning design firm Open Architecture, the job is not just about creating new buildings, but creating new life and promoting tolerance and inclusiveness in urban settings.

The firm's latest project, Tank Shanghai, located in the city's West Bund area, perfectly fits the bill, says Li Hu, the co-founder of Open Architecture. The new art space is made up of five oil tanks that were once used to store fuel for aircraft in the former Longhua Airport.

Furthermore, the space also combines natural landscapes with buildings and integrates a city park with contemporary art exhibitions, industrial heritage and humanitarian futurism, says Huang Wenjing, Li's wife and the co-founder of Open Architecture.

Unlike traditional art museums that are usually situated in a single building, the art space features five separate tanks that allow visitors to smell the flowers in the area and feel the breeze from the river while walking between exhibition halls, adds Huang.

"There are many cases around the world where heritage industrial sites are rebuilt for new purposes and functions," Li tells China Daily at one of the tanks. "But there has never been any case like this. This is the first of its kind."

Open Architecture started working on the art space project in 2013. To integrate art and nature, Li said that he added soil to the area to allow the growing of plants. The firm also introduced a sinking square that invites visitors to walk along passages flanked by trees and paved with small black pebbles before reaching the central lobby of the art space.

To breathe new life into the tanks, Li installed oval windows in the tanks to usher in natural light and created diverse spaces for dining, live performances and educational functions. Visitors can also climb to the top of one of the tanks to admire a view of the surroundings.

Li recalls the construction of the new art space frequently drew curious onlookers who were strolling along the river. He says he hopes this would again be the case when the space officially opens, adding that the art space is meant for everyone and not just society's elites.

"I wish buildings can inspire new ways of living, help us to tolerate each other, love the Earth and cherish the world we live in," he says.

Li, 46, studied architecture at Tsinghua University in Beijing and Rice University in the United States. A former partner of the prestigious Steven Holl Architects, Li says he was a recipient of the "50 under 50: Innovators of the 21st century" accolade.

Set up in 2008, Open Architecture is registered in both Beijing and New York. The firm's Chinese arm has since won multiple international awards in design in the US, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Some of Open Architecture's most notable projects include the Dune Art Museum on the beach of the Beidaihe resort in North China's Hebei province, the Fangshan campus of Beijing No 4 High School and the ongoing Pinghe International School in Qingpu district of Shanghai.

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2019-03-10 14:51:18
<![CDATA[Yayoi Kusama exhibition kicks off in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-03/10/content_37446144.htm One of the most iconic contemporary artists in the world today, 90-year-old Yayoi Kusama from Japan is having a large-scale exhibition at the Fosun Foundation in Shanghai.

The new exhibition is "tailor-made" specifically for Fosun Foundation Shanghai, according to Duanmu Xiazi, artistic director of the institution. Although Kusama was not in Shanghai for the exhibition, staff from her studio had made repeated visits to Fosun to ensure the exhibits perfectly complement the architecture of the Fosun Foundation, which is located along the Bund.

More than 40 of the artist's works, all of which represent highlights of her illustrious 70-year career, are on show, including the famous installation Infinity Mirrored Rooms, a three-meter-tall outdoor pumpkin sculpture located in front of the museum, and a three-dimensional polka-dot installation that fills a 100-square-meter space.

On the third floor of the exhibition hall, visitors will find the series of Kusama's paintings titled My Eternal Soul. Included in this series are two new pieces that she created in 2018.

"In this exhibition, I will mainly be presenting my new works, as well as works that resonate with the architecture," Kusama says in a statement.

In response to the copycat exhibition of her works that toured multiple cities in China, including Shanghai and Changsha of Hunan province, Kusama says: "I'm disappointed to see the creations I have infused with my heart and soul being stolen and presented improperly. I want people to see real art - and this exhibition at Fosun Foundation is a great opportunity for that."

Born in 1929, Kusama has a history of mental illness which started when she was a child. She claimed before that she started hallucinating when she was 10 and among the visions she had flowers spoke to her. But instead of allowing it to debilitate her, Kusama turned the illness into a source of creative energy, drawing dense arrays of polka dots across large monochrome canvases. She gradually developed her own artistic style and applied them to a wide range of media, from paintings to installations, performance art and literature.

Her art has been affiliated with minimalism, pop culture and Zero movement. Today, she is one of the most celebrated artists frequently on exhibition all over the world.

Fosun Foundation chairwoman Wang Jinyuan says Kusama's iconic visual images such as the polka dots and mirrors are "simple and powerful - suitable for all ages".

"The root cause is fear, but what she expresses is great love," says Wang. "What people perceive in the art of Yayoi Kusama is the mystery of the vastness of the universe and the breadth of the human spirit."

Starting from Invisible Life, which is a path lined with convex mirrors, the audience will step into the world of the artist, with immersive and reflective installations. To ensure that visitors have an enjoyable viewing experience, only 150 people are allowed in the exhibition space at any time.

"We will erect signs displaying the estimated waiting time," Duanmu tells China Daily.

"We care more about how each person experiences Yayoi Kusama's art rather than the number of visitors."

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2019-03-10 14:51:18
<![CDATA[One more for the Silk Road]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-02/17/content_37437384.htm Oxford University historian Peter Frankopan has recently had to live down being placed in the same category as great authors such as Jane Austen and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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Historian Peter Frankopan adds a new volume to his best-selling book, Andrew Moody reports from Oxford, England.

Oxford University historian Peter Frankopan has recently had to live down being placed in the same category as great authors such as Jane Austen and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Frankopan's best-selling 2015 book, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, was chosen in December as one of the 25 most influential books to be translated into Chinese over the past 40 years by Amazon China alongside Pride and Prejudice and The Great Gatsby.

"It was a poll with some 20,000 respondents. I nearly fell off my chair to be mentioned in the same breath as these authors," he says.

Frankopan, who was speaking over morning coffee at the Rooftop Restaurant of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, is still coming to terms with the success of his first book.

Previously laboring away in what might seem the obscure field of Byzantine history, his history of the ancient Silk Road network that connected Europe, Central Asia and China, coincided with a renewal of interest in these links and was an international best-seller.

"It went viral and global very quickly. It was published in Chinese at the beginning of 2016 and I was very lucky, timing wise, since it also coincided with even greater interest in China's Belt and Road Initiative," he says.

Frankopan is now back where the other book left off with a new volume, The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World, which was released in November.

Whereas the previous book was an epic history spanning millennia, the new one is much more journalistic, taking in events as recent as the Forum on China Africa Cooperation meeting in Beijing in September and the ongoing trade conflict between the United States and China.

Like the first, however, it is superbly researched bringing in everyday examples such as the ownership of football clubs and Bordeaux vineyards to illustrate a more complex connected world.

"I initially set out to write a new up-to-date chapter for the first book but soon realized it would be better to try a shorter book that was a bit more journalistic," he says.

"I wanted to explain the Belt and Road (Initiative). I also wanted to look at countries like India, Pakistan, Iran and Russia. These are big second-tier countries, which have large populations and are quite big militarily. They are not superpowers yet but may well turn out to be that."

Frankopan says his approach is to join the dots that others do not tend to do when looking at the countries on this important axis.

"We don't tend to look at different parts of the world and how they are linked and the implications of that," he says.

"This book is a sort of snapshot of what is going on right now and is particularly useful for policymakers and journalists who don't always actually look at these connections."

One of the biggest connectors is China's Belt and Road Initiative, launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, and which is one of the central focuses of the new book.

The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is set to be held in China later this year and already $1 trillion has been committed to 1,000 projects since the initiative was launched.

"Five years is not a great period of time in historical terms to assess it. The key test will not be whether infrastructure projects look good but whether they can actually significantly improve the GDP and productivity of China's neighbors," he says.

In the book, Frankopan quotes Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen as saying: "Other countries have lots of ideas but no money. But for China when it comes with an idea it also comes with the money."

"I think he is right," says Frankopan.

"These projects, for the large part, do have the capability to raise living standards and do the kind of things that large-scale international development does."

At one point Frankopan contrasts the Belt and Road Initiative with the Northern Powerhouse, a British government initiative to improve infrastructure in the north of England, which was launched at the same time. Its main achievement, according to Frankopan, seems to be just a new second entrance to Leeds railway station.

"Yes, that is right. There is a different scale of ambition. Belt and Road (Initiative) has had some criticism for lacking definition. As a historian I quite like that because many things in history are open to interpretation. Belt and Road (Initiative) is not saying here is a highway and this counts as being part of the belt and this other one doesn't. The fact that it is abstract, inclusive and adaptable seems to be quite a good thing."

Although British, Frankopan, 47, also has a distinction of being a Croatian prince due to his Dalmatian ancestry.

He was educated at Eton College, the top British public school, and initially read Russian at Jesus College, Cambridge, before eventually specializing in Byzantine history.

In 2016, following the success of his book, he was given the impressive and somewhat portentous title of professor of global history at Oxford University.

"I was giving a talk in Vienna and the translator got a bit carried away and I was referred to as the 'professor of universal history' when I got up to speak, which made me feel as though I had nowhere else to go," he says, laughing.

"All it really means is that I am director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research here but it is global in the sense that if you work on the history of Constantinople or Baghdad, you can't do it without looking at China, Russia, Africa and so on.

"Global history is highly recognizable to a Byzantine historian because it is important to understand plural and different systems which are often thousands of miles apart, and then to try and work out how they configure together," he adds.

Frankopan is also an accomplished linguist but despite his increasing interest in China, he has yet to take on Chinese.

"I am sort of thinking I might be too old. I can get (in terms of languages) from Portugal to more or less the Himalayas with a few gaps here and there. I can't read Hungarian, for example.

"I wouldn't necessarily want to be interviewed on TV in all of them (languages) but reading newspapers is not a problem. People in England think that speaking foreign languages is a miracle and that you have to be really clever, which I think is great. I am very lucky they think like that."

One aspect the book touches upon is Brexit, which in some respects is a breakage in the links in the new connected world.

"It is very hard to know what is going to happen. I don't like change as a historian. I also don't like volatility because it produces unpredictability and unforeseen consequences. I think the solution we'll get will weaken the European Union and will weaken the UK significantly," he says.

Frankopan says what he wanted to demonstrate in the book was how cities on the new silk roads are no longer backwaters.

"If you want to see the best art in the world then the Loevre in Abu Dhabi and the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha are hard to beat," he says.

"You have only to look at the ownership of football teams, with many of them coming from China, Russia or the Gulf, to see that the center of gravity of the world is shifting eastward," he adds.

Frankopan says many people in Asia now have a sense that "tomorrow will be better than today" something no longer felt in the West.

"According to the Gini coefficient (which measures inequality in societies), if you are born in Kazakhstan or Sierra Leone in the bottom 20 percent, you have a better chance of getting out than if you are born in the US and the UK," he says.

"No one here in Europe thinks that in 10 years' time we are going to be significantly richer than we are."

Frankopan says China is aware the world is changing.

"They (China) are preparing themselves for a more open outlook on the world. Like in any relationship a lot depends on developing a communication where you talk as well as listen. We are not very good at listening here in the UK or in Europe right now."

The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World by Peter Frankopan (Bloomsbury)

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2019-02-17 11:53:52
<![CDATA[Film remake of manga series hits China on Valentine's Day]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-02/17/content_37437383.htm Previously adapted into films and TV series in Japan and outside, the manga comic series Itazura na Kiss, written and illustrated by Kaoru Tada, is again being brought to the big screen.

Its latest film adaptation - the Chinese-language Fall in Love at First Kiss - was released in Chinese mainland cinemas on Thursday.

The romantic comedy, coming on Valentine's Day, tells the story of a high school student named Yuan Xiangqin who falls in love with her smart schoolmate Jiang Zhishu after they accidentally kiss. Yuan's untiring pursuit of Jiang finally results in him falling for her, too. The film stars Lin Yun and Darren Wang in the lead roles.

Frankie Chen, a Taiwan drama producer, has directed Fall in Love at First Kiss, her second film.

While the plot is well-known, Chen says the film is still inspirational for young people.

Many in Asia seem to be familiar with the love story, she said at the film's media preview in Beijing on Tuesday.

"I wanted to keep the classic moments while presenting new details, and make both fans of the original story and those who have not heard about it, happy."

Chen made her debut with Our Times in 2015, another love story, for which she was nominated in the best new director category at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards in 2015. Although she didn't win that award, her work was noticed.

Japanese actor Takashi Kashiwabara, who played the role of Naoki Irie (the smart schoolboy) in the first film adaptation of Itazura na Kiss in 1996, writes on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo that he had played the role while in his teens, and is now looking forward to the latest movie to see how the story is told in today's context.

Chen invited a Japanese designer to help design the school uniform for her film. Elements of modern life in China such as the use of mobile app WeChat to share gossip and organize activities of the characters in the film have been added in Chen's version.

Chen says her film's actress Lin was given the original manga series to read so she could understand more about Yuan's personality in Fall in Love at First Kiss. They discussed a lot during the shooting, as Lin often gave Chen ideas about how the character Lin plays would react to different situations, Chen adds.

The film's actor Wang, who plays the role of the high-IQ schoolboy that Lin's character loves, says he hopes the audience accepts him in his new role.

Chen says very smart people can belong to different types. Sherlock Homes, the fictional detective, for example, is talkative, while Jiang, the schoolboy of the film, is "just uncommunicative - cool from the outside but actually warm inside".

The role was demanding for Wang, as his rich expressions and body movements used in earlier film and TV roles could not be used to play Jiang, Chen says.

"So his new weapons were his eyes," Chen continues. "I think both Wang and Lin have played their roles exactly the way I had imagined Jiang and Yuan to be."

Many funny scenes make the film both touching and relaxing.

"Love is the most powerful energy in the world, and I hope the audience is hit by love," Chen says of her film.

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2019-02-17 11:53:52
<![CDATA[Leisure pleasure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-01/01/content_37421454.htm More Chinese tourists are spending vacations by the sea, with Sanya leading the domestic market, Li Wenfang reports.

Yu Yong, a businessman in his 40s and working in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, enjoys spending his vacations by the seaside with his family.

He has traveled to "almost all the islands in Southeast Asia," and some islands in coastal Fujian and Guangdong provinces in the country.

 

A beautiful seaside view of Phuket in Thailand. Seaside vacations have become a top choice for more Chinese travelers, as they are no longer satisfied with hurried sightseeing and seek a leisurely experience. Photos Provided to China Daily

"I don't like sightseeing. I just want to shift to another environment for a while and relax, swim or lay on the beach - take a sunbath and have some drinks."

Seaside vacations have become a top choice for more and more Chinese travelers, as they are no longer satisfied with hurried sightseeing and seek more specialty and leisure experiences, according to a report by Ctrip, a major Chinese online travel agency.

Ctrip's clients for such holidays grew by 15 and 21 percent annually in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

Domestic seaside resorts, thanks to their proximity and accessibility to consumers, make for good options.

According to the company, bookings to Sanya, in the tropical island of Hainan province, increased by 30 percent in 2018, with the resort being favored by those escaping the cold weather or the bad-air days in the north.

Women account for 58 percent of the total number of seaside tourists, and 65 percent are in their 30s or younger, according to the travel agency's data for 2018, though family groups also make up an important part of its beach-loving clientele.

This year's top 10 domestic seaside destinations were Sanya, Xiamen, Qingdao, Zhoushan, Haikou, Qinhuangdao, Zhuhai, Dalian, Ningbo and Beihai.

The top 10 cities producing seaside travelers were Shanghai, Beijing, Sanya, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Zhengzhou, Xi'an, Shenzhen, Tianjin and Wuhan.

Although they may not be as globally well-known as the Maldives or Bali, Indonesia, the islands in China enjoy tremendous potential for tourism, according to experts.

More than 11,000 islands dot the country's territory, mostly located in the provinces of Zhejiang, Fujian and Guangdong in the east and the south, according to China's State Oceanic Administration.

Natural attractions and cultural sites officially recognized on those islands, excluding islands in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao and the provincial island of Hainan, totaled 1,028 and 775, respectively, at the end of 2017, with 72 beach resorts operating, according to Qianzhan Industry Research Institute.

These islands received 98.36 million travelers and generated an added value of 89.7 billion yuan ($13.02 billion) from tourism in 2017, said Mu Xiaofei, a researcher with Shenzhen-based Qianzhan Industry Research Institute.

Investment in island tourism has kept increasing and with supportive policies, improving infrastructure and competitive pricing, this sector has strong growth potential, Mu says.

The policies include the national 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), which calls for innovation in market-oriented distribution of resources related to sea and islands. There are also 13th Five-Year Plan policies for the tourism sector, which encourages investment in island tourism, and policies for turning Pingtan in Fujian province and Hainan into international tourist destinations.

Added-value from island tourism in the country is on track for an average 20 percent-plus annual growth to stand at about 220 billion yuan in 2023, Mu says.

Yu Yong from Shenzhen, however, plans to travel to Bohol Island in the Philippines in January. He prefers a Southeast Asian island for his vacation, because of the availability of flights from his city, the well-established facilities and management of the resorts there and that it is a longer-distance retreat from his daily life.

Though they have competitive natural beauty, many Chinese islands lag behind internationally famous foreign islands in areas like transport, hotels, entertainment, services, awareness among consumers and experience in activities, Mu adds.

The inhabited islands in China, for which local governments hold the responsibility, have undergone rapid development, Lin Dong, founder of China Private Islands Alliance, says.

The uninhabited islands, which are managed by oceanic administrations, and came under more stringent protection since late 2009, should pursue a path of specialty tourism, Lin says.

Most of the islands in China are located in subtropical and temperate zones, which makes tourism there more seasonal and return on related investment slower.

Lin suggests more detailed and specific government policies in developing the islands be formulated and that more technology be used, such as for the desalination of sea water and power generation using solar, wind or tidal energy. Island tourism planning and design companies are also needed in this sector, he says.

Island tourism holds substantial potential in China, but - with the exception of islands in Hainan - the present facilities need to be upgraded and the sophisticated planning necessary for the islands has yet to be developed, Huang Huang, a researcher with China Tourism Academy, says.

On some islands with a sizable local population, activities are limited to fishing-village experiences, seafood and inexpensive accommodation that are operated mostly by local households, Huang says, adding that the facilities on those islands need to be upgraded.

Most of the undeveloped islands, which are blessed with picturesque scenery, can be turned into tourism destinations, but a change in policies is necessary. A balance between ecological protection and tourism development, for example, should, and can, be achieved.

Huang, however, suggests specialty tourism facilities, instead of massive tourism projects, be built on many of those islands, to avoid harmful encroachment on local ecology.

High-end plans are crucial in developing the islands so that they can offer specialty activities such as a port of call for cruises, a wellness center, a place for outdoor activities, or a base for scientific study and research.

However, return on investment on tourism facilities takes a relatively long time, and many domestic investors are inclined to seek quick returns by turning tourism projects into real estate developments. This approach should be avoided, Huang says.

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2019-01-01 07:54:16
<![CDATA[ARTISTIC INSPIRATION]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413990.htm An ongoing exhibition in Jingdezhen in East China's Jiangxi province seeks to shed light on the commonalities among Chinese artists born in the 1960s - a generation that experienced tremendous social changes, especially the reform and opening-up that took place in the prime of their lives.

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An exhibition in Jingdezhen seeks to showcase works by artists born in the 1960s and the area's rich ceramics tradition, Liu Xiangrui reports.

An ongoing exhibition in Jingdezhen in East China's Jiangxi province seeks to shed light on the commonalities among Chinese artists born in the 1960s - a generation that experienced tremendous social changes, especially the reform and opening-up that took place in the prime of their lives.

The show, Facing East: Chinese Contemporary Art Exhibition on 'the 1960s', opened on Dec 8 at the Taoxichuan Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, located on the Taoxichuan Ceramic Art Avenue in Jingdezhen, and will run through Feb 16.

The exhibition, which features several dozen works created by 20 artists belonging to this group, is sponsored by the China Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Jingdezhen Ceramic Culture Tourism Group, with help from the Shanghai New Gallery of Art.

According to the exhibition's curator, Yu Ding, who is a professor at the academy, the artists share a lot in terms of their careers.

"All the artists featured in this exhibition are in their 50s now. And they have similar backgrounds, received similar training and share similar values, though they each use a unique artistic language to express themselves," says Yu.

"They were once rebellious, trying out various methods and absorbing any influences they could find in the art of the East and the West. Now many of them are leaders in contemporary Chinese art."

According to Yu, the exhibition was first held at the China Cultural Center in Stockholm last year. And it was called Facing East because Yu believes that the world has entered a new era of shared future in which China plays an important role.

The Jingdezhen exhibition is the third stop for the show.

While the previous stops have focused on easel paintings, especially paintings on paper, in an effort to fully demonstrate to foreigners the basic elements of Chinese art - both its materials and visual thinking - the curating team has now added other art forms, such as sculptures and installations for the current exhibition to enrich the show and showcase the culture of Jing-dezhen as a center for ceramics.

Jingdezhen, which is known as China's porcelain capital, has a long history in porcelain manufacturing and has led China's porcelain industry for centuries. The town was famous for making imperial porcelain wares, and was thus given the name of a Ming Dynasty emperor.

Everything in the town highlights the influence and culture of porcelain. Many old kilns there are still in use after several hundred years, in addition to the mushrooming of ceramic workshops owned by local craftsmen and artists from all over the world.

According to Yu, the works on show in Jingdezhen break the boundaries of materials. And one instance of this is shown by Zhang Fangbai, a Beijing-based artist who held a solo exhibition at Museum Ludwig in Cologne earlier this year.

Zhang has two ink paintings at the exhibition, both entitled Pagoda.

"You can easily find traditional Chinese art elements, such as the contrast of black and white, as well as lines," he says.

Wuhan-based artist Shi Jinsong has created an installation with environmentally friendly materials to represent a pine tree, which is usually regarded as a representation of the indomitable character of the Chinese.

The artist wrapped and protected the tree with packing boxes and plastic film, creating a kind of undisturbed paradiselike space for it. Shi says he wants the work to promote reflection on the modern threats to our environment and urge people to build a world where humans and nature coexist in harmony.

Hu Ronglin, the deputy Party secretary of the Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute, says: "The exhibition offers the town's ceramic industry an opportunity to seek inspiration from the contemporary art scene of China."

The Taoxichuan Ceramic Art Avenue, where the exhibition is being held, is the old site of a famous local ceramics factory. The area, which covers 89,000 square meters, has been restored into an art zone featuring ceramics culture.

 

Top: Smoke Cloud in Zhongshan Mountain, a digital photo by Yao Lu, created in 2008. Above: Two sculptures by Chen Wenling created in 2013, Surprise (left) and Play No 2. Photos by Liu Xiangrui / China Daily

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2018-12-18 07:41:38
<![CDATA[A show of glass: Shanghai hosts French sculptor]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413989.htm It was natural that Juliette Leperlier became a glass artist, given that her father, uncle and great-grandfather have all won worldwide recognition for their work with the material.

The 34-year-old Frenchwoman is the new face of pate de verre - a technique of glass casting that means "glass paste" in English - and the sole female artist in the family. Her debut exhibition on the Chinese mainland is underway at Liuli China Museum in Shanghai and will run until March 31.

The Leperlier family has a long history of creating art from glass. Her great-grandfather, Francois Decorchemont (1880-1971), was a pioneer of pate de verre. His advancement of the technique and mastery of color placement solidified his standing in the history of glass art. Her father, Etienne, and uncle, Antoine Leperlier, are both internationally recognized glass artists.

Thirty-five pieces by Juliette, alongside sculptures created by her great-grandfather, father and uncle, are on display at the exhibition, Raging Fire, Icy Heart: The Glass Exploration Burns Eternal Poetry in Glass. The displays showcase the achievements of glass art in France from the mid-1800s until today.

As a child, Juliette used to play by the kiln and assist her father in his studio. For a long time, she resisted the seemingly natural choice to follow in his footsteps.

"I didn't want the glass to choose me. I wanted to be the one who decided to tame it," she used to say.

"Unconsciously, I was doing everything to get away from the glass paste. I didn't want to be pressured by the family situation."

She studied art in college and explored different media. "However, the more she learned and the further she went, she heard the glass calling to her," says Chang Yi, founder of Liuli China Museum and curator of the Juliette Leperlier exhibition.

"I would have been drawn to glass sculpting, even without my family heritage," Juliette Leperlier said later. She inherited his studio in 2014, after her father's death. In the same year, she won a competition held by the Atelier d'Arts de France. She has since "succeeded in creating her own signature", according to Laura Capazza-Durand, a curator of Galerie Capazza in France.

"Juliette Leperlier is representing the new generation of French glass artists well, daring to be herself," Capazza-Durand says. Juliette learned from her father and uncle, who themselves learned from their grandfather, how to manipulate the delicate medium of glass. "And she introduced a kind of feminine touch," Capazza-Durand says. "The forms she creates are full of delicacy. Some of them are almost anthropomorphic, exuding a character, as if they were someone you've known forever."

Leperlier says her early works were inspired by nature, and took their forms from bees, sea urchins and blooming flowers.

She learned from her ancestors how to work with the unique quality of glass, a material full of contradiction. It is transparent and penetrable by the light, and yet you can place colors inside. It is unstable and in constant movement as a fluid, "but you can capture the movement, like stopping time," she says.

Her works are usually characterized by simple forms and clear lines, such as the recent series named Vice Versa and Coriolis Force, the latter being a scientific definition of the inertial force that acts upon objects in motion. Chang observes that she "rearranged the complex to be simple and reimagined the heavy into light".

Leperlier has a friend in France who gives her acupuncture treatments. From him, she learned about the Chinese concept of qi (natural energy) and created work that demonstrates her understanding of how energy flows in an endless circle.

As the third generation of the family to become an artist, she was faced with the challenge of proving "that she deserved this legacy, that she had something special to show the world", says Capazza-Durand.

"She has a name. But most of all, she has a first name."

If you go

Raging Fire, Icy Heart: The Glass Exploration Burns Eternal Poetry in Glass

Juliette Leperlier solo exhibition. Liuli China Museum, 25 Taikang Road, Shanghai.

021-6467-2268.

10 am-5 pm, Tuesday-Sunday, until Mar 31.

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2018-12-18 07:41:38
<![CDATA[TV story of country's reform airs worldwide]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413988.htm

As the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy approaches, many foreigners may still wonder how this tremendous change happened in the country. A cross-border TV coproduction presented in English that debuted on Saturday sets out to answer that question.

The first part of the three episode documentary, How China Made It, aired domestically through popular online video-streaming platform Youku.com and was broadcast globally on the Discovery Channel.

The program, filmed in 4K ultrahigh definition, is jointly presented by the State-owned media group, China Intercontinental Communication Center, Discovery Channel, Youku and Meridian Line Films, an independent production company based in Yorkshire, England.

Chinese people from all walks of life share their personal experiences of the past four decades, reflecting the development of Chinese society.

The first episode takes a deep dive into people's livelihoods in rural areas and looks at how the reform and opening-up changed the lives of farming families through personal testimony, spanning the establishment of a household responsibility system in 1978 to today's poverty-alleviation efforts.

Business startups and entrepreneurs' pursuit of the Chinese Dream in a burgeoning economy is the focus of the second episode, following their ups and downs throughout their careers.

The third episode covers a wider range of topics to record how people's daily lives - education, travel, fashion and healthcare - have transformed.

The documentary also includes interviews with world-renowned scholars.

Zhao Qi, deputy secretary-general of the publicity department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, says the coproduction itself is an example of reform and opening-up.

"Media from different countries are able to cooperate on similar projects even more and in very diverse forms," he says. "Such cooperation will enhance friendship between China and other countries and promote people-to-people connectivity."

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2018-12-18 08:14:43
<![CDATA['Taihu's pearl' shines anew]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413987.htm I recently joined a fishing crew from Jiangsu province's Wuxi to haul up nets on Taihu Lake.

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Wuxi is known as 'little Shanghai' because of its village and township enterprises that boomed after the reform and opening-up. But unfettered growth produced a blue-green algae bloom that has since pushed the city toward innovative and green development, Erik Nilsson discovers in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.

Editor's Note: This is Part 2 of the six-part Yangtze diaries series based on journalist Erik Nilsson's recent 35-day, 2,000-kilometer journey to 11 cities to discover how the Yangtze River Economic Belt has transformed over the 40 years since the reform and opening-up. Scan the code to watch the video.

I recently joined a fishing crew from Jiangsu province's Wuxi to haul up nets on Taihu Lake.

I later underwent a tai chi physical-therapy routine led by a virtual instructor using the internet of things. And I also picked grapes with a local entrepreneur, who abandoned his chemical company for green agriculture over a decade ago.

I discovered how these seemingly disparate experiences are interconnected in the story of Wuxi's rapid development, environmental crisis and recovery, and industrial transformation since the reform and opening-up.

The 3,000-year-old settlement is today known as "little Shanghai" because of its advanced industries and flourishing businesses.

The second-tier city has become a first-class economy. Its GDP exceeded $145 billion - roughly $7 billion more than Hungary's - last year.

Decades ago, rural residents put down their farming tools to start collective, cooperative and individual enterprises. They became leaders on the road from poverty to prosperity.

Many of these startups were based in the city's hinterlands. Some have grown into conglomerates, largely because of their early-mover advantage.

Wuxi's Shuangliang Group, for example, started as a chiller producer in Jiangyin, a county-level city under Wuxi. It was founded by seven retired soldiers, who invested their pensions.

Today, Shuangliang operates with several businesses, including energy production, dockyard services and hotels.

"Before the reform and openingup, we weren't allowed to set up our own companies," vice-president Ma Fulin says.

"And there was a default policy that employers could hire no more than seven workers. The change motivated people who were willing to start companies like Shuangliang."

Ma moved from Beijing to Jiangyin soon after the reform and opening-up in hopes of grasping its emergent opportunities.

"Many people were surprised I'd leave the relatively developed capital to come here," he says.

"It was very rustic then."

He designed machines that capture and harness excess energy from power plants.

"It initially took us three months to make a small machine," Ma says.

"Now, we can manufacture the biggest one in two weeks. They can power a medium-sized city. We're a world leader in this area."

I also visited the headquarters of Fasten Group, which produces steel cables used in over 800 bridges around the world, including many of the planet's largest.

The company - also founded by seven retired soldiers in what was then rural Wuxi - began by making hemp rope for ships plying the Yangtze. It evolved to become one of China's first fiber-optic-cable manufacturers.

Today, it's involved in the creation of international standards for steel cables and develops and produces much of the equipment it uses to manufacture fiber-optic products.

Wuxi has indisputably boomed since the reform and opening-up.

But, as a Chinese saying goes, "The water that carries a ship can also capsize it."

Indeed, Taihu's water proves this to be true in terms of economic development.

The 1980s folk song, The Beauty of Taihu Lake, describes the water body as a source of fish and rice. Taihu is the largest lake in the Yangtze Delta. And Wuxi is known as its "pearl".

Unchecked growth produced pollution, especially a blue-green algae bloom in Taihu that left a million people without water around 2007.

People began to question "development-at-all-costs" and to consider how to balance economic growth with environmental protection.

This pushed the government to guide local enterprises toward green and innovative sectors.

Fisherwoman Gao Shengqiong explained to me how the pollution and recovery of Taihu has affected her family when I joined them to haul up squirming nets.

"Nobody wanted to buy the fish we caught during the algae bloom," she says.

"Our family has fished in Taihu for generations. In my father-inlaw's time, they could catch hundreds of thousands of kilograms of fish a day. But now we can get tens of thousands at most."

Taihu's three treasures are its "three whites" - whitefish, river shrimp and silverfish.

I later helped the crew sort these fingerlings, tossing them into their respective compartments beneath the deck until a dragon's hoard worth of silver ingots shimmered in the compartments beneath the deck. Larger fish, about the size of a forearm, blasted out of the water, sometimes punching against the sides of the wooden boat.

Back on land, I dined on the "three whites" for lunch.

I'd enjoyed them during my many previous visits to Wuxi.

But they'd taken on a new meaning for me after catching them myself while talking with Gao about how they fit into the story of Wuxi's growing pains.

The environmental crisis has, in some ways, proved a blessing in disguise. It compelled the government to support enterprises' transitions toward innovation.

Zhoutie township, for instance, was once known for its chemical industry.

As we strolled along Taihu's shore near his orchards, entrepreneur Zhang Tao told me the township hosted over 300 chemical companies in the early stage of the reform and opening-up.

"They were everywhere. But their success came at the expense of the environment," Zhang says.

"Only about a dozen still operate. Some are slated to also be shut down, which will further benefit our environmental recovery. Maybe we can soon swim ... to cool down during the summer heat - something I did as a kid that we couldn't imagine a few years ago."

Zhang was an early mover to change his business' direction.

He'd left farming to enter the chemical industry and returned to agriculture - this time using green methods to cultivate fruit - a few years before the bloom.

"I made a lot of money in chemical production," he explained, as we plucked grapes that bejeweled his vines.

"But growing grapes brings in a lot of money, too. I feel good doing this because it's environmentally friendly."

Yet green agriculture is just one way in which Wuxi is innovating.

Many industries in the city are shifting toward such high-tech sectors as the internet of things.

I visited the China Business Innovation Center to find out how IoT technology is being used in healthcare.

There, I did the tai chi routine, put my face in a white box and stuck out my tongue to get a facial scan that produced a basic health assessment and played a kids' fishing game on a tablet in which I had to use a nebulizer or it'd turn off. The game is intended to get children to use their nebulizers by making it fun, since many kids dislike the treatments.

The problem was, I started laughing too hard and lost the game.

Operations manager Chen Xiaoyan also showed me an ambulance equipped to diagnose patients before they arrive at the hospital.

"A lot of tests can be done within 20 minutes of boarding the ambulance," she says.

"The data are sent to the hospital via IoT technology before the patients arrive. So, doctors can provide treatments sooner."

IoT technology is also being used in such industries as textiles.

The century-old Wuxi No 1 Cotton Mill Textile Group, for instance, runs a huge factory with a fraction of the workers previously required. Today, IoT technology can monitor production conditions, reducing the need for humans to do so.

Indeed, Wuxi has proved to be a model in balancing the economy and environment by transitioning from traditional to emergent industries and shifting from quantity to quality.

And, so, Taihu's pearl shines anew at the dawn of China's new era.

 

Jiangsu province's Wuxi is often called "Little Shanghai" because of its prosperity. China Daily New Media Center

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2018-12-18 07:41:38
<![CDATA[A place sculpted by porcelain culture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413986.htm Zhang Nanzhang routinely films short videos of porcelain statues when he visits ceramics studios in Dehua county in Fujian province's Quanzhou city.

He started posting them on Chinese short-video platforms, including Kuaishou, several months ago.

"It's easy and convenient to use my smartphone to shoot the porcelain artworks and share them with others online," says Zhang, who's director of the Quanzhou Arts and Crafts Vocational College's ceramic art department.

"Many are overwhelmed by the statues' beauty. But they don't know many details about them. So, I sometimes share my analyses about how to appreciate them."

Dehua is celebrated for its white porcelain, especially statues, such as those of Buddha. It claims to be China's largest porcelain-handiwork manufacturer and exporter, with an export ratio of 65 percent.

Its porcelain products like tableware were major exports along the ancient Maritime Silk Road in the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) dynasties.

Italian explorer Marco Polo (1254-1324) mentioned the beauty of Dehua porcelain in The Travels of Marco Polo. It's believed that he brought back from China a porcelain jar made in Dehua that's today housed in St. Mark's Basilica in Venice.

Dehua porcelain was shipped to Europe in large quantities and became popular among foreign nobility in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The French called it blanc de Chine (white from China).

The World Crafts Council affiliated with UNESCO named Dehua as a World Craft City for Porcelain in 2015.

When the ninth BRICS Summit was held in Fujian province's Xiamen last year, Dehua white porcelain was selected as state gifts for attendees and the tableware for the state banquets.

Zhang developed the idea to use media to promote Dehua's porcelain culture and art over a decade ago.

He published academic articles in local magazines. But they were only circulated in the county.

"China's short-video-platform boom offers a great opportunity to better popularize Dehua porcelain and reach a wider audience," he says.

Netizens are particularly interested in the sculpting process, he says.

Zhang has over 7,200 fans on Kuaishou.

He plans to invite local artisans to do livestreams with him after he gets more followers.

The county government recently announced its strategic cooperation with Kuaishou. They've opened three official Kuaishou accounts to promote Dehua's white porcelain and tourism.

The county hosts over 3,000 porcelain companies. Over 100,000 of its more than 290,000 people work in the sector, which has a gross value of 22.74 billion yuan ($3.29 billion).

About 3.96 million travelers visited Dehua in 2017, generating 3.84 billion yuan in tourism revenue.

Yu Xuesong, who's in charge of government relations at Kuaishou Technology, says the company is providing local craftspeople and ceramics-studio owners with free training in such areas as marketing to help them realize short-video platforms' potential.

"Consumers are more aware of the goods' added value when they see how they're made," he says.

Zhang also has undergone the trainings. He's confident he'll attract more fans.

The county's deputy Party secretary, Chen Jinzhong, says: "Dehua boasts picturesque natural scenery and porcelain culture. It's important to integrate porcelain culture with tourism to promote it as a destination."

Tourists can visit the county's Ceramics Museum to see various ancient white-porcelain statues and household china, and learn about the production process.

Shunmei Ceramics Culture Center showcases all kinds of ceramics, including china cups with beautiful patterns, tea sets, chopsticks and ornaments. Travelers can also join workshops to make their own porcelain.

Visitors can also climb Jiuxian Mountain, which literally means nine immortals, to enjoy scenery and explore old temples. A 2.7-meter-tall laughing Buddha carved out of a large rock about 1,300 years ago stands in a cave.

Visitors often spend nights strolling around a street lined with ceramics stores.

"Transportation is improving," Chen says. "A new highway and railway will link us to other cities."

The county is also rebuilding the Shiniu Mountain scenic area and developing more tourism products.

Shiniu Mountain is famous for its peaks, rocks, waterfalls, hot springs and an ancient Taoist temple.

The scenic area will reopen on Jan 1, 2020. It'll have cable cars, an observation deck with a glass floor and a walkway built on brackets fixed to cliffs.

Then, travelers who explore Dehua's porcelain culture will discover there's much more there that makes the county worth visiting.

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2018-12-18 07:41:38
<![CDATA[Imperial splash]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/18/content_37413985.htm One of the most important figures in Chinese art history, Dong Qichang (1555-1636), is being presented in a large-scale exhibition at Shanghai Museum.

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A large-scale exhibition celebrates the life and art of Dong Qichang, Zhang Kun reports in Shanghai.

One of the most important figures in Chinese art history, Dong Qichang (1555-1636), is being presented in a large-scale exhibition at Shanghai Museum.

The Ferryman of Ink World: Dong Qichang's Calligraphy and Painting Art consists of 154 paintings and calligraphy works, partly from the museum's own collection and partly borrowed from 15 other museums and cultural institutions, including the Palace Museum in Beijing, New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Tokyo National Museum.

This is the largest exhibition of Dong's works on the Chinese mainland, according to Yang Zhigang, director of Shanghai Museum.

Dong was born to a poor-but-learned family in Huating in today's Shanghai. He passed the imperial examination and worked in a series of government positions starting from age 35. During his career as an artist, which lasted until he turned 80, Dong made great efforts in exploring traditional Chinese art, collecting calligraphy and paintings.

Dong is now widely known for his art theories. He divided Chinese painting into northern and southern schools, traced their historical lineage and analyzed their aesthetic advantages.

He emphasized the moral power and spiritual heights of artists, especially literati art.

He also studied and analyzed Chinese inkand-brush painting.

Through his creation, Dong showed that he had learned from previous masters and developed his own style and methodology to become the leader of the Huating school. His artworks were widely sought after during his lifetime. His artistic achievements were praised by both critics and emperors after his death at age 82.

Other exhibits include works by important artists and calligraphers before him, who made great impact on his art, and those by later artists under his influence, according to Yang.

"We hope to create a panoramic exhibition that presents the artist and his ideas in the context of the art history (of imperial China)."

Dong was by far the most influential figure in the late Ming (1368-1644) and early Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. His artistic theories dominated the tone and principles for long after that, says Ling Lizhong, head of the art department of Shanghai Museum, who is also the curator of the exhibition.

While preparing for the exhibition, Ling made a list of all the works he wanted to show like a child writing to Santa Claus.

"I didn't think about whether it was possible to borrow these treasures and exhibit them in Shanghai. I just jotted down a dream list of artworks that I considered important and relevant for the exhibition."

Shanghai Museum managed to borrow more than 40 important paintings and calligraphy pieces from the other 15 museums and cultural institutions.

Among the most celebrated works is The Remaining Mountains, borrowed from the Zhejiang Provincial Museum in Hangzhou.

One of the few surviving works by painter Huang Gongwang (1269-1354), Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, was burned in 1650. Today, one part is kept at the Taipei Palace Museum in Taiwan, while the other - The Remaining Mountains - is stored at the Zhejiang Provincial Museum.

"Some important artworks, such as The Remaining Mountains, are very fragile and cannot be exhibited for more than a few weeks," Yang says.

Because of Dong's influence on Chinese art history, his works coexisted with forgeries, even during his lifetime.

Later on, artists went on to follow his style and techniques, and a lot of paintings were mistakenly considered Dong's creations. This has brought great challenges to the connoisseurship of Dong's works. The exhibition highlights some details and proof that helped academics decide whether a painting was Dong's.

Due to the fragility of some artworks, they can be displayed only for 45 days and then will be replaced by other works.

"If you want to experience the complete exhibition, you will have to make a total of four visits," says Yang.

The exhibition runs through March 10.

 

Landscape paintings by Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) artist Dong Qichang in the manner of old masters are among the pieces on show at the ongoing exhibition in Shanghai. Photos by Gao Erqiang / China Daily

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2018-12-18 07:41:38
<![CDATA[Dusting off a classic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/17/content_37413159.htm A play that offers a new interpretation of writer A Lai's award-winning novel, Settling Dust, is proving popular online, Yang Yang reports.

Recently, Tibetan ethnic writer, A Lai, came to Beijing from Sichuan province to see a new adaptation of his award-winning novel, Settling Dust (also known as Red Poppies), which he first published in 1998 and for which he won the fifth Mao Dun Literary Prize in 2000, the top literary award in China.

The play, starring actor Yu Entai and actress Xu Fan in the leading roles, has been produced as a two-episode online show, the first episode of which has been viewed more than 15 million times on Tencent Video since its release on Dec 10.

 

The "idiot" played by Yu Entai is narrating the background of the story in the play adapted from writer A Lai's novel Settling Dust. The first part of the two-episode online show has been viewed more than 15 million times on Tencent Video since Dec 10.

As one of the most popular contemporary Chinese literary works, so far Settling Dust has seen more than one million copies sold. It has been translated into more than 20 languages, including English, French, German, Russian, Swedish, Korean and Serbian, and published in over 30 countries around the world, A Lai, 59, says.

Before this play, the novel had been adapted into a dance drama, an opera, a TV series and a Sichuan Opera piece.

When A Lai saw the play adaptation, he says he was pleased to see that the novel has been interpreted and presented to an extensive audience in such a new style.

Settling Dust is A Lai's debut novel. In the first-person narration of an "idiot", the second son of a Tibetan chieftain living in the Tibetan borderland in Sichuan's northwest, the novel tells the stories of the Maichi family and feudal life in the last decade before the People's Liberation Army liberated the area in 1951 and ended the serf system.

At the beginning of the novel, people believe that the second son of the Maichi chieftain, born to his second wife - a Han ethnic woman - is an idiot and poses no threat to his half-brother's future. However, the seeming idiot gradually turns out to be wiser during a key competition between him and his brother, which changes everything.

A Lai says, in the novel's Maichi family, only idiots can survive the bloody struggles for power. Moreover, the perspective of an idiot gives the narration an objective quality for readers to better observe the society and family.

For A Lai, Settling Dust preserves a sample of a Tibetan chieftain's life at the end of the feudal society in a fictional form.

At the end of the 1980s, as a high school teacher, A Lai became bored teaching the same texts year after year and began to focus more on writing poems and fiction in his spare time.

When he turned 30 in 1989, however, he found his work unfulfilling, so he began investigating the local Tibetan history of his hometown in Barkam county in the part of Sichuan where his novel is set.

One day, in May 1994, all the legends, religious and historical stories that he had collected over the years started to boil over in his head. He wrote down the first sentence and just kept writing. In July of that year, during the FIFA World Cup in the United States, he stopped for a month, but returned to it as soon as the final game had ended. By December, he had completed the novel.

"My biggest motivation to write the novel was to create a book about the history of the region. We all know the major points of Chinese history, but small local historical books are lacking," he says.

"Just like the Maichi chieftain's clerk in the novel, I continued his work to record the local history of that period of time," he says.

Besides Settling Dust, A Lai has published many other works, such as The Song of King Gesar in 2009, a novel based on Tibetan legend of King Gesar, the novel Empty Mountain in 2005, the novella Silversmith in the Moonlight in 1999, and the novellas Fairy Rings and Three Grassworms in 2015.

Regarded as a Tibetan Games of Thrones by younger Chinese readers, Settling Dust similarly contains torture, cruel deaths, desire, adultery, love, intrigue, rivalry between siblings jostling for power and revenge, as well as mysticism and the practice of witchcraft.

Guan Zhengwen, chief director and one of the scriptwriters for the play adaptation, hails the novel as an allegory for the entire human race. As one of the first readers of the book, he fell in love with Settling Dust immediately.

"Now 20 years have passed, and I still believe it is one of the best works in contemporary Chinese literature," Guan says.

In 1997, three years had passed since A Lai completed Settling Dust, but all the market-driven publishers rejected his manuscript.

"They said it's a good novel, but the masses would not like it because it wasn't a trendy topic, which did not convince me. Why wouldn't people want to read a good work?" A Lai says.

At that time, Guan was an editor at literature magazine, Selected Stories, in Beijing. He met A Lai at a literary event in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province. When A Lai showed him the novel, he wanted to run it in the magazine. At the same time, one of the top publishers in China, People's Literature Publishing House, had also decided to publish it.

Settling Dust became a best-seller in 1998. In interviews, A Lai told reporters that he was confident that the novel would outlive other bestsellers of that year. Now, time has indeed seen it hailed as a classic of contemporary Chinese literature. That is why Guan decided to produce a play of the novel and put it online.

"Many people describe it as an elegy to the last Tibetan chieftains, but for me, it goes far beyond that. It's about human society and the fate of humanity. There's not only the relationship between chieftains, but also hierarchy in family and in society, as well as economical life. It's a microcosm of all human life, a window through which you can observe humanity," Guan says.

"It includes ideas that you can see in the best literary works from around the world, such as those by Shakespeare," he adds. Contact the writer at yangyangs@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-12-17 08:33:38
<![CDATA[Unique project lets foreign experts write about experiences in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-12/17/content_37413158.htm American writer Laurence Brahm believes fate brought him to China.

"I was born in a part of New York which is in the vicinity of Chinatown. It may have exerted an influence on me from the very beginning, and I guess my previous life may be related to China, so I have been looking forward to visiting China since childhood."

Brahm realized his dream when he arrived in China as a university exchange student in 1981, and then studied and worked for much of the past 37 years in the country.

Now, Brahm plans a book series called Searching for China as part of the Writing on China by Foreigners project, which invites foreigners to write about the country.

A conference to discuss Brahm's new book series was held recently at the Beijing Language and Culture University.

Brahm, also known by his Chinese name Long Anzhi, given to him by his classmates at Nankai University in 1981, has much to say about China.

He worked as a lawyer in the 1980s and saw that China wanted to attract foreign capital at that time in order to gain new technology and promote industrial development.

In the 1990s, he witnessed the reform of China's state-owned enterprises and provided many suggestions as an economic adviser.

After 2000, he turned attention to ecology, especially in the western part of China.

At the same time, he started to develop an increasing interest in the area and its culture.

"Americans who were born in the 1960s and 1970s were rebellious and showed strong interest in different cultures, especially that of the American West. But for me, the Chinese West had some similarities with the American West," says Brahm.

In keeping with his interest, Brahm has produced many films, documentaries and books on western China, such as Searching for Shangrila, Shambhala Sutra and Conversations with Sacred Mountains.

For him, the culture of Chinese ethnic groups in western China resembles Indian culture in the American West in many aspects, like their values and friendliness to the nature.

Brahm is also interested in other elements of Chinese culture and believes it contains a special logic to understand the universe.

He also says that many things in traditional Chinese culture are interrelated, adding that in order to learn traditional Chinese medicine, you need to know something about nutrition, and acupuncture points.

"And in order to learn them, you also need to know something about Chinese tea.

"To know about tea, you had better gain an understanding of guqin, a plucked music instrument that the ancient Chinese literati typically played or enjoyed when drinking a cup of tea.

"I'm trying to learn many things. And the more I learn, the more I find out how ignorant I am," says Brahm.

According to Xu Baofeng, a professor at the Beijing Language and Culture University, and who is also the director of the China Culture Translation and Studies Supporting Network, which is the platform to implement the project, it invited Brahm to be a part of the project as he had spent a long time in China and was a witness to China's development over the years.

Speaking about the project, Xu says: "Nowadays, many foreigners have stereotypical and superficial impression about China, which is typically linked to Chinese food and kung fu. So we hope to show them a more in-depth side of China.

"Also, foreign experts' works are better received by their countrymen. And we hope to promote cultural exchanges and understanding through this project."

So far, 176 works on Chinese philosophy, politics, economic thought, culture and art have been selected from two phases of the project, covering 26 languages, with the third phase calling for more works.

Writers whose works have been chosen receive a subsidy and help with publishing them.

For instance, Indian sinologist B. R. Deepak's My Tryst with China has been published in Hindi, Chinese and English.

Commenting on the project, Brahm says: "It's a very good idea as it not only shows the positive side of the country but what we (the authors) have really seen in China."

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2018-12-17 08:33:38
<![CDATA[Old town charm can be a welcome change]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-10/28/content_37146581.htm Pan Rongda has always been mesmerized by the old neighborhoods in Shanghai's Hongkou district, an area where alleyways intertwine, vibrant markets are bursting with life and traditional dwellings have remained largely unchanged for more than a century.

The 30-something was born and raised in the area north of Suzhou Creek, which has largely retained its old neighborhoods. With few skyscrapers and big shopping malls, thus evading throngs of tourist groups.

"I love the old feeling here," Pan says. "I grew up in a small lane in the area, and I'd like my guests to experience the localness of the city, too," she says.

Pan runs a bed-and-breakfast in Dongzhaoli, an alleyway that was once home to early Communist leader and literary translator Qu Qiubai. Opposite the entrance of the lane is the former residence of renowned writer Lu Xun.

The 500-meter Tian'ai Road, or the "Road of Sweet Love", is within a three-minute walk. Lovers go there to scrawl their names or commitment on the walls. Many couples believe that if they walk the entire route their love will be forever blessed, and they will never separate.

Duolun Road, a pedestrian cultural street lined with teahouses, art galleries and antiques shops, is just a few blocks farther. Many literary celebrities of modern China lived here in the first half of the 20th century.

The three-story guesthouse that Pan operates was built in the 1920s in shikumen style, a traditional Shanghainese architectural style combining Western elements, such as a terrace house structure, and Chinese elements of a courtyard enclosed by a stone wall.

Pan lives in the attic and has listed the four rooms in the house on Airbnb, the online short-term lodging service, since summer last year.

Pan, who worked in the office of a multinational company for eight years, decided on a whim about two years ago to become a bed-and-breakfast owner.

"I just got bored of the routine every day and wanted to try something else," Pan says.

It wasn't long before she had started her bed-and-breakfast business, which she expanded last year by renting the old three-story house from its owner in Hong Kong. "I like this old house, and it happens to stand on the same street, Yinshan Road, where my parents got married," Pan says.

She renovated the house and turned it into a popular Airbnb listing.

"I wouldn't call it a pure business because I think the spirit of bed-and-breakfast is sharing. I live in the house and interact with my guests, help them plan the trips, tell them my stories and listen to theirs."

Fu Zhiyi, who worked at an advertising company in Hong Kong, traveled to Shanghai last year and stayed in Pan's house.

Fu, a history buff, fell in love with the old house and became so obsessed with the historical aspects of Shanghai that he quit his job and went to work for Pan to run the old guesthouse.

Fu assiduously studies the history of the old lanes and the history of Shanghai, and apart from working on promoting Pan's guesthouse - which now has a name, Mani Papa - sometimes accompanies guests on walks around the city, imparting his local knowledge.

"I like the stories in the city, and the old house itself is the carrier of a lot of the culture and lore," Fu says. "Each old lane and house is a storybook, telling different local tales against the backdrop of all-the-same high-rises being built in the context of globalization."

In her guesthouse, Pan also organizes cocktail workshops, a passion she has cultivated since quitting her office job, telling people about each drink and teaching them how to make a personal signature cocktail.

She also holds cocktail parties on the 18th of every month - 18 is her house number - and a movie night every Wednesday.

The 4-year-old border collie that she adopted this year is also a reason for many guests to come back again and again.

Pan says that when she quit her office job, she thought being a bed-and-breakfast host could give her a lot of freedom to "go and see the world", but it has turned out that she can barely leave the city because of it. Her rooms are often fully booked by travelers from home and abroad, especially on weekends and during summer holidays.

"But perhaps that's not too bad. It's the world that's coming to see me."

 

The old house itself is the carrier of a lot of the culture and lore. Provided to China Daily

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2018-10-28 10:20:48
<![CDATA[Rural lodges promise tranquil paths into the life bucolic]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-10/20/content_37107699.htm More farmers take advantage of country dwellings to create income streams

SHANGHAI - It is the second day of China's weeklong National Day holiday and Lai Xingcai, owner of a countryside lodge in the outskirts of Shanghai, is busy receiving guests from downtown.

His two-story lodge is renovated from a common Chinese village house. What attracts urbanites to his lodge is the surrounding field cultivated into a small zoo, an herb garden and a bamboo garden.

Lai said his lodge was fully booked three days before the holiday.

The lodge offers five guest rooms, and provides guests with a gardening and agricultural experience, making Lai's house a good resort for family entertaining. To add to the pastoral sense, Lai has named his guest rooms after traditional Chinese solar terms, such as the autumn equinox.

"My wife was born and raised in a village in Jinshan district in Shanghai. We share a strong feeling for the countryside," he said. "We had jobs in Shanghai's downtown, yet years ago we both quit and returned to the rural area to develop eco-farming and tourism."

Lai works with his wife and another villager on the daily operation of the lodge. In busy times, he hires villagers as part-time helpers for harvesting rice and cooking meals.

"The Chinese government calls for building a beautiful countryside that helps improve the rural environment and makes it ripe for developing rural tourism," he said.

There are around 300 rural lodges in Shanghai's rural districts of Qingpu, Chongming and Jinshan. Some enjoy sea views, while others are surrounded by paddy fields.

Prices for an overnight stay in guest rooms vary from around 100 yuan to over 1,000 yuan ($14-$140).

The Shanghai municipal government rolled out measures on Sept 28 to strengthen land management for leisure agriculture and rural tourism, and called for ensuring land supply for rural tourism development and service facilities.

"The regulations mean that the government is allowing the development of the lodging industry in rural areas, which gives farmers a wider range of income," said Feng Xuegang, dean of the School of Business Administration at the East China Normal University, who was consulted about the measures.

He said some rural lodges were operated by professional companies. Local villagers receive rent from leasing their houses. They can choose to work in the lodges as waiters or waitresses for extra money, or run the businesses themselves.

Feng said that the policy has helped revitalize small-scale use of rural land, which was previously restricted for agricultural use.

Shanghai has hosted a series of activities, such as Country Bed & Breakfast Experience Week, to encourage urbanites to experience the beauty of the country.

The municipal government has helped governments in Yunnan, Qinghai, Tibet and Xinjiang to develop rural tourism by sending specialists to train locals on how to plan and manage rural tourism by taking advantage of their resources, for example, in music, tea culture, coffee and agriculture.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said that over 2.8 billion Chinese traveled for leisure to rural destinations in 2017, when the sector generated over 740 billion yuan ($108.6 billion) in revenue. It added that the rural tourism industry directly employed 9 million people and benefited 7 million rural families.

Dai Bin, head of the China Tourism Academy, said rural tourism has provided a better life for farmers while cultivating a public awareness that "clear water and lush mountains are invaluable assets".

By enjoying the beauty of rural areas, travelers are more motivated to protect the countryside.

To develop his business, lodge owner Lai Xingcai plans to work with professionals to hold activities such as flower arranging, yoga and tea ceremonies - to combine with the beautiful scenery to attract even more tourists.

"I believe more and more people living in urban areas would love a leisure experience in countryside lodges," Lai added.

Xinhua

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2018-10-20 07:12:45
<![CDATA[Shangri-La sponsors fundraiser for kids with hip dislocation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-10/20/content_37107698.htm

A bicycle riding charity event, co-launched by 30 Shangri-La hotels, kicks of on Saturday simultaneously in three Chinese cities to raise funds for 100 children with congenital hip dislocation.

A total of 32 riders, recruited by the hotels via social media channels to participate in the event called Ride for Hope, will cycle an accumulative 5,000 kilometers in the next 15 days to reach the respective destinations on Nov 3.

The three routes will run from Nanchang in Jiangxi province to Shanghai, Xiamen in Fujian province to Shanghai and Beihai in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region to Hong Kong, according to Shangri-La. A fourth route circling Hainan is due to start on Oct 29.

The event is expected to attract 5,000 public participants to cycle with riders in 25 cities along the four routes where the 30 hotels are located, according to the organizer.

"By riding through more than 25 cities on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, and through various social media channels, we want to raise wider public awareness of these special children's needs," said Charlie Dang, Shangri-La's executive vice-president who oversees operations in East and South China.

The hotel group is partnering with the Ai You Foundation, a top-level charity organization based in Beijing that is engaged in child healthcare and child welfare, to assist at least 100 orphaned or poverty-stricken children with developmental dislocation diseases under the Ai You Morning Star Project.

"The Ride for Hope event will enable our children in need to receive effective treatments and lead normal lives afterwards," said Luo Zhenzhen, assistant secretary-general of the foundation.

"We appreciate the opportunity with Shangri-La to explore such an innovative way of improving the lives of vulnerable children and partnering with companies and the public to solve social problems together," she noted.

According to Luo, each child will require surgery costing at least 30,000 yuan ($4,324).

At the end of September, Shangri-La organized an auction that raised 1 million yuan for the project.

The Ride for Hope event, initiated by Futian Shangri-La, Shenzhen, was held in 2013 and 2015, raising charity funds of 343,000 yuan and 850,000 yuan, respectively. The money has been used to build water cellars for 26 families and five schools in poverty-stricken areas with water shortages. The move has benefited 2,200 teachers and students, according to Shangri-La.

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2018-10-20 07:12:45
<![CDATA[Irish sojourn]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-10/04/content_37020996.htm

Tourism Ireland's marketing is taking more Chinese to the country, Wang Mingjie reports in London.

Ireland's aggressive digital marketing campaign aimed at attracting Chinese tourists has reaped rewards, with a dramatic rise in the number of visitors from China making their way to the island.

The latest official figures from Tourism Ireland, the marketing agency that publicizes the country overseas, show 90,000 Chinese inbound visits in 2017, up 45 percent from the previous year.

The top-three tourist attractions in the area are The Giant's Causeway, which is a UNESCO site in Northern Ireland, Titanic Belfast, which celebrates the place in Belfast where the ship Titanic was built, and The Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland.

James Kenny, Tourism Ireland's China manager, says the significant increase in interest in Ireland as a holiday destination can partly be attributed to the agency's focused marketing campaigns, principally on social media.

Last year, the Chinese director and TV host Gao Xiaosong's high-profile visit to the country for his talk show series Xiaoshuo: Ireland was carefully coordinated with Tourism Ireland. The show highlighted his visits to popular destinations, including those connected to the United States TV series Game of Thrones.

When the episodes were broadcast in December 2017, the agency held a social media campaign encouraging Chinese viewers to translate Irish poet William Butler Yeats's epitaph (Cast a cold eye. On life, on death. Horsemen, pass by!) in order to have the chance to win a trip to Ireland.

Kenny says, the campaign has had almost 300 million total views and podcast plays.

Christopher Ledsham, chief communication officer at China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, says: "A social media marketing approach such as Tourism Ireland's successful example, is certainly one that has worked for many destinations before and can continue to be effective in the future for other destinations, if done correctly."

In addition to social media, Ireland and China have a strong shared diplomatic history to build upon.

Ledsham says, many high-ranking Chinese leaders have visited County Clare's Shannon Free Zone, which played a part in the development of China's special economic zones. President Xi Jinping visited the zone as vice-president earlier.

"Xi's 2012 visit helped put Ireland on the map for many Chinese, as he was pictured partaking in many tourism-friendly photo opportunities, including trying his hand at Ireland's native Gaelic football at Dublin's Croke Park stadium," he says.

As part of its marketing efforts, Tourism Ireland has organized numerous visits to Ireland for people working in China's tourism industry, including writers, tourism agents and travel bloggers.

"These familiarization trips are a key part of our work with trade and media in all our markets," Kenny says, adding "if you haven't seen it, you can't sell it".

He says the strategy is centered around the knowledge that anyone who goes to Ireland will become a brand ambassador for the destination.

He says this personal touch is often very powerful because "the Chinese traveler, more than any other, relies heavily on word of mouth and reviews on popular sites".

Ireland's most popular international attraction, The Guinness Storehouse, which welcomed more than 1.7 million visitors last year, saw huge growth from China, with 50,000 visits made by Chinese tourists in 2017.

"In 2010-11, The Guinness Storehouse had virtually no Chinese visitors. To reach almost 50,000 visitors in the space of a few years is a huge achievement and an indication of the potential this market has, not just for The Guinness Storehouse but for Ireland as a destination," says its business development manager Fiona Herald.

Ciara Hanley, director of sales and marketing at Intercontinental Dublin, says: "In recent years, we have seen a sharp increase, particularly, in the past two years where, for our hotel alone, China accounts for 9 percent of our overall revenue stream."

The hotel is participating in the local tourism authority's China Ready program, which means Chinese guests will be able to scan a QR code at the front desk for assistance in their own language. There will also be a Mandarin version of room service menus.

Traditionally, Ireland has been marketed in China as part of a UK-and-Ireland package but, with the advent of direct flights and a greater knowledge of the British Irish Visa Scheme, along with a rapidly-growing interest in independent travel to Europe, Lesham says Ireland will increasingly be a popular destination among Chinese travelers.

Contact the writer at wangmingjie@mail.chinadailyuk.com

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2018-10-04 07:38:32
<![CDATA[From Bicester to Blue Badge guides, Britain caters to Chinese tourists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-10/04/content_37020995.htm

For Chen Jie, a 46-year-old visitor from eastern China's city of Hangzhou, shopping at Bicester Village feels almost like home. A long queue stretches outside the Burberry store, with many Asian faces. A restaurant called Shan Shui recently opened for business, with interiors recalling the ambience of old Shanghai. Mandarin chatter fills the air.

"The sales assistant who speaks Mandarin gave me good recommendation and helped me a lot," says Chen, accompanied by his wife and son, who were clutching five shopping bags.

Chinese visitors like Chen have become Bicester's number one non-EU customers, generating 40 percent of all non-EU tax refunded sales in 2017, according to a spokesperson.

Overall, 337,000 visitors from China spent more than $900 million during their stay in the United Kingdom last year, rising by 29 and 35 percent respectively, according to VisitBritain, the country's tourist board.

Bicester Village is a window of British adaptations to attract ever more visitors from China.

All brands within Bicester Village now accept China Union Pay, and nearly 20 stores have adopted WeChat Pay and Alipay - Chinese tourists' favored mobile payment tools.

Announcements at the Bicester Village station, the London Marylebone station and on the train itself now include a Mandarin version. Bicester hires and trains Mandarin-speaking staff, offers Chinese signage and even developed a Chinese smartphone app, which enables users to explore the place before arrival.

"We also engage our Chinese guests on their platform of choice, with three new WeChat accounts designed to communicate relevant news and bring the Village experience to life," says the Bicester spokesperson.

With a double-digit growth in visits and spending by Chinese tourists last year, Britain is regarding China the "world's most valuable outbound market", planning to welcome 650,000 Chinese visits a year by 2020, which is expected to bring nearly $1.42 billion annually to the British economy.

"We want to build on the strong growth we have seen from China, delivering a world-class visitor experience for Chinese customers," Visit-Britain commercial director Carol Dray says.

Chinese spending in Britain is not only growing in shopping malls. More Chinese tourists now prefer to spend money on quality sightseeing and improving their travel experience, according to a report by Chinese online travel agency Ctrip, released earlier this year.

Phoebe Wang, tour department manager of Omega Tours Ltd, says Chinese tourists in Britain are interested in deeper understanding of British traditions and cultures.

"There are more and more Chinese guests coming to the UK to participate in high-end themed tours, such as English countryside hunting tours, ancient castle tours, horse-riding tours, wine tasting tours," she says.

Chen Heng, a tourist guide in London with Blue Badge, the highest guiding qualification in the UK, also says the demand and spending have increasingly diversified.

"Chinese tourists used to choose travel with bus tour groups. Now personalized travel, travel with family and friends are becoming mainstream as more Chinese tourists want to slow down, willing to spend more time visiting museums, art galleries and participating in local cultural and entertainment events, such as to enjoy musicals, drinking English afternoons," Chen says.

These destinations are adapting, too.

Major museums and art galleries in Britain, such as the British Museum, the National Gallery and Windsor Castle, now provide Chinese audio interpreters.

Some tour attractions have incorporated recognizable Chinese elements. A statue of noted Chinese playwright Tang Xianzu has been installed in William Shakespeare's residence, and the Chinese New Year is now celebrated by special events at a number of British museums.

Xinhua

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2018-10-04 07:38:32
<![CDATA[Italian 'castle in the sky' draws nature lovers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-10/04/content_37020994.htm

For more and more Chinese tourists who are willing to explore natural scenery other than follow the traditional routes of grand capitals, the hilltop village of Civita di Bagnoregio in central Italy has become a popular holiday destination.

About 130 kilometers north of Rome, Civita di Bagnoregio in Italian region of Lazio is actually composed of two parts: Bagnoregio with around 3,800 residents, and Civita, the main attraction with year-round residents of only seven.

At first glance, the spectacular setting of Civita may take your breath. It perches on a plateau of volcanic rock overlooking the Tiber River valley. In foggy days, the towering bell tower and other picturesque medieval buildings look like they are floating in the air and people aptly call the site "castle in the sky".

Founded more than 2,500 years ago by the Etruscans, the whole village is twined with narrow cobblestone streets, where flowering plants dot the vine-covered stone houses with bars or restaurants hidden among them.

"Local residents are very pleased to see tourists from all over the world, among whom Chinese tourists are a very important group," says Roberto Pomi, communication official of the municipality of Bagnoregio.

However, suffering from constant erosion of its volcanic rock into the valley below, Civita used to be nicknamed the "dying city". In recent years, as hundreds of thousands of visitors - large number of them Chinese - are thronging into the natural beauty of Civita, the tiny village has experienced a new life.

Only 40,000 people visited Civita in 2013, but the numbers are surging now, says Pomi.

Last year, Civita was visited by 850,000 tourists, with Chinese accounting for 18 to 20 percent. And in 2018, the number of visitors is estimated to reach 1 million, according to Pomi.

The influx of Chinese tourists epitomes the desire of Chinese tourists to see not only cities but also the countryside in foreign countries, according to tourists and guides interviewed.

"I hope to understand the ancient civilization of Italy," says a young visitor.

Antonella Decandia, general manager of Dongyifang Tourism Consulting Company, says Chinese tourists now put emphasis on comfort and personal experience when traveling.

For example, they'd like to learn to cook Italian food, take children to learn Italian music and art, and take children to participate in football training. That trend partly explains why the ancient village of Civita is attracting more Chinese visitors.

"There are many Chinese tourists coming to our restaurant every day," says Diana Giacobbi, a local resident in the larger Bagnoregio village who worked as waiter in a restaurant in Civita.

The local people's standard of living has been improving, thanks to the booming tourism in Civita di Bagnoregio.

The arrival of large number of tourists has promoted the local economy and has reduced the unemployment rate.

Several neighboring towns are planning to team with Civita di Bagnoregio in extending the sightseeing route to attract more tourists, too.

"We need to provide more attractions such as the beautiful scenery of other ancient towns nearby which (are) worth visiting, so the tourists can stay," says Pomi.

As the number of Chinese tourists is growing, the Italian tourism industry is working to improve services. Some hotels have begun to supply Chinese translation services and Chinese breakfast.

Asked about criticism that a large number of tourists may affect the daily life of the local residents, Pomi says the benefits of a booming tourism outweigh the downside.

"Some people may complain that the arrival of tourists has left their homes without parking spaces. But zero taxation, lower unemployment and the promotion of the town's international popularity have brought a series of benefits, and some unpleasantness is always acceptable," he says.

Xinhua

 

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2018-10-04 07:38:32
<![CDATA[Qi remains a beacon of ancient prosperity]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-09/22/content_36964148.htm From millennia-old remains and ancient ruins to the birth of the 'beautiful game', a visit to Linzi is a journey into China's rich cultural history

I walk through an underground tunnel and stare at the 2,600-year-old funerary horses and chariots. There is a seeming confluence of millennia as I hear the hustle and bustle from the highway above my head.

Adding to this sense of timelessness, the buried chariots face the same direction of the traffic above.

 

 

Clockwise from top: A performance of cuju game; 2,600-year old funerary horses and chariots; highlighted Xizun bronze ware from the Warring States Period; a museum staff member plays Qi musical instrument. Photos by Wang Kaihao / China Daily

Linzi - a district of Zibo city in Shandong province today - is not an unfamiliar name for anyone with a basic knowledge of ancient Chinese history: It is one of the oldest Chinese cities which is still inhabited today.

Despite that, it is the highly developed chemical and mining industries for which Linzi is probably most famous, though. Even many of the locals tell me that their hometown is hardly ever associated with tourism.

However, during construction of the aforementioned highway in 1990, the discovery of the funerary pits unveiled the city's past glory and made people realize that their history is the most precious resource they have.

Because this area is also a hotbed for Houli Neolithic Cultural Heritage - which dates back about 8,000 years - prior to the thoroughfare's construction, archaeologists conducted field research to ensure that no important relics got missed or damaged during the work.

Accidentally, they unearthed two intact funerary pits from the Spring and Autumn Period (771-476 BC). As well as many exquisite ornaments, the find included 10 chariots and 32 horse skeletons in the larger 32 meter by 8 meter (No 1) pit, and three chariots and six horse skeletons in the smaller 8 by 3 meter (No 2) pit.

Although the canopies of the chariots have rotted and disappeared over the centuries, it is still easy to imagine the high status of the tomb's occupant through the remnants.

Upon its discovery in 1990, the site was named among the entries in the first edition of China's top 10 new archaeological findings, an annual list which is often dubbed "the Oscars of Chinese archaeology".

It is, perhaps, a shame that no grave has yet been found to identify the aristocrat to whom all of this finery once belonged, but it is enough to reveal the prosperity of the Qi state, of which Linzi was the capital.

Qi first rose as a vassal state of Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century to 771 BC) and gradually grew into a superpower in its own right, before surrendering to the first emperor of China, Qinshihuang, as part of his unification of the country.

On the basis of the chariots discovered in the two pits, the China Ancient Car Museum was established to offer a comprehensive view of how the chariots, and other types of ancient Chinese vehicles, have developed over time. To date, it remains the only museum in China to focus on the subject.

The exhibits range from models of early chariots from the Shang Dynasty (16th to 11th century BC), to those reflecting various kinds of siege equipment from different historical periods, which are all based on archaeological discoveries made nationwide. Other carts and transportation are also on display, showing facets of people's daily life.

Standing in the exhibition hall, it's easy to envisage busy caravans trundling along the ancient Silk Road.

Home of football

While the Qi state may have missed the cultural opportunities offered by the famous Eurasian trade route by decades, one of its creations is, to this day, used as an important platform to connect people around the world - football.

Cuju, literally translated as "kick ball," is an ancient iteration of the world's favorite sport and, according to multiple historical records, it was first played as public entertainment in Linzi, before later being used for military fitness training. The ball was made of four pieces of animal hide, stitched together and filled with furs.

In 2004, Linzi was designated by FIFA as the wellspring of football and the true home of "the beautiful game."

Consequently, it seems somewhat fitting that a Football Museum has been established as a way to connect the area's rich cultural past with today.

About 30,000 artifacts have been collected by the museum to offer a clear introduction about how cuju evolved and became popular in ancient China.

The development of the ball from a four-piece construction to a more complicated 12-piece design is also shown. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the ball was no longer filled with furs, and inflated pig bladders were introduced to give the ball more resilience and buoyancy, enabling them to fly through the air rather than simply roll along the ground.

The Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) ushered a national cuju championship, which was held on the top of a mountain.

During President Xi Jinping's visit to the United Kingdom in 2015, he presented a copper statue of a cuju player to then British prime minister David Cameron, a replica of which displayed in the museum.

I am lucky to arrive just in time to watch a performance depicting an ancient cuju match, played between a red team and a blue team - who knows? Maybe back then there was also a blue-red rivalry as fierce as today's Manchester derby.

After President Xi's state visit in 2015, an annual football symposium was launched, alternately hosted in Linzi and Manchester, to explore cooperation of the two country's footballing industries, also strengthening the emotional bond between the birthplaces of ancient and modern football.

The museum, though, is not only about the ancient version of the game. Every season, before all tiers of the Chinese professional football leagues kick off, ball-picking ceremonies are held in the museum to pay homage to this birthplace of the sport.

As a football fan myself, I am pleased to also see exhibits related to the FIFA World Cup on the second floor of the museum.

However, when I take a rest on the veranda and glimpse out at the horizon, my thoughts are immediately pulled back to the imagination of the Qi state.

Heritage, physical and psychological

The lingering hills on the backdrop of the city's skyline are the mausoleums of Qi kings and aristocrats. Archaeologists have decided to keep these rulers resting in peace without disturbing the huge earthen pyramids. Consequently, tourists like me can only learn more about the magnificence of that vassal state by visiting the Qi Heritage Museum.

Opened in 2016, it traces the nearly-one-millennium history of Qi through the 3,000 cultural relics on display.

From the exquisite bronze wares and figurines, to weapons and musical instruments - it is worth spending at least an hour-and-a-half there to gain a comprehensive understanding of this land and people leaving on it.

One of the most highlighted exhibits is Xizun, a bronze wine vessel in the shape of rhino, which dates back to the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). It was decorated with gold and silver wire, as well as turquoise, and represents the state-of-the-art techniques of that period.

With plenty of detailed information and accompanying displays. the museum is also a good place to learn about iconic local figures like Duke Huan of Qi, who created the first superpower in the Spring and Autumn Period, and Guan Zhong, a renowned reformer and chancellor of the state.

"Sages of Qi state advocate practice, reform, creativity, and open mind," Ma Guoqing, director of the museum, says. "These ideas of governance still resonate today in our finest traditional culture."

Another section of the museum particularly interests me. It is about the history of Jixia Academy, often considered to be the earliest university in China.

The academy was the highest education institution in Qi during the Warring States Period, and is the place where different schools of thoughts - including Confucianism, Taoism, Legalism, and many more - were debated and got mixed with each other, which is how Chinese philosophy formed in the first place.

That scenario reminds me of the contemporaneous Platonic Academy in Athens, which consolidated the foundation of Western philosophy through the similar debate and mutual learning between various schools.

Perhaps, we can all be grateful for that Axial Age.

According to Ma, Greek scholars were recently invited to a symposium, being organized by the museum, to have a cross-cultural communication via comparison of the two ancient academies.

The actual location of the Jixia Academy remains uncertain, though there are several areas among the Qi capital city ruins that were believed to be the place. Locals tell me that there is a plan in Linzi to construct a replica of the academy as a new tourist attraction, which begs the question: is it better to have a physical shrine to worship or should we just leave the great spirits of the academy wander in our boundless imagination?

Everyone will have their own choice, but for me, I prefer the latter.

wangkaihao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-09-22 07:04:27
<![CDATA[Quebec City's enticing tableau beyond the wall]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-09/22/content_36964147.htm QUEBEC CITY - It's what's inside the historic wall of Quebec City that makes people want to visit. It's what's outside that makes people want to stay.

To visit without venturing outside the 17th century fortification is to miss the outdoor concerts, vistas and history of the hilltop Plains of Abraham, the up-and-coming Limoilou neighborhood where young chefs ply their trade and acrobats learn their craft, or the buzz of Saint-Roch district just outside Old Quebec. On the outskirts, higher-than-Niagara Montmorency Falls roar from a cliff where zip liners screech across the canyon.

It's a diverse tableau of communities, architecture, public markets, museums and nature, much of it accessible by foot from Old Quebec and all of it stitched together by the city's extensive network of bicycle trails or a quick drive.

Bargains in accommodations are another draw: On a visit at the height of the summer tourism season, I stayed at Hotel Royal William, an old, comfortable hotel in the Saint-Roch district, for barely $75. Royal William and the more upscale Hotel Pur nearby are an engaging 15-minute walk to Old Quebec along shops, cobblestoned alleys and restaurants.

The capital of New France until its conquest by the British in 1759, Old Quebec is recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site, hailed by the United Nations organization as "a remarkable example of a fortified colonial town, and unique north of Mexico."

The heritage site encompasses the walled Upper Town, overlooked by the commanding Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac Hotel, and Lower Town, where the explorer Samuel de Champlain put ashore with a few dozen men in 1608. Today, the Place Royale district in Lower Town remains so French in character and appearance that its courtyard and 17th century church, Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, stood in for France in Steven Spielberg's film Catch Me If You Can (2002).

There's plenty to absorb in Old Quebec but there are also inviting places beyond. "If you're staying for three days, basically you would have gone through Old Quebec and its next neighborhoods, like Lower Town and the Old Port," says Paule Bergeron, an executive with Quebec City and region tourism. "Then you have the chance to go visit other neighborhoods."

A sampling:

Montmorency Falls

This beehive of outdoor activity gets the adrenaline going one way or another. Try the zigzag staircase with 487 steps up the cliff, or take the cable car. At 83 meters - 30 meters higher (though far narrower) than Niagara Falls - Montmorency offers a suspension footbridge over the falls, via feratta climbing and a dual zip line that is riveting to watch and another level of excitement to do. The zip line comes with a bonus: Download a free app on the site and you'll come away with a panoramic and close-up video mashup of you sweeping in front of the crest of the falls, very, very far up.

In winter, frozen spray forms Sugar Loaf, a huge cone of ice at the foot of the falls, all illuminated at night. Ice climbers scale cliffs framing the waterfall. Getting there: A bicycle ride of just over 8 miles or 13 km, almost all on dedicated bike paths; 20 minutes by car; or by bus. When: Park is accessible year-round. Cable car is year-round except Jan 7-25 and March 9-April 14. The zip line for this season ends Oct 8, reopens in spring.

The montcalm arts district

Quebec and international art are the draw at Musee national des beaux-arts du Quebec in this high-elevation neighborhood, named for the French general whose forces were overcome by British invaders on the Plains of Abraham. On the plains, free and ticketed concerts roll through the summer, including an 11-day festival in July that is one of Canada's largest outdoor music events. It's a neighborhood distinguished by galleries, bookstores, urban terraces for pub-crawling and streetlamps decorated with reproduced works from the art museum.

Getting there: A 20-minute walk from Chateau Frontenac, the towering landmark of the walled city. When: Year-round, with the concert season geared to summer.

Old Port and the promenade samuel-de-champlain

The promenade is a river-front section of a bicycle and walking path that extends nearly 30 miles or 50 km from the Quebec City Bridges on the west to Montmorency Falls. It takes in stunning views of the waterfront and cliffs, the sprawling Old Port farmers market, and grain silos that are transformed at night into light sculptures with colors of the aurora borealis. How to get there: Right outside Lower Town. When: Year-round, bicycling as deep into winter as you can stand the cold. The Old Port market is open each day year-round but expected to close in the spring to make way for a new market in the Limoilou district. A smaller farmers market will take its place near Place Royale.

Limoilou

The Old Port's loss will be Limoilou's gain when the city's premier farmers market opens under a glass roof next year. Limoilou has the undercurrent of a rising neighborhood, with cafes, restaurants and shops moving in; a major concert venue (featuring Paul McCartney in September); and an old church that has been converted into a school for acrobatics and the circus - a tradition in the province, which is the birthplace of Cirques du Soleil. Getting there: A half-hour walk from the center of Old Quebec or 10-minute bike ride. When: Year-round.

Saint-Roch

Highway overpasses are not normally so absorbing. Entering the Saint-Roch district from the Old Port, the visitor comes across concrete highway pillars turned over to street artists, a project designed to beautify a utilitarian stretch of the city and give graffiti artists an outlet for their creations. The results, at their best, rival the masterpiece frescoes and murals of Lower Town. Staying in Saint-Roch, a hub of nightlife, means a short but steep walk up a snaking stairway in the cliff to bustling Rue St-Paul and Upper Town. Alternatively, the Faubourg elevator adjacent to the stairs, nestled in the corner of a tiny cafe selling pecan tarts and coffee, offers a free ride to the heights.

The British invaders who scaled Quebec City's forbidding cliffs would have had a much easier time of it if they could have stopped for tarts and a lift.

Getting there: A 10- to 20-minute walk, aerobic even with the elevator. Buses serve the neighborhood and cyclists can cruise down to the waterfront to get to Lower Town or suck it up on the hill. When: Year-round.

Associated Press

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2018-09-22 07:04:27
<![CDATA[Blah, Blah, Blahnik]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-08/11/content_36747998.htm His Instagram entry reads thus: "My shoes are not designs, they are gestures." And, as British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman once quipped: "If God had wanted us to wear flat shoes, he wouldn't have invented Manolo Blahnik." This near-idolatrous position occupied by Blahnik in contemporary fashion reached a peak in recent years, when his shoes became the coveted favorites of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, and his regal collection was created for and popularized by Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.

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Shoe designer Manolo Blahnik, about to open his first men's store in London, is the subject of a retrospective in Toronto

His Instagram entry reads thus: "My shoes are not designs, they are gestures." And, as British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman once quipped: "If God had wanted us to wear flat shoes, he wouldn't have invented Manolo Blahnik." This near-idolatrous position occupied by Blahnik in contemporary fashion reached a peak in recent years, when his shoes became the coveted favorites of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City, and his regal collection was created for and popularized by Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette.

In 20 years of temporary exhibitions at the Design Museum in London, the retrospective on Blahnik, staged in 2003, still holds the record for the most-visited exhibition in any week. Now Blahnik has announced he will open his first men's shoe store in London, at Burlington Arcade soon; the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto is also running Manolo Blahnik: The Art of Shoes, a touring exhibition, until Jan 6, 2019.

However, the path to this apotheosis began much earlier - in the early 1970s, through his association with maverick British designer Ossie Clark. The son of wealthy parents, Blahnik grew up in the Canary Islands, then moved to London in the late 1960s after a stint studying art in Paris. His parents had wanted him to be a diplomat, and he had studied politics and economics before changing tack.

Like many such legends, Blahnik's story contains one pivotal moment. Diana Vreeland, editor of US Vogue (and whose influence on fashion history has been far greater than any other fashion editor), hated his early attempts at couture and insisted he try his creative hand at shoe design instead. Blahnik obliged and opened a store in London's fashionable Chelsea district, but faltered at first.

He started with men's shoes and quickly found that conventional restrictions hampered his creativity. At that moment, Blahnik might have disappeared for good, had Clark not invited him in 1971 to produce the shoes to accompany his next collection.

Blahnik's flamboyant, experimental designs were the perfect accompaniment for Clark's couture - and his Ossie shoe became iconic. However, his imaginative flair was as yet untempered by technical knowhow, and the teetering shoes proved perilous to wear - "like walking on quicksand", Blahnik later recalled. But comfort (or lack thereof) never stood in the way of fashion, especially in matters of shoes, and the visual bravura of his Ossies drew plaudits nonetheless; the designer, an inveterate socialite, found himself lionized. In 1974, he gained the distinction of becoming the first man to appear on the cover of British Vogue.

The Vogue connection has defined Blahnik's entire career. Even today, US Vogue editor-inchief Anna Wintour is rarely seen without her Blahnik slingbacks, which he designed for her in 1994 and which she has in numerous color iterations. "I can't remember the last time I wore anybody else's shoes - I mean, I just don't even look at them," she claimed in a recent documentary on the shoemaker. And says supermodel Naomi Campbell, who knows his wares better than most: "Manolo is the king of shoes."

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2018-08-11 07:32:43
<![CDATA[Salad Days]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-08/11/content_36747997.htm Inspired by the warm daylight of Provence, the white sands of Zanzibar and an English garden romance, Bonpoint's summer 2018 collection brings garden party fashion to your children's wardrobes. These extremely cute designs consist of rich colors, gorgeous printing and classic folds; tie-dye, stripes and plaid also star. Famed for its unique French style and top-quality materials, the Parisian house's new range of lovely summer dresses and light skirts is a pleasant surprise. Let your young children enjoy their summer fun in a comfortable and fashionable way with Bonpoint.

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2018-08-11 07:32:43
<![CDATA[Fountain of Youth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-08/11/content_36747996.htm There's plenty in store for children's fashion this summer

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2018-08-11 07:32:43
<![CDATA[A HOLIDAY ON WHEELS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-07/07/content_36531018.htm Taking road trips in China or overseas is now in vogue among Chinese consumers, and players in the recreational vehicle market are out to capitalize on the growing trend, Yang Feiyue reports

Increasing wealth and desire for new travel experiences have boosted the popularity of recreational vehicles (RV) among Chinese consumers.

According to Fang Dehe, the secretary-general of the RV commission under the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, the consumption of such vehicles in China grew by 100 percent in the first half of this year compared with the same period last year. He expects consumption to hit 1 trillion yuan ($151.2 billion) in the future.

There were about 70,000 RVs in China as of the end of 2017. Approximately 20,000 RVs were sold, up 12 percent over the previous year while another 20,000 were exported.

Fang adds that more than 540 RV varieties from 150 domestic RV producers would be introduced into the market this year.

An outdoor enthusiast who loves camping and backpacking, Gu Yunsong has owned an RV since 2010.

"The RV can take me deeper into nature and has enough space for me to transport the necessary equipment," says Gu, who has traveled to many destinations home and abroad in the vehicle.

In 2012, he spent about 200 days touring Europe in the RV. He has also done road trips in Australia and the United States.

Back home, Gu has been to many destinations in the southwestern region such as Yunnan province as well as the Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions. In March, he drove his RV from Sichuan province's capital of Chengdu to the Tibet autonomous region's capital of Lhasa.

There are currently about 1,000 large RV campsites in the country and the number is expected to double by 2020, Fang says.

The rising popularity of RVs has drawn the attention of major players involved in the industry. All in Caravanning (AIC), an annual RV expo which was last staged in Beijing in June, attracted nearly 700 exhibitors affiliated with the RV industry. Among the expo attendees were 300 brands including Adria, Pilote and Dethleffs from Europe, as well as major domestic producers such as RV International and Brilliance Auto.

According to organizers, the event has grown from a 5,000-square-meter event to a 35,000 sq m extravaganza over the past seven years.

"AIC's development is a testament to how much and how quickly the RV industry has grown," says Tian Lei, an official with the expo.

"We've seen RV travel become quite accessible to the general public, rather than a high-end vacation form for the minority," he adds.

Major travel agencies have also started to offer holiday packages revolving around the RV. For example, the China International Travel Service (CITS) has developed nearly 100 RV travel products related to parent-child experiences, photography and health. The agency also unveiled new travel products covering southwestern regions such as Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibet, and they include allowing private car owners to drive RVs in these areas.

"We'll also provide customers drivers (if necessary) and other services, such as rescue and emergency aid. The idea is to encourage more Chinese travelers to experience and be familiar with this travel style," says Tian Qun, general manager of the CITS.

Two camping sites in Kunming and Xishuangbanna, both in Yunnan province, are operated by CITS' subsidiary Yunnan Outdoor RV Co. The sites drew more than 2,000 travelers last year, a 20 percent year-on-year growth.

Zhang Chengshun, marketing director of Yunnan Outdoor RV Co, said that the company has already received several group bookings from Beijing during the summer. Each group comprises between 20 and 30 travelers, most of whom are parents and children.

The two camping sites in Yunnan offer bonfire parties, the chance to participate in local ethnic Dai activities, fruit picking and outdoor adventures.

"Many of our customers stop over at our camps while on their way to Tibet or Southeast Asian destinations," Zhang says.

Meanwhile, Gu has now turned his passion for RVs into a venture, having invested in a camping site at Tibet's Nyingchi. He is also planning to build another three camping sites in the western region.

"The scenery matters a lot to us, and I'd like to do my part to help improve experiences for other RV travelers," Gu says.

Gu's Nyingchi facility sits on the bank of the Brahmaputra and is home to 250 ancient peach trees. He recalled how he used to have to park his RV on the side of a hotel where his friends would stay. Today, he can interact with other RV travelers in camping sites which have sprouted over the years.

"China's RV industry is still in its infancy compared with other developed markets, but the growth potential is huge," he says.

"In 2010, curious onlookers would surround us when we parked our RVs on the roadside in 2010. These days, RVs are a common sight that everyone is used to."

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

Recreational vehicles have become an increasingly common sight on roads in China thanks to growing wealth and desire for new travel experiences among domestic tourists. Photos provided to China Daily 

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2018-07-07 07:36:50
<![CDATA[Xinjiang gives new tourism goodies to lure crowds]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-07/07/content_36531017.htm The northwestern Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region has introduced six special tourism trains and 10 self-drive routes to woo tourists.

These routes cover major tourist attractions in the region, with some even extending to the neighboring Dunhuang in Gansu province and Almaty in Kazakhstan.

"Xinjiang has 56 varieties of tourism resources, accounting for 83 percent of the national total," says Zhang Jie, an official from the Xinjiang tourism development commission.

Zhang adds that the region is home to more than 1,100 scenic spots, including 12 top-rated national tourism sites, seven national geological parks and 17 national forest parks. As these attractions are scattered across the region, driving or taking a train is the best way to see as many of them as possible.

For example, the new tourism train route for northern Xinjiang takes tourists through the Yili River Valley, the Bayanbulak Grassland, as well as Kanas and Hemu towns. Unlike before, tourists would not have to switch trains or buses.

Meanwhile, the train for the southern region takes travelers to Urumqi, Turpan, Korla, Aksu and Kashgar. The trains on these new routes offer bunks, air-conditioning, shower facilities and even karaoke rooms.

The 10 self-drive routes cover the four corners of the region, allowing travelers to explore the region in greater depth.

Last year, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region received 107 million travelers from home and abroad, up 32.4 percent from the previous year, according to local government reports. Tourism income also grew 30 percent to 182.2 billion yuan ($28.17 billion).

During the three-day Dragon Boat Festival earlier in June, Xinjiang received 3.54 million visitors, nearly twice the amount during the same period last year, while tourism consumption surged 171.3 percent to 3.21 billion yuan, according to the Xinjiang tourism development commission.

"It's tourism peak season for Xinjiang in July," says Meng Jing, an official with a Xinjiang travel agency that has seen travel inquires increase by 20 percent compared with two months ago.

Local travel agencies and hotels have also reported increased bookings since mid-June. The Jinjiang International Hotel said its daily occupancy rate in the region is currently at over 50 percent. Other parts of Xinjiang also plan to roll out new travel experiences to draw visitors.

For instance, tourists would soon be able to go on a two-day tour in Turpan that features distinctive folk customs and homestays. The city would also offer experiences such as hiking through the Huoyan (Flaming) Mountain, folk dancing, grape-picking and a traditional Uygur acrobatic performance at Grape Valley.

In Altay, a cluster of distinctive homestays would be developed this year at a forest in Burqin county and a fishing village at Fuhai county.

Last year, Xinjiang developed 436 tourism projects with investments totaling 20.5 billion yuan.

July marks the start of the peak tourism season in Xinjiang when travelers get to enjoy the best scenery the region has to offer, such as sights of the Kanas Lake (top and left below) and the Nanat grasslands. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-07-07 07:36:50
<![CDATA[TOURISM INPUT ON THE RISE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/09/content_36358409.htm Chinese tourists' travel enthusiasm has spurred businesses to step up input in tourism development.

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China's rapidly growing market in tourism has attracted investment from various fields, Yang Feiyue reports

Chinese tourists' travel enthusiasm has spurred businesses to step up input in tourism development.

The country's tourist numbers and tourism income both came out on top last year, followed by India, the US, Japan and France, the Beijing-based World Tourism Cities Federation reports.

China's domestic travel market received more than 5 billion visits, mostly by the Chinese, in 2017, up 12.8 percent as compared with the previous year and 69 percent with 2012, according to the former National Tourism Administration (now part of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism).

Chinese tourists paid 270 million visits abroad last year, up 3.7 percent year-on-year.

Tourism has contributed 9.13 trillion yuan ($1.42 trillion) to China's GDP, said the administration.

The country's focus on tourism has been demonstrated by the merging of the tourism and culture authorities in March.

"Seen from the long run, the Chinese market has strong competiveness, thanks to the culture and tourism integration," said chairman adviser of CITIC Ltd Zhao Jingwen at a global tourism investment summit that gathered more than 500 Chinese government organs, financial institutes and scenic spots in late May.

"We have seen a group of big enterprises rapidly making inroads in the tourism industry," Zhao said, adding that the top five real estate businesses and nine out of the top 10 internet giants have invested in tourism.

At the forum, the Beijing-based ShanHai Cultural and Tourism Group signed a strategic agreement with the Industrial and Commerical Bank of China and the Agriculture Bank of China, as well as multiple local governments and scenic spots to expand its presence in the tourism market.

The Beijing company has invested in a sport town in Hebei province's Xinglong county, a natural resort in Guizhou province's Anshun city, and a golf facility in Hainan province's Haikou city over the years, and plans to expand its tourism business, in addition to its real estate, financial and medical involvement.

"The full-on cooperation is to develop a sound industrial chain model featuring travel agency, scenic spot, hotel and transportation," says Wang Gaochao, chairman of the company.

Beijing ShanHai will invest in infrastrucutre, recreational equipment and hotels at various scenic spots and help to boost their publicity. The company also launched Mounsey, its travel agency, at the forum and announced a three-year plan to open 100 Mounsey subsidiaries and 10,000 brick-and-mortar retail shops to receive travelers directly across the country.

It would also make investments in 80 scenic spots, 100 hotels and 60 homestays.

The goal is to integrate tourism resources and offer one-stop services to tourists, Wang explains.

The Beijing company is just one of the many forces that have increased their presence in the tourism sector.

China's leading domestic theme park brand Fantawild Adventure would open a new theme park worth 12.8 billion yuan in Zhejiang province's Ningbo.

The property developer Evergrande Group has planned to invest 300 billion yuan to develop 15 Children's World theme parks across China.

The State-owned Overseas Chinese Town has signed a 238-billion-yuan deal to develop culture and tourism in Shaanxi province's capital Xi'an. Other real estate giants, such as the Hong Kong-listed Sunac and Country Garden, have all moved into the tourism development business.

In 2017, direct tourism investment broke 1.5 trillion yuan in China, and the country's 144 tourism investment funds were worth 800 billion yuan, according to the former National Tourism Administration.

More than 2,000 big-scale tourism projects are now under construction, involving more than 5 trillion yuan in investment. A total of 130 scenic spots have seen investment above 10 billion yuan each, and 45 above 20 billion yuan each.

Investment in culture and tourism towns, theme parks, ethnic and religion tourism, camping sites and those offering TV, film tracks and performance have been on the rise in recent years, supported by the country's favorable policies towards tourism investment, including those that help qualified tourism enterprises go public.

"Private capital has taken an exceptional part in overall tourism industry investment, basically surpassing 50 percent," says Li Yuebo, managing director with Industrial Securities.

Private companies have put more focus on medium and high-end travel experiences and invested more in lesiure at first-tier cities, while governments and State-owned companies have put money in tourism infrastructure in the central and western parts of the country, Li says.

Speaking about future tourism development prospects, Mounsey's president Wang Tao believes the sky's the limit.

"Tourism would be the next gold mine in the next dozens of years in China, after real estate and the internet," Wang says.

Sunac's revenue was 360 billion yuan last year, and it ranks merely the fourth in the real estate industry, while the combined business of the tourism giants Ctrip and China International Travel Service Ltd amount to just 60 billion yuan, Wang says.

"With real estate giants flocking to the tourism industry, think about the changes they would bring," he adds.

"The good show just began."

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

The Beijing-based ShanHai Cultural and Tourism Group has invested in the building of tourist destinations in Guizhou province's Anshun city. Photos provided to China Daily 

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2018-06-09 07:41:05
<![CDATA[Navigating through Fuzhou's famous three lanes and seven alleys for leisure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/09/content_36358408.htm Once described by CNN as "the Beverley Hills of Imperial China", Sanfangqixiang, or Three Lanes and Seven Alleys, is one of Fuzhou's most popular cultural attractions.

According to the Sanfangqixiang management, the tourist spot attracted 437,700 visitors during this year's Labor Day holiday in May.

This charming neighborhood, which has been around since the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List five years ago and was once the place of residence for many prominent Chinese personalities, including scholar and politician Lin Zexu (1785 - 1850), Qing Dynasty official Shen Baozhen (1820-1879), famous translator Yan Fu (1854-1921) and author Bing Xin (1900-1999).

The main thoroughfare in this 38-hectare area is Nanhoujie and it takes about 30 minutes to walk from one end to the other. The three lanes and seven alleys that branch from this main walkway is what gave Sanfangqixiang its name. Many renovation projects have been carried out to spruce up Sanfangqixiang in recent years, including the upgrading of roads and public toilets.

The most striking thing about this place is its beguiling architecture comprising numerous buildings from the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) as well as ancestral halls and pagodas. One unique element of these ancient homes is that each of them have wooden doors and windows that are carved with creatures such as dragons, phoenixes, fishes and birds.

Every year during the Lunar New Year period, artists would flood the lanes as they perform lion dances and taiping drum dances. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, staff from the Tien Hau Temple and volunteers would create rice in the shape of rabbits and the moon to worship the Beidou God.

Sanfangqixiang is replete with a variety of retail outlets selling items such as tourist kitsch and hand-painted fans and umbrellas. The food selection is comprehensive too, with food stalls selling snacks such as fish balls, pork wontons, peanut soup and mashed taro.

There are several time-honored stores, such as Yonghe Yuwan (fish balls) and Tongli Rouyan (meat wantons). But there are touches of modernity too, as evidenced by the presence of Starbucks, which is situated in a two-layered wooden chamber, and stalls selling pearl milk tea like Yidiandian and Happy Lemon. Tourists can also buy authentic Fuzhou snacks and desserts from Baibingyuan.

One of the must-try Fuzhou delicacies is the scrumptious fotiaoqiang, or Buddha Jumps Over the Wall, which features a mouthwatering combination of braised seafood such as sea cucumber, sea-ear, dried scallops and fish glue.

Such is the fotiaoqiang's renown that it was even featured in the massively popular television program Bite of China which revealed that this dish requires up to eight hours of preparation time.

Those keen on trying fotiaoqiang should head to the Ju Chun Yuan restaurant, which has a branch at Sanfangqixiang. Founded in 1865, this restaurant serves its fotiaoqiang in a jar made of Chinese porcelain. Each serving costs 398 yuan ($65).

Visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to accommodation in Fuzhou. Those eager to experience local life could pick from the wide range of Airbnb options available. An apartment near Sanfangqixiang costs between 199 yuan and 500 yuan per night.

Alternatively, those who prefer a more conventional hotel experience can choose from different five-star brands including Shangri-La in Gulou district and Hilton in Taijiang district.

If you go

There are seven high-speed train connections between Beijing and Fuzhou daily. Flights between the two cities would take about three hours. Visitors to Fuzhou can download the app e-Fuzhou to book tickets to Sanfangqixiang and find out parking availability. The app also provides oral and visual presentations of tourist sites.

yezizhen@chinadaily.com.cn

Sanfangqixiang attracts tourists from home and abroad. Zhu Xingxin / China Daily

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2018-06-09 07:41:05
<![CDATA[Outbound tourism continues to expand]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317933.htm Open visa policies, online booking, mobile payments creating generation of intrepid international tourists scouring the globe

GUANGZHOU - The island of Islay in Scotland is likely to see an influx of tourists from China, though it has few famous museums or luxury shopping centers.

Yue Yong, founder of a whisky academy in Beijing, has recently been preparing for a study tour to this year's Islay Festival. Yue led 12 of his students to the island during the last week of May, to immerse themselves in the aroma of Scotch whisky.

"The new generation of Chinese are in step with their foreign peers," Yue told Xinhua. "This whisky study tour reflects their interest in different cultures."

Yue's students are part of the largest and fastest growing group of spenders in the world.

According to statistics published by the United Nations World Tourism Organization in April, Chinese travelers spent $258 billion abroad in 2017, and made more than 142 million international departures.

They didn't just spend a lot of money, but also spent their money in a lot of different ways.

Chinese travelers are now paying more attention to niche tourism markets, such as Scotch whisky tasting and polar lights chasing tours, short-term study trips, overseas voluntary camps and outdoor adventures.

Just four decades ago, few Chinese people traveled abroad.

As the reform and opening-up awoke the curiosity of many Chinese about the world, travel agencies in South China's Guangdong province began to break the ice in the early 1980s.

In the beginning, family visits were the only permitted purpose for cross-border travel.

"Only people who had relatives living in Hong Kong could apply for tours," Li Nianyang with GZL Travel Service recalled. He organized some of the earliest tours to Hong Kong when it was still under British control.

The tours had fixed schedules and usually lasted for a week. The fees had to be paid by the Hong Kong relatives.

Liang Hong, then 33, whose elder brother lived in Hong Kong, joined a tour in 1984. She returned with a schoolbag for her 6-year-old daughter. It was the family's first souvenir from what was then considered overseas travel.

"What impressed me the most was the metro," Liang recalled, "People just swiped their metro cards and boarded the trains. The technology was beyond my imagination."

Liang's hometown Guangzhou did not have a metro line until 1997. Today, the city has the fourth busiest metro system in the world, where passengers can board a train by simply scanning a QR code. The country's tourism industry, meanwhile, has been prospering, and Liang has been to more than 30 countries and regions around the world.

Rather than seeing herself as an ordinary tourist, Liang considers herself a student on the road, who wishes to see the world as much as possible.

Together with three friends, she celebrated the most recent New Year holiday in Peru. Together with three other grandmothers, average age of 69, who speak neither English nor Spanish, she managed to travel to the United States, Peru, Argentina and Chile in 35 days and even reached Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world.

Two months after the trip, Liang visited India with her husband, and is planning to tour Israel and Jordan later this year.

"My daughter helps me with the visa applications, and I would book all the accommodation and transportation online beforehand," Liang said. "I save pictures of all my destinations on my mobile phone, so whenever I take a taxi or ask for directions I just show the pictures."

Favorable visa policies, online booking services and mobile payment have enabled Chinese travelers such as Liang to explore other cultures freely and easily. As a result, world travel has truly become a lifestyle for some Chinese.

Jiao Jiawen had always wanted a special wedding. The 30-year-old Beijing resident is a huge fan of Japanese architect Tadao Ando, and therefore planned a ceremony at one of Ando's famous works - the Chapel on the Water in Hokkaido.

She invited some 20 family members and friends to attend the wedding, which was held in accordance with the chapel's conventions.

"Almost all of the guests had never been to Hokkaido before, so it felt like we were actually traveling and got married by the way," Jiao said. "The wedding was very ceremonial, following the local traditions. It was a fantastic experience."

Yue Yong said: "Reform and opening-up has brought about drastic changes to the lives of Chinese. Chinese tourists have been embracing various cultures, and are also contributing to globalization on the road."

Xinhua

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2018-06-02 07:26:11
<![CDATA[W Suzhou incorporates historic city's ancient heritage, modern art]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-06/02/content_36317932.htm W Suzhou Hotel in Jiangsu province showcased its brand appeal with a special opening ceremony in late May, attracting more than 1,000 participants rejoicing in the gala night.

The event marked the official premiere of the brand's newest property in China, though the hotel has been working out the kinks since its soft opening last September.

Ugur Lee Kanbur, general manager of W Suzhou, described the event not so much as a formally dressed ritual but as a night of sheer revelry, with participants' enthusiasm ignited by performances including signature Spanish Flamenco dancing, local folk arts and Kunqu Opera, a traditional Chinese performing art form originating from the area.

Suzhou, a popular tourist destination, has long been known as a garden city for its well-preserved ancient parks and other rich cultural heritage, such as silk and embroidery. It serves as an idyllic setting for the W Hotels brand, known for its vitality and fine sense of design, fashion and music it brings to the old city.

The mix of the ancient city's heritage and the hotel's contemporary urban vibe was apparent from the sensory experiences at the opening event, said Carol Zhou, senior director of luxury brand management of the Asia-Pacific region at Marriott International, owner of the luxury hospitality brand.

W Suzhou has worked its innovative interpretation of local culture into its design, creating a "levitating garden" that has made the hotel highly identifiable and dovetails nicely with the city's revitalized urban lifestyle, Zhou said.

Many details of the hotel's design were inspired by typical elements in classical Suzhou parks, such as lakes, stones, pavilions, walls and entrances.

For instance, Kunqu Opera, ranking among the earliest Chinese traditions recognized by UNESCO, is reflected in the hotel's guest rooms, as interior decorations include items shaped in its accompanying musical instruments, such as four-stringed pipa.

The hotel also offers a tea lounge that provides a stylish venue for social gatherings. And lanterns, a commonplace sight under the roofs of old houses in the city, add a unique flair to the hotel's ambience.

During the three-day celebration, participants could immerse themselves in plenty of Suzhou's traditional heritage while at the same time enjoying the most modern of Chinese design art, Zhou said.

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2018-06-02 07:26:11
<![CDATA[China's outbound tourism growth has Irish eyes smiling]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233541.htm

The number of Chinese tourists visiting Ireland could reach 175,000 in 2025, more than double that in 2017, according to Tourism Ireland.

About 70,000 Chinese visitors went to Ireland last year, up about 15 percent year-on-year, according to Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland.

"China is one of Ireland's fastest growing tourism source markets, and the growth rate is likely to double in the near future," he added.

Gibbons made the remarks at the ongoing Tourism Ireland annual travel event called China Sales Mission. It will tour Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong with the aim of sealing more partnerships and deals with local counterparts to bring more Chinese tourists to the island.

A total of 20 Irish tourism market players, including travel agencies, hotels and popular destinations including Guinness Storehouse, have joined this year's China Sales Mission, the largest ever held by Tourism Ireland. "That points to increasing importance as well as our confidence in the Chinese outbound travel market," Gibbons said.

To cater to the growing inflow of Chinese tourists, Tourism Ireland and Irish tourism partners have launched the China Ready training program, which is designed to help Irish tourism firms grab business opportunities in China such as introducing WeChat and other popular mobile payment tools.

Starting in June, Chinese visitors can take direct flights operated by Hainan Airlines or Cathay Pacific Airways to Dublin, either from Beijing or Hong Kong.

Official data showed that China-Ireland trade volume exceeded $10 billion last year, up 36.7 percent year-on-year.

Xinhua News Agency

 

Dublin Castle, a heritage landmark building in Ireland, is a popular tourist destination in the country. Provided to China Daily

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2018-05-19 07:43:06
<![CDATA[A new frontier for tourism]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233554.htm An international cross-country running event has put Yading on the map of tourists worldwide and brought significant changes to the lives of locals.

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Running and hiking enthusiasts heat up local tourism in Yading, Sichuan province, Yang Feiyue reports

An international cross-country running event has put Yading on the map of tourists worldwide and brought significant changes to the lives of locals.

Held during the recent Labor Day holiday, the cross-country running event was a joint effort between the local government, Chinese company Migu Run and Italy-based International Skyrunning Federation. The event attracted more than 1,000 participants from 25 countries and regions.

"The number of participants who had signed up was more than what we expected," says Li Panpan, who works for the event organizers.

The event featured two race routes measuring 46 and 29 kilometers as well as climbing and hiking experiences that took place between 2,900 and 5,000 meters above sea level.

Casal Mir Oscar from Andorra won the 29-km race in three hours, six minutes and 26 seconds. Holly Page from the UK was the first female runner to complete the race in three hours, 32 minutes and four seconds. Chinese contestants Jiaer Renjia and Yao Miao topped the 46-km run for the men's and women's categories respectively.

For many of the contestants, winning wasn't on the agenda - they were content to just take in the magnificent scenes of nature. Chen Xia from Beijing, who opted for the 29-km race and a 10-km hike on the side, was one such individual.

"It was fun to experience nature and the local Tibetan cultural elements, as well as interact with other runners from different parts of the world along the way," says Chen, who finished her race in eight hours and 30 minutes.

"The azaleas in the valley were in full bloom and rain and snow were coming down when I was ascending to 4,700 meters above sea level," Chen recalls. "I wanted to cry when I reached the finish point."

Known for its virgin landscapes that boast stunning scenes of nature, Yading is located in Shangri-La town, Daocheng county, Sichuan province's Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture.

The nature reserve is famous for its three mountain peaks that are blanketed by snow all year round as well as the lush alpine meadows that flank its blue rivers and lakes. While the mountain terrain may be rough, colorful prayer flags and local Tibetans leading their mules add a touch of charm to the landscape. One of the popular tourist attractions here is the golden-roofed Chonggu Monastery that is set against a backdrop of a snowy mountain peak and a pristine blue sky.

The cross-country race has helped to promote Yading around the globe, says Huang Xiaodong, deputy director of the Yading scenic spot. He noted that daily tourist numbers this year so far have grown by more than 80 percent compared with last year. During the National Day holiday in October, the scenic spot reached its daily maximum capacity of 16,000 people. About 750,000 people visited Yading in 2017.

The booming tourism sector in the nature reserve has inherently improved the lives of those living within. According to Huang, about one third of the population in Shangri-La town are directly involved in the industry, offering various services and products to tourists. Each of the 3,000 residents of Shangri-La town could make more than 20,000 yuan a year ($3,153).

At the Luorong Pasture, which is located at the starting point of the trek into the Yading scenic spot, Tenzin manages horses and donkeys that visitors hire as transport. Tenzin says that he receives as many as 100 customers a day and gets to keep about 85 percent of the 305-yuan fee. The rest of the fee goes to the management of the scenic spot.

This job has allowed Tenzin to earn 70,000 yuan a year, which is much more than the income he earned from growing mushrooms and other types of farming work.

Before the tourism boom took place, Yongzin Lhamo led a simple life raising pigs and growing her own food. Life was all about making ends meet. After turning one of her homes into a guesthouse, her quality of life has improved considerably, with yearly earnings exceeding 500,000 yuan.

According to Huang, residents who run such businesses could earn an average of 300,000 yuan per year.

Local authorities are now expecting tourist numbers to break the 1 million mark this year, citing improved tourism infrastructure. For example, more roads have been paved and medical services have been increased to bolster safety measures at higher altitudes.

There are several flights connecting Yading to cities such Chengdu in Sichuan province and Chongqing, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province, Xi'an in Shaanxi province and Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province.

Presently, the 46-km and 29-km routes in Yading have yet to be open to the public. But the cableway would be developed in the future to allow visitors to experience what professional runners go through during their race.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Yading is famous for its three mountain peaks that are blanketed by snow all year round as well as the lush alpine meadows that flank its blue rivers and lakes. Photos By Yang Feiyue / China Daily and provided to China Daily

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2018-05-19 08:06:18
<![CDATA[A travel hub for everyone]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/19/content_36233553.htm

Comprising an ocean aquarium, a theme park, a water park, a knight-themed hotel and a spa hotel, the Europark Resort in Qihe county, Dezhou, Shandong province, is a comprehensive travel destination that is suitable for people of all ages.

Our first stop in the resort was the Knight's Hotel, which impressed us with its castle-like facade and charming medieval decorations within. Across the hotel is the resort's spa hotel which has a sprawling 2,000-square-meter spa area resembling a rain forest and a 1,100-sqm hot spring swimming pool.

The Europark's entertainment facilities are just as impressive. The venue boasts a collection of about 100 attractions, including the 1,200-meter-long Blue Fire roller coaster which was imported from Germany. The only one of its kind in Asia, this attraction ranks among the most popular in the park because of it speed - the roller coaster takes just three seconds to accelerate from a stationary position to 100 km per hour. While the ride may last only 53 seconds, guests can be sure that they would be left with an adrenaline rush that lasts even longer. Thrill-seekers should also check out the Big Pendulum and Canyon Rafting attractions that are guaranteed to leave their hairs on end.

Visitors who are not fond of heart-stopping action could spend their time at the international circus show, flower parade and the Royal Firework Show in the park. Another notable attraction is the top-dome theater that offers a virtual flying tour for visitors every day. Visitors are taken 15 meters into the air as they take in the sights projected onto a giant 3D screen.

A group of well-trained Mongolian horsemen demonstrating various acrobatic feats on horses is also an eye-opening experience. This show features the recreation of an ancient horse battle that tells the story of Mongolian hero Genghis Khan and his men fighting against their enemies.

Located right next to Europark, the 1-billion-yuan ($157 million) water park is an ideal place for families to bond during the summer. One of the largest indoor aquariums in the world, the facility is home to hundreds of aquatic species from all over the world and features more than 10 attractions, including a tropical rain forest, an underwater tunnel, a polar animal area, a 4D cinema and an underwater theater.

The 100-m underwater tunnel was a highlight as this immersive experience made us feel as if we were part of the colorful marine life surrounding us. There were even women dressed in mermaid outfits swimming alongside the fishes. Visitors can also learn more about marine life using the multi-media tools and interactive programs at the facility.

Li Haifeng, chairman of the resort's parent company, said the resort will feature more themed activities during upcoming Chinese and Western festivals to attract more tourists.

If you go

Address: No 8, Tourism Road of Yellow River International Bio-city, Qihe County.

Transport: The resort is located a 20-min drive from downtown Jinan. Bus K 906 departs Jinan's Long Distance Transport Bus Station for the resort every 30 mins.

Tel: 0531-8550 6999

liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-05-19 08:06:18
<![CDATA[China set to rule theme park kingdom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/12/content_36188738.htm A growing appetite for thrill rides and immersive travel experiences will see Chinese mainland overtake the United States and Japan to be crowned theme park capital of the world in the next two years.

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The country's theme parks will welcome more than 330 million visitors a year by 2020, making China the amusement park capital of the world

A growing appetite for thrill rides and immersive travel experiences will see Chinese mainland overtake the United States and Japan to be crowned theme park capital of the world in the next two years.

Increasing public demand has given rise to a boom in theme park development in China and there are currently more than 2,500 amusement parks across the country.

Daily visits to the sites are expected to exceed 330 million people by 2020, according to a recent report by Euromonitor International, a well-known global consulting firm.

At least 300 of the parks have received investment above 50 million yuan ($7.95 million), but they will more than recoup that as retail sales are projected to reach $12 billion over the next two years - a staggering 367 percent growth over 2010.

Of the 20 most popular theme parks among Asian tourists, 13 are based in China, claims a different report by Themed Entertainment Association, an international nonprofit organization.

Among the heavyweights are Disneyland, which launched its Shanghai park to much fanfare in June 2016, while Universal Studios' Beijing site is expected to open its doors by 2020.

Other international theme parks, such as Japan's Hello Kitty park and South Korea's Lotte World are also preparing to migrate to the mainland.

However, it's not just the big international parks that are enjoying the ride, many domestic theme park brands have increasingly made their presence felt.

Happy Valley, known for providing simple joys and thrills, is investing in new technology to upgrade its facilities, while the Beijing Happy Valley park will be making a splash with China's biggest waterslide and a thrilling new rollercoaster this summer.

Run by the State-owned Overseas Chinese Town, Happy Valley has ranked among China's most-celebrated amusement park brands with additional sites in Shanghai, Guangdong province's Shenzhen, Chongqing, Sichuan province's capital, Chengdu, Hubei province's capital, Wuhan, and Tianjin.

Attracting adults aged between 20- and 35-years-old, during the peak summer months of July and August, the Beijing park welcomes around 10,000 visitors a day during the week and double that on Saturdays and Sundays.

Li Xiangyang, deputy general manager of the Happy Valley in Beijing is pragmatic in his view of the recent influx of big-brand international parks, noting that foreign brands not only bring competition, but also opportunity.

"Foreign theme parks introduce Western elements," he explains, "this should entice domestic parks to differentiate themselves by developing more Chinese experiences."

Nearly 40 percent of guests who have visited a Happy Valley park have returned, the company claims, and Li adds that the parks continue to renovate and evolve to provide new experiences to visitors.

Another homegrown franchise, Haichang Ocean Park Holdings are planning to open two new parks in Shanghai and Sanya in Hainan province.

Scheduled for an August opening, the Shanghai park will cover an area of 29.7 hectares and feature more than 20 polar animal species and 300 fish. A special effects cinema, science exhibition and interactive experiences with the large marine animals will be among the initial attractions.

Gao Jie, executive president of Haichang Holdings, is hoping to attract 3.2 million visitors in the park's first year of operation, with a view to reaching up to 6 million annual visitors after that.

Speaking of competition from Disneyland - which is a 25-minute drive away - Gao says it acts as an incentive for Haichang to improve products and services.

The company runs eight theme parks, with venues situated in Liaoning province's Dalian, Shandong province's Qingdao and Yantai, Tianjin, Hubei province's Wuhan, Sichuan province's Chengdu and Chongqing.

Last year, the company's ticket sales rose 10.6 percent year-on-year to 1.18 billion yuan, 291.5 million yuan of which was profit.

Fantawild Adventure, another of China's leading domestic theme park brands, also plans to double the number of venues it has around the country to 40 in the next five to 10 years, according to Ding Liang, the company's senior vice-president.

One new Fantawild park that is already under development will delight fans of the Boonie Bears, a popular domestic animated series for children with significant marketing cache. The Boonie Bears attraction will reproduce classic scenes from the TV show and develop 4D film and stage dramas to entertain visiting families.

Last year, the domestic tourism market hosted five billion visitors, and a significant number of them opted for theme park experiences, the China Tourism Academy reports.

Both Happy Valley and Disneyland appear in the top 10 destination list compiled by the academy following the recent Tomb Sweeping Day holiday.

More than 31,000 tourists visited Qingdao Haichang Polar Ocean World, up nearly 64 percent over last year's holiday, while Qingdao Forest Wildlife World received over 22,000 visitors, and Qingdao Fantawild Dreamland welcomed 36,400 - a record high.

The growing rank of the Chinese middle class has brought prosperity to theme parks, says Lin Huanjie, head of the Institute for Theme Park Studies in China.

However, success is a two-sided ride token and, with the rapid rise in the popularity of amusement parks, a homogeneity and lack of a distinctive cultural themes at some attractions has spurred the Chinese authorities to issue guidance to future park developers.

Those promoting Chinese culture and containing original, creative attractions would be encouraged, while those acting as a loosely-themed facade for housing and office projects, or featuring unclear concepts, imitations and low-standard duplications, would be banned.

Lin welcomes the guidance, expressing his belief that it will help preserve the healthy and sustainable development of theme parks in the country, thus avoiding a rollercoaster of quality entertainment for visitors and a resultant Helter Skelter-like spiral in fortunes.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

]]> 2018-05-12 07:31:38 <![CDATA[Discover your limits on a natural adventure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/12/content_36188737.htm A park that brings people closer to nature through adventurous experiences is gaining popularity among those of an active persuasion.

Located in Moganshan, Zhejiang province, the Discovery Adventures Park is a joint effort between factual TV giant, Discovery, Inc, and Shanghai-based APAX Recreation and taps into growing demand for outdoor sports, eco-tourism and science education.

The park is designed to reflect Discovery's spirit of "curiosity, adventure and exploration" beyond the small screen, inviting visitors to challenge their limits and immerse themselves in the experience; to feel the ethos of the Discovery brand, explains Terence Chu, president of the park.

The park uses its natural environment to provide a wide selection of challenging activities and bucolic pastimes such as rock climbing, obstacle courses, adventure trekking, racing events, hot air balloon rides and a zip-line tour. There are even wilderness survival programs that offer city slickers the opportunity to learn essential skills and engage with nature.

Since it opened, the park has welcomed more than 30,000 people through the turnstiles, 90 percent of whom visit as part of corporate outings or school trips, says Chu.

So far, he says, the park has fostered long-term relationships with around 300 businesses which use the venue to conduct corporate team building events.

"We feel that eco-tourism theme parks harbor a great opportunity," Chu muses, "but there are not many people engaging in it yet"

He adds that many scenic spots don't provide much in the way of in-depth experiences, usually providing just board and lodging.

Chu reminisces that, in the past, during his trips to Moganshan, there was little to do except for a bit of sightseeing. When he heard about enhanced government support for eco-cultural tourism and the sports industry, the idea for the park began to take shape.

"Most of theme parks focus on recreation, but our concept is to effectively integrate more tourism and ecological resources with theme park," Chu notes, adding that the country has great natural resources that would make for unforgettable experiences with the establishment of more facilities that have professional teams running them.

Discovery Adventures Park offers a professional training system, outdoors facilities that comply strictly with international safety standards and a team of coaches who are available to hold guest's hand and ensure that everyone has a memorable experience.

Looking forward, Chu says that a second Discovery park will be coming down the pike soon, this time in Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan province.

There are also plans to open parks in Xiamen, Fujian province, Sanya, Hainan province, Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region and Taiwan.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-05-12 07:31:38
<![CDATA[Top brands offer enticing May Day discounts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/07/content_36153694.htm Price cuts were made by some luxury marques during the recent May Day holiday - and more players are predicted to follow suit in a bid to attract customers.

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Luxury marques in race to slash recommended retail prices in response to 1% VAT rate reduction that came into effect May 1, Hao Yan reports.

Price cuts were made by some luxury marques during the recent May Day holiday - and more players are predicted to follow suit in a bid to attract customers.

Industry experts said the 1 percent drop in the value added tax rate implemented on May 1 triggered a flurry of reductions in the MSRP, or manufacturer's suggested retail prices for luxury cars.

Top brands involved included Mercedes Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, BMW, Mini, Lincoln and Porsche.

The aggressive cuts were made by German luxury car brand, Mercedes Benz, which slashed more than 32,000 yuan ($5,080) from the suggested retail price for some Mercedes AMG models.

British luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover reportedly made cuts of up to 20,000 yuan to the prices of their vehicles.

"Customers will see more luxury automakers following suit. It's essentially a reaction to the lowered VAT rate," said Ron Zheng, a Shanghai-based partner with consultancy Roland Berger.

"Those who have not reduced their suggested price are largely going through their decision-making process," he told China Daily.

Zheng said hefty price cuts would be given to end-customers to win over the wavering and hesitant potential buyers who don't have strong brand preference or loyalty.

The MSRP is the price announced by an automaker at its product launch, but effectively serves as a reference for the final price paid by customers.

Customers usually enjoy discounted prices from dealers seeking to push sales performances, while sometimes buyers have to pay over the MSRP for very popular models in some cities.

A model's retail price ranks second among the various factors influencing a consumer's decision to buy.

It is only bettered by the number one factor - a vehicle's performance including its drivetrains - according to Roland Berger's findings in a national survey of Chinese customers.

The survey also found that the Chinese auto market valued the services provided by carmakers as the third major buying factor, and prices for used vehicles as the fourth influencer behind the decision.

"The extent of the price cut to an individual luxury car will influence some buyers," Zheng said. "However the reaction to the 1 percent drop in VAT won't deliver a blow to overall market shares," he added.

Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association, agreed that a number of things influenced a luxury car buyer's choice, and automakers were trying to leverage the 1 percent VAT reduction as an opportunity to tweak their prices.

"The Chinese luxury carmarket is becoming more volatile, so luxury carmakers are trying to seize any opportunity to gain the upper hand over their rivals," Cui said. "In the wake of the VAT cut, automakers that reacted with price cuts were mainly aiming at grabbing the attention of customers, then convert that into deals."

The CPCA chief also predicted that the remaining luxury car makers that had been hesitant on price cuts would respond soon, because they had been enjoying fat margins in the local market, and cuts of thousands of yuan to the MSRP would not particularly impact their profitability.

"Those that didn't cut their suggested price could possibly lose some buyers who will change their preference. Some will switch to the other brands in the same segment," Cui said.

Many luxury carmakers are pinning great expectations on their market performance in China this year, with the industry predicting double digit year-on-year sales growth in 2018.

Mainstream luxury cars registered total sales of about 2.6 million units last year, contributing 9 percent to total national car sales of 28.9 million units in 2017, according to industrial data.

Auto experts said that despite the latest moves, they did not anticipate that end consumers would enjoy major lasting price cuts, because the "real" retail price of the cars already reflected a sharp discount in many cases on the official MSRP.

haoyan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Mercedes Benz' AMG models are seeing aggressive price cuts among luxury brands in the Chinese market. Provided to China Daily

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2018-05-07 07:30:24
<![CDATA[VW CEO urges corporate culture change amid sweeping revamp]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/07/content_36153693.htm Volkswagen AG Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess pledged to step up integrity and compliance efforts as part of the German manufacturer's deepest overhaul since the diesel-emissions scandal came to light in 2015.

"Volkswagen has to become more honest, more open, and more truthful," Diess said Thursday, addressing shareholders for the first time in his new role at the company's annual general meeting in Berlin. "Besides abiding by the rules and obeying the law, the key here is always ethics - a clear moral compass."

VW will adopt the principles of the globally recognized Ethics & Compliance Initiative, which helps drive corporate best practices, he said.

Diess, 59, is pushing to move on from Volkswagen's biggest crisis, which erupted nearly three years ago. While the world's largest car manufacturer has bounced back faster than anticipated with record deliveries and profit, shareholders haven't let up criticizing the company's poor governance record as investigations into its cheating on diesel emissions in 11 million vehicles worldwide continue. Since the scandal was uncovered, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based carmaker has faced a barrage of lawsuits with earmarked costs exceeding 25 billion euros ($30 billion) for fines, settlements and other expenses.

Court cases and investigations are continuing as disgruntled investors and car owners in Europe seek damages too. Volkswagen is also pushing ahead with its own scrutiny of the scandal. While VW-mandated US law firm Jones Day concluded an external investigation, probes by other legal advisers including Gleiss Lutz will take more time, Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said.

"We need even better knowledge of the incidents," he said. VW is "constantly exploring" possible damage claims against officials related to the wrongdoing, including former board members, he added.

The new CEO has vowed to accelerate a sweeping strategy shift, including preparing the trucks unit to access capital markets, following the abrupt departure of predecessor Matthias Mueller last month, who steered VW through the scandal.

"VW Truck & Bus will be structured to be largely autonomous, rather than steered by the group," Diess said in Berlin. Poetsch said last month a potential share sale of the unit would be limited to a minority stake as VW will maintain control over the business.

Diess confirmed VW will also review options for noncore assets like motorcycle brand Ducati, Renk and MAN's Diesel & Turbo unit. "We will define sustainable perspectives. These could result in expansion," Diess said. "Spin-offs are also conceivable."

Possible distractions

As Diess seeks to move on, VW faces potential further distraction as German authorities look into whether VW paid its powerful worker representatives excessive salaries.

Meanwhile, the European Union is investigating whether carmakers including VW potentially breached cartel rules discussing technical standards with industry peers and parts makers.

"The key question is to which extent labor unions are supporting the urgently needed overhaul under the new CEO," Ingo Speich, senior portfolio manager at Union Investment, said by phone.

"The enormous complexity of VW group makes structural changes inevitable, otherwise the industry transformation over the next 10 years will hurt the company's competitiveness." Cozy ties between senior managers, worker representatives and state politicians have often bogged down decision-making at VW, and its insular corporate culture did little to prevent the diesel-cheating.

Bloomberg

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2018-05-07 07:30:24
<![CDATA[BMW targets Chinese customers with launch of latest premium mid-size SUV]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/07/content_36153692.htm Following the debut of the all-new BMW X3 at Auto China 2018 in Beijing, the German automaker's Chinese joint venture, BMW Brilliance, announced the model's recommended retail price of 399,800($63,131.17) to 585,800 yuan with orders being taken nationwide as of April 26.

Launched in 2003, the first generation BMW X3 was a pioneer and leader in the premium mid-size sport utility vehicle segment, winning more than 1.5 million customers worldwide thanks to its outstanding performance and reliability in the past 15 years.

Local production of the latest X3, the third generation of the model, began recently at BMW Brilliance's Dadong manufacturing base in Shenyang, capital of Northeast China's Liaoning province.

The all-new BMW X3 is redefining the market segment with comprehensive improvements in its styling, luxury, intelligent connectivity, driving pleasure and comprehensive quality, the carmaker said.

Extensive research and development has led to the use of aluminum in the construction of the X3's engine hood, front fenders and front doors, dramatically reducing weight, while hot-formed high-strength steel is also widely used on the body such as the B-pillar to enhance safety.

Compared to the previous generation, the rigidity of the body is improved by 30 percent and the weight of the body in white is reduced by 55 kg.

Innovative technology and the premium features of the X3 are on par with that of the new BMW 5 Series, surpassing public expectations in the premium mid-size SUV segment, the company said.

The German automaker paid special attention to the needs of its Chinese customers while developing the latest X3. Not only is it produced locally, but the new model also features design cues that are popular in the Chinese market, such as more comfortable seats and the latest technology.

The new BMW X3 is 54 mm longer than the previous generation and its rear seats are specially designed for Chinese customers. Many luxury features on the model have not been seen in its segment before.

All efforts have been made with the aim of offering an authentic and ideal China exclusive model for local customers, complete with sheer driving pleasure and sublime luxury experience, the carmaker said.

The BMW X3 xDrive 25i and BMW X3 xDrive 30i will be available shortly after launch, and both models will come with Luxury Line and M Sport package offerings.

With upgraded BMW B Series 2.0L TwinPower Turbo engine powering the latest model, it is more efficient and reliable, and generates a maximum output of 185 kW and peak torque of 350 Nm.

The powerful engine is combined with an eight-speed automatic transmission with smoother and more efficient gear changes, so that the BMW X3 xDrive 30i can accelerate from zero to 100kph in 6.8 seconds.

The exterior of X3 boasts robust and athletic styling, showing power and strength from any angle, according to the company. The larger "double kidney" grille has adopted an inverted trapezoid design and the BMW adaptive hexagonal LED headlamps are equipped on the X model for the first time.

The German carmaker said the latest X3 is completely new and sets benchmarks in rich configurations and high value.

There are 20 high-end standard configurations, including a 10.25-inch instrument display panel with touch screen, natural language understanding voice recognition and an automatic tailgate.

There is also increased cushioning in the rear seats, the largest panoramic sunroof in its segment, adaptive LED headlights, and a PM 2.5 air filter exclusively designed for Chinese customers.

The all-new BMW X3 can act as a mobile terminal to connect people using its own Wi-Fi hotspot for up to three devices as well as Apple CarPlay.

With independent, confident and responsible achievers as target customers, the all-new BMW X3 will become an ideal choice for luxury and modern lifestyles, said the company.

haoyan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The all-new BMW X3 is manufactured at the German marque's Chinese plant in Shenyang, Liaoning province. Provided to China Daily

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2018-05-07 07:30:24
<![CDATA[Ford, Volkswagen move fast to join hands with mobility services]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/07/content_36153691.htm Carmakers are jumping on the mobility services bandwagon in China, which is a strategic step as ride-hailing and car-sharing threaten traditional sales and also an expedient to sell their locally made electric cars, according to industry analysts.

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As the nature of transport evolves, traditional auto manufacturers are keeping pace

Carmakers are jumping on the mobility services bandwagon in China, which is a strategic step as ride-hailing and car-sharing threaten traditional sales and also an expedient to sell their locally made electric cars, according to industry analysts.

Ford announced Wednesday that it is to build a 50-50 joint venture with Chinese carmaker Zotye to provide smart, customized all-electric vehicles to fleet operators and drivers in China's fast-growing ride-hailing market.

The $20 million joint venture, which will be located in Zhejiang province, will initially focus on the ride-hailing market in Zhejiang, with plans to expand it to other areas.

The US carmaker said many operators in China's ride-hailing market are looking to expand their fleets with electric vehicles. Citing statistics from Boston Consulting Group, it said the "e-hailing" market in China is expected to grow by 19 percent annually through 2022, with an overall fleet size potentially reaching up to 26 million.

Ford has long vowed to turn itself from a car manufacturer and seller into a mobility provider and to build smart cars.

"This takes us one step further to offering smart services, connected electric vehicles and data-driven solutions to make China's urban centers cleaner and journeys more efficient and enjoyable," said Ford Vice-President Peter Fleet.

Ford is not alone. Volkswagen AG, the world's largest carmaker by sales, said it is joining hands with car rental company Shouqi to expand into ride-hailing, a car-sharing partnership and revolutionary last-mile mobility for everyone in every situation.

The German carmaker is also "entering the first phase of a partnership by exploring mobility projects as well as smart city, autonomous driving and robo-taxi projects" with China's ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing, said Volkswagen's China chief Jochem Heizmann during the recent Beijing auto show.

A Didi spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the two will focus on building a fleet operation business, and look into other potential areas such as designing new car models for ride-hailing.

Volkswagen said it will invest 15 billion euros ($18.3 billion) in China by 2022 in e-mobility, autonomous driving, digitalization and new mobility services.

According to Volkswagen AG CEO Herbert Diess, the company will start the local production of electric cars in at least six factories by 2021.

In the next seven to eight years, Volkswagen will offer 40 new energy vehicle models produced in China, and it has set a goal to sell around 400,000 such cars a year by 2020, a fifth of the country's target for the year.

Volkswagen's ambitious goal is based on China's market size and, more urgently, to meet China's demand that carmakers must sell a certain number of new energy cars from the next year, according to analysts.

Carmakers will need to amass credits for new energy vehicles equivalent to 10 percent of annual sales by 2019, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

That level would rise to 12 percent by 2020.

"Partnering with local companies like Didi is offering solutions, while allowing those carmakers to make their strategic moves in mobility," said Yale Zhang, managing director of Shanghai-based consultancy Automotive Foresight.

Volkswagen will provide around 100,000 vehicles, plus electric and autonomous vehicle technology, and manage the fleet of vehicles, as a first step in the joint venture with Didi, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Volkswagen's car-sharing venture with State-owned Shouqi, has ordered 7,000 electric cars from the carmaker's electric car venture with China's JAC Motors, although its first car will not roll off the assembly line later this year.

Ford said its new joint venture "will work closely with the Zotye-Ford manufacturing joint venture", which will build a range of affordable all-electric vehicles for consumers in China under a new indigenous brand.

"You can bet that more such partnerships (between carmakers and mobility companies) will emerge as things evolve," Zhang said.

lifusheng@chinadaily.com.cn

 

China's ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is in talks with Volkswagen AG to explore mobility projects such as smart city tech and autonomous driving. Wu Changqing / For China Daily

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2018-05-07 07:30:24
<![CDATA[Short Torque]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/07/content_36153690.htm Acura CDX Sport Hybrid hits market

The GAC Acura CDX Sport Hybrid SUV launched in the Chinese market on April 29 in three variants at prices ranging from 299,800 yuan ($47,340) to 352,800 yuan. The latest model is powered by a hybrid drivetrain combining a i-VTEC engine, a high power electric motor, continuously variable transmission and lithium batteries, to provide a maximum output of 158 Kw. Thanks to the brand's intelligent hybrid system, the SUV is capable of traveling 100 km on five liters of gasoline.

Range Rover Velar recalls hit China

Jaguar Land Rover China began a recall of its Range Rover Velar models in the Chinese mainland due to defective ventilation systems from April 26, according to a national quality watchdog. The recall affects 4,511 imported 2018 Range Rover Velars manufactured between April 13 and Nov 17 2017, according to a statement from China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Diesel woes linger as demand surges

German carmakers reported a big increase in new registrations in April, official data on the sector showed Thursday, although buyers continued to shun diesel-fuelled vehicles after years of emissions scandals. Some 314,055 brand-new cars hit the road last month, an increase of 8 percent year-on-year, the German transport authority said. Of those, some 33.4 percent were powered by diesel - a slightly higher proportion than seen in March, but still 12.5 percent below last year's figure.

Record Q1 sales results for Ferrari

Italian luxury carmaker Ferrari on Thursday said it was racing towards achieving "another great year" after profits accelerated past forecasts in the first quarter of 2018. The sports car manufacturer said in a statement it had a better-than-expected 19.4 percent jump in profits from January to March compared to the same period last year, with profits rising to 149 million euros ($178 million). Ferrari is set to announce its plans for new models in September, with hybrid sports cars, a super SUV and a luxury 4X4 expected.

Motoring - Agencies

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2018-05-07 07:30:24
<![CDATA[Nissan, Dongfeng Motor joint venture committed to electric future]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-05/07/content_36153689.htm Nissan and its Chinese joint venture Dongfeng Motor, known as DFL, will offer more than 20 electric models over the next five years - both zero-emission and e-POWER - as part of a commitment to sustainable development in China.

The electric models will carry the four marques of Dongfeng, Nissan, Infiniti and Venucia, and six of the latest electric models will launch in the market this year or next.

"It speaks of Nissan and DFL's ambitions to become China's electric vehicle market leaders by 2022. We are very confident," Jose Munoz, Nissan Motor's chief performance officer and chairman of the company's management committee for China, told China Daily.

"China will become the No 1 market for Nissan, definitely, no doubt. It's not only because the Chinese market is growing fast, but also because of our good partnership and strong leadership in the country," he said.

Embodying Nissan's confidence, its first fully electric car tailored for the Chinese market debuted at Auto China 2018 in Beijing, while three zero-emission vehicles took center stage to showcase the company's vision for an electrified future.

Nissan SYLPHY Zero Emission - the brand's first electric car produced in China for Chinese consumers - is expected to bring together the Nissan SYLPHY's reputation for durability, quality, reliability and value with a proven, fully electric drivetrain.

The electric car offers the exciting performance of a 100 percent electric powertrain, including locally procured battery cells. Its advanced technologies and spacious cabin offer convenience and comfort.

The SYLPHY Zero Emission features fast-charging capabilities, and customers will be able to enjoy an extended drive range of 338 kilometers in comprehensive situations, according to Chinese regulatory standards.

The car includes Nissan Intelligent Mobility technologies such as Lane Departure Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking, Rear Cross Traffic Alert and Blind Spot Warning. It will go on sale later in 2018.

As Nissan's first mass-production electric car in China, the Nissan SYLPHY Zero Emission shares a platform and technologies with the Nissan LEAF.

The new Nissan LEAF is the company's all-time bestselling electric car, with more than 320,000 sold worldwide since 2010.

In fact, the LEAF is the best-selling electric car globally.

Named 2018 World Green Car at the 2018 New York International Auto Show, it was also showcased at the Beijing auto show.

Nissan is exploring the possibility of introducing the new Nissan LEAF to China by the end of this year. It is one of the 20 electric models the company plans to introduce in China over the next five years.

The company said it believes the new Nissan LEAF is the standard-bearer for Nissan Intelligent Mobility, a vision of electrification, autonomous driving and intelligent connectivity brought to the Chinese market this year.

Nissan Intelligent Mobility is guiding the company's development in changing how vehicles are powered, driven and integrated into society.

A glimpse into the future of Nissan Intelligent Mobility was offered at the auto show by the Nissan IMx KURO, an electric crossover concept vehicle.

The car's advanced features include Nissan's exclusive Brain-to-Vehicle technology, which intercepts and analyzes the driver's brain waves to improve reaction times and increase driving comfort.

Also on display was Nissan's proprietary e-Power electric powertrain technology, which won a prestigious Japanese environmental award for its contribution to reducing CO2 emissions. The technology will be introduced in China within the next few years.

Munoz said: "The e-Power technology, as a part of our Nissan Intelligent Mobility, has received high praise when deployed in earlier models. Dealers are longing for e-Power to enter the Chinese market and we have faith in its future in the country."

The all-new Nissan Terra frame-based SUV showed Nissan's range at Auto China 2018.

The Terra builds on Nissan's strong SUV heritage and combines it with the expertise of the company's frame and light commercial vehicle division.

Featuring modern design and a roomy, comfortable cabin, the Nissan Terra is a tough, practical vehicle on or off the road. It's a key product in Nissan's midterm business plan, Nissan M.O.V.E. to 2022.

"We are expecting China's annual sales volume to reach 2.6 million vehicles by 2022 across the four brands - Dongfeng, Nissan, Infiniti and Venucia," Munoz said.

Nissan Motor and Dongfeng Motor are carrying on their TRIPLE ONE mid-term plan, aiming to boost annual sales volumes by 1 million vehicles, and become a No 1 intelligent mobility company.

Dongfeng Motor maintained speedy sales growth for each brand in the first quarter of this year, after registering 1.5 million sales in 2017, according to company data.

haoyan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Nissan SYLPHY Zero Emission is the brand's first electric car produced in China for Chinese consumers. Photos provided to China Daily

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2018-05-07 07:30:24
<![CDATA[Red tourism gets a boost]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/05/content_35982242.htm The number of tourists visiting sites linked to the revolution led by the Communist Party of China almost tripled in the first half of 2017, as compared with the same period in 2016

China's red tourism has seen a boom over the years, as more people visit historical places linked to the revolution led by the Communist Party of China from 1921 to 1949.

The number of tourists almost tripled in the first half of 2017, as compared with the same period in 2016, says a report by the domestic online travel agency Lvmama, headquartered in Shanghai.

Chen Gang, a professor from Jinggangshan University, says young people visit historical places linked to the revolution led by the Communist Party of China from 1921 to 1949, hoping to find inspiration to tackle the challenges they face. Provided to China Daily

The sites received roughly 1.15 billion visits in 2016, up 11.7 percent over the previous year, and tourism income from these sites was 306.1 billion yuan ($45.74 billion), up 17.2 percent, according to Tuniu, another major online travel agency based in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province.

Meanwhile, an increasing number of young people are visiting such sites, with those born in the 1980s, the 1990s and the 2000s accounting for almost 50 percent of the traffic, according to Lvmama's report.

Commenting on the trend, Chen Gang, a professor from Jinggangshan University, says young people visit such sites hoping to find inspiration to tackle the challenges they face.

During the recent Spring Festival holiday, the venue of the Zunyi Conference in Guizhou province, where Chairman Mao Zedong regained control of the Party in 1935, saw more than 126,000 visits.

Separately, the hall's curator Chen Song is working to spread word of the site. And he plans to have exhibitions in Tianjin, the Liaoning provincial capital Shenyang, the Guangdong provincial capital Guangzhou and the Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu.

In 2016, more than 19 exhibitions featuring the Long March by the Red Army between 1934 and 1936 and the Zunyi Conference were held in Shanghai, Zhejiang and Fujian provinces, drawing more than 2 million visits.

Speaking about the impact of such promotion events, Wang Yudi, a tour guide for Zunyi site says: "Calls kept coming in to book tours (at the Shanghai event), and every guide has to take four to five groups a day."

Typically, the exhibitions showcase the history of the Long March in Guizhou and the Zunyi Conference, and portray historic scenes through visual and audio channels.

The exhibitions have also made their way to local schools.

And Qu Changgen, a professor from Zhejiang Sci-Tech University's School of Marxism, even took some of his classes at the exhibition sites.

"The Zunyi Conference exhibitions focused on a factual description of the key events, which is more direct and real for students," says Qu.

The Zunyi Conference site is only one among the many popular sites on offer.

The site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai received 730,000 visits in the first 11 months of 2017, according to the site's curator Zhang Liming. And during the three-day China red tourism expo hosted in November 2017 in Nanchang, the capital of Jiangxi province, more than 100,000 people visited the area.

In a related development, the National Tourism Administration reports that the number of red tourism spots now expected to receive more than 100,000 people a year, increased to 118 in 2016, from 82 in 2013.

Travelers have paid more than 5 billion visits to red tourism destinations since 2004, an annual growth rate of 16 percent.

And the authorities are expecting the number of such tourists to cross 1.5 billion annually by 2020.

Many areas across the country are now tapping into their red tourism heritage to draw in visitors.

In Cangxi county in the north of Sichuan province, red tourism has been integrated with other elements to attract more than 2 million visits by travelers annually.

The county, covering an area of 2,330 square kilometers, witnessed more than 100 battles between the Communist Party of China and the Kuomintung, or KMT, over 1933-1935, which gave rise to more than 30 sites there.

A revolutionary martyrs monument, a former shipyard and the Red Army command headquarters are among the highlights in Cangxi.

To date, the county has developed a number of scenic spots, forest parks and natural reserves to draw visitors.

Also, more than 120 farmhouses and 30 rural hotels have been established.

Red tourism is expected to see continuous momentum, as road systems have been planned to connect all such spots, says a plan of the Ministry of Transport.

Infrastructure at the destinations will also be improved across the board, and more protection will be given to historical sites and memorials, says a plan of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-05 07:50:01
<![CDATA[Ctrip lists top restaurants in Shanghai]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-04/05/content_35982241.htm China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip is making a gourmet food map based on Chinese preferences. And more than 450 restaurants in Shanghai made the list by the travel agency's food service section Meishilin (gourmet food forest) in late March.

The list includes 30 star restaurants.

Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet topped the list for its delicate and innovative French menu, says Liu Xiaozhou, Meishilin's CEO.

The restaurants were all rated on dining environment, taste and popularity by Ctrip's users and reviewed by more than 3,000 food experts.

A great many fine restaurants have set up shop in Shanghai since the city set up a port linking it to the outside world 175 years ago.

"It (the setting up of the restaurants) makes Shanghai one of the Chinese cities that boasts the richest cuisine," says Liu. "And our goal is to make more people pay attention to gourmet food."

The travel agency's food information service covers 12,000 restaurants in 120 major tourism destinations worldwide, including 25 cities on the mainland. And the total number of restaurants is expected to reach 25,000 across 150 cities worldwide at the end of this year, says Liu.

To date, daily user traffic at Meishilin is 1.5 million on average.

At the beginning of this year, Ctrip established partnerships with OpenTable, a real-time online reservation network for diners headquartered in the US, to make restaurant bookings easier.

As a result, the number of people who used Ctrip's Meishilin outside the Chinese mainland has witnessed an exponential growth since February, the travel agency reports.

Meishilin will continue to improve the gourmet food list and restaurant booking service.

"We're hammering out details for more links with international (restaurant) reservation service providers," says Liu.

At the same time, a membership system will be coming down the pike, says Liu. And Meishilin members will be given priority to book and taste recommended menus, and have opportunities to dine with celebrities.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-04-05 07:50:01
<![CDATA[HEPING OFFERS VISITORS AN AUTHENTIC RURAL EXPERIENCE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/17/content_35869151.htm The farm, at the entrance of the ancient Heping town in the north of the southeastern Fujian province, was developed by Wei Zhicheng four years ago after he moved back to his hometown.

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Towering trees and rolling farmlands unfold when one sets foot at Heping farm. Dogs run around, playing with each other in the wide open spaces, and roosters strut around searching for food. And there are horses in the stable.

The farm, at the entrance of the ancient Heping town in the north of the southeastern Fujian province, was developed by Wei Zhicheng four years ago after he moved back to his hometown.

Explaining the move, Wei, who is in his 40s, says: "I grew up in a farmer's family and have farming in my veins."

Wei, who was in movie backstage business in Beijing since graduating from Fujian Normal University in 1997, used to make roughly 1 million yuan ($157,800) a year before he gave it all up to return home.

"The money was good, but the late hours and the traffic were killing me," he says.

Wei used to have to spend two hours taking his daughter to school and picking her up each day.

That's why he jumped at the opportunity to return home when one of his closest friends Tie Qi called him and told him about the farm project.

The project was part of the Heping government's plan to develop the town and improve livelihoods.

Wei was given four-year rental-free use of the 600 mu (40 hectares) land.

"We built everything basically from scratch," says Wei.

"It was lots of work, but it was fun".

Now, the farm features a 1,500-square meter restaurant, a 300-mu herb plantation and a 100-mu forest park.

The farm gives visitors a chance to ride horses, practice archery, pick fruits, go fishing and do sightseeing, while enjoying the distinctive local cuisine.

The farm receives more than 60,000 travelers annually, and has a turnover of more than 5 million yuan, according to Wei.

The farm has become a popular place for team-building activities, and school military drills, and Wei's business has created job opportunities for more than 120 locals.

Most of them work flexible hours, and plant seeds, pull out weeds and help with harvests at the farm when they don't have farm work in their own plots of land.

At the moment, there are a dozen of them working full time at the farm.

Zhang Yingfa is one of them. And he has been taking care of feeding the horses, cleaning at the farm for the past three years.

"It (the farm) is close to my home and work here is good," the 52-year-old local says.

Zhang gets paid roughly 3,200 yuan a month, an amount he used to typically earn in a year.

Earlier, he could barely feed his family by growing paddy.

But now, Zhang and more than 200 others like him, who used to live below the poverty line, have got out of poverty thanks to projects like the farm.

Speaking about the farm, Huang Zongping, the deputy head of Heping town, says: "We'll continue giving support to similar projects to improve livelihoods."

Totally, five enterprises have been set up to offer employment opportunities to poor households in the town..

And, while job opportunities have been offered to those who can work, relief is provided to those who are ill, says Huang.

Also, more than 50 households are being encouraged to grow paddy and moso bamboo, or to set up shops selling local specialties.

The goal is to ensure that all households have steady source of income, says Huang.

Meanwhile, Wei plans to develop agriculture product e-commerce, a logistics system and leisure tourism to help the locals prosper.

Camping facilities for youngsters are also being planned, says Wei.

 

Heping farm has become a popular place for team-building activities and school military drills. [Photo Provided To China Daily]

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2018-03-17 07:06:02
<![CDATA[Xinjiang making big effort to promote winter tourism attractions]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-03/17/content_35869150.htm The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region is now alive with travelers. And tours featuring photography, gourmet food and folk customs are being encouraged by the local government to boost winter and spring travel.

The region received 1.76 million visits by domestic travelers during the Spring Festival holiday, up 16.10 percent over the same period last year, the region's tourism development committee says.

And tourism revenue surged 28.77 percent to 2.07 billion yuan ($326 million).

Meanwhile, travel agencies have rolled out tours to the Kanas scenic spot, which cover the Tianshan Tianchi (Lake of Heaven), the Wujiang Jurassic hot spring and an international ski resort.

And the number of visitors to Kanas has grown massively since November, the China Tourism News reports.

Separately, travel agencies have seen a significant growth in customers thanks to diverse travel products.

"We receive travelers every day, but the numbers grow during festivals and holidays," says Pang Shuai, a travel operator in Xinjiang, tells China Tourism News.

In a related development, the region's Jimusaer county holds a special potato feast on weekends so visitors can taste a wide variety of food made using the tuber.

There, they can also buy other local specialties, and visit major scenic spots such as the Thousand Buddha Caves.

During the Spring Festival, a cross-country self-drive event was held at Hemu village, where visitors could see the Tuvas celebrate the New Year, and engage in horse-racing, wresting and wood sawing contests.

Speaking about the tourism promotion activities, Wu Feng, the head of the Xinjiang travel agency association, says: "The key to boost winter tourism is to arouse traveler interest by organizing activities for them."

In a significant move, the Xinjiang government has signed an agreement with travel agencies outside the region to promote its winter and spring tourism activities.

So far, the local government has promoted its tourism attractions in Beijing and Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province.

Besides, Xinjiang is also offering a series of incentives to tourism players.

And many travel agencies, outdoor and auto clubs are interested in exploring what the region has to offer in winter and spring, says Wang Wei, the general manager of Xinjiang Daxibu International Travel Service.

 

The Tarim Basin in Xinjiang harbors 54 percent of the world's riparian Populus euphratica.Que Hure / For China Daily

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2018-03-17 07:06:02
<![CDATA[Travel bug set to hit more this season]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/21/content_35716178.htm Increasingly favorable visa policies, easier and more abundant travel options and rising incomes are continuing to fuel Chinese people's enthusiasm for travel.

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The surge in outbound tourism shows no signs of abating over Spring Festival as Chinese travelers continue to embrace their wanderlust

Increasingly favorable visa policies, easier and more abundant travel options and rising incomes are continuing to fuel Chinese people's enthusiasm for travel.

Zhang Jianxun routinely likes to get away at weekends and during major holidays.

"I felt traveling was the only way for me to relax after intense periods of work," says the 32-year-old resident of Hunan province's capital Changsha.

The owner of a private English language training business often spends two or three days in Shanghai, Guangdong province's Guangzhou or Zhejiang province to recharge his batteries.

"It's nice to have a change of scene in a matter of just a few hours, and the high-speed railway network has made travel short and sweet," he explains.

Zhang recently had an eight-day trip to Dubai with his parents in mid-January.

"I noticed Dubai has a visa-free policy and I have always been curious about the special charm of the Middle East, so I went for it," he says.

Zhang is one of the ever-expanding army of Chinese travelers, who have left their footprint in all four corners of the world.

Chinese people made 129 million overseas trips in 2017, a rise of 9.17 percent compared with the previous year, according to the national tourism work conference meeting held in Xiamen, Fujian province, in early January.

It has consolidated the status of China as the world's biggest source of outbound travelers.

This number is expected to grow by 4.5 percent year-on-year to reach 134 million by the end of this year.

Tens of thousands of tourists have booked trips during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday, China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip reports.

More than 60 percent of travelers have opted for experiences in more than 280 destinations across more than 60 countries.

As of early January, bookings to destinations in Southeast Asia, Japan, Canada, Australia and Europe have been brisk for the Spring Festival, the travel agency says.

Family groups have accounted for 70 percent of this total.

"A considerable number of countries have offered visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry, which have made outbound travel very convenient," says Peng Liang, director of Ctrip's public relations department.

As of early January, a total of 67 countries and regions abroad have offered visa-free or landing-visa permits to Chinese citizens.

Rwanda began offering landing visas at the beginning of the year, and South Korea granted 15-day visa-free entry until March 31 to Chinese travelers who have visited the country in the past five years or who have bought tickets worth more than $188 to the Winter Olympics Games through designated travel agencies.

Barbados, the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Serbia, Tunisia, Qatar and Gabon all sweetened their visa polices last year in a bid to attract more Chinese tourists.

Tourist numbers have grown significantly in countries that have recently relaxed their visa policies, according to Ctrip.

Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Maldives, Mauritius, Morocco, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are expected to be the top destinations for this year's Spring Festival.

In addition to relaxing visa policies, favorable exchange rates, increasing numbers of flight routes and special tour services targeting Chinese travelers have all made Southeast Asian countries, especially Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, popular destinations for Chinese holidaymakers.

Laos enjoyed the biggest growth in the number of Chinese tourists, a 110 percent increase during 2017, with more than 500,000 visits made by Chinese nationals to the country.

Thailand received 9.5 million Chinese visitors in 2017, an increase of 9 percent over 2016. Chinese tourists became the biggest force in Cambodia's tourism market by contributing over 1 million visits last year, a rise of 45 percent. Vietnam also saw a huge surge in the number of Chinese travelers, rising 48.6 percent to just over 4 million visits in 2017.

China's domestic tourism market also witnessed a boom during 2017. Over 5 billion trips were made across China last year, an increase of 11.08 percent over the previous year, according to Li Jinzao, head of the China National Tourism Administration.

This means that every Chinese person made 3.7 trips on average last year.

Total tourism income reached 4.57 trillion yuan ($715.3 billion) last year, a 69-percent jump compared with 2012, according to Li.

The number of domestic trips is expected to hit 5.5 billion this year, generating 5.05 trillion yuan in tourism income.

The rapid development of China's high-speed rail network helped contribute to the prosperity of the domestic tourism market, delivering more than 7 billion passengers last year, as opposed to 5 billion in 2016.

Many travelers in eastern China opted to use the rail network to reach destinations in the central and western parts of the country, thanks to new rail lines opening in 2017.

The Baoji-Lanzhou high-speed railway opened in July and cut travel times by 7 hours to roughly 10 hours from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province's Guangzhou to northwestern Gansu province's capital Lanzhou.

Bookings to Gansu, Qinghai, Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions each more than doubled during the following National Day holiday, major online travel agency Tuniu reports.

The Wuhan-Jiujiang high-speed rail line that opened in September now connects central Hubei's provincial capital Wuhan to Jiujiang in East China's Jiangxi province in less than two hours.

In addition, the Chongqing-Lanzhou and Xi'an-Chengdu high-speed rail connections have all helped to make travel easier across the country.

The China National Tourism Administration is currently looking to set up a national tourism industry fund to cope with the surging demand for domestic travel. The fund of between 30-50 billion yuan would encourage more businesses to engage in tourism development.

Last year, a total of 1.5 trillion yuan was poured into China's domestic tourism sector. With better infrastructure and a wealth of interesting projects in the pipeline, it looks likely that increasing numbers of Chinese people will be tempted to hit the road.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-21 08:16:15
<![CDATA[United Airlines joins Delta in tightening rules for comfort animals]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/21/content_35716177.htm DALLAS - United Airlines wants to see more paperwork before passengers fly with emotional-support animals - and don't even try to bring a peacock on board.

The airline announced recently that it will tighten rules starting March 1. The changes are similar to those coming at Delta Air Lines.

United said owners will have to confirm that their animal is trained to behave in public, and they will need a vaccination form signed by a veterinarian. The vet will have to vouch that the animal isn't a health or safety threat to other people.

The airline said the number of comfort animals has jumped 75 percent in the last year and there has been a big increase in animal-related incidents.

On Feb 4, United Airlines bounced a passenger who showed up at the airport with a peacock for emotional support.

United already bans exotic animals and non-household birds. Still, the fact that a passenger tried to bring a peacock on board "helped illustrate why we needed to revise our policy," said United spokesman Charles Hobart.

Guide dogs have been occasional flyers for years, but recently there has been a surge of emotional-support animals. Federal regulations allow them - if they're not too big or exotic - but airlines can ask for a doctor's note verifying that the passenger needs the animal.

Airlines are convinced that scofflaws abuse the rules. Passengers often have to pay $125 or more each way to bring a small pet on board, but comfort animals fly free.

The crackdown by Delta raised objections from service-dog owners.

Jenine Stanley of the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind is upset that Delta will require service-dog owners to file a health form at least 48 hours before a flight. That could make emergency trips impossible.

"I don't think I've ever filled out a form for assistance. Now my animal is going to have to be verified every time," she said.

United says it will not require forms for trained service animals. It's unclear, however, what would stop someone from claiming their comfort animal is a trained service animal.

Associated Press

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2018-02-21 08:16:15
<![CDATA[SEASIDE PLEASURE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/20/content_35714904.htm

Dongji, a town in eastern China, is the perfect place to unwind for a few days. Xing Wen writes

I was standing on the foredeck of a boat, witnessing the turbid sea on which sunlight shimmered. The boat had left Zhoushan's Shenjiamen port an hour or so ago.

I was heading to Dongfushan, a small island under the administration of Dongji town, located to the east of the Zhoushan archipelago, which is part of East China's Zhejiang province.

Dongji translates to "east pole", which explains why the town is mistaken by some tourists to be China's easternmost island.

As the boat got closer to the town, the secluded island looked like a hill on the sea. There were some islets in view, too.

After a two-and-half-hour cruise, the boat slowed down and prepared to dock. I saw rows of dilapidated houses line the waterfront. The gray houses were partially covered in moss.

Several blue-and-red trawlers were anchored to a large platform protruding from the island. The platform is the so-called quay of Dongfushan.

I stepped on land, followed by a group of elders who were on the boat with me. They told me the island, with a coastline of nearly 10 kilometers, was a wonderful place for hiking. So, we set out to look around the island after lunch in a village. I walked along a stone path on both side of which clusters of Chinese miscanthus flower swayed in the sea breeze.

I looked down to the left, waves lashed against the rocky shoreline, sending up fountains of water. By the seashore were pebbles of various sizes and shapes.

As we walked further, I saw to my right, ruins of abandoned dwellings with creepers on the walls, functioning windmills, cacti burgeoning through crevices in rocks, gloomy caves that we dare not to enter and goats grazing on the hillside.

As the path began to ascend, we came across a signage that read, Xiangbi Peak ("elephant trunk" peak). We climbed up the stone steps through a section of tall grass to reach the peak that was named for its elephant-trunk-like shape when viewed from one side. When we arrived at the site, it seemed like we were standing on a part of the top of the peak that now looked like the head of an elephant.

The breeze became stronger, whistling in my ears. I ran my eyes over the abrupt slope within a few feet and saw fishing boats floating on the water, a beacon erected on a nearby islet and, of course, the panoramic view of the coastal water.

My heart beat faster as I was afraid that I might fall over from the narrow path if I didn't manage to walk down carefully. But I did OK.

Although it took us more than four hours to trek around the island, which was exhausting, I really enjoyed nature without distractions.

The island, with only a few hundred residents, is indeed a place far away from the madding crowd.

But Dongji town is more than a pack of desolate islands. Lying to the northwest of Dongfushan, is Miaozihu island, the seat of the town's government, and is larger and more prosperous than Dongfushan.

A giant statue of a fisherman named Chen Caifu facing the sea, holding a torch in his right hand, stands on the south of Miaozihu, which serves as a landmark for the island.

According to local folklore, Chen Caifu was a fisherman who survived a storm and spent the rest of his life illuminating the seaway for passing boats. The statue was built to commemorate his kindness.

The island has experienced a surge in tourism in recent years as it is an ideal destination for urban Chinese to escape their hectic daily routine and relax in the weekends.

Guesthouses, hostels, cafes, restaurants, fishing clubs and bars have sprung up on the land, meeting various visitor demands.

The youth hostel I booked was a three-story house made of stone and wood on the west coast of the island. Sitting on a balcony that overlooked the quay, I basked in the sun and enjoyed the sea breeze.

The co-owner of the hostel is a woman named Shelly Wang, who is in her 40s. The Hangzhou native was attracted by the environment and scenery of the island when she first visited with her husband in 2003. The following year, the couple decided to buy a house on the island for them to spend their holidays in.

"I dreamed of living in a house by the sea," she said. "But I couldn't choose a place far away from my home as I needed to take care of my family in Hangzhou. That's why Miaozihu worked for me, an island in the same province as my home."

After renovating the house, she turned it into a youth hostel in 2014 and now spends six months on the island every year.

Over the past 15 years, Shelly has witnessed changes on the land as Dongji became better known to tourists.

She said the young residents of the island used to earn a living in cities such as Ningbo and Hangzhou and the elders went fishing for money. Now, some of the migrant workers have returned home and have started their own businesses like running restaurants.

"As tourism prospers, the island's infrastructure has improved. I seldom suffer from power cuts any longer," she said.

The island dwellers are benefiting from the thriving tourism, but I hope the environment of the place will be preserved at the same time.

Contact the writer at xingwen@chinadaily.com.cn

 

From left: Two trawlers floating on the East China Sea; a small beacon erecting on reefs near Dongfushan, a small island under the administration of Dongji town in Zhejiang province; street view of Miaozihu island.Photos By Zhang Tiaoyao And Huang Dong / For China Daily

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2018-02-20 07:50:07
<![CDATA[Bolivia celebrates as Alasitas festival gets UNESCO nod]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/20/content_35714903.htm

LA PAZ, Bolivia - Every year, thousands of Bolivians head to the two-week Alasitas festival to buy miniature cars, houses and toy dollar bills symbolizing their dreams of prosperity in one of South America's poorest countries.

But this year, they're not the only believers in the festival with roots in Aymara indigenous traditions.

Bolivia's first indigenous president celebrated last month the recent recognition of the pre-Columbian tradition by the UNESCO.

The ritual journeys in La Paz during Alasitas were inscribed in December by UNESCO on its representative list of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity.

"Now we have the opportunity for international organizations to recognize our livelihood and our heritage," President Evo Morales, a native Aymara, said at the opening of the fair that begins at the end of every January.

The Aymara indigenous word alasita means "buy me".

Tiny items, from kitchen appliances to college diplomas, are taken home and placed around Ekeko, the god of abundance who the Aymara people believe will bless them with better lives in the coming year.

The hopeful also buy statues of Ekeko. He is often rendered as a short, pudgy, mustached man who wears traditional Andean clothes and carries baskets of grains.

"I asked for my college degree, and I got it. You need to come with faith," says Lucia Bustillos, a lawyer who attended the festival with her husband and purchased a house, cars and teensy wads of euros representing the couple's wishes for the new year.

Associated Press

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2018-02-20 07:50:07
<![CDATA[Strong sustainable growth continues for Daimler, spurred on by China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/05/content_35647214.htm

 

Daimler aims to change the way people experience vehicles, with its newly developed MBUX infotainment system based on artificial intelligence.

Daimler AG announced sustainable and profitable growth in 2017, once again achieving an exceptional performance in unit sales which saw a 9 percent increase in 2017 for a record-breaking 3.3 million vehicles sold. This, no doubt, helped break revenue records, which totaled 164.3 billion euros ($204.7 billion), up 7 percent from 2016.

"We have continued our trend of profitable growth and once again set new records for unit sales, revenue and earnings," said Bodo Uebber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Finance and Controlling and Daimler Financial Services.

Both Group EBIT and net profits reached historical highs as well, with the Daimler Group's EBIT hitting 14.7 billion euros, surpassing the previous year's significantly, and a net profit of 10.9 billion euros.

"The Daimler workforce has once again succeeded in breaking the records set in the previous year," said Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Dieter Zetsche, underscoring the company's accomplishments.

During the company's annual press conference, Zetsche further elaborated that in spite of the aforementioned achievements, this is no time to sit idly by.

Rather, rather the company will continue to push forward, innovating all areas of its business. And it's very evident that Daimler is doing just that.

Exemplifying these continued efforts, Daimler is consistently pursuing its electric offensive in China, the largest NEV market worldwide. Thus, they are creating the necessary conditions for local production of electric vehicles with the construction of a battery factory here.

Daimler and BAIC have agreed to invest 5 billion yuan in the production of Battery Electric Vehicles and battery localization at Beijing Benz Automotive Co Ltd, or BBAC.

The company aims to locally produce battery-powered electric vehicles under the EQ brand by 2019 at the BBAC joint venture in Beijing.

Cooperative efforts like this stand as a testament to the company's performance in the Chinese market, a big contributor to the outstanding results that Daimler garnered last year.

"Last year, thanks to the trust placed in us by our customers, Mercedes-Benz Cars delivered over 600,000 vehicles in China, marking a new sales record in a single market for our company worldwide," said Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Greater China, Hubertus Troska.

"Our achievements in our core business inspire us to further deepen our foothold in China," he said.

"We will continue to actively participate in the development of China's automobile industry, especially in the New Energy Vehicle sector with our partners,"

The Stuttgart-based company's efforts to drive the future of mobility cannot be encapsulated by NEV technologies alone. It is pushing the limits and innovating in other areas as well.

Daimler is also attempting to change the way we experience vehicles, with its newly developed MBUX infotainment system.

The new infotainment system is able to be individualized and adapts to fit each unique user through learning - thanks to artificial intelligence - thus establishing an emotional connection between drivers, passengers and the vehicle.

MBUX has in fact already been integrated into the Mercedes-Benz A-Class which was released in Amsterdam on Feb 2 as the first vehicle of the brand to be equipped with the technology.

Seamlessly blending artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and a touchscreen user interface, the All New A-Class seeks to revolutionize mobility and has the potential to change the very way we think about driving and riding in cars.

The Concept A Sedan, which had a debut at Auto Shanghai last year, foreshadows the technologically-oriented models in a three-box body type for the Chinese market that are being developed as the company moves into the future.

The technological advances in mobility that Daimler is making and advocating are undoubtedly connected to the Chinese market - where customers prefer vehicles boasting a high-level of vehicle connectivity - and thus act as an impetus for a more rapid development of the Internet of Vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz and its partners in China has maintained a steady focus on providing local customers with a more personalized, digitalized customer experience, and the strategy has been effective, with China maintaining its position as the brand's largest market in 2017.

"Our shared focus on maintaining sustainable and healthy development will continue in 2018 - as we explore new ways of bringing our customers a forward-looking customer experience that meets their changing needs, from our own E-Commerce platform to our digitized dealer network and connectivity services," explained President and CEO of Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales and Service Co Ltd, Nicholas Speeks.

"We remain dedicated to providing our Chinese customers with pioneering new products and services, but most importantly a brand experience that goes beyond what they expect from an automotive company," he added.

While Daimler has one foot in the future, it also stays grounded and pays homage to both the history of the company and the unique heritage of the various countries it serves.

A strategic partnership was recently forged with the Palace Museum in Beijing through the Mercedes-Benz Star Fund, the company's Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, celebrating 132 years as a brand and signifying its steadfast commitment to China's glorious history.

As it looks forward to what lies ahead in 2018, Daimler's strong recognition of its roots - as well as its vision for the future, embodied by the CASE (Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric) strategy - are bound to continue to guide it to success both in the Chinese market and globally.

Zetsche puts it this way: "We are making use of our technological expertise and the profitability of the core business to tackle the major issues of our industry's future. We describe them with the acronym CASE. That stands for the combination of connectivity, autonomous, sharing and electric mobility. So it's about nothing less than the reinvention of individual mobility."

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2018-02-05 07:49:21
<![CDATA[Hotels lay on VIP treatment for UK PM's visit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639363.htm Tradition and luxury welcome British leader on three-day trip, China Daily reports.

With British Prime Minister Theresa May in a whirl of activities during her visits to Wuhan, Shanghai and Beijing this week, the hoteliers serving her delegation were also in the limelight.

Wanda Reign Wuhan was the first hotel to receive the United Kingdom's prime minister on her three-day visit to China starting on Wednesday.

"We are very proud to host UK Prime Minister Theresa May and the delegation," said Sam Chin, general manager of the hotel in Wuhan.

The capital of Hubei province and Manchester in the UK both serve as an industrial hub in their respective countries, and became sister cities in 1986. Currently, the number of UK-funded businesses has topped 300 in the Chinese city.

"We hope there will be more and more collaboration between the UK and Chinese companies," Chin said.

Located at the East Lake Scenic Area in Wuhan, the landmark hotel boasts breathtaking views, which are partially reflected on a huge embossed mural in the hotel's lobby hall.

The spectacular landscape sculpture decoration on the wall spans 60 meters across and stands 10 meters high. It is made of white marble, Chinese jade and gold threading, and inspired by the East Lake's scenery. Using more than 200 metric tons of jade stones, the creation took 20 art masters, as well as more than 100 skilled workers, 500 days to complete.

"This is beautiful," May said about the artwork called East Lake Views. "I was in West Lake of Hangzhou and I am now in East Lake of Wuhan." The prime minister visited West Lake when she attended the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province in 2016.

The suite she stayed in on the 32nd floor at Wanda Reign Wuhan provides a bird's-eye view of East Lake.

"It is a great honor to welcome the government leaders and show them Chinese hospitality even in small details like a pastry set up," Chin said.

The hotel's culinary team prepared a chocolate board named Her Excellence with a tiny chocolate copy of the British flag.

The pastry mix they presented to the prime minister included both British-style cakes and signature local refreshments, including individual sherry trifles, and rice and sesame jelly candy.

Inna Ignatenko from Russia, who served May as a private butler at Wanda Reign Wuhan, showcased the hotel's Reign butler service. It combines Chinese hospitality with British service traditions to provide bespoke personal assistance throughout a guests entire stay, including schedule management, nutritional advice and shopping guidance.

With high-tech amenities and branded services, the hotel received Belgium's King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, President of Democratic Republic of the Congo Joseph Kabila in 2015.

"Wanda Reign Wuhan has extensive experience in hosting high-end events and conventions," Chin said. "We are opening our arms to welcome more guests from all over the world."

On the Beijing leg on Thursday, it was Kerry Hotel Beijing's turn. Kerry Hotel, a five-star brand of the Shangri-La family, was launched in Beijing in 2011 and is defined by a spirited style and a careful attentiveness that bestows a sense of individuality, according to the hotel.

At the Beijing hotel, inspiring pieces of art complement the intricate beauty of the hotel's interior design, not to mention Centro, an iconic award-winning bar at the heart of Beijing's nightlife scene.

Artistic designs, stylish rooms, a well equipped sports complex and culinary delights offered at the hotel all help to relieve the pressure from a tight schedule.

When the May-headed delegation moved to Shanghai on Friday, Inter-Continental Shanghai Ruijin became their last destination for accommodation, which evolved from the State Guest House of Shanghai serving foreign leaders and international dignitaries.

The century-old storied property blends British architecture and the classic ambience of 1930s Shanghai. It served as the wedding venue for then leader of the Kuomintang regime Chiang Kai-shek and his wife Soong Mei-ling in 1927 and was the residence of the first Shanghai Mayor Chen Yi after the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949.

Former UK prime minister David Cameron also stayed at the hotel when he was in office on a visit to China in 2013.

Other dignitaries who contribute to the hotel's legend included former US president Richard Nixon and Britain's Prince William.

Also on Friday, Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong met UK Prime Minister May at Radisson Blu Plaza Xingguo Hotel Shanghai, where they discused enhancing cooperation.

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2018-02-03 07:26:45
<![CDATA[Resort lifestyle in the shadow of spectacular Huangshan]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639362.htm

Libre Resorts, a new provider of all-inclusive vacation facilities, has unveiled its first property located in close proximity to Huangshan Mountain - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China's top tourism destinations.

At just 15 minutes from Huangshan city airport, the resort hopes to offer more than just being near China's "most beautiful mountain".

Unlike at traditional hotels, guests at the resort can entertain themselves playing pool and video games, relaxing in Japanese-style hot springs, practicing archery, playing mini golf, or enjoying a drink in the bar, all without setting foot outside.

The resort also features a unique pet salon and kids' club so that the whole family - even man's best friend - can have a good time.

"Libre is the French word for freedom, which means we want to give our customers the freedom to choose, change and customize their vacation when staying with us," said Raphael Erez, general manger of Libre Resorts Huangshan.

"At Libre Resorts, every individual's experience, from you to your beloved one, your children, and even your pet matters to us."

By paying one flat fee, guests can enjoy all meals, accommodation, entertainment and services simply by showing a band on their wrist.

Andy Liu, vice-president of Group Libre Hospitality, which owns and manages Libre Resorts, said the model will be copied and upgraded at upcoming resort properties in Lijiang, Yunnan province and Jiuzhai Valley in Sichuan province.

"We chose places that have rich natural and cultural tourism resources. The resources are our foundation to offering a great vacation," Liu said.

The new properties are being fitted and decorated with the guests' sensibilities in mind so that they can enjoy a relaxing stay. One such example is double doors which prevent noise being heard from the corridor outside.

If you go

Huangshan Mountain, two hours drive away from Libre Resorts Huangshan, is often called the most beautiful mountain in China, offering magnificent views of the peaks among the clouds. The mountain is famous for its odd stones and pine trees that have grown into strange shapes.

Tunxi Old Street within walking distance of Huangshan city has been a busy and bustling area since the Song Dynasty (960-1279). It was the venue where businessmen from Anhui province converged to trade salt, timber, tea, lacquer, medical herbs and stationary.

Chengkan village was built according to principles of feng shui to reflect the harmony between people and heaven and the integration of yin and yang. Strolling in the narrow alleys is like searching a maze. It is 40-minute drive from the resort.

Huijie Street, where inheritors of local Anhui intangible culture have studios open to tourists, is located inside the resort. You can experience activities such as carving on ink stones or bamboo.

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2018-02-03 07:26:45
<![CDATA[Top hoteliers serve senior foreign officials]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-02/03/content_35639361.htm As UK Prime Minister Theresa May completes her latest visit to China to boost bilateral cooperation, comparisons can be made with the visits of previous British leaders.

For a start, here's a look at some of the hotels that have accommodated prime ministers in China while they were in office.

On a two-day visit in December 2013, David Cameron stayed at the Grand Hyatt Beijing and InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin.

The Beijing hotel is located at the crossroads of Chang'an Avenue and Wangfujing Street and is part of the Oriental Plaza, one of China's largest commercial complexes. With the hotel's prime location, It takes just a few minutes to walk to the Forbidden City and Tian'anmen Square.

InterContinental Shanghai Ruijin previously served as the State Guest House of Shanghai, offering hospitality services to national leaders. The classically styled hotel has a rich history of serving Chinese historical figures and was the headquarters of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai in the 1940s.

Gordon Brown stayed at Grand Millennium Beijing on a visit in June 2011. The hotel is located close to many world-leading fashion outlets, cultural sites and art galleries. It is also not far from China Central Television headquarters and many leading financial organizations.

Shanghai Xijiao State Guest Hotel welcomed Brown as a guest in January 2008. Founded in 1960, the hotel is one of the largest five-star garden guest houses in Shanghai.

An informal meeting of the state council of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the fifth anniversary event of Shanghai Cooperation Organization and APEC Summit were held at the hotel.

Tony Blair stayed at the Kempinski Hotel Beijing Lufthansa Center in October 2003. The hotel is located in the heart of Beijing's diplomatic and business district. Its impressive blend of historic and modern architecture make it one of the landmarks in the capital.

The St. Regis Beijing welcomed Blair in 1998. The luxury hotel has accommodated dozens of world leaders, business tycoons and celebrities.

The hotel has hosted a number of important international conferences, including the China-Africa Cooperation Forum, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit and the Six-Party Talks on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the Republic of Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia participating.

Margaret Thatcher stayed at the Diaoyutai State Guest House in 1991. As China's official guesthouse for foreign leaders and diplomatic delegations, the hotel is a complex combining a historic hotel and guesthouses. It was used as the residence of Chairman Mao Zedong from 1966 to 1976.

caoyingying@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-02-03 07:26:45
<![CDATA[Enjoying a slice of the cold]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/13/content_35496533.htm The Christmas and New Year periods are now very popular points on winter tourism calendar in China, with the number of travelers up by more than 150 percent as compared with the same period last year, according to Lvmama, a popular online tourist service platform.

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China is expected to see rapid growth in winter tourism, thanks to the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and a concerted push by provinces in the north

The Christmas and New Year periods are now very popular points on winter tourism calendar in China, with the number of travelers up by more than 150 percent as compared with the same period last year, according to Lvmama, a popular online tourist service platform.

A considerable number of tourists chose to experience winter the way it's supposed to be enjoyed. And tours to northern Chinese cities featuring hot springs, skiing and other winter attractions saw brisk bookings.

The winter tourism attractions, shopping discounts and the fact that many workers use the end of the year as an opportunity to exhaust their unused paid leave are fueling the year-end tourism market, says Li Qiuyan, the general manager of Lvmama's publicity department.

Meanwhile, China is expected to see quick growth in winter tourism over the next few years, mainly due to Beijing's successful bid to host the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, says a recent report by China Tourism Academy.

The number of tourists will grow by an annual rate of 15 percent to reach 340 million in the 2021-2022 winter, from about 170 million in the 2016-2017 season, the report says.

Winter tourism revenue is projected to increase from about 270 billion yuan ($41 billion) over 2016-2017 to 670 billion yuan in 2021-2022, an annualized growth rate of 20 percent. And the value of winter tourism related industries is expected to be 2.88 trillion yuan by then.

Roughly 300 million Chinese are expected to take up winter sports by 2022, according to the report.

Beijing won the bid to host the 2022 Winter Games in 2015. And since then, local governments in Beijing and the northern region - the provinces of Hebei, Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Jilin - have unveiled policies to promote the "ice and snow tourism" industry.

The capital city, riding on the wave of the Olympics, is developing more ice and snow tour products, according to the report.

But, Northeast China is not lagging.

For now, Liaoning has launched more than 280 winter activities and 160 travel routes featuring hot springs, festive lanterns, folk customs and rural fairs to woo winter vacationers. Also, visitors can enjoy Manchu elements in the province's Fushun city, while taking up various winter sports and savoring seafood in Dandong.

The northernmost province Heilongjiang has developed and keeps upgrading its winter tourism packages. It now has a host of new travel routes, cultural festivals and hundreds of events to ensure winter fun for visitors.

Many new events have also been added this year to spice up the visitor experience.

And, in addition to upgraded ski and hot spring facilities, Heilongjiang will stage nearly 4,000 performances involving classical music, folk songs, opera and acrobatics in its major scenic spots.

These efforts have helped the province boost its visitor numbers to 115 million in the first three quarters this year, an increase of 12.5 percent compared with the same period last year, according to the provincial tourism authority.

Domestic tourism income hit 145.35 billion yuan for the same period, a rise of about 23 percent.

A total of 145 million travelers visited the province in 2016, an increase of more than 11 percent year-on-year. They spent 160 billion yuan, an increase of nearly 18 percent.

In a related development, Inner Mongolia, Tibet and the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions are integrating their rich ice and snow resources with their distinctive ethnic cultures and landscapes.

Those places are becoming popular winter tourism destinations and are expected to pack in visitors, the China Tourism Academy report says.

Inner Mongolia's Chifeng offers photography, self-drive and folk art performance tours to the Beijing residents in December.

"Improved transportation has cut travel time to Chifeng from Beijing, so after you can conclude your business in the daytime you can then sit in a Mongolian yurt on the prairie, savoring milk wine, listening to the morin khuur (horse-head fiddle), and look up at the starry sky," says Zhou Jinzhuang, the deputy mayor of Chifeng.

For visitors now, the Hulun Buir Nadam Fair, which opened in late December, runs until March. For now, more than 40 winter programs are available. And travelers can enjoy reindeer-drawn sleighs, do motorcycle rides through snow-clad forests, run marathons, take part in beauty pageants, see ice sculptures, enjoy shows or savor hotpot.

For those looking for a slightly different experience, Southwestern China's Tibet autonomous region is the place. Its ethnic culture, snowcapped mountains and hot springs are big draws for visitors.

Tibet has sunny winter days and starry nights, and many who have visited Lhasa have seen more than 130 types of birds in the season, says the Tibet tourism authority. In addition, folk events and Buddhist celebrations mostly take place in winter.

In another development, the Tibet tourism authority recently signed an agreement with its Beijing counterpart, to boost the region's tourism.

The Liaoning, Qinghai and Gansu provinces are also actively developing local winter tourism resources.

As for visitor experiences, Su Xing from central China's Hunan province had a blast in Changchun, in the northeast Jilin province, recently.

"It was very freezing, but the skiing and scenery were refreshing and thrilling," says Su, adding that he had not seen snow earlier.

The chill was gone when he sweated taking part in various winter sports with his family during his five-day trip, he says

"I'll surely try other regions with snow in the future," he adds.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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2018-01-13 08:06:26
<![CDATA[From Malta to Minneapolis, a look at where to go in 2018]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/13/content_35496532.htm NEW YORK - From Malta to Minneapolis, here's a look at some destinations around the world that will be making news in 2018. They include designated culture capitals, places hosting sporting events and even a couple of cities San Antonio, Texas, and New Orleans celebrating their 300th birthdays.

Sports

Minneapolis hosts the Super Bowl on Feb 4 in Minneapolis. The city is encouraging visitors to embrace winter with 10 days of "Bold North" events and activities leading up to the big game. On the other side of the world, the snowy mountains of Pyeongchang, South Korea, host the Winter Olympic Games, Feb 9-25.

Eleven cities in Russia including Moscow and Sochi host the FIFA World Cup, June 14-July 15. The dates coincide with St. Petersburg's "white nights", the summer solstice season when city skies never get completely dark. FIFA reports strong ticket sales from the United States even though the US national team failed to qualify for the games. Host cities include lesser-known gems like Nizhny Novgorod and Kazan, while Yekaterinburg is a good jumping-off point for an adventure in Siberia.

Tricentennials

Two American cities mark tricentennials in 2018. San Antonio plans a commemoration week in May, a "Summer of Spain" marketplace highlighting Spanish food, art and culture, Day of the Dead events Oct 29-30 and a Witte Museum exhibition about the city's frontier history under the flags of many countries. The exhibit will include the keys to the Alamo and Davy Crockett's fiddle.

In New Orleans, tricentennial events include the Prospect. 4 art exhibition, which is already underway; a blowout Mardi Gras, Feb 13, with the Krewe of Rex procession themed on New Orleans' history; various spring festivals; Luna Fete next December; and a New Orleans Museum of Art exhibition showcasing works by Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt and others from the Duke of Orleans' collection.

Culture & Design Capitals

Despite the recent car bomb murder of an investigative journalist in Malta, the island is on many "where to go" lists for 2018. Its capital, Valletta, is one of Europe's 2018 capitals of culture and a UNESCO world heritage site with 7,000 years of history. Attractions include festivals, nightlife, ancient stone architecture, a rollicking Carnival in February and other festivals, plus World War II history, including scuba diving to wartime wrecks.

The other European capital of culture for 2018 is Leeuwarden in the Netherlands' province of Friesland. Cultural extravaganzas include an Aug 31-Sept 1 event expanding an annual marathon across 23 villages with music, art, theater and unusual pop-up hotels.

Mexico City has been designated the sixth World Design Capital and the first city in the Americas to receive the title. It's being recognized for sustainable design-led initiatives like bike-sharing, urban gardens, parks and playgrounds. Events will include exhibits, conferences and installations.

From England to Ethiopia

Elsewhere around the world, destinations on the travel industry's radar for 2018 range from England to Ethiopia.

England is suddenly a pop culture darling. Fans of the Netflix series The Crown can visit one of Queen Elizabeth's favorite places, Sandringham House, April-November, while those intrigued by the May 2018 wedding of American actress Meghan Markle to Prince Harry can tour their wedding site, Windsor Castle. Oscar-watchers interested in The Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Prime Minister Winston Churchill during World War II, should visit the Churchill War Rooms museum in London. Also to keep in mind: The Lake District was just named a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visits by Americans to England were up 31 percent January-June 2017 compared with the same period in 2016, thanks in part to the US dollar's strength against the British pound.

Concerns about terror attacks and unrest have dampened travel to Egypt, Turkey and other destinations in North Africa and the Middle East. But that's prompted interest in places in the region that are perceived as safe and just as compelling culturally, including Morocco and Jordan. In Africa, Ethiopia also popped up on a couple of where-to-go lists. Its magical attractions include the churches in Lalibela, carved from soft stone and dating to the 12th century.

Asia and Central Asia

US visitors to Japan increased 10 percent January-October 2017 compared with the same period in 2016, and the upward trend is expected to continue as Japan pushes tourism ahead of the 2020 Summer Olympics. Where-to-go lists are highlighting not just Tokyo but also places like Sapporo and the Kii Peninsula, honored as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its pilgrimage routes and sacred mountains.

These days, many well-traveled millennials have already hopscotched around Western Europe by the time they're done with college, so it makes sense that they're turning to Asia for spring breaks and backpacking trips with stops in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, India and Singapore. The youth-oriented travel company StudentUniverse says bookings for 18- to 25-year-old US passport holders to Asia from the US have risen more than 700 percent since 2014. And many of those travelers stay in Asia three weeks or more.

Another area that's starting to intrigue travelers as they expand bucket lists beyond familiar destinations is Central Asia, which includes the countries of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and others with names ending in "-stan". The country of Georgia also turns up on several where-to-go-in-2018 lists. Geographically it's considered part of Asia but culturally it's more Eastern European.

Associated Press

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2018-01-13 08:06:26
<![CDATA[Lugu Lake's Kingdom of Women]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/06/content_35451207.htm Although it is far in every sense from Hong Kong where I run a literary press, I always had a hunch that I would visit Lugu Lake some day. The alpine lake, nested in the sub-Himalayan roots of China's Yunnan province, has long been a fashionable retreat for Chinese writers fleeing urban modernity. One of our more famous novelists would occasionally pop up in our offices, dressed in flowing ethnic threads, announcing she was back from "Yunnan" - by which she meant Dali, Lijiang and Lugu. Inseparable from the lake's modish mystique is the much-misrepresented matriarchal culture of the Mosuo people who live on its shores.

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The allure of the scenary is as mysterious as the local customs in this part of Yunnan

Although it is far in every sense from Hong Kong where I run a literary press, I always had a hunch that I would visit Lugu Lake some day. The alpine lake, nested in the sub-Himalayan roots of China's Yunnan province, has long been a fashionable retreat for Chinese writers fleeing urban modernity. One of our more famous novelists would occasionally pop up in our offices, dressed in flowing ethnic threads, announcing she was back from "Yunnan" - by which she meant Dali, Lijiang and Lugu. Inseparable from the lake's modish mystique is the much-misrepresented matriarchal culture of the Mosuo people who live on its shores.

So when photographer Pamela and I finally arrived in southwestern Yunnan to work on a new book, after a few days in Lijiang we felt it was time to move onto Lugu. The 200 kilometer ride was a spectacular one through passes deep in the Yulong mountain range with stunning vistas of snowcapped peaks. Our bus stopped at a high-altitude ticket station and finally we saw how the fabled lake unfolded: alpine flowers blooming around the glittering waters with forested slopes, beaches and pearl-like islands.

The bus came down to Luoshui village with its clusters of characteristic Mosuo lengfang - chic yet orderly Mosuo houses. We reached the lakeside and found a curved gravel promenade with weeping willows which was described as a "Mosuo style road" and offered Mosuo-themed guesthouses, boat tours and bonfire parties. Our simple room was not warm on that winter's night but the balcony had a table and great views of the lake: I guessed it would be a decent place to sit and write a novel.

Like most of the village's guesthouses and restaurants, our inn was run by a Mosuo family. The men wore wide-brimmed felt hats, gold pants, a belt with a knife, and boots with trousers folded into them, hinting at their nomadic herdsmen tradition. The women favored collar and cuffs and pleated ankle-length skirts, and they seemed to love a bit of bling. The Mosuo famously have sexual relationships called Tisese, sometimes referred to as "walking marriages". Tisese differs from conventional marriages in that men and women as couples do not generally live under the same roof; neither do they have contractual relations to each other. However we had read that the term matrilineal does not reflect the full complexity of their social organizations.

The village makes a big deal of its Mosuo dance displays, which turned out to be good humoured community affairs. I linked arms with a Mosuo woman, who towered over me, and I would have liked to have asked her about how she saw her future at Lugu Lake. Apparently, as the young generation increasingly leave their clans to work in Mosuo tourist sites and distant cities, some have been marrying Han Chinese to start families. However the language barrier (and no doubt my repetitive line in shallow questions) limited our chance for conversation.

The Lugu Lake scenic area has many villages and there are several different ways to explore them but we decided to hire bikes. If you have good physical stamina it is supposedly possible to cycle around the lake in one day, but two days seemed more manageable for us. Indeed, the first section of the Mosuo Road from Zhaojia Bay via Luowa to Wuzhiluo has steep sections and within an hour we were wistfully imagining the rumoured sightseeing bus.

One of our first stops along the road, Gemu Goddess Mountain looms 1,000 meters above the northeast peninsula of the calm lake, watching over the Mosuo children playing on its shoreline. Already thinking about saving our legs, rather than climbing the mountain we joined the easy-riders enjoying the vistas by cable car. The peak harbours Goddess Cave with its bizarrely shaped stone stalactites and an image of the white goddess.

The myths of the Gemu goddess make it very clear that she has many lovers. In one story, a mountain spirit found Gemu occupied with a love rival and rode away, but on hearing the horse's neigh Gemu realized the situation and gave pursuit. It was too late, however, because she saw only a large hoof print at the foot of the mountain, which made her tearful. The male spirit, touched by such celestial emotion, threw a few pearls into the lake, which then became an island.

We spent that night in Lige village, which is located on one of the most beautiful of these pearls. Climbing up to the viewing platform, we enjoyed a panorama of peaceful Lige Island casting a clear silhouette on the lake under the blue sky and white clouds. Lige is home to more than a dozen Mosuo people living in apparent matrilineal family harmony. Our lakeview rooms at the Mosuo Inn offered us exquisite night views of a sky full of stars.

The next morning, a visit to a village lengfeng raised a curtain on the mysteries of matriarchal society. Traditionally the Mosuo live in clan houses with their matrilineal families, from the cradle to the grave: earnings are controlled by the family's female head, the dabu. During the day, men live and work with their maternal families while at night they go to their lovers in their homes. We entered the main room of the lengfeng that houses the "fire pit", which is the front stage of Mosuo living, cooking, eating and gatherings. Besides this central area were chambers where elder women and children live, although the "grandmother chamber" was traditionally off-bounds to visitors.

By now we had fully surrendered to the charm of Lugu Lake. We cycled to Caohai Lake, or the Grass Sea, a southern section of Lugu which is known as the soul of the Mosuo people. This part of the shallow lake has a murmuring growth of dense reeds where Mosuo girls dressed in red and white expertly navigate their boats. The color of the water changes throughout the day and there's a huge variety of avian and water life. A 300-meter long wooden bridge connects the two sides of the Grass Sea. Walking Marriage Bridge is the symbolic center of dating culture for the young Mosuo men and women who meet on it to express their affection through dancing and singing. The Mosuo men are referred to by their sweethearts as Azhu and the women by their beaus as Axia. On a clear winter afternoon it was definitely a stirring sight to see a Mosuo youth walking on the bridge across the rippling grass sea. As we stood there, Hong Kong seemed a long way away. Much of China's ancient history has been penned into its ethnically diverse margins. Despite having resisted its fashionable allure for so long, the soul of Lugu had won us over.

The author is a Hong Kong-based writer, translator and publisher. In Search of the Forgotten Kingdom, a cultural guide to this part of southwestern Yunnan, is out now from Make-Do Publishing.

If you go

The Lijiang area is served by Lijiang Sanyi International Airport, 28 kilometers south of Lijiang city. From Lijiang, the express bus to Luoshui village at Lugu Lake costs around 100 yuan ($15, depending on the bus station) and now takes four hours. Entrance to the Lugu Lake Scenic Area costs 100 yuan per person. Getting around the lake can be done by car, boat, hiking, or even on horseback. Along the way you will find plenty of little shops and restaurants. Luoshui village's lakeside has many guest houses, some of which offer food, cultural entertainment and bike hire. Further around the lake is Lige village near Gemu Goddess Mountain where it is possible to stay with host families in traditional wooden residences. The smaller lakeside villages are less commercialised and many also offer opportunities for homestay.

 

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2018-01-06 06:55:41
<![CDATA[Tourism in coal country: Digging into culture, ecotourism]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/06/content_35451206.htm PERRY COUNTY, Ohio - Two-thirds of Appalachia's coal industry jobs have disappeared since the 1990s. Now the region is hoping tourism will help rebuild its economy by tapping into history and its rugged natural beauty.

An event of Shawnee, Ohio, re-enacted a Prohibition rally outside the real-life former speak-easy. In Corbin, Kentucky, they're constructing an elk-viewing area on a former mountaintop mine. Virginia's Crooked Road traces the origins of country music history. Ohio's Winding Road takes visitors back to the birth of the US labor movement.

"We'd like to promote Appalachia as an exotic, interesting place, not the Godforsaken place that we usually get in the national press," said Todd Christensen, executive director of the Southwest Virginia Cultural Heritage Foundation.

Authentic stories

For Ohio activist John Winnenberg, the rebirth goes deeper. As eastern Ohio has endured boom-and-bust cycles of timber, coal, clay and, lately, oil-and-gas extraction residents have internalized a sense of futility and abandonment that's hard to shake, he says. That mentality could fade if locals succeed in building their own tourism-based economy. "We've been owned before," said Winnenberg, director of The Winding Road initiative centered in historic Shawnee. "We don't want to be owned again."

The promise of a new future for coal country is not new. Billions of dollars have been spent closing, reclaiming, reforesting and redeveloping abandoned mine land since the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act was passed 40 years ago.

What's fresh is the new energy among baby boomers and millennials alike, who seem to enjoy the Rust Belt chic of enjoying a drink or overnight stay in a place full of authentic stories built on sweat and strife.

In Nelsonville, Ohio, Sunday Creek Coal Co. was among dozens of companies that thrived in eastern Ohio during the heyday of mining between 1850 to 1940. Vestiges of that era, opera houses, speakeasies, union halls and railroad depots are being preserved and promoted for tours, lodging and quirky events like the re-enactment of a Prohibition rally.

"It's not creating tourism just for other people. We're going for ourselves as well," said Winnenberg.

Ecotourism

The Corbin, Kentucky-based Appalachian Wildlife Foundation is developing an ecology education site on Kentucky's first mountaintop removal coal mine.

"Capitalizing on the wildlife of the region for conservation, based on our work, turned into a tourist attraction," said board chairman Frank Allen.

A wildlife center rich with elk, deer, bear, and more than 260 species of birds will open in 2019 while mining operations continue nearby. An economic impact study predicts the 49-square kilometer tract of former mine land will attract 638,000 annual visitors, generate $124 million in annual spending by its fifth year and create 2,300 jobs.

"The mining has created phenomenal elk habitat. Elk are, by nature, prairie animals, and the grassland habitat that's created when the coal mines are restored is very conducive to the elk," Allen said. "It's kind of the ultimate irony: The 'evil' mountaintop removal process and, all of the sudden, it's created the ideal habitat for wildlife."

The Monday Creek Restoration Project in New Straitsville, Ohio, gave locals their first look at a clear-running stream in generations, according to project manager Nate Schlater.

"The stream where a lot of my work has been focused, Monday Creek, was a dead stream, declared possibly unrecoverable in 1994," he said. "Today, there's 36 species of fish living in the stream, it's nearing achieving EPA warm water habitat status. People are now fishing in the stream. My grandkids are catching fish where there's never been a fish in my lifetime."

Changing economies& minds

Coal country overwhelmingly supported President Donald Trump, who pledged to reverse coal's decline, but just 1,200 new mining jobs have been created across the region since January. That can't make up for the hemorrhage of the past: In Southwest Virginia, mining employment plunged 45 percent from 1990 to 2014.

Even those with good coal jobs sometimes feel they need backup plans. Rodney Embrey loves his job in communications at the Buckhingham mine in Corning, Ohio, but he's also started a lucrative side business with a friend selling antiques. Their store is in a building once slated for demolition as an eyesore. "It was a dry goods store when it opened up in 1905," he said, an era many call "the boom".

The new economy appears to be attracting jobs, tourists and even new residents to the Virginia region that's furthest along in its efforts. One study there found that arts, entertainment, recreation and related fields added over 5,000 jobs between 2000 and 2014. The region's professional, scientific, education and health sectors also grew by double-digit percentages in the space of 15 years, the study found, as millennials in tech and other location-flexible industries chose the region for its down-home charm and outdoor recreation options.

"We've lost many, many more jobs to coal losses than we've attracted," Christensen said. "But what we're also finding is that communities that have embraced the creative economy have seen an influx of 25-to 34-year-old college-educated people moving in. We can't say it's related, but there's a correlation."

He added that visitors often come in with a "stereotype of what they think they'll find. ... Nine times out of ten, they leave with a different perspective than what they brought."

Associated Press

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2018-01-06 06:55:41
<![CDATA[Wanda Vista Beijing captures capital's essence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2018-01/06/content_35451179.htm Wanda Vista Beijing, part of Wanda Group's luxury hotel brand, incorporates Chinese traditional elements to provide guests unique high-end services, the company announced at the hotel's launch ceremony on Jan 1.

Previously known as Sofitel Wanda Beijing, the property has upgraded its facilities and equipment to offer refined and comfortable rooms and suites, and improved its conference facilities and traditional Chinese cuisine, showcasing its transformation.

As the 19th Wanda Vista hotel, Wanda Vista Beijing will inherit the profound history and rich culture of the capital city.

The hotel said that it will provide refined services that blend oriental charm with local customs, creating an elegant ambience for distinguished guests who cherish a quality life that relaxes the heart and mind.

Ideally located in Beijing's central business district, the hotel has convenient transportation. It only takes 30 minutes to travel to Beijing Capital International Airport by the expressway.

The hotel is experienced in hosting international and domestic meetings and events, and is the ideal place for domestic and global film premieres, as Wanda Cinemas lies just downstairs.

Wanda Vista Beijing offers 417 guest rooms, including 310 luxury rooms and 44 suites, fitted with advanced electronics and characteristic artworks to showcase the charm of modern and traditional Chinese culture.

Four different styles of restaurants and lobby lounges create a rich and exquisite food experience for customers.

A total of 14 banquet and conference venues on the seventh floor, covering 3,337 square meters, satisfy the requirements of many different kinds of celebrations, business events and parties.

Founded in 1988, Wanda Group now covers four major business sectors: commerce, culture, networks and finance.

It ranked No 380 among the Fortune Global 500 companies in 2017.

Ning Qifeng, president of Wanda Hotels and Resorts, said that after the transfer of light assets in 2017, the company has integrated the resources to develop three core business sections: hotel design, hotel construction and hotel management. Wanda Vista Hotels has launched management projects in Sanya of Hainan province and Lhasa of Tibet autonomous region. The company has also signed agreements with Istanbul of Turkey and Laos to launch projects in the future.

The company has operated more than 60 hotels in over 50 cities across the world.

Wanda Hotels and Resorts manages four brands in its portfolio: the ultra-luxury brand Wanda Reign, the luxury brand Wanda Vista, the premium brand Wanda Realm and the select-service hotel brand Wanda Jin.

Address: Tower C Wanda Plaza, 93 Jianguo Road, Chaoyang district, Beijing. Tel: 010-8599-6666

caoyingying@chinadaily.com.cn

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2018-01-06 07:32:20
<![CDATA[Party Raises Funds For Locals]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-12/09/content_35265731.htm

Christmas comes early in Jilin with the launch of Hougang Village Poverty Relief Project

Amid the season's increasingly festive ambience, Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun in Jilin province recently held a charity lighting ceremony to raise funds for local poor villagers.

With a 3.8-meter-high Christmas tree standing in its lobby, the hotel was turned into a fantastic fairy tale world with a huge 3-D dynamic picture on the lobby lounge windows, a magnificent Christmas tree and a smiling Santa, on Dec 1.

During the ceremony, the hotel launched the 2018 Hougang Village Poverty Relief Project, aimed at raising funds to rebuild houses for underprivileged farmers in Hougang village in the province.

Nearly 200 guests from 12 countries joined the high-tech charity event. They enjoyed the delicious Christmas turkey and ham hampers, as well as festive goodies, which are on sale to raise funds for the charity running through Dec 26.

Guests can help the villagers via the hotel's public WeChat platform by donating 20 yuan ($3), for which they receive a Christmas Wishing Star. They can hang the star on the gigantic Christmas tree in the hotel lobby.

Wishing stars were also available during the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony for guests who wanted to participate in the charitable activity.

The event was supported by the Foreign Affairs Office of the Changchun government, Jilin University, Changchun Columbia Kindergarten and China Daily.

After the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun held its Year-End Honour and Appreciation Event in the third-floor swimming pool.

Guests participating in the stylish pool party enjoyed VIP treatment such as creative dishes and high-end services during the evening gala.

Mermaid water performances from an international team and a vibrant cocktail show brought the atmosphere to a climax.

Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun was again named Best Business Hotel in Changchun by Business Traveler China magazine at the 2017 readers' poll, said Vincent Tian, its general manager.

Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun has won the honor every year since 2005, when the award was launched.

Despite fierce competition for this year's award, Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun held onto its title because business travelers have been consistently satisfied with its renovated rooms and catering services, attractive design and facilities, according to the hotel.

Receiving the recognition for the 13th consecutive year has given Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun's team more confidence in providing guests with better services and products, Tian said.

The hotel's guests have been his precious teammates, advisers and, above all, friends, he added.

"I want to take this opportunity to thank all our guests and show my appreciation for their great support over the years," he said.

To promote ice tourism in the province, Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun has also launched the Chagan Lake Winter Capture ice fishing and the Vasa Ice Festival packages, in a bid to enable more guests from all over the world to experience the joy and charm brought by Jilin's icy winter.

If you go

Shangri-La Hotel, Changchun

Address: 569 Xi'an Road, Chaoyang district, Changchun, Jilin province

Tel: 0431-8898-1818

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2017-12-09 07:17:28
<![CDATA[Hyatt Regency Qingdao captures local essence]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-12/09/content_35265730.htm

The Hyatt Regency Qingdao's location makes the hotel ideal for visitors either for business or leisure, as it stands in the commercial heart of downtown Laoshan district and in proximity to Shilaoren Beach, a poplar tourist destination in the coastal city in Shandong province.

The hotel in East China is near Qingdao's airport and major exhibition center, as well as the Polar Ice World amusement park and Laoshan Mountain, which is hailed as the cradle of Taoism - a peak where geology and geomancy conjure a unique allure.

In addition to its convenient location, the modern hotel has much more to offer.

Many of its 439 guestrooms offer beach views - as does the Regency Club lounge's private terrace on the 21st floor, where guests can enjoy breakfast as they watch whitecaps wash over golden sands.

The property offers facilities for weddings, spa treatments and major meetings.

The Hyatt Regency Qingdao hosts five concept restaurants and bars, offering a cornucopia of contemporary and traditional cuisine from around the region and afar.

About a fifth of its eateries' offerings feature local tastes, while the rest hail from around the country and continent.

"Everything goes into the pot," executive chef Martin Aw Yong said, commenting on the local Lu cuisine, which is one of eight classic cooking styles in China named after the abbreviation of the province's name.

"It's a natural taste, based on the natural flavors of the ingredients. Many dishes are slowly cooked to bring the juices out... We use the Shandong style of cooking but with more refined products."

For instance, the restaurant buys free-range farm chickens and clams from Hongdao.

The local cuisine is distinctively flavored - it is slightly salty but otherwise lightly seasoned.

The hotel's Dong Hai 88 specializes in Lu cuisine, especially seafood, with specialties from elsewhere, such as authentic Peking duck and Cantonese delicacies.

With such adornments as fishtail-shaped lanterns popular among locals, the decor is a salute to a history of settlement in Qingdao and local fishing conventions.

Diners can enjoy ocean views from an outdoor terrace overlooking Shilaoren Beach.

Beba is a portmanteau of barbecue and bar - and lives up to its name.

Visitors can enjoy DIY experiences with pan-Asian barbecue options at the table, washed down with homemade craft beer. The Hyatt Regency Qingdao is one of the few hotels in the city that brews its own beer.

"Some people said it was a bad idea, since Qingdao is known for its (major) beer (brands)," Aw Yong said.

The city's Tsingtao brand is one of the world's biggest beer producers, with a history that spans more than a century.

"But our beer has been popular."

The restaurant's food is a fusion of Vietnamese, Thai and Malaysian influences, and also borrows features from Aw Yong's home country Singapore, as the city-state is itself a melting pot of regional cuisine.

Beba also offers such specialties as Asian-style suckling pig and double-cooked lamb leg, plus a variety of select steaks.

Southeast Asian dishes include spicy salads and durian pudding.

The casual-dining buffet restaurant Market Cafe takes its namesake from its medley of dishes from a variety of origins.

"It's a bit like a marketplace for tasting different cuisines," Aw Yong said.

Guests can sample the flavors of diverse offerings from various origins served from interactive, open kitchens. The lobby's Bay Lounge also offers artisanal beverages and snacks, alongside indoor views of the shoreline.

erik_nilsson@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-12-09 07:17:28
<![CDATA[Glittering gala aids children and mums]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-12/09/content_35265729.htm

The first China and the World: For Children and Mothers gala night was held at the Bulgari Hotel Beijing on Wednesday, attracting more than 200 participants.

"The charity gala night leveraged the public fundraising platform of the China Friendship Foundation for Peace and Development, and mobilized resources from the community to raise funds for development programs that help improve the well-being of women and children globally," Hu Sishe, vice-president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, said in his opening speech.

International dignitaries in attendance included CEO of Save the Children International and former prime minister of Denmark Helle Thorning-Schmidt, former prime minister of Australia Julia Eileen Gillard, and ambassadors and diplomats from different countries.

Among the entertainment celebrities at the event were Ruby Lin, Ning Jing and Sha Yi. Artists Chen Wenling and Fan Yaping, executives from Sinic Real Estate, Mebo International Group and other corporations, and representatives from various NGOs were also present at the gala night.

The event was organized by the United Nations Every Woman Every Child China Partnership Network and the China Friendship Foundation for Peace and Development. It was supported by the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries and Save the Children.

The Fund for the Development of Women and Children launched during the event in support of development programs such as the newborn health program, the Kangaroo Mother Care maternal and infant health program, and the family education program.

Virtual reality videos from two humanitarian programs were shown to help guests better understand the various challenges faced by children and mothers in Liangshan Mountain of Sichuan province and Somalia.

A live auction was one of the highlights of the gala night. Supporters bid for art pieces, exquisite jewelry and fine wines to raise funds for women and children around the world.

Noted Taiwan singer Chyi Chin specially rearranged the classic song The Moon Represents My Heart for the event. The song was performed by his daughter Bonnie Chyi together with Emiliano Cyrus, a Singaporean child celebrity. Angel Chorus' rendition of The Best Future was a final reminder to everyone to continue to share their love and care for every child.

The Bulgari Hotel Beijing, which sponsored the event, opened at the heart of Beijing's exclusive embassy area in late September.

Designed by architects Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel, and crowning seven years of meticulous construction work, the fourth jewel in the Bulgari Hotels & Resorts collection rises within the new Genesis Project, an oasis of tranquility that balances art and nature.

 

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2017-12-09 07:17:28
<![CDATA[Lose losers despite trump break]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/11/content_34398552.htm Denis Waitley, a motivational speaker, said, "Losers live in the past. Winners learn from the past and enjoy working in the present toward the future."

At the bridge table, winners, learning from the past, enjoy avoiding losers. In this deal, South was in four hearts. She won the first trick with her spade ace, unblocked the club king and cashed the heart ace, but West discarded a spade. How should South have continued?

It was surprising that West passed as dealer. Yes, in the old days, one did not open a weak two with a void, but no more. Also, it would have been safer to open two spades than to enter the auction with the weak jump overcall. North's three-heart response showed a respectable single raise.

Initially, South thought she saw 10 top tricks: two spades, five hearts and three clubs. But when she learned about the 5-0 trump split, her communications were insufficient.

At trick four, declarer continued with a heart to dummy's queen. Then she played clubs from the top, discarding her three diamonds. Yes, East took the fourth club with his jack over dummy's nine, but he couldn't defeat the contract. He shifted to a diamond, but South ruffed (her seventh trick) and continued her good work by leading a low spade, knowing East was out of the suit.

If West had won the trick, declarer would have crossruffed her last three trumps. But when East ruffed and led a diamond, South ruffed, trumped a spade and still had the heart king in her hand for her 10th trick. Well played.

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2017-11-11 07:43:30
<![CDATA[Best bets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/11/content_34398551.htm The Mariinsky Ballet The Sleeping Beauty

Date: Nov 21-23 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 280-1,280 yuan

The history of the Mariinsky Ballet is closely linked with the history of European choreographic art. An important role in the establishment and evolution of Russian ballet was played by foreign dance masters. The history of St Petersburg ballet in the 19th century was associated with the activities of Charles Didelot, Jules Perrot, and Arthur Saint-Leon. In 1869, the position of principal ballet master was entrusted to Marius Petipa who markedly raised the professional standards of the company. He developed the form of grand ballet - a multi-act production, the plot combining fully developed scenes of classical ensembles, colorful character dances, genre spectacle scenes and pantomime. Even today the ballets The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake (together with choreographer Lev Ivanov) and Raymonda created with the symphonist composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Alexander Glazunov form part of the "gold reserves" of the classical legacy and adorn the theater's repertoire.

Shanghai Dramatic Arts Center The Murder of Sherlock Holmes

Date: Nov 16-18 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Comedy Theater

Price: 60-380 yuan

Founded on Jan 23, 1995, Shanghai Dramatic Arts Centre focuses on expanding cultural exchanges with other countries and learning experience in creating outstanding dramas around the world. It has participated in such international art festivals as "Moscow Chekhov International Drama Festival", "Singapore International Drama Festival", "the Ninth Seoul Performing Arts Festival", "British International Shakespeare Festival" and "Sibiu International Drama Festival". With the continuous introduction of foreign original plays and production of excellent contemporary drama works, it has cultivated a solid drama performance market in Shanghai, which further magnetizes nationwide and worldwide drama groups to perform here.

Stephen Kovacevich Piano Recital

Date: Nov 11 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 50-380 yuan

Stephen Kovacevich is one of the most searching interpreters, never afraid to take both technical and musical risks in order to achieve maximum expressive impact. Born in Los Angeles, Stephen Kovacevich laid the foundation for his career as concert pianist at the age of 11. After moving to England to study with Dame Myra Hess, Stephen made his European debut at Wigmore Hall in 1961. Since then he has appeared with many of the world's finest orchestras and conductors including Hans Graf, Bernard Haitink, Kurt Masur, Simon Rattle and Georg Solti.

Jonas Kaufmann Recital with Helmut Deutsch

Date: Nov 15 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 180-1,000 yuan

Since his sensational debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in a performance of La Traviata in 2006, Jonas Kaufmann has numbered among the top stars on the operatic horizon. The international press has singled him out as the "new king of tenors". Insiders praise him as the most important German tenor since Fritz Wunderlich. Jonas Kaufmann comes from Munich. He completed his vocal studies there at the local Music Academy, in addition to which he attended master classes with Hans Hotter, James King and Josef Metternich. During his first years on stage at the State Theater in Saarbrücken, he continued his training with Michael Rhodes in Trier.

Liaoning Ballet of China Swan Lake

Date: Nov 17-18 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-580 yuan

China Liaoning Ballet (LNB), established in 1980, has been dedicated to producing ballet art pieces of Chinese characteristics while persistently introduces, rehearses and performs world ballet classics. It has scored remarkable achievements in exploring and building the Chinese school of ballet art. Since 1980, LNB has rehearsed and performed world famous ballet pieces including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Le Corsaire, Don Quixote, the Nutcracker, La Sylphide, Giselle, La Fille Mal Gardee, etc. LNB has also created and performed dance dramas of Chinese styles, such as the Butterfly Lovers, Song of Mongolia, the Peacock Gall, Moonlight over the Erquan Pond, modern ballet The Last Emperor in addition to special evening performances for neoclassic ballet pieces like Song of the four Seasons and World of Classics.

American instrumentalist Alexandro Querevalu China Tour

Date: Dec 19-20 - 7:30 pm

Venue: The Cultural Palace of Nationalities

Price: 100-560 yuan

After his successful debut tour in China in 2016, American instrumentalist Alexandro Querevalu will tour China again between Dec 10 to Jan 20, visiting Chinese cities, such as Beijing, Tiaanjin and Hangzhou. Born in Lima, Peru, the musician plays a wide variety of wind instruments, such as the quena and zampona. He has a large repertoire, including The Last of the Mohicans and El Condor Pasa.

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2017-11-11 07:43:30
<![CDATA[Listings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/11/content_34398550.htm Shows

Inner Mongolia Arts University Dance Drama Prairie Sisters

Date: Nov 14-15 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-580 yuan

Reputed as "Prairie Sisters", Longmei and Yurong braved the danger of life and protect collective property, whose heroic story used to spread far and wide in China. In celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Establishment of Inner Mongolia autonomous region, a large-sized original ethnic dance drama Prairie Sisters, elaborately created by Inner Mongolia Arts University, blends unique Mongolian dance and musical art forms into this dance drama.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Richard Clayderman Piano Recital Concert

Date: Dec 16 - 8 pm

Venue: Shenzhen Concert Hall

Price: 280-1,380 yuan

Richard Clayderman is a French pianist who has released numerous albums including the compositions of Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint, instrumental renditions of popular music, rearrangements of movie soundtracks, ethnic music, and easy-listening arrangements of popular works of classical music. Clayderman has recorded over 1,300 melodies, and has created a new romantic style through a repertoire which combines his trademark originals with classics and pop standards. He has devoted much of his time to performing concerts, going as far as playing 200 shows in 250 days. He has clocked up worldwide record sales of approximately 70 million, as of 2006, and has 267 gold and 70 platinum discs to his credit. He is popular in Asia and is noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as being "the most successful pianist in the world".

Contact: 400-610-3721

Beijing Yunzai Culture Communication Drama Beijing Neighbors

Date: Nov 11-12 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Comedy Theater

Price: 60-380 yuan

This story happens at a courtyard in Beijing, from the late 1990s to the early 21st century. Some people such as old Yang are natives, who have resided in this courtyard for a long time, while Hu Dong and a writer surnamed Liu are residents who come from other places and work in Beijing. Liu and his wife run a restaurant in Beijing, and through the contact with old Yang and other natives, Liu gradually accepts their lifestyle. On the other hand, old Beijingers understand drifters' diligence and struggle through Liu and Hu Dong. The two cultures ultimately blend together.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

China NCPA Chorus

Date: Nov 12 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

China NCPA Chorus was established on Dec 8, 2009. Wu Lingfen, the famous Chinese conductor, serves as its chorus master. As the professional artistic performing group that belongs to the highest palace of performing arts, the Chorus adheres to the NCPA's guiding principle of "for the people, for the arts, and for the world" and is recognized as a vigorous professional chorus with infinite potential.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Thomas Hampson Vocal Recital

Date: Nov 14 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 80-480 yuan

Honored as a Metropolitan Opera Guild "Met Meistersinger" and inducted into both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and Gramophone's 2013 "Hall of Fame," Thomas Hampson is one of the most respected and innovative musicians of our time. Comprising more than 170 albums, his discography includes winners of a Grammy Award, five Edison Awards and the Grand Prix du Disque. Wolfram Rieger received his first piano lessons from his parents and later from Konrad Pfeiffer in Regensburg. He soon developed a deep affection for Lied interpretation and therefore continued his studies at the Hochschule fur Musik in Munich with the famous Lied pianists Professor Erik Werba and Prof. Helmut Deutsch. After earning diploma with distinction, he attended several master classes with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Hans Hotter and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau. Even during his studies, he began teaching at Munich's Hochschule fur Musik until 1991 when he started his own Lieder class for singers and pianists.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Chinese Folk Music Maestros Concert

Date: Nov 16 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 80-400 yuan

Praised as "The Orchestral Pearl of the Capital of China," the Beijing Symphony Orchestra (BSO) was established in October 1977, and is a focal point of musical art, performance and culture in China today. The BSO has known worldwide for its impeccable standards, as well as for the depth of its western and Chinese repertoire. The BSO is the Resident Orchestra of the Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing. As observers, participants and creators of the musical culture of Beijing, the BSO has evolved in parallel with the pace of China's reform and opening-up. Thus, the BSO has grown and matured hand-in-hand with modern Beijing. With its high professional standards combined with a deep passion for the art of music, the BSO has become a pacemaker for the rise and development of serious music in China.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

China Film Symphony Orchestra

Date: Nov 18 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 80-500 yuan

China Film Symphony Orchestra is one of the national outstanding orchestras founded earliest in the People's Public of China. Over 60 years, along with the development of China's film and television music arts, the Orchestra has performed music for nearly two thousand of films, TV dramas, documentaries and films. The Orchestra also performed music in more than 40 countries and regions, and played symphonic concerts, opera and ballets with international conductors, composers, musicians and dancers for many times to promote Chinese music development and international cultural exchange.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe The Palace of Eternal Youth

Date: Nov 16-19 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

Hong Sheng (1645-1704), a famous litterateur and dramatist in the Qing Dynasty, is the writer of the drama The Palace of Eternal Youth, which took over ten years to create based on the Tang Dynasty poem Everlasting Regret and Zaju of Yuan Dynasty Raindrops on the Phoenix Tree. The draft was revised three times before its completion. Hong Sheng depicted pure love between Emperor Xuanzong of Tang Dynasty Li Longji and the consort Yang Yuhuan in a context of the historical event "An-Shi Rebellion" and the Tang Dynasty's downfall from the pinnacle of its power. With a wild imagination, he made the characters travel throughout the world, hell and heaven at will, and talk with one another sincerely, be they humans, ghosts or immortals.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Alan Gilbert, Yundi & The Staatskapelle Dresden

Date: Nov 19 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 380-1,680 yuan

New York Philharmonic Music Director Alan Gilbert began his tenure in September 2009. In seven years at the New York Philharmonic, Gilbert has succeeded in transforming the 175-year-old institution into a leader on the cultural landscape. Gilbert is Director of Conducting and Orchestral Studies and holds the William Schuman Chair in Musical Studies at the Juilliard School. Li Yundi was propelled onto the international stage when he won first prize at the XIV Chopin International Piano Competition at the age of 18, becoming the youngest and first Chinese winner in the history of the renowned competition. Since then, he has been regarded as a leading exponent of Chopin's music.

Founded by Prince Elector Moritz von Sachsen in 1548, the Staatskapelle Dresden is one of the oldest orchestras in the world and steeped in tradition. Over its long history many distinguished conductors and internationally celebrated instrumentalists have left their mark on this onetime court orchestra. Previous directors include Heinrich Schutz, Johann Adolf Hasse, Carl Maria von Weber ankand Richard Wagner, who called the ensemble his "miraculous harp".

Aterballetto

Date: Nov 25-26 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-500 yuan

Aterballetto is the principal producing and touring dance company in Italy. It is also the first permanent ballet-producing organization apart from Opera House companies. Founded in 1979, preceded by the experience of Compagnia del Balletto dei Teatri dell'Emilia Romagna directed by Vittorio Biagi, it is composed of solo dancers capable of performing in various dance styles. Aterballetto has assumed the profile of a contemporary ballet and dance company. The founding element of Aterballetto's artistic identity is its commitment to supporting and developing the art of choreography and the absolute language of dance, intended as dynamics and forms in space, as an embodiment of expressive and aesthetic qualities, and as a dialectic with music.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Valery Gergiev & The Munich Philharmonic Orchestra

Date: Nov 24-25 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 200-1,200 yuan

Born in Moscow, Valery Gergiev initially studied conducting under Ilya Musin at the Leningrad Conservatory. In 1978, aged 24, Valery Gergiev became assistant conductor of Yuri Temirkanov at the Mariinsky Opera, where he made his debut conducting Sergei Prokofiev's adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace. More than two decades ago, he assumed his current position as director of the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, which has since become a cornerstone of operatic culture in Russia.

Nothing's Carved in Stone Live

Date: Nov 11-12 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Bandai Namco Shanghai Base Future House, Shanghai

Price: 380-480 yuan

Nothing's Carved in Stone is a Japanese rock group formed in January 2009. Their 2009 debut album proved that this band has it's own unique sound and a rocking band chemistry which is seen in their energetic live performance. On 2013, the band continued their string of successful tie-up songs, as their single Out of Control was selected to be an opening theme of the hit anime Psycho-Pass. Following the release of their fifth album, Revolt, in June.

Contact: 400-610-3721

Olivier De Spiegelier Piano Recital

Date: Nov 11 - 7 pm

Venue: La Plantation

Price: 80-200 yuan

Trained both at the Conservatory of Brussels and at the University of Louvain, Olivier De Spiegeleir is now famous for his intense career as a recitalist around the world: he makes his musical presence known trough his concern for communicating quality feelings. Olivier De Spiegeleir has given more than 500 solo recitals, numerous concerts with orchestras, and also made several public and studio recordings on the radio and the television.

Contact: 010-5166-1201

Activities & nightlife

Job Fair for Foreigners

Date: Nov 11 - 10 am

Venue: Swissotel Beijing

Price: Free

Over 200 employers are looking for foreign staff. With the support and participation of those prestigious enterprises in China, the job fair always suits your needs no matter what kind of job you are looking for: full-time, part-time or internship.

Contact: 010-6553-2288

Movie Spot: The Winter's Tale with Dame Judi Dench

Date: Nov 11 - 12:15 pm

Venue: Chao Hotel

Price: Free for Chao members, 200 yuan for nonmembers The Chao Hotel screens the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company production of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale, starring Dame Judi Dench. This is a story of revenge, doubt, love and hatred - the perfect film to enjoy on a cold afternoon with a hot cup of tea in the Chao Hotel screening room.

Contact: 010-5871-5588

Naked Tattoo Party

Date: Nov 11 - 6 pm

Venue: Soi Baochao

Price: 100-150 yuan

We will keep the concept of "Naked" and make free "fake" tattoo design for you at the bar! If you have tattoos, want to get one or want to meet tattooed people, this party is definitely for you. We still have the horror movies in the afternoon at 3 pm. If you had an invitation for previous Halloween party but you didn't come, you are still on the guest list! This party is a private party for Single's day, please book it fast! We are limited to 60 persons.

Contact: 010-6401-1066

Koln Karneval

Date: Nov 11 - 20:11 pm

Venue: Der Landgraf

Price: Free Entry

The German community Beijing celebrates the opening of the carnival season on Nov 11 in Restaurant Landgraf. Join this atmospheric evening to dive into the Cologne carnival culture - Koelsch beer, danceable carnival music and crazy costumes are creating an exuberant atmosphere.

Contact: 010-6768-2664

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2017-11-11 07:43:30
<![CDATA[The web we weave]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/11/content_34398532.htm Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno imagines our human future through spider research

A large space in a three-story redbrick building, located in southeast Berlin near the river Spree, is home to nearly 100 spiders. Each of them comfortably rests in its own tiny framed cube - including some that live underwater in small tanks. They work hard as they weave their webs in various shapes and forms. But they're not intended to catch bugs for food; rather, they're to produce artworks that question the way humans live.

Welcome to the "spider lab" inside the studio of Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno, who's renowned for taking inspiration from spiders and their habitat in creating unique artworks. His works allow audiences to reflect on the environment and the possibility of finding a sustainable way of living in and beyond our planet, where scientists have recently warned that humans only have another 30 years to take effective action in saving ourselves from the "sixth mass extinction".

 

"Spider lab", a three-story redbrick building, located in southeast Berlin near the river Spree, is home to nearly 100 spiders. Studio Tomas Saraceno

"We (humans) are small in relation to other species living on Planet Earth, but we are part of this cosmic web - something that is bigger than our planet," says Saraceno during our meeting in his Berlin studio. "The idea of these complex spiderwebs helps us understand that we are part of this cosmic web." That philosophy is at the heart of Saraceno's art practices, which involve ongoing research that draws from the natural sciences, astrophysics and engineering. He describes himself as an artist who "lives and works in and beyond Planet Earth" in his biography - and he's not exaggerating.

Born in Argentina in 1973, Saraceno was trained in architecture before he became an artist. His knowledge in that area, compounded by his passion for the origins of the cosmos and the structure of space-time, has given birth to artworks that are one of a kind, in collaboration with some of the world's most famous scientific institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Since 2008, Saraceno has been researching spiders and their behavior in weaving their habitats in his "spider lab". He was the first in the world to scan, reconstruct and reimagine spiderwebs, and owns a collection of the only three-dimensional renditions of these unique woven spatial habitats.

This year, Saraceno has taken his work on spiderwebs further with a new large-scale work titled Cosmic Dust Installation, featured in his first solo exhibition in South Korea, Our Interplanetary Bodies, which is now showing at the Asia Culture Center in Gwangju until March 25, 2018.

The artist says the work is a choreography of spiders' dances on their webs, the movement of the dust and their interaction with humans.

"It's a music concert between the dust, the spiders and our breath," he says, with audible excitement.

The installation contains a large installation of spiderwebs produced by the Nephila genus, more commonly known as golden silk orb-weavers.

According to Saraceno, these are "social spiders" - meaning they build new structures on top of existing webs, rather than destroying them. "It's like me going to your house," he explains. "This is built by different spiders with different degrees of social ability. They collaborate to build these webs."

Saraceno says that during the exhibition, the spider in her habitat and the sound of her movement is amplified through a microphone, which generates vibration of the dust. Audiences can listen to the sounds of the spider and admire the movement of the dust projected on a large wall. "You can hear a cosmic concert," he says.

Can humans actually learn how to live like spiders? Saraceno tried to answer this question with his Cloud Cities series, which is a concept of a modular city floating above the clouds. One of the works, On the Roof: Cloud City, was exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; currently, the large-scale interactive installation In Orbit, a net structure containing five air-filled spheres suspended some 25 meters above the ground, allowing people to climb on them like spiders, is on long-term display at the K21 Art Collection in Duesseldorf, Germany.

Along the lines of Cloud Cities are his famous floating sculptures of the Aerocene project. Saraceno says that these sculptures are propelled by sunlight, which are prototypes for the way humans can travel in the future - without burning fossil fuels or any other forms of energy that damage the earth. Nine gigantic spherical sculptures have been brought to Asia for Our Interplanetary Bodies.

"What I like about Aerocene is that it's a choreography of movement," explains the artist. "We get the heat from the Sun and I speculate about the idea of being able to travel around the world with this heat. In future, it's not about burning anymore."

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2017-11-11 07:42:55
<![CDATA[Former teen model proves she's all grown up]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/11/content_34398531.htm The daughter of a Chinese-British graphic designer and a British housewife, the 174 cm Alexa Chung was "discovered" when she was 14 by a London-based modeling agency. The experience that many girls her age dreamed of, however, didn't sit well with the teenager. According to Chung, her parents were unsupportive of her taking up modeling as a profession, she was asked to pose seminaked when it was unnecessary and she was also deeply affected by criticism about her appearance.

Chung's career took off when she started to appear in a slew of music videos and TV shows in 2006. Her playful personality, witty dialogue and spontaneous reactions on camera earned her celebrity status. She debuted her own US show on MTV in 2009 - a daily, live talk show called It's On with Alexa Chung - followed by the show Gonzo with Alexa Chung on UK screens a year later.

Her personal style brought her as much attention as her TV appearances and she was hounded by photographers for street snaps. She loves to mix and match styles, and she often wears masculine pieces that exude a touch of femininity, such as an oversized suit combined with a shiny pair of Mary Janes. Her love of flats, as well as her iconic play-it-cool gesture - crossing one foot over the other in front of the cameras - made more and more people call her "It girl", a term originally used to describe beautiful young women who don't flaunt their sexuality.

Chung frequently appeared on the best-dressed lists, on magazine covers and in the front row of fashion shows.

In 2009, when she was just 25, British handbag brand Mulberry created the Alexa satchel, inspired by her, and the bag soon became the brand's most sought-after. She received a string of acclaim and recognition from industry leaders; Anna Wintour called her "a phenomenon" and The New York Times dubbed her "the Kate Moss of the new generation" - she even beat out Moss for Vogue's best-dressed title in 2009.

From 2011 to 2013, Chung took home the British Fashion Council's British Style Award three consecutive times; the public-voted award "recognizes an individual who embodies the spirit of British fashion." The year she turned 30, she became the face of Parisian fashion maison Longchamp, landed one of her largest campaigns with L'Oreal and released her first book, It, which openly discusses the formation of her style.

After numerous co-branding projects with the likes of AG Jeans and Madewell, she officially became a fashion designer with the launch of Alexachung, backed by London-based private equity investor Peter Dubens. At the show for her debut collection this May in North London, Chung opted for a glittering green gown. Some of the familiar styles that she likes to wear were spotted throughout the collection, such as Mary Janes, the workwear jacket, Peter Pan collars and Asian inspiration galore. All the pieces are free of fur, Angora hair and exotic skins.

"Age had something to do with it - a restlessness in New York, looking for stability," she explained in an interview with Vogue after the show. "I'm young enough and excited enough to start something new, but old enough to have learned a bit. And confident enough to think I could pull it off." Clearly, the It girl has grown up.

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2017-11-11 07:42:55
<![CDATA[Bringing together classroom learning, real-world applications]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/09/content_34319036.htm Innovative model uses internships to apply knowledge in the workplace

For higher education experts, teaching students how to apply classroom knowledge in the real world has been an ongoing challenge. The four-year exploration of a new cooperative education model at Chongqing University could produce an answer, according to Zhang Zhiqing, vice-dean of the Chongqing University-University of Cincinnati Joint Co-op Institute.

The cooperative education model merges internships with academic study, to help students to transite their knowledge of theory to practice and solve workplace problems. The University of Cincinnati pioneered cooperative education in 1906. Former UC dean Teik Lim was the founder of the CQU-UC Joint Co-op Institute.

The model was introduced to CQU in 2013, and it is one of the top educational institutions in China. Princeton Review, college admission services company, ranked the joint program with UC in the top 5 percent of the 2,500 public research-oriented universities in the world.

Zhang said students of the institute that major in either electrical engineering and automation, or machine design manufacturing and automation - two key majors at the university - will have a five-year learning period in undergraduate study.

From the second to fourth years of study, students will alternate between staying at school for four months and working in companies for four months.

The institute signed an agreement with more than 40 enterprises, including nine Fortune Global 500 companies, for students to have paid internships. Taking part in the internship is a requirement for graduation.

"There is a gap between college education and the skill sets needed by the market," Zhang said. "Students tend to listen to what the teachers say in class, take some notes and stay up for a few nights before the test, and eventually forget everything they have learnt."

"The internship narrows the gap by pushing them to face real-world problems and even have a chance to experience the cutting-edge trends of the industry," he said.

They will also have a better understanding of their major and what knowledge they need most, he added. Students also learn more about society, how to communicate with people and how to shoulder social responsibility.

Zhang explained that when students doing job hunting, they may have a superficial understanding of the company they will work for. Some will choose to leave when they find out the job is not what they imagined, wasting both the time and energy of the individuals and the companies.

However, after 20 months of working in the industry, the employees and employers will both know each other well.

"I have heard a female student already received a verbal offer from GE," he said.

"The first batch of students is currently studying in the United States for their last year of study. It won't take long to see the impact of the cooperative education program."

Companies have shown their appreciation of the cooperative education program, including Siemens China, ABB, GE and Changan Ford Automobile.

Prasanna Malaviya, senior director of research and development at One Ethicon & DePuy Synthes China, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson Medical (China) Ltd, said it's the best way for engineering students to catch up with the working world quickly after graduation.

"Some Chinese students suffer the first few months working at multinational companies because they don't know how to make full use of their talent."

When exposed to real-world problems, students are very quick to learn to solve issues outside the classroom, he added.

Another highlight of the program is the all-English teaching and application of Western educational philosophy.

About half of the specialized courses were taught by professors from UC, including some former engineers and managers of world-famous companies, such as GE, Zhang said.

The courses are organized in the form of small-sized classes, panel discussions and procedural learning, to encourage students to verbalize their ideas and participate more proactively in academic activities, said Zhang.

Students in other schools of Chongqing University can apply to attend the cooperative education program and enroll if they pass the language tests. The fee is $60,000 per degree.

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2017-11-09 07:43:25
<![CDATA[Chongqing, Cincinnati universities launch Joint Cooperative Institute]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-11/09/content_34319035.htm A total of 57 students from Chongqing University traveled to University of Cincinnati in Ohio, the United States to start their last year of college life on Aug 17.

At Cincinnati, the two sides not only marked the date as CQU-UC Joint Co-op Institute Day, but also shared their cultures and experiences to strengthen the cooperation.

Students enrolled in the Joint Co-op Institute, set up by CQU and UC in 2013, committed to a five-year program. It includes five semesters of classes given by UC and CQU engineering professors, as well as five semesters of paid, cooperative education work experience integrated into the first four years.

In their final year, the students are taking all courses at UC's campus to experience the unique campus culture in Cincinnati.

Steve Ettorre, a professor from UC, is currently in Chongqing teaching semiconductor physics, and probability and statistics to JCI students.

He said that the program is part of an accredited engineering curriculum that UC has developed to train young people for engineering careers. Teachers provide academic and United States industry perspective in the courses.

"I have had a long career in the industry and can give the students a picture of what skills and approaches are needed to be successful in the industry," said Ettorre.

He added that the program not only provides a good platform for students, but also teachers. Professors from UC and CQU will observe each other's classes and discuss teaching styles.

Fu-lin Tsung, another UC professor teaching thermodynamics and engineering foundations for the program, said: "In addition to academic knowledge, I also concentrate on professional skills.

"I ask many questions and train them to clearly express themselves in class, because communication is an important aspect of being an engineer."

"For hands-on labs, students build and test electrical circuits, test solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells. In addition to technical knowdge, I also emphasize written and oral presentation skills, all in English, preparing them for the global economy," he added.

Another important part of the program is to work in companies as an intern. This helps the students to effectively integrate theory and practice, said Luo Yuanxin, vice-dean of CQU's mechanical engineering school.

Mao Shangwei, big data department manager of CISDI Research and Development Co, hired students from JCI.

He said, "At first, we doubted their ability and just wanted the students with the highest scores to work with us."

The first intern named Wei Chengzhi impressed them with his hard work and professional skills. During his internship, he even helped to solve technical problems that the workers had been unable to tackle.

"For innovative teams, we really welcome such fresh and creative brains to join us," Mao added.

Jia Feifan, who joined JCI in 2013, said that the program first attracted him because he could gain two Bachelor degrees from both CQU and UC, as well English-language teaching to help him study abroad further.

"Later, I found the most interesting part was working in different companies and organizations," Jia said.

He used to work at a control team of manufacturing center of Chongqing ABB Transformer Co. Another role involved working as an assistant to a foreign teacher.

"The jobs I have done help me to better understand what I have learned in class and how to apply that knowledge in practice," Jia said.

Yuan Yuchan, majoring in electrical engineering and automation, said that she previously could not imagine how her college life would be without any summer or winter holidays. But the truth is that the cooperative education program makes her life rich and meaningful.

"When researching and experimenting in UC labs, I discovered the subject I was really keen on, and was determined to study biological equipment for the coming Master's degree.

"After I gave a presentation about what I had researched in a meeting, a professor came to me and invited me to work on projects with him. He has become the mentor of my final-year project," Yuan said.

caoyingying@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-11-09 07:43:25
<![CDATA[Aerial suspense]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814803.htm The paragliding haven of Pokhara in Northwest Nepal offers up the chance to soar above mountains and lakes against the backdrop of the Himalayas

There is a Chinese saying which goes: "It's easier to get up a hill than it is to come back down." That may be true for mountaineers, but for paragliders in Nepal's northwestern city of Pokhara I'm guessing it's the other way.

The way up to Sarangkot Hill to the west of the city is bumpy and narrow.

"Okay, here we are," says Raj, when our jeep comes to a halt in the middle of the road.

 

When you paraglide, you run off a cliff with the fabric wing sail open and then use steering lines to fly the paraglider far and high. Provided to China Daily

He is the owner of Sunrise Paragliding with which I had booked a 30-minute experience tour.

When I stepped out of the jeep, I was a little shocked by what I saw.

We were standing at the edge of a steep slope, with two short strips of red carpet laid out in the center as guides, stretching downward for about five meters. Next to us was a sign that read "Site elevation 1,451 meters."

"This is where we're going to take off," Raj continued. "Let's fly."

"You must be kidding me," I thought to myself.

Beyond this rudimentary runway, there was nothing but the mountain itself. Only grass and trees could be seen, but nothing reassuringly man-made was visible.

"It's a good day to fly," Raj said, standing at the far edge of the slope (where I did not dare to go) and looking at the sky. "See those vultures? They fly in circles because they are taking advantage of thermals, produced by sun-warmed air that spirals upward. That's exactly what we will do."

My pilot Milan came to buckle me up.

"Anything I need to know?" I asked.

"When I tell you to run, you just run, run, run!" he said.

"Okay. Anything else?"

"Just listen to what I say and you will be fine."

It always amazes me how these instructors can take things so lightly. During a sky diving trip two years ago, the instructor finished a safety briefing in 30 seconds. So, with a sense of familiarity, I pressed on.

For those who don't know the difference between sky diving and paragliding, when you sky-dive, you jump off a plane, free fall and open a parachute to land. When you paraglide, you run off a cliff with the fabric wing sail open and then use steering lines to fly the paraglider far and high.

A professional paragliding pilot can fly for hours and hit dizzying heights. According to Milan, the Nepali national record is more than 7,000 meters above sea level and the pilot had to use an oxygen tank to achieve this.

With all my equipment finally on, I stepped out onto the far end of the runway, with Milan tugging at my back as he made a final check of the paraglider, which lay spread out across the slope.

Now it felt real.

"Run!" yelled Milan.

And run I did: through the bushes and headlong toward the cliff.

"I'm going to fall," I thought to myself as I ran recklessly toward my potential demise.

Suddenly, I was lifted by a strong force. My legs were still swaying back and forth, but the ground, the bushes, and the cliff, were all out of reach.

Cool winds enveloped me, and I floated gently further and higher over Sarangkot peak.

With the paraglider above me, out of sight, it felt like I was suspended over Earth, wild and free.

The Himalaya Mountains lay hidden in thick cloud to the north. From time to time, I caught sight of snow-capped peaks poking out from beneath banks of fluffy clouds.

Up in the air, I shared thermals with vultures and dozens of other paragliders, their wings in all kinds of colors and patterns.

Beneath me, Phewa Lake glittered. Rice fields stretched for as far as the eye could see.

"So, this is what they mean by bird's eye view," I said to Milan. "Yeah, it's not bad, huh? Just relax."

In fact, I couldn't think of anything else to do. I sat there in my little cradle in the air, taking in the fresh air while Milan steered the craft to rise, glide, and make turns to capture the most panoramic views of Pokhara.

For me paragliding seems less like an extreme sport than many imagine, as it brings with it such a sense of peace. Everything appears small when seen from above, and your worries and troubles just seem to evaporate.

If Milan hadn't dutifully asked me to smile and say something to the camera, I would have just sat there meditating.

"Do you want to try flying it?" asked Milan.

"Can I?", I asked, unsure whether I was too excited or afraid to do so.

After a positive response, I took over the controls. When I tugged on the left line, the glider turned gently left. When I leaned my body toward the left, the glider made a sharper turn. And with Milan giving me instructions, I made it look easy, too.

We landed beside Phewa Lake after a 30-minute flight. After getting out of the safety harness I glanced upward. Nearly a hundred gliders dotted the sky around Sarangkot's summit.

Flying is, without a doubt, the best way to come down a hill.

Xing Yi contributed to the story.

lilia.lu@outlook.com

 

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2017-10-28 07:24:04
<![CDATA[Innovation, security, focus for European Tourism Forum]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814802.htm

TALLINN - Over 170 top European tourism professionals Thursday focused on innovation and security in the European tourism sector at the 16th European Tourism Forum. Globalization and continued economic growth will increase the demand for high-quality travel services, Urve Palo, Estonian Minister for Entrepreneurship and Information Technology, said at the opening session of the forum.

She noted that innovation and digital solutions help the European tourism industry meet the needs of the modern travelers and increase the competitiveness of the sector, calling for increasingly convenient and safe services, modernization of strategies, business models and common legislation of all EU member states.

Estonia supports Europe-China Tourism Year events including conferences, workshops etc. across China during 2018, Palo added.

Taleb Rifai, Secretary-General of the United Nations' World Tourism Organization, also stressed on the role of digital, urban and travel revolutions which are changing people's life tremendously, calling for more investment in innovation and technology.

He said India and China would be the main elements in "the Age of Travel".

Istvan Ujhelyi, Vice-Chair of the European Parliament's Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) and responsible for Tourism Task Force, stressed on keeping united at the European level to manage the tourism in the future in the face of challenges.

The European Tourism Forum is an annually held event co-organized by the European Commission and the presidency country of the second half-year.

The introduction of digital solutions to the tourism sector, the bottlenecks in transport connections, the greening of the tourism sector and safe travel in Europe are among the topics of the 16th European Tourism Forum in Tallinn.

Xinhua

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2017-10-28 07:24:04
<![CDATA[More flights for winter tourist season in NE China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814801.htm

CHANGCHUN - The airport in Changchun, capital of northeast China's Jilin province, will see more flights in the coming winter and spring season to meet the rising demand from tourists. The winter flight schedule runs from Oct 29 to March 24.

During the period, Changchun Longjia International Airport is expected to have 1,764 flights every week, up 12.8 percent year on year, the airport said Saturday.

Many airlines, including China Southern, China Eastern and Xiamen airlines, will open routes to cities such as Chengdu, Shantou, Guiyang, Hangzhou and Nanchang, with more passengers expected to visit the province known for winter tourism.

Frequency of flights to major cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, will be increased, according to the airport.

Northeast China, including Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces, is a popular winter destination for tourists. Famous resorts in Jilin include skiing resorts of Songyuan and Changbai Mountain.

China is expecting a boom in winter-sport tourism as the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing approach.

Xinhua

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2017-10-28 07:24:04
<![CDATA[Mountains, temples & jungle]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814800.htm Famed for its majestic snow-capped peaks, Nepal also offers up a diverse array of attractions, from temple walks to treks through its lush forest wildernesses

It took my breath away when I first caught sight of the snowcapped peak of the world's highest mountain emerging from the clouds outside my plane window.

Qomolangma, or Mount Everest, is as white as the clouds. Only its sharper edges distinguish the peak itself, letting mountaineers know it's there - the highest point on Earth.

And it also tells me that my trip to Nepal has just begun.

 

Temples in Kathmandu can be found on street corners, in markets and squares, or even at construction sites. Xing Yi / China Daily

As the plane begins its descent, Nepal's sprawling capital Kathmandu comes into view, occupying a wide valley on the southern edge of the Himalaya Mountains.

Dusty, chaotic and bustling on a truly metropolitan scale, Kathmandu Valley is the country's largest urban area where more than 6 million people live in a cluster of satellite cities and towns surrounding the capital.

A stroll around the city

What impresses me first of all is the ubiquitousness of Kathmandu's temples.

They come in every size imaginable and appear in almost every corner of the old city. They can be as small as a miniature stone carving set into a concave hole in the wall or a religious sculpture placed on an altar, or as large as a pagoda sitting on a huge stone base resembling a Mayan pyramid.

Rarely walled, temples in Kathmandu can be found on street corners, in markets and squares, or even at construction sites, where people pass them as they perform their daily routines - chatting, playing, resting, doing business, or simply getting from A to B.

The lines between Hinduism and Buddhism are so blurred in Nepal, and it's often difficult for outsiders to distinguish between them.

On our first morning our guide Bipin Banepali, an indigenous Newar from Kathmandu, led us on a walk from the city's main tourist district in Thamel to the old royal palace in Durbar Square, which is still being reconstructed after being damaged by the destructive earthquake of 2015.

As we walk around the labyrinthine alleyways, we bump into local people engaging in morning prayers at these temples.

Carrying plates with small offerings such as rice and flower petals, they visit temples with one and another. At each altar, they sprinkle offerings, touch sculptures of the gods with vermilion-red powder, and lower their heads while murmuring a string of prayers.

Along the road, street vendors and shops sell cashmere scarfs, carved wooden Buddhas, and singing bowls - a Buddhist meditation instrument that chimes when you roll a wooden stick around its rim.

As well as Nepali cuisine, restaurants along the way offer Chinese noodle dishes and buffalo steaks.

I opted for a thali, a generous meal served on a bronze platter, consisting of curry, vegetables, rice, and lentils served in individual bronze bowls. And throughout my trip, a cup of local herb milk tea, or Masala tea, continued to be my drink of the day.

The Pilgrims Book House in Thamel is home to one of the most complete collections of works on the Hindu and Buddhist religions, as well as range of detailed mountaineering guides.

Other than Thamel, other popular attractions include UNESCO world heritage sites such as Dubar Square, Boudhanath Stupa, or simply "Big Stupa", where we see Nepal's largest Buddhist domed pagoda, and Swayambhunath, or "Monkey Temple", which sits atop a hill west of the city, and, as its nickname suggests, is home to hundreds of monkeys.

While enjoying the panorama of the Kathmandu Valley at Swayambhunath, Banepali told me a legend about the formation of the valley.

It goes that in ancient times, the valley used to be a big lake, on which floated a beautiful and magnificent lotus.

Manjusri, the bohddisava of wisdom in Buddhism, once visited the valley from China, and seeing that the valley would be made a good settlement for people to worship, drew his sword and sliced a gorge. Water drained out of the lake, leaving the valley in which Kathmandu now lies, and the lotus transformed into a hill and the flowers became the Swayambhunath.

A walk in the jungle

The jungle is my next destination, which stretches in Nepal's southern Chitwan district.

The name Chitwan means "the heart of forest" in the Nepali language, and the district established the country's first national park in 1973 to protect its abundant animals and forests, which was listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1983.

It took me 7 hours by bus from Kathmandu to reach a local Tharu people's village by the jungle, where a river separates it from the forest.

A wooden plaque in front of the resort I stayed at read: "Into the Wild".

With a group of around 16 tourists, we set off at 8 am the next morning from the river bank.

We boarded a wooden canoe and set off westward following the current of the river.

At the front of the canoe stood a local boatman with a long pole, and at the other end a boatman with an oar.

The current was fast and the river was quiet, and I could only hear the sound of the water as the boatmen paddled.

As we passed, we saw birds resting on sand banks in the middle of the river. A rhino was later spotted standing in the shallow water on the southern bank of the river bordering the jungle.

In about one hour, we arrived at Kasara entrance of the Chitwan National Park.

We first passed an army barracks, and then visited a crocodile breeding center to see gharial, an endangered native crocodile species found in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent.

We then started our jungle walk.

Our guide's name was Chok, a man in his early 60s with 35 years of experience of working in different nature preserves.

"The most dangerous animal one can encounter in Chitwan is a rhino", he said. "There are some 500 rhinos here". Rhinos are herbivorous, but will attack humans if they get too close.

People still hunt rhinos for their precious horns, so they are now aggressive toward humans, Chok explains.

But so far the jungle seemed pretty tame, and a far cry from the thrill of jungle adventures such as Tarzan or Jurassic Park.

For most part of the journey, we just walked in a line on a narrow path on the edge of the jungle.

We saw some deer, birds, and a wild gharial crocodile swimming in the river.

But at one turning over a brook, Chok stopped and motioned to us to be quiet. Then we heard splashes of water coming from behind thick shrub.

A few steps later, I saw a gray shadow pass through the dark green grass to my right about 10 meters away, then disappear quickly into the forest before I could make it out.

"A rhino?" I asked.

"Yes, it's a rhino," Chok said.

"It didn't attack us. It ran away because we outnumbered it."

Maybe, millions of years ago, we human beings came from the jungle. But now humans are intruders in it. That's why wild animals all hide away when they hear human noise.

After this, increasingly dense foliage prevented any attempt by us from entering the jungle again, and we returned to the canoes.

xingyi@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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2017-10-28 07:24:04
<![CDATA[China now the largest source of tourists for Abu Dhabi]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814799.htm SHANGHAI - The number of visits from China to Abu Dhabi reached 242,000 from January to August, making China the largest source of tourists in the city, Abu Dhabi's tourism department said recently. Saif Saeed Ghobash, director of Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism, said that in the first eight months the number of visits by Chinese tourists to Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, increased by 68 percent year on year.

Ghobash revealed the figures in Shanghai at "Abu Dhabi Week in China", the first promotional activity between the city and China.

Leisure and business trips from China to Abu Dhabi have soared since visa policies were eased at the beginning of the year. The government of Abu Dhabi said that the city is expected to welcome around 600,000 visits from China in 2021.

To attract more Chinese visitors and meet their demands, many tourist attractions in the city have been improving their services, such as providing Chinese-speaking tour guides and promoting China UnionPay, the country's largest bank card payment processor.

Xinhua

 

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2017-10-28 07:24:04
<![CDATA[New tourism campaign promotes China's world heritage sites]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/28/content_33814798.htm

SAN FRANCISCO - An event for the new initiative "Beautiful China - Journey Along the World Heritage" that seeks to promote China's 52 UNESCO World Heritage sites to tourists from the United States was held recently. "From the iconic Great Wall in Beijing to Fujian province's Kulangsu Settlement, the newest 2017 addition to UNESCO World Cultural Heritage, China boasts a long list of must-see attractions," said Wang Xiaofeng, vice chairman of the China National Tourism Administration at the event held in downtown San Francisco, in the US state of California.

Kulangsu, or better known as Gulangyu island in China, is a pedestrian-only island off the coast of Xiamen, Fujian province in southeastern China. It is renowned for its beaches, winding lanes and varied architecture.

Luo Linquan, consul general of China's Consulate-General in San Francisco, said tourism is an effective way to expand friendship between China and the United States, adding that about 5.32 million people from both countries visited each side in 2016, up 12 percent over the previous year.

"The US has now become China's third-largest source of tourists, with an average 2.1 million people visiting China annually," he said.

More than 3 million Chinese tourists visited the United States in 2016, making it the fourth-largest destination market of China, Luo added.

The promotion campaign was joined by delegates from an unprecedented 18 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in China.

Xinhua

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2017-10-28 07:24:04
<![CDATA[800,000 Chinese went on study tour abroad]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/06/content_32913194.htm Well-off Chinese families are increasingly willing to send their children out on study tours.

Roughly 800,000 Chinese went on a study tour abroad during the summer vacation, China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip reports.

Their spending is expected to reach 20 billion yuan ($3.06 billion).

Overseas study tour bookings through Ctrip alone grew 70 percent year-on-year, with per capita spending at 26,000 yuan.

International programs are the most popular, attracting 40 percent of those who booked study tours abroad, while themed camping, international competitions and charity events were also on the radar for Chinese families, according to the travel agency.

The United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore and Canada are the top outbound study tour destinations.

The big cluster of famous universities made the US the first choice for the Chinese, and the pound depreciation helped the UK become a black horse in the summer study tour market, with the number of visitors doubling.

Oxford and Cambridge topped the list of popular UK sites.

Meanwhile, the domestic market witnessed twice the growth seen in the overseas market, with per capita spending at 4,000 yuan.

Destinations offering deserts, prairies, culture, nature, science, sports and art are among the most sought after.

"Parents choose study tours in the hope of toughening their children," says Zhang Jie, an official with Ctrip's study tour business.

"Some even want their children to experience tough environments," Zhang adds.

Children under 12 accounted for 44 percent of the study tour travelers, while those in middle school made up 35 percent.

A desire to give their children a head start is among the reasons behind the study tour craze, says Zhang.

One of Ctrip's study tours traversing the Tengger Desert attracted nearly 400 customers, parents and their children aged from 5-13.

The six-day trip featured hiking, tent-making, camel riding, desert biology and cliff painting and was immediately booked up, says Zhang.

The Inner Mongolia autonomous region, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, Guizhou, Gansu, Qinghai, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Hainan, Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen in Guangdong province were most favored.

Residents from first-tier cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou are a major force in the market.

Safety and tour arrangements are the top concerns of parents, and many study tours keep parents posted about what their children are doing through social media.

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2017-10-06 08:16:33
<![CDATA[China helps Myanmar in promoting tourism]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/06/content_32913193.htm

YANGON - China has been helping Myanmar in promoting the development of tourism industry by opening a tourism vocational training course in Yangon. The opening ceremony of the vocational training course was held in Yangon at the end of last month.Speaking at the event, Chen Chen, minister counselor of the Chinese embassy, said China would like to actively cooperate with Myanmar in the development of the tourism industry.

U Yan Win, chairman of Myanmar Tourism Federation, expressed his belief that the skilled workers who graduated from the course will contribute to the country's tourism industry development for which China-Myanmar tourism development working committee has been formed.

He also added that Myanmar is expecting to open more tourism-related courses to promote human resource development of the tourism industry and to strengthen the friendship between the two countries.

Teachers from Dehong Vocational College of Yunnan will give lectures to the trainees on hotel and restaurant services during the one-month training course.

Xinhua

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2017-10-06 08:16:33
<![CDATA[Star-studded Locations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/06/content_32913173.htm "This is my first trip in Hungary, but I love it more than any other country I have been to before," Joe Chen, an award-winning actress from Taiwan, wrote on her Weibo micro blog. The TV series in which she stars, Love Actually, was filmed in Budapest, the country's capital.

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Film and TV productions are luring Chinese tourists to countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative

"This is my first trip in Hungary, but I love it more than any other country I have been to before," Joe Chen, an award-winning actress from Taiwan, wrote on her Weibo micro blog. The TV series in which she stars, Love Actually, was filmed in Budapest, the country's capital.

This was the first time a Chinese TV series had been shot in Hungary, but not the first time a show had been filmed outside China.

Back to the 1990s, the TV series A Native Of Beijing In New York, starring by actor Jiang Wen and actress Heidi Wong, about a group Chinese people striving in New York, was China's first series to be shot overseas. The film Lost in Thailand, made in 2012, featured the beautiful scenery and local customs of Thailand, and the TV show Divas Hit the Road has visited seven countries so far in three seasons.  

Previously, because of budget constraints, when a production demanded filming overseas, the production team would build a set or use a local street that could be made to look like a foreign one.

However, now that audiences expect higher standards and producers have more funds, an increasing number of productions are made on location.

In 2012, a quarter of the 16 Chinese movies whose box office returns were more than 20 million yuan ($3 million) went abroad to film. The number was 12 out of 32 in 2014.

In fact, it has become a trend for TV series or programs to go abroad, especially to countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

The TV program Keep Running was shot in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, for one episode in 2017. The Chinese crew of Mr Right, a serialized love story starring actor Jin Dong and actress Jiang Shuying, spent nine days shooting in Antwerp, Belgium.

Based on the true story of Ho Feng-Shan, a Chinese diplomat in Vienna who risked his own life and career during World War II to save more than 3,000 Jews, the TV series The Last Visa went to the Czech Republic for filming to better portray the events of the time.

TV series and shows filmed in foreign locations attract an increasing number of Chinese tourists to those destinations.

"The foreign scenes that appear in movies can make me interested in visiting," says Guan Weina, who works for a TV station.

Statistics seems to confirm the popularity of foreign locations among Chinese entertainment fans.

Articles and videos on China Daily's Weibo account about Jin Dong and his presence in Antwerp to film Mr Right received a large number of reposts and likes. Their popularity can be partly attributed to Jin - but comments show that Chinese readers are also attracted to Antwerp itself, and its reputation as a world-class center for beer, chocolate, fashion, its diamond trade and its historic port and shopping streets.

Destinations on the Silk Road Economic Belt are expecting more Chinese visitors than ever before.

"The number of visitors to the Czech Republic doubled because of the Belt and Road Initiative and the signing of strategic cooperation between the two countries," said Milos Zeman, president of the Czech Republic, in an episode of Keep Running.

New destinations

Central and Eastern Europe and Russia/Scandinavia have become new tourist destinations in Europe, with the number of visitors in the first half of this year clocking up year-on-year increases of 151 percent and 77 percent respectively, according to a recent report issued jointly by China Tourism Academy, Ctrip and Huayuan Tour.

The report also shows Croatia, the Czech Republic, Austria, Denmark, Russia, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, Finland and Italy as the top 10 markets to have developed at a rapid rate in the first half of 2017, half of them being involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

According to another report released by Lvmama, a travel website, in 2016 the number of Chinese tourists going to Central and Eastern Europe rose 229 percent year-on-year. Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Serbia and Slovakia ranked as the top five fastest-growing destinations for Chinese tourists.

Kazakhstan became a hot-spot for many Chinese fans after young singer Dimash Kudaibergen participated in the singing reality show Singer, produced by Hunan Satellite TV. Some fans said online that they wanted to see Dimash's motherland. The show didn't even film in Kazakhstan.

"I think if a series or show is filmed overseas it will affect local tourism," says Jiang Chuan, a 25-year-old woman who majored in communication. "Programs make connections with foreign countries and they come to an agreement for mutual benefit. If the program has a big audience, the destination can definitely attract a large number of Chinese tourists."

Bigger budgets are a motivation driving production teams to travel abroad. However, people-to-people connectivity is another vital influence.

"Friendship, which derives from close contact between the people, holds the key to sound state-to-state relations," President Xi Jinping said at the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May.

People-to-people connectivity is one of the five focus points of cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative. It ranges from tourism to arts, from business travel to educational exchanges, encouraging multiple forms of personal communication between countries which take part in the initiative.

Tourism deals

During the Belt and Road Forum, governments reached more than 200 agreements in five key areas, among them several related to tourism.

The Chinese government signed the Governmental Tourism Cooperation Agreement with Poland; the National Tourism Administration signed a tourism cooperation agreement with Uzbekistan; a Memorandum of Understanding on Furthering Tourism Cooperation was signed with Chile, and an Implementation Plan for a Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism Cooperation was agreed with Cambodia.

Promoting tourism was also the theme of the just-concluded 14th China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

Under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative, China has continuously strengthened cooperation with the countries involved in this plan, making them new destinations for Chinese visitors. Countries such as Kazakhstan, Belarus and Mongolia are seeing more Chinese tourists due to promotion of the Year of Sino-Kazakhstan Tourism, a visa-free policy by Belarus, and Sino-Mongolian cross-border railway day trips.

Changes in visa policies have proved particularly attractive to Chinese tourists. More than 20 countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative allow Chinese citizens to travel without visas, or with visas provided on arrival. Nearly 10 countries have conditional visa-free travel, electronic visas and other preferential policies for Chinese visitors.

For example, Serbia has been offering visa-free access to Chinese since January. Turkey allows all Chinese tourists with a valid passport to apply for an e-visa, compared to previous years when the e-visa was only available to those who had valid Schengen visas or visas from Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members. Ukraine provides Chinese travelers and business people with a 15-day visa on arrival.

According to the Foreign Ministry's consular department, there are 26 countries or areas offering visa-free travel and 39 offering visa-onarrival policies for Chinese people visiting for business or pleasure. More are being negotiated.

As well as seeking out attractive locations, Chinese film producers are also looking to form partnerships to ensure a deeper level of cooperation with other countries.

The first Sino-Kazakh coproduction, Composer, tells the little-known story of the late Chinese composer Xian Xinghai's last years (1940-45) in Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, and Moscow. It has begun filming in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan.

A contract has been signed for Where the Sava Flows, the first Sino-Serbian documentary coproduction. Writer Chen Danyan will be the director, telling how this land has suffered but its people remain optimistic.

With more frequent and in-depth cooperation in the forthcoming years, interaction between the movie and tourist industries will continue to develop under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, further enhancing exchanges and connectivity between people from different countries.

"When TV series or shows film overseas - whether they just want a foreign location or they are coproductions - they can promote cultural exchange and show local views and customs to Chinese audiences," Guan says. "However, I would also like to show the way of life in different parts of the world."

Zhao Ruinan and Pan Mengqi contributed to this story.

liuxuan@chinadaily.com.cn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese actor Jing Dong in Antwerp, Belgium, during shooting for Mr Right, a serialized love story, in August. Fu Jing / China Daily

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2017-10-06 08:15:31
<![CDATA[Hungary for more TV travel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/06/content_32913172.htm Popular TV series and movies sometimes unconsciously boost tourism in the location where they were filmed.

It happened in Budapest, where the Chinese TV series Love Actually was shot last year. Featuring in Chain Bridge, Fisherman's Bastion and other iconic buildings in Budapest, the TV series showed the audience the mysterious and ancient European architecture of the city. It made Budapest a favorite destination for Chinese visitors.

"The beauty of Budapest shown in the series is breathtaking. I have added Hungary to my travel destination list and just can't wait to visit," says Wang Min, a college student who loves to travel. A fan of the show posted pictures of his flight tickets to Budapest online and said, "I am ready to walk every street that these two actors have walked in the TV series".

With high exposure on Chinese screens, the Hungarian capital attracted more than 80,000 Chinese tourists in the first half of this year, which indicates year-on-year growth of more than 50 percent, according to data collected by the Chinese travel agency Tuniu.

This TV series gained warm support from the Hungarian government when it was filming in Budapest. Officials sent the crew member a Rubik's Cube with a Hungarian symbol as a gift, further strengthening the mood of cooperation.

Meanwhile, Hungary decided to speed up the visa procedure for Chinese travelers from the end of 2016, to attract more investment and tourists from the world's second-largest economy.

Besides tourism, people-to-people and cultural exchanges between the two countries, China and Hungary have developed many new opportunities for interaction and cooperation.

The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in June, 2015. The MOU, aimed at jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, was said to be the first such document China had ever signed with a European country.

Cultural exchanges have always been the focus of cooperation between the two countries. In April this year, the Chinese Film Festival was held in Budapest and Jackie Chan, the action movie superstar, took along his latest film, Kung-Fu Yoga.

"This effectively promoted Chinese culture and helped Hungarians to understand China better," says Gabor Cserkesz, president of Budapest-based Chinese Art Center. "Movies are a good medium for us to get to know each other."

Through the five Chinese movies shown the festival, the Hungarian audience could learn more about the history of Chinese culture and the lives of Chinese people.

Food is another popular way of bridging the cultural divide. Early in April, an event featuring Chinese traditional food was held in Budapest. Hungarian people learned how to make dumplings and use chopsticks - learning important lessons about Chinese culture while also enjoying some delicious food.

Zhao Ruinan contributed to this story.

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2017-10-06 08:15:31
<![CDATA[Clean villages on former city dumps]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/06/content_32913167.htm In 2012, tons of recyclable wastes were disposed every day in several waste disposal hubs in Beijing's suburbs. People who worked there usually lived in shacks of few square meters in a dirty and stinky environment.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in November that year, Beijing has adopted measures to clean these disposal hubs so as to echo the national strategy of enhancing ecological civilization.

In 2017, China Daily returned to the villages and compared the current situation with photos taken five years ago. Meadows and lines of seedlings have taken the place of the waste areas. New disposal hubs have been built in planned areas outside Beijing and equipped with new technology and infrastructure that makes recycling more eco-friendly and efficient.

With a better environment, the transformation of waste disposal villages will contribute to Beijing's environmental improvement and help get rid of its non-capital functions.

A plastic bottle collecting site has been transformed into a wetland.Wang Jing/China Daily 

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2017-10-06 08:14:52
<![CDATA[Land of grapes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/03/content_32801291.htm Dunhuang, with its large collection of Buddhist art, also offers agritourism and street food. Xu Lin reports.

A recent visit to Dunhuang, an important destination on the ancient Silk Road, revealed its awe-inspiring natural scenery and delicious food. The city located in Northwest China's Gansu province is striving to develop its agritourism. Hotel lobbies usually exhibit fruits such as grape, watermelon and peach, all grown locally as well. It's difficult to resist their temptation, so some visitors end up buying them before leaving the city. Other choices include raisins and dried fruits.

The government compensates the local farmers for displaying the fruits in the city's hotels for free tasting so as to promote them among travelers.

 

Visitors take camel rides to explore the charm of the sand dunes in Dunhuang, Gansu province. Qiu Lei / For China Daily

The city held its annual grape tourism festival in summer, with activities such as forums and a fashion show.

"Dunhuang's advantage is tourism, and to combine agriculture with tourism will help more farmers to lift themselves out of poverty. We're striving to draw tourists to enjoy grapes and dishes made from local farm products," said Zhan Shunzhou, Party secretary of Dunhuang.

Annually, Dunhuang produces 200,000 tons of grapes, which are sold in more than 30 Chinese cities.

Zhan said the city administration is making efforts to standardize the grape industry, ranging from packaging to transportation, and focusing on promoting the fruit on e-commerce platforms.

About 60 kilometers from downtown is Yangguan town. Its pillar industries are grape-planting and tourism. With its ecology and difference in temperature from day to night, the grapes there are sweet and tasty.

The town's history of grape-planting can be traced back to the 1960s, and the industry started to grow evidently in 2000.

After visiting the Yangguan Pass, tourists can pick up grapes and have meals under grape vines at farmhouses.

Located on the ancient Silk Road, the Yangguan Pass is the last stop where Chinese merchants got stamps on their passports and other identification documents and left for foreign countries.

A famous Tang Dynasty (618-907) poem reads: "Out West past the Yangguan, old friends there'll be none."

Yueyaquan is a crescent-shaped lake in Mingsha Mountain, or Echoing-sand Mountain. It has never dried out since its origin in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).

The lake is surrounded by traditional Chinese architecture with a history of more than 200 years.

The sand there is in five colors - red, yellow, blue, white and black. An echo can be heard in the sand when the wind blows.

Travelers can climb barefoot to the top of a large sand hill and get a panoramic view of the beautiful desert. It's exciting to sit on a plank and slide down from the top of the hill.

Tourists can also ride a camel for a relaxing trip. Or, they can ride a motorcycle with a coach or sit in an automobile to explore the vast desert and enjoy the excitement of what feels like a roller-coaster ride.

The Mogao Caves lie near the Crescent Lake. The caves contain one of the world's largest collections of Buddhist art. The 735 caves house more than 2,400 sculptures and about 45,000 square meters of murals.

Since the year 366, skilled artisans have worked on the statues and frescoes for generations, reflecting the artistic styles of different dynasties.

With tourist numbers rising, the Dunhuang Research Academy has been working for years to digitize the artifacts for better preservation.

For example, e-dunhuang.com offers data on 30 caves. It is also easy to book tickets online. Visitors can watch two movies - one that introduces the caves and the other that uses 3-D technology to showcase the sculptures and murals in some caves where visitors cannot go due to their fragile state.

Then tourists are divided into groups and each group follows a tour guide to visit eight caves. Only with the guide's explanation is one able to fully understand the meaning of the artworks.

In Cave 249, for example, a simple sketch vividly demonstrates two hunters shooting arrows at a tiger and three goats respectively. In Cave 259, a Buddha statue is called "Mona Lisa in the East" due to its mysterious smile.

At night, visitors can watch Encore Dunhuang, a show produced by Wang Chaoge. Debuted last year, the show, which aims to give visitors a time-travel experience, has audience members walking around for the most part, rather than always sitting down.

The show's first part introduces ancient people of relevance to Dunhuang via soliloquies.

In 1900, Taoist priest Wang Yuanlu accidentally opened up a sealed cave and found tens of thousands of invaluable manuscripts in different languages.

A man plays him in the show and says he regrets selling many manuscripts to overseas explorers, but his purpose was to use the money to restore the caves.

After the show is over, visitors can head to a bustling night market in the city for midnight snacks.

The place is lined with restaurants that sell mutton skewered on a reddish stem of Chinese tamarisk, beef stewed with dough strips, cold vegetable dishes in sauce and beer. And, of course, tasty dairy products like yogurt for dessert.

After food comes music.

There are many singers in the night market who can play the guitar and sing popular songs at just 10 yuan ($ 1.5) a piece.

Contact the writer at xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 10/03/2017 page10)

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2017-10-03 07:48:50
<![CDATA[Black tea's journey from the mountains of Fujian]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/03/content_32801290.htm Nestled in a remote part of northern Fujian province, close to the borders of Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces, is the mountain range of Wuyi, with its dramatic scenery and some of China's best tea.

The mountain range is popular among Chinese tourists but little known internationally.

The teas grown here are mostly of the Oolong variety. If you are a tea drinker, you may have come across the name Bohea tea, which is actually derived from how Wuyi is pronounced in the local dialect.

The area has been producing tea for hundreds of years, although initially green tea was produced here and its scope was limited. This all changed in the most unlikely of ways.

 

The Wuyi Mountain range is home to some of the country's best tea plantations. Tea has grown in the area for centuries. Photos by Will Wain-Williams / For China Daily

Nowadays, black tea is the most commonly drunk tea in the world. But few realize it had its humble beginnings as an accidental creation in these very mountains.

In the village of Tongmu, people had been producing green tea for centuries.

However, during one particular harvest, a general who was involved in skirmish in Jiangxi crossed the border into Fujian and brought his troops to hide in the Wuyi Mountain.

They took over the village, and the villagers fled. During this time, the battle-worn soldiers used the freshly harvested tea to make bedding and take rest. After a few days they left.

When the villagers returned, they found all their tea in bad shape; the leaves were broken and squashed, and had begun to oxidize, turning brown. On top of that, the unbathed soldiers had left a foul odor that had seeped into the leaves.

Initially, the villagers thought their harvest was ruined, and planned to throw the tea away. But one innovative villager had an idea. He decided to roast the tea with pinewood, which produced a strong and fragrant smoke.

This, combined with the oxidization that had taken place produced a very different kind of tea.

The villagers carried the tea into town and begged a merchant from Fuzhou to take it to the ports and have it exported to Indonesia, from where it would go on to Europe.

They thought the tea was a disaster, and never imagined that the next year, the same merchant would return to ask for more.

This first black tea went by the name Lapsang Souchong, or Zhengshan Xiaozhong, in modern Mandarin.

Once the port of Amoy (now Xiamen) was opened up for trade during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the demand for this new tea increased, and Wuyi Mountain black tea became the most sought after.

It's ironic that this tea is now fairly rare in China. The strong, smoky taste doesn't suit the Chinese palate, and as such, this tea is mostly made for export.

Things changed when in 2007, a Fujian provincial official asked Tongmu village to make some black tea without using the traditional smoking process.

The result was a light and slightly sweet tea, which was named Jin Jun Mei, or "golden eyebrows", and was given by this official as a gift.

It became a hit, and pretty soon was selling all over China, becoming one of the best-known and most popular teas in the country.

The author is a British freelance writer.

For China Daily

(China Daily 10/03/2017 page10)

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2017-10-03 07:48:50
<![CDATA[Guangzhou deepens European trade ties]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/01/content_32725447.htm Provincial capital promotes its rich business opportunities among global partners at key events, Li You reports.

Guangzhou representatives gave a presentation to the 2017 World Route Development Forum held in Barcelona, Spain on Sunday, seeking greater business opportunities with its European partners.

Guangzhou's promo theme, Guangzhou Flower City in Bloom, was projected during the live broadcast flag ceremony during the forum, putting the city under the spotlight in front of an online audience from about 200 countries and regions.

 

REPRESENTATIVES from the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Barcelona, Spain, attend a flag handing over ceremony to mark city to be a host for the 2018 World Route Development Forum. Photos Provided to China Daily

Representatives from the Guangzhou municipal government, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport as well as China Southern Airlines attended the forum, one of the largest annual international aviation events around the world.

Guangzhou's promotional activities were an excellent display of Guangdong province's culture, said Ramn Robert, CEO of RCD Espanyol, a Spanish football club.

China is a significant market for the club, said Robert, who decided this October to go to Guangzhou to popularize his club.

Trade between Guangzhou and Spain rose considerably in January to July, according to the Guangzhou Municipal Commission of Commerce.

The total trade between Guangzhou and Spain in the period reached 4.17 billion yuan ($640 million), increasing 24.5 percent year-on-year. The city's export volumes to Spain reached 2.92 billion yuan, an increase of 25.6 percent year-on-year and its import volumes rose to 1.25 billion yuan, an increase of 22.1 percent year-on-year.

Trade between Guangzhou and Europe also rose during those months.

The total trade volume between Guangzhou and Europe overall reached 95.04 billion yuan, an increase of 40 percent year-on-year.

The city's export volumes to Europe reached 56.27 billion yuan, an increase of 38 percent year-on-year; its import volumes from Europe reached 38.77 billion yuan, an increase of 42.9 percent year-on-year.

Guangzhou will host the Fortune Global Forum 2017 from Dec 6-8 this year. On Jan 20, 2017 the Guangzhou Fortune Global Forum Promotion Conference was held in Paris.

On June 12, a second promotion conference was held in Munich. Cai Chaolin, director of Guangzhou 2017 Fortune Global Forum Executive Committee said Guangzhou's wish to attract more German companies to the city at the conference. Two days after the Munich event, another promotion conference was held in London.

Heads of Fortune magazine as well as a number of Fortune Global 500 companies based in the United Kingdom attended the event, discussing development opportunities for global companies in China.

"Guangzhou is a huge market with boundless opportunities and potential, as well as an engine of growth and innovation. Here, you can also have good food and great fun," said Cai.

Currently, there are 138 confirmed participants from the Fortune Global 500 for the 2017 Guangzhou Fortune Global Forum.

Contact the writer at liyou@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-10-01 15:00:19
<![CDATA[Historical commerce hub expands international aviation links]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/01/content_32725446.htm Guangzhou, capital city of Guangdong province, was announced as the host city for the 2018 World Route Development Forum.

The 2017 forum took place in Barcelona last week. During the flag handing over ceremony, representatives of Guangdong Airport Authority accepted the forum cup and flag.

Established in 1995 by UBM Aviation, the World Route Development Forum is regarded as the "World Expo" for the global aviation industry. It is a worldwide event for airlines, airports, government agencies and tourism agencies.

To make full use of this opportunity to promote Guangzhou - also the host city of the Fortune Global Forum 2017 - the Guangdong Airport Authority sought to agree deals with international aviation companies and expand its global reach.

Guangzhou, as a historical commercial hub in South China, has been building itself into an international flight center, according to local officials.

China Southern Airlines and 9Air are both based in Guangzhou. An aviation industrial cluster has taken shape in the area surrounding Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, providing a bonded area, airport logistics and aeronautical maintenance services.

At Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport - the third-largest Chinese airport in terms of cargo throughput - a new terminal is scheduled to open by February 2018.

In recent years, the airport has been playing a significant role in connecting China with countries and regions in Asia-Pacific region, Oceania and Africa. More routes connecting Europe and the Americas are also in the pipeline.

By June, routes from the airport covered 219 worldwide destinations. There are 77 airline companies running operations from the airport, including 50 from foreign countries.

By 2025, the cargo throughput of Baiyun airport is expected to reach 3 million metric tons, marking its attempt to become a world-leading airport logistics base and an aviation logistics center in China.

The total investment in the city's international aviation expansion has reached 10.35 billion yuan.

The 13 new international routes recently established have increased the airport's passenger throughput by 10.8 percent.

In addition to the flight routes, Guangzhou is also transforming itself into an international center for shipping and technological innovation.

According to statistics provided by the Guangzhou Municipal Development and Reform Commission, a total of 34 international shipping hub projects attracted 5.5 billion yuan in investment in the first half of 2017.

The construction of Nansha Port's near-sea area recently commenced, with eight new foreign trade routes launching, driving container cargo growth of 11.8 percent year-on-year.

A total of 13.78 billion yuan ($2.08 billion) in investment has been pumped into the city's overall push to become an international technology-innovation center.

Baiyun International Airport Fast Facts

From 2012 to 2016, annual takeoffs and landings at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport increased from 373,000 to 435,000.

Annual passenger throughput increased from 48.31 million passengers to 59.78 million over the same four-year period.

Annual cargo throughput increased from 1.25 million to 1.65 million metric tons between 2012 and 2016. The airport ranked No 3 among its national peers for cargo throughput.

By 2025, cargo throughput will reach 3 million tons annually, making it one of China's leading aviation logistics centers and one of the world's leading airport logistics bases.

The Baiyun airport network covered 219 destinations worldwide as of June 2017, with 86 international and regional destinations, 77 airlines, including 50 foreign and regional airlines, operating out of the airport. There were 122 million outbound Chinese tourists in 2016, with Guangzhou representing a top "door" to the outside world.

As part of these development efforts, Guangdong province has sped up the formation of its"5+4" airport pattern, as well as boosting transport volumes, cargo throughput, networks and the industrial surrounding Baiyun airport.

The airport has become the first port hub for travel between China, Southeast Asian and Oceania. Its global and regional network is increasingly expanding to cover a growing expanse of Europe, the United States and beyond.

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2017-10-01 15:00:19
<![CDATA[Huge park planned to protect pandas]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/01/content_32725433.htm A Giant Panda National Park is to be established in China, covering an area three times that of Yellowstone National Park in the United States.

The park proposal has just been approved by the central government and the project is expected to be finished by 2020.

The park will span three provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi and Sichuan, and will cover 27,134 square kilometers, protecting pandas in 67 existing reserves as well as another 8,000 endangered animals and plants.

When it is complete, the pandas, presently isolated on six mountains in three provinces, will be able to come together and roam freely between their far-flung habitats, helping the endangered animals mingle and enrich their gene pool.

Creation of the park will also involve the relocation of a lot of people. For example, at least 170,000 people in Sichuan will have to move to allow the establishment of the core protection area. According to Hou Rong, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding in Sichuan, the park will offer residents new homes and jobs. Many could be employed as tourist guides and as construction workers on infrastructure projects, so people and nature will benefit together, he says.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

lijing2009@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Breeders and giant panda cubs at the Yaan Bifengxia Base panda base, a part of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Southwest China's Sichuan province. Xue Yubin / Xinhua

 

 

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2017-10-01 15:00:19
<![CDATA[Big picture]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/01/content_32725432.htm

 

Greetings: People from the Yao ethnic group in Longsheng, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, welcome tourists in their traditional costumes on Sept 23. Huang Yongdan / Xinhua

 

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2017-10-01 15:00:19
<![CDATA[Science parks boost high-tech hub]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/01/content_32642472.htm Beijing is aiming to strengthen its role as a national hub for industrial transformation and technological innovation by further boosting high-tech industries, according to Zhao Hong, deputy dean of the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences.

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Beijing's drive for transformation, innovation focuses on advanced industrial development in key areas

Beijing is aiming to strengthen its role as a national hub for industrial transformation and technological innovation by further boosting high-tech industries, according to Zhao Hong, deputy dean of the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences.

The Third National Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week was held recently in Zhongguancun Science Park in Beijing.

Zhao said that the demonstration zone for high-tech enterprises has played a key role in promoting the city's economic growth, amid national strategies such as Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei regional cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative.

"Zhongguancun has implemented a series of pilot policies to attract high-end companies and enhance its innovative capabilities," Zhao said.

This year's entrepreneurship and innovation week served as a platform to display the latest technological achievements of high-tech companies in the fields of artificial intelligence, big data, intelligent transportation systems and healthcare.

More than 260 companies showcased their projects at the exhibition, covering the advanced technology and industrial fields of AI, biotechnology, energy conservation and environmental protection, new materials, intelligent robots and Internet Plus.

Shu Chang, CEO of One Space Technology, which specializes in rocket techonology, said that with the coordination between mass entrepreneurship and innovation, and the integration of civilian and military resources, Chinese civil aviation possessed huge potential, providing new market opportunities for the space industry.

"We have made many innovative technological products," Shu said.

 "The company has built a high-level team with technical professionals from such top-tier colleges as the Chinese Academies of Social Sciences, Tsinghua University and Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

"With the rapid development of China's innovative industries and the support of relevant policies, our mini rocket will be launched in the next year," Shu said.

Li Zhongxiang, chairman of Tsinghua Holdings, the technology investment arm of China's Tsinghua University in Zhongguancun, said that the government plays a major role backing up high-tech industries.

"There are many favorable policies that are crucial to industrial development, including introducing high-tech resources, facilitating skills and knowledge sharing among industries, and creating a network of innovative resources.

"As the comprehensive partner in China's innovation strategy, we have partnered with many innovative resources and industries," Li added.

He said Tsinghua Holdings aims to attract professionals and technologies from around the world and offer a platform for innovative industries.

Yizhuang zone

Over 262 creative products from 106 companies were displayed in Beijing's Yizhuang development zone, in an event held on the sidelines of the Third National Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week. As another core district for science and technology innovation in Beijing, the zone focuses on industrial transformation, innovation and entrepreneurship.

This year products, the industrial structure and government services, have been the main focus of the zone's supply-side structural reform to support companies.

Yizhuang has been involved in the synergistic development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and other major industrial projects.

A total of 40 companies in the zone have finalized their layouts in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, aiming to integrate policy, people exchanges and public services.

By 2020, the zone will build 20 technical innovation centers, one of the key initiatives to promote Beijing as a global network of scientific and technological innovation.

 

Technological achievements made by companies in Beijing are displayed at the Third National Mass Entrepreneurship and Innovation Week, held recently in the capital.Photos Provided to China Daily

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2017-10-01 15:00:19
<![CDATA[Zhongguancun index shows robust growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/01/content_32642471.htm

Zhongguancun Science Park, a demonstration zone for China's high-tech firms and entrepreneurship bases, has made a breakthrough in economic growth and will continue to build itself into a world-class hub for technological innovation in the future, according to local officials.

Last year, the start of the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), Zhongguancun's aggregate index reached 446.9, a year-on-year increase of 67.2 percent. Taking 2008 as the base period with a value as 100, the index provides a comprehensive description of the latest trends and features in Zhongguancun from different perspectives.

The index presents the development of China's high-tech industries and zones, including six sub-indexes: creativity and the entrepreneurship environment, innovative ability, industry development, firm development, a driving force for the adjacent areas and internationalization.

The sub-indexes show that Zhongguancun's innovation ability, industrial development, enterprise development, internationalization and financial environment have all seen big progress.

The park focuses on enhancing the construction of Zhongguancun Science City, Huairou Science City, the Future Science Park, and the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area.

In 2016, staff with a higher education background in Zhongguancun accounted for 53.2 percent of the total, 4.1 percent higher than the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15).

The young and middle-aged have become the mainstay of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Entrepreneurs' average age in Zhongguancun was 39.1 in 2016, with 30-year-old and under entrepreneurs accounting for 22.4 percent.

Companies' self-innovation abilities have continuously expanded, with the number of patent applications and licenses increasing. Patent quality has also improved significantly.

The number of unicorns in the area - startups valued at $1 billion or more - reached 65, an increase of 25 over the last year, second only to Silicon Valley in the United States.

The area's role as a driving force for adjacent areas is also improving steadily, leading the innovation and development of the whole country, according to local officials.

The firms in the park have set up 12,068 branches outside Beijing, an increase of 805 over the last year.

The attraction of international innovation resources has gradually increased and the quality of innovative factors has been continuously improved.

Overseas high-end recruitment has gradually increased and international top innovative companies, such as IBM and Intel, have continued to gather in Zhongguancun.

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2017-10-01 15:00:19
<![CDATA[Party secretary: Balance of ancient, modern culture is capital's soul]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-10/01/content_32642470.htm Relying on its abundant cultural resources, strong economic foundation and historical relics, Beijing is striving to become a global, fashionable cultural city with both traditional Chinese characteristics and modern civilization, according to senior officials of the capital.

"As the cultural center of China, Beijing plays a leading role in the nation's cultural development, both in terms of its good international image and domestic cultural confidence," said Cai Qi, Party secretary of Beijing.

He said that its rich diversity of culture is the soul of the capital, comprising traditional Chinese culture, rich and profound historical culture, special local culture and innovative culture.

"We should transform Beijing's cultural advantages into economic development, relying on reforms, preservation, cultural construction and the establishment of cultural zones."

Beijing needs to provide more high-quality cultural products to meet the continuing demands of the public, he added. Chen Jining, acting mayor of Beijing, said that an important goal for the city's cultural development is to serve the public.

"Culture is deeply rooted in life and closely related to the public.

"We should construct a system for public culture that integrates cultural inheritance into the economic development of the capital," Chen said.

Last year, the added value of Beijing's cultural creative industries reached 357 billion yuan ($54.92 billion), accounting for 14.3 percent of the city's GDP.

Beijing Party Secretary Cai said that to support the further development of the cultural industries, the city should promote supply-side structural reforms and combine the positive influence of government management with the "invisible hand" of the market.

The government should invest more in constructing public cultural facilities, such as bookstores, museums and theaters, he added.

Du Feijin, head of Beijing's publicity bureau, said that building industrial belts is crucial for transforming Beijing into an advanced cultural capital.

As an ancient city, Beijing is famed for its numerous cultural relics, such as the Grand Canal cultural belt, the Great Wall cultural belt and the Xishan Yongding river cultural belt.

Du said that in addition to protecting the historical image of Beijing, the government is also continuing to encourage innovation and cultural communication in the business sphere.

"This year's China Beijing International Cultural and Creative Industry Expo, held last month, was a key platform for creative cultural enterprises to show their innovative cultural products and share experiences in the nation's cultural development," Du said.

One of the examples is the Beijing HuaYun-ShangDe International Cultural Exchange Co, an enterprise specializing in cultural innovation and going abroad.

Applying virtual reality techniques, the company has established cooperation in many fields, such as 360-degree cinema design and the Golden Tree Festival.

Zhao Lei, deputy general manager of the company, said: "Beijing is the optimum place for cultural innovation and has incomparable advantages in resources, supportive policies, skilled workers and customers.

"There is a complete industrial chain for cultural development in Beijing. "

Established in 2011, the company has completed many cultural exchange projects with foreign countries.

One of the projects is called Laikanba, a TV program exploring lifestyles, tourism and folk culture in China. German TV viewers have embraced the show for almost seven years. Its total international audience has hit 20 million.

Another project is a Chinese culture product and services trading center in Frankfurt, Germany. Covering more than 1,000 square meters, the center displays Chinese handcrafts and artworks.

"To expand and grow steadily, enterprises should have clear targets, be mature and have long-term development plans, amid the internet era and the nation's Belt and Road Initiative," Zhao added.

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2017-10-01 15:00:19
<![CDATA[Quotable]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-09/17/content_32114156.htm "As representatives of the public interest, prosecutors shoulder important responsibilities. The annual conference, focusing on prosecution in the public interest and building a safe, fair, harmonious and rule-of-law society, is significant in the progress of the rule of law in the countries involved."

PRESIDENT XI JINPING, in a letter of congratulation to the 22nd annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors, which started on Sept 11 in Beijing

"I think this is showing ourselves and showing the world that Chinese boys can be good and better - and Chinese men."

WU YIBING, 17-year-old Chinese tennis player, after defeating Argentina's top-seeded Axel Geller 6-4, 6-4 to capture the Grand Slam boys' singles title at the US Open on Sept 10

"The annual smartphone battle is coming. But with the 10th anniversary iPhone, it will be far fiercer."

XIANG LIGANG, chief executive of telecom industry website Cctime

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2017-09-17 15:27:08
<![CDATA[IN BRIEF]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-09/17/content_32114155.htm

 

Liu Heung Shing, left, founder of Shanghai Center of Photography, and Jean-Luc Monterosso, founder and president of Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, exchange a Memorandum of Understanding on Sept 8 after announcing the creation of a historic cultural partnership between Shanghai and Paris. Provided to China Daily

Xi: Battle against soil loss continues to be a priority

The high-level segment of the 13th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention to Combat Desertification was held in Ordos, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, from Sept 11 to 13. About 400 million people in 18 Chinese provinces were affected by desertification in the 1950s, according to the State Forestry Administration. A mass campaign against desertification started in 1956. In a congratulatory letter to the UN environmental meeting, President Xi Jinping said China will stick to its commitment to fight desertification and strengthen cooperation with all parties and international communities to make a better world. Vice-Premier Wang Yang, who attended the conference, said China will fulfill its commitment and achieve its sustainable development goals by 2030, with green building a crucial part of the country's effort to combat desertification.

Young tennis champ offers new hope

Wu Yibing, the 17-year-old second seed from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, became China's first boys' Grand Slam singles champion by defeating Argentina's top-seeded Axel Geller 6-4, 6-4, on Sept 10. Before the victory, Wu's best Grand Slam run was in January, when he reached the Australian Open semifinals. He also reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals. In doubles, Wu joined with Hsu Yu-hsiou of Taiwan on Sept 9 to become the first all-Asian pair to capture the US Open boys' doubles crown, defeating Japan's Toru Horie and Yuta Shimizu 6-4, 5-7, 11-9.

Report: Getting top workers a problem

With high-end workers leaving and insufficient high-end foreign personnel, China lags behind the world in attracting an international workforce and urgently needs to take action to solve the problem, according to a recent report, Blue Book of Regional Talent. The report was published on Sept 11 by the Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based independent think tank, and the Institute of Development Studies at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Meanwhile, the country is troubled by an outflow of talent. At least 35 million people from the Chinese mainland work overseas. Shanghai is the most competitive region in China in attracting high-end international workers. The municipality, however, only rates about 3.9 points in an evaluation index system with six parts, including the scale and structure for international workers, the policies for attracting more and the quality of life they expect.

2 admit writing against the State

Taiwan resident Lee Ming-che and Chinese mainland resident Peng Yuhua pleaded guilty on Sept 11 to subversion in a court in Hunan province. The two confessed to inciting subversion of State power by writing and spreading information that distorted facts and created hostility toward the Chinese government and political system on social media between 2012 and 2016, according to a statement by the province's Yueyang Intermediate People's Court. Lee, 42, testified that he had been misled by Western and Taiwan media and had an incorrect perception of development on the mainland. The indictment said Peng set up a chat group called liang'an lianshou - or "join hands across the Straits" - via QQ, an instant messaging tool, in May 2012. It featured attacks on the Chinese mainland's social system. Four months later, Peng invited Lee to the group after Lee shared some of the information Peng posted. Their lawyers requested lenient punishment because of the pair's good attitude in admitting the offense, and because both defendants expressed remorse.

Organ donation in China defended

Professor Wang Haibo spoke at the 14th Congress of the International Society for Organ Donation and Procurement against a rumor claiming that China secretly performs 100,000 organ transplants a year, equal to the combined total of the rest of the world. Wang said the rumor "insults the intelligence of transplant and medical professionals". China's new national system for organ donation and transplantation is based on Chinese cultural and societal norms, and is consistent with the World Health Organization's guiding principles and international standards, Wang told his colleagues from different countries. He said the 2007 human organ transplant regulation passed by the State Council had laid an important foundation for the development of a new system for organ donation and transplantation in China.

Future envisioned for Shanxi coal

The State Council, China's Cabinet, published guidelines on Sept 11 in support of the economic transformation of coal-rich Shanxi province and mapping the way forward. By 2020, the share of coal mining and processing as a proportion of the province's industrial output should see a decline, and the share of advanced coal production capacity should reach two-thirds of the total, the guideline said. Shanxi should raise its abilities to exploit coal in clean and efficient ways, and increase its clean energy supply, it said. The province should also develop new strategic sectors by 2020, raise capital for research and development and become a center for coal-based scientific and technological innovations and commercial applications, as well as a modern manufacturing base and tourism demonstration zone. Before 2030, the province should create a clean, safe and efficient modern energy system and accumulate experiences in reform that can be replicated elsewhere, the guideline said.

Reservoir sets storage record

Water stored at Miyun Reservoir, Beijing's largest, hit a 17-year high of 1.9 billion cubic meters on Sept 11, according to local authorities. The storage of the reservoir reached 1.7 billion cubic meters in June. Thanks to upstream rainfall and the South-to-North Water Diversion Project delivering water from Hubei province, storage exceeded 1.8 billion cu m in July and 1.9 billion cu m this month.

200,000 evacuated as typhoon nears

More than 200,000 people have been evacuated from Fujian and Zhejiang provinces as of Sept 13 as Talim, the region's 18th typhoon of the year, moves rapidly toward China's southeast coast. The provincial meteorological department of Fujian forecast that Talim would intensify into a super typhoon with wind speeds of 180 to 200 kilometers per hour.

Yuan dips as controls relaxed

The yuan weakened on Sept 12 for the first time in two weeks after the central bank relaxed capital controls on Sept 11. Analysts said the Chinese currency will see more two-way fluctuations in coming months. The People's Bank of China set the yuan's daily reference rate at 6.5277 per US dollar on Sept 12, down by 0.43 percent from Sept 11. It was the first time the rate had been set lower day-on-day in 11 trading sessions and marked the sharpest downward adjustment since Jan 9. The monetary authority allows the yuan to rise or fall by a maximum of 2 percent on either side of the reference rate. The weakening of the yuan came after it was reported on Sept 11 that the central bank had eliminated the rule requiring banks to set aside a 20 percent deposit on forward sales of foreign exchange, which was imposed in 2015 to thwart capital outflows.

President greets 14 new envoys

President Xi Jinping received credentials presented by 14 new ambassadors to China at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Sept 13. He also called on them to contribute to enhancing their countries' friendship with China. The 14 included Saidov Bakhtiyor of Uzbekistan, Baba Ahmad Jidda of Nigeria, Everardus Kronenburg of the Netherlands and Francisco Escobar of Panama. Xi welcomed the ambassadors and asked them to convey his sincere greetings and good wishes to their leaders and people. The president said the Chinese government will provide facilities and support for the ambassadors' work, and he called on them to contribute to strengthening their nations' friendly relations with China and promoting the development of bilateral ties.

Xi, Brunei sultan discuss cooperation

Infrastructure, health and defense affairs were among highlights of cooperative documents signed following the meeting on Sept 13 between President Xi Jinping and Brunei's visiting Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. During the meeting, Xi said the two countries should reinforce exchanges of governing experiences, find synergies in their development strategies and promote pragmatic cooperation in various fields. Both countries should strengthen cooperation in areas such as infrastructure construction, energy, halal food, agriculture, fisheries and digital economy, he said. Hassanal, who is both the sultan and prime minister, said his country supports the China-led Belt and Road Initiative and will continue honoring the one-China policy. Brunei welcomes Chinese enterprises making investments and developing business, he said, and the country is ready for more high-level contacts with China and expansion of cultural exchanges.

Diplomats mapping out US president's trip

Top diplomats in Beijing and Washington vowed that the two countries will work together to ensure US President Donald Trump's first state visit to China yields "fruitful results", according to a statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Sept 13. In his meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on Sept 12, State Councilor Yang Jiechi said China is ready to work with the United States on the details. Trump is likely to visit China in November, when he also is set to attend the US-ASEAN summit and the East Asia summit in the Philippines, as well as the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vietnam, Reuters reported.

Guidance issued for quality of products

China will improve legislation to promote product quality and establish a system that subjects producers and sellers of substandard goods to punitive compensation measures. Guidance released on Sept 12 by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, China's Cabinet, urged governments at all levels to make "utmost efforts" to improve the quality of all products made in China to address supply shortages of midrange and high-end goods and services. The outline also set targets for the quality of smart and user-friendly products and a leap ahead in the international competitiveness of Chinese brands by 2020.

PLA Navy gets new commissar

China has appointed the former chief of the general office of the Central Military Commission as the new political commissar of the People's Liberation Army Navy, media reports said. Lieutenant General Qin Shengxiang appeared on Sept 13 in his new role at a ceremony in Qingdao, Shandong province, to send off a Navy flotilla for military exercises with Russia, CCTV reported. Qin, 60, had been chief of the general office of the commission since December 2012.

Green barrier aims to protect water

China has built a greenbelt along the canals and pipelines of its South-to-North Water Diversion Project to help ensure water quality. The middle route of the project has carried 9.5 billion cubic meters of water annually through canals and pipes from Danjiangkou Reservoir in Hubei province to the provinces of Henan and Hebei, as well as to Beijing and Tianjin, since 2014. The office of the South-to-North project construction committee said on Sept 13 that to ensure water safety it had created shelter forests covering 636 hectares and stretching 197 kilometers along the canals and pipelines.

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2017-09-17 15:27:08
<![CDATA[Cold sports bring warmer relations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-09/17/content_32114154.htm China, Europe eye closer cooperation in developing winter sports economies

China is seeking closer cooperation with Europe in the field of winter sports economics as the 2022 Winter Olympic Games approach, a Chinese Olympics official said on Sept 8 in Beijing.

Liu Yang, head of the communications department of the Beijing organizing committee for the games, said hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics is "a milestone event in China's development".

China is seeking cooperation with various countries in order to host "a fantastic, extraordinary and excellent" 2022 Winter Olympic Games, President Xi Jinping said.

Liu said the Chinese government attaches great importance to the 2022 preparation work. He quoted Xi as saying that the 2022 Winter Olympics should embody the spirit of green, open and shared development, along with fairness and honesty.

Cooperation with various countries is an important part of preparation for the games, and so far the work has been supported by many countries with more experience with winter games, such as Norway, he said.

Norway hosted the 6th Oslo Winter Olympics in 1952 and the 17th Lillehammer Winter Olympics in 1994. It is a country with "superior natural conditions for winter sports and abundant experience in winter sports event organization", Liu said during the 2017 Norway China Winter Sports Economic Forum.

The themed forum was part of the four-day 2017 World Winter Sports Expo, co-organized by the Beijing Olympic City Development Association and International Data Group. It ended on Sept 10.

"We are proud that China and Norway are working together and seeking cooperation," says Mattis Raustol, charge d'affaires at the Royal Norwegian embassy. "We will share our knowledge and technology, and I believe our cooperation will create a lot of opportunities and be beneficial."

Several agreements were signed at the forum, including one between the Chinese Dong Xiang Group and the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

"This agreement ensures that we can now use Chinese clothes and equipment in Norwegian sports venues, and it is the answer to how China and Norway will work together in winter sports," says Tom Tvedt, chairman of the Norwegian committee and Confederation of Sports.

Tvedt notes that China and Norway are nations on different scales, "so it is important to make sure that cooperation between the two suits local conditions in both."

"In the future, we can strengthen our cooperation and share our experience in winter sports talent training, venue construction and event organization with China," Tvedt says.

Switzerland, along with Norway and Finland, was also invited as a guest country to the winter expo and sought to enhance links with China and attract more Chinese tourists to the country in winter.

According to Swiss statistics, more than 19.3 million foreign tourists visited the country in 2016, over 1.13 million of whom were from China.

President Xi paid a state visit to Switzerland in January and, together with his Swiss counterpart, Doris Leuthard, announced the opening of the China-Switzerland Tourism Year.

Jean-Jacques de Dardel, Swiss ambassador to China, says Switzerland is willing to maintain cooperation with China on eco-sports and winter tourism.

The diplomat says the country is attracting more Chinese tourists and Swiss authorities are looking forward to establishing more links with China.

Urs Eberhard, deputy director of the Swiss National Tourism Administration, notes that China has become the fourth-largest tourist market in Switzerland, and Switzerland is looking forward to strengthening cooperation with China in all aspects before the 2022 Games.

During the expo, the Swiss Ski Association and the China Ski Association signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in skiing.

"The deal will propel bilateral cooperation on winter sports between the two countries and also make positive contributions to the development of winter sports and related industries in China," de Dardel says.

renqi@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-09-17 15:27:08
<![CDATA[Customs crack down on infringing exports]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/31/content_31368876.htm Nationwide campaign launches, aiming to tackle fraudulent goods, to support companies selling goods overseas

Customs authorities across China will start a three-month special campaign, code-named Longteng, on Friday to protect the intellectual property rights of exporting Chinese companies.

Enforcement will focus on small home appliances, electronics, engineering equipment, daily commodities and local specialties that are exported to Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and countries and regions related to the Belt and Road Initiative.

Yang Zongren, head of the policy and regulation department at the General Administration of Customs, said the operation will help to nurture those Chinese companies with IP advantages in their respective exported goods.

"Customs offices nationwide will concentrate their forces to strike the import and export companies that infringe IP rights, and will facilitate an environment of order and fair play for those companies seeking global development," he said at a recent meeting in Qingdao, Shandong province, briefing the campaign to about 150 local companies.

The General Administration of Customs listed 156 key companies in the campaign, which own well-known trademarks or core patents in their industries, or have self-developed products accounting for at least 10 percent of their total export volume.

The companies include high-tech giants, such as Huawei Technologies and ZTE, and those in traditional businesses, such as traditional Chinese medicine-maker Beijing Tongrentang Group and vinegar-maker Jiangsu Hengshun Group.

Among them, 28 are based in Shandong, accounting for 18 percent of the total number.

Customs offices will analyze those companies' import and export data to find elements of risk and to create solutions, Yang said.

Authorities in the Yangtze River and Pearl River deltas and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei area will establish regional cooperation and quick response mechanisms.

Yang said that by carrying out the campaign they want to encourage the companies to resort to customs protection actively.

Chinese companies have so far registered 18,000 intellectual properties at the General Administration of Customs, accounting for 55 percent of total registrations.

Since 2013, China's customs authorities have seized nearly 110,000 batches of goods involving IP infringement in the foreign trade segment, including 6,721 batches in the first six months of this year. The total illegal value involved amounted to more than 1.5 billion yuan ($226 million).

More than 2,100 rights owners from 62 countries and regions have been protected, Yang said.

The Chinese and United States customs offices conducted a monthlong joint operation in April last year, focusing on consumer electronics, auto parts, food, drugs and sportswear via post delivery. It aimed to enhance the enforcement partnership between the two countries in an attempt at new cooperation models.

In November and December last year, the General Administration of Customs launched a campaign targeting exported self-balancing scooters. During the campaign, customs offices nationwide seized more than 12,000 IP rights-violating scooters in 28 batches, with a total value of nearly 13 million yuan.

zhangzhao@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-08-31 07:47:01
<![CDATA[Turning new ideas into actual products]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/31/content_31368875.htm More than 500 delegates attended a forum on Tuesday in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, focusing on intellectual property commercialization and innovation in finance. Attendees included government officials, scholars and executives from companies, financial institutions and IP agencies.

Commercialization involves all the processes required to turn IPs - such as patents and copyrights - into products available for consumers, including licensing, transfers and industrialization.

"It is the only way to fully unleash the value of IP rights and it is the purpose of all IP work," said He Hua, deputy commissioner of the State Intellectual Property Office.

He said that SIPO has made a series of attempts, including the establishment of IP commercialization and trading centers, as well as nurturing IP-intensive industries, to seek new IP operation models to realize higher value in the industry.

Besides the main public IP service platform based in Beijing, two pilot IP commercialization centers have been founded in Xi'an and Zhuhai, as part of the national IP operation network. The Xi'an, Shaanxi province, institution specializes in the integration of patents and technology from the civilian and military sectors. The one in Zhuhai focuses on innovative IP financing methods.

SIPO has also invested in 20 IP operation organizations nationwide and has supported four provinces in their efforts to launch patent-pledge loan risk funds, He said.

The value of patent-pledge loans in China totaled more than 2 billion yuan ($303.9 million) over the past five years, with an average annual increase of 33 percent.

Chen Hongbing, head of the World Intellectual Property Organization's China office, said China has made "remarkable achievements in IP after 30 years of development, and is becoming a strong IP powerhouse".

Chen said the Pearl River Delta - where Zhuhai is located - already has a strong foundation, with its advantageous geographical position in the center of the Hong Kong-Macao-Guangdong region. "Zhuhai's IP operation emphasizes innovative finance and international trade, aiming at the excavation of IP value."

Universities and research institutions are major generators of patents, but less than 10 percent of their patents have become products on the market, said Song Hefa, a researcher at the Institute of Policy and Management at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

He said some effective IP commercialization models include patent pools, patent auctions, and crowdfunding.

"China should strengthen IP operation analysis to identify the patents that are worth commercialization on the one hand, and find profitable operation models on the other hand," he said. "But ultimately, it depends on people - comprehensive IP operation personnel."

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2017-08-31 07:47:01
<![CDATA[Bike-share sector advised to map out global protections]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/31/content_31368874.htm As an emerging business model in recent years, bike sharing is becoming a symbol of China's fast-developing sharing economy, representing its cutting-edge innovation and entrepreneurship, but industry experts have warned of potential intellectual property risks now that domestic operators are seeking to expand globally.

"Bike sharing, as well as many other new industries and business models, is a combination of IPs itself, and it cannot grow well without IP," Wang Bing, director of the IP law research center at Tsinghua University, told China Intellectual Property News.

Ofo, founded in Beijing in 2015, is one of China's earliest bike-sharing operators. It has expanded its business to seven foreign countries, including Singapore, the United Kingdom, the United States, Thailand and Japan.

The company operates more than 8 million bicycles, clocking in more than 25 million rides a day, making it one of the world's largest bike-sharing networks.

It has applied for about 500 trademarks in China and abroad.

Ofo's competitor Mobike has applied for more than 140 patents and registered 180 trademarks in China and overseas. Its service covers more than 100 cities internationally.

Each Mobike vehicle is equipped with a Beidou-GPS-Glonass positioning chip. Big data, cloud computing and internet of things technologies have allowed for riding trends forecasting and smart parking management in the background managing system.

"The sharing economy features integration of capital and IP," Wang said, adding that IP is an attractive element for investors.

Ofo's direct investor is Didi Chuxing, which is funded by Tencent, Foxconn and Ant Financial. Tencent and Foxconn are also direct investors in Mobike. Ant Financial has also invested in another bike-sharing operator Youon.

Mobike CEO Wang Xiaofeng said there will be greater potential if the major players join hands.

Despite increasing their popularity, Chinese bike-sharing companies that have expanded into the overseas markets "generally have few international patent applications", said Cao Xinming, deputy director of the center for IP rights studies at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law. He called for IP deployment prior to market expansion.

"Competition is increasingly intense in both the Chinese and overseas markets, and the overseas markets have higher challenges in IP," he said.

There are already competitors in many overseas markets, including Citi Bike in the US, Velib in France and Docomo Bikeshare in Japan.

According to a report by ResearchInChina, an independent provider of Chinese business intelligence, there will be 61.7 million bike-share users in China this year, double the number last year. The report expects that number to hit 198 million by 2021.

The report said the industry's revenue will reach 8.86 billion yuan ($1.34 billion) this year and estimated it will reach about 29 billion yuan by 2021.

Amid such a huge market and increasing competition, companies should enhance their IP capacities, conduct research and analyze the IP map of their targeted markets, Cao said.

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2017-08-31 07:47:01
<![CDATA[IP scene]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/31/content_31368873.htm Beijing

Capital's international book fair sees 5,000 deals signed

More than 5,000 copyright trade contracts were agreed at the 24th Beijing International Book Fair last week, increasing 4.9 percent year-on-year. The five-day fair attracted 1,460 exhibitors from overseas, increasing by 102 from last year. They came from nearly 90 countries and regions, including 28 involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. More than 300,000 kinds of books were showcased at the event.

People's Daily

National patent agent exam to take place in 30 cities

More than 32,000 people have applied to take the 2017 national patent agent qualification exam, increasing 5.7 percent on last year. The exam is planned to start on Nov 4 and 5 in 30 cities, including three that were newly added this year. Since 2015, the exam has allowed applicants to answer on computers and nearly 99 percent of the applicants this year have chosen this method, as it is easier to copy and paste materials from patent documents.

China Intellectual Property News

Guangdong

Shenzhen innovation institute founded at Foshan University

An intellectual property innovation institute was recently established at Foshan University. Co-funded by the university, the science and technology administration of Nanhai district and a Shenzhen-based company, the institute aims to develop IP professionals and promote IP commercialization to serve the innovation-driven development of the city. The three parties will work together in designing the courses for the students of the institute.

Nanfang Daily

Shanghai

Chinese, US publishers agree shale gas series

East China University of Science and Technology Press signed an agreement with United States publisher Springer Nature recently, authorizing the latter to publish the English edition of a shale gas-related book series. Experts said the US was the world's fi rst country to research and develop shale gas, but research results are seen only in separate academic papers rather than books. The Chinese series includes 20 books covering related geological theories, exploration methods, technology, the shale gas economy and environmental policies.

Science And Technology Daily

Henan

Local govt establishes awards to encourage patent usage

The provincial government has unveiled regulations for the newly founded biennial patent award, to encourage innovation and promote patent industrialization. Projects that win the top prize - two at most - will be awarded 300,000 yuan ($45,500) each, plus up to an additional 700,000 yuan if the judges believe it has exceptional value and influence. There are first, second and third prizes after the top prize.

Dahe Daily

Zhejiang

National e-commerce enforcement operation starts

The 2017 Leiting Operation, a nationwide patent enforcement campaign in the e-commerce sector, was launched recently in Wuzhen. Leiting means thunder. National and local IP authorities agreed to fortify supervision and enforcement both online and offline. Home to the world-leading e-commerce platform Alibaba, Zhejiang has witnessed the early and fast development of the sector. Last year, related authorities in the province handled 120,000 complaints in the e-commerce sector.

Zhejiang Daily

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2017-08-31 07:47:01
<![CDATA[Cross-Straits Ties Deepen]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320186.htm Pingtan, a remote island off the coast of Fujian province, is working to deepen its links with Taiwan by establishing an innovative administrative and economic system.

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Pingtan authorities extend support to island's residents, enterprises to settle in mainland county

Pingtan, a remote island off the coast of Fujian province, is working to deepen its links with Taiwan by establishing an innovative administrative and economic system.

As the nearest area on the Chinese mainland to Taiwan, Pingtan was home to more than 3,000 Taiwan residents and 863 Taiwan companies in July.

The local government is taking action to meet their demands.

Wu Yu-lin from Taiwan works at the Pingtan Taiwan Entrepreneurship Park as deputy general manager of cross-Straits travel agency Grand China Air Group.

He said many Taiwan businesspeople or entrepreneurs have decided to invest or work in Fujian province because they want to make more money in a broader market.

"In that sense, we need more access to resources, investors or business partners," he said.

He added that people in certain fields would find more job opportunities.

"People majoring in traditional Chinese medicine, for example, find it easier to be hired on the mainland."

However, among Taiwan's 25 million residents, 15 million have never visited the mainland, he said.

"Many of them dare not come because they don't know what it is like here. They had concerns and worries," he said. "The problem lies in lack of information."

The company plans to release a new app in September to provide information about the preferential policies, as well as recruitment, entrepreneurship and internship opportunities, as sourced from official departments.

It will also provide online services, including applications for temporary driving licenses, telephone cards and the Mainland Travel Permit for Taiwan Residents.

As the first online service platform designed for Taiwan clients in China, the app is among the 23 innovative initiatives launched by Pingtan this year, according to the local government.

Other administrative innovations include the certification of Taiwan ship technical licenses and direct channels for Taiwan residents to take out social insurance, it said.

In 2015, Pingtan was approved to be one area of the China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone, with an emphasis on further opening-up cross-Straits communication.

Fifty-five of the area's 123 innovative policies have been considered pioneering reforms in China.

Zhang Zhaomin, Party chief of the Pingtan Comprehensive Pilot Zone, said it expects to attract more than 200,000 Taiwan tourists, as well as drawing about 10,000 of the island's residents to live or work in the county by 2021.

By that date, the number of registered Taiwan-invested companies is expected to reach 2,000, with a total investment value of $20 billion, he said.

As a gate to Taiwan, Pingtan is exploring more possibilities related to integrating industrial standards. More than 300 Taiwan people with Taiwan-certificated licenses are permitted to work in fields such as architecture, healthcare and tourism in the zone, he said.

The local authorities have released preferential policies for Taiwan-funded companies or residents from the island who have settled in Pingtan.

According to Wu, companies have received government allowances ranging from 1,500 to 2,500 yuan ($227-$379) per Taiwan person recruited per month.

More subsidization and services were given to professionals who want to start their own business, including accommodation, rental and financial guarantees.

The entrepreneurship park, where Wu lives, received an allowance of 4.66 million yuan by July to serve Taiwan people, said Chen Qin, manager of Cross-Straits Development Co, which runs the Pingtan Taiwan Entrepreneurship Park.

Since it was founded in 2015, the park has been devoted to incubating startups involved in the high-tech industry, cross-border e-commerce, modern services and creative culture.

The park offers legal, financial and policy consultancy services to promote local businesses. Other services include patent filings and human resources, Chen said.

By Aug 15, a total of 366 companies and organizations had settled in the zone, of which half are from Taiwan. Among the 1,000 Taiwan people in the park, 83 percent are under 45 years old, she said.

Party chief Zhang said the zone will further strengthen its support for young people from Taiwan to launch startups or find jobs in Pingtan, and it will improve the services on offer for these entrepreneurship bases.

The zone will also approve all the Taiwan-certificated licenses in the service trade industry, build communities with management models similar to that in Taiwan and open more direct cargo flights.

"We will further promote the opening-up of Pingtan to better serve the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations," he said.

Contact the writer at chenmeiling@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone involves Fuzhou and Xiamen cities and Pingtan county in Fujian province in East China.Lin Shanchuan/xinhua

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2017-08-30 08:44:35
<![CDATA[Taiwan-funded businesses flock to Fuzhou park]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320185.htm Lee Chao-hui said he felt lucky to have rented an office at a Taiwan entrepreneurship park in Fuzhou, Fujian province, just before the deadline.

"When the park was attracting investment in 2015, many people from Taiwan came to start their businesses here," the businessman from Taiwan said. "Those who came too late found there was no room left to rent."

Lee runs a healthcare company that has production and research bases back in Taiwan. He decided to set up a marketing office on the mainland in 1991 to expand his business.

He cited multiple reasons for the park's popularity, including a rental fee exemption for offices in the park during the first two years.

Also, employees can apply for apartments for rent, each ranging from 40 to 50 square meters and priced at 8 yuan ($1.20) per sq m on a monthly basis, much lower than the average market price.

The park is located in the Fuzhou area of the China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone. The zone was approved by the State Council in 2015 and also involves Pingtan county and Xiamen in Fujian province.

As the nearest province to Taiwan, the Fujian zone mainly promotes cross-Straits trading, financial cooperation and human resources exchanges.

With five parks, including operations focusing on cross-Straits culture and creativity, porcelain production, and entrepreneurship, the zone has attracted more than 200 Taiwan-funded projects, according to the management committee of the Fuzhou pilot free trade zone.

Lee said the pace of life on the mainland is much faster than that in Taiwan.

"We tend to think carefully before taking action, while, here, everything is changing so fast that you have to do it now before you are well prepared," he said.

The idea of entering the healthcare industry came from his and his daughter's cracked skin during winter, he said. He began to work on plant-extract skin products.

The market on the mainland is broad and has great potential, he noted, adding, "I expect our sales revenue to surpass 1 million yuan next year."

Before moving to Fuzhou, Lee had worked in Shanghai as a manager at Yonghe King, a Chinese fast food restaurant chain, and invested in real estate after his resignation.

"I have lived in several cities. Many of the habits and customs here are similar to Taiwan," he said.

Now he is looking forward to the upcoming job fair to recruit more graduates to his company.

As for current demand, he said he hopes to get more support to increase marketing channels.

Every few months, the local government holds routine meetings with the province's Taiwan residents to learn about their needs and seek advice on further improvements.

"It's good to have your voice heard," he said.

Government statistics show the zone had attracted 1,411 Taiwan-invested companies by April, contributing 90 percent to the total number of new Taiwan-funded businesses that have settled in the province since 2015.

 

A sales clerk sorts out pineapple cake made in Taiwan at a supermarket in the China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone.Song Weiwei/xinhua

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2017-08-30 08:44:35
<![CDATA[Fujian pilot free trade zone-based companies look to go global]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/30/content_31320184.htm The worlds' third-largest point-of-sale terminal supplier, Fujian Newland Payment Technology, announced in August it will enter the Brazilian market.

The company has chosen countries where cashless payments are not yet common, but it predicts strong potential for the technology, said Shen Sizhong, Fujian Newland Payment Technology's deputy general manager.

In Brazil, for example, with 200 million people and rapid economic development, traditional payment methods are reaching their limits, Shen said.

"We expect to provide better payment solutions for companies and consumers," he said.

The company is a major subsidiary of Fujian-based, publicly listed giant Newland Science and Technology Group, an expert on internet of things and wireless telecommunication technologies.

The company's sales of POS terminals surpassed 5.8 million units in 2016, up 6 percent year-on-year, according to a report released by United States market research company Nilson last month.

Fujian Newland Payment Technology ranked No 3 on the global list by POS terminal shipments, after France-based Ingenico and US-based Verifone, the report said.

"The innovative products and rather low prices are two of the company's strengths," Shen said.

To better serve the diverse demands of its various international clients, the company specializes in tailored functions. Wal-Mart Stores members, for example, can pay with their membership cards, Shen said.

In cooperation with Apple, the intelligent POS devices can be used to clear payments with Apple Pay, without the need to enter a password.

"The design aims to bring shop owners and the customers closer together," Shen said.

The company aims to increase the contribution of overseas business in its overall activities from 20 percent currently to 50 percent over the next few years, amid a fiercely competitive domestic market, he added.

As one of numerous companies located at the China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, Newland is among many local companies eager to go global.

Other overseas explorers based in the zone include Scud Group, which opened a branch in Japan to develop lithium-ion battery packs, and Fuzhou Hongdong Pelagic Fishery, which has invested $200 million in the biggest fishery base of its type in Mauritania.

Approved in 2015, the free trade zone comprises three areas, in the cities of Fuzhou and Xiamen, and Pingtan county. It has attracted 46 foreign investment projects totaling $2.91 billion, according to the zone's management committee.

To encourage local companies to go global, the zone has optimized its administrative procedures.

In the past, companies needed to gain approval before investing in other countries.

Now, they can undertake international business activities after handing the necessary materials to the government, which will monitor their behavior afterward.

Pingtan, another section of the Fujian free trade zone, has launched similar initiatives to promote outbound investment.

Shi Qiaoling, an employee at Pingtan Jinjingwan Development and Construction, said it used to take more than one year to complete all the processes after visiting several official departments to submit piles of materials.

"Sometimes the identity card alone had to be handed over more than 10 times," she said.

In comparison, applicants now need only visit one office, submit all the information by filling in one form and wait for the final result from the same office.

The previously required 250 materials have simplified to 19 and the time taken to complete the process has reduced from more than one year to about 90 days.

A Taiwan business representative fills out tax forms at the China (Fujian) Pilot Free Trade Zone.Song Weiwei/xinhua 

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2017-08-30 08:44:35
<![CDATA[How to spot if your dog is depressed, and how to handle it]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507980.htm Scientists have discovered that itching and scratching are tell-tale signs

There's nothing like a good scratch.

However new research has shown that far from the picture of satisfaction and contentment, itching and scratching is a telltale sign of depression in dogs.

Scientists discovered that dermatological issues are not only one of the most common health problems among dogs - they're also one of the biggest causes of stress and anxiety.

One in six trips to see a vet are due to skin problems for dogs. And 75 per cent of dogs diagnosed with dermatological issues suffer depression meaning thousands of pets are probably suffering from the blues.

A series of studies by Zoetis, the world's leading animal health company, showed that dogs suffering depression exhibit many of the same traits as people.

The most common symptom was being less playful, followed by being less sociable with people, restlessness, decreased appetite, and interacting less with other dogs.

Itching and scratching could be a warning sign that your dog is depressed

And depression in dogs has a knock-on effect on their owners, with 80 per cent saying their pet's condition diminished their own quality of life as well.

Dr Anita Patel, one of Britain's leading veterinary dermatologists, said: "Most people assume that itching and scratching is totally normal dog behaviour. The odd scratch is fine but when you see a dog frequently itching, scratching, nibbling or licking themselves, that's a strong sign of a skin condition. Left untreated, this can exacerbate the problem and lead to more serious issues.

"What's not been properly understood previously is how dermatological problems can affect a dog's wellbeing. What we now know is that skin issues can be one of the biggest causes of depression for dogs. And like people, when a dog is depressed, they lose interest in the things they usually love - like going for a walk, playing, or having a fuss from their owner."

Itchiness in pets - known as pruritus - is defined as an unpleasant sensation that provokes the desire or reflex to scratch.

It is common in many types of skin disorders and is often accompanied by red, inflamed areas of skin and may lead to pyoderma - infection of the skin.

Analysis of more than 80,000 veterinary appointments at more than 200 practices across the UK found the condition is most common around the ears, accounting for 44 per cent of cases, or around the legs and feet - 27 per cent.

Experts say that consistent itching, scratching, nibbling, biting and licking in dogs is not normal behaviour and owners should seek veterinary help if they see these symptoms.

Allowing a dog to continue to itch and scratch can lead to skin damage with potential for creating a secondary infection requiring antibiotic treatment.

Flea allergy is one of the most common causes of the condition, so summer is the season when dogs are most likely to develop it. Pet owners are urged to use parasite prevention treatments to avoid pruritus in the first place.

It can also be caused by food and contact allergies to shampoo or other household products, while the more serious atopic dermatitis is associated with environment allergens such as pollen and dust.

If allergies are untreated the dogs can get a skin infection and need to be treated with antibiotics prescribed by their vet.

However, for dogs already suffering pruritus, combating the condition has historically been difficult because existing treatments are typically steroid-based and can lead to numerous side effects.

But a new single injection is targeting the itch signalling in the brain. It works neutralising the protein triggered by the immune system which tells the brain to scratch.

Cytopoint has just been granted marketing authorization by the European Commission and is now being launched in UK.

It is available through veterinary practices and is administered through a single injection.

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2017-08-12 09:07:48
<![CDATA[We're all made of stardust... from a galaxy far, far away]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507979.htm The idea of finding extraterrestrial life on another planet, in a distant solar system or in a far away galaxy has long captured the imagination of humans.

But now scientists have discovered that we are all actually partalien.

According to US astrophysicists up to half of all matter in our Milky Way galaxy comes from distant areas in space, driven here on strong interstellar winds, created when stars explode in spectacular supernovae.

When Carl Sagan, the late American astrophysicist, made his well-known comment that 'we are made of star-stuff' he meant that all the elements on Earth were once produced in the heart of stars before being flung out into the universe in giant explosions.

But it was previously thought that those explosions occurred within Milky Way. Now scientists suspect each one of us is made, in part, from matter created when far away suns exploded in distant galaxies.

"Given how much of the matter out of which we formed may have come from other galaxies, we could consider ourselves space travelers or extragalactic immigrants," said Dr Daniel Angl��s-Alc��zar, of Northwestern University's astrophysics center, who led the study.

"It is likely that much of the Milky Way's matter was in other galaxies before it was kicked out by a powerful wind, traveled across intergalactic space and eventually found its new home in the Milky Way.

In first-of-its-kind analysis, scientists used computer simulations to recreate 3-D models of galaxies, following their formation from just after the Big Bang to the present day. The simulations show that supernovae explosions eject huge amounts of gas from galaxies, which causes atoms to be transported from one galaxy to another via powerful galactic winds.

"In our simulations, we were able to trace the origins of stars in Milky Way-like galaxies and determine if the star formed from matter endemic to the galaxy itself or if it formed instead from gas previously contained in another galaxy," added Angl��s-Alc��zar, the study's corresponding author.

Although the atoms travel at great speeds, galaxies are so far apart from each other, that the the process still takes several billion years.

But the team found that the transfer of mass through galactic winds can account for up to 50 percent of matter in the larger galaxies.

"This study transforms our understanding of how galaxies formed from the Big Bang," said Assistant Professor Claude-Andr�� Faucher-Gigu��re of the Weinberg College of Arts and Science, in Illinois.

"What this new mode implies is that up to one-half of the atoms around us - including in the solar system, on Earth and in each one of us - comes not from our own galaxy but from other galaxies, up to one million light years away.

"Our origins are much less local than we previously thought. This study gives us a sense of how things around us are connected to distant objects in the sky."

After the Big Bang 14 billion years ago, the universe was filled with a uniform gas - no stars, no galaxies.

But there were tiny perturbations in the gas, and these started to grow by force of gravity, eventually forming stars and galaxies. After galaxies formed, each had its own identity, but the new study shows matter moved between them.

The new research was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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2017-08-12 09:07:48
<![CDATA[The seven-day GM diet is back - but is it actually good for you?]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-08/12/content_30507978.htm Shoulder pads, sequins, and a seven-day diet plan that asks you to eat eight bananas in one day - the 80s certainly gifted us with some weird and wonderful trends. And now (along with the shoulder pads and sequins), that diet plan is making a comeback.

Supposedly the brainchild of General Motors (GM), the GM diet plan was developed to help their employees lose weight - although the automotive company has never actually confirmed the connection. A quick Google search reveals pages of fans of the diet, who rave about their 11lb weight loss after just seven days.

So what's behind this 'miracle' diet plan - and is it actually good for you?

In short, the GM diet is an extremely strict seven-day plan that suggests you drink 12-15 glasses of water a day while cutting out alcohol, tea and coffee; and restrict your calorific intake from food. The breakdown of each day looks like this:

Day One: You eat only fruit (but not bananas)

Day Two: You eat only vegetables and start your day with a large baked potato

Day Three: You can eat both fruit and vegetables but no bananas or potatoes

Day Four: Up to eight bananas, three glasses of milk, and a 'GM wonder soup' that consists of cabbage, onion and other green vegetables

Day Five: Two portions of lean protein (beef, chicken or fish) and six tomatoes

Day Six: Unlimited lean protein and vegetables

Day Seven: Unlimited fruit, vegetables and brown rice - but no protein

"This is a low calorie diet plan that works by giving you a negative energy balance," says Dr Frankie Phillips, registered dietitian and nutritionist and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association. By restricting those calories, especially in the first few days, the body is forced into fat burning mode; while the high water intake also offers detoxifying benefits.

The restrictive nature of the GM plan means dieters miss out on vital food groups. On the first 'fruit only' day, for example, you're consuming a lot of naturally occurring sugars but your iron intake is low - which can account for a lack of energy. Eating just vegetables on the second day, you'll be missing out on soluble fats and omega 3, which are good for heart health.

"As it's only seven days, the lack in vitamins and minerals won't make a drastic difference," says Dr Phillips. "But there's a noticeable shortage of fibre over the week, so people may experience less movement when it comes to going to the toilet."

Blogger Morgan Hegarty, 22, says she felt lost six pounds on the GM diet. "Eating only vegetables for a whole day was by far the hardest," she says. "Waking up to carrots or a baked potato for breakfast in place of my normal porridge was hardly appetising." At the time, she was doing a mile-and-a-half walk to and from her work place each day. "Arriving at work, I felt exhausted. I really noticed a lack of energy. I often felt light headed in the afternoons which made it hard to focus at work and I didn't even attempt a work out."

Clearly, the GM diet has weight loss potential, but Dr Phillips warns that it might not be sustainable. "The rapid weight loss is partly down to the lack of carbohydrates, therefore a lack of glycogen and a loss of 'water weight', which quickly returns when you resume eating a normal diet."

Current guidelines by the Association of UK Dietitians tell us that gradual weight loss is the way to go. We've heard it before, of course: small changes in lifestyle over time result in sustainable weight loss. However, a 144 week-long study of 204 people within the same BMI range, published in the Lancet, stands to question this dietary advice. It found that the rate of weight loss did not affect the proportion of weight regained. Whether participants lost weight on a crash diet or a long-term diet plan, they still regained the same amount of weight over the same period.

If that's the case, why are we warned against crash diets such as the GM diet? It seems that it is actually the speed of weight loss and weight gain that can be harmful. "My biggest concern with losing weight so rapidly is the affect it has on someone's mental wellbeing," says Dr Frankie. "Crash diets like the GM often leave people feeling demoralised when they start to regain weight so quickly." A review published by Yale University's Department of Psychology acknowledges the correlation between yo-yo dieting (or weight cycling) and mental health issues. "Weight cycling appears linked to increased psychopathology, lower life satisfaction, more disturbed eating in general and perhaps increased risk for binge eating," it says.

But Morgan's experience on the GM diet was a good one. She says she actually picked up healthier habits following the diet. "I carried on eating fruit in the mornings and generally eating more vegetables." Impressed by the results, she's done the diet twice over the past year. "It really helps me kick-start a healthy regime," she says.

Despite dietitians and nutritionists criticising the lack of science behind the GM diet, its appeal among dieters is clearly still strong. If you are thinking of trying it, be wary of how much you exercise during the week because your energy levels will be low. Once the weeklong diet plan is over, re-introduce carbohydrates into your diet slowly.

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2017-08-12 09:07:48
<![CDATA[Chinese TV shows being lapped up by Vietnamese youngsters]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/29/content_30290898.htm Experts say cultural factors play key role in growing popularity of entertainment programs

On the campus of the Foreign Trade University in Hanoi, a small group of youngsters were engrossed in discussion with a laptop screen in front of them showing a paused scene of the Chinese variety show Running Man.

Hoang Cam Tu, 21, together with her friends from the university's Chinese Studying Club, has been drafting a plan for the university's festival in September.

As fans of Chinese TV shows such as Running Man, Crime Scene and Happy Camp, they are planning to choose some funny and energetic games from the shows to present at the festival.

For many Vietnamese youngsters, Chinese TV shows have gradually become an important part of their entertainment diet.

With an understanding of the importance of Chinese films and TV shows, Tu says that it's also the presence of well-known movie and television stars that helps lure a large number of international viewers to the shows.

"We can see how celebrities behave in real-life situations. They are far more connected to the audience when they are not following scripts," she says.

A few days ago, hundreds of local fans gathered in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City to welcome the film crew and cast members of China's Amazing Race. The team received uninterrupted attention from Vietnamese media and netizens during their five-day trip filming in the country.

"Shows can present the true identities of celebrities. Thanks to this, we can get to know more about our idols and feel more connected to them," Tu explains.

Chinese music shows are also popular among Vietnamese youngsters. "I spend 1-2 hours a day online watching Sing My Song and Come Sing with Me, Hanoian Nguyen Phuong Linh, 25, says.

"The shows prove that even ordinary people can shine on the stage with a great performance," Linh explains as to why the programs are appealing to her.

Sing My Song, China's talent show requiring contestants to perform their original compositions rather than singing songs by others, had its first Vietnamese version produced in 2016 by local firm Cattiensa Media. After being aired on a national television channel, Sing My Song quickly became one of the most favored shows in Vietnam.

Realizing the new appetite of a young audience, online platforms started screening a greater variety of Chinese shows, including traveling programs (Divas Hit the Roads, Flowers on Trip), reality shows (Awesome Challenge, or Up Idols) and other genres such as dating (We Are in Love) or family-related shows (Dad, Where Are We Going).

To meet Vietnamese audience's huge demand for Chinese shows, more and more Vietnamese teams specializing in entertainment programs are being established to make subtitles.

"On the Subteam's Facebook fanpage, followers send us messages and comments every day about our translating schedule," says Yu, head of the Earth Subteam, which is one of the most reputable translation groups devoted to Chinese shows. "That is stressful, but motivating," she smiled.

Having started the team in July 2015, the 26-year-old woman says she has been very happy seeing youngsters nationwide, who have the same passion for Chinese entertainment programs, joining the community.

At first, the team produced subtitles for the shows they liked on a voluntary basis. "We just want to spread joy," says Yu. Now, with their translations purchased and published by many video websites, joy is being spread even further.

Compared to entertainment programs produced by other countries, South Korea for instance, made-in-China shows have proved their unique attractiveness.

"They are very reasonable in length. Most shows last for just under 15 episodes each season - short enough to please both translators and young audiences, who are usually less patient than the elderly group," analyzes Yu.

Also, as Chinese shows are abundant in quantity and various in genres and themes, viewers of different tastes have more chances to find their favorite series.

For Tu, Chinese shows not only help her refresh from classes, but also increase her knowledge in a relaxing way.

"Historical events, beauty spots and many social aspects of the country are reflected in the shows. It's awesome that you can have fun and acquire knowledge at the same time. Students like me really enjoy that," Tu explains excitedly.

Meanwhile, experts maintain that cultural factors play a critical role in helping Chinese entertainment programs win the hearts of Vietnamese youngsters.

"Vietnam and China are neighboring countries, sharing many similarities in politics and culture. This is very advantageous for Chinese cultural products to be well-received in Vietnam," says Tran Thi Thuy, vice head of the Culture-History Research Department at the Institute of Chinese Studies under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences.

Xinhua

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2017-07-29 07:14:46
<![CDATA[Chinese teenagers experience German vocational education]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/29/content_30290897.htm

In a classroom in Dortmund-based vocational training center, Berufsfoerderungswerk (BFW), 12 Chinese teenagers, working in pairs, are assembling pneumatic cylinders while discussing with their partners in Sichuan dialect.

The teenagers, mostly aged 17, are students of the Pujiang vocational Secondary School in Pujiang county of Southwest China's Sichuan province. Financed partly by the county government, they are on a study tour from July 2 to 21 to get a glimpse of Germany's vocational training savvy, with courses at BFW as main activities.

Back home, they are among the first 28 Chinese students in Pujiang to receive a German-style duel system of vocational education on a demonstration project jointly initiated by the German Chambers of Commerce (AHK) in Shanghai, the Pujiang government and a technical college in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province.

Across China, the China-German AHK demonstration programs have been carried out by more than 10 institutes in various economic hubs.

Bridged by the AHK in Shanghai, the 12 students got the opportunity to study in BFW, a professional rehabilitation center offering quality vocational training for those who want to find or change jobs.

In the BFW classroom, desks, chairs and a blackboard are installed in the front, while operation platforms for various devices in the back. The Chinese students took to operation platforms to practice right after listening to instructions on pneumatic circuit by Tobias Haehnel, their German teacher, aided by an interpreter.

Seeing that cylinder assembled by most students worked, Tobias said "I think these students have grasped what I've lectured."

The Chinese students were most impressed by the state-of-the-arts machineries used in BFW. "Components I manufactured with German tuning mills here are of great precision," says Yang Kailun, one of the students.

Huang Yike, another student, marveled at rigorous implementation of the 5S, a workplace management methodology, by German teachers and practitioners. "We were required to remove all the scraps and vacuum leftovers after using the turning mill, as delicate maintenance helps sustain precision of the tuning mill."

"Our students' horizon has been broadened," says Xiong Jiping, a Chinese teacher with the Pujiang Vocational Secondary School heading the group. He found out Germany's strong suit in vocational training lied in quality machineries adopted in teaching and teachers with both substantial theoretical training and hands-on experience.

"The lecturer who taught our kids digitally controlled programming is an expert from Siemens, and he worked in BFW on a part-time basis," Xiong says.

Meanwhile, Xiong also noted the progresses made in China's vocational training. "Nowadays, both the government and schools have become aware of the necessity of the dual system." The dual system in Germany was marked by participation of both schools and enterprises in vocational education.

The progresses came partly as a result of closer cooperation between China and Germany in vocational training.

Xiong believed, as China's economic restructuring demands sufficient supply of high-end technicians, cooperation in vocational training between the two countries will be closer.

Xinhua

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2017-07-29 07:14:46
<![CDATA[Study looks at impact of childcare on elderly immigrants]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/29/content_30290896.htm Caring for grandchildren may be beneficial for mental health, but only if caregiving responsibilities are not burdensome to the elderly, a study on Chinese immigrants living in America has found.

Research from the ongoing Population Study of Chinese Elderly (PINE), in Chicago, was carried in the recent The Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences Volume 72:S1.

Researchers doctors Man Guo, Ling Xu, and Xin Qidong from the PINE study interviewed more than 3000 elderly Chinese immigrants living in the US.

They examined factors such as family conflicts, and the association between grandchildren caregiving, filial discrepancy, and depression.

The study found that family relationships may both benefit and harm the mental health among elderly Chinese.

The study said Chinese populations consider family as the major source of protection against hardships, such as immigration. "Adult children fulfilling filial obligations and grandparents providing care for grandchildren are traditional ways to strengthen the family connections within Chinese families."

However, little was known about how these traditional values affect the mental health of Chinese older adults within immigrant families.

Some of the main findings the study showed older adults who did not feel their children fulfilling the cultural expectation of filial obligations were more likely to have both family and marital conflict.

The study found that caring for grandchildren may be beneficial for mental health, but only if caregiving responsibilities are not burdensome. Chinese elderly were at risk of symptoms of depression when expecting more care from children than they actually received.

The study deduced that intergenerational relations may become a "double-edge sword" that benefit or harm the mental health of Chinese older adults, as immigration had changed the pattern of filial obligations fulfillment and grandparent caregiving.

In order to improve the wellbeing of Chinese older adults, Guo says: "Educational programs may be designed to help both younger and older immigrants to have conversations about expectations, challenges, and adaptations of family relations in the new society. Developing ways of enhancing the independence of older adults while preserving their close relations with families will be the key for such planning."

Xu adds: "Additionally, though a positive impact of grandchild care on psychological well-being was found for Chinese American grandparent caregivers, both grandparent and middle parent generations should be aware that grandparent caregiving is of a choice, not an obligation. When burden is perceived in caring for grandchildren, specific efforts are needed to identify and reach out to grandparent caregivers who are in need of help."

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2017-07-29 07:15:24
<![CDATA[Best bets]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210956.htm
Zhang Yashu's

Nine-colored Deer

Date: July 21-22 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 120-240 yuan

The dance drama The Nine-coloured Deer is produced and performed by ZHANG Yashu, a young Chinese dancer. The drama is created by a team of excellent Chinese young dancers. With their elegant body language, they lead the audience into the world of Dunhuang on the Silk Road, telling the legend of the nine-coloured deer. This work derives from No. 257 Dunhuang Grotto frescoes The Figure of Nine-coloured Deer, which is regarded as one of extant and the most complete Dunhuang frescoes. In the 1980s, The Figure of Nine-coloured Deer was shot into the cartoon The Nine-coloured Deer and it became a household classic story.

Nian Yunhua's Intangible or Tangible, Just a Flashy Thought

Date: July 16 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-200 yuan

This program presents the respect to and exploration on nature and dance. The spirit of dance lies in the moment of performing, wordless but perceivable ... This is the loveliest thing of dance - it approaches your soul in a moment. This work will make use of a variety of traditional Chinese elements, such as calligraphy art, martial arts, ink blowing with wheat-straw and witchcraft. Besides, this work will experimentally combine with contemporary action art and action art device to radiate aesthetics with equal stress on traditional and contemporary savors.

NCPA Opera Jinsha River

Date: July 28-Aug 2 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 100-880 yuan

NCPA opera commission Jinsha River is created at the 90th Anniversary of the Birth of the Chinese People's Liberation Army. The opera is adapted from a novel of the same name, published in 1959. Chen Jing, the author of this novel, is a military writer focusing on themes of the Long March, which he personally experienced. Jinsha River tells the story happened between the Red Army trekking on the Long March and people living in Tibetan areas along the Jinsha River. This novel was once adapted into a Pingju Opera work (1959). In 1963, it also has a film adaptation of the same name.

 

Ariana Grande 2017 World Tour Live

Date: Aug 26 - 8 pm

Venue: Wukesong Arena

Price: 80-500 yuan

Live Nation is proud to announce Ariana Grande is bringing her world tour to China for the first time this coming August. The multiplatinum selling and Grammy Award-nominated artist is ready to ignite this summer with her debut performance in China. In less than a year, she captured the No 1 spot, twice, on the Billboard Top 200 - first with her Republic Records debut Yours Truly and also with its 2014 follow-up, My Everything. Yours Truly yielded the game-changing pop smash The Way featuring Mac Miller, which went triple-platinum, landed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, and seized No 1 on the iTunes Overall Top Songs chart.

The Merchant of Venice

Date: July 22-30 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Comedy Theater

Price: 100-500 yuan

The Merchant of Venice coproduced by NCPA and Tianjie Group is NCPA's fourth Shakespeare's drama since 2016 (other three ones are A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet and King Lear). Themed with "the spirit of contract", this drama tells a story about love and friendship. Apart from drama performers, a band and a bel canto vocalist also join this performance.

You Look Tasty

Date: July 23-27 - 7:30 pm

Venue: Beijing Art Theatre for Children

Price: 80-400 yuan

In the valley, an ankylosaurus egg rolls to the front of Tyrannosaurus and breaks. The sight of the ankylosaurus baby makes Tyrannosaurus run at the mouth. "You look yummy," Tyrannosaurus says. Unexpectedly, the baby cries out, "Daddy!" It turns out that the little ankylosaur is called Yummy. Chilantaisaurus, eager to eat Yummy, cruelly says, "Tyrannosaurus is not your Daddy! He will eat you sooner or later!" Since then, both Yummy and Tyrannosaurus feel wronged and sad. Seeing Tyrannosaurus's sad look, Yummy becomes softhearted. He picks his favorite red fruits and brings them to Tyrannosaurus. Moved by his innocence and kindness, Tyrannosaurus promises not to eat Yummy forever, and teaches him his famous three tricks.

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2017-07-22 07:00:22
<![CDATA[Bridge mysteries may baffle a detective]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210955.htm A.A. Milne, in The Red House Mystery, wrote, "Like all really nice people, you have a weakness for detective stories, and feel that there are not enough of them. So, after all that you have done for me, the least that I can do for you is to write you one."

Some bridge deals are like mystery stories - what is the winning play or defense? Others just have a baffling aspect. For example, in today's deal, look only at the South hand. After three passes, South opens one club, West overcalls one heart, North passes, and East raises to two hearts. What should South do now?

Once you have decided, look at the North hand. Do you agree with the pass over one heart?

This deal was played at 16 Bridge Base Online tables. Over two hearts, an unbelievable 11 Souths rebid three clubs, which ended the auction.

Why would you bid only three clubs with such a powerful hand? Yes, it is possible that no game is makable, but you won't know that until after you see the dummy, and they pay a big bonus for bringing home a vulnerable game. It should be clear to rebid five clubs or three no-trump, both of which are easy to make. With a lot of winners, go for game.

Finally, let's look at North's problem. With seven points, he wants to bid, but nothing fits the bill. If he cannot bring himself to pass, he should make a negative double despite the lack of a fourth spade - and slide the club seven into his spades! Here, he would survive this experiment unless partner decided to gamble on six clubs, which cannot make.

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2017-07-22 07:00:22
<![CDATA[Listings]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/22/content_30210954.htm SHOWS

The Epic Horse Show - Troy

Date: July 22-30 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Stadium

Price: 100-1,280 yuan

She will be the grand achievement of the history of Chinese performance, with hundreds of well-known horses and Asian and European artists. She is based on the great literature of ancient Greece that spreads thousands of years- Homer's Epic Poems; She will lead the audience back to the era when man and god were coexisted. Horses and Beauties, Gods and Heroes are the essential elements throughout the performance; She appeared as film, TV serial, play, animation once, but has never entered the world of Show. Now, through the wind and the clouds, she shall meet the horse appearing as The Epic Horse Show - Troy.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Slava's Snow Show

Date: Aug 30-Sept 3 - 7:30 pm

Venue: National Center for the Performing Arts

Price: 99-680 yuan

Snowshow is a universal and timeless theatrical poetic spectacle which has unanimously enchanted and empowered the imagination of audiences and critics since 1993 in dozens of countries, hundreds of cities with multiple thousand performances resulting in millions of ecstatic spectators from all nationalities, genders, beliefs, types and ages, probably like no other show. It is a genre of it's own and remains as spontaneous and magical as on the first day it was performed, systematically catapulting adults back in childhood.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Aida Opera by Giuseppe Verdi 2017

Date: Sept 8-10 - 8 pm

Venue: Guangzhou Opera House

Price: 280-2,280 yuan

Aida is an opera in four acts by Giuseppe Verdi to an Italian libretto by Antonio Ghislanzoni. Set in Egypt, it was commissioned by and first performed at Cairo's Khedivial Opera House on 24 December 1871;Giovanni Bottesini conducted after Verdi himself withdrew. Today the work holds a central place in the operatic canon, receiving performances every year around the world; at New York's Metropolitan Opera alone, Aida has been sung more than 1,100 times since 1886. Ghislanzoni's scheme follows a scenario often attributed to the French Egyptologist Auguste Mariette, but Verdi biographer Mary Jane Phillips-Matz argues that the source is actually Temistocle Solera.

Contact: 010-6655-0000

Sweden Svanholm Singers

Date: Aug 5 - 7:30 pm

Venue: NCPA

Price: 50-320 yuan

Svanholm Singers is an extraordinary male voice chamber choir. Since its formation in 1998, the ensemble has established itself as one of the brightest shining stars on the Swedish choral scene. The 20 talented singers constantly strive to develop and refine their artistic and musical expression, through vocal music for male voices. The core of the repertoire is the male choir tradition of Scandinavia and the Baltic. Through numerous tours and awards in Europe and Japan the ensemble has gained a reputation for performances characterized by spirit, joy and youth while making unique interpretations of classical music. The light voices of the singers in combination with an exact intonation create a unique sound that has become the trademark for Svanholm Singers. The choir was named after Set Svanholm (1904-1964), world famous opera tenor and father of Eva Svanholm Bohlin, who was the founder and first conductor of Svanholm Singers. The choir has won many awards. In 2010 at the Bela Bartok International Choir Competition in Debrecen, Hungary, Svanholm Singers was awarded gold and first prize in the Equal voices category, and a special prize for best interpretation of compulsory piece. Sofia Soderberg Eberhard received a conductor's special prize. In 2009 at the LV Certamen Internacional de Habaneras y Polifonia de Torrevieja, Svanholm Singers received the third prize in the polyphonic category. In 2007 at the 10th International Choir Festival "Tallinn 2007", Svanholm Singers won first prize in the categories for Contemporary music and Renaissance music.

Contact: 400-610-3721

Gloriously Broadway - Sister Act in Guangzhou

Date: July 26-Aug 6 - 8 pm

Venue: Guangzhou Opera House

Price: 180-980 yuan

A newly revised adaptation of the show opened on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre on April 20, 2011, after previews beginning March 24, 2011. Jerry Zaks was the new director with Douglas Carter Beane rewriting the book. Patina Miller, who originated the role of Deloris in the West End production, reprised the role on Broadway, making her Broadway debut. The original cast featured Victoria Clark (Mother Superior), Fred Applegate (Monsignor), Sarah Bolt (Sister Mary Patrick), Chester Gregory (Eddie), Kingsley Leggs (Curtis), Marla Mindelle (Sister Mary Robert) and Audrie Neenan (Sister Mary Lazarus).

Contact: 400-610-3721

Rhythm of Youth - Asian Youth Orchestra Concert

Date: July 25 - 7:30 pm

Venue: NCPA

Price: 80-500 yuan

The 110 members of the Asian Youth Orchestra (AYO) are among the finest young musicians in China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Chosen through highly competitive auditions held throughout the region, they are together for six weeks each summer, initially for a three-week Rehearsal Camp in Hong Kong, then for a three-week international concert tour with celebrated conductors and solo artists. Cellists Yo-Yo Ma, Mischa Maisky, Steven Isserlis, Wang Jian and Alisa Weilerstein, violinists Gidon Kremer, Gil Shaham, Elmar Oliveira, Young Uck Kim, Stefan Jackiw and Cho-Liang Lin, soprano Elly Ameling, the Beaux Arts Trio, pianists Alicia de Larrocha, Cecile Licad, Leon Fleisher and Jean Louis Steuerman are among those who have performed with AYO under the direction of principal conductor James Judd, music director emeritus Sergiu Comissiona, Alexander Schneider, Tan Dun, and the orchestra's co-founders, Yehudi Menuhin and Richard Pontzious. Since its inaugural performances in 1990, the award-winning Orchestra has played some 395 concerts in Asia, Europe, the US and Australia to an audience of more than one million concertgoers. Millions more have seen and heard the orchestra around the world on CNN, CNBC, NHK and Radio and Television Hong Kong. A staggering 20,000 musicians, ranging in age from 17 to 27, have auditioned for AYO. Those selected for the full scholarship program study with an exceptional artist-faculty of principals from the Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Minnesota and San Francisco symphony orchestras, the Bergamo Festival Orchestra (Italy), the Triple Helix Trio, Harvard, and the Boston and Peabody music conservatories.

Contact: 400-610-3721

ACTIVITIES & NIGHTLIFE

Rembrandt and His Time: Masterpieces from The Leiden Collection

Date: July 22-Sept 3 - 9 am

Venue: National Museum of China

Price: Free Entry

As part of its mission to stimulate a wider appreciation and understanding of seventeenth-century Dutch art, The Leiden Collection's first international traveling exhibition will bring a group of some seventy works to the National Museum of China, Beijing from June 17, 2017 through September 3, 2017. The Leiden Collection exhibition makes history by presenting the largest assemblage of Dutch Golden Age paintings ever to visit China. It will include eleven paintings by Rembrandt - the greatest number of works by the master in private hands - as well as Vermeer's Young Woman Seated at a Virginal, the first painting by the celebrated artist to travel to Beijing.

Contact: 010-6401-2252

Lany 2017 in Shanghai

Date: July 31 - 8 pm

Venue: Bandai Namco Shanghai Base Future House

Price: 250-280 yuan

For a shot in the dark, Lany's album is something of a triumph, underpinned by distinctive, wistful lyrics that continue to set Lany apart from their peers. "It wasn't a conscious decision to write such conversational lyrics, but I've definitely noticed most people don't do it," Klein adds. "I know we're different, because people tell me we're different, but we never tried to be. The result is an album packed with truth, and light on ambiguity. "Some writers aren't even sure what their lyrics mean until after they're written, and only then do they attach meaning," Paul adds. "I know what I mean, and I'm going to say it. That's the only thing that makes sense to me."

Contact: 400-610-3721

Against The Current 2017 Live in Shanghai

Date: Sept 27 - 8 pm

Venue: Bandai Namco Shanghai Base Dream Hall

Price: 280 yuan

In the past few years, the group achieved a considerable amount of fame on YouTube after posting covers of various songs while working with other well-known YouTube cover artists such as Alex Goot and Sam Tsui. Now, Against The Current has evolved from an upstart band to an unstoppable trio. The band currently boasts over 1.7 million YouTube subscribers and 150 million channel views, while Chrissy has over 1.6 million Facebook likes, 1 million Instagram followers and 460,000 Twitter followers. The band, formed by Chrissy Costanza, Dan Gow and Will Ferri in 2011 in Poughkeepsie, NY, unveiled their first song, "Thinking," in mid-2012 and self-released two EPS in the years that followed. Their 2015 release Gravity, sent the band on a world tour, playing venues across the U.S., Europe and Asia and selling out shows everywhere from Tokyo to Amsterdam to Paris. The album 'In Our Bones' as a whole encompasses a range of feelings and experiences, as well as stylistic tones. "Young & Relentless" is buoyant and propulsive, a bounding pop rock track with an immediate chorus, while anthemic pop number "Forget Me Now" is what Will calls "a look into the past, present and future of our lives." Lyrically, Chrissy took inspiration from other music and books she was reading, and drew a lot from her own experiences.

Contact: 400-610-3721

The Beijinger 2017 Pizza Cup Launch Festival

Date: Sept 16-17 - 11 am

Venue: Wangjing Sohu, 1 Futong East Street

Price: 80-700 yuan

To mark the launch of 2017's Pizza Cup, our annual Pizza Festival returns to Wangjing Soho for what will be the fourth celebration of all things cheesy, saucy, doughy, not necessarily triangly, but certainly squarely one of our favorite foods ever to exist. Following the success of last year's event, at this year's two-day festival we'll have entertainment fit for all the family in the form of live music, DJs, and of course unlimited amounts of the city's best pizza, snacks, and drinks. We've even invited the Guinness Book of World Records to witness what will hopefully be the biggest dough toss of all time.

Contact: 400-815-9888

SPORTS

Monster Jam 2017 in Beijing

Date: July 29 - 7:00 pm

Venue: National Stadium, Beijing

Price: 180-680 yuan

Monster Jam is a live motor sport event tour and television show operated by Feld Entertainment. The series is sanctioned under the umbrella of the United States Hot Rod Association and takes place primarily in the United States. Although individual event formats can vary greatly based on the "intermission" entertainment, the main attraction is always the racing and freestyle competitions by monster trucks. At Monster Jam shows, monster trucks face off in two different forms of competition - Racing and Freestyle. In the smaller shows they have a wheelie competition and/or a doughnut contest. The goal in the wheelie competition is to hit a ramp and get big air while remaining perpendicular to the ground. In the doughnut competition a driver tries to spin their truck until he/she gets dizzy, the truck can't go any more, or they think they have a high enough score to win. Side-by-side racing is traditional heads-up tournament racing, where the first truck to cross the finish line moves onto the next round until it is eliminated or wins the racing trophy by winning the Championship race. The freestyle competition allows drivers two minutes on an open floor to show off their skills as they drive the trucks over cars, and doing stunts and tricks with their trucks. The freestyle winner is determined by 6 judges each giving a score out of 10. The high and the low scores are dropped that the fans gave. The max score is 40. There are two winners from both events, however if the same person that won racing that night also won freestyle that night then they get the biggest trophy, next to the world finals trophy, the Double Down trophy, named after the Double Down activities in Las Vegas at the Monster Jam World Finals.

Contact: 400-610-3721

WWE Live 2017 China

Date: Sept 17 - 7:00 pm

Venue: Shenzhen Bay Sport Center Chun Jian Gymnasium

Price: 180-2,080 yuan

Fans attending WWE Live China will be able to see their favorite WWE Superstars, including John Cena, Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kevin Owens, The New Day, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Natalya, Sami Zayn and many more. It is presented in partnership with Live Nation, the global leader in live entertainment. Dennis Argenzia, vice president at Asia Touring, Live Nation said "We are excited to bring this action-packed and family-friendly WWE live show to Shenzhen, China this September."

Contact: 400-610-3721

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2017-07-22 07:00:22
<![CDATA[Making of a playground]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/15/content_30123838.htm A new Happy Valley park in southwestern China may see Chongqing becoming a center for many such attractions. Yang Feiyue reports

Dancing cartoon characters, screaming visitors on roller coasters, and hospitable service personnel marked the opening day of a new Happy Valley park in Chongqing in southwestern China on July 8.

Covering an area of 500,000 square meters, the new facility is expected to give a shot in the arm to tourism in the municipality, says He Yousheng, a senior official with the local government.

It fills a void. There was no large-scale international theme park in Chongqing earlier.

 

Chongqing's Happy Valley boasts a complex landscape featuring a river, a valley and cliff. Photos by Yang Feiyue / China Daily

 

A new Happy Valley park opend in Chongqing on July 8. Yang Feiyue / China Daily

The park is expected to draw 3 million visitors annually.

Many came from outside Chongqing to visit the park on the opening day.

A visitor surnamed Wu drove two hours from Guang'an in Sichuan province with her family.

"Although Chengdu also has a Happy Valley park, we're closer to Chongqing," says Wu.

She says her son had been pestering her to go since hearing of the park.

Brought into focus

The Overseas China Town Group built its first Happy Valley park in Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, back in 1998.

Over the years, the group has built parks in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Chengdu, in Sichuan province and Wuhan, in Hubei province.

Chongqing's rapid economic growth and high speed rail and air connectivity is part of the reason why the Happy Valley park was set up here.

Last year, the municipality received more 450 million visits from home and abroad, up 15.1 percent over the previous year.

Tourism income was 265 billion yuan ($39 billion), up 17.5 percent.

Meanwhile, other theme park chains are making plans to set up shop in Chongqing.

The Six Flags theme park chain from the United States is expected to start operations in 2019, and later this year, a cartoon park, a European-style resort, a polar region ocean park and a flower park plan to open.

In fact, a water park next to Happy Valley opened on July 8.

It was also built by the Overseas China Town Group and covers an area of 180,000 square meters.

The park features one of the world's biggest wave-making pools.

Happy Valley which is able to withstand increasing competition thanks to innovation, got the "Chinese Famous Brand" tag from the trademark review and adjudication board of the State Administration for Industry& Commerce last year.

Innovative theme park

Speaking about the new park, Wang Xiaowen, the president of the Overseas China Town Group, says: "It's the first time we have tried to build an innovative theme park using a complex landscape featuring a river, a valley and cliff.

"We are hoping that the park can contribute to tourism development in Chongqing.

There are nearly 50 facilities at the park, and they stand at various heights, creating a three-dimensional impact, says Wang.

The sky wheel Eye of Chongqing is 40 floors tall and is believed to currently be the sixth tallest one worldwide.

The flying rollercoaster resembles a moving dragon, which goes 360 degrees on green rails.

The Twin-Tower Heroes are two iron towers that can spring you from the ground to the top in less than two seconds. And before you know where you are, it sends you into free fall.

Also, there are programs that cater to visitors who seek for less exciting experiences.

A water feature runs through a primitive rainforest-like area and allows participants to go through twists and turns featuring a whirlpool, giant stones and a waterfall. High-pressure water jets ambush you to dial up the thrill.

A flying cinema offers a giant sphere screen and flying seats that change angles to merge you with the film.

Unique experiences

Local elements featuring gourmet food and culture have also been integrated into the park to distinguish it from its counterparts.

Performances will also be staged to spice up the visitor experience. They include magic shows, dinosaur and pirate-themed float parades, light shows and a Halloween carnival.

To help visitors explore the park, a mobile app has been developed to allow ticket purchases and make reservations.

Transportation is easy too. The park is roughly a 30-minute drive from the city's downtown. And the city rail can also carry visitors to the park.

With several theme parks coming down the pike, it seems Chongqing will ultimately become the place for those wanting to play.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 07/15/2017 page17)

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2017-07-15 07:11:40
<![CDATA[UK top draw for Chinese tourists, with visits surging by 30 percent]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-07/15/content_30123837.htm

The depreciation of the pound is expected to send more Chinese on a shopping spree in the UK.

The number of Chinese visitors to the country surged by 30 percent over April-June, China's biggest travel agency Ctrip reports.

And those who have applied for visas through Ctrip increased by 40 percent.

Tourist numbers are expected to surge by 60 percent year-on-year during this summer vacation, with parents with children becoming a major force, according to the travel agency.

"Chinese tourists are still keen to travel to Europe, including the UK, and the recent terrorist attacks did not change the trend," says Shi Yuzhuan, an officer with Ctrip's market department.

"We've seen that tourists rarely cancel their travel plans to the UK because of attacks," says Shi.

The country came out on top as the most popular European destination for the Chinese in a June ranking released by Ctrip.

Chinese visitors are leading the growth in UK tourism.

The number of flights from China to the UK increased by 10 percent this summer, and Chinese tourists are flocking to the country to shop, British media reports.

Chinese travelers are expected to spend 1 billion pounds in the country this year, double the amount they spent four years ago.

At the Burberry flagship store on Regent Street in London, Chinese tourists roughly account for 70 percent of all visitors most of the time.

"The drop in the pound value has made tourism cheap and cheerful, which makes UK more popular," says Shi.

Meanwhile, Chinese travel agencies have developed shopping-themed routes to cater to the trend.

Individual travel in London and accommodation at hotels near downtown subways or popular shopping blocks is arranged for travelers to better explore the country's shopping resources.

Ctrip is also working with local business to offer shopping discounts to Chinese travelers.

The per capita average spending of the Chinese now stands at 12,000 yuan ($1,770) and more than half of travelers to UK opt for trips that last for more than 10 days.

London, Edinburgh, Fort William, Manchester, Cambridge and Oxford are the most popular destinations for the Chinese.

Top 10 sources of Chinese travelers to UK

Shanghai

Beijing

Guangzhou, Guangdong province

Chengdu, Sichuan province

Shenzhen, Guangdong province

Hangzhou, Zhejiang province

Wuhan, Hubei province

Nanjing, Jiangsu province

Chongqing

Tianjin

(China Daily 07/15/2017 page17)

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2017-07-15 07:11:40
<![CDATA[Fasting Or Not, Uygurs Show Guests A Good Time]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/23/content_29860829.htm

 

Muslims gather in Id Kah mosque in Kashgar for Friday prayers.Photos By Zou Hong / China Daily

Ramadan tests self-discipline of Muslims in Kashgar, but provides a festival atmosphere for tourists, as Cui Jia and Mao Weihua report from Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Turdigul Ali sat staring up at a clock hanging on a wall in her brother's house in Kashgar, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on June 12. She was waiting for it to reach 10:30 pm, so she could perform a short prayer and bring an end to her daylong fast.

It was something the 35-year-old Muslim had repeated every day since May 27 during Ramadan - a holy month of fasting observed by some Muslims. Those who fast are not allowed to consume any form of food or beverage during daylight hours. The end of Ramadan will be marked in Xinjiang by the festival of fast-breaking on Monday.

Turdigul's brother's house sits on the edge of a 40-meter-tall loess platform and overlooks the Tuman River.

It is a traditional Uygur residential area known as the high platform neighborhood, which has a history of more than 1,000 years and is a landmark of Kashgar's old town that currently has more than 220,000 residents. Most of them are Uygurs and a large number are Muslim.

The loess, which formed the platform, is also the raw material Turdigul's brother, Aniwar Ali, who is a pottery craftsman, uses to make traditional Uygur bowls and jugs, which are popular among tourists.

Although the 50-year-old doesn't work at his kiln during Ramadan, his business is as popular as always.

"Many people have asked me why I don't make pottery during this month and I always patiently explain to them about fasting," said Aniwar, who has been learning the craft since he was just 7 years old.

Aniwar and Turdigul were the only members of their family who chose to fast this year, because their 75-year-old mother had been unwell and their spouses had to take care of their young children.

As Turdigul was enjoying her fast-breaking meal on June 12, Aniwar's daughter, Nazera Aniwar, 7, excitedly tried on the new dresses her mother had just bought her for the fast-breaking festival.

Many visitors were drawn to the old town after it was renovated, and it became one of China's top tourist destinations in 2015 due to the preservation of Uygur architecture and lifestyle.

Dawut Shawut, 36, was born and raised in the old town. He earns a living by showing visitors the alleyways and bazaars of the old town on his horse-drawn cart.

He always waits at the entrance of the old town while visitors watch a daily welcoming ceremony featuring traditional Uygur music and dances at 10:30 am. There has been no exception during Ramadan, because it is also the peak season for tourism in Kashgar.

"It takes about an hour and a half to go around the old town on my horse-drawn cart and I can make about 450 yuan ($65) a day - about 30 percent more than in other months," Dawut said. "Fasting doesn't affect my ability to provide tourists with good service. Uygurs know how to show guests a good time."

A century-old teahouse is located at the heart of the old town of Kashgar.

It is normally packed with locals who want to relax and enjoy cheap, delicious tea that has been brewed by the same family for generations.

It is still open during Ramadan, but it is obviously much quieter because many of the regulars need to fast.

Abudulrehman Tash, 60, decided not to fast this year for personal reasons, and carried on the routines of socializing with his friends in the teahouse every Tuesday at 2 pm.

"Fasting, or not, is a personal choice. People in the old town will not judge you for that," Abudulrehman said.

The teahouse is just a few minutes' walk from Xinjiang's biggest mosque, Id Kah. Thousands of Muslims from the old town flood into the mosque for jumah - Friday prayers - at 3:30 pm during Ramadan.

People start to gather around 2 pm and soon long lines are formed. They all wait orderly and quietly to gain entrance to the mosque for prayer.

Although the food market opposite Id Kah may seem quiet in the daytime during Ramadan, it certainly comes to life when daily fasting is over.

People flock to the market, which specializes in traditional Uygur cuisine.

The locals are spoiled for choice, with a vast variety of food including barbecue lamb kebabs and spicy lamb feet. The food market is then turned into a big fast-breaking party around midnight.

Dilhuba Memet, 15, has been helping her mother at a stall selling Uygur-style wonton soup and noodles after school during Ramadan because the business is much busier than usual, she said.

Dilhuba said she is looking forward to the fast-breaking festival, known as Eid al-Fitr. There will be a three-day holiday for people from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, which is home to 51 percent of China's Muslim population.

"My family will visit our relatives in the old town where people will be in their new clothes and putting on a beautiful display of good food for guests," she said.

"Like Spring Festival, the fast-breaking festival brings people, especially the family, together."

Contact the writers at cuijia@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-06-23 09:40:53
<![CDATA[Selling sheep has long been a serious business]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/23/content_29860828.htm

 

Kashgar's livestock market has been in operation since the times of the ancient Silk Road.Zou Hong/china Daily

Abudulreheman Roz always attends the outdoor livestock market in the western suburb of Kashgar, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, on Sundays so he can sell his sheep at the highest price.

Thousands of livestock, including sheep, cows, donkeys, horses and camels, are brought to the market, also known as the city's livestock bazaar, which only opens on Sunday. It is as noisy, dusty and crowded as usual during Ramadan.

Some herders arrive at the market with more than 100 animals, while others arrive with just a few. The animals arrive on foot, in trucks, on the backs of motorcycles, or even on the backs of other animals.

Uygur businesspeople are known for attaching great importance to visual merchandising, and there is no exception in trading livestock.

The heads of the sheep are tied up in lines and all face the same direction like soldiers waiting to be inspected.

They have all been sheared before being brought to the market, where their owners will add the finishing touch by styling the wool on their tails with scissors.

"I am not going to sell now, because the price of sheep is too low, but it is a good time to buy," Abudulreheman, 62, said on June 11. Having grown up in a nearby village, Abudulreheman started visiting the market with his grandfather when he was a child. Some say the market has been in Kashgar since the times of the ancient Silk Road.

Abudulreheman can tell how much meat a sheep can produce by simply squeezing its back. The Uygurs usually use hand gestures to negotiate prices and seal the deal with a big hug.

It was hotter than 38 C by noon and Abudulreheman was still looking for the perfect sheep at the perfect price. His business plan was to buy younger sheep and sell them in September just ahead of the Festival of Sacrifice, or Eid al-Adha, for a higher price.

During the festival, Muslims in Kashgar normally buy and kill a sheep as a sacrifice, so the price usually goes up ahead of the holiday. Abudulreheman predicted that he can make at least 200 yuan ($30) in profit per sheep.

"Fasting actually helps me to keep a clear head when negotiating. I can also use the lunch time to look at more sheep," he said while carefully examining a sheep from hooves to tail.

Contact the writers at cuijia@chinadaily.com.cn

  ]]>
2017-06-23 09:40:53
<![CDATA[Reclaiming the desert]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/10/content_29695820.htm

 

Tibetan herdsmen carry baskets filled with highland willows in Ruo'ergai county, Sichuan province. Photos by Jiang Hongjing

April to May is the most precious time for sand control, because highland willow and grass have higher chance of survival

In May, everything comes to life on the Ruo'ergai prairie in Sichuan province. Tibetan herdsmen transport organic fertilizer and grass protective screens, sowing grass seeds to prevent desertification. Soon, the bare sand dunes are covered with patchworks. Desertification is caused by multiple factors - climate warming, rainfall reduction, rodents and excessive grazing. Early April to the end of May is the most precious time for sand control, because highland willow and grass have higher chance of survival. The Ruo'ergai county has a total of 128 sand control spots, where people set up tents and live during the two months. According to the county's environmental protection and forestry bureau, from 2007 to date, 23,619.79 hectares of sandy grassland has been harnessed for sand control, accounting for 29 percent of the total desert in the region. By 2020 the county is expected to harness 42,984.5 hectares.

Xinhua

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2017-06-10 07:25:18
<![CDATA[Another Dimension]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/10/content_29695771.htm

 

Kerry Hotel Hong Kong is elevated above the waterfront promenade by Hung Hum Pier.Photos Provided To China Daily

Kerry Hotels' new urban resort in Hong Kong promises more room for life, Lindsay Andrews reports.

If it is in those moments when time and space are intimately experienced as the here and now that we are best able to appreciate their value, then Hong Kong, where it can seem that life is being lived on permanent fast forward and less than 0.01 centimeters apart, would appear to be an unlikely setting for a heightened awareness of the time being.

However, the first new hotel to open on the Kowloon waterfront since 1995 belies that notion, as its unique design and attentive service create the distinct impression that space and time have been somehow stretched relative to the rest of the city.

There is nothing quite like time traveling beyond hour-marked differences of a journey to make a trip away from the familiar more engaging, something the Kerry Hotel, Hong Kong accomplishes with some panache, offering as it does "a different dimension" for experiencing the city, in the words of Madhu Rao, acting president of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts.

The third and flagship property of the Hong Kong-based hospitality company's vibrant young Kerry brand, the apparent ability of the hotel to warp space-time is the consummation of both its design and location, as elevated above the waterfront promenade by Hung Hum Pier it is detached from the usual clamor and commotion of crowds and traffic.

However, that doesn't mean it is divorced from the lifebeat of the city. It connects seamlessly with the adjacent public spaces along the waterfront, and its unique multilevel podium design and landscaped gardens not only offer unimpeded views of the harbor but also break the distinction between private and public areas enabling the hotel to "fully embrace the local community and culture", as Nicholas Smith, the hotel's general manager, says.

Indeed, the hotel is both a manifestation, and to some extent a driver, of the area's transformation, helping to give a new lease on life to what was previously considered a sleepy and no-reason-to-visit residential area.

The goal, as designer Andre Fu explains, was to create a hotel that would appeal to a broad range of guests and users, offering not only a pragmatic stay for business travelers and a lifestyle stay for contemporary globetrotters, but also an urban-resort-inspired experience for the local community.

For visitors, the hotel also acts as an appealing portal to the less well-known yet intriguing haunts of this part of the city, where legacies of the past - for instance the oldest cinema still running in the city - rub shoulders with intimations of the future, such as a site devoted to a zero carbon world.

The aptly named, The Bay Area Guide, presents some selected highlights in Hung Hom, Kowloon Bay and To Kwa Wan to inspire your own exploration of the area's vibrant character and food culture.

An expression of the changes revitalizing the area, the hotel has already established itself as a wining and dining destination in its own right. All five of its restaurants, as well as its bar, offer outdoor terraces and casual and relaxed environments where family and friends can enjoy each other's company, as Darren Hilditch, director of food and beverage, says.

While the hotel's outdoor spaces set the tone for its urban resort character, they also facilitate the hotel's dedication to offering distinctive venues not only for large-scale conferences, exhibitions and events, but also for more intimate celebrations of special occasions.

Meanwhile, the hotel's air of relaxed luxury is fully evident in the guest rooms, which are fashioned for both comfort and convenience and range from 42 square meters for a Deluxe Sea View Room to 294 sq m for the Presidential Suite, which comes with its own private bar and terrace.

So in the end, after all the exploring, we arrive where we started, having made the most of our time and more room for life.

Contact the writer at lindsayandrews@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-06-10 07:10:19
<![CDATA[Rosewood to expand Asia offerings after Beijing success]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/10/content_29695770.htm

 

Rosewood Beijing showcases the brand's philosophy of "a sense of place".Provided To China Daily

Rosewood Hotels and Resorts is expanding its influence in the Asian market by opening four more hotels in 2017.

After the Hong Kong brand unveiled Rosewood Beijing as its first mainland property in 2014, the group said it believes its philosophy in hospitality has gained wide acceptance.

"Now is the perfect time for Rosewood Hotels and Resorts to expand its footprint in Asia," said Symon Bridle, the chief operating officer of Rosewood Hotel Group.

"Rosewood Beijing has been our best business card in this part of the world and has been an excellent showcase of Rosewood's philosophy of 'a sense of place'."

Rosewood's first mainland resort is due to open in Haitang Bay in Sanya, Hainan province, this summer.

Another hotel is scheduled to launch at the end of next year in Guangzhou's tallest high-rise building, the Guangzhou Chow Tai Fook Finance Center.

Yet the expedition to the Chinese mainland has not been easy. There are still hurdles Rosewood must overcome before its new resort and hotels become a market hit.

"Our challenge is to maintain the very high standard we have set with Rosewood Beijing," Bridle said.

"In large part the biggest challenge to doing so lies in the area of human resources," he noted. "People are and always will be the major way in which we can create unforgettable experiences for our guests."

Facing the challenges head-on, Rosewood has been focusing on selecting, training and developing its teams.

"We work actively with schools and universities to attract new talent to our brand and to the industry," he said. "The millennial mindset is a little different to other generations as they look to future careers.

"It's really important to show the excitement and rewards that working in the hotel industry can bring, as well as, importantly, how we offer an engaged, participative work environment with real growth opportunities for individuals."

Following its success in Beijing, the group also expects to open more resorts in Southeast Asia.

Rosewood Phuket in Thailand and Rosewood Phnom Penh in Cambodia are both due to open this summer. Another property offering luxury tent adventures in Laos is also on the group's agenda for later in 2017.

renxiaojin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-06-10 07:10:19
<![CDATA[InterContinental's steakhouse unites flavors of land, sea]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/10/content_29695769.htm

 

Monkfish is a highlight on the inventive five-course menu.Provided To China Daily

The InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun stands out even among the dazzling lights of the capital's most fashionable shopping district. Towering over the nearby malls and office complexes, a state-of-the-art light display flickers across the building's external skeleton, guiding tourists and locals alike to the city's beating heart of modernity.

The hotel differs from the global brand's other, more business-oriented properties in nodding to the stylish, contemporary atmosphere of the area.

Offering six food and beverage outlets, the hotel can provide guests and visitors a wide range of local and international cuisines, be it Spanish tapas, Chinese delicacies, or premium Australian wagyu beef at its steakhouse, Char Dining Room and Lounge.

There are three Char locations across China in total, one located in Beijing's Lido mall and another at Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund.

Char at the InterContinental Beijing Sanlitun is offering a seasonal five-course white asparagus set menu, priced at 688 yuan ($100) until mid-June.

Grown in Yunnan province, the white asparagus is kept underground or covered to protect it from sunlight. This prevents the green color from developing on the tender stalks. Char's kitchen pairs the originally French vegetable with various fish and seafood to explore the connection between land and sea.

Lardo scampi, marinated salmon and monkfish all make the cut, featuring on the well-balanced and inventive menu that incorporates asparagus into each dish with a unique twist.

A particular highlight is the creamy white asparagus soup, which the waiters pour into the bowl at the table from elegant teapots, creating a moat surrounding a delicate display of salmon twirls, melt-in-the-mouth caviar, a poached quail's egg and generous shavings of black truffle.

Each course comes with its own specially selected wine pairing, costing 388 yuan. The white wines from France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand carefully balance the subtle flavors in the dishes, individually complementing the differing notes of each.

The third-floor restaurant overlooks the city lights of Sanlitun's thriving Taikooli shopping street, with an open-air balcony from which to absorb the cultural center's bustling energy.

Inside, a 12-seater VIP room features projectors that beam onto the table top, delighting diners with 3-D animations of little chefs creating food before their very eyes.

Fire pits dot the restaurant, underlining the steakhouse ambience and adding a touch of flair.

camilla@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-06-10 07:10:19
<![CDATA[Roundup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-06/10/content_29695768.htm Festival

Crowne Plaza Beijing Sun Palace brought pure Yunnan art to the capital, with the ninth Yunnan Culture Festival staged in early June. During the event, guests joined the Water Splash ceremony to experience the real culture of the Dai ethnic group in Yunnan province in Southwest China. The event also featured other artistic performances from the province and an authentic Yunnan buffet.

Awards

The St. Regis Tianjin became the most-awarded winner at the That's Tianjin 2017 Food & Drink Awards ceremony. Its restaurant Riviera won three trophies including Alfresco Dining of the Year, Fine Dining of the Year and Restaurant of the Year. At the same time, River Lounge, where guests can enjoy the best river view in town, won the Lounge Bar of the Year award.

Culinary Delights

Shangri-La Hotel, Shenyang in Northeast China's Liaoning province has invited Loi Timming, chef de cuisine of Kowloon Shangri-La, Hong Kong's Michelin two-starred restaurant, Shang Palace, to present signature Cantonese barbecue dishes at the Summer Palace in June. 024-2436-6666

Kerry's Kitchen at Kerry Hotel, Beijing will offer a Father's Daythemed brunch on June 18. The hotel will also provide diners with personalized bottles of wine printed with his or her father's favorite picture, if he or she sends a highresolution photo to comm.hbkc@thekerryhotels.com and makes a booking before June 13. Fathers will have a chance to win in a lucky draw for a five-night cruise trip to Japan for the whole family, weekend stays at Kerry Hotel, Beijing, and food and beverage vouchers. 010-8565-2088

XTD elevated, a premium outdoor barbeque destination at The Langham, Shanghai, Xintiandi, has launched a new menu featuring a variety of premium meat cuts. The menu's highlight is Killara Wagyu, beef secondary cuts exclusively for XTD elevated. Chilled oysters and fruits de mer such as New Zealand premium scampi, roasted Atlantic halibut and Boston live lobster are also available. 021-2330-2426

Charity

The 2017 Marriott East China Charity Golf Tournament took place at the Shanghai Agile Mickelson Shanghai International Club, with all proceeds donated to Marriott International's charity partner, Yao Foundation, to support physical education in rural areas. The tournament was hosted by 85 Marriott International hotels in East China.

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2017-06-10 07:10:19
<![CDATA[Treasures of Chengdu]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/30/content_29546848.htm The Jinsha Site Museum reminds visitors of fantastic lanterns and snacks from different parts of the world. Huang Zhiling reports.

If you mention Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province, local people may think of fantastic lanterns and snacks from different parts of the world.

But for travelers from outside the city, the museum is more about mysterious, unique ancient artifacts.

For Liu Jiaran, a teenager who has attended the annual lantern show at the museum since 2010, Jinsha means lanterns featuring creatures from Chinese mythology and warriors from ancient Rome as well as snacks from Sichuan such as Three Cannon Shots (sandapao).

The Spring Festival holiday typically runs for seven days, but it is usually celebrated for 15 days till the Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

To mark the Lantern Festival, the Chengdu authorities launched an annual lantern show in Jinsha in 2009, two years after the museum opened.

Lantern show

Speaking about the lantern festival, Liu says: "Visitors are fascinated with the lanterns based on Chinese and foreign mythology. Besides, they can satisfy their food cravings as the lantern show is coupled with a food festival at the 30-hectare museum."

The festival features food from different parts of the world, but visitors rush for the time-honored Three Cannon Shots.

First-time visitors to the food festival are usually surprised when they find out that Three Cannon Shots is the name of a centuries-old Sichuan snack.

The snack is so called because of the way it is prepared. To make it, three glutinous rice balls are bounced on a table so that they drop into a bamboo container filled with soy flour, creating noises that sound like cannon shots. Then, the balls are mixed with soy flour and a warm brown syrup is poured on them.

"The snack is very tasty," says Dennis Palumbo, a visitor, who is a neurosurgeon from Little Rock, Arkansas, in the United States.

The lantern show and the food festival were initially targeted at the locals, but now people from all parts of the country flock to Jinsha.

According to Zhu Zhangyi, the deputy curator of the museum, the lantern show and the food festival drew more than 700,000 visitors from across the country during this year's Spring Festival.

Artifacts

For first-time visitors to Chengdu like Palumbo, Jinsha's popular ancient artifacts - including the sunbird gold foil and the "smiling" gold mask - could have been created by extraterrestrials.

The artifacts are so popular that a circular golden emblem showing four flying birds around the sun is found in many parts of the city. It is even seen on the engine hoods of taxis, the overpass en route to the airport and on the local television channel.

The emblem is a replica of the sunbird gold foil which was found in the Jinsha Ruins in the western part of Chengdu in February 2001. It is on display at the Jinsha Site Museum, which was built on the ruins.

Jinsha, which literally means Gold Sand in Chinese, lives up to its name.

On Feb 8, 2001, workers at a real estate construction site in Jinsha village in the Qingyang district of Chengdu found ivory and jade artifacts in the debris.

Archaeologists were then called in and since then have excavated some 10,000 relics including gold, jade, bronze and stone artifacts besides tens of thousands of pottery and ceramic pieces.

The excavation of the Jinsha Ruins was hailed as one of the top 10 archaeological finds that year by the Archaeological Society of China and China Cultural Relics News.

The ruins, covering an area of 4 square kilometers, include a sacrificial site, a palace, houses and a graveyard.

The ruins may be the remains of the capital of the ancient state of Shu, dating back from the late Shang (c. 16th century-11th century BC) to the early Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC), says Wang Yi, the curator of the Chengdu Museum. Shu was the name for Sichuan in ancient times.

Cultural heritage

The sunbird gold foil and the "smiling" gold mask are on display on the second floor of the museum.

Both the artifacts are believed to be about 3,000 years old.

Measuring 12.5 cm in diameter and weighing 20 grams, the sunbird gold leaf is a mere 0.02 cm thick. It has four birds cut out of it. The gold leaf is seen as an illustration of an ancient Chinese myth recorded in the classic Shan Hai Jing, or the Classic of Mountains and Seas, written some 2,500 years ago.

According to the book, the ancients believed the sun was carried up to the sky in the morning and pulled down at dusk by four birds.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage adopted the sunbird gold foil as China's symbol of cultural heritage in 2005. Explaining its choice, the administration cited "its exquisite craftsmanship and representation of the worship of the sun".

The "smiling" gold mask, which is about 3.7 cm tall and 4.9 cm wide is very thin and has brows like a crescent moon and eyes like almonds. Its half-open mouth gives it a smiling effect.

The mask is unique, for gold masks like it have never been found before, says deputy curator Zhu Zhangyi, who was one of the archaeologists working on the excavation of the Jinsha Ruins.

The "smiling" gold mask was not worn by any living person. Instead, it was affixed to a bronze human head or a wooden human head, he says.

Some scholars say the bronze head represents the soul of a dead ancestor, while others hold that it is the image of a necromancer and the bronze head is probably that of a high-ranking shaman.

Despite these views, the certainty is that bronze heads were worshipped by people who believed that they were channels to higher beings.

Rituals

Meanwhile, Hu Xiaorong, a senior guide, says the artifacts unearthed from the Jinsha Ruins and on display in the museum were used for sacrificial purposes.

About 3,000 years ago, the ancient state of Shu held sacrificial ceremonies on important occasions.

And gold, jade, and ivory were offered to the deities, she says.

During the lantern show, actors simulate an ancient sacrificial ceremony.

Separately, visitors can go to the sites where archaeologists found the artifacts.

The spots are marked with the photos of the unearthed artifacts.

Boar and deer bones can also be seen at the site.

To let visitors feel what the site was like, the museum authorities have built a deer park in the area .

For Yu Hong, a 78-year-old pensioner who lives near the museum, the facility with its bamboo and trees is a fascinating place.

"There are peaches and plums in spring, while in summer the museum is lush and verdant because of its bamboo, trees and grass.

And, in autumn, it has yellow gingko leaves, while in winter the fragrance of plum blossoms is ubiquitous," says Yu.

 

Clockwise from right: The Three Canon Shots snack being prepared; a lantern sculpture, and good sceneries inspired by the sunbird gold foil artifact and the deer park. Photos by Huang Leran and Ding Hao / For China Daily

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2017-05-30 07:52:53
<![CDATA[Off the beaten track]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/29/content_29542409.htm Getting out into Yunnan province's remote villages allows tourists to see colorful ethnic lifestyles and breathtaking scenery, Liu Xiangrui reports from Kunming.

Many people's first trip to Yunnan province in Southwest China starts with its most popular attractions, such as the ancient towns of Dali or Lijiang, or the heavenly Shangri-La.

My initial exploration of the beautiful province began in two less-crowded places.

In late spring, I got a chance to spend a few days in the Hani ethnic enclaves, hidden up in the mountains of the Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous prefecture, and the Puzhehei scenic area of the Wenshan Zhuang and Miao autonomous prefecture.

A Hani woman carrying crops on her back walks down the steps of an ancient chieftain's mansion in the Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous prefecture.

The Hani enclave in Honghe, our group's first stop, is more than 300 kilometers away from the provincial capital, Kunming. We set out from Kunming in the morning and arrived in the village nearly at sunset.

Hani people's ancestors migrated to the mountains to hide from war, and they have wisely taken advantage of what nature provided.

They developed narrow fields on steep slopes and irrigated them with water from the forests on top of the hills. The terraced fields gradually grew in scale and now have a history of more than 1,300 years.

While they continue to provide a livelihood for local farmers, the fields have become a wonder created by the farming civilization in a limited natural environment, attracting tourists like me to enjoy the dazzling geometric patterns formed by the terraces.

In the 1980s, the region became famous after some photographers introduced its amazing scenes to the world. In 2013, the Hani terraced fields in Honghe were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The paddy fields are often sealed in thick clouds rising from the valleys in the spring.

We were lucky to catch a few moments when they unveiled themselves and reflected the sunlight like thousands of pieces of mirror. It was just before the planting season, and the fields were flattened and filled with water.

After that feast for the eyes, we headed to a local village for the traditional "long-table feast", which is how the locals celebrate important festivals or events.

Tables are put together to form a long line, and people sit along both sides to enjoy local delicacies.

The village turned extremely quiet and misty at night, but we lingered to enjoy traditional music performed indoors by local people.

Hani music has a narrative style, with songs that tell tales about local history and daily life, such as weddings and farming.

The next day, we woke up early to enjoy the sunrise illuminating the valley of terraced fields.

After taking a walk in a primitive Hani village, we headed out for the next destination, Puzhehei, which was about six hours' drive away.

This area of Qiubei county in the Wenshan prefecture features karst lakes, caves, valleys and hills, plus cultural attractions like rare ancient rock paintings and a strong ethnic ambience.

More than 300 isolated karst hills are scattered in the area. With a water network of 56 lakes and 15 rivers, the area is named Puzhehei - literally meaning lakes filled with fish and shrimps in the Yi dialect.

The landscape also offers an ideal way to enjoy the area's natural scenery.

All you need is a boat, be it a local traditional canoe or motor-driven raft.

We took a motorized but traditionally decorated boat and traveled first across a mirrorlike lake, and then along a river with village inns on both sides, and finally reached a vast open water area.

It was a one-hour ride. We could see reeds in the riverbed dancing with the flow, and the swimming fish weave through in the water. Clouds floating above and hills, layers of them, embrace the peaceful idyllic land.

There is also a "swan lake", where dozens of domestic black and white swans live. Visitors can get close to those lovely creatures.

We were told that during summer, the lakes and rivers are dotted with many lotus flowers.

Tourists riding boats will carry water guns or other tools for squirt battles against those on passing boats - an interesting scene to imagine.

We actually encountered a few of them later, despite the cool weather that still lingered, but the boat windows shielded us from their "attacks".

The unique and peaceful environment in Puzhehei has attracted not only tourists, but also TV and filmmakers. A recent popular TV series Three Lives Three Worlds, Ten Miles of Blossoms was shot here.

It took quite some walk to reach the exact filming site hidden behind the mountains.

There is a lake with a small island in the center and a large piece of farmland in the valley on the other side. The hills' reflections shimmered in the lake, and peach flowers (fake ones were used for TV) brightened some trees around the lake, reminding people of scenes depicting the immortals' home.

It's a good place to take a rest and let the mind drift - and we did.

Days passed quickly in those tranquil places and all of a sudden, it was time to say goodbye. But the peace I've gained here will last much longer.

Contact the writer at liuxiangrui@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-05-29 08:25:38
<![CDATA[Latest craze in Las Vegas: Getting high on yoga]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/29/content_29542408.htm LAS VEGAS - Surrounded by imposing Las Vegas hotel-casinos in the foreground and desert mountains in the background, the group breathes deeply and loudly as an instructor guides them through their poses: upward dog, downward dog, lord of the dance.

The participants, though, aren't the only ones shifting positions in this mirrorless space with photogenic views.

The three women and a man are inside a cabin of the world's tallest Ferris wheel, stretching and holding poses as the marquees of The Mirage, Linq, Harrah's and Caesars Palace appear and fade from sight.

This gambling oasis isn't known for mind-steadying experiences.

But as the city broadens the range of interests and wallets it appeals to, companies have carefully selected an array of unique, picture-perfect sites where visitors and locals can say "Namaste". Call it yoga a la Vegas, and picture dolphins, helicopters, red rocks and ritzy high-rises.

"High plank, low plank, up dog, down dog," Raffi Yozgadlian says as he guides the group at the High Roller observation wheel through a series of yogi calisthenics at about 168 meters above ground.

The instructions stop three-quarters into the class, and out come the cellphones. It is time for a few photos of handstands and other poses with the Bellagio, Cosmopolitan and an Eiffel Tower replica in the background.

"I was like, whoa. You have the Strip and you can take that in, or you have the mountains and you can take that in," says Carly Benson, a Las Vegas resident whose tripod headstand photo is now on Instagram. "I was a little concerned about how my balance was going to be, and surprisingly, being able to zone in the landscape, I had better balance there than I sometimes do on the ground."

Visitors and locals in need of their downward dog also can take classes surrounded by an outdoor installation of neon signs in the summer; by request, poolside at the MGM Grand; or on the grassy fields of a recreation area just outside the city in the shade of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

For those who prefer the indoors, the studio with floor-to-ceiling glass windows on the eighth floor of the opulent Mandarin Oriental hotel offers views of the Las Vegas Strip.

The unorthodox settings fit with a trend of yoga instruction moving out of the studio and into parks, breweries, museums and other locations.

Caesars Entertainment, which owns the High Roller, thought the Ferris wheel would be a good place for a fitness class and decided yoga was the perfect fit. Each cabin fits up to 40 people standing and in benches.

At the Mirage, yogis of all skill levels can sign up for an hourlong class in the underwater viewing area of the dolphin tanks at Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. On a recent Friday morning, a group begins the experience by taking a few breaths while sitting on their mats facing bottlenose dolphins through glass windows.

"Of course, you can pop your eyes open if you want to see the dolphins," Janet Ziter tells the class, which includes devoted and beginner yoga practitioners. Dolphins swim next to three windows while soothing music plays.

Instructors with the yoga-focused company Silent Savasana teach the classes at the High Roller and also lead what's perhaps Las Vegas' most luxurious of yoga experiences: a helicopter ride from the airport to a nearby state park and a class atop bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops.

The class in a remote area of the 63-square-mile (163-square-kilometer) Valley of Fire State Park allows participants to take in a breathtaking view of bright blue skies and sandstones while flowing from pose to pose.

The exact location of the 75-minute, six-person class depends on the day's wind conditions. The experience concludes with a flight over the Las Vegas Strip.

Associated Press

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2017-05-29 08:25:38
<![CDATA[A wild jewel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/27/content_29525790.htm Yading's natural beauty lures a growing number of hikers, runners and festival goers, but it's still remote enough to offer solitude

It's a pilgrimage and an experience mixing with fun and challenge to jog in the pristine wilderness at an elevation above 4,000 in Yading.

I heave along the 10-km tortuous track that traverses terrain from mountain and grasslands to lake shore. Walking at such a high altitude is already very demanding to me, but seeing some other runners beside me at the Yading Skyrunning Festival spurs me on.

Some sections are covered with small gravel, and some only allow for one to pass at a time, with a precipice immediately on the other side. But the view is spectacular.

A visitor takes a picture at the Yading scenic spot, which features mountains, grasslands, lake shore and exotic Tibetan elements. Yang Feiyue / China Daily

Three mountain peaks blanketed by dazzling white snow resemble a beacon and guide the way for us all the way.

"These three peaks are clad in white all year long, and locals regard them as having been given by Buddha," a local guide tells me at the festival in early May.

The blue waters of rivers and lakes meeting lush alpine meadows all make for a majestic tapestry.

Multicolored prayer flags and local Tibetans leading mules hauling goods along the difficult mountain path add an exotic touch to it.

Yading sits in southern Daocheng county, Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture, in Sichuan province.

The place is considered by many to be one of the few remaining pristine lands on earth. It was first brought to the attention of the Western world by Joseph Rock, an American explorer, who presented the stunning beauty of Yading in National Geographic magazine in 1931.

Due to its remoteness, the Yading Nature Reserve remained a relatively unbeaten path for visitors from home and abroad over the years.

But building the local airport in September 2013 changed things.

It takes roughly one hour to get there from Chengdu now. Many comers will take photos at the Yading airport, which is 4,411 meters above sea level and claims to be the highest civil airport on Earth.

Direct flights to many major cities, including Chongqing, Zhejiang province's Hangzhou and Shaanxi province's Xi'an are now available.

The best season for visits is from May to mid October. Climate gets rough in winter.

The Yading scenic spot received 153,000 visits for the first six months of 2015, surging more than 60 percent over the previous year, according to the local tourism authority.

Tourism income stood at 61.1 million yuan ($8.9 million).

At the National Day holiday (October 1-7) in 2016, the number of visitors had to be limited to 8,150 a day, and tickets were sold out in the first three days.

Yading is filled with stunning beauty and is ideal for those with an adventurous spirit.

The Chonggu Monastery is nearly 800 years old and sits at the base of Chenresig Mountain (Xiannairi in Chinese), which is 6,032 meters above sea level and the highest in the reserve. The view of the golden-roofed monastery against the backdrop of the snow peak and blue sky is just superb.

The temple offers free access and one could see monks going round their daily business.

The Luorong Pasture is another site one shouldn't miss. It's about 6 kilometers from Chonggu and one could ride an electric cart to get there in about 20 minutes.

The ride is quite thrilling since local drivers seem to know too well about each twist and turn that make the path, which runs through a forested area. However, everything suddenly comes wide open and leaps to your eye once arriving at the pasture, which offers a view of three holy mountains.

Luorong is considered the starting point of the pilgrimage path to Milk Lake, a main attraction around Chenresig Mountain. Visitors who don't feel up to hiking can rent horses to the lake.

The distance is about 5 kilometers and takes about two hours on horseback or roughly three hours by walk.

The lake sits at an elevation of 4,480 meters and is fed by a glacier, which sits like a sapphire set among the mountains under the sun.

The highlight comes when one visits Wusehai, another lake that is roughly 100 meters higher than Milk Lake and takes about 20 minutes to reach.

Sitting right at the foot of the Chenresig, Wusehai is considered the most beautiful lake around the pilgrimage circuit in Yading.

The lake is known for producing five colors as the sunlight changes during the day. It's round and covers an area of 0.7 hectares.

The pristine nature has also attracted international sport events.

Last year, the Skyrun festival, which was jointly hosted by the Chinese company Migu Run and the Switzerland-based International Skyrunning Federation, attracted more than 70 professional runners from 22 countries and regions, including Iran, Italy, Mexico, Nepal and the United States.

This year's event saw 800 runners from 25 countries and regions.

The local authority has also set up diversified routes to spice up visitor experience.

Country-country races ranging from 29 km to 46 km, vertical climbing and hiking have all been developed this year.

Moreover, a caravan camping site and a low-altitude touring flight will be developed in the coming years, according to provincial tourism officials.

The idea is to develop a travel circle within a two-hour radius around Yading, showcasing plateau views and local Kangba culture.

Two travel routes in the circle that integrates the Yading and Haizishan scenic spots will be ready soon.

Each route will take roughly three days and offer natural scenery and exotic Tibetan elements, including grasslands, an ancient temple and local residences.

The goal: attracting 4.2 million visits from home and abroad and raking in 3.4 billion yuan in 2018.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-05-27 07:51:15
<![CDATA[Tahiti deploys new initiatives in push to lure more Chinese visitors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/27/content_29525789.htm Tahiti and its surrounding islands are striving for a bigger slice of the booming outbound tourism market in China.

To that end, the Tahiti tourism authority launched a series of road shows in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong province's Shenzhen in mid-May.

Then, representatives from Tahiti's travel agencies and hotel and resort operators from the islands met Chinese tourism market players at the events, which aimed to showcase the region's attractions and culture, says Gina Bunton, the chief operations officer with Tahiti's tourism authority.

Tahiti, which kicked off a global promotion push in 2016, is the biggest of 118 islands that form French Polynesia, and a pleasant climate, a rich history, towering rugged mountain peaks, polychromatic coral reefs, white beaches and swaying palms have drawn in an increasing number of Chinese visitors to the area.

In 2016, the French authorities in China granted 3,900 tourist visas to Polynesia, and the number is expected to reach almost 6,000 this year.

Meanwhile, France has streamlined the visa application process and opened more visa centers in China to make things easier for Chinese visitors.

Separately, the Tahiti tourism authorities have rolled out an official Chinese language tour guide last year, which gives details of all islands in the area. The guide also features language tips.

In other moves, many hotels have hired Chinese receptionists and cooks, says Bunton.

Tahiti has a Chinese community and traditional Chinese dragon and lion dances are staged there during the Spring Festival.

Tahiti and its neighboring islands have been named one of the most popular summer destinations by HHtravel, the high-end brand of China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip.

The number of rich Chinese who visited Tahiti increased by 55 percent last year compared to the previous year, and many enjoyed taking a helicopter into the heart-shaped Tupai.

Independent villas in the area are also popular with affluent travelers, and Brando, which is a nearby island escape surrounded by crystal-clear waters and white-sandy beaches, is a big hit with high-end visitors.

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2017-05-27 07:51:15
<![CDATA[Surrounded by sea]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/22/content_29440020.htm Islands have long been associated with paradise, but it's only recently that a growing number of affluent Chinese travelers have started heading to archipelagos during summer sojourns.

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Island getaways are growing in popularity among China's summertime travelers, especially high-end jetsetters. Yang Feiyue reports.

Islands have long been associated with paradise, but it's only recently that a growing number of affluent Chinese travelers have started heading to archipelagos during summer sojourns.

This recently prompted HHtravel, the high-end brand of China's largest online travel agency, Ctrip, to release a list of the top summer islands for luxury travelers.

Fiji, the Canary Islands, Tahiti, Hawaii, Mauritius, the Maldives, Bali and Thailand's Koh Samui take the top spots.

The number of tourists who booked trips to these islands through HHtravel surged 70 percent year-on-year in 2016, says the company's chief operating officer, Guo Ming.

Their spending averaged around 120,000-140,000 yuan ($17,435-$20,340).

These destinations' popularity is in part because over half of them offer visa-free entry to Chinese, Guo explains.

Many host private resorts, often located on smaller isles near the main one.

Fiji has experienced the fastest growth in Chinese visitors through HHtravel, at about 70 percent. Tropical rainforests, white beaches and clear seas that make for spectacular snorkeling are major draws, as is the unique local culture.

Visitors can also enjoy crab races, beachside bonfires and dips in mud pools.

Fiji's Laucala Island hosts volcanic mountains covered with lush vegetation, pristine mangrove thickets and colorful coral reefs that brim with life.

The Laucala Island Resort is a private refuge with 25 villas built according to local architectural styles set amid 4.5 square kilometers of coconut plantations. It also offers gourmet dining.

The island's cultural village is designed to preserve and showcase local traditions.

Visitors can enjoy lovo, or ground-oven festivals, and traditional music. Or they can learn such local crafts as weaving, carving and making masi textiles, which are created using bark and adorned with elaborate geometric patterns.

Tahiti has seen a 55 percent surge of bookings by wealthy Chinese through HHtravel. Its wonderful weather, captivating culture and stunning scenery have long made it a luxury and honeymoon destination.

Lovers particularly enjoy helicopter rides over the heart-shaped Tupai Island.

Villas are popular with well-heeled travelers in The Brando - an escape enveloped by clear waters and white beaches.

Activities in Brando include snorkeling among coral reefs, diving, paddle boating, yoga and canoeing. The resort also offers Polynesian arts and culture classes like dance, handicraft and ukulele lessons.

Newlyweds often participate in local song-and-dance ceremonies to proclaim their vows of love before a mountain that's traditionally considered sacred.

Likewise, Spain's Canary Islands have experienced a 40 percent growth in HHtravel bookings.

"Most are family travelers," Guo says.

"Their numbers peak during summer vacations."

Many visit between December and February to avoid China's winters.

The Canary Islands have long remained a perennial favorite of global travelers for their mild climate, volcanoes and carnivals.

Many rich Chinese opt for star-viewing experiences at night and watch whales and dolphins during the daytime on Tenerife, the archipelago's biggest body.

Tenerife's Gran Bahia Del Duque Resort offers sea-view rooms with beach access.

The nearby island of Gran Canaria hosts the former residence of celebrated Chinese writer Sanmao, which is a big attraction for the Chinese, Guo says.

"The island's views, featuring beaches on one side and deserts on the other, are breathtaking," Guo says.

Hawaii's ancient ethnic villages and natural landscapes also lure the rich Chinese.

It hosts one of the United States' most popular restaurants, Mama's Fish House. The establishment run by native Hawaiians has long ranked among the country's favorites not only for its gastronomy but also for its setting, in which guests enjoy meals under coconut trees.

The Halekulani on Oahu Island and the Ritz-Carlton on Maui attract large numbers of affluent Chinese, HHtravel says.

Mauritius appeals to lovebirds, daredevils and superstars.

It has attracted roughly 90,000 Chinese annually in recent years, Mauritius' tourism authority reports.

The country offers family honeymoon, outdoor sports and golf trips that feature unique flora and fauna, and aboriginal culture and history.

The Chinese also appreciate its regular festivals and events.

The sumptuous Cheval Blanc Randheli hotel between Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy has attracted countless celebrities since it opened.

Luxury travelers enjoy its intelligent-furniture system and luxury-spa experiences, Guo says.

The LE 1947 offers Michelin-starred French cuisine.

Indonesia's Bali has gained new star power among well-to-do Chinese since the island served as a shooting site for the hit film Eat, Pray, Love, Guo says.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

Clockwise from top: Tahiti, Fiji's Laucala Island, Mauritius, Thailand's Koh Samui, Hawaii's Oahu Island, the Maldives and Bali are among a list of the top summer islands for luxury travelers, released by HHtravel, the highend brand of the online travel agency Ctrip. Photos Provided To China Daily

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2017-05-22 07:46:51
<![CDATA[Holidays on the wild side]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/13/content_29332445.htm South Africa makes efforts to attract more Chinese visitors

Compelling experiences combining pristine nature, wildlife, a city lifestyle, affordable luxury and amazing adventures, ranging from mountain hiking to shark cage-diving, have made South Africa popular with Chinese visitors.

The number of Chinese visitors to South Africa surged in 2016.

A total of 117,000 Chinese visited South Africa last year, representing a 38 percent year-on-year increase, according to the South African tourism authorities.

 

Pristine nature, wildlife, a city lifestyle, affordable luxury and amazing adventures have made South Africa popular with Chinese visitors. Photos Provided to China Daily

And the country is making moves to grab a bigger slice of the booming Chinese outbound tourism market.

"Compared to other source markets, China is still maturing," says Bradley Brouwer, the president of South African Tourism's Asia Pacific operations.

"The awareness of South Africa's tourism offerings (in Chinese cities) ranged from largely unaware to some awareness ... and the growth rate in arrivals is rising," he adds.

South African Tourism held road shows in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong over late February-early March.

And this year it is focusing on the excitement, surprise, joy and awe awaiting Chinese visitors to South Africa.

"We are proud to invite visitors to encounter the jaw-dropping 'Wow!' moments, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and unforgettable adventures found nowhere else in the world," says Brouwer.

"South Africa casts a spell because it is not manufactured and mundane but authentically raw and unfiltered, which is exactly what today's travelers seek," he says.

Picturesque locations

The highlight of many vacation itineraries is the Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It is a picturesque mix of ancient forests, lakes, mountain hideaways, historic towns and secluded bays and coves.

Speaking about the attractions on offer, Li Mengran, the public relations manager of Beijing Utour International Travel Service Co, a major outbound-travel operator in China, says: "The destination is suitable to tourists of all ages."

Beautiful natural scenery, the culture, the animals and the deserts are all very attractive to the Chinese, she says.

"September to April is the best season to travel, when it is relatively cold in China."

Meanwhile, South Africa has also got the attention of the rich Chinese.

It was one of the top winter destinations for high-end Chinese visitors in 2016, according to HHtravel, a high-end brand of China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip.

Roughly 5 percent of the agency's clients visited South Africa, HHtravel reported.

Visitors enjoyed the warm spring and summer weather there while avoiding the Chinese winter, the agency said.

The high-end visitors also enjoyed watching the lions, black rhinos and leopards at the Kruger National Park, besides the thousands of seals atop rocks in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.

Adventures in the wild

South Africa is the adventure capital of the world with some of the world's finest safari game viewing in the Kruger National Park, South Africa's premier Big 5 game park.

At the safari lodges in Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape, the service, the cuisine, the spas and the wildlife encounters add up to a memorable experience.

Big 5 safaris in South Africa are a must-do for anyone fascinated by wildlife.

The Big 5 refers to the buffalo, the elephant, the lion, the leopard and the rhino and the term comes from the animals considered most dangerous to hunt. But nowadays, the thrill comes from photographing the animals in their natural habitat.

Namaqualand attracts more than 100,000 visitors every year, mainly because of its spectacular variety of wildflowers.

There, visitors can explore this vast region of the Northern Cape on horseback, which allows access to areas off the beaten track.

With a wine culture developing in China, Stellenbosch is also popular with Chinese travelers.

Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa, renowned for having the longest wine trail in the world.

It is globsly renowned for its beautiful environment, wineries, street cafes, restaurants, quality wines and historical buildings.

From June until November, the southern right whales are visible along the Cape South Coast, making it the perfect time of year for a whale-watching trip.

There, you do not even have to go out on a boat to see the whales because Hermanus, overlooking Walker Bay, is considered to be the best land-based whale-watching site in the world.

Hermanus' cliffs offer an incomparable viewing point.

In addition to whale watching in Hermanus or traveling to Namaqualand to see the wildflowers in bloom, South Africa's famed sardine run is a seasonal peculiarity that is popular among local and international visitors, including the Chinese, says Bradley.

"It's a phenomenon certainly worth watching - from land, the ocean surface or underwater."

Around June each year, word gets out along the KwaZulu-Natal coast that the sardines have arrived. They have swum for more than 30 days from their spawning ground in the Cape to reach South Africa's east coast.

Then scores of fishermen join the sharks, game fish, marine mammals and birds that gorge themselves on the shimmering band of silver fish.

Visa facilitation centers

To encourage a seamless travel experience for Chinese citizens, South African Tourism has set up visa facilitation centers in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Xi'an, Shenyang, Wuhan, Jinan and Hangzhou.

And speaking of other promotional efforts, Brouwer says: "With China becoming the world's largest outbound tourism source market of South Africa, we continuously participate in global and national events in China, such as the CIBTM (the China Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings Exhibition)."

South African Tourism has also established partnerships with major Chinese travel agencies, including U-tour, CYTS and Uniway, to stimulate demand for indigenous and real South African experiences.

Relationships with key airline partners are also being strengthened.

Now, Air China has a nonstop flight between Beijing and Johannesburg via a code share with SAA.

The direct overnight flight from Beijing to Johannesburg takes 15 hours.

In 2014, China became one of South Africa's core tourism markets, alongside the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and India.

South Africa expects the Chinese tourism boom to continue in 2017-2018, particularly due to the favorable exchange rate for visitors from the mainland.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-05-13 07:28:10
<![CDATA[Ctrip launches updated platform for customized travel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/13/content_29332444.htm China's largest online travel agency Ctrip has recently launched a new version of its customized tour platform.

The platform is to cater to the surging demand for tailored travel experiences, and to bag a bigger slice of the market, says Xu Zhiyun, the general manager of Ctrip's tailored tour services.

A desire to make travel experiences more personal is propelling more Chinese to take customized tours. And privacy, tailored arrangements and one-on-one services have pushed the number of customized trips booked through Ctrip to 80,000 a month, the travel agency says.

Customizers typically help travelers save time, optimize resources and avoid tourist traps.

"These tours are not necessarily expensive, and sometimes they end up cheaper, considering the time spent on researching and making your own itinerary," says Xu.

The idea is to get as close to the customers' expectations as possible within their budget, she says.

Ctrip expects the number of tailored trips to surge to 120,000 this year.

Meanwhile,many travel agencies, including startups, are flocking to the expanding themed tour business, but big travel agencies hold the edge with their abundant resources, says expert.

As of now, the Ctrip platform has more than 1,200 service providers and 4,000 trip customizers.

And compared with its previous platform that went live in January 2016, the new platform is more customer-friendly.

Also, users and trip customizers can now choose each other.And, the match rate is currently at 93 percent, says Ctrip. Users of the platform can also see cost breakdowns - plane tickets, hotels and transportation.

Separately, tourist industry sources say the market is extremely diverse and small companies have plenty of opportunities to thrive.

But although the profit margins from customized tours is higher than traditional travel arrangement, high labor costs and difficulties in getting bulk orders are among things that stand in the way of entrepreneurs.

Tailored trips from Beijing surged 240 percent year-on-year in 2016, Ctrip says.

And affluent Chinese aged between 30 and 39 are the main force energizing the trend, the online travel agency says.

As of now, families account for 60 percent of the company's customized tours.

As for future plans, Ctrip plans to offer guests updates of scenic spots and shopping and dining options, Xu says.

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2017-05-13 07:28:10
<![CDATA[The pearl of Guizhou]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/01/content_29152162.htm

Attractions from scenic beauty to bullfights lure visitors to this multiethnic community

Rich ethnic culture, a primitive natural landscape and exotic gourmet food never fail to draw in visitors to Kaili.

The city sits in the southeast of Guizhou and is capital of the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong autonomous prefecture. Ethnic Miao people are in the majority in a community with 33 ethnic groups that account for 75 percent of the local population of 1 million. .

The diverse peoples have given the city a strong ethnic ambience.

Roughly 135 folk festivals are staged throughout the year for locals to express their various traditions, according to the Kaili tourism authority.

These include exotic ethnic song and dances, thrilling bullfights and exquisite art, such as embroidery, batik and silver ornaments, says Zhang Miao, Party secretary of Kaili.

One could stop by the Qiandongnan prefecture museum in downtown Kaili to get a working knowledge of local ethnic culture before exploring further afield.

The museum was founded in 1988 and covers an area of 11,000 square meters. It preserves daily objects and artifacts made by locals that tell the stories of local history.

Be sure to visit the museum's biggest treasure, a Miao costume traditionally embroidered with tin wires. Free guide service is usually offered to a group of four to five people in Mandarin.

From there, local villages are the best way to savor ethnic culture.

Nanhua village is roughly 20 minutes' drive from downtown Kaili and has enjoyed a history of more than 400 years. All residents are of Miao ethnicity and surnamed Pan.

The village is tucked away in a green forest, with towering trees and chirping birds. A gallery lies halfway up the mountain and can serve as a resting point. A moss-covered stone path down from the gallery leads to the Bala River.

Most of residential buildings in the village are diaojiaolou, suspended wooden houses featuring stone foundations and green-tiled roof. Some buildings have been a century long.

A pebble-paved lane connects every household.

Locals are hospitable and would serve wines to arriving guests. On major holidays, they would play a lusheng, a reed-pipe wind instrument and dance to greet visitors.

Girls will wear pleated skirts, with the longest being 0.8 meters long, and one-meter-long silver ornaments resembling ox horn.

Convenient transport has enabled relatively good tourism development in the village.

Wooden inns have been built along the river, and bonfire parties are often held to spice up the visitor experience.

Jidao village is another site that shouldn't be missed. Just several kilometers away from Nanhua, it offers a century-old pedestrian lane, granary and plaza, as well as mystic animal footprints and caves along the way.

The village sits on the river bank and is home to 500 Miao people. A wood of ancient trees stand in the back; a paddy field and the river stretch out in front.

Compared with Nanhua, Jidao is less developed and thus presents more primitive local elements.

Diaojiaolou can be spotted from afar, surrounded by clouds of cooking smoke. Most of them are of two stories, with the lower level being used to raise livestock or for storage.

The old pedestrian lane starts off at the entrance of the village and winds into its depths. The lane looks like golden bricks under the sun while resembling oily black jade when it rains.

The lane leads to the granary, which is a rare public facility in a village. It was built out of the concern for theft back in the old days, when all households put their food together under guard. Now, the granary has been out of use but one could get a sense of ancient people's wisdom by looking at the granary structure.

All is quiet and extramundane inside the village. Small lanes crisscross it.

When a holiday or a visitor comes, locals perform ancient songs that reflect the history and beliefs of the Miao group.

In addition to the villages, one could visit the Miao and Dong Ethnic Customs Park, where one can shop for distinctive local food, silver ornaments, embroideries and other handmade art products.

Modern farm pleasures including fruit picking, a playground for children and outdoor exercises can be enjoyed in Weco Park.

The Huakai bullfight city claims to be the first of its kind in China. Visitors can get a taste of Chinese bullfighting culture on weekends.

The city is now going all out to woo visitors from far and wide.

Kaili signed deals with several major travel agencies at a tourism road show in Beijing on April 2.

Those agencies, including China National Travel Service (HK) Group Corporation and China Ocean International Travel Service, will plan travel routes and send tourists to Kaili.

The city is now accelerating development to keep up with China's Belt and Road Initiative.

At the Beijing road show, Kaili also signed 24 deals covering real estate, internet technology, traditional Chinese medicine and folk art and culture, with a total investment of 21.1 billion yuan. ($3.1 billion).

To spice up travelers' experience, there have been various shows and events.

The international 100-km race around the Leigong Mountain and the Chinese music instrument contests have been hits among travelers, according to Li Mengqun, deputy director of the Kaili tourism authority.

The grand Silver Show is a visual feast. It tells the life and the love story of the Miao and Dong boys and girls. The show features traditional Miao and Dong dances and songs with 3-D and other dazzling effects.

Those activities have helped Kaili to pack in 30 million visitors in 2016, up 35.38 percent over the previous year, according to the tourism authority.

Tourism income surged 42.3 percent to 28.6 billion yuan.

Improved transportation has also helped tourists get to Kaili easier.

It now takes three hours by air from Beijing to the city and roughly 10 hours by high-speed rail.

Local authority is planning to integrate health preservation, expedition and sport elements in future. The goal is to achieve a 15 percent growth annually during 2017-2020 period, and ultimately draw in 45.3 million visits, according to Li.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

Recommended routes

One-day trip

Nanhua village-Jidao village-Sour soup culture-Huakai bullfight city-Kaili ethnic culture park-Yinxiu (Silver show)

The Miao and Dong Ethnic Customs Park-Sour soup culture-Weco Park-Xiasi ancient town-Huakai bullfight city-Kaili ethnic culture park-Yinxiu (Silver show)

Two-day trip

Guiyang-The Miao and Dong Ethnic Customs Park-Sour soup culture-Xijiang Qianhu Miao Village-Nanhua village-Jidao village-Xiasi ancient town-Weco Park-Kaili ethnic culture park-Yinxiu (Silver show).

Three-day trip

Guiyang-The Miao and Dong Ethnic Customs Park-Xiasi ancient town-Weco Park-Kaili ethnic culture park-Yinxiu (Silver show)-Yuntai Mountain, Shamuhe scenic spot-Wuyang River-Zhenyuan ancient town-Qinglongdong scenic spot-Tiexi scenic spot

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2017-05-01 08:19:42
<![CDATA[Tourism giant focuses more on customers' needs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-05/01/content_29152161.htm

More travel packages exclusively targeting mothers with children and senior-aged travelers are expected to hit the market soon.

The Jiangsu-based online travel agency Tongcheng Network Technology will put together such products as part of its strategy to focus more on consumer needs and develop products targeting specific age groups.

The whole travel industry is likely to pay more attention to customer types, instead of their numbers, in the future year, says Tongcheng's founder and CEO Wu Zhixiang. He spoke at a CEO summit focusing on the new economy in Beijing on April 15.

Roughly 20 CEOs of major business players, such as the bike-sharing company Ofo Inc, the group-buying provider Meituan, and live-streaming powerhouse Yixia Tech, attended the meeting to discuss future moves in their market.

Most agreed that business, especially start-ups, will shift focus from resources to products and ultimately to consumer experience.

When that happens, Wu says, "traveler's needs in tourism consumption will be better satisfied".

At the moment, travel products are mostly offered indiscriminately to customers without targeting or tailoring for age groups.

"You'll face the same product whether you are a mother who is taking your child with you or middle-aged or senior traveler," Wu explains.

He believes that travel products and services exclusively for travelers of specific classes will be available in the next 18 years.

For mother-and-children customers, travel packages should cater to the needs of mothers, while helping children expand their vision and grow along the way, Wu explains.

"It's about totally redesigning our products and integrating customer needs with our understanding of the industry," Wu says.

The travel agency set up a special club for elder clients in September 2016, and the number of members has grown at 300 percent month-on-month ever since.

Members have now spread across 160 cities nationwide.

The club has launched a series of customized tours for seniors since the end of last year.

In addition to health checks and travel insurance, "second honeymoon" trips to rekindle old flames have also been developed.

The ultimate goal is to meet the elder customers' needs in travel, leisure and social life and create a happy community for them, according to Wu.

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2017-05-01 08:19:42
<![CDATA[Witnessing the buddha's unveiling]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-04/03/content_28783265.htm It was a dark and rainy morning in the Tibet autonomous region, but my traveling companion and I could not sleep. The clock had not yet struck 4 am as we clambered out of our beds and prepared to make our way to the Shoton Festival, one of the region's largest annual celebrations.

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The Shoton Festival, Tibet's largest cultural gala, opens with a huge image of the founder of Buddhism unfurled on a hillside. Zhao Xu reports.

It was a dark and rainy morning in the Tibet autonomous region, but my traveling companion and I could not sleep. The clock had not yet struck 4 am as we clambered out of our beds and prepared to make our way to the Shoton Festival, one of the region's largest annual celebrations.

A friend had advised us to get an early start if we wanted to secure a spot for the "sunning of the Buddha" ceremony, which marks the start of the festival at the Drepung Monastery on the outskirts of the regional capital, Lhasa.

We already considered ourselves lucky that our vacation coincided with the opening of the festival, so missing the unveiling of the 500-square-meter thangka, a religious silk embroidery or painting that is unique to Tibet, was unthinkable.

First we took a cab and then we walked, for about 40 minutes, to the foot of the hillside where the image of Buddha would be displayed.

The night was reluctant to recede and the rain refused to stop, so I put on my cowgirl hat that I had bought the previous day on Barkhor Street - Lhasa's best known shopping area - to protect myself from the elements as we walked on in silence, under the cloak of night.

Some Tibetan women joined us as we trekked, carrying children wrapped in papooses tied to their backs. There was also a group of foreigners, clattering along the trail on their bicycles with flashlights strapped to their heads.

Finally, we arrived at the foot of the hill, but were told it would cost 60 yuan ($8.70) each to go any further. This entry fee only applies to tourists. Ethnic Tibetans can attend the ceremony for free.

A long, cold wait

The road, if you could call it that, had suddenly become steep and slippery. We moved at a snail's pace toward the large open slope where the image of Buddha would be revealed. It was entirely covered by what appeared to be a giant plastic sheet.

There was already a throng of bystanders up there, perched atop any vantage point they could reach. It seemed every patch of open ground had been claimed by someone already, but I was sure there would be space for one more person, or even two. After the early start and rainy trek, we were determined to settle for nothing less than an unimpeded view of the action.

After the initial excitement, the waiting began. It was already 4 am, but the rain was still falling and we had to wait for it to stop.

A middle-aged lama, as Tibetan Buddhist monks are called, was sat on a nearby rock casting thoughtful looks in our direction.

There were Tibetan women to either side of me, with their dark skin and braided hair. Despite all the waiting, they showed no signs of fatigue or impatience. Behind me, my traveling companion could hardly get a foothold on a sodden patch of rocky ground.

Two hours later and with no signs of the rain abating, a little stream began to form where I stood. The lama, despite that imperturbable look he wore, had already stood up, while from a bundle on one of the women's backs came the sound of muffled crying.

I was on the brink of tears myself: It was cold, I was hungry and had to endure the occasional "why-are-you-even-here" look from those around me.

Even without my friend nudging me from behind begging for us to go, I would have considered leaving - but for the fact that there was no way out. Looking down, the entire hillside was carpeted with people.

Just as I was about to give up hope, the rain eased off. It didn't stop completely until after the ceremony, but no one could wait any longer - even the lamas.

The procession begins

 

Clockwise from top: A huge thangka portrait of Shakyamuni Buddha is unfolded on a hillside behind Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, as one of the highlights of the Shoton Festival. A large crowd of pilgrims and tourists flocks to the monastery in spite of the rainy weather. Lamas carry a roll - the giant portrait - on their shoulders as they walk up the hillside behind the monastery. Photos By Tu Teng And Chang Chengchen / Cfp

As night gave way to day, a row of figures emerged atop the hillside and a golden canopy was set up for one of them, who I presumed would preside over the ceremony. Yet while I was struggling to focus my sore eyes on what was happening above, there was a sudden flurry of activity below.

Two lines of lamas, carrying a giant roll of material on their shoulders, began marching slowly up the winding track from the monastery.

I was informed by someone standing nearby that the roll, once fully unfurled, would form a giant portrait of the Buddha.

Marching in front of the procession were standard-bearers carrying red and golden streamers, while from behind came another two lines of lamas, carrying another roll. From where I was stood, I could catch only a glimpse of them in between the backs of heads and they soon disappeared completely from view at a bend in the track. The next time I saw them, they'd arrived at the foot of the big slope.

At the sight of the procession, the crowd surrounding me became ecstatic, falling over themselves to reach out and touch the streamers, believing them to bring good luck. The lamas, struggling through the assembled masses, had a tough time keeping their towering hats upon their heads.

Punctuating the atmosphere was the solemn sound of a wind instrument, resonating back and forth along the hillside. Although the rain had stopped, the morning mist had yet to dissipate and it filled up every crevice of the landscape, mingling with the sound.

It would have been serene, if not for the bustle of the waiting crowd. As the anticipation built, all the yawning and fidgeting gave way to a number of last-ditch attempts by some to reposition themselves, in a bid to steal a better vantage point before the ceremony took place.

The Buddha revealed

Apparently unperturbed by the chaotic scenes that surrounded them, or simply preoccupied with their own duties, the uppermost lamas began to throw balls of rope down from the top of the slope. As each fell, it quickly unraveled, with the ends being snatched up by waiting hands at the bottom. Some lengths of rope stopped midway and had to be encouraged in their descent by a forest of arms that emerged from the middle of the plastic sheet, shaking at it furiously.

I couldn't see what happened next exactly, but it seemed that the ropes were being attached to the portrait of the Buddha - the giant roll I'd seen being carried aloft before.

Suddenly, the lamas at the top of the slope began heaving on the ropes and before I knew what was happening people started to scream in ecstasy. The portrait of Buddha was being revealed right in front of my eyes!

First came a giant piece of yellow cloth, covered in scripture. Next, as the lamas at the top of the slope continued to pull on the ropes, what appeared to me to be the lower half of the Buddha came into view. It was at this point that the portrait stopped moving upward, and the yellow cloth was gradually lifted up to reveal the Buddha's upper half.

And there he was - Shakyamuni Buddha - sitting cross-legged and gazing into the distance. It was only later that I realized the second roll of material I had seen being carried up the hill was in fact the yellow cloth covered in scripture. This made sense, as Tibetan Buddhists believe that all statues and portraits of the Buddha must be accompanied by holy text.

It had only taken a matter of minutes for the portrait to be unveiled, yet we had waited for it for four hours. As a non-Buddhist, I started to question whether the wait had been worth it, but I thought to myself that it was certainly humbling to be a part of the largest Tibetan festival on Earth.

A vortex of humanity

My reverie was unexpectedly broken then by a hard shove in the side, and I realized the ceremony wasn't quite over yet. It may have been for me, as there wasn't much left to see, but for the believers, it had only just started - they were in the presence of the Buddha now and it was time to pay their respects.

Some in the huddled crowd had hurled their hada (a long piece of white silk Tibetans routinely present to honored guests) at the portrait of the Buddha while it was still ascending. But most, especially those who had been standing farther away, took this opportunity to shuffle forward and attempt to lay theirs at the foot of the portrait in person.

As devotees struggled forward and backward, up and down the slope, I became hopelessly caught in a vortex of humanity. Unable to resist the tide of people coming their way, one tourist couple wore frightened looks and their daughter wept slightly over her father's shoulder, apparently too scared to look up.

It took about a quarter of an hour before the turmoil ended. On the way back, I saw numerous little mounds of smoldering ashes - from the burning of grass - and people standing on both sides of the road with armfuls of unsold hada.

Before taking the final turn in the road that would block the mountain from view, I stopped to give the Buddha one last look, and to say goodbye.

I saw people wearing exhausted expressions still streaming down the hillside. Farther away were two giant rocks with colorful Tibetan characters on them that read "Drepung Monastery". And even farther away, in the far background, I saw the portrait of the Buddha, strewed with white bands. The fog had finally dispersed.

Contact the writer at zhaoxu@chinadaily.com.cn

If you go

Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, is a four-hour flight or 40 hours by train from Beijing. Originating in the 11th century, the Shoton Festival mainly consists of three parts: the "sunning of the Buddha", a Tibetan Opera show and a horsemanship and yak race show. It takes place every year around September (or early in the seventh month of the Tibetan lunar calendar) at Drepung Monastery, located at the foot of Mount Gephel in the western suburbs of Lhasa.

Shoton is a transliteration of two words in the Tibetan language that mean "the yogurt banquet".

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2017-04-03 07:19:40
<![CDATA[For gastrolounge fans, Mojo offers a new place to explore]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/25/content_28677424.htm In a new upscale bar, high-quality cuisine, rare wines and a dress code are on the menu

Hipsters who frequent the bustling Gongti area for food and wine have a new place to visit, the recently opened Mojo, which claims to be the first international gastrolounge in Beijing.

With a comfortable and convivial atmosphere, Mojo provides a wide range of international wines, authentic Italian cuisine and cocktails to satisfy the need of good food and wine.

Gastrolounges, which originated in the 1980s in Britain, refer to bars offering high-quality cuisine, and have become more popular in the West in the past few years.

With a comfortable and convivial atmosphere, Mojo provides a wide range of international wines. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

"Here, guests can have fun - eating, drinking and dancing. Our target customers are fashionable people who want a good quality of life and like the culture of food and wine. I hope Mojo will be a place for them," says Xiang Wei, the owner of Mojo.

He adds that Mojo will have a dress code that requires guests to dress as charmingly as possible.

Besides the wine collection, he believes that food is equally important in a gastrolounge, to create a great experience for guests.

"In a regular bar, you can have simple dishes such as pizza and fish and chips. At Mojo, we have three Italian chefs and a professional sommelier team to pair the food and wine," he says.

Mojo is located about 150 meters inside the east gate of Gongti.

When you walk out of the building elevator, you see a staircase on the left that leads to a rooftop of more than 600 square meters, which will open in May, so that guests can enjoy a view of the Gongti area, including a nearby artificial lake.

Facing the elevator is Mojo's wine cellar that boasts more than 1,500 wines from all over the world, with the prices ranging between 300 and 50,000 yuan ($7,246) a bottle. The wines are listed on the menu according to where they are produced, ranging from the famous areas to emerging regions.

Mojo has various vintages of the same wine and wines from the same vintage that are from different wineries, making it possible for guests to have a vertical or horizontal wine tasting.

The gastrolounge also has a good collection of rare wines of different vintages.

For example, they have three vintages of Chateau d'Yquem, and more than six bottles of each.

The wine is a well-known and expensive Sauterne from southern Bordeaux, and its one of the wines that can age the longest - a bottle will keep for about a century with proper care.

Speaking about the choices on offer, Chen Yalin, formerly with Temple Restaurant Beijing, who is in charge of the sommelier team, says: "I make sure that I don't just have overpriced things from the most famous regions. I also have options from Australia, Spain and Chile."

Mojo currently has just one Chinese wine, Jia Bei Lan from the Helan Qingxue winery, in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, but plans to have three or four Chinese wines in the future.

In 2011, the winery's 2009 Jia Bei Lan Grand Reserve won the Red Bordeaux Varietal Over £10 International Trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards - the first time a Chinese wine topped the category.

"Chinese wines are improving fast. And there are more new wineries and more styles of wines," she says.

As for Chen's role, she says: "I enjoy telling people about good value when it comes to premier wines. I try to point them a similar direction - maybe with a pretty label, or a similar style from another winemaker in a similar region," she says.

Chen says she also finds out what guests like to eat and drink before she pairs wine with the food.

"During the process, you're always trying to find things that match the flavors.

"For example, to find things that contrast with the flavors, or have similarity in texture or body," she says.

Chen says that the Chinese are now more knowledgeable about famous wines and have personal preferences. They also realize that there are different styles of wines, including sweet ones.

"They now follow their tastes more than brands. It's a good thing that happens in every evolving wine market. At first, people buy famous wines. But as they become confident about what they like to drink, they will have more of a personal sense for flavors or styles," she says.

xulin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-03-25 07:26:54
<![CDATA[Chinese drive record tourism growth in Australia]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/25/content_28677423.htm Chinese tourists have helped drive up Australia's visitor expenditure figures, while the number of Chinese who visited Australia grew almost 20 percent to more than 1.1 million in 2016, according to figures released by the federal government last Wednesday. The International Visitors Survey (IVS) showed foreign tourists spent a record 39.1 billion Australian dollars ($29.6 billion) throughout the year ending December 2016, a 7 percent rise on the previous year, with Chinese visitors accounting for almost a quarter of that figure.

Overall, the top five spenders in Australia were China, Britain, the United States, neighbor New Zealand, and Japan, contributing more than half (or $15.8 billion) of the total visitor spend.

In a statement accompanying the IVS, Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said tourism was beginning to become one of Australian economy's most important assets, considering the rise of the middle class in Asian nations such as China.

"Spending by international visitors to Australia has now grown by more than 35 percent in the last three years - supporting Australian jobs and the broader Australian economy," Ciobo said on Wednesday.

Ciobo said visitor numbers and expenditure was up across the board, with "double digit growth" coming from 12 different nations, and added that the government would be doing more to harness an even greater share of the foreign tourist market in the future. The number of backpackers visiting Australia grew by 8 percent during last year, Ciobo added.

"The Turnbull government is supporting further growth in the Australian tourism industry, including by: investing a record $485 million in Tourism to market Australia abroad; negotiating the world's best aviation access agreements; and introducing visitor visa improvements."

Xinhua

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2017-03-25 07:26:54
<![CDATA[Vietnam's Con Dao island is Asia's paradise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/25/content_28677422.htm

With rich traditional cultures and unspoiled landscapes, Con Dao in Vietnam's southern Ba Ria Vung Tau province is one of 12 crowd-free sea paradises in Asia, US Cable News Network (CNN) has recently stated. Once a penal colony known as the Devil's Island of French Indochina, Con Dao, a 16-island archipelago off the Mekong Delta, has turned to more peaceful pursuits in modern times. It offers coral reefs, palm-shaded beaches, rain forest trails and chic beach hotels like the Six Senses Con Dao.

History buffs will revel in the island's role in the age of ocean exploration - Marco Polo allegedly stepped ashore at Con Dao on his long return journey to Venice, according to CNN.

To learn more about the island's war-plagued past, travelers can explore the Revolutionary Museum - located in the former French commander's residence - or tour the old prisons on the main island.

Con Dao is a heaven for outdoorsy types too, with plentiful scuba, snorkeling and fishing opportunities. Between May and October, visitors can watch sea turtles lay their eggs, while the infants hatch and scramble into the sea.

Xinhua

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2017-03-25 07:26:54
<![CDATA[China, ASEAN to enhance tourism cooperation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/25/content_28677421.htm China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) last Thursday officially launched the China-ASEAN Year of Tourism, with two sides vowing to enhance tourism cooperation. Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang attended the launching ceremony and made a speech in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, where he was on a four-day visit.

Wang Yang said China and ASEAN have been enjoying rapid economic development and people's livelihood has greatly improved, adding that a mass tourism era has come.

"China and ASEAN are close friendly neighbors. We have been each other's largest destinations of overseas visits and largest sources of overseas visitors," he pointed out.

The Chinese vice premier noted that tourism cooperation between the two sides enjoys bright prospect, vowing China will work with ASEAN countries to take the China-ASEAN Year of Tourism as an opportunity to further upgrade the industry.

"We need to build more platforms for tourism cooperation to translate the consensus of our leaders into more outcomes of practical cooperation," Wang Yang said.

Wanda Teo, tourism secretary of the Philippines which holds the rotating chair of the ASEAN, said connectivity inside ASEAN has improved gradually in past years, and that people move more freely within ASEAN with it as a single tourism destination.

"We celebrate today the tourism cooperation year between China and ASEAN, we hope tourism organizations of the two sides strengthen their cooperation, which will in turn bring more job opportunities and investments with it," she said.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte respectively sent their congratulatory messages for the event.

Xinhua

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2017-03-25 07:26:54
<![CDATA[Buddhist Thailand hunts for halal gold]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/25/content_28677420.htm Tourist paradise works hard to tap Islamic market

From hotels with segregated swimming pools to jelly made from seaweed instead of pig bones, Buddhist Thailand is chasing halal gold as it welcomes Muslim visitors and touts its wares to the Islamic world.

Inside the cavernous dining hall of the five-star Al Meroz hotel in a Muslim suburb of Bangkok, an elderly man with a wispy beard recites verses of the Quran as a nervous-looking groom awaits the arrival of his bride.

The young man bursts into a smile as his soon-to-be wife appears, clad in a brilliant white dress with matching headscarf.

From hotels with segregated swimming pools to jelly made from seaweed instead of pig bones, Buddhist Thailand is chasing halal gold as it welcomes Muslim visitors and touts its wares to the Islamic world. Photos by Roberto Schmidt / Agence France-Presse

The ceremony is one of dozens of marriages held over the last few months at the Al Meroz - the city's first entirely halal hotel.

Thailand has long been a draw for the world's sun-seekers and hedonists, drawn to its parties, red-light districts, cheap booze and tropical beaches.

But it has also seen a huge influx of visitors from Muslim countries, part of a quiet but deliberate strategy by the Southeast Asian nation to diversify its visitor profile.

"Considering there are 1.5 billion Muslims around the world, I think this is a very good market," explains Sanya Saenboon, the general manager of the hotel, one of a growing number of businesses serving a boom in Islamic tourists.

The hotel opened its doors last year, setting itself apart with its attention to all things Islamic. For a start there is no alcohol on sale, while the top floor swimming pool and gym has specific times for when men and women can use the facilities.

Everything in the building has been ticked off against stringent checklist for practicing Muslims, from bed linen washed in a particular way, to ensuring toiletries are free of alcohol or animal fat - making everyday goods "permissible" for the faithful.

Sanya, who is Muslim, says such checks give visitors "peace of mind" so clients never have to ask themselves "can I eat this?"

'Ahead of the curve'

Despite a decade of political turbulence, Thailand has seen an explosion in tourist arrivals, from 13.8 million annual visitors in 2006 to a record 32.5 million last year.

Western arrivals have largely remained a constant. The biggest increase in arrivals comes from China, skyrocketing from just 949,000 arrivals 10 years ago to 8.7 million visitors in 2016.

But Muslim countries are also sending their citizens.

An AFP analysis of government figures shows visitors from key majority Muslim nations in the Middle East and Asia have risen from 2.63 million in 2006 to 6.03 million last year.

"Thailand was ahead of the curve," says Fazal Baharden, founder of the Singapore-based Crescent Rating, which rates which countries are most welcoming to Muslim travelers.

Thailand routinely places in the top two for non-Muslim majority nations alongside Singapore in Crescent Ratings' annual survey of halal destinations.

"They've really recognized the Muslim consumer market is worth tapping into," he explains, add

ing medical tourism, shopping and high quality hotels are the primary draws.

Baharden says the Islamic travel market is one of the world's fastest growing thanks the growth of cheap flights and booming Muslim middle classes. He estimates the number of Muslim travelers has surged from around 25 million a year in 2000 to 117 million in 2015.

But it is not just at home that Thailand has gone halal.

Food gets halal makeover

From chicken and seafood to rice and canned fruit, the country has long been one of the world's great food exporters.

Now a growing numbers of food companies are switching to halal to widen their customer base.

Against a backdrop of humming machines churning out butter, Lalana Thiranusornkij, a Buddhist, explains how her family turned their three factories - under the KCG Corporation banner - halal to access markets in Indonesia, Malaysia and in the Gulf.

But going halal sometimes required some clever workarounds, such as how to avoid animal based gelatin to make jelly.

"In the past we used gelatin from pork but ... we changed our gelatin from the pork source to be from a seaweed source," she said.

Thailand's junta has set the goal of turning the country into one of the world's top five halal exporting nations by 2020.

Some outsiders might be surprised to see an overwhelmingly Buddhist nation embrace halal.

But Dr Winai Dahlan, founder of the Halal Science Centre at Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, says Thailand was well placed to make the change.

Five percent of its population is Muslim and - outside of the insurgency plagued southern border region - is well-integrated within the Buddhist majority.

It was local Thai Muslims who first began asking for the country's halal testing center, a business that scours products for any banned substances and has since boomed.

"Fifteen years ago there was only 500 food plants that had halal certification. Now it's 6,000," Winai told AFP as female lab technicians in headscarves tested food products for traces of pork DNA.

Over the same period the number of halal certified products made in Thailand has gone from 10,000 to 160,000, he added.

It's paid off. The government estimates the halal food industry is already worth $6 billion a year.

As Thailand has quickly learned, there's gold at the end of the halal rainbow.

Agence France-Presse

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2017-03-25 07:26:54
<![CDATA[Ukrainian tourism sector seizes opportunities to win Chinese market]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/25/content_28677419.htm As more and more Chinese are turning to Ukraine thanks to the eased visa policy introduced last year, the East European country is seizing opportunities to win the Chinese market, the largest outbound tourism market around the world. The number of Chinese visitors to Ukraine rose to a 10-year-high in 2016 thanks to the liberalization of the visa regime, under which Chinese tourists can obtain a visa on arrival in two Ukrainian airports - in the capital city of Kiev and in the southern Black Sea resort of Odessa.

Ukrainian statistics showed a record of 20,555 Chinese citizens visited the country last year compared with 13,602 visitors a year ago and the number is expected to further increase in 2017.

First step to attract more tourists

A Ukraine-China tourism forum organized by the Hospitality Industry Association of Ukraine was held in Kiev this week, marking the first step to promote Ukrainian tourism.

At the forum, more than 20 leading Ukrainian travel agencies presented their programs aimed at luring Chinese tourists.

Yanina Gavrylova, chairperson of All-Ukrainian Guides Association, said that Ukraine has a lot to offer Chinese tourists, from traditional sightseeing trips to unique thematic tours.

"Ukraine has several aspects that are of Chinese tourists' interest - culture, history and gastronomy. Also, we could offer the so-called dark tourism - visits to Chernobyl, World War II facilities and industrial facilities," Gavrylova told Xinhua.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant, located some 110 km away from the Ukrainian capital Kiev, witnessed one of the worst nuclear accidents in human history on April 26, 1986. The disaster has caused irreparable damage to the local environment and public health.

To make trips in Ukraine completely comfortable, the East European country is preparing high-skilled Chinese-speaking tour guides, Gavrylova said.

To become a guide, Ukrainians who knows the Chinese language or Chinese nationals living in Ukraine are undergoing professional training lasting at least three months, she added.

Special tours for Chinese travelers

Some Ukrainian travel agencies have introduced special tours for Chinese tourists, considering their interests and preferences.

One of the agencies, the Kolos, is offering themed trips across Ukraine inspired by How the Steel Was Tempered, a socialist realist novel which was very famous in China and adapted into a television series of the same title in 2000 by Chinese director Han Gang.

Victoria Zarutskaya, head of the Kolos agency, said she conducted in-depth research to create customized trips for Chinese visitors.

"Chinese tourists are interested in Soviet objects. In this regard, Ukraine can offer a lot. In addition, we know that the Chinese love amber and we can offer them individual tours to Rivne region, which is the birthplace of the sun stone," Zarutskaya told Xinhua.

Another attraction, which could be interesting for Chinese visitors, is the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Since 2010, Chernobyl has been officially open for tourists as the environmental situation in the area has improved. The place now is completely safe if tourists strictly follow the instructions of tour guides.

"We are offering bus tours to Chernobyl and tours in a light aircraft and a helicopter. Besides, this spring we will launch tours in a hydrofoil boat around the Chernobyl area," said Sergii Mirnyi, head of Chernobyl tour agency.

He said that prices of Chernobyl tours range from $29 for a regular one-day bus tour to $500 per person for an individual helicopter voyage.

Besides, targeting Chinese couples, local agencies are offering romantic tours to the Tunnel of Love in western Ukraine - a botanical phenomenon, where trees and bushes are creating a 4-km-long tunnel in a dense forest.

Multi-European country tours

Although individual tourism is gaining momentum, traditional package tours remain the most popular among the majority of Chinese tourists as they want to see as many places as possible when traveling abroad.

Therefore, Ukraine is cooperating with neighboring countries to jointly receive travelers from China.

Maryna Ignatusha, head of the Brandberg agency, which specializes in business, cultural, gastronomic and shopping tourism, said her company is working with partners from Poland and Hungary to prepare combined tours for Chinese tourists.

The agency also plans to arrange trips across the countries of the former Soviet Union.

"Taking into consideration the preferences of the Chinese tourists and the geographical position of Ukraine, we plan to jointly organize tours with Belarus, Baltic countries and Moldova," Ignatusha told Xinhua.

In recent months, more and more international travel agencies are turning to Ukraine as the country's image has improved and many people get to understand that the concerns about Ukraine's security situation were exaggerated, she said.

"The opinion that Ukraine is unsafe is due to the lack of information. Of course, there is a troubled region where a conflict is underway. But tourists will never enter there," Ignatusha said.

She introduced that Ukraine is completely safe for travelers as all tourism destinations are far away from the conflict area in eastern Ukraine.

Kiev lies about 750 km away from the restive Donetsk and Lugansk regions, Odessa resort is about 800 km away, while the ancient Lviv city is located in another part of the country - more than 1,200 km away from the conflict area.

Xinhua

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2017-03-25 07:26:54
<![CDATA[Sample a slice of America]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/11/content_28516899.htm Five hours from China by air is Guam, an island in the western Pacific. And it is trying hard to draw Chinese visitors with its many attractions as a wedding and shopping destination and its water sports

It is unlikely that a lot of Chinese know that Guam is the closest you can get to the United States from China. The island in the western Pacific is less than five hours flying time from the mainland and has a lot to offer when it comes to tourism.

For instance, tourists can take airplane rides over the sea, drive sports cars, watch dolphins play, go snorkeling or scuba diving to explore Guam's underwater world, which features more than 400 types of coral, and 700 types of fish.

"The water parks and the Under Water World are favorites with children and young people," says Pilar Laguana, the global marketing director at the Guam Visitors Bureau.

 

Guam offers exciting water activities and allows visitors to go snorkeling and explore more than 400 different types of coral, and 700 different types of fish. Photos Provided to China Daily

 

Another highlight of Guam is duty-free shopping where visitors can take Guam's local Lam Lam bus (trolley) from one shopping station to the next.

"In Guam, sales staff do not hassle you when you are shopping," says Laguana.

Guam's annual shopping festival covers New Year and the Chinese Spring Festival holidays.

As for other attractions, Guam's Chamorro culture offers many unique tastes and flavors.

Among them is red rice, which is made from the seeds of the Achote (Annatto) tree.

Guam is also a great place for romance. There are about 10,000 weddings hosted in Guam each year.

Li Mengran, the public relations manager of Beijing Utour International Travel Service Co, a major outbound-travel operator in China, says: "Most of our guests are young people who go there to enjoy their honeymoons or vacations."

Utour has developed products for Guam since 2011, and most trips last 5-6 days.

Recent celebrity weddings on Guam have boosted the island's profile, says Li.

Meanwhile, Guam is doing its bit to grab a bigger slice of the Chinese tourism market.

The Guam Visitors Bureau kicked off its campaign with a road show in Beijing on Feb 27, and other events will be held in Shanghai, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Guangzhou in Guangdong province.

The Guam tourism authority says 2017 is its "Year of Love", and so it plans to showcase Guam as a destination for weddings, honeymoons and anniversaries.

Expanding on the theme, Laguana says: "Guam is a combination of natural landscapes, cultural heritage and shopping. And it is also an ideal destination to experience American style leisure with water sports without the crowds."

As to why Guam is targeting China, it says it is because the country is an important travel market, and one that the island is committed to tapping.

According to China Tourism Academy statistics, Chinese outbound travel in 2015 increased 9.8 percent year on year, to more than 117 million outbound trips.

And, benefiting from the 10-year US multi-entry visa policy, Guam is seeing an increase in traffic from China.

Last year, Guam took in over 26,000 mainland visitors, up 11.4 percent on the previous year.

And the Guam bureau hopes to boost the numbers with help from Chinese travel agencies, and trade events such as workshops and seminars to help the Chinese learn more about the destination, and to get familiar with its festivals and events, says Laguana.

An international music festival and a marathon will also be staged on the island to spice up the visitor experience.

The Guam International Marathon in April will have various events, including a half marathon and 10K and 5K races. The race route will showcase Guam's scenery.

Diving enthusiasts have another reason to visit Guam as the local authorities plan to host an event to mark the centenary of the scuttling of the SMS Cormoran II on April 7.

This event will include a series of educational and diving opportunities, and is a great chance for diving enthusiasts who want to explore the shipwrecks of the SMS Cormoran and the Tokai Maru.

As for culture buffs, the Guam Micronesia Island Fair is an annual cultural event that showcases the vibrant culture of Micronesia.

Here, visitors can experience the best of Micronesia in one amazing weekend featuring master carvers, blacksmiths, traditional sailing experts, jewelers, weavers, dancers, musicians and chefs and experience customs that have been in place for a millennia.

For lovebirds, there are more than 20 churches in Guam where they can have a wedding ceremony.

"We have wedding companies to prepare everything, and help create lifelong memories," says Laguana.

When it comes to travel industry tie-ups, the Guam authority has joined hands with the Chinese travel trade and airlines.

It has partnered with China's biggest online travel agency Ctrip and popular travel information-sharing website Mafengwo to develop options for individual travelers. And it has done a number of workshops with BrandUSA in second tier cities in China, to promote the island to a wider audience.

"We will continue to engage with the Chinese media and with consumers through our events and social media platforms," says Laguana.

The Guam bureau now has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu in Sichuan province, and is working with airlines to offer more convenient flight choices.

For those planning a trip, Hong Kong Express flies four times a week directly to Guam.

Separately, United Airlines operates a direct flight connecting Shanghai and Guam. The flight departs from Shanghai every Thursday and Sunday. The airline also has direct flights from Hong Kong, and offered chartered flights from Beijing during the Spring Festival holiday.

As for Guam's ambitions for 2017. The island wants to welcome 35,000 Chinese visitors this year, it says.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-03-11 07:05:49
<![CDATA[Ireland prepares for four-day St Patrick's Festival in Dublin]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/11/content_28516898.htm A diverse art and culture celebration in Ireland will mark this year's St. Patrick's Festival. It will bring together 3,000 artists, musicians, dancers, poets and performers for over 30 events in Dublin over March 16-19.

"To celebrate Ireland's national holiday, Dublin is set for four really great days and nights," says Brendan Carr, the mayor of Dublin.

"There truly is something for everyone to experience and enjoy."

This year's event looks to celebrate Ireland as a culturally diverse, complex and brave society.

Mesmerizing music, powerful performances, intriguing walks and inspiring talks will be on as part of the celebrations.

The festival has commissioned Stephen James Smith, a Dublin poet and playwright, to write a poem, entitled "My Ireland" for the festival. The poem will be accompanied by a short film.

The four-day festival is funded by the Ireland tourism development authority, the Dublin City Council and Department Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. It is expected to attract more than 100,000 overseas visitors.

One of the highlights of the festival will be the festival parade at noon on March 17. The parade will manifest the vision and talents of artists, designers and performers of all ages.

Community groups and pageant companies from across Ireland will present the rich textures of Irish heritage through a variety of performances, based on Ireland's magical fairy stories, ancient mythical tribes, pirates and living landscape.

Describing the event, Susan Kirby, CEO of St Patrick's Festival program, says: "St Patrick's Festival prepares to create a snapshot of contemporary Ireland through our program of creative cultural events.

"We want the 2017 program to showcase an authentic picture of contemporary Ireland with an inspiring myriad of events that capture this moment in time."

The festival this year will also expand outside of the Dublin city center, with events in Swords, Blanchardstown, Howth and even a mystery train to the Wild Atlantic Way.

The flagship tourism event attracted over 105,000 out-of-state visitors in 2016, who spent an average of 8.8 days in Ireland, and 6.5 days in Dublin.

Meanwhile, visitors are urged to explore this year's Treasure Hunt (March 18), traverse the Liffey and visit places of historical and contemporary interest during the festival.

The finest of local island cuisine up the road in Howth village, at the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival is also something they should sample, say the organizers.

Merrion Square will come alive with a vibrant day-long street carnival on March 19. The Festival Big Day Out is set to burst with street theater, music, aerial performances.

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2017-03-11 07:05:49
<![CDATA[Singapore offers a perfect place to make a winter escape]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/04/content_28433275.htm Its warm weather, sea breeze and fresh air make Singapore an ideal getaway for mainlanders fleeing the cold

The beauty of Singapore is that one can see all the country has to offer during a visit that is short and sweet. Its warm weather, sea breeze and fresh air easily make Singapore an ideal getaway for mainlanders, especially in winter, when many Chinese cities struggle with the cold or even smog.

On a recent three-day trip to Singapore, we go on a shopping spree and binge on food that is cheap and cheerful. We see glistening skyscrapers sitting next to each other along the riverside, while basking in the shade of lush plants in the botanic garden.

We sip coffee at a local cafe and enjoy the night life in a local bar.

Indeed, all these elements are rolled into this compact yet neat land that accounts for less than 5 percent of China's capital Beijing, the place we come from.

As a food aficionado, my first highlight comes when I enter the Tiong Bahru Market, whose second floor is a food court, which is ringed with assorted independent food stalls.

"There are many places like this, but this one offers authentic local cuisine," says Candy Yat, our tour guide.

"Also, the food here is cheaper than at some of its counterparts," says Yat.

The place is filled with restaurants, which offer dishes like oyster omelet, steamed rice cakes topped with preserved radish, braised noodles, and assorted dim sum stuffed with sticky rice or green beans.

Most of the dishes we order are priced between $1-3.

The Cheng Tng (clear soup) is one thing you must try. Don't be fooled by the somewhat tedious dark brown look of the soupy dessert, as all the treats are at the bottom. The soup is sweet but not cloying.

A melting pot

After my belly is full I spend the rest of the afternoon walking around the Tiong Bahru neighborhood, which is said to be the oldest public housing estate in the country.

The neighborhood, however, is now one of the hippest places in Singapore, where the quaint shophouses have become hot spots for the young, Yat tells us.

For those who have an eye for history and culture, the neighborhood also has some landmarks from the past, including the Qitiangong Temple which is almost a century old.

What I find interesting is that the name Tiong Bahru actually means new cemetery, because it used to be a burial ground. It is hard to imagine the dramatic changes, with old and new buildings standing next to each other.

For one born and bred in Southeast China's Fujian province, I feel a sense of familiarity when I visit the Katong and Joo Chiat areas, where one can see traces of the charming Peranakan culture.

The area used to be home to the Straits Chinese community, which came into being when early Chinese immigrants married local Malay women, says Yat.

The area, only a 10-minute drive from downtown, is full of colorful two-story shophouses and terrace houses with facades featuring intricate motifs and ceramic tiles.

The neighborhood now harbors popular foodie destinations, including modern cafes that sit next to old-fashioned coffee shops selling laksa, dumplings and other delicacies.

We drop by the Guan Hoe Soon Restaurant, which has been serving authentic Peranakan cuisine in the Joo Chiat area since 1953.

The diner has an idyllic atmosphere and serves traditional cuisines that are considered too troublesome to cook.

Ayam buah keluak is a dish one must try. It features the big black seed of the buah keluak fruit and chunks of chicken stewed together.

Its delightful herbal taste complements the chicken and the bean itself is chopped up and mixed with minced meat, offering an springy texture.

It takes a lot of work to prepare this simple-looking but tasty dish.

"The black bean is poisonous and is used to kill rats in some countries," says a chef with the restaurant.

"So, we need to first cover the beans with volcanic ash, then wash and steam the beans until their toxicity is gone, and mix the flesh with meat and put the mixture back into the bean shell."

The ngoh hiang (deep fried parcels of pork), nonya chap chye (mixed vegetables) and otak otak (fish meat tofu) which we order all offer a pleasant and exotic flavor and give you a better understanding of the local cuisine.

Peranakan culture

If you dining experience leaves you craving for more, be sure to drop by Kim Choo Kueh Chang, which is also a time-honored food shop.

The shop's rice dumplings have a history going back to 1945. The pyramid-shaped dumplings are wrapped in bamboo leaves and are known for their savory fillings, including pork, chicken and chill prawn.

The stuffing is quite generous and I find big chunks of pork inside. Each dumpling is priced at around $2-3.

Traditional outfits like kebayas and sarongs, beaded slippers and other accessories, as well as exquisite Peranakan ware and handicrafts such as tea cups and pots can also be found in the area.

"Most of them are handmade," says Yat.

The common patterns on the items are phoenix and peony, which symbolize wealth and good fortune and are considered auspicious in Peranakan culture.

The Botanic Gardens

I choose the Botanic Gardens to be my last stop in the country, since it is Singapore's first UNESCO Heritage Site.

It's like being in a lush green world and all the modern brick-and-mortar buildings suddenly disappear.

The sun sparkles on the oily green leaves and exotic blossoms.

Many visit the gardens to jog or dine, I'm told.

The garden was established in 1859 by the Agri-Horticultural Society. It's a 60-acre plot that was transformed from a disused plantation.

Botanical and horticultural research are carried out here. Plants are grown in designated areas, and some toxic ones are fenced in to keep visitors at a safe distance.

The national orchid garden is believed to be the world's largest, with more than 600 species and hybrids.

The Heritage Museum is another site in the Gardens that one should not miss. It was built in 1921 and covers an area of 240 square meters. The museum features interactive and multimedia exhibits and panels that detail the Gardens' rich heritage.

For those with children, the Jacob Ballas Children's garden mixes fun with education. Children can play in the open air and pick up knowledge on plant life.

All exhaustion can be relieved at a host of diners and cafes tucked away in the Gardens.

Indeed, the convenient visa (four days after application through a travel agency) and cheap flights (1,800 yuan, $262 for round trip if your timing is right) make the City in the Garden an attractive option compared with domestic destinations for those who want to avoid the chill and the smog.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

The Merlion is Singapore's landmark statue of a half-lion and half-fish. Yang Feiyue / China Daily

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2017-03-04 12:54:00
<![CDATA[Dubai greets record number of Chinese visitors in 2016]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-03/04/content_28433274.htm The number of Chinese visitors to Dubai has surged ever since the country began offering visas-on-arrival for free.

Mainlanders paid 540,000 visits to Dubai in 2016, a 20 percent jump over the previous year, according to Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

It was the first time that the figure crossed the half-million mark.

Dubai attracted 14.9 million overnight visitors in 2016, a five percent increase over 2015.

The country aims to achieve 20 million visits by 2020.

Meanwhile, the Gulf Cooperation Council remained the top source of visitors for Dubai in 2016, delivering a total of 3.4 million travelers who spent the night, up five percent over 2015.

Of these, 1.6 million travelers were from Saudi Arabia, and 1 million from Oman.

Western Europe was the second largest source of tourists and contributed 3.1 million visitors, representing a four percent annual growth. The UK was Dubai's number three market, bringing in nearly 1.25 million visitors, while Germany remained in the top 10, with 460,000 visitors.

"2016 was another milestone marker for Dubai's travel sector, as we rallied strongly, and ramped up the momentum to significantly outpace the four-year global industry average," says Helal Saeed Almarri, the director-general of the Dubai tourism and commerce marketing department.

"With our international overnight traffic reaching 14.9 million, Dubai has cemented its ranking as the fourth most visited city in the world," Almarri adds.

Dubai recorded the highest tourist consumption per capita among all the members of the United Arab Emirates.

"The recent opening of the Etihad Museum, Dubai Opera and the development of the Dubai Historic District, all deliver strong appeal to travelers seeking art, culture and heritage," Almarri says.

Separately, the Dubai Retail Calendar program will feature shopping festivals, promotions and seasonal offer periods, mega-sales and clearance events.

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2017-03-04 12:54:00
<![CDATA[Where mother nature shows off]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347408.htm A region of incredulous beauty regardless of the time of the year, Yunnan province is one of the best places to seek reprieve from the bitter cold of winter

To escape the cold and dreary weather in Shanghai during winter, there was no other destination in my mind other than Yunnan province.

From peaceful lakes to fields of bright yellow rapeseed to snow-covered mountains and ancient towns, the contrasts make for breathtaking scenes of nature.

Even in January, the coldest month in China, the region is constantly bathed in sunshine, something which was most welcomed following two and a half days of driving from Shanghai. During our journey to Yunnan - the trip took us through Zhejiang, Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou provinces - all we ever saw was rain and fog.

 

Clockwise from top: Lugu Lake in Ninglang county on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan; Lige Peninsula, Lugu Lake; Erhai Lake; sunrise in Meili. Photos by Xu Xiaomin / China Daily

Here in Dali of Yunnan, the colors of the landscape rejuvenated the senses. The sky was a deep blue, the plants were so green it seemed as if winter never arrived, and the rooftops of residential buildings looked as if they were adorned with carpets made of red and yellow flowers.

Dali's ancient town was one of our first stops and it proved to be an ideal place for a nice meal after a long journey. I even managed to get my hands on a good cup of coffee, which was very comforting especially after all the soft drinks I had drank in the service stations on the way to Yunnan.

We spent the night at The One, an idyllic boutique hotel in the ancient town that offers a high quality buffet spread for breakfast and comfortable room with modern facilities. The next day, we headed to Erhai, a beautiful lake with sapphire blue water that is located some 2,000 meters above sea level. Measuring 256 square kilometers, the lake would take most people at least a day to cycle around. I soon discover that many people from Beijing and Shanghai have purchased villas alongside Erhai solely because of the beautiful lake and the fresh air.

Scooters can be rented almost everywhere in Dali and it is the best form of transportation to use to zip through the narrow lanes between villages around the lake. My favorite part of the lake is the section from Caicun to Xizhou where one can enjoy a panoramic view of the peaceful lake as well as the Bai ethnic villages where nearly every home comes with a pristine white wall.

Wase, a more deserted section of the lake that is located across the ancient town, is another lovely place to explore. There are a number of boutique hotels and guesthouses in this area where rooms come with spacious balconies on which you can enjoy views of the snow-covered Cangshan Mountain in the distance and bask in the warmth of the sun.

After brewing a pot of Yunnan's specialty Pu'er tea, I switched my mobile phone off and entered a space that was devoid of emails, Weibo notifications and WeChat messages.

Our next stop was the Tibetan area in Yunnan. Unlike the drive from Shanghai to Yunnan, this trip from Dali to Shangri-La and Meili was a thoroughly enjoyable one where we got to see the stretch of the Jinsha River that flows under the majestic Yulong snow mountains, small villages, terraced fields in the valley and countless lakes.

The ancient town of Dukezong, which means "town of the moon", in Shangri-La county is known for its well-preserved ancient Tibetan dwellings that date back to about 1,300 years ago. It was low season when we arrived, so we had the luxury of strolling through relatively empty streets where there were more dogs than tourists.

Having been here before many years ago, I went out in search of a book store and a tea house that I liked very much, only to discover that they were razed during a big fire in 2014 that destroyed half of the town. The Dukezong of today which is neat and new is nothing like what I remember it to be.

Early the next morning, we left for Meili in Deqin county. During the journey, we caught sight of the famous Ganden Sumtseling Monastery in the valley near us. Built in 1679, the monastery is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan province and is sometimes referred to as the Little Potala Palace.

On this morning, the view of the monastery was partly obscured by morning fog and only its gorgeous golden roof and deep red walls were visible. I stood in the cold but pleasantly pure air, the only sound around was the dawn breeze and birds' singing. It was too beautiful to believe it was real, just like a fantastic dream.

As we continued our journey to Meili, snow suddenly fell and we had to travel at a snail's pace because of the very slippery road conditions. Two hours later, we emerged from the other side of the mountain where the sun shone brightly again.

Meili is a mountain range that sits on the border of Yunnan province and the Tibet autonomous region which boasts stunning snow-capped ridges and peaks, 13 of which exceed 6,000 meters above the sea level. Kawagebo Peak, which has a height of 6,740 meters, is the highest in Yunnan and is still a "virgin peak" - it is recognized as a sacred mountain among local people and travelers are not allowed to scale it.

Catching the sun rise behind the Meili Snow Mountain is the most amazing thing I have ever seen during all my travels. It all began with a sliver of light around 7 am - sunrise in this region began later - before each of the 13 peaks of the mountain appeared one after another like giants emerging from the abyss.

At around 8 am, a tiny spot of red and gold light emerged above the Kawagebo Peak and started to expanded quickly, flowing down the mountain and glaciers like wildfire. About 20 minutes later, the entire mountain was encased in light beneath the regal blue sky. It would definitely be a picture inked in my memory forever.

Our two-week journey ended in Lugu Lake in Ninglang county on the border of Sichuan and Yunnan. The place is well-known for having a matriarchal and matrilineal society which is also termed the "Women's World".

Lugu Lake is a beautiful 50 square kilometer water body located 2,690 meters above sea level and is adorned with tiny islands and peninsulas. Watching the sunset at Lugu Lake was yet another surreal experience. The lake looked as if it was ready for slumber as a gentle breeze blew across the lake, creating ripples on the water surface that reflected the soft gray and blue hues of the dusk sky.

There are several accommodation options in Luoshui village which is close to the lake. Like the other destinations we traveled to, there is little to do here except go on peaceful strolls, sip tea in the sunshine or cycle around the lake. Time seems to slow down here, and that's where the beauty of Yunnan province lies.

Travel tips

When to go: To beat the crowds, travel to Yunnan during the low season from December to March. Yunnan has a healthy population of private hostels which are clean and comfortable, just walk around and find one that is to your liking.

How to get there: Driving is a good way to see Yunnan as you can stop along the roads to take in the views instead of paying to enter scenic spots. Besides, Yunnan's less popular mountains and lakes are just as beautiful.

What to bring: Winter in Yunnan is relatively comfortable but bring along a windbreaker because the temperatures may dip at night. Deqin county where Meili Snow Mountain is located stands at an altitude of 3,600 meters. As such, some travelers might experience slight altitude sickness and headaches. It might be prudent to bring along some painkillers.

xuxiaomin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-02-25 07:11:09
<![CDATA[Tantalizing the palate with Yunnan cuisine]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347407.htm Yunnan food has been my favorite among all the regional cuisines in China ever since I visited the province 11 years ago.

I've eaten at many restaurants that serve Yunnan cuisine in Shanghai and Beijing but have never been able to find one where the food tastes like those from the province. After all, many of the ingredients used in this cuisine are unique to Yunnan and are hard to preserve and transport.

When talking about Yunnan food, many diners will first mention the well-known ham and flowers used in the dishes. My recommendation, however, would be to try the dishes made using local wild vegetables that are only be available in Yunnan.

 

From left: Fish hotpot; purple coconuts; hai cai, or sea vegetable, which grows in lakes. Photos by Xu Xiaomin / China Daily

The first must-try dish is hai cai, or sea vegetable, which grows in lakes. This fragrant green vegetable has a smooth texture and a nice crispy and can be stir-fried with minced garlic or used in soups.

Another memorable vegetable dish choice is the xiao gua, or small melon. It is similar to vegetable marrow in Shanghai but is a little more chewy. Local people often stir-fry xiao gua with minced garlic and ham or bacon to achieve a good balance of flavors.

Yunnan is also famous for its dried or fresh mushrooms. To have them all at a go, head to a hotpot restaurant where you can feast on an assorted of them.

Yunnan has some notable local snacks as well, such as the Xizhou baba, a baked pie made of wheat flour that can be found in Xizhou town of Dali city. The charcoal-baked pie, which has an addictive crispy exterior, comes in sweet and salty options.

Most people prefer the sweet one, which has a red bean filling that is mixed with rose sauce. I found that the salty option, which is filled with minced preserved pork or ham and topped with chopped scallion, was just as delicious.

These pies are available almost everywhere in Dali and the best one I had was prepared by a young couple in a lakeside wet market in Wase town.

Chicken is a key ingredient in Yunnan cuisine and you will likely find dozens of chicken dishes on most menus, ranging from soup, hotpot, casserole and cold dish variations. The most impressive I found was a chicken soup stewed with green papaya and garlic at a small restaurant in Wase town in Dali. The green papaya gave the soup a refreshing taste while the chicken was very tender.

Other popular chicken dish, especially in western Yunnan, is the huang men ji, chopped chicken stewed with ginger, garlic, shallot, chili and many other seasonings. The most popular chicken dish in Yunnan is qi guo ji, or steamed chicken pot. Chopped chicken is placed in a pot with a hollow tube and steamed for hours. The soup is created when the steam rises from the tube and condenses upon making contact with the cold pot cover.

Meat lovers can also find the preserved pork rib soup in Lijian, a pleasant surprise while fish lovers should try the lake fish hotpot in Lugu Lake that culminates with a cup of Yunnan's famous Pu'er tea.

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2017-02-25 07:11:09
<![CDATA[New road blazes a path to a better future]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347406.htm Residents of a once remote hamlet in Yunnan province are optimistic about their prospects.

Jiang Wenying used to grapple with death every time she wanted to leave home.

She lived in Erdaoping, a small village on a mountain top that is 1,800 meters above sea level and covers an area of 0.3 square kilometers.

The village, in Jiaopingdu town, in the Luquan Yi and Miao autonomous county, in Yunnan province, is surrounded by cliffs on three sides.

 

The improved infrastructure has brought new hope to the life of locals in Yunnan province's Erdaoping village that is surrounded by cliffs on three sides. Photos by Yang Feiyue / China Daily

It is roughly 28 kilometers away from the nearest town, and the only way out of the village was a sheep lane hugging the mountain.

"I had to press myself against the mountain and hold on to plants when I took the lane," says Jiang.

Most of the lane was only half a meter wide, allowing only one person or a small animal to pass at a time. Some parts of the lane were so narrow that there was not enough room for a person's foot.

One slip could mean a plunge down a steep precipice.

"Before I went to the town only two or three times a year," says Jiang, who married into the village at 19, and has her son and daughter who now work outside the village.

Perfect place for agriculture

Poor access to the outside world made it almost impossible for locals to trade. So, they lived off the land.

Fortunately, the ideal natural environment of the village makes it a perfect place for agriculture.

Its mild temperature at 25 C throughout the year, and precipitation is just right for peanuts, corn and tobacco.

The tiered land on one cliffside is covered in oily green barley in late December.

So, raising goats is easy as the animals can feed on the cliffs.

"I only have to release them in the morning and they would return at the end of the day," says Jiang .

Each household owns 3 mu (2,000 square meters) of land on average where they grow vegetables, and raise chickens and goats that are more enough to feed them, says Zhu Haitao, a poverty alleviation official with the Jiaopingdu government.

When they needed to pay for their children's tuition fees or someone fell sick and needed medical treatment, they would sell some livestock, says Zhu.

However, poor road conditions cut the village off from the outside world.

As a result, many of the youngsters left home to seek work outside.

Prospects for the young

Speaking about the prospects for the young, Jiang says: "Our children would not be able to get married if they stayed here since no one would come to the village."

Now, only eight households remain in the village, and the population has fallen from 63 to 22.

Those who remain are aged between 45 to 85.

As for the locals' economic prospects, Zhu says: "Earlier, it was hard for the locals to sell their fruits and vegetables to the outside world."

Transportation problems also meant that their goats had to be sold much cheaper than the going market price.

As one local Xu Shunxiang says: "I did not sell a single goat in 2014."

In 2015, she sold less than 20 earning only 6,000 yuan ($864).

The poor price made her give up the idea of selling her goats last year since it is not profitable.

However, when the local government wanted to move the eight households a year ago, the locals said no.

Jiang's response to the plan was: "I am used to living here and those steep cliffs have grown on me after all these years."

The rejection of the relocation plan left the local authorities with no choice but to build a road to improve the life of the locals. So, a road was created using 14-ton bombs at the end of June, 2016.

New hope to the locals

The local authorities spent 950,000 yuan on the road, which is 4.5 m wide and runs for 1.4 km.

Vehicles now can reach the village via the road. Power lines and water pipelines have also been put in place.

The new infrastructure has brought new hope to the locals, and they are already making plans to embrace new opportunities on offer. "I am thinking of raising more livestocks and cultivating more food (for money)," says Jiang.

Xu and her husband Yang Zongqian, who now raise 80 black goats, cattle and cultivate a 10 mu plot of land, are planning to sell livestock again.

As for the others, some are hoping that their children return for good, and help develop their farming business.

Separately, the local authorities are planning to help the locals rebuild their houses and grow ginger.

As for Jiang, she often sits by the new road in the village as she waits for it to be completed.

"I still can't believe the road is being built. I want to see the progress with my eyes," she says.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-02-25 07:11:09
<![CDATA[Airbnb reveals top neighborhoods in the world for travel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347405.htm Airbnb recently unveiled a list of neighborhoods that one shouldn't miss in 2017.

They include the theater district in Seoul, a foodie hamlet in Kuala Lumpur's bustling city center and a residential artists' enclave in Minneapolis.

The list was based on the travel patterns of more than 140 million guest arrivals at 3 million homes on Airbnb. Some neighborhoods that made the list are urban retreats, according to Airbnb.

In 2017, people are flocking to laid-back communities that offer urban convenience with a relaxed vibe.

The destinations range from the serene Milneburg district of New Orleans to Phoenix Park, a district brimming with gardens and wildlife close to Ireland's capital Dublin, the company says.

Some neighborhoods also have glorious green spaces.

Areas like Rockcliffe-Smythe in Toronto have large beautiful green spaces and make for a relaxing visit.

A considerable part of the list was taken up by regions offering gourmet food, which is a perennial draw for visitors.

Neighborhoods like Bangkok's Din Daeng district, renowned for its roadside markets, and Midtown Miami's epicurean treats show that accessible local dining often catches a traveler's attention.

Airbnb has also launched an experience hosts program that grants visitors local access that is not found in typical tourist guides.

In Miami's Midtown neighborhood, guests can experience the fun, mindful side of Miami with yoga by the beach, paddleboarding and fresh dining; near Daehangno in Seoul, visitors can book a journey through the underground food scene, getting front and center in the kitchens of some of the best restaurateurs in the country.

Similar experiences will also be offered soon in New Orleans, Seattle, Toronto, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Prague, Madrid, Dublin, Provence, Sydney, Bangkok and Osaka, according to the company.

2017's trending neighborhoods

Where travelers seem to be treading most according to travel patterns of more than 140 million users of Airbnb.

Milneburg in New Orleans, Louisiana

Kampung Bayu in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Fitzroy in Melbourne, Australia

Konohana-ku in Osaka, Japan

Chutes-Lavie in Marseille, France

Rockcliffe Smythe in Toronto, Canada

Midtown in Miami, Florida

Narvarte in Mexico City, Mexico

West Seattle in Seattle, Washington

Usera in Madrid, Spain

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2017-02-25 07:11:09
<![CDATA[Wanda Hotels broadens horizon]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347394.htm China's homegrown hospitality group, Wanda Hotels & Resorts, announced on Thursday that its first overseas property will open in Istanbul, Turkey, by the end of 2018.

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Chinese resort brand to open first overseas property in Turkey

China's homegrown hospitality group, Wanda Hotels & Resorts, announced on Thursday that its first overseas property will open in Istanbul, Turkey, by the end of 2018.

The hotel, under the group's luxury brand, Wanda Vista, will open with 150 rooms and suites. Turkish company Maryapi invested in the project, which will be brought to life by French designer Philippe Starck, according to Wanda Hotels& Resorts, operator of the property and a subsidiary of property developer Dalian Wanda Group.

"It is our first luxury hotel with Chinese DNA outside China," said Qian Jin, CEO of Wanda Hotels & Resorts.

Founded in 2012 with the goal of becoming a globally renowned luxury hotel group, the company now owns and operates more than 100 hotels in the country, making it the largest Chinese hospitality group in terms of properties.

Its investment in Istanbul is a part of the company's global expansion plan. By the end of 2016, it had secured five overseas projects aside from the Turkish property - in London, Los Angeles, Chicago, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

"We go wherever Chinese tourists go," Qian said. The Belt and Road Initiative and Istanbul's strategic location on the Silk Road played central roles in the new property's creation, he noted.

"The original purpose of the Silk Road was to transport silks to the West. Today it has taken on a more significant meaning as exporting Chinese culture, of which lifestyle is an integral part," he said.

Wanda Vista, one of the four brands currently owned and run by the group, focuses on the quintessentials of the Chinese lifestyle led by the middle class, Qian said.

Munir Ozkok, chairman of Maryapi, said that the reason his company chose to collaborate with Wanda is because of the similarities shared by the two - they both started as developers.

Wang Jianlin, the founder and chairman of Dalian Wanda Group and the country's richest man, said in early 2016 that his company should transform from a real estate developer to a leisure services provider.

Wang announced at an annual company meeting in January that Wanda has achieved this goal by increasing its revenues from the service industry to 55 percent of the total, surpassing that of the real estate segment for the first time in the company's history.

Qian added that the group's hospitality projects will benefit from and be beneficial to those in other sectors such as sports, entertainment and tourism.

xujunqian@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Wanda Vista Istanbul is scheduled to open in 2018. Photos Provided To China Daily

 

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2017-02-25 07:20:48
<![CDATA[Millennials leading Asia's travel wave]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347393.htm Despite a turbulent 2016, more people from Asia are expected to travel abroad this year, according to global travel deals publisher Travelzoo.

In December, Travelzoo surveyed its members in China, Japan and Singapore about their 2017 travel plans.

Of the respondents from the Chinese mainland, 70 percent said they intended to travel abroad two times or more this year, an increase of almost 10 percent compared to the same period last year, and nearly 30 percent of Hong Kong respondents plan to travel four times or more in 2017, which is an increase of 5 percent over the same period last year.

"Consumer confidence in Asia remains strong, and that's reflected in the travel industry," said Vivian Hong, president of Travelzoo Asia-Pacific, while introducing the 2017 Travelzoo Travel Trends Report on Feb 6. "This is especially the case for China. China is witnessing a generation of millennials that is the dominant force in leading the travel wave."

According to the findings of the survey conducted in December, in the previous 12 months there was a 10 percent increase in the number of tourists from the mainland taking two or more holidays.

The number of mainland tourists who are willing to spend more than 14,000 yuan ($2,039) on traveling has also increased by nearly 10 percent compared to last year.

There was an 11 percent increase in the number of respondents from the mainland who said they would be willing to spend more than 600 yuan per night on a hotel this year.

The number of respondents from the Chinese mainland who said they preferred budget hotels decreased by nearly 5 percent, while the number of those who prefer high-end global hotel groups has almost tripled.

The online questionnaire, which was completed by 7,683 Travelzoo members, also found that destinations within the Asia-Pacific region are the most attractive, with Japan continuing to be the favorite. It is the most popular destination based on a unanimous vote from the survey respondents, and more than 22 percent of respondents from the mainland who plan to visit Japan will be repeat visitors.

"Asian travelers are becoming much more sophisticated," said Hong. "They used to travel primarily for fast-paced sightseeing and luxury shopping. But in the past few years, we have seen a rapidly growing number of Asian tourists who prefer a more personal and in-depth travel experience."

The results highlighted transformations in the vacation spending patterns of travelers from the Chinese mainland, with an increasing number willing to spend more for in-depth experiences focused on explorations of nature and culture.

Safety has become an increasingly important factor in the choice of destination.

Nearly 65 percent of Chinese mainland respondents cited safety as one of their reasons for choosing Australia, while 50 percent chose it as one of the reasons they would visit Japan.

"Concerns about safety from terrorist attacks weigh heavily in Asian tourists' travel decision-making," Hong said. "Nearly 80 percent of them travel with family so they are very mindful of security."

The five most popular planned destinations for mainland tourists this year are Japan, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

lindsayandrews@chinadaily.com.cn

 

From top: Chinese tourists take pictures as they pose in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. Reuters Travelers pose for photographs with the landmark statue of a bull on Wall Street in New York, the United States. Reuters Chinese tourists take pictures near the Big Ben clock tower in London,Britain. Reuters

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2017-02-25 07:20:48
<![CDATA[Marriott debuts first pop-up innovation lab]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347392.htm Underscoring its goal of continuously innovating the guest experience with an eye on design and technology, Marriott International launched its first pop-up hotel innovation lab last month.

The interactive model in downtown Los Angeles lets industry professionals, hotel guests, associates and the general public see, touch, taste and hear some of the exciting enhancements being considered for the future of the company's innovation incubator brand Aloft, and the eco-conscious, extended-stay brand Element.

"We're excited to unveil Marriott's first-ever, pop-up innovation lab for Aloft and Element - two phenomenal brands that are always evolving as guests, lifestyles and technology change," said Eric Jacobs, chief development officer of North America, Marriott Select Brands, Marriott International.

Among the innovations being considered is a bold new guest room design being piloted by the Element brand. With business and leisure travelers looking for more unique spaces, the brand is piloting a communal room in the center of four guest rooms, allowing travelers to share a kitchen, dining room and lounge area.

Aloft is revitalizing its food and beverage program so travelers can order customized "pots", a healthy meal in a colorful to-go container with food featuring fresh, healthy ingredients that reflect regional tastes. The personalized pots can be ordered and paid for at a digital kiosk; guests will receive their pot with a time-stamped label featuring their chef's emoji.

Every one who passes through the lab will have the opportunity to offer their feedback in real-time through Swurveys, a swipe-able survey. The feedback will be reflected in the Aloft and Element brands as they roll out their new guest experiences beginning in the fall of 2017.

"Innovation is embedded in Marriott's values," said Toni Stoeckl, global brand leader and vice-president of Marriott's Distinctive Select Brands. "We're driven by creating solutions that elevate, innovate and evolve the guest experience, fueling guest loyalty and maximizing the value of our owners' investments.

"It's how we stay relevant to guests today and tomorrow, while providing a meaningful competitive advantage to our partners."

The pop-up innovation lab event comes four months after Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels & Resorts, which conceived of the two brands and witnessed an uptick in signings in the months leading up to the merger.

At the end of 2016, there were 116 Aloft and 23 Element hotels open around the world, with 150 Aloft and 73 Element hotels in the pipeline globally.

In 2017, Marriott expects to open 33 Aloft properties and 14 Element properties around the world.

zhuanti@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Travelers can order healthy meals in colorful to-go containers, which reflect regional tastes. Provided To China Daily

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2017-02-25 07:20:48
<![CDATA[Roundup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/25/content_28347391.htm APPOINTMENT

Benoit Amado has been appointed general manager of Amanyangyun, Shanghai. The hotel is scheduled to open this fall.

OPENING

The Sanya Edition, which opened in Hainan province in December, is set to be "a hotel unlike any other resort" across China, said Ian Schrager, who conceived the brand in partnership with Marriott International.

CONTESTS

The China leg of the Kanebo Beauty Up Contest was held in Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park Hotel on Wednesday. Five of the 367 competitors that took part won through to the final, which is scheduled to take place in Japan on May 23. The event is an annual in-house competition held by Japanese cosmetics company Kanebo to enhance the technical and counseling skills of its beauty consultants.

A promotional campaign colaunched by AccorHotels Asia Pacific and MasterCard will award the winning team in its "The Ultimate Rivals" league four tickets to the UEFA Champions League finals on May 11, as well as four flights to Cardiff, Wales, and a three-night stay in an AccorHotels property. Le Club AccorHotels loyalty program members and MasterCard cardholders are invited to create teams of two to four players to enter the competition.

WEEKEND GETAWAY

Sheraton Grand Macao Hotel has launched its Girls Weekend Getaways package, specially designed for women-only get-togethers. It includes a 60-minute spa treatment, the in-suite "Manis and Pedis in Your Jammies" experience and an outdoor yoga class. Girlfriends can also have Sunday brunch at Bene, an iconic Italian homestyle eatery, and seafood hot pot at Xin, Macao's one-of-a-kind Asian restaurant. They may also have a cocktail-making class with the hotel's in-house mixologist.

CULINARY DELIGHT

The Rose Coffee Shop at Okura Garden Hotel Shanghai introduced its new menu on Feb 15. The restaurant serves a semi-buffet dinner from Monday to Thursday - which consists of an extensive buffet with seafood and salads - and a weekend buffet offering a selection of various Chinese, Western and Japanese dishes.

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2017-02-25 07:20:48
<![CDATA[Angkor temples lure Chinese visitors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/11/content_28169297.htm Cambodia is a small country with a long history, and it now has become more appealing to Chinese travelers. The country with its world-famous cultural relics draws Chinese traveling in Southeast Asia.

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China has become the second-largest source of tourists for Cambodia, following Vietnam, according to the China National Tourism Administration

Cambodia is a small country with a long history, and it now has become more appealing to Chinese travelers. The country with its world-famous cultural relics draws Chinese traveling in Southeast Asia.

China has become the second-largest source of tourists for Cambodia, following Vietnam, and Chinese travelers account for 16.7 percent of the total foreigners visiting the country, according to the China National Tourism Administration.

For first-timers, the ruins of the Angkor temples are very important - sometimes they are only reason - to visit the country, and Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor in northern Cambodia, is often the first stage of their journeys.

The temples, built over the 9-14th centuries, and rediscovered by the French, are visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking.

As the temple ruins, hidden and spread in the forests and farmland, take up an area too large to be covered in a short time, planning a visit to the Angkor temples always involves making choices, especially if the trip is short.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, which was built in the early 12th century as a state temple dedicated to Vishnu, one of the Hindu trinity and the universe preserver, is among the must-visits.

The complex, considered one of the world's largest religious monuments, occupies a rectangular area of 1.5 kilometers by 1.3 kilometers, and the central massif of the grandiose structures of brick and stone is a miniature of the Hindu universe, with a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level.

Angkor Wat faces the west, and like other Khmer architecture, the temple has elegant bas-reliefs on the walls, both inside and outside.

There are nearly 2,000 distinctively rendered carvings of apsaras, female divinities in Hindu mythology, and some of the carvings feature the finest and best-preserved examples of such art in the Angkor period.

It is a wonderful experience to see the carvings while listening to a tour guide to understand the bas-reliefs, because they often depict legends and characters from Hindu mythology.

Bayon Temple

Another must-visit is the Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom, built over the late 12th and early 13th centuries.

In contrast to the grand sprawl of Angkor Wat, the Bayon temple is compact, and its iconic giant smiling stone faces carved onto the towers of the temple are distinctive compared with other temples in the country, and are awe-inspiring.

There were once about 200 smiling stone faces carved into about 50 towers, but now there are only 37 towers left, and unfortunately, some of the smiling faces have faded.

The bas-reliefs of Bayon are also distinct, and depict scenes of daily life and religious mythology in Angkorian Cambodia.

Visitors are advised to enter the complex through the east gate, and tour in a clockwise direction, so the carvings present themselves in order of the storylines, with vivid scenes and details.

Banteay Srei, or the "Citadel of the Women", is a small square temple, but is also a must-visit, thanks to its high-quality carvings on pinkish sandstone. The carvings, covering almost every available inch of the sandstone, are very beautiful and intricate.

City pulse

Apart from temples, Siem Reap has more to offer.

For a start, there is the diverse environment and rich wildlife, and in the downtown, despite the absence of skyscrapers, bustling markets and street food vendors show the energy of the country.

The local circus troupe Phare, The Cambodian Circus, is also worth seeing.

Performers use theater, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell Cambodian stories, as their shows are inspired by real-life experiences and deal with themes such as war, discrimination, relationships, poverty and the supernatural.

The circus proceeds are used to educate children from poor families in performing arts and other crafts at Phare Ponleu Selpak, an NGO-run school in Battambang, Cambodia. Many of the graduates from the school work for the circus.

The country's capital city Phnom Penh has hidden treasures such as the old town area that has Chinese shophouses, French colonial buildings and "New Khmer Architecture" of the late 1950s and 1960s.

The Central Market, known as Psah Thmey, is a large structure in the shape of a dome with four branches. It was one of the largest markets in Asia when it opened in 1937.

liuzhihua@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Chinese travelers account for 16.7 percent of the total foreigners visiting Cambodia during the first 10 months of 2016. Jiang Dong / China Daily

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2017-02-11 07:16:47
<![CDATA[Qantas launches new Sydney-Beijing flight]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/11/content_28169296.htm Qantas' new service to Beijing took off on Jan 26. The new service aims to help power the Australia-China travel boom and marks the Australian airliner's next step in its Chinese growth strategy.

Beijing is Qantas' third destination in China, in addition to Shanghai and Hong Kong. The new service gives the capital's residents a direct gateway to Australia.

It represents a huge opportunity for the Australian tourism industry and companies doing business in China under a Free Trade Agreement, an official with Qantas says.

Flights to Australia on the new route are timed to connect with Qantas' domestic network to popular onward destinations such as Melbourne, Brisbane and Hobart, as well as the airline's Tasman services to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Meanwhile, Qantas will be working with Tourism Australia and Destination NSW to draw more Chinese to visit. It will also sell the route with its joint venture partner China Eastern.

Flights operates to Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 3, using a 235 seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Overall, the service adds 3,300 seats to the market per week.

The 12-hour route takes Qantas' long history of serving China into a new era, says Qantas' CEO Alan Joyce.

"It's the perfect time for Qantas to fly to Beijing. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement is hitting its stride and China is on track to become the number one source of visitors to Australia within the next year or so," says Joyce.

"What's really exciting is the potential we see for the future. We now have the Qantas Group's biggest ever network in Greater China, and our goal is to make our Beijing route a flagship corridor for tourism and trade."

The new Beijing service is part of Qantas' growth strategy for China and the broader Asian region, increasing its total capacity on routes to Asia by seven per cent.

Together with its partners China Eastern and China Southern, Qantas customers can now choose from 130 weekly return flights between Australia and China, plus close to 256 connecting services to domestic destinations within China.

The Jetstar Group of airlines offers more than 30 return flights a week into eight Chinese cities from Singapore and Vietnam.

The route launch follows the beginning of Melbourne-Tokyo Narita flights before Christmas and the announcement of a new Jetstar service between Melbourne and Ho Chi Minh city, to begin in May 2017.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Beijing is Qantas' third destination in China, in addition to Shanghai and Hong Kong. Provided To China Daily

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2017-02-11 07:16:47
<![CDATA[Spanish ritual of horses and fire survives time and critics]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/05/content_28106981.htm Once every winter, thick smoke begins to swallow up the houses in this village in the barren lands of Avila, northwest of Madrid. It means the town's bonfire festival honoring St. Anthony the Abbot has begun.

The music of a small bagpipe and a drum drift through the gloom. Then comes the clack of hooves on the cobblestone street. Suddenly, the flames roar up and horses and riders emerge to begin leaping through the flames.

St. Anthony the Abbot is the patron saint of domestic animals, and some townspeople say the celebration dates back five centuries to when the plague was fought with Roman Catholic rituals that used the smoke for purification.

San Bartolome de Pinares has kept its "luminarias" festival alive with religious intensity and unswerving pride, fending off criticism from animal rights groups.

When agriculture was far more important, mules and donkeys also were led past the bonfires in a purifying ritual. Now, horses are the only animals used.

In recent years, tourists, journalists and photography aficionados have put attention on the ritual, which has come under attack from animal rights groups.

"There is no logic in forcing these animals into a stressful situation against their own nature," said Juan Ignacio Codina, one of the most vocal critics of the "luminarias" festival. "In the midst of the 21st century, this is something from a bygone era. There is no superstition or belief that should justify an act of such cruelty."

Codina's group, Observatory of Justice and Animal Defense, contends the "luminarias" break regional and national laws of animal protection and public entertainment shows and it filed a complaint with the regional government in 2013.

The government of Castille and Leon, the region where San Bortolome sits, replied that veterinarians sent by authorities couldn't find any injuries on the horses from the bonfires.

"Not one burn, not even one harmed horse," said the mayor, Maria Jesus Martin, who insists that no horse is forced to jump over the frames.

"It makes me angry to hear the insults without those speaking knowing anything at all about the tradition," she said. "They call us stubborn, hicks. They have even openly called on social media to throw me, the mayor, into the bonfire."

Still, some in the village of 600 people think it would be better to return to a more moderate version of the festival. They say branches of pine and shrub for the bonfires used to arrive in small quantities on the backs of donkeys, but now the fuel is hauled in by trucks and the bonfires are much bigger and the smoke thicker.

Some people also would like to see a halt to the controversial jumping of the bonfires, since the original tradition only envisioned purifying the animals by walking them around - and not over - the flames.

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2017-02-05 15:00:58
<![CDATA[Houhuang village an oasis of clam]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/04/content_28101897.htm Houhuang village is picture of green fields, clean rivers, and ancient buildings with redbrick walls and red-tile roofs. Some are nearly a century old and used to serve as lookout towers for the Chinese Red Army.

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A decade ago, this backwater was a mess. But, thanks to smart planning, it now draws urban folk looking for a rural getaway

Houhuang village is picture of green fields, clean rivers, and ancient buildings with redbrick walls and red-tile roofs. Some are nearly a century old and used to serve as lookout towers for the Chinese Red Army.

Seen from on high, the buildings all resemble giant gems embedded on a green landscape.

The village, in Fujian province's Putian, is filled with tourists when we visit in early December. Some are enjoying barbecues, while others relax near a river. Everything seems peaceful under a blue sky.

"Beautiful mountains, fresh air, organic fruit and vegetables are among the highlights of Houhuang," says Xu Cong, the Party secretary of the village.

"It's a good place for urban folk to blow off steam, since it's close to the city."

The village is only a 20-minute drive from downtown Putian.

Houhuang, which covers an area of 1.5 square kilometers, has a population of roughly 1,000.

In the old days, many of its residents migrated to Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

Cai Chong was busy entertaining guests when we visited her lovely yard in the village.

She moved to the village from Putian's Hanjiang district and opened a vegetarian diner last year.

"I always wanted to open a vegetarian restaurant, so I shut my bar business when I heard there was an opportunity here," says Cai.

Her restaurant looks more like a garden. Guests come to chill out and eat after they are tired from walking around the village.

Cai fell in love with the place and the relatively slow lifestyle after she moved in.

"Every day, I wake up hearing birds chirp and smell flowers," she says.

"And the first thing I do is sip tea and watch the plants and the lake."

Cai wants her guests to feel at home in her yard. So, she lets them pick vegetables and get them cooked.

"They can help with preparing the food and even washing up."

Cai offers us tasty round dumplings that are springy and glutinous and steeped in sesame oil and honey. She even teaches us how to make them.

The woman is content with her life here. She loves interacting with guests and has staged events to promote turning waste into environmentally-friendly detergent.

Cai's restaurant is just one of the fun experiences visitors can enjoy in Houhuang.

They can also pick organic strawberries, wax apples, watermelons, lemons, oranges, tomatoes, pumpkins and pitayas at the fruit park.

An option for open-air cooking using old-fashioned kitchen tools and firewood is also available in the village.

For those who want to get their hands dirty, they can roll up their sleeves and plant seeds or catch loach in waterlogged fields.

For those interested in history, folk art and local traditions, the museums are worth exploring.

The folk art museum has 300 items, including local farming and textile production tools.

Other museums give visitors a glimpse of well-known local clans.

Meanwhile, you can see that Xu is proud of the changes in the village, and he has reason to be.

Everything was dirty and in chaos when Xu was appointed director of the village in 2006.

Animal feces and sewage were all over the place, he says.

So, Xu first asked every household to raise no more than five chickens and ducks and shut all the pig breeding sites.

"It was not reasonable to forbid locals from breeding fowls as every household had leftover food, which would otherwise be wasted," he says.

But, he ensured that locals took care of the animal waste.

"Also, if someone wanted to raise animals like pigs, they had to use a special facility that met government regulations."

In addition, Xu urged locals to sort out their rubbish to make waste treatment easier.

"For example, they were told to filter out kitchen waste before letting wastewater go down the drain," he adds.

Xu's efforts paid off.

Now, locals - from the elderly to children of five - pick up litter on the roads, he says.

A sewage system has been built to deal with wastewater and three years of efforts have yielded dividend.

Now a clean environment draws visitors to spend weekends and holidays in the village.

Xu knew that tourism was an effective way to transform the village. "But to do this, the locals had to get out of poverty, before a friendly neighborhood could be developed," he says.

Therefore, Xu established a rural cooperative and created job opportunities for locals, such as food plantation.

His measures worked.

Local income was a little more than 3,000 yuan ($440) a year in 2006. But it increased to more than 30,000 yuan a few years later.

Buildings in the village were also remodeled and turned into folk art centers and diners.

Xu is now planning to integrate the surrounding villages to form a greater Dahuang village resort.

He is unequivocal when he speaks about the future of the village.

The local ecology and rural elements are the key and won't be replaced or compromised, he says.

"We used red bricks and tiles to keep the original elements of the old buildings."

Recently, a celebrity reality show was shot in the village and it will be released next year.

"We expect it to bring in even more visitors", says Xu.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Fujian province's Houhuang village has become a rural getaway for urbanites, with its proximity to the city, green fields, clean river and ancient buildings.Photos By Yang Feiyue / China Daily

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2017-02-04 15:18:40
<![CDATA[Rongcheng, Home To Swans]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/02/content_28085127.htm In the deep of winter, Rongcheng, a coastal city in East China's Shandong province, provides a warm habitat for wild swans.

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The city sets a brilliant example of how people and swans can co-live in harmony, reports Ju Chuanjiang

In the deep of winter, Rongcheng, a coastal city in East China's Shandong province, provides a warm habitat for wild swans.

Driving along the coastline, flocks of swans can be seen in almost every bay. The biggest swan habitat is called Swan Lake where thousands of swans gather in shallow water looking for food, preening, flapping their wings and 'bickering' with friends and family. From time to time a few swans take to the sky, attracting photographers who are waiting onshore to snap them. It seems the swans here are not afraid of people and they wave their wings to show human beings their charm.

Swan Lake is a natural lagoon with an area of 4.8 square kilometers. The lake is surrounded by land on three sides, with a wide estuary in the southeast connected to the sea. The lake is rich in algae, with a kind of seaweed which swans like best. In addition, several streams around the lake provide fresh waters, providing a unique living environment for them.

Zhang Jian, director of the swan protection office at the Rongcheng forestry bureau, said for winter the swans begin flying to Rongcheng in November from the Siberian region, Inner Mongolia autonomous region and the Chinese northeastern regions. Swans will fly back north in March.

"Due to the continuous improvement of the environment, the number of swans here keeps increasing year by year. Nearly 10,000 swans will spend winter here this year while at the end of the 1990s, their numbers were less than 2,000," Zhang said.

Over the past ten years, in order to protect their habitat, the local government invested 130 million yuan ($19 million) in dredging the lake, restoring the seaweed ecological system, clearing the lake's channels and treating sewage. Now the lake is two meters deep, providing a better environment.

The swan protection office says it feeds the swans more than 200 kilograms of corn every day.

"Feeding can not only make up for the shortage of the wild swans 'food, but also enhance the affinity between wild swans and humans." Zhang said.

In the shelter for injured and sick swans, 58-year-old Wang Houli is busy feeding two ailing birds.

"The swans were sick when they arrived here due to diarrhea," Wang said.

"They are recovering and will be able to live in the lake in a couple of days."

Every year, the shelter's workers need to treat more than 10 swans that get injured during their flight or become sick due to diarrhea.

Originally wild swans were afraid of humans, but the Rongcheng swans are getting more and more relaxed with mankind.

A decade ago they preferred to keep 500 meters or so from the lake's banks, but now they come in as close as 10 meters from shores that are usually packed with tourists. Wang said that probably because of local residents'caring attitudes towards swans - people properly protect and feed them and look after their environment - things keep improving.

The swans continue to attract flocks of fascinated tourists to Rongcheng. Thanks to them, the city was given the status of a provincial tourism resort by Shandong provincial government in 1995 and in 1997 the place was listed as national scenic spot and a national nature reserve.

In the bay in front of Yandunjiao village, hundreds of swans float only a few meters away from tourists.

Yandunjiao, which has a history going back than 400 years, boasts seaweed-thatched houses with the walls made of thick stone or earthen blocks. The sea grass roofs covered by fishing nets present a visual mystery. White swans and the seaweed-thatched houses feature in the haunting scenery, like an oil painting.

This beautiful and small place now only has 530 households. But the swans have made the working fishing village also a tourism village and the brisk tourism has changed the fishermen's way of life. More than 50 families in the village provide accommodation services for the visitors.

Photographers from home and abroad flock here every year. In addition to appreciating the swans, tourists can taste local food, such as crab, fried shrimp, fish and Jiaodong bobo, a kind of steamed bun.

Yandunjiao village attracts 100,000 visitors every year, who generate revenue of nearly 10 million yuan. Every day, hundreds of professional photographers from home and abroad arrive to take photos of the swans. To catch these beautiful moments, some stay for a week or more.

The guest rooms, living rooms and dining rooms of the family hotels in Yandunjiao village are decorated with photos of the birds. Many of them, and pictures of the seaweed homes, have won international awards.

Wang Xinyu, a young man, has come here for four years in a row to take photos of the swans.

"Swans are birds that attract good luck. I like listening to their sounds and seeing them dance," Wang said.

The swan lake has become a research base for wild swans. Universities including Shandong University, Yantai University, China Academy of Sciences and Shandong Normal University, have set up facilities here.

The local swan protection office and the Chinese Academy of Sciences installed satellite positioning equipment on more than 20 swans last March and in January this year to track their migration patterns and habits. Teachers and students from Shandong University stay here for years to observe their numbers, conditions, as well as the tourists' influence on the living habits of the birds.

"Swans and human beings are living closer and closer, indicating that wild swans can live in harmony with man, but overfeeding will weaken their ability to survive in the wild," said Liu Jian, a teacher from Shandong University.

Swans like living in groups. They fly to the sea to look for food and then fly to rivers to drink fresh water.

If swans want to be airborne, they nod or toss their heads to decide whether to take off. Little swans that are not willing to fly will be pecked by the larger birds.

In the morning, swans repeatedly clean and comb their feathers in the shallow water area. When families of swams fight for food, those involved wave their wings and make loud sounds, chasing and biting each other.

Swans are graceful and perch in beaches, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands. Adult swans can weigh over 7 kilograms. When they open their wings, the length can measure more than 1.5 meters and they can fly as high as 8000 meters.

Qu Rongheng, 62, of Yandunjiao village, said swans started coming here 40 years ago, but it was not until the year 2000 that a large number of swans gathered there.

"The swans have made our village more and more of a bustling place to be," he said.

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2017-02-02 13:17:48
<![CDATA[China's Largest Campsite Offers Perfect Getaway]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/01/content_28080742.htm Stunning scenery and a relaxing atmosphere help visitors feel at home

Ding Guangning drives an electric patrol car around a campsite, which is located 1.5 kilometers away from the west gate of Huangshan, or Yellow Mountain, in East China's Anhui province.

"Huangshan is probably the most well-known Chinese mountain in the world," said Ding, who saw a sport utility vehicle stop and restart a couple of times on a road on the campsite.

Ding drove over to the SUV and offered his assistance to the driver, who seemed a little confused about the location of the caravan he had booked.

"Keep on going and you will see sections marked with letters from A to K. Each section has several caravans, with the room number carved on a stone at the roadside," Ding said.

The Huangshan Tuju Campsite, which covers an area of about 67 hectares, is the largest campsite in the country, according to Ding. There are 201 caravans available for hire and there will be another 170 in a year or two, he said.

"The passengers in the car seemed to be the driver's parents, wife and kid. They are typical of the type of visitors we have here. Most visitors come with their families and friends," said Ding, who has been marketing director of the campsite since autumn last year.

In front of each caravan, there is a parking lot for the tenants' own cars. "Once you hire a caravan, the parking lot is exclusively yours," Ding said to the driver.

"It is like a private yard, in which there are facilities to enjoy a barbecue, while the kids can play with each other and the dogs they often bring with them," he said.

Compared with staying in a hotel room, visitors enjoy more open space for outdoor activities, while some tourists prefer just sitting in front of their caravan or walking around the campsite in the sunshine.

As the campsite is bordered by streams, which have crystal-clear water and are surrounded by stones, tourists can take a leisurely walk around the campsite, enjoying the murmuring streams.

"The Chinese name 'Tuju' consists of tu and ju, which mean 'travel' and 'live' respectively. We hope visitors can enjoy their stay and make themselves feel at home," Ding said.

Popular choices

It was a cold and slightly foggy weekend when China Daily paid the campsite a recent visit. The mountains were not clearly visible in looming mist and the clouds made the scenery look like a black-and-white Chinese painting.

The view can be stunning when the breeze disperses the mist to uncover the beauty of the mountain peaks.

In the offseason, the campsite receives about 100 visitors each day. The best time to visit is from April to May, or from October to November, while the peak season lasts all the way from April to November, according to Ding. During peak season, the number of daily visitors to the campsite can reach more than 2,000 on weekends or holidays.

"On spring and autumn nights, there are campfire parties at which tourists like to sing and dance," said Ding, adding that such activities are unusual in winter due to the low temperatures.

At night, the moon and stars shine brightly in the sky, contrasting with the scattered lights in the windows of the caravans on the campsite.

Entering Huangshan from the west gate, tourists can enjoy hiking with magnificent views in the Xihai, or West Sea, Grand Canyon.

To protect the picturesque scenery in the canyon, only a few permanent buildings have been constructed there. A cable car takes tourists to the mountain tops, of which the highest peak sits 1,865 meters tall.

In spring, when the rape flowers blossom, which can be seen all over Jiangnan, or the areas to the south of the Yangtze River, many tourists bring their bicycles to tour around the mountainous area, where there are set routes for bicyclists. The campsite also has bicycles for hire for those who cannot bring their own.

Ding said most tourists come in their own cars. Three and a half hours is enough to complete a 150-km tour around the whole of Huangshan, which was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China in 1990 and was named a Global Geopark in 2004.

Known as Huizhou prefecture in ancient times, Huangshan is renowned for its numerous remaining ancient buildings, which are distinctive in style.

Mountainous as the area is, a lot of ancient villages and houses have been well preserved, as the area was seldom disturbed by conflict. A feeling of having traveled back in time arises when strolling through the villages and ancient houses.

One of the most famous villages is Hongcun, which has hundreds of ancient houses that were built during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) dynasties, and has been listed as an AAAAA-rated tourism spot, the highest level in the country's tourism sector.

Merely 20 km away from the campsite lies the beautiful Taiping Lake, where tourists can use yachts to enjoy the surroundings.

The Huangshan district, where the mountain and campsite are based, was originally named Taiping county due to the lake, but later on, the mountain became more well known.

There are three types of caravan available for hire. The European and US ones, in accordance to their furnishings, are priced at 880 yuan and 780 yuan per day respectively, with both having two or three beds to accommodate a family. The third type of caravan is a smaller one for couples or those who come alone.

In addition to the 201 caravans, there are also 76 parking lots for those who arrive in their own camper vans or cars. On the lots, water pipes and electricity are accessible.

"Increasing numbers of Chinese are being able to afford their own camper vans," Ding said.

There is also a hotel on the site with more than 130 rooms. During last year's weeklong National Day Holiday, which begins on Oct 1, nearly 90 percent of the caravans and all of the hotel rooms were booked.

zhulixin@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Part of the Huangshan Tuju Campsite has 201 caravans available for hire.Zhai Jiaju / For China Daily

 

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2017-02-01 07:41:01
<![CDATA[Camping industry sees rapid growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-02/01/content_28080741.htm The Huangshan Tuju Campsite in Anhui province was invested in by Chery Automobile Co - one of China's largest automakers, based in the province's Wuhu city - in 2013.

After the second phase of expansion is completed in a year or two, the base will have seen a total investment of 500 million yuan ($73.11 million), with the total number of caravans at the campsite, which is the largest of its kind in China, rising to 371.

The number of campsites across the country has grown from about 40 in 2010 to nearly 500 last year, according to the China Association of Automotive Manufacturers.

The State Council announced plans in 2015 to build 1,000 campsites by 2020.

In 2012, Chery established a plant in Huangshan city to make recreational vehicles, with production beginning at the end of 2014.

Last year, the plant produced more than 500 caravans, with each of the vehicles priced at about 182,000 yuan, according to Ding Guangning, marketing director of the Huangshan campsite.

Tuju, which also has other campsites across the country, was originally a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chery, but became independent of the automaker last year as a measure to develop an independent and more competitive campsite brand for future development, according to Yang Jingsong, deputy general manager of the Huangshan campsite.

Seventy percent of shares in Tuju are now held by the Wuhu Construction Investment Co, which also sees large investment from Chery, while the remaining 30 percent of shares are held by Tuju.

The company has built and now operates three campsites for caravans, with another five due to be completed next year.

Tuju also has 44 franchised campsites across the country, making it China's largest campsite brand, according to Ding.

"Instead of traveling for sightseeing, increasing numbers of tourists now prefer more relaxed forms of tourism," he said.

"People want to experience a slower pace of living and enjoy leisure time in a certain environment, which is why more and more people want to spend time at our campsite," Ding added.

Getting there

As the Huangshan Tuju Campsite mainly serves tourists traveling by car, it is recommended that you rent a car first in Huangshan city, which is accessible via high-speed train as well as flights from Beijing and Hefei, capital of Anhui province.

It is about two and a half hours' drive from Hefei and one and a half hours' drive from downtown Huangshan city.

The campsite is easily reached via navigation applications on smartphones.

You can also go with a travel agency to the Xihai Grand Canyon in the western part of Huangshan.

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2017-02-01 07:41:01
<![CDATA[Hainan wants bigger share of tourism pie]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/21/content_28018925.htm The recent Hainan International Tourism Trade Expo in Sanya marks a major initiative by the southern island province to boost its visitor numbers

Liu Jiping is selling bottled air from Hainan. And sales are brisk. He had just signed a deal for 100 bottles when I met him on the second day of the Hainan International Tourism Trade Expo in Sanya, which ran over Jan 12-15.

"Many big cities (in the mainland) suffer due to smog, so our product is popular," Liu, the company's marketing director says.

Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing are major markets for his products.

Liu's company began to sell air just four months ago. The air is from a national forest park in Hainan's Bawangling, in the Changjiang Li autonomous county, where the forest cover is around to 98 percent.

Approximately 500,000 bottles of air have been sold so far, according to Liu.

Each bottle can be used for 20 minutes and costs 79 yuan ($11.5), but was priced at 39 yuan at the expo.

Liu's company is just one of more than 500 exhibitors from more than 20 countries and regions worldwide, which are seeking business opportunities at the Hainan expo. Deals worth 98 billion yuan were signed at the event, and on-the-spot sales exceeded 200 million yuan.

Last March, the expo saw 330 business visitors, and deals worth 400 million yuan were struck.

Fresh air, sunny weather, attractive beaches and a laid-back pace of life attracts visitors to Hainan, especially at this time of the year, when the chill and the smog hold many domestic cities hostage.

In fact, Sanya in Hainan is the most popular destination in China among those who used the country's biggest online travel agency Ctrip as winter set in. And most of those from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen who made air travel bookings on the site generally did so 30 days ahead of time.

Sanya saw more than 16 million visitors spend at least a night last year, according to the local government.

Duty-free shopping

Meanwhile, duty-free shopping is another reason that draws visitors to Hainan.

The southern island province offers a duty-free allowance to non-locals of 16,000 yuan.

Around 15,000 visitors went to the Sanya International Duty-Free Shopping Complex daily in 2016, says Zhao Jing, an assistant to the marketing director of the shopping complex.

And the figure has increased to 20,000 a day as the Chinese New Year holiday approaches.

Also, sales figures are expected to rise as those leaving Hainan by train are able to enjoy tax-free shopping as of Jan 15. Under the new rules, buyers can pick up their purchased goods at Haikou train station. Previously, only those leaving by plane could indulge in duty-free shopping.

"This (duty-free shopping for train travelers) means that those who leave the island by rail for nearby cities such as Guangzhou can also buy duty-free items," says Zhao.

Duty-free sales were 4.3 billion yuan in 2015, and the purchases mostly comprised perfumes and cosmetics. The sales figures were 340 million yuan for the weeklong Spring Festival holiday last year, say customs sources.

Fruit and seafood are also big attractions in Hainan.

Liang Zhenyang, who displayed local specialties from his hometown, the Lingshui Li autonomous county, at the expo, gave up his job that gave him 1 million yuan a year in 2015 and returned home to start a business selling local fruits. And with help from the local government, he and his team achieved 4 million yuan in sales just half a year later.

Liang then set up an e-commerce association to train locals to promote their products. His association now has more than 300 members, and locals have opened more than 200 online shops on taobao.com.

The county has 5,000-mu (333.3-hectare) area growing cherry tomatoes this year, and they are now being sold to all parts of the mainland. In addition, mango, Hami melon, litchi from Hainan are also popular.

The county inked deals worth 22.7 billion yuan at this year's tourism expo, and they cover agriculture and recreation among other things.

The expo is just one of the measures that Hainan has taken to transform itself into an international destination.

Tourism boom

By 2020 the island province aims to attract more than 80 million tourists a year, including 1.2 million from overseas, and total annual tourism revenue is projected to surpass 100 billion yuan.

Separately, sea tours along the eastern fringe of the province and forest-themed trips are also being developed.

Camp sites for self-drive tourists are on the anvil too, and a total of 100 towns and 1,000 distinctive villages will be developed before 2020 to spice up visitor experience.

As for transportation, air links are being improved. The island province added 30 outbound flight routes last year, taking the total number to 51. As a result, Hainan is now linked to Russia, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia in the region, as well as Australia, Italy and Germany.

The number of inbound tourists for 2016 at the end of November was 645,500, up 19.5 percent over the previous year.

China Southern Airlines carried 7.39 million travelers to and from of Hainan in 2016, up 5.2 percent on year. It carried 25,700 travelers to and from Hainan on Jan 13 alone, the first day of the mass migration for Chinese New Year in 2016, according to Liu Jing, the deputy general manager of the company's Hainan branch.

The airline now offers flights from Hainan to 37 destinations at home and abroad. And it increased the number of seats by 13 percent in 2016.

It is planning to link Sanya and New Delhi via Guangzhou and Haikou and Yangon via Guangzhou in 2017, say Liu.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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2017-01-21 06:59:24
<![CDATA[Lunar New Year 2017 events across the US]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/21/content_28018924.htm Lunar New Year begins Jan 28, kicking off the year of the rooster. The holiday is observed in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries, but a number of US destinations from New York to Las Vegas also host celebrations. Events include parades featuring lion dancers, special holiday menus at Asian restaurants, cultural festivals and more.

Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim, California, hosts a Lunar New Year celebration from Jan 20 through Feb 5. Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will be costumed for the occasion, greeting guests and offering photo opportunities alongside other Disney characters like Mulan and Mulan's dragon sidekick Mushu.

Live performances at Disney California Adventure will include Chinese acrobats, dancers and musicians in colorful costumes, activities and crafts themed on the holiday and three new marketplaces offering food inspired by Asian cuisine. A new short feature called Hurry Home will be shown each night prior to the World of Color show, telling the story of a little lantern on a journey home for Lunar New Year, using projected animation, lighting, special effects and fountains. The park will also be decorated with lanterns and banners wishing guests a happy Lunar New Year in English, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Details at http://www.Disneyland.com/LunarNewYear.

In New York City, visitors have three Chinatowns to explore: one in downtown Manhattan, one in the Sunset Park neighborhood of Brooklyn and one in Flushing, Queens. Check out the restaurants, food markets and shops selling everything from housewares to souvenirs. In Manhattan, holiday events include a Jan 28 firecracker ceremony and cultural festival in Sara D. Roosevelt Park and a Feb 5 Lunar New Year parade kicking off at 1 pm, http://www.nycgo.com/events/lunar-new-year-parade-festival. There's also a parade and festival in Flushing on Feb 4.

San Francisco has been celebrating Lunar New Year with a parade that dates back to the 1860s. This year's event rolls the evening of Feb 11 with acrobats, lion dancers, floats and a 268-foot dragon, kicking off at Second and Market streets. Other events include a Feb 19 5K/10K run-walk.

In Las Vegas, Jan 28 is the kickoff for a 15-day celebration at Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino, a new resort themed on Asian culture. Elsewhere in Las Vegas, at The LINQ Promenade, a four-day festival is scheduled for Jan 27-30 including dragon dances at 6 pm nightly on the Fountain Stage. A Jan 27-29 Chinese New Year in the Desert event includes performances, a parade on Fremont Street, a party at Downtown Container Park and the DragonFest Benefit Concert at The LINQ Theater.

Other Las Vegas venues hosting lion and dragon dances, parades, performances and more include the Cosmopolitan, ARIA Resort & Casino, The Palazzo Las Vegas and The Venetian Las Vegas, MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, Palms Casino Resort and the Bellagio and Palace Station. The Conservatory & Botanical Gardens at Bellagio will host a display that includes incense, red lanterns and a rooster perched atop a mountain. The Palazzo's Waterfall Atrium and Gardens will host a 15-foot, crystal-covered rooster and an 18-foot dragon. In addition, many restaurants offer holiday menus.

Lunar New Year parades will also be held in Washington, DC, Jan 29; Chicago, Feb 5; and Orlando, Florida, Feb 11.

San Francisco has been celebrating Lunar New Year with a parade that dates back to the 1860s. This year's events include lion dancers and a flower market fair.

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2017-01-21 06:59:24
<![CDATA[An offseason visit to Athens offers a pleasant alternative]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/14/content_27954664.htm As a seaside metropolis with a lively outdoor vibe and dozens of picturesque islands beckoning nearby, Athens is more often considered a summer tourist destination than a winter escape. But if you've got more than beaches on your mind, there's plenty of upside to a brief cool visit that avoids the crowds and heat of summer.

Athens is one of the world's oldest cities, often called the cradle of Western civilization. Visitors will find monuments to ancient history on nearly every path they take. But with interesting neighborhoods, trendy shops and a variety of cafes and tavernas serving that famous Greek cuisine, Athens' attractions are not all rooted in the past.

The city is easy to get around by bus or metro and most major attractions are within walking distance. Temperatures in January average 10 C. Here's a suggested itinerary for a three-day visit.

 

From left: Tourists are reflected in a large puddle as they walk past the ancient Temple of Zeus, after rainfall, in central Athens; a man looks on waves in the southern Athens seaside suburb of Flisvos. Photos by Petros Giannakouris / AP

The Acropolis

The centerpiece of ancient Greece and modern-day Athens, the Acropolis literally stands above everything else and looms majestically over the city. It is particularly striking to view at night, when brilliantly illuminated. A 10-euro ($10.6) entrance fee to the compound takes you along a course of the central structures of Greek mythology as you climb past the Theatre of Dionysus, the Propylaea, the Erechtheion and the Herodeon - which still hosts the occasional live performance. A 20-minute walk to the top unveils the most famous structure of all, the Parthenon - a former temple dedicated to the goddess Athena, the city's patron. However, the scaffolding of its prolonged restoration project takes a bit away from its grandeur.

Most of the Acropolis' treasures are housed in the nearby Acropolis Museum (entrance 5 euros), such as colossal stone statues depicting mythological scenes from ancient Greece. One of the museum's most impressive features is actually the architecture that includes glass floors through which you can see the ruins that lay below. A full view of the Acropolis spreads out from the second and third floor galleries.

There are plenty of other ancient sites to visit across the city, but the most comprehensive is likely the nearby Ancient Agora on the Acropolis' northwest slope with its impressive Temple of Hephaistos nestled among ruins overgrown with green foliage from the winter rains. It houses a large assortment of ancient vases, figurines, coins and headless statues.

Lycabettus Hill

There are views of the Acropolis from everywhere, but the best one in town is from Lycabettus Hill. After a pleasant but steep hike up a winding trail, a panoramic view of the sprawling city is revealed. There's a little church at the top, Agii Isidori, and ample angles to photograph Athens. An early morning visit will put the sun behind you as you gaze across the city toward the Acropolis with the shores of the Aegean Sea lapping in the distance. Part of the fun is getting there via a stroll from the center of town through the upscale Kolonaki neighborhood, with its bustling cafes and designer merchandise.

Syntagma Square

This is the heart of the city and site of mass protests in recent years over the Greek economic crisis. The square is right in front of parliament and the tomb of the unknown soldier, where soldiers in kilt-like garments and red leather clogs with black pompoms perform elaborate changing of the guard ceremonies several times a day.

To the west, busy Ermou street offers the city's primary shopping district and leads toward the neighborhoods of Monastiraki, which has a large, busy Sunday morning flea market, and Psyrri, with a wide selection of bars and live music tavernas. Eateries include O Kostas (5 Pentelis St.), a hole in the wall known for excellent souvlaki. At Lukumades (Eolou Street and Agias Irinis Square), get the deep-fried doughnut ball doused in honey.

Plaka

Just south of Syntagma is Plaka, a historical neighborhood built upon the ancient town of Athens. Known as the "Neighborhood of the Gods" because of its proximity to the Acropolis, its mazelike narrow streets are a joy to explore. Amid remnants of archaeological sites, there's street art, small shops and restaurants. A real gem is Psaras, an old-style taverna off the main drag, popular with locals and tourists. The baked feta pastry appetizer dipped in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds is a treat to warm up a winter day.

Besides the Acropolis Museum, the neighborhood is also home the Jewish Museum of Greece (6 euros) and the Museum of Greek Folk Art (2 euros).

Sounion

A same-day excursion to one of the three nearby islands of Aegina, Poros or Hydra is possible, but with a limited winter ferry schedule the journey will likely take longer than the actual stay. A more rewarding outing is the 90-minute bus ride along the "Greek Riviera" down to the southern peninsula of Sounion, where the Temple of Poseidon reveals a breathtaking view of the sea. The deep blue waters ripple around the ancient hilltop structure dedicated to the god of the sea. The salty breeze offers an escape from the bustle of Athens, as mountains jut out of the sea and the rocky ancient landscape provides a tranquil parting from Greece.

Associated Press

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2017-01-14 07:18:49
<![CDATA[Shunyi kicks off winter holiday fun]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/14/content_27954663.htm Beijing's northwestern suburb draws weekend crowd in search of fun, games and learning during snow season

It doesn't seem so cold in Beijing's northwestern suburban district Shunyi as it did in mid December.

Green, yellow, red, white and black ski costumes spread the white snowfield at the district's Lianhuashan ski resort.

"We've been receiving an influx of guests, who mostly come on weekends since the chill set in," says a resort employee surnamed Xu.

 

Beijing's Shunyi district launches six winter routes featuring parent-child experience, fruit picking, health preservation, shopping and leisure to meet the needs of various visitors. Photos by Yang Feiyue / China Daily

The resort has upgraded all of its ski routes to satisfy the needs of skiers of all levels for the upcoming ski season.

Moreover, Lianhuashan has begun to offer night hours this year, and a children ski education zone has been established.

The resort is just one of many highlights visitors could explore in Shunyi this winter.

For those who don't have time to experience the abundant ice and snow in northern provinces like Heilongjiang and Jilin, or simply cringe at the severely cold temperatures there, Shunyi offers a happy medium.

The district kicked off two months of winter tourism activities on Dec 17, including hot springs and a folk culture park.

More than 600 special gifts with local significance are also being offered to winter vacationers.

The event season is the second session in the past year and was hosted by the Shunyi tourism commission. The local government is eager to transform Shunyi into an international destination for fashion, leisure, shopping and tourism.

Six winter routes featuring parent-child experiences, fruit picking, health preservation, shopping and leisure have been launched to meet the needs of various visitors.

Families could warm their bodies and even sweat at the Lianhuashan ski resort, and then go to the Heyuan Jingyi hot spring to relax and enjoy the children's buffet and recreational zone there.

Some facilities like Shunlixin and Shuiyuntian still offer the fun of fresh fruit and vegetable picking in the chilly winter.

People can also visit Qicai (seven-color) butterfly park, where children directly interact with flying butterflies and make butterfly specimens. More butterflies have been introduced this year: Now, over 20 varieties of butterflies are available for visitors to feast their eyes on.

The park greeted more than 50,000 visitors during January and February at the last festival.

"It used to be off season for us, but things have picked up a lot after we introduced winter activities last year," says park official Hu Qun.

Horse-drawn sleds, ice bicycles and ice motorcycles have been introduced to spice up the visitor experience.

Parents and children have been the major force, and most families drive themselves to the destination, Hu adds.

The park has expanded its winter fun zone from 20,000 squaremeters to 30,000 this year.

The park offers the best of both worlds. Visitors can feel the warmth of spring and play with butterflies indoors, and go out to enjoy ice and snow recreation outside.

For parents who want to integrate fun with education, Hanfeng Genduyuan is the place to go.

It was just opened this September and offers traditional Chinese culture experience for children.

The facility features Han Dynasty heritage and teaches Chinese classics and provides farming experiences for visitors.

Hanfeng received more than 50,000 visitors since its inauguration in September 2016, according to an official with the facility.

Children can walk down an ancient historical street and pick up some history along the way. They can read ancient Chinese bamboo books and practice Chinese calligraphy. Other experiences feature ancient etiquette, intangible art heritage and the chance to play ancient musical instruments.

More importantly, children can get their hands dirty and do some of the farming work to appreciate food and where it comes from.

For group travelers whose number exceeds 20, they can get 10 percent off the 120-yuan ticket for each child.

Parents who accompany their children for various experiences need to pay 20 yuan.

For those with an exotic taste, the Agrilandia Italian Farm-offers European charm.

One highlight in the farm is the fireplace guest rooms filled with Italian elements for winter vacationers.

Visitors can enjoy authentic Italian cuisine and learn to make pizza, cake and pottery at the farm.

Roughly 600-700 people paid visits to the farm last winter.

"They mostly came on weekends," says Zhao Lei, an employee with the farm.

Playground, small zoo, parent-child class and piano learning sessions will be offered at the beginning of the year, according to Zhao.

Industrial tourism is also a choice that Shunyi presents.

One can enjoy a cup of just produced local Yanjing beer, smell the fragrance of the century-old alcohol Niulanshan erguotou, and take in the highly automated production process of Hyundai automobile.

For those who aim for fun from purchasing, Shunyi offers tax-free shopping experiences and a global grape wine facility. Visitors can buy things from abroad in the district.

For urbanites who want to get a break out of the crazy pace of city life, Shunyi seems to offer it all.

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2017-01-14 07:18:49
<![CDATA[Island getaway design inspired by the ocean]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/14/content_27954643.htm Wong Chiu Man, a Singaporean architect and founder of the architectural design firm WOW, recalled first arriving on Vommuli, one of the thousand islands that make up the Maldives, by swimming.

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Architects use sea creatures, themes to reflect local lifestyle, Zhao Xu reports.

Wong Chiu Man, a Singaporean architect and founder of the architectural design firm WOW, recalled first arriving on Vommuli, one of the thousand islands that make up the Maldives, by swimming.

"We had to swim from the seaplane to the island as there was no proper jetty or docking facility then," he said. "My first sight of the island was an abandoned fisherman's hut beside a giant banyan tree."

But, China Daily's recent visit bore witness to a transformed island, as the area is now a luxury destination under the much-venerated hotel brand St. Regis.

Similar fisherman-style huts are now dotted along a stretch of the Vommuli beach, as reflections of the original in similar shapes and different building materials.

"The roofs in this part of the world are usually made with dried banana leaves, while ours are constructed using wooden planks," said the architect, explaining his inspiration for the island's beach villas.

Wong Chiu Man and his wife and long-time work partner Maria Warner Wong are the duo behind these buildings that have put Vommuli on the map for sophisticated travelers.

"We are trying to provide our clients with an authentic experience, not in a barefoot, Robinson Crusoe sort of way, but in a more refined, subtle and design-conscious manner," said Wong Chiu Man.

"We have achieved this goal by telling stories - stories of the island as well as our own experiences in relation to this place - in the language of architecture."

Such stories abound at the resort. Some aspects reflect Wong Chiu Man's memories of living in old shipping containers for almost a year while the staff quarters were under construction. He ate freshly caught and grilled fish on banana leaves, while Maria Warner Wong only joined her husband when "there was hot water", according to her.

"We try to honor all those memories. That's why we have the pop-up restaurant CARGO, inspired by the shipping container. It's closed by day, but 'pops' open by night to be a restaurant serving surprise fresh farm-to-table cuisine," Wong Chiu Man said.

The architects also sought to pay tribute to locals and their way of life. They found an ideal shape for the high ceilings in the family villas - the most luxurious type offered in Vommuli - in the wind-blown sail of local Dhoni boats.

They also based their idea for CRUST, a beach pizza caf��, on the small provision shop once built for construction workers that stayed on the island.

But, in a place known for its unspoiled beauty, nature serves as the biggest source of inspiration for the architects.

Many marine creatures, from clams and hermit crabs to lobsters and manta rays, have left their mark on the island's distinct architecture.

None of these constructions commands a presence as regal and unmistakable as the Whale Bar.

With gently undulating curves calling to mind the beautiful lines around the head of a giant whale, the bar rises straight up from the cobalt sea.

The bar, open on both sides, might not be an ideal place to sip a drink during a downpour, as China Daily discovered on a recent visit. But, when the weather is good, one can walk to the far end of the bar - the unshaded part extending into the ocean - and look back. The bright light emanating from the wine counter makes you feel as though you are lounging just outside the mouth of the whale.

The resort's interior decoration continues this ocean theme. The crystal waters for which the Maldives are known are reflected in the villas' linen, which are drenched in different shades of blue. Local artists' porcelain works that evoke sea-washed sands hang from the walls.

The mostly unlikely theme that has captured the architects' imagination is plankton, which are completely invisible during the day but intermittently glisten on the dark beach at night. With carefully placed lighting in the swimming pool, Wong Chiu Man intended to recreate this bioluminescence effect.

The architect plans to invite artists from around the world to create temporary art on the beach, "ephemeral art to match the eternal beauty of this place", he said.

Another feature that caught China Daily's attention is the banyan tree that Wong Chiu Man spotted on his first landing at Vommuli. He built a house for shared entertainment and relaxation inspired by the tree's giant canopy and aerial roots, naming it the Vommuli House.

Matching all the natural and manmade beauty of the resort is the hotel's signature butler service, offering quality and efficiency in this relaxed corner of the world.

Contact the writer at zhaoxu@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Marine life, a lobster for example, inspires many designs of the St. Regis Hotel at Vommuli. Photos Provided To China Daily

 

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2017-01-14 07:51:41
<![CDATA[US gallery forges ties with Shanghai artist, top hotel]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/14/content_27954642.htm To celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year, Shi Jun, a 31-year-old Shanghai native and sculptor, is partnering with California-based fine art gallery Simard Bilodeau Contemporary to present some of his most prominent works in his hometown.

The exhibition is taking place from Jan 6 to March 15 in the lobby and underground basement of the Peninsula Shanghai Hotel, featuring a total of 13 gigantic artworks.

Shi's collaboration with the Simard Bilodeau Contemporary art gallery started in 2015 and has continued ever since. He has created a total of eight sculptures on commission from the gallery, which has its office at the Peninsula Shanghai and is the "matchmaker" of the partnership between Shi and the hotel.

French-Canadians Guy Simard and Eve-Marie Bilodeau are curating the exhibition and own the art gallery.

Among the works on display is the Queen's Throne, commissioned by the Parliament of the United Kingdom in 2012 as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II for the 60-year anniversary of her reign, also known as the Diamond Jubilee.

As Shi's first collaboration with the hospitality industry, he created a bespoke wall piece for the Peninsula Shanghai in homage to the Year of the Rooster, the zodiac of 2017.

Using his signature materials of enamel and copper, the proud rooster is a sequel to the monkey Shi created last year in celebration of his father's birthday and the zodiac to which he belongs.

"My major works are usually large 3-D sculptures. Creating flat pieces is as much a challenge for me as something I would like to keep trying," Shi said to China Daily.

Born into a prominent Shanghai family with a background of glass and copper artisans, Shi graduated from the world-renowned Central Saint Martins in London in 2009.

Aside from his breakthrough piece created for the British queen, he has also worked with acclaimed Chinese scholar Ma Weidu to design the well-known cloisonn�� floor called Reincarnation in the Shanghai Tower, the tallest building in China. He won the Guinness World Record for the largest cloisonn�� ground floor in the world as a result of his efforts.

In a recent speech, Jisoo Chon, resident manager of Peninsula Shanghai said Shi was considered a pioneer for exploring various impressive avenues with his highly experimental approach and with a strong focus on using enamel and copper. It took the artist less than 10 years after graduating from Central Saint Martins to have his works widely recognized and extensively collected locally and abroad, according to Chon.

Chon also said that the collaboration is adorned with another great aspect of significance, because 12 years ago, during the construction of the Peninsula Shanghai, Shi Sengbing, Shi Jun's father, was commissioned to create the doors and windows for the hotel.

xujunqian@chinadaily.com.cn

 

Shi Jun presents his artwork at the Peninsula Shanghai Hotel to celebrate the upcoming Spring Festival.

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2017-01-14 07:51:41
<![CDATA[Roundup]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2017-01/14/content_27954641.htm NEW OPENINGS

The 344-room Songbei Shangri-La opened on Jan 10 in the fabled city of ice, Harbin, Heilongjiang province. It is Shangri-La's second property in the northeastern city, following 18 years after the group opened its Shangri-La Hotel, Harbin in 1999. The gleaming new property anchors the brand in the heart of Songbei's business district, in a historical city that witnessed the dawn of the Jin (1115-1234) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, and which features cultural influences from neighboring Russia.

The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou unveiled its 1,200-square-meter, brand new, pillarless and state-of-the-art Grand Ballroom on Jan 6. A new social icon for Zhujiang New Town, the 100-million-yuan ($14.4 million) project was designed by Hong Kong AB Concept International. The 9-meter-high ceiling is inspired by an exquisite Chinese ivory ball and exudes an elegant atmosphere of contemporary glamour, boldness and refinement. A sensual touch of Rococo grace is translated into the design, blending Eastern and Western styles into a well-appointed space that represents both contrasting cultures. The new ballroom offers a flexible layout and can be divided into three separate venues for smaller events. It features advanced audiovisual facilities with electronic-controlled lighting systems, including ceiling-controlled LCD projectors, vast remote-controlled electronic screens, an 80-square-meter high-definition LED screen, and remote-controlled track ceiling lighting systems to capture the appropriate mood.

Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn recently announced the opening of the Hilton Garden Inn Guiyang Yunyan, owned by Guizhou Hantang Jiahua Hotel Management and managed by Hilton. The 251-room hotel is the first Hilton Garden Inn in Guizhou province. Located in Yunyan district, the cultural, commercial and transportation center of Guiyang, Hilton Garden Inn Guiyang Yunyan offers easy access to famous tourist attractions, as well as the International Conference Center, major shopping malls and popular entertainment districts. The hotel is also close to the Guiyang Train Station and Guiyang Long Dongbao Airport. Known as the Forest City of China, Guiyang is home to a number of tourist attractions including Wen Chang Chamber, Jia Xiu Pavilion and Qian Ling Park.

VIP ROOM OF CHINA EASTERN AIRLINES

China Eastern Airlines, one of the three major airlines in China, launched a flagship VIP room in Terminal 2 in Beijing Capital International Airport on Jan 12.

It is the airline company's second VIP flagship room in China, as a major part of its high-end airport service upgrade, after the first flagship VIP room opened in Shanghai Pudong International Airport.

The VIP room is located on the third floor in Terminal 2. With a total area of 2,742 square meters, it can serve 431 passengers at a time, making it the largest airport VIP room in the terminal.

The furnishing and d��cor in the VIP room is exquisite, with lavish use of light colored beech wood to build a bright, warm and cozy area.

The red and grey carpet in the first-class cabin area, along with the walnut veneer and curved-top surfaces highlights its high-end taste.

There are functional areas for food, coffee, surfing the internet, massages and sleeping, as well as a business area and reading corners to provide privacy and meet the diverse needs of passengers.

As for its restaurant, the VIP room provides Beijing cuisine and Western food around the clock to let passengers have a taste of the authentic flavors of Beijing. Headquartered in Shanghai, China Eastern Airlines is an official member of SkyTeam.

DELICATE FOOD

Swissotel Beijing will offer guests a romantic dinner buffet on Valentine's Day this year. The dedicated team at its Caf�� Swiss will present visitors pure gastronomic indulgence: From sophisticated Chinese and Western dishes paired with the best wines, to delicious Swiss pastries and delicacies. Swissotel offers business and leisure guests an authentic and local travel experience that is full of energy, passion and vitality. It is part of AccorHotels, a global travel and lifestyle group and digital innovator offering more than 4,000 properties worldwide.

The Waldorf Astoria Beijing under the Hilton Worldwide luxury hotel and resort brand offers world-class facilities and services to guests at home and abroad. To bring in the rooster festival season, the master chefs in the hotel's Zijin Court restaurant will cook three auspicious feasts based on Cantonese cuisines, using creative cooking techniques to promote the coexistence of healthy and delicious dishes that are both high quality and nourishing. Valid from Jan 27 to Feb 11. 010-8520-8989 Ext 6610.

The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing, will serve guests fine Cantonese dim sum during a daily afternoon tea beginning Feb 1. Guests are welcome to enjoy a special Yum Cha menu, a type of Chinese-style brunch with Chinese tea and dim sum, crafted by Cantonese Chef Pan at the Lounge. The hotel hopes to spoil guests' taste buds with crispy char siu, pea cake, a selection of dim sum delicacies and a relaxing atmosphere. Decorated with classic English manor sophistication and elegance, the Lounge provides a blissful getaway from the noise and haste of the city with a refreshing afternoon tea for business meetings or personal pleasure. Sets cost 188 yuan ($27) with a 15 percent service charge. 010-5908 8180

 

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2017-01-14 07:51:41
<![CDATA[A wish to reunite Chinese with their waterways]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/24/content_27764431.htm

 

Travis Winn has taken several hundred Chinese on rafting tours in the country.Adam Mills Elliott / For China Daily

Where some see danger, rafter sees fun and excitement

When Travis Winn first came to China 16 years ago with his father, a veteran rafter and geologist, he was instantly captivated by the grandeur of China's rivers, thus lighting a passion for the waterways in the country.

"I was shocked by their beauty," says Winn, 32. "I never expected China to have such amazing rivers. I've always been attracted to the power of flowing water, but there is something extra special about rivers here."

From 2000 to 2015 Winn led or took part in more than 200 trips down China's rivers, including 45 first descents (a type of raft). He has explored more than 5,000 kilometers of China's rivers and logged an additional 10,000 kilometers on repeat voyages to favorite sections.

Because agriculture is a way of life for millions of Chinese, they have long had a stronger disposition toward mountains and fields than to rivers. Furthermore, the Sino-US joint rafting expedition in 1986, which, with similar ventures at the time, claimed the lives of 11 people, fed the notion's outdoor enthusiasts that powerful rivers were things to be feared.

"I grew up floating down rivers in the western US, and it surprised me that no one in China seemed interested in exploring or going close to rivers," Winn says.

"To me, rafting is huge fun and I've rarely felt it was life threatening. Even if you don't have any experience or training, under the guidance of professionals on the right section of a river anyone can come and enjoy it."

River trips

At the urging of outdoor enthusiasts in Sichuan province in 2003, Winn, who at the time had 20 years' experience in rafting, decided that he would start organizing river trips for Chinese.

Three years later he established Last Descents, a company that specializes in river expeditions. Last Descents is now a registered company in Beijing with a staff of five.

"I named it Last Descents because I knew that many of the rivers we were running would soon disappear behind dams," Winn says. "I was hoping the name would create a sense of urgency and encourage more people to come outside and see these wild places, and that maybe as they did some of the rivers would be protected."

In Winn's years in China he has witnessed the major changes in not just the landscape but also how society has come to appreciate the need to protect nature. The Chinese government has changed policies on water sports to encourage greater participation, even setting up university programs to promote the activities, he says.

In addition, Winn says, government officials today are looking for ways to develop their waterways for tourism and enjoyment, which is a huge departure from the development model of the past.

"There has been a huge change. Before, local governments did not support rafting because they thought it was dangerous. Now, after having acknowledged the importance of rivers, they are coming forward to cooperate with us."

Winn is now involved in planning for Lancangjiang National Park in Qinghai province. The opportunity came up when a local leader interested in conservation joined a rafting trip and recognized the value of the activity to the local area.

Rafting since childhood

Born into a family of rafters in Salt Lake City, Utah, Winn has been rafting since he was five and piloted his own kayak through the Grand Canyon at the age of 13.

Asked about the difference between rivers in China and the US, he says that many factors, including the gradient, volume, geology and topography of each river canyon all come together to determine whether or not a river is safe for rafting. This can change throughout the year as rainfall or snowmelt impacts the volume of the river.

"The section of the Yangtze River from Batang to Dege on the border of Sichuan province is especially dangerous, due to the high gradient, high volume, hard rock geology and huge mountains on each side of the river."

Complicating things further is the fact that the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau where the upper level of the Yangtze River passes through is still geographically active, which means it is prone to earthquakes and landslides.

In 2008, Winn met Li Weiyi, who was inspired by Winn's vision of "bringing Chinese to visit their mother rivers". She quit her real estate job in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, to work with him, neither of them knowing at the time that their shared vision would lead to a personal relationship.

Winn and Li married early this year. To date, Winn has accompanied several hundred Chinese, including many children, on rafting trips in the country.

"Currently we focus on bringing children to the river, knowing that if they fall in love with rivers and enjoy growing up on rivers it will benefit them immediately and maybe also benefit China in the long term."

xuxiaomin@chinadaily.com.cn

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2016-12-24 07:34:38
<![CDATA[Tapping into its green potential]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/24/content_27764430.htm

 

Tourists visit a caravan camping and container hotel facility in Chun'an county.Photos By Yang Fei Yue / China Daily

This picturesque area in Zhejiang province is using its most famous attraction - Qiandao Lake - to bring in the visitors

Waking up to birds chirping and gentle breeze is one of the pleasures of living near Zhejiang's tourism hot spot Qiandao Lake.

There, more than 1,000 green islands form a labyrinth on the lake and is a sight for sore eyes.

Everything is green, yellow and red when we visit the lake in Chun'an county, west of Hangzhou, in mid-December.

Although the lake has become a household name, Chun'an might be unfamiliar to visitors from afar. That's why the county plans to use the lake to raise its profile.

A clean environment, rich folk traditions and farmland-based leisure are what Chun'an offers, says Jiang Huaping, the deputy head of the county.

"We want to develop rural tourism, so visitors come and see more than just the lake," says Jiang

A river town, a historic street, caravan facilities and a traditional Chinese medicine plantation zone will be developed to spice up the tourist experience.

Sport events will also be introduced, since Chun'an features diverse landforms, which are perfect for sport events such as cycling and hiking, says Jiang.

So far, the tourism potential of the area has lured a few young locals who worked in big cities to return home.

Returning home

Fang Chaoxi, in his 20s, is one of the younger generation who quit his white-collar job in Hangzhou and returned to set up an inn in the mountainous Pinghu village, which is just five minutes from the Qiandao Lake zone, in 2013.

"I decided that it was better for me to be my own boss," says Fang.

His instincts have been proved right, and business is brisk.

Now his business brings in roughly 600,000 yuan ($86,335) a year. His guests come mostly from Jiangsu, Shanghai and Zhejiang.

"Most of my guests stay for around four days and just lie back and enjoy themselves," says Fang.

Now, the village has roughly 40 inns developed by locals which can accommodate more than 700 visitors at a time.

Local inn owners mostly promote their business online and the local offerings are very popular with the visitors. "They enjoy the local cuisine, the fishing and fruit picking," says Fang.

The village's white loquats are a specialty and the annual output could be worth as much as 13.6 million yuan, according to local authorities.

Other young people have also returned since Fang came back. "I was the first who returned, but now there are enough of us to play mahjong," says Fang.

Meanwhile, driving through the county, we find well-paved roads lined with colorful plants as the local government has spent 1.6 billion yuan to develop green belts across Chun'an. Those belts extend to all villages in the region, with tea and fruit parks all over.

All those belts run 350 kilometers through the county making it easier for cycling, hiking and public transportation. "They are lined with green plants," says Jiang.

Improved infrastructure has also helped boost the development of the surrounding villages that used to be cut off earlier.

Feng Bo, who gave up his chemical business in Hangzhou's Xiaoshan district, and moved to Taoyuanlingjia village to start a fruit plantation three years ago, says: "It used to take a whole day for us to travel to downtown Chun'an earlier. But now the distance is shortened to just 40-minute drive."

Feng's plantation is home to 50 fruits, including peach and kiwi.

"Visitors can pick seasonal fruits throughout the year," he says.

More than 10,000 visitors have been to his facility so far this year and the income from fruit picking has crossed one million yuan.

Feng also offers dining and barbecue facilities, and wooden villas are available for those who want to spend the night. Feng is now planning to build an open-air exercise facility.

Job opportunities

His business has also created job opportunities for locals.

One of the things that make him happy is his good relations with the locals and the changes he has been able to spark in local environment.

"Everything was dirty and chaotic when I first came here, but now every household cleans up their own mess and keep things in order," he says.

A sewage system was also set up to treat wastewater in the area thanks to support from the government, he adds.

Taoyuanlingjia is just one example of the transformation taking place in Chun'an.

Jiang says that so far, the local government has spent approximately 2 billion yuan to develop a sewage system and roads in the area, and modern toilets have been built across the county.

"So, all sewage is treated to ensure clean water and soil," he says.

Animal wastes is also being taken care of.

Locals have benefited from improving tourism and have thus began to protect the greenery.

"Preserving water resources matters for Zhejiang, and a tourism-led development model is the ideal way out," he adds.

Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2016-12-24 07:34:03
<![CDATA[Indonesia's Bali picked as Asia's most popular year-end destination]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/24/content_27764429.htm

 

Surfers dressed in Santa Claus outfits teach children to surf on Kuta beach on Indonesia's resort island of Bali. The popular resort island, a pocket of Hindu culture in a country with the biggest Muslim population in the world, receives thousands of tourists every year over the Christmas season.Sonny Tumbelaka / AFP

Indonesia's famous tour destination, the resort island of Bali, has been picked by prominent traveling reviewer website TripAdvisor as the most popular year-end destination for the period of Dec 1 2016 to Feb 28, 2017. The latest international recognition on Bali has made Indonesia's Tourism Minister Arief Yahya upbeat about meeting the target for number of foreign visitors this year initially set at 12 million.

The minister said that as of October the number of foreign visitors visiting the country stood at expected figure.

"Through the go digital system, we are more optimistic in achieving the targets which have been increasing from time to time," the minister said in a recent statement to respond TripAdvisor's advantageous pick on Bali.

The minister referred to the digital technology system applied in tourism sector launched in September, aimed at digitizing the coordinated activities to address government's targets in the sector.

Indonesia has set a target to see 20 million foreign visitors by 2019, higher than 12 and 15 million ones set for this year and next year respectively. The 2019 target was doubled from 10 million recorded last year.

Government is now developing 10 new tour destinations across the nation, dubbed as New Bali, highly expected to par with Bali in term of attracting the tourists.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has previously pledged to improve budget allocation up to five times higher to further boost tourism sector which has been declared as the nation's core business.

According to the data released by the tourism ministry, Bali contributes 40 percent of total foreign visitors visiting Indonesia.

Bali was awarded as the best tour destination in Asia and the runner up in global level by Travel+Leisure magazine in 2015.

Bali was also regarded as one of world's best places to host triathlon sports event, according to AsiaTri.com, a renowned website covering the tourism sports events.

Bali offers diverse of tourism attractions comprised of adventure, underwater, tourism sports, cultural and traditional events, beautiful beaches, shrines, society and cultural landmark places.

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2016-12-24 07:34:03
<![CDATA[Spring Festival travel frenzy to see 3 billion trips by Chinese]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/24/content_27764428.htm China's transport ministry said earlier this month it expects travelers to make nearly 3 billion trips during the upcoming Spring Festival, putting road, rail and air links through their hardest test during the country's most important holiday.

The ministry predicted that 2.98 billion trips would be made during the 40-day period, which includes the Lunar New Year, up 2.2 percent compared with last year. The holiday is set to begin on Jan. 13.

The railway network is likely to see a 9.7 percent jump in trips against 2015, while airlines will accommodate about 58.3 million trips, up 10 percent, the ministry said in a statement on its website.

The majority of travelers will take to the roads to make an expected 2.52 billion trips, it says.

The ministry also says it expected further pressure on the transport network from stronger-than-usual winter and spring demand for freight transport for coal, grain and fertilizer.

It says it will look to add capacity over the period by adding trains and flights, and would strengthen measures to guard against the sale of fake tickets.

During the Spring Festival travelers brave long queues, delays and gridlock to travel home.

Last year, more than 50,000 passengers were stranded at a railway station in the city of Guangzhou because of bad weather.

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2016-12-24 07:34:03
<![CDATA[St. Petersburg airport earns 'Welcome Chinese' certification]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/24/content_27764427.htm St. Petersburg Pulkovo Airport has received a Welcome Chinese Certification of the Chinese Academy of Tourism, testifying to the high quality of services provided to Chinese tourists. The airport press service said on Thursday that, due to a sharp increase in flights between destinations in China and St. Petersburg, Pulkovo Airport has actively improved the infrastructure and services to meet the need of Chinese passengers.

Flights information, airport announcements, terminal maps and airport website and restaurants' menus are using Chinese, and airport outlets accept UnionPay cards.

Evgeny Ilyin, Chief Commercial Officer of NCG Company (the main operator of Pulkovo) says that direct passenger flights between Pulkovo and various destinations in China have increased by 85 percent to 166,000 people during the first 11 months of 2016.

Pulkovo Airport offers direct flights between St. Petersburg and Beijing, Urumqi, and Shanghai.

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2016-12-24 07:34:03
<![CDATA[Houston hosts more Asian visitors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/24/content_27764405.htm Houston businesses are rolling out the red carpet for Asian tourists who arrive in the fourth largest city in the Unites States for a slice of authentic Texas life.

"They are looking for that classic Texas experience - the cowboy roping a calf, horseback riding and seeing a giant Texas longhorn," said Jennifer Farrell, director of marketing at the George Ranch Historical Park and its working ranch. "Heritage tourism is a big thing."

The 9,300-plus-hectare George Ranch, located in adjacent Fort Bend County, traces its history to 1824 when Texas was still part of Mexico. Last year, the heritage park hosted 56,000 visitors, many of them from Asia, Farrell said.

David Becker, CEO of Attract China, a travel portal focusing on Chinese tourists traveling to North America, said that the number of Chinese visitors to the US each year is approaching 2.5 million, and their contribution to the US economy is expected to hit $85 billion by 2021.

"Houston really provides a both contemporary and American vacation," Becker said. "You have both urban and country living. You can have barbecue and steak.

"A grass-fed, corn finished steak is not an experience that most Chinese have. Most get their meat from dairy cows and the portions are quite small."

In Houston, Becker said, "they can do the classic American experience. The countryside, wide-open spaces are amazing, as well as the expanding urban landscape".

Former Houston Rockets center Yao Ming has played a huge role in attracting Asian tourists to the city. Although he retired in 2011, Yao's footprint in Houston remains large and his legacy endures.

Leo Yao, an Asia-Pacific representative at the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that Asian tourists usually have a clear idea of what they want during a Houston visit.

"Asians enjoy shopping, and they shop at the Galleria and in the River Oaks District," two of Houston's high-end shopping areas. "They also like to shop at Walmart and Walgreens, where they enjoy buying cosmetics and vitamins and things like that."

The Galleria is the fourth-largest mall in the US, with 400 stores and two hotels, while the River Oaks District is home to luxury stores, including Cartier, Dior and Hermes. Chinese tourists recently became the Galleria's biggest group of foreign shoppers, and stores are hiring Mandarin-speaking sales staff to cater to them.

A growing number of airlines servicing Asia, including United Airlines and All Nippon Airways, are also helping to boost the number of Asian tourists in Houston.

"Before 2008, we had only Continental Airlines flying between Tokyo and Houston," Yao said. "Today, we have United and ANA Air. We have so many Asian airlines flying into Houston and they bring the tourism."

Local hotels, including the upscale St. Regis Houston, make special efforts to accommodate the growing number of Asian visitors, said Matthew Vesely, the hotel's director of marketing and sales.

"We have room door hangars written in Chinese characters so they can order comfort food in their style," Vesely said. "We also put their slippers next to the bed right away; we don't wait for turn down service to do that. They like to wear slippers in their room all the time."

Yao said that Chinese tourists are discriminating about what they want to do and see in Houston.

"When you create an itinerary for a Chinese visitor, if you tell them we're going to a museum, they will always tell you no," Yao said. "However, if you say we have the Houston Museum of Natural Science with a dinosaur park, they realize we have a special museum. Many will stay to see the Egyptian exhibit as well."

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2016-12-24 06:58:33
<![CDATA[Grand Bay a year-round destination in Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/24/content_27764404.htm

The Grand Bay Hotel Beijing, scheduled to open in early 2017, is nestled in the capital's suburban Miyun district. Provided To China Daily

Nestled in Beijing's suburban Miyun district, the Grand Bay Hotel Beijing is scheduled to open in early 2017. It recently held its inauguration ceremony.

The hotel is set to become a top year-round vacation destination, recreation center and meeting venue.

The five-star hotel has 329 guestrooms and suites, each offering spacious accommodation and scenic mountain views.

The design of the hotel combines advanced modern facilities and traditional Chinese elements, such as "auspicious clouds" and the Great Wall.

Thoughtful touches in the guestrooms include high-speed internet access, a spacious working area, a 125-centimeter flat screen LCD television, a personalized iPad control system, a Toto washlet toilet, TWG tea and L'Occitane en Provence bath and shower products.

The location of the hotel provides easy access to Miyun's natural scenic spots, including Heilongtan (Black Dragon Pool), Qingliang Gu (Cool Valley) and Nanshan Ski Resort.

Dining options at the hotel include international food, Cantonese cuisine, Northwestern Chinese noodles and local farmhouse-style dishes.

For business events and meetings, the hotel has 2,350 square meters of function room space and a 1,100-square-meter ballroom.

The kids' center, exclusive walkways and gift shop complete the aesthetics of the Grand Bay Hotel Beijing.

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2016-12-24 06:58:33
<![CDATA[Internet woos prospective tourists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-12/10/content_27629733.htm About 100 'veterans' are made tourism celebrities in a tourism video alliance of China CYTS Tours Holding Co and yixia.com, a popular video live-streaming platform operator

Lin Tingting's gets to travel free and also gets paid in exchange for sharing her travel experience and tips with her fans. Now, her Weibo microblog account (Abby45) has more than 150,000 followers and her increasing popularity in tourism circles has earned her a contract with Miaopai, a Vine-like short video sharing app, where she has more than 210,000 fans.

Born in the 1980s in Fujian province's Xiamen, Lin started out in the logistics industry, but her love of travel spurred her to share her photos on Poco.cn, one of the most popular photo sharing sites in China.

 

From left: Lin Tingting takes a selfie during an invited trip to Seoul, South Korea; she experiences local life in Erdos, Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Photos Provided to China Daily

"I wanted to communicate through the platform and learn photography," she says.

To her surprise, she soon had more than 1,000 fans and received lots of response, which encouraged her to keep taking photos during her trips.

Later, she entered a travelogue competition, where her words and photos won her an opportunity to travel to Thailand for free.

Her posts about her experiences such as a night visit to a zoo then endeared her to many followers.

"Sharing pictures and stories about beautiful scenery, culture, food, especially some small corner which most people may not see is among the charms of a trip," says Lin.

Lin considers her job as helping people to learn about a place in a more vivid and well rounded way, and not always being fun and games.

"I always have to plan ahead before any arranged trips, like carrying a single-lens reflex camera, various lenses and an unmanned aerial vehicle to places such as tall mountains, and choose the best possible sites to take pictures or make videos."

"When I'm back, I write the travelogues and edit the photos and videos."

She improved her video skills when she was chosen to do live broadcasts of the London Olympics in 2012.

"I then learned how to interact with people on the street and interview them," she says.

Lin became a full-time travel blogger in May this year.

And she is among 100 "veterans" who will be nurtured to become tourism celebrities in a tourism video alliance jointly run by China CYTS Tours Holding Co and yixia.com, a popular video live-streaming platform operator in Beijing, which owns Miaopai.

Yixia will invest 100 million yuan ($14.8 million) to promote the alliance, which is designed to boost tourism.

Live streaming has been all the rage this year, with hundreds of short video sharing and live broadcasting platforms springing up.

The number of users who tuned into online broadcasting shows reached 325 million by June, 2016, accounting for 45.8 percent of Chinese netizens, according to an internet development report by China internet Network Information Center.

Meanwhile, CYTS and Yixia see the potential and hope to integrate tourism with the live streaming craze to make tourism marketing more interesting, says an official with CYTS.

Compared with the traditional marketing of a destination, video offers more real virtual experiences, say experts.

This is a view supported by Dai Bin, the head of China Tourism Academy, who says: "It's great to enrich a visitor's experience by enabling him to see the destination before the trip, especially information on scenic spots."

The alliance will feature information on tourism bureaus, airlines and hotel.

Well-known online celebrities in the tourism sector will star in the videos to answer user's questions and share their travel experiences about specific destinations.

CYTS Tours has reached strategic agreements on live broadcasts with Heilongjiang, Guizhou and Qinghai provinces, and the Inner Mongolia, Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions.

The travel agency, which used videos to boost tourism for Heilongjiang province and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region this year received good feedback from online users.

For Lin, she's already using Miaopai to share her travel experiences, and some of her work has received more than 500,000 clicks.

Speaking about her future plans, Lin says there's still a lot to do.

"I'd like to travel to as many destinations that I haven't been to," she says.

"And I also want to try something three-dimensional and learn to take aerial, underwater or even VR photos."

yangfeiyue@chinadaily.com.cn

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2016-12-10 07:13:52
<![CDATA[Desert wonderland rolls out red carpet]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2016-11/19/content_27428092.htm The United Arab Emirates is pulling out all the stops - including free visas on arrival - to lure Chinese visitors to spend a few days in the region

Chinese tourist Wang Xuemei was a bit apprehensive when several dolphins swam toward her and kissed her on the cheeks.

This is part of the Dolphin Encounter Program at the Dolphin Bay in Atlantis, Dubai, which allows visitors to play with dolphins in shallow water.

"Dolphins are so adorable! Dubai is really a modern city, much more than I expected. I like the tranquillity when I see the desert from a car, especially at sunset," says Wang, 30, an office worker from Beijing.

 

With the new visa-on-arrival policy, Dubai hopes to lure more Chinese visitors to stay for a few nights. Provided to China Daily

Last December, she took a six-day trip in Dubai.

Since Nov 1, the United Arab Emirates has been granting a free 30-day visa-on-arrival to Chinese citizens.

It is good news for those who want to explore the Dubai's unique culture and scenery.

"Dubai is attractive for all kinds of travelers - individual tourists and families and leisure and business travelers," says Hamad M Bin Mejren, senior vice-president of Dubai Events and Convention Bureau.

He says the new visa policy will attract Chinese visitors to stay in Dubai for a few nights rather than just stop over.

Statistics show that the number of overnight Chinese visitors to Dubai was 450,000 in 2015, up 29 percent from the previous year.

From January to September, the number was 384,000, making China the 7th biggest market for Dubai.

Dubai attracted more than 14.2 million overnight visitors last year and it aims to hit 20 million by 2020.

"Our average growth rate is 7 to 8 percent per year. We're trying to maintain it and improve," he says.

Speaking about the bureau's role, he says: "China is the only country where we have four offices

(Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu) because of its importance. We have big goals for the Chinese market with the new visa policy, and will work closely with our partners to ensure that the Chinese have a good experience," he says.

According to Mejren, the bureau - which has 22 offices in total - is also using Chinese social media such as WeChat and microblogs to promote Dubai in the Chinese market.

The Chinese can also buy tickets for local attractions on its official website via China UnionPay, and he says that the bureau plans to change traditional paper tickets to electronic ones within two or three years, so that the Chinese can buy tickets online before their arrival in Dubai.

Compared with other destinations in the Middle East, he is confident about Dubai's attractiveness as a destination.

"We come up with new things all the time, and offer unique experiences," he says.

In August, the 2,000-seat Dubai Opera House was opened, offering opera, ballet and orchestra performances.

In the same month, IMG Worlds of Adventure - the world's largest indoor theme park - featuring Marvel comic heroes and dinosaur adventures was opened.

Separately, Dubai Parks and Resorts - including three theme parks and one water park - will be fully open in December. There, visitors can interact with DreamWorks Animation characters and watch Hollywood-style shows in its Bollywood Parks.

Legoland, one of the theme parks, was also unveiled recently with Lego-themed adventures for families such as rides and Lego-building experiences.

Speaking about cruise ship visitors, he says: "Dubai is the cruise hub of the region and a popular winter destination for European ships due to its warm weather.

Dubai also issues special multi-entry visas for cruise passengers," he adds.

Meanwhile, besides the attractions, for many Chinese visitors, it is common to indulge in a shopping spree at Dubai International Airport. And Dubai Duty Free wants to capitalize on this.

As Nic Bruwer, executive vice-president, commercial, of Dubai Du