版权所有 - 中国日报�(ChinaDaily) China Daily <![CDATA[Former vice-minister jailed for accepting bribes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533081.htm Meng Hongwei, a former vice-minister of public security and Interpol president, was sentenced to 13 years and 6 months and fined 2 million yuan ($289,730) on Tuesday at Tianjin First Intermediate People's Court for taking bribes.

Meng pleaded guilty and said he would not appeal the ruling.

The court said Meng used his positions as member of the Party committee, vice-minister of public security and director of the China Coast Guard, to obtain benefits for relevant enterprises and individuals in matters such as business operation and job promotion.

He took advantage of these positions to seek improper benefits for others and illegally accepted gifts and properties worth more than 14.46 million yuan, the court added.

The court said Meng's acts constituted the crime of bribery and should be punished according to the law.

It added that the judgment took into account that Meng had pleaded guilty and voluntarily confessed to the majority of his crimes.

Meng, 67, became vice-minister of public security in 2004 and was elected Interpol president in 2016, becoming the first Chinese person to take up the post.

In October 2018, he was put under investigation by China's graft watchdogs for "serious violation of the law" and in the same month, he resigned from his Interpol position.

In March 2019, the National Supervision Commission and the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said Meng was using his posts to seek benefits for others in matters of job promotion and business operations and received a large amount of gifts in return.

He also abused his powers, refused to implement the Party Central Committee's decisions and squandered national funds for his extravagant personal life. It was for these reasons that Meng was expelled from the Party and public positions in March. He was officially charged by the prosecutors in Tianjin two months later and first stood trial in June.


Meng Hongwei



2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA['Open houses' feature high on the list of festivities planned in Brunei]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533143.htm For yoga teacher Oh Dee Xiang, celebrating Spring Festival in Brunei means a lot of "open houses".

"We go to our friends' and relatives' homes. There's lots of eating, watching lion dances and giving hongbao," she said, referring to the traditional red envelopes containing cash gifts.

Bruneians celebrate major festivals by holding "open houses"-inviting friends, colleagues and neighbors to their homes for a day of feasting.

Freelance writer and translator Shareen Han said Chinese families organize open houses to encourage relatives and friends to visit. They offer Lunar New Year greetings to each other, and this leads to closer ties.

Han said prawn crackers, cookies and kueh-local cakes-are a staple of most open house celebrations.

She is expecting a busy week as her family prepares for Spring Festival. It will begin by carrying out the annual spring cleaning "to get rid of dirt or bad luck". Han and her siblings will then decorate the house with traditional lanterns, and paste fu, or good fortune, characters on doors and walls.

On Lunar New Year's Eve, which falls on Friday, the family will burn incense and joss sticks as offerings for deceased ancestors. Han's mother will also be busy in the kitchen with the annual family reunion dinner. Various dishes will be served, each representing some of the family's hopes for the coming year.

"We will feast on poached whole chicken (symbolizing rebirth or completeness), Hainanese fish maw soup, roast pork (representing wealth), roast duck and vegetable dishes, which symbolize good family ties and prosperity," Han said.

On Lunar New Year's Day, Han will go to a temple to pray for blessings and protection during the Year of the Rat.

Debbie Too, a banker, said she will drive to her parents' house on the first day of Spring Festival to light a joss stick in front of the family altar and say a prayer.

"I have adopted my husband's family traditions. They are less religious than mine, so they focus on catching up with everyone each year," she said.

As a child, Too said morning prayers with her family on Lunar New Year's Day, and she intends to continue this tradition. She also expects her mother to serve the customary meal of oranges, pineapples, tea and sweets-all of which are meant to attract health and wealth for the new year.

Brunei is home to more than 40,000 ethnic Chinese, accounting for about 10 percent of the sultanate's predominantly Malay population. Some of them are descendants of traders who arrived during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In 1929, the discovery of oil in the northeastern district of Seria also attracted Chinese migrants.

One of the most prominent Chinese merchants in Brunei during the early 20th century was Cheok Boon Siok, who donated land in 1918 to build a Chinese temple.

The Teng Yun Temple, which overlooks the Brunei River in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital, remains a focal point for the Chinese community.

Most visitors to this Taoist temple on Lunar New Year's Day pay respects to their ancestors, burn joss sticks and incense, and pray for good health, peace and prosperity for the coming year. Later, they watch a lion dance performance.

The temple is one of the few public places in Brunei where the government allows lion dances to be staged. The use of firecrackers and fireworks has been banned for safety reasons.

Spring Festival celebrations in Brunei last 15 days, with another big family dinner usually held on the final day.

In addition to "open houses", some people use the holiday to travel and bond with family members. Others enjoy holding reunion dinners in hotels and restaurants.

Preparations for Spring Festival are in full swing across Asia. In the Philippines, feng shui consultants are giving advice on auspicious colors and decorations for the Year of the Rat.

In the Malaysian city of Ipoh, home to a large ethnic Chinese population, vendors are selling green bamboo plants-popular home decorations-as they symbolize prosperity and happiness.

Lion dance performances and red lanterns feature on the streets of Chinatown in Surakarta, Central Java, Indonesia.


2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Nation remains key destination for investment]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533106.htm China will remain a hot spot for global investment in the long term despite souring global economic conditions, a senior commerce official said on Tuesday.

Qian Keming, vice-minister of commerce, said China will accelerate the pace of negotiations for multilateral and bilateral economic deals with its trade partners in Asia, Europe and Latin America to encourage more companies to invest in China.

Thanks to the country's improved industrial chain and structure, as well as its attractive domestic market, foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland surged 5.8 percent year-on-year to reach 941.5 billion yuan ($136.5 billion) in 2019, according to data the Ministry of Commerce released on Tuesday.

Qian said China's opening-up efforts have received a positive response throughout the world, and will help it to gain more foreign investment in areas including digital technology, modern services, high-end and smart manufacturing.

Over 40,000 new foreign-funded enterprises were established in the country last year, while the number of foreign-funded projects with investment of at least $100 million reached 834, up 15.8 percent on a year-on-year basis, according to the official data.

In the meantime, the global capital flowing into high-tech industries on the Chinese mainland jumped 25.6 percent year-on-year to 266 billion yuan.

Despite the China-US trade dispute, Zong Changqing, director-general of the ministry's department of foreign investment administration, said foreign investors have great confidence in China as they believe that driven by long-term demand, both China's productivity and consumption power will grow sustainably.

Chinese consumers, led by middle-income earners, are more open to new products, especially digital ones, he noted.

Eager to seize a greater market share, last year China saw year-on-year FDI growth of 51.1 percent from Singapore, 43.1 percent from the Netherlands and 21.7 percent from South Korea, according to the ministry.

Some of the world's biggest corporate players, such as Samsung, BASF, British Petroleum, Caterpillar, Saudi Aramco, Panasonic, Cargill, ABB, Tesla and Siemens, have renewed their commitment to China by expanding their operations countrywide.

Fair treatment

Under the new foreign investment law, factors such as fair treatment and transparency to participate in government projects and procurement will encourage global companies to deploy more financial resources in China in innovation, services and third-party market development, said Yin Zheng, executive vice-president of France-based Schneider Electric.

Since the Foreign Investment Law has attracted wide attention from the international community, China will unswervingly follow a win-win strategy of opening-up, said Honson To, chairman for China and Asia-Pacific at global consultancy KPMG.

China's nonfinancial outbound direct investment dropped 6 percent year-on-year to 807.95 billion yuan in 2019, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Chinese companies invested 105.96 billion yuan in economies involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, accounting for 13.1 percent of the total.

The structure of outbound investment continued to improve, with investment mainly going into such sectors as leasing and business services, manufacturing, as well as wholesale and retail sales, the ministry announced.


2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Strictest measures enacted to contain viral pneumonia]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533085.htm Chinese health authorities are adopting the strictest prevention and control measures for the new strain of coronavirus that has caused a pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province, as the pathogen continues to spread.

On Monday, 77 new confirmed cases of the virus-2019-nCoV-were reported on the Chinese mainland, bringing the total number of confirmed cases on the Chinese mainland to 291, six of whom died, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday afternoon. Among the new cases, 72 were reported in Hubei province, two in Shanghai and three in Beijing.

In addition, 27 suspected cases were reported on Monday, bringing the total number of suspected cases to 54, the commission said.

Taiwan health authorities said on Tuesday said a woman of about 50 years of age was confirmed to be infected with the virus, the first such case on the island.

In the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, no confirmed cases were reported as of Tuesday evening, but the number of suspected cases rose to 118 as of Tuesday noon, according to official data.

Wuhan, the center of the outbreak, reported 60 new cases on Monday and two additional fatalities-a 66-year-old man and 48-year-old woman. Both of them died on Monday due to multiple organ failure, the Wuhan Health Commission said. The total death toll from the virus climbed to six, all in Wuhan.

Zhong Nanshan, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a prominent expert on respiratory diseases, said existing evidence shows the new virus can spread from human to human, and the epidemic may spread further, given that China will see a massive human migration during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

The source of the infection has not been located, and its means of transmission is not clear. Health experts agree the possibility exists for mutation of the virus, according to the National Health Commission.

Amid the severe situation, China is ramping up efforts in several areas. On Monday, President Xi Jinping ordered that resolute efforts should be made to curb the spread of the virus, stressing putting people's safety and health as the top priority.

Premier Li Keqiang chaired a State Council executive meeting on Monday to coordinate measures. He called for all related authorities to fully estimate the situation and increase cooperation among government departments.

Li ordered stricter preventive measures at hospitals and better protection for medical workers. The Wuhan Health Commission reported on Tuesday morning that 15 medical workers in the city have been infected.

Also on Tuesday, the National Health Commission listed the pneumonia caused by the virus among Grade B infectious diseases, a category that includes such major infectious diseases as SARS, AIDS and polio.

Currently, however, the new virus will be treated as a Grade A infectious disease, which requires the strictest prevention and control measures, including mandatory quarantine of patients and medical observation for those who have had close contact with patients, according to the commission.

At present, only two infectious diseases-bubonic plague and cholera-are classified as Grade A infectious diseases in China.

Wang Yuedan, a immunology professor at Peking University, said managing the new disease as Grade A will greatly help in its control and prevention. Some other serious infectious diseases, such as SARS, are also classified as Grade B infectious diseases, but have been managed as Grade A infectious diseases during their outbreaks, Wang said.

On Tuesday, Wuhan Mayor Zhou Xianwang called on locals not to leave the city and people from outside not to come to Wuhan if there's no particular need.

"Less human migration can reduce the spread of the virus, easing the pressure of prevention and control of the disease," he told China Central Television.

Hubei Governor Wang Xiaodong asked on Tuesday for full efforts to monitor and report the outbreak. He said no delayed reports or cover-ups would be tolerated, and he asked for better public communication to respond to public concerns.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said in a statement that sustained human-to-human transmission may exist, and warned more cases of the virus could appear in China and outside in the coming days, given travel patterns and increased testing.

The Chinese government is sharing information regularly and working closely with the WHO, it said, adding that a team of WHO experts are working with health officials in Wuhan in response to the virus.

"The WHO encourages all countries to continue preparedness activities," WHO China said.

Although much remains to be understood about 2019-nCoV, including how it is transmitted, the clinical features of the disease, its severity, the extent to which it has spread and its source-progress is underway, it said.

China, along with other affected countries, will attend an emergency committee meeting convened by the WHO on Wednesday to share information about the disease, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday.

Representatives from a number of countries, the WHO and relevant experts will make accurate assessments about the outbreak, Geng told a daily news conference.

Zhou Jin contributed to this story.


An official uses an infrared thermometer on a passenger at a health screening checkpoint at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Tuesday. EMILY WANG/AP



2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Canadian law central to Huawei CFO case]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533089.htm The extradition hearing of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will hinge on the legal issue of double criminality, meaning the United States' allegations could be dismissed if they are not considered a crime in Canada, but if they are, she could be extradited to the US, according to experts.

The formal phase of Meng's extradition hearing started on Monday at British Columbia Supreme Court. The fraud charges Meng faces from US prosecutors involve Huawei Technologies Co allegedly using a subsidiary to sell telecom equipment in Iran despite US sanctions against the Middle Eastern country.

Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on Dec 1,2018, at the behest of US authorities.

Her defense team and lawyers for Canada's attorney general will debate the double criminality question before Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes.

Meng's legal team, led by veteran lawyer Richard Peck, has argued that she should not be extradited because the charges, such as engaging in fraud to evade US sanctions on Iran, could not be considered crimes under Canadian law, and that it is not illegal in Canada to do business with Iran, because Canada lifted its sanctions against Iran four years ago.

Yves Tiberghien, a professor of political science at the University of British Columbia, said that in any case, it will be a long time from the proceedings to any extradition, if it happens at all.

"If the judge finds no dual criminality conditions, it could end the trial. If there is dual criminality found by the judge, then the trial will proceed but will take a long time, two years, maybe," Tiberghien told China Daily.

"After that, there could be an appeal to the Court of Final Appeals, then to the Supreme Court, then a decision of the minister (of justice) and another possible appeal," he said.

Strain on relations

Tiberghien said it is not certain that the US wants Meng to be tried in the US, as it would be a strain on already fraught US-China relations.

"Nonetheless, the arrest of Meng took China by surprise and has generated great public anger in China. Meanwhile, the arrest of two Michaels (businessman Michael Spavor and former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig on espionage charges) has generated anger in Canada. Relations are greatly suffering from the overall process," he said.

Meng's arrest has exacerbated ongoing diplomatic tension between Canada and China and drawn worldwide attention to Canada's extradition laws and precedents.

On the issue of whether Canada's minister of justice should intervene in Meng's case when all legal avenues have been exhausted, Tiberghien referred to Article 23-3 of the Canadian Extradition Act, which allows the minister to intervene.

But he pointed out that the provision in the law is rarely if ever used in Canada, as Canadians "frown upon" political interference in legal processes.

"It would require a good rationale rooted in the rule of law and the national interest. In common law countries like Canada, practice does have weight in addition to the law. So the political obstacles to intervening in the process are high," he said.

When US President Donald Trump said on social media that Meng's arrest and the trade war were linked "the Canadian government and the public were really astonished and shocked", he said. "It is understandable that Chinese people have paid strong attention to the tweet by the president. This has indeed given a political connotation to the case."

Eddie Goldenberg, a former chief of staff to former prime minister Jean Chretien and a current partner in the law firm of Bennett Jones LLP, pointed out that "it has been clear from the start that the Trump administration considers the matter to be in the realm of geopolitics".

Canadian lawyer Ping Tan said: "The impact of Meng's case on Canada-China relations has been widely commented on, and no doubt a decision against her will cause crippling damage to the already strained relations. It will be a lose-lose scenario."

Hours before the extradition hearing on Monday, China's Foreign Ministry once again called on Canadian authorities to immediately free Meng, daughter of Ren Zhengfei, the founder of the Shenzhen-based telecommunications giant, which is a leader in 5G wireless technology.

Huawei issued a statement on Monday that said: "We trust in Canada's judiciary system, which will prove Ms Meng's innocence. Huawei stands with Ms Meng in her pursuit of justice and freedom."


Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou exits her vehicle as she arrives for her court appearance on the first day of her extradition hearing in Vancouver, Canada, on Monday. JEFF VINNICK/AFP



2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[UK, US JOIN SPRING FESTIVAL PARTY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533087.htm Lion dances, red envelopes, paper cuttings and delicious treats-all essential elements of Spring Festival-will not only occur in China in the coming days. Major festivities are also planned in the United States and the United Kingdom.

They will take place at shopping complexes, theme parks and museums across the US, with the activities meant to impress diverse audiences by celebrating one of the most important Asian festivals.

Elysa Marden, vice-president of Arts Brookfield for Brookfield Properties in New York, said, "We like to diversify our programming so there is something for everyone, ensuring that we reach numerous communities."

For seven years, the organization has presented family-friendly performances at Brookfield Place, a high-end shopping venue in Lower Manhattan.

This year, it is bringing a taste of Spring Festival to the Big Apple, with lion dances, martial arts demonstrations and traditional Chinese dancing in partnership with the New York Chinese Cultural Center.

"The Lunar New Year celebrations have become an annual favorite for Asian communities as well as the community in Lower Manhattan, attracting up to 4,300 people to the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place," Marden said.

Interest in the Spring Festival is also spreading to other major shopping hot spots across New York, including the newly opened complex Hudson Yards and retail giant Macy's.

Hudson Yards is featuring Chinese classical, folk and lion dancing. During Chinese Lunar New Year, visitors will exchange red envelopes decorated with lucky symbols or auspicious messages that contain cash.

Shoppers at Hudson Yards will receive special prizes and a chance to win gift vouchers after spending a certain amount.

Stores, such as fashion retailer Tory Burch, cosmetics brand Kiehl's, lifestyle outlet MUJI, as well as restaurants are joining in, offering exclusive deals and Spring Festival collections.

Macy's is taking the celebrations to six locations nationwide, with special in-store events and deals. Its stores in Herald Square and Flushing, New York, as well as three in California and one in Hawaii, are all preparing to welcome the Year of the Rat with lion dances, cooking demonstrations, giveaways, and more.

Jose Gamio, senior director of multicultural community engagement at Macy's, which first celebrated Spring Festival 10 years ago, said, "We are thrilled to highlight the diverse cultures of our customers, communities and colleagues by celebrating Lunar New Year across the country."

South Coast Plaza, the largest shopping center on the West Coast of the US, has the same history of celebrating the festival with extensive programs. Special performances and displays will be staged on two consecutive weekends at the retail hub, accompanied by free gifts, store and window displays, and exclusive offers.

Disney California Adventure Park and Universal Studios Hollywood are marking Spring Festival by dressing some signature characters in Chinese attire and staging performances featuring well-known China-related characters such as Mulan and Kungfu Panda.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse will be dressed in rat costumes designed by Chinese couturier Guo Pei.

Disney's Lunar New Year highlights include art walls to educate visitors about Spring Festival, featuring amusing incidents and unique stories from the different cultures that celebrate it.

A similar approach is being taken by museums across the US, which are presenting special programs and educational events.

Julie Marie Seibert, assistant educator for family programs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, said, "Each Spring Festival, we develop surprise, multimodal activities with artists, performers and arts organizations to connect visitors to a broader cultural community."

The museum has been hosting Spring Festival events for a decade, attracting more than 5,000 visitors every year.

"Through these activities, participants enjoy, learn and discover our galleries and broaden or deepen their understanding of cultural traditions represented in our collections. Families will have the opportunity to learn about communities across the globe that celebrate Spring Festival," Seibert added.

Marden said her organization has "received positive feedback from the diverse audiences that attend Brookfield Place events, who say they appreciate experiencing different cultures".

Lion dance performances, which appear to be especially popular among all the events staged in the US, are a favorite with both children and adults, Marden added.

"You can still enjoy the intricate and brightly colored costumes, interesting movements and drum beats, even if you don't know the meaning behind the Lion Dance-that it is chasing away evil spirits to bring good luck and fortune," she said.

UK gets ready

Meanwhile, in the UK, the National Gallery in London, near the British capital's Chinatown, is preparing to celebrate Spring Festival on Sunday.

On the same day, hundreds of thousands of people are also expected to flock to annual celebrations in Chinatown, Trafalgar Square and the West End, which organizers claim are the largest outside Asia.

Zoe Bates, family and children's programmer for learning and national projects at the National Gallery, which is situated in Trafalgar Square, said, "Chinese New Year is an opportunity to celebrate the location of the gallery and its proximity to our surrounding neighborhood of Chinatown-positioning the gallery as a backdrop to and extension of the Trafalgar Square celebrations."

Over the past five years, the National Gallery has staged family events linked to Spring Festival, and it views these as an opportunity to attract new audiences, Bates said. This year, activities will feature Chinese-themed storytelling, dancing, papercutting and dumpling making.

In Greenwich, southeast London, the National Maritime Museum is celebrating Spring Festival for the 19th year. Visitors to the institute's Traders Gallery will learn of the struggles between Britain and China in the tea trade.

Georgina Sheehan, the museum's assistant press officer, said, "Celebrating Chinese New Year allows us to engage visitors with Chinese objects and stories within the collection and encourage local families to celebrate Chinese history and tradition."

Sheehan added that the celebratory event has become more popular, with families traveling across London to join in. This year, it will be staged on Saturday, when lion dances and performances by the Guizhou Song and Dance Ensemble will be presented. Visitors can take part in craft workshops, origami ratmaking and Chinese storytelling, while playing and learning about the history of mahjong.

An art workshop will be held aboard the tea clipper Cutty Sark, inspired by the vessel's voyages to China.

At the start of next month, traditional and contemporary performances to celebrate Spring Festival will be held at the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery in western England. Stalls will feature elements of Chinese culture, the institution's cafe will put on a special menu and Chinese goods will be on sale. Other activities will include rat-seeking games and workshops.

Karen Garvey, the museum's events engagements officer, said Spring Festival celebrations have been held at the institution since 2003. They have evolved from relatively small-scale activities into a huge event involving hundreds of performers, activity organizers and student volunteers.

She said audiences are becoming increasingly diverse, adding that in previous years, there had been many Chinese and Caucasian visitors, but now the event is also attracting people with Southeast Asian, African and Middle Eastern heritage.

Garvey said the celebration helps raise the museum's profile. "This year, the Mayor of Bristol and the Lord Mayor are planning to attend. Bristol is twinned with Guangzhou (capital of Guangdong province), so it makes it even more fitting that we celebrate Chinese New Year."

The celebrations at UK museums are part of a series of cultural events being staged nationwide to herald Spring Festival.

Sarah Wang, a manager at the Confucius Institute at the University of Aberdeen, said Spring Festival this year will be a unique and special occasion in Scotland. It falls on Jan 25, when Burns Night, the traditional celebration for Scottish poet Robert Burns is held. She said the two celebrations have not coincided for more than 70 years.

This year, the institute's Chinese New Year Gala will have a Scottish theme, including a Burns poetry recital in English and Mandarin, a Chinese boy playing the bagpipes and a performance of Burns' song Auld Lang Syne in English and Mandarin, Wang said.

Meanwhile, in the past year, China and the UK saw closer cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

According to data provided by Liu Xiaoming, Chinese ambassador to the UK, for a China Daily article published on Jan 6, some 168 flights operated between the two countries every week last year. As a result, China has become an important source of tourists visiting the UK.

Felicity Miller, a mother of four living in the UK, said her family celebrates Spring Festival every year. Her children are half-Chinese, so she feels that it is important they can learn about China even though they don't live in the country.

She has seen growing interest in the festivities in the UK in recent years. "Many British families ask me for tips on how they can get involved," Miller said.

Teresa Liu from Los Angeles contributed to this story.







2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[IMF lowers forecasts for global growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533086.htm The International Monetary Fund projected global growth to expand in the coming years due to good news on the United States-China trade front, Brexit and monetary policy.

The IMF, in an updated World Economic Outlook released on Monday in Davos, Switzerland, forecast global growth to increase from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 3.3 percent in 2020 and 3.4 percent in 2021.

Gita Gopinath, the IMF's chief economist, said that some risks mentioned in October's report have since partially receded with the announcement of a US-China phase one trade deal, the lower likelihood of a no-deal Brexit and the fact that monetary policy has continued to support growth and buoyant financial conditions.

"With these developments, there are now tentative signs that global growth may be stabilizing, though at subdued levels," Gopinath said at a news conference on Monday, the day before the opening of the World Economic Forum.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said that monetary easing has helped to stabilize the global economy, adding roughly 0.5 percent to global growth. But she added that a more comprehensive solution would be needed if global growth slows again.

"A coordinated fiscal response can boost growth," she said, while calling for a "spirit of cooperation".

"The reality is (that) global growth remains sluggish," Georgieva said.

Gopinath explained that the downward revision of global growth by 0.1 percentage point for 2019 and 2020 and 0.2 percentage point for 2021 from the October report is largely due to the downward revisions for India. She added that the subcontinent's growth slowed sharply owing to stress in the nonbank financial sector and weak rural income growth.

China's growth, on the other hand, has been revised upward from October by 0.2 percentage point to 6 percent for 2020 due to the recent US-China trade breakthrough.

Gopinath said the IMF expects China to slow slightly as years go by because of the structural adjustment China has to go through, referring to China's efforts to move away from exports to domestically driven growth.

She noted that there is still a lot more that needs to be done on the US-China trade front despite the phase one deal.

According to the IMF, the US-China phase-one deal, if durable, is expected to reduce the cumulative negative impact of trade tensions on global GDP by the end of 2020-from 0.8 percent to 0.5 percent.

"We would hope the world moves toward a more open and sustainable trading system. We would hope there would be a more comprehensive deal between the US and China as the months go by," Gopinath said.

She said the IMF is concerned about risks returning on the trade front between the US and China as well as between the US and the European Union.

"Trade tensions and disruptions are something that we do put out there as an important risk," she added.

The IMF projected growth in advanced economies will slow slightly from 1.7 percent in 2019 to 1.6 percent in 2020 and 2021. It said that export-dependent economies like Germany should benefit from improvements in external demand, while US growth is forecast to slow as fiscal stimulus fades.

For emerging markets and developing economies, the IMF expects a pickup in growth from 3.7 percent in 2019 to 4.4 percent in 2020 and 4.6 percent in 2021, a downward revision of 0.2 percentage point for all three years from its October report.

The IMF said that a key imperative across all economies is to undertake structural reforms, enhance inclusiveness and ensure that safety nets protect the vulnerable.

Countries need to cooperate on multiple fronts to lift growth and spread prosperity. They need to reverse protectionist trade barriers and resolve the impasse over the World Trade Organization's appellate court, it said.

The IMF also suggested that a new international taxation regime is needed to adapt to the growing digital economy and to curtail tax evasion, while ensuring that all countries receive their fair share of tax revenues.

The US has threatened punitive tariffs on French wines and other products to retaliate for a digital services tax introduced by France last year. However, French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump have agreed to extend negotiations on the dispute to the end of the year, postponing Washington's threat of sanctions against Paris, a French diplomatic source said on Monday. The fact that the IMF upgraded its forecast of China's growth shows the international community's acknowledgment of China's economic performance and its confidence in the country's economic prospects, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday.

Geng quoted the latest statistics and said China's GDP grew 6.1 percent in 2019, ranking among the major economies seeing the fastest growth, and that its per capita GDP has exceeded $10,000.

Meanwhile, Geng said China's economic fundamentals will continue to develop for the better in the long run, adding that the country will stick to supply side reforms and actively push for the implementation of various measures to make sure its growth remains at a medium-to-high level.

Being the most powerful driver of the world economy, China will work not only to maintain its own growth, but for continued contribution to the global economy, he said.

Geng also said China will deepen reforms, be more open, stick to multilateralism and free trade and work with all parties for an open world economy and its balanced, sustainable and inclusive development.

Wang Qingyun contributed to this story.


Kristalina Georgieva



IMF forecasts for global growth CHINA DAILY



2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi urges key tasks for Yunnan]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/22/content_37533105.htm President Xi Jinping underlined on Tuesday the need for Yunnan province to win the battle against absolute poverty and to step up efforts in environmental conservation, urging it to advance supply-side structural reforms to achieve high-quality economic growth.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at a meeting in Yunnan's capital Kunming that was attended by officials of the CPC Yunnan Provincial Committee and the provincial government.

Xi concluded a three-day inspection tour in the province on Tuesday ahead of the upcoming Spring Festival.

At the meeting, Xi urged officials to focus their poverty relief efforts on impoverished areas and implement targeted measures to resolutely win the battle against poverty.

He reminded officials that measures should be taken to prevent those who have shaken off poverty from becoming poor again due to inadequate follow-up policy support.

The president underscored the importance of environmental conservation and asked officials to uphold the concept that clear waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets, to make continued efforts to ensure people enjoy blue skies and clean water and soil.

In the new era, China must stick to a new development vision that features innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared aspects for the benefit of all to push for high-quality economic growth, Xi said.

He also called on the province to step up building the modern economy, improve the systems and mechanisms for developing advanced manufacturing and revitalizing the real economy, upgrade traditional manufacturing, accelerate emerging industries, advance infrastructure construction and enhance agricultural production.

Xi also called on the province to expand opening-up for greater development and speed up connectivity projects as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges with neighboring countries.

Xi also visited a village of the Wa ethnic group in Tengchong city and learned of the poverty reduction efforts in the area.

When visiting an ecological wetland near Dianchi Lake in Kunming, he stressed the importance of environmental protection of the lake and called for continuous efforts to truly turn lucid waters and lush mountains into invaluable assets.

He inspected market supply conditions ahead of Chinese New Year in Kunming, interacted with locals and extended holiday greetings to all Chinese people at home and abroad.

Xi also visited the former site of National Southwest Associated University, a coalition between Beijing-based Peking University and Tsinghua University, and Tianjin's Nankai University during the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), and learned about the history of the institution.


President Xi Jinping extends Lunar New Year greetings to all Chinese people on Monday during a three-day inspection tour of Yunnan province that concluded on Tuesday. XIE HUANCHI/XINHUA



2020-01-22 00:00:00
<![CDATA[What we know about the Wuhan virus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533009.htm ・ How common are coronaviruses?

Coronaviruses are common throughout the world, infecting both humans and animals. Before the emergence of the latest strain in Wuhan, Hubei province, six strains of coronavirus were known to affect humans, with four of them causing mild respiratory symptoms akin to common colds. The other two strains, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS(Middle East respiratory syndrome), are potentially lethal, having together killed about 1,600 people worldwide.

・ Is the new strain discovered in Wuhan linked to SARS or MERS?

They all come from the same large family of coronaviruses, but the new strain belongs to a different subgroup. It also demonstrates marked differences in genome sequence from the SARS and MERS-related viruses and appears to be less deadly. However, scientists are cautious of possible mutations of the new strain that could raise the level of risk.

・ What are the symptoms of the new strain?

Most patients experience mild symptoms including fever, fatigue, a dry cough and difficulty breathing. They can fully recover with effective treatment. In some cases, patients suffer severe respiratory failure, extremely low blood pressure and other life-threatening conditions.

・ How to protect yourself against the new coronavirus

Due to a lack of knowledge on the new strain, the World Health Organization has so far suggested general protective measures targeting other regular respiratory infections, including avoiding contact with people infected with respiratory illnesses, washing hands regularly and refraining from touching livestock or wild animals.

Medical institutions should also step up protection and control measures, particularly in their related emergency departments.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Economic data signals recovering growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533057.htm Encouraging economic data for December will cement the potential uptrend of China's A-share market in 2020, as a confirmed picture of economic stability has bolstered expectations of a recovery in corporate earnings growth, analysts said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped by nearly 15 points to Friday's intraday high of 3,091.95 points on China's release of 6 percent GDP growth for the fourth quarter of last year, which broke a five-quarter streak of economic slowdown.

The index gave up most of the gain on Friday's close, but ended 0.66 percent up at 3,095.79 points on Monday. The ChiNext Index, which tracks Shenzhen's innovative startup board, surged by 2.57 percent to Monday's close at 1,982.18 points, the highest since March 2017.

The latest data pointing to economic stability has boosted market confidence and offered equity assets more room to climb, said Han Tan, an analyst at international foreign exchange platform FXTM.

"December's industrial production and retail sales figures topped estimates, confirming the picture of an economy that has bottomed out," he said.

The growth in industrial output quickened to 6.9 percent year-on-year last month, the second consecutive month, while retail sales growth remained as high as 8 percent last month, the same as November, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Whole-year fixed-asset investment growth stood at 5.4 percent, 0.2 percentage points quicker than the first 11 months, as manufacturers ramped up investment, according to the NBS.

Looking ahead, economic activity should remain on a stabilizing trajectory this year and lead to annual GDP growth of about 6 percent, given the resolute pro-growth policy efforts and easing external pressures after the signing of the phase-one trade deal with the United States, said Tang Jianwei, chief researcher at Bank of Communications' Financial Research Center.

Particularly, fixed-asset investment growth may accelerate to 5.7 percent this year, Tang said, as special-purpose bonds will provide stronger support for infrastructure investment and as brighter prospects for exports boost manufacturing investment.

Wendy Liu, head of China Strategy at UBS Investment Research, said: "The benchmark CSI 300 Index is expected to see a 6 percent rise over the course of the year."

"A stabilizing Chinese economy will bring about the recovery in listed firms' earnings growth in 2020, and we are now in such a transition," Liu said.

A higher valuation accompanied by improved market liquidity may also send the market higher, said Zhang Xia, chief strategist at China Merchants Securities in Shenzhen.

The net total of funds flowing into the A-share market may increase to almost 500 billion yuan ($73 billion) this year, Zhang said, adding that he expects a quicker expansion of equity-focused mutual funds and a continuous inflow of foreign money, although this will be slower than in 2019.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission, the nation's top securities regulator, said after the close of its annual work conference on Friday that it will work to attract long-term capital including equity funds this year, while also advancing capital market opening-up.

Cyclical stocks, which are sensitive to macroeconomic changes, may outperform the market, such as those who engage in construction materials and machinery and therefore benefit from faster infrastructure investment, according to Xie Chao, chief strategist at Shanghai-based Everbright Securities.

However, analysts with Essence Securities said in a report that cyclical stocks may not provide so much room to gain in the mid to long term as stocks in the tech and medical sectors do, as the A-share market is increasingly aimed at supporting economic upgrading.

The CSRC said on Friday it would advance market-oriented and rule-based reforms to better serve high-quality economic development this year.


2020-01-21 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tianjin project one of many for veteran Australian architect]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533056.htm Philip Cox, whose company won the international design competition for the National Maritime Museum of China, may not be a household name in Australia, but among architects he ranks with the best.

Despite turning 80 this year, Cox is still highly active at his practice. He started work with architect Ian McKay in 1963 and the following year formed his own company, Philip Cox and Associates, now known as Cox Architecture.

Cox has strong views on architecture and its place in society. "In the 19th century, it was mainly stone and brick," he said, sitting in his open plan studio in Sydney. Cox Architecture also has other studios in Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra.

"Today, it's all steel. They (buildings) are quick to put up and can be deconstructed very quickly. Nothing is sacred anymore," Cox said.

"Some of the buildings they are putting up now are destroying the fabric of our cities, but that's life."

In 1962, Cox graduated from Sydney University with honours in architecture, defying his father's wish to do "something better" with his life.

"I suppose (architecture) was something I had always wanted to do, despite dad's advice," he said.

Asked for his father's occupation, Cox started to laugh, before stating: "He was in newspapers. He said that he had gone through the depression and architects were selling oranges on the street-they had no work."

He said his father advised him to pursue a career in dentistry.

"He told me I needed a good, solid profession, but looking down people's throats all day was not my idea of a great career."

Cox said his father eventually conceded defeat and approved of his son's career choice.

"Architecture combined everything I enjoyed. I liked the combination of art, architecture and engineering. It was, and still is, a great intellectual mix," he said.

"At school, I didn't wander around looking at buildings. I liked good architecture, but it was not until I got to university that it became a lifestyle for me. I found it fascinating and wonderful."

His work combines the principles of structure, craft, art and nature, and he has delivered many iconic projects in Australia and overseas, including the National Maritime Museum of China and the Marina Bay redevelopment in Singapore.

Cox has also received numerous awards in recognition of his contribution to architecture, including the Royal Australian Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1984 and a Life Fellowship of the RAIA and an Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects in 1987.

In 1988, he was awarded the Order of Australia for services to architecture, and five years later received the inaugural award for Sport and Architecture from the International Olympic Committee.

Despite stepping back from the day-to-day operations of his company some time ago, he is still actively involved in many of its design concepts.

Cox grew up in Australia at a time when there was a swing away from the European influence in architecture. In the 1960s, he and many of his contemporaries used distinctly Australian elements in their work, such as wraparound verandas and simple materials such as local brick, timber beams and clay-tile roofs.

"We're trying to develop an architecture that is distinctively Australian, responding to the landscape, to the country's past, and to Australians' various attitudes, and to produce an architecture that is different from elsewhere," he said.

Cox was one of the first in Australia to recognize the country's Aboriginal heritage. Being commissioned to design the Yulara tourist resort at Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, was his first real test in determining an Australian identity.

The work for many of the sports centers he designed around Australia proved more difficult, but Cox said he matched not only the aesthetic and cultural aspects, but took political factors into consideration.

As examples, he cited such centers in Sydney and Perth that entailed a "minimalist use" of steel.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Xi urges military to focus on improving capabilities]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533048.htm President Xi Jinping urged the Chinese military on Monday to strive this year to realize its goals and missions given by the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people.

"We are determined to build a moderately prosperous society and eradicate absolute poverty before the end of this year. We also aim to achieve the goals set for our national defense system and the People's Liberation Army this year. There are numerous tough tasks for us to do," said Xi, who also is general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

"I hope you stick to the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, uphold the Party's thought on strengthening the military, and implement military strategies in the new era.… You must enhance the sense of mission, be focused on improving your capabilities, make sure all of your jobs are fully done, and unswervingly complete the goals set by the Party and the people."

The president made the remarks on Monday in Kunming, capital of southwestern China's Yunnan province, as he met with officers from military units in the province.

He said troops in Yunnan performed well in terms of implementing the instructions from the CPC Central Committee and the Central Military Commission, and he praised them for steadily moving forward toward their goals and completing their tasks with outstanding results.

The troops made remarkable contributions to the protection of sovereignty, national security and development interests as well as to economic and social development in Yunnan, according to Xi.

When addressing the officers during the meeting, Xi offered his best wishes for the coming Spring Festival to all members of the PLA, the People's Armed Police Force, the reserve forces and the militia.

On Sunday, Xi inspected a border defense battalion in Yunnan. He checked the troops' living conditions and chatted with soldiers.

Video clips broadcast by China Central Television showed that Xi visited a squad's dorm, the battalion's medical room and its kitchen. He checked the cooked meals and examined the freshness of vegetables.

During the tour, the president also held a teleconference with soldiers from a landmine clearance unit and a border patrol squad, and encouraged them to honor their duties.

Also on Sunday, the president visited a village of the Wa ethnic group in Tengchong, a city in Yunnan.

He stressed the need to promote rural vitalization and address problems including the imbalance between urban and rural development after China constructs a moderately prosperous society.

Xi told the villagers that efforts should be made to develop rural industries, promote the rural economy and improve people's livelihoods.

He also extended Lunar New Year greetings to the villagers, and beat a wooden drum three times, in accordance with local customs, to wish favorable weather for bumper harvests, peace for the country and the people, and peace for the whole world.

While visiting the old town of Heshun, a popular tourist destination in Tengchong, Xi exchanged greetings with tourists.

A video clip on the internet showed that a tourist asked the president where was his wife Peng Liyuan.

" (She) didn't come," Xi replied with a smile. "Just busy preparing for the New Year at home like everyone else." In Heshun, Xi also visited a local library and museum on the ancient Southern Silk Road as well as the memorial hall of Ai Siqi, a Chinese philosopher who made contributions to promoting the Party's theories and popularizing Marxism in China.

On Monday, Xi visited a wetland near Dianchi Lake in Kunming and learned of the efforts to protect the environment of the lake.

President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, talks on Sunday with soldiers stationed in Yunnan province during an inspection tour ahead of Lunar New Year. LI GANG/XINHUA

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Disease won't be on scale of SARS, top expert says]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533011.htm The latest evidence has proved that the new virus causing the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province, can spread from human to human, said Zhong Nanshan, head of a high-level expert team organized on Monday by the National Health Commission.

"It has been confirmed that two people in Guangdong province were infected through human-to-human transmission," he said at a news conference on Monday.

The two patients had not been to Wuhan, where the outbreak started, but they became sick after their family members recently returned from the city, he said.

In addition, some medical workers have also tested positive for the virus, which proves the infectiousness of the virus, said Zhong, who is also a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a prominent expert in respiratory diseases.

Zhong said a major reason for the surge in the number of cases over the past few days is that new testing methods have improved the efficiency in testing suspected cases. The other reason is that in the past few days local authorities have been authorized to confirm such cases on their own, as long as the patient has tested positive twice. Previously, confirmation could only be made by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and other national institutes, which slowed down confirmation, he said.

The pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, will not evolve into a massive outbreak similar in scale to the SARS outbreak 17 years ago, he said.

"We identified the new coronavirus just two weeks after the outbreak was reported, and we have very good virus monitoring and quarantine measures," Zhong said. "I believe the outbreak will not have the impact on society and the economy that SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) did 17 years ago."

However, the number of cases of the new virus is expected to continue rising during the Spring Festival holiday, which starts on Friday, due to the large number of people traveling nationwide, which will make the disease spread more easily, he said.

Zhong said to prevent the spread of disease, it is important that the authorities in Wuhan take strict measures to identify suspected cases and advise people with a high body temperature, which is a major symptom of the disease, not to leave the city.

In addition, people with confirmed cases must get treatment under quarantine as soon as possible, which is the most effective way to prevent and control the disease, he said.

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said the outbreak is still at an early stage.

He said it is very likely that the outbreak can be contained through intensified efforts in the early stage, but coordinated prevention and control efforts nationwide are necessary.

"With proper public health measures, the trend of an increasing number of cases can be reversed," he added.

Zeng said China has shared information about the virus with the World Health Organization since the outset, which has also helped other countries in identifying the virus.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[All-out efforts ordered to curb spread of virus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533025.htm President Xi Jinping urged resolute efforts on Monday to contain the spread of pneumonia cases caused by a new strain of coronavirus as cases of the contagion rose to 224 on the Chinese mainland, all but six of them confirmed, as of 8 pm on Monday.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark in an instruction on the prevention and control of the disease.

All-out efforts must be made in the prevention and control of the contagion, Xi said, as he called for closer attention to related work.

Given massive population flows during the upcoming holiday of Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 25, it is an urgent task to properly prevent and control the disease, Xi said.

He urged Party committees and governments at various levels as well as relevant departments to make people's lives and health a top priority, devise meticulous plans, mobilize all available resources and take concrete and effective measures to contain further spread of the sickness.

Every means should be tried to save and treat the infected, identify the cause of the contagion, strengthen case monitoring and standardize diagnostic procedures, Xi added.

He called for timely disclosure of outbreak information and a deepening of international cooperation.

Measures should be taken to guide public opinion, make relevant policies accessible to the public to uphold social stability and ensure people across the country enjoy a peaceful and happy festival, Xi said.

Premier Li Keqiang also issued an instruction on Monday urging local governments and relevant departments to identify, report, isolate and treat patients in a timely manner and promptly and objectively release information about disease prevention and control.

Li also called for good coordination with the World Health Organization, relevant countries and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan to take united action to resolutely prevent the contagion from spreading.

A State Council executive meeting chaired by Li on Monday also worked out concrete steps to prevent and control the disease.

As of 8 pm on Monday, a total of 218 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infections had been reported in China-198 cases in Wuhan, Hubei province, where the first case of novel coronavirus infection was identified, five in Beijing, 14 in Guangdong province and one in Shanghai. Japan, Thailand and the Republic of Korea were also reported to have confirmed cases of the disease.

More Chinese cities have stepped up monitoring, prevention and control of infectious pulmonary diseases.

In line with the united prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, the National Health Commission has set up a leading task force group to cope with the outbreak while local governments-including the Hubei provincial government-were asked to shoulder their responsibilities in disease control.

Responding to a question about the outbreak on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news conference that China had informed the WHO, organizations in relevant countries and regions about the disease in a timely manner, and has been in close communication with them.


Pneumonia outbreak linked to a new strain of coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province CHINA DAILY



2020-01-21 00:00:00
<![CDATA[All-out efforts ordered to curb spread of virus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533020.htm President Xi Jinping urged resolute efforts on Monday to contain the spread of pneumonia cases caused by a new strain of coronavirus as cases of the contagion rose to 224 on the Chinese mainland, all but six of them confirmed, as of 8 pm on Monday.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark in an instruction on the prevention and control of the disease.

All-out efforts must be made in the prevention and control of the contagion, Xi said, as he called for closer attention to related work.

Given massive population flows during the upcoming holiday of Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 25, it is an urgent task to properly prevent and control the disease, Xi said.

He urged Party committees and governments at various levels as well as relevant departments to make people's lives and health a top priority, devise meticulous plans, mobilize all available resources and take concrete and effective measures to contain further spread of the sickness.

Every means should be tried to save and treat the infected, identify the cause of the contagion, strengthen case monitoring and standardize diagnostic procedures, Xi added.

He called for timely disclosure of outbreak information and a deepening of international cooperation.

Measures should be taken to guide public opinion, make relevant policies accessible to the public to uphold social stability and ensure people across the country enjoy a peaceful and happy festival, Xi said.

Premier Li Keqiang also issued an instruction on Monday urging local governments and relevant departments to identify, report, isolate and treat patients in a timely manner and promptly and objectively release information about disease prevention and control.

Li also called for good coordination with the World Health Organization, relevant countries and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and Taiwan to take united action to resolutely prevent the contagion from spreading.

A State Council executive meeting chaired by Li on Monday also worked out concrete steps to prevent and control the disease.

As of 8 pm on Monday, a total of 218 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infections had been reported in China-198 cases in Wuhan, Hubei province, where the first case of novel coronavirus infection was identified, five in Beijing, 14 in Guangdong province and one in Shanghai. Japan, Thailand and the Republic of Korea were also reported to have confirmed cases of the disease.

More Chinese cities have stepped up monitoring, prevention and control of infectious pulmonary diseases.

In line with the united prevention and control mechanism of the State Council, the National Health Commission has set up a leading task force group to cope with the outbreak while local governments-including the Hubei provincial government-were asked to shoulder their responsibilities in disease control.

Responding to a question about the outbreak on Monday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news conference that China had informed the WHO, organizations in relevant countries and regions about the disease in a timely manner, and has been in close communication with them.


Pneumonia outbreak linked to a new strain of coronavirus in Wuhan, Hubei province CHINA DAILY



2020-01-21 00:00:00
<![CDATA[NEW VENUE SHOWCASES MARINE HERITAGE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533014.htm Just outside the northern port city of Tianjin sits the latest addition to China's cultural heritage.

The National Maritime Museum of China is an imposing modern complex designed by the Australian company Cox Architecture and Tianjin Architecture Design Institute, or TADI.

The museum has joined a growing list of innovative and modern architecture across China, including Beijing Daxing International Airport, as the country focuses on "green" design in urban development.

Since the museum's soft opening in May, thousands of visitors have flocked to the institution that highlights China's maritime history. No date has been announced for the official opening.

Philip Cox, whose company won the international design competition for the project in 2012, said the elegant, simple layout of the museum, which sits on a man-made bay, features white exhibition halls stretching out like fingers, resembling brush-strokes in calligraphy.

Liu Jingliang, honorary president of TADI, said, "The main aim of the museum is to enhance people's awareness of the sea.

"As President Xi Jinping said during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army Navy, 'The blue planet humans inhabit is not divided into islands by the oceans, but is connected by the oceans to form a community with a shared future'."

Liu said that China now has its first such national museum "and we are very proud to have participated in this project".

The world-class building combines elements of history, culture and art, Liu added.

Covering 80,000 square meters, the four exhibition halls stretching out over the harbor converge onto a central area.

Each hall is devoted to a different aspect of the country's marine heritage: nature and oceans; world maritime civilization; marine culture; and historic vessels. There is a temporary exhibition area and space for public education, business, research and curatorial facilities.

This arrangement of the halls and the maritime plaza ensures the museum does not resemble one huge building.

The architecture is informed by aquatic references, such as anemones and coral, and vessels in port, which act as subtle enticements to explore its exhibits.

A ramp leads visitors to an elevated area from which they can access one of two split levels, allowing the collections and operations center to be located immediately under the main hall.

Liu said the design incorporates "a nonlinear approach extending from the land to the sea, with the land and water interacting with each other".

"This will encourage people to explore and discover (the building) themselves. While some say the exterior looks like a shoal of fish jumping toward the surface of the sea, others think it is like a boat lying on the sea, or a hand reaching toward it. Some even say it depicts various creatures under the water."

Cox, the founder of Cox Architecture, said: "There are a lot of Australian architects working in China, but very few have been given the privilege to do a building of such national importance as this one."

He and his team designed the Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, Sydney, and the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle, south of Perth.

"I can't remember just how many companies competed for the National Maritime Museum of China contract, but in the end it was down to five or six, including Chinese firms," Cox said.

"The authorities liked our design concept and selected us along with TADI as the local partners. It was a very good cooperative effort.

"Usually in a project like this, you often see some clashes, whether over the design concept or just personalities, but I can honestly say that was not the case for this project. Everything went better than any of us expected."

He said the brief-to submit a design for a museum reflecting China's maritime history-provided a great degree of flexibility.

"We wanted to know what ships and other exhibits would be on display so that we could work on some concepts. We were told not to worry about that, as it would be sorted later."

Anya Meng, an associate at Cox Architecture who coordinated the project, said, "The exhibition halls sit within the landscape, offering views out to nature and its wider context as you navigate through the halls."

A "full immersive experience" is also provided in the exhibition halls, which each house exhibits with specific requirements. "Few museums offer an experience like that," Meng said.

The building can be interpreted as an "exhibition in the landscape", with the halls cantilevering majestically out over the water.

Cox added: "Even when building started, there was no water. The bay the museum now stands on was empty. Once the building was completed, the area around it was flooded.

"It's amazing when you think about it-so different to how European minds think."

Zhu Ci, from the National Maritime Museum Preparation Office, said the project marks a significant addition to understanding China's maritime history.

"I hope that in time we can develop the museum as a center for marine cultural heritage preservation, marine cultural research and public education on marine knowledge," Zhu said.

"Throughout the long course of history, many of our ancestors living in coastal areas created a maritime civilization as they got to know and exploit the ocean," he said.

"With continuous advancement of shipbuilding techniques and seamanship, maritime communication between China and the rest of the world became more frequent. The creation of the Maritime Silk Road, in particular, led to the ancient Chinese maritime civilization."

Zhu said this "carried the valuable cultural spirit and traditions of the Chinese nation" and made an indelible contribution to the development of overall maritime civilization.

He said the emergence of such a civilization in China started in ancient times when people began to explore and use the sea.

In the Stone Age, people who formed groups and settled by the sea left many remains on islands and in coastal regions.

"These inhabitants had a different way of life from those in inland areas, as they were better adapted to the natural environment of the coast," Zhu said.

He cited two examples of the ocean's impact on people's lives: perforated shells found at the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian, near Beijing, which are 10,000 to 30,000 years old; and the making of canoes some 7,000 to 8,000 years ago in coastal areas of southeastern China.

He said the remains of ancient canoes found in Zhejiang province are believed to be some of the first such craft built by humans. The adze, a tool used to build canoes, also provided important evidence to study humans' early migration across the oceans.

Many advanced shipbuilding techniques that emerged in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) had a great impact on the global shipbuilding industry, Zhu said.

During the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220), Chinese vessels were known to sail routes to present-day India and Sri Lanka, and between the Wei-Jin Period and the Tang Dynasty-from AD 220-907-boats from China sailed to the Korean Peninsula, Japan, South Asia and West Asia.

During the Tang Dynasty, there was also a route from what is now Guangzhou, Guangdong province, to the Arabian Peninsula.

The Maritime Silk Road, which emerged during the Qin (221-206 BC) and Han dynasties, witnessed significant development in the Tang Dynasty. Many relics were found during this period, proving that maritime trade existed between China and other countries.

Zhu said, "Chinese maritime civilization witnessed prosperity during the Song to Yuan dynasties (960-1368), when development of the Maritime Silk Road reached its peak.

"In the 12th century, the compass started to be used in China for navigation. It was then introduced to Europe by the Arabs, and helped promote development of the shipping industry in the West."

From 1405 to 1433, the voyages of maritime explorer Zheng He involved more than 200 vessels and 27,000 crew. He was in command of the biggest long-distance voyage undertaken in the world at the time.

"Zheng He's voyage to the West was the climax of ancient China's maritime civilization. It disseminated Chinese civilization to the rest of the world, enhanced cultural communication among different countries and regions, and promoted the prosperity of international trade," Zhu said.

Rejuvenation of the country's maritime tradition started after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Zhu said. In recent years, its marine industry has developed in "leaps and bounds", in areas such as investigation and observation, deepsea exploration and polar research.

The legal system covering maritime issues has also been greatly improved, with the launch of a series of laws for deep-sea, island, and marine environmental protection, which safeguard development of the marine industry.

Zhu said China's active participation in global maritime cooperation and management, and its contribution to protecting the marine environment have shown that it has taken on such responsibility as a major country.

"China is also working to promote construction of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, while promoting the concept of peaceful development and win-win cooperation across the world," he said.

"With the theme of developing the blue economy, China encourages all-around and pragmatic cooperation (under the Belt and Road Initiative).

"Chinese marine civilization is on its way toward rejuvenation, which will be a positive driver for the rejuvenation of the nation."

Yang Han contributed to this story.

Philip Cox at the museum. CHINA DAILY

The National Maritime Museum of China is a modern complex designed by the Australian company Cox Architecture and the Tianjin Architecture Design Institute. CHINA DAILY

The National Maritime Museum of China is a modern complex designed by the Australian company Cox Architecture and the Tianjin Architecture Design Institute. CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[BRI 'crucial' to spur global development]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533013.htm The Belt and Road Initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping to enhance win-win international cooperation will contribute to global economic growth and promote sustainable development worldwide, said a member of the World Economic Forum's executive committee.

The BRI helps China implement more engaged cooperation with other countries, which will also contribute to the world economy, David Aikman, the forum's chief representative officer in China, told China Daily ahead of the forum's 2020 annual meeting from Tuesday to Friday in Davos, Switzerland.

Aikman expressed concern over the global economic downturn due to heightened uncertainties, saying that this year will likely see a "synchronized slowdown" across the globe due to rising trade barriers and increasing geopolitical tensions.

He said that investment in countries involved in the BRI could account for as much as 60 percent of global infrastructure investment over the next two decades.

Since the initiative was launched, China has signed 197 cooperation documents with 137 countries and 30 international organizations by the end of October on joint building of the BRI.

Building infrastructure

China's trade with countries involved in the BRI has exceeded $5 trillion and outward direct investment has risen to over $60 billion, creating more than 200,000 jobs.

"In light of this, how to govern the development of the BRI becomes extremely crucial if the goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement are to be met," Aikman said.

The sustainable design of BRI projects will help advance the transformative 2030 Agenda for numerous countries toward low carbon, circular and digital economies, he added.

The BRI aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia, Europe, Africa and the world at large along and beyond the ancient Silk Road, and it is hailed as China's solution to the fractured international situation and a platform for the joint building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Aikman said that the vision of a community with a shared future stands as an example of "mutual interests and shared assumptions", which is at the core of engaging all stakeholders for a shared future.

Through finding common ground and codifying it in rules and conventions, there is still space for humankind to rebuild trust and ensure predictability, despite the rise of protectionism and unilateralism, he said.

As the 2020 World Economic Forum annual meeting will be held under the theme of "Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World", Aikman called for cross-sector and international efforts to address the urgent climate and environmental challenges that "are harming our ecology and economy".

"No institution or individual alone will be able to address any problem in this interconnected world. Similarly, when it comes to sustainability, we also believe that all countries are in the same boat on sustainable development goals," he said.

China has a lot of examples from its recent history as well as current innovations that it can share globally through the World Economic Forum, he added.

Aikman recalled Xi's keynote speech at the 2017 WEF annual meeting, and said Xi's remarks undoubtedly are still of great relevance in today's world, which is deeply troubled by grave uncertainties.

"Xi said in his historic opening address in Davos that there could be no winners from a trade war," Aikman said. "His speech was truly historic and received broad appreciation from officials, experts and business leaders."

Addressing the event three years ago, Xi called on the international community to jointly meet challenges and chart the right course for economic globalization to promote world development.

"His defense of globalization and promotion of a shared future coincides with the forum's vision of bringing together stakeholders to shape our future for the better," Aikman said, adding that during this year's annual meeting, there will be nearly 30 sessions on economic topics, covering both the global economic outlook and regional economic challenges.

Domestic challenges

Regarding challenges for China in building a moderately prosperous society by the end of this year, Aikman said that against the backdrop of the global economic slowdown and international turmoil, boosting development and securing social prosperity have become major challenges for the Chinese people.

While saying that the changing technological landscape brought by the Fourth Industrial Revolution may be one of the thorniest issues, he added that a moderately prosperous society requires a fairer and more sustainable development model in which the relationship between quality and efficiency needs to be balanced.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Measures afoot to stem contagion]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/21/content_37533046.htm Local authorities across China have stepped up monitoring and screening efforts to control the spread of a new strain of coronavirus that has sickened 218 people and killed three nationwide.

The contagious illness first emerged in late December in Wuhan, Hubei province, and on Monday, other regions outside of Wuhan began reporting confirmed and suspected infections, prompting wider implementation of prevention and control measures.

The Beijing Municipal Health Commission said on Monday that five cases have been confirmed in the Chinese capital, adding that medical institutions are required to increase screening to quickly single out suspected cases and strengthen their capability to detect infections to achieve "early diagnosis, early quarantine and early treatment".

Guangdong province confirmed 14 cases on Monday, including eight cases in Shenzhen. According to Shenzhen health authorities, the temperatures of passengers traveling through airports, piers, railways and bus stations will be taken on site in an attempt to step up screening efforts.

The authorities added that instances of new infections in the city are expected to rise as the ongoing Spring Festival travel rush significantly increases the risk of the disease's spread.

Shanghai, China's economic hub, detected two cases on Monday, one of them confirmed. The city has ramped up testing and screening of people displaying suspicious symptoms, and it has begun tracking people who have had close contact with suspected patients, said Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong.

"If new infections are confirmed in Shanghai, we will make timely reports to the public according to relevant laws and regulations," Ying said at a news conference on Monday.

Shenzhen's neighboring city of Hong Kong has made it compulsory for all passengers arriving on flights from Wuhan to fill in health declarations starting Tuesday, ahead of the upcoming travel peak during the Lunar New Year holiday and following the increase of confirmed cases in Wuhan over the weekend.

From Sunday noon to Monday noon, seven more suspected cases were reported in Hong Kong, bringing the total to 106 since Dec 31-none have been confirmed as being caused by the new coronavirus strain.

]]> 2020-01-21 00:00:00 <![CDATA['CHINA'S WOODSTOCK' RAISES PROFILE OF ROCK]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532821.htm Nearly 20 years ago, young musicians in 30 Chinese rock bands performed at the Midi School of Music in Shangdi, in northern Beijing's Haidian district. The school, founded in 1993, was China's first school of contemporary music.

Although the bands were relatively unknown, their performances on the first two days of May 2000 attracted about 2,000 fans, filling the 500-seat auditorium and spilling into public spaces outside, where the music could still be heard.

Shan Wei, a 26-year-old music journalist from China Radio International, was told about the shows by friends and spent three hours on the bus to join the audience.

"The shows were free and very crowded. I stood near a window outside the auditorium to watch them," said Shan, noting that one of the bands was Tongue, from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

"The audience was mainly composed of students from the school, along with rock music lovers from Beijing and nearby areas," Shan said. "Between acts, free beer was provided. I soon made new friends, and we sat on the ground drinking outside the venue.

"The weather was great and the music was very loud. It felt like going to a high school reunion and being part of a huge community."

Later, the two-day event was officially named the Midi Music Festival.

Over the past 19 years, the festival has been staged 38 times in cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

Known as "China's Woodstock", a reference to the legendary music festival in the United States, it has propelled many rock bands to fame. Nearly all the country's rock stars have performed at the event, including Cui Jian and Tang Dynasty, one of the first Chinese heavy metal bands.

With this year marking the festival's 20th anniversary, a number of commemorative activities are planned.

Shan, now 45, who was born and raised in Suzhou and graduated from Renmin University of China in 1997 with a degree in political science and international affairs, is now the festival director, having joined the organizing team in 2009.

This year, the event will be staged in cities including Chengdu, Sichuan province, and Shenzhen, Guangdong province. Venues in Shandong, Fujian and Hebei provinces will also hold performances, Shan said. Lineups will be announced soon.

"We will not only celebrate the Midi Music Festival's 20th anniversary, but also the country's rock music scene during the past two decades. It's a collective memory," Shan said.

He added that some of the bands who performed at the first festival in 2000 will be invited to join the celebrations, including Tongue, Miserable Faith and Muma, all of which have risen to become leading performers in China.

In 2009, when the festival celebrated its 10th birthday, it was staged over three days in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu province, a small city about three hours from Shanghai by train. It was the first time that the event had been held away from Beijing, and it attracted more than 30,000 fans.

"It was challenging to launch a large-scale music festival in a fresh city, watched by new fans. I remember that many of them traveled to Zhenjiang from Beijing and other parts of the country, making the event that year a great success," Shan said.

He added that due to this, the local government invited the festival to return to the city the following year, when it attracted audiences of 120,000 over four days.

This development saw the festival start to spread its wings further, and last year, cities staging the event included Suzhou, Chengdu and Dezhou, Shandong.

In 2009, Wu Shanshan, an art teacher in Beijing, attended the event when it was staged in Zhenjiang, describing it as "the best outdoor rock festival" she had ever experienced.

She traveled with a group of friends from the capital, not only to see pioneering musician Cui Jian, considered the godfather of China's rock music scene, but to watch Second Hand Rose, a band she never expected to warm to.

"I was never really a fan of Second Hand Rose, but they really rocked that day," Wu said."When they came onto the stage, their outlandish costumes lit up the night and their music featured errenzhuan (a type of folk singing and dancing from Northeast China)."

Wu, who has attended many music festivals, added: "The best thing about going to them is that you can watch your favorite artists and also be surprised by new acts. Basically, as a fan, you're paying for the diversity you're exposed to."

Now, more than 100 music festivals are held nationwide every year, offering rock bands more opportunities to perform. The younger generation of music lovers is more open to different styles and can also afford to travel overseas to attend performances.

Shan said:"The rock music scene is getting better and more diverse. The Midi Music Festival is not only the oldest in China, but also injects new blood by discovering and inviting emerging bands to perform."

In 2010, an offshoot of the festival, the Midi Kids Band Competition was staged, aimed at discovering and showcasing child bands from across the country.

In 2018, Cloud, a seven-piece band formed by children from Xichang, Sichuan, with an average age of 12, stood out at the competition. Last year, the band performed reggae at the Midi Music Festival in Suzhou and also appeared at the Wild Mint Festival in Moscow, Russia, at the end of June.

Shan said the Midi Music Festival's success owes a lot to the Midi School of Music.

Now located in Changping district, northern Beijing, the school is attended by about 400 students from across the country. Founded by Zhang Fan, who is still its president, it is considered the "Whampoa (Huangpu) Military Academy of rock music", a reference to one of the country's best-known modern military institutions.

Gao Hu, lead vocalist and songwriter with Miserable Faith, one of the country's most popular indie bands, said:"Many bands have been formed at the school, but 20 years ago we didn't have much opportunity to perform onstage, which was depressing. The school offered us a chance to realize our dreams."

Gao became interested in rock music during high school, teaching himself to play guitar. In 1997, he began studying at the Midi School of Music, where he met Zhang Jing, now the band's bassist. Miserable Faith was founded two years later.

"We lived in a place called Shucun, near the school, which was also home to many of the other students. Lots of bands were bursting on to the music scene. We loved different styles," Gao said, adding that the rent was 200 yuan a month.

Last summer, the popular reality show The Big Band brought Chinese indie rock into the mainstream for the first time. Acts such as Miserable Faith, The Face and New Pants appeared on the show, which has built up a large fan base.

Li Guobiao, vice-president of the Midi School of Music, said:"It takes solitude, sleepless nights and even starvation to achieve success as an indie rock band. The success of the show encourages young bands to pursue their dreams."

Roommates Huang Xiangyu and Zhu Yuanwu, both 22, have been studying electronic guitar at the Midi School of Music since 2018.

Zhu, born and raised in Jilin province, said: "I fell in love with rock music when I was 6 years old. I went to a record store in my hometown that sold music by Cui Jian and Black Panther. I instantly loved the songs because the lyrics sounded different and the melodies were full of energy."

To study music in Beijing in the hope of becoming a full-time rock performer, he dropped out of a medical school at home.

"My parents were totally against my idea of learning music. To earn tuition fees, I worked at a local musical instrument store," Zhu said.

Huang also paid his own tuition fees, even though his parents objected to his plans. He said he learned about the Midi School of Music online and paid it a visit before applying to enroll.

Zhu added, "I enjoy the atmosphere at the school, because all the students join it due to their passion for music."

On Dec 27, the school closed for the winter vacation, but neither Zhu or Huang returned home, choosing instead to remain in Beijing to find work to pay for their tuition fees for the next semester.

"Our goal is simple. We practice at least three hours a day, in the hope of making a living from music," Zhu said.

Music fans cheer a band performing at the Midi Music Festival in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, in April 2018. YAN MIN/FOR CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Myanmar visit highlights friendship, BRI synergy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532869.htm President Xi Jinping's just-concluded state visit to Myanmar has cemented the ties between the two neighboring countries, and officials and experts have hailed the visit as "historic" and "a landmark" in their ties.

It was Xi's first trip of the year and the first in 19 years in which a Chinese head of state has visited Myanmar. The significance of the trip is not confined to bilateral relations but serves as an example of how Xi's broader vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind can be put into effect, they said.

The two countries agreed to jointly build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future and highlighted their strengthened partnership in a wide range of fields, including politics, economics, culture and people-to-people exchanges, as well as in regional and international affairs, according to a joint statement released on Saturday, when Xi wrapped up his two-day visit.

Xi's choice to visit Myanmar on his first overseas trip of the year demonstrates the profound paukphaw friendship between the two countries and serves as an example of China setting in motion the building of a community with a shared future for mankind in a neighboring country, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters at the close of the visit.

Wang said China's head-of-state diplomacy at the beginning of the New Year has ushered in a new era for China-Myanmar relations in which the Belt and Road Initiative has made major progress.

During the meeting with his Myanmar counterpart, President U Win Myint, Xi made it clear that China firmly supports Myanmar in pursuing a development path that suits its national conditions. Concerted efforts by both countries to build a community with a shared future will inject fresh vitality into bilateral ties, and China stands ready to take advantage of synergies in the BRI and Myanmar's development strategy, he said.

Xi stressed that China's effort to advance the building of a community with a shared future starts with neighboring countries. China will never impose itself on others in international cooperation, he said, and never interfere in the affairs of other countries. It opposes the "you lose, I win" and "one takes all" approaches.

In talks with Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Xi called for concrete efforts from both sides to build the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor under the framework of the BRI, with a focus on flagship connectivity projects-in particular the Kyaukphyu special economic zone, the cross-border economic cooperation zone and the new urban development of Yangon city.

He also underlined the need for the two countries to make coordinated efforts to press ahead with highways, railways and power grids to enable the corridor's main connectivity network to take shape at an early date.

Xi reached an important consensus with leaders in Myanmar on promoting high-quality construction of the Belt and Road, Wang said, adding that this marks the transition of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor from conceptual planning to substantive construction.

Experts said Xi's Myanmar tour sent out a clear message that the country attaches importance to the relationship with its Asian neighbor. Myanmar, as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, plays an important role in regional affairs, and it also has special status in advancing BRI cooperation.

Zhai Kun, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said one of the outcomes of Xi's eye-catching trip to Myanmar is that the two countries agreed to build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future, which will enhance the building of a broader Asian community with a shared future.

Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said both China and Myanmar want to enhance the traditional pauk-phaw friendship-a reference to close family bonds-which contributes to the consensus of the two peoples on the joint building of the Belt and Road.

Strong synergy

Myanmar's ongoing efforts to upgrade infrastructure, such as roads, ports and electrical power, and to develop its manufacturing and industrial sectors have strong synergy with the BRI, Ruan said, adding that the two countries will have a long-term cooperation on the initiative as it is conducive to promoting Myanmar's socioeconomic growth and raising its status in ASEAN.

High-quality Belt and Road cooperation between China and Myanmar has set a good example for other ASEAN countries, Su Xiaohui, deputy director of the Department for International and Strategic Studies at the China Institute of International Studies, was quoted by People's Daily as saying.

During his meeting with Myanmar leaders, Xi reiterated China's commitment to helping it move forward along the development path it has chosen and in safeguarding its legitimate rights, interests and national dignity on the international stage. He said China stands ready to play a positive role in promoting Myanmar's peace process and national reconciliation on the basis of respect for its sovereignty and willingness.

Leaders of the two countries also pledged to continue to uphold the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, jointly uphold the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, and uphold international fairness and justice.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Performers who made their mark last year]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532863.htm One of the few Chinese singer-songwriters who manages to be both popular and keep a low profile. In 1999, the self-taught Pu rose to instant fame after releasing his debut album, I Went to 2000. His best-known hits, such as New Boys, The Flowers and Journey, are still popular today. In 2003, after releasing his second album, Life Like Summer Flowers, Pu withdrew from the limelight. Few artists can make a successful return after years away from the scene. But in 2018, Pu came back with a new album, Orion, which won commercial and critical acclaim. In summer last year, he toured nationwide and appeared on the popular reality television show The Big Band.

After a long wait, the Taiwan singer launched his latest single, Won't Cry, and a surprise video at 11 pm on Sept 16. By 3:30 pm the next day, the song, written by Chou and Vincent Fang, and which also features Taiwan pop-rock band Mayday's lead vocalist Ashin, had taken 20 million yuan ($2.81 million), a record for digital music sales in China, with each download costing 3 yuan. Since Chou, 40, released his debut album Jay in 2001, he has become one of Mandarin pop's biggest stars. His blend of rhythm and blues, love ballads and rap also often includes classical music and traditional Chinese instruments. In July 2016, he released his 14th studio album, Bedtime Stories.

Chinese indie bands used to appeal to a minority taste. But in the summer, New Pants, a punk rock outfit based in Beijing, gained a large number of new fans after appearing on The Big Band, where it performed a retro blend of disco music and electro-rock songs, wowing audiences. Peng Lei and Pang Kuan, New Pants' lead vocalist and keyboardist, both age 43, are arguably the best-known middle-aged members of the country's indie rock music scene. Classmates at middle school, they started a punk band in 1997, signing with Modern Sky Records, then a lesser-known label, but now the biggest indie music record company in the country. To support their musical ambitions, Peng works as an animator, and Pang as a designer.

Wong has always been a headliner. Her songs, including I'm Willing and Dream Love, have straddled the decades and genres. It is virtually impossible to think about the country's pop music scene without coming up with a few of Wong's hits. Her most recent album, To Love, was released back in 2003 and she staged her "final" tour two years later. Last year, the 50-year-old, who had been out of the limelight for years, performed the theme song for the Chinese movie My People, My Country to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Although news of a new album and tours have been circulating on the internet, there has been no official announcement. However, it is not the first time that reports have surfaced about a comeback album.

This popular Chinese boy band broke up on Oct 9, after just 18 months together, causing many fans to voice their disappointment. The group rose to fame in 2018 on the hit reality show Idol Producer, and in November that year released its debut album To the Nines. The nine-member outfit, led by Cai Xukun, who has nearly 30 million followers on his Sina Weibo account, rocked the country's entertainment scene and saw the rise of the "fan economy". More male and female pop groups are now emerging, such as R1SE, an 11-member boy group.

Pu Shu

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[New Year cheer soars for Tibetans lifted from poverty]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532823.htm In the days leading up to the twoweek-long Sonam Losar New Year Festival, which starts on Friday, residents of Shigatse, in the Tibet autonomous region, are busy shopping at the New Year goods market, enjoying the better life made possible by government programs.

Shoppers head to the New Year markets for featured holiday goods such as metal-plated sheep skulls, cheese, butter, dried barley sheaths and Tibetan robes.

Sonam Losar New Year is a local Tibetan New Year celebration observed mainly by farmers in Shigatse. It comes one month ahead of Tibetan Losar New Year, the autonomous region's general New Year celebration. This year, Sonam Losar New Year falls on the same day as Spring Festival.

The two Tibetan New Year celebrations are among the most important festivals of the year. People carefully shop for the feasts they host. And meat is at the top of the New Year shopping list for most Tibetan farmers, as it is regarded as the best food for entertaining guests.

Poverty alleviation

Thanks to the government's poverty alleviation campaign in the past few years, more people have some money to spare, so New Year spending budgets have increased.

Lhakpa Butri, 36, lives in Shaitonmon county, one of the 19 places in the Tibet autonomous region lifted from poverty in 2019. Her family was among the last ones removed from the poverty list.

"This year, I am going to celebrate our New Year in our new home, which was provided by the government for the village's poverty alleviation relocation project," she said, adding that her family didn't have a proper house before they were relocated last year.

Lhakpa does environmental patrol work in the village and receives an annual subsidy of 3,500 yuan ($510) from the government.

"During the last New Year, we were very poor, so I could only afford two sheep, but for this coming New Year, I bought a cow's leg, and three sheep," Lhakpa said.

"We no longer suffer from hunger and cold, and there are huge varieties of shopping goods compared with previous years," she said.

Apart from meat, her family has also bought many other goods for the festival, including snacks, beer, and New Year couplets featuring Tibetan cultural elements.

"I am so excited about celebrating the New Year in the new location, where it's easy for many villagers to gather for dance and songs," she said.

Government support

Tsering, a farmer from Shaitonmon county, also spoke of her happiness and said the living conditions of her previously impoverished family had greatly improved through stable work and various types of support from the government.

Now working in a biotechnology pilot zone in the town, a government supported poverty alleviation enterprise, she said she receives a monthly salary of 3,500 yuan from the company and an additional 3,500 yuan per year from the government for her work protecting the environment.

Like Tsering's family, about 34,800 residents of counties such as Namling, Saga, Lhaze, Gyalze, Shaitonmon and Sakya were lifted from poverty last year, according to the Shigatse city government.

Tsering said she was able to buy more meat for this New Year as well as new clothing of a better quality and design, and "a lot of cow butter for my parents, so they can have their favorite butter tea for a long time, which will all make this year's holiday much happier".

Dorje, 63, of Shaitonmon county, said he credits the government's support for improving local residents' livelihoods, which has greatly boosted people's quality of life.

In 2019, the average annual per capita rural dispensable income in Shigatse was 12,140 yuan, an increase of 72.4 percent over that in 2015, according to the city government.

"In the past, people looked forward to the arrival of New Year because they wanted to buy new clothes and have nice food. But now we have better life, and it's like living in holidays all the time," Dorje said.

Tibetan villagers wait to receive New Year Festival couplets made by a Tibetan calligrapher at Dongkar, a township in the Samdrubtse district of Shigatse, on Friday. PALDEN NYIMA/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Xi's vision of shared future still resonates]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532850.htm President Xi Jinping's call for building a community with a shared future for mankind continues to resonate with the world, as global politicians and business heavyweights gather in Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting this month to brainstorm how to build a "cohesive and sustainable world".

Three years ago, Xi delivered a keynote speech at the Davos forum and called on the international community to jointly meet challenges and chart the right course for economic globalization to promote world development.

The day after the speech, he visited the United Nations Office in Geneva, where he explained his vision of a community with a shared future for mankind and his desire to achieve common and mutually beneficial development.

Xi's Davos speech on Jan 17, 2017, "underscored China's commitment to adapting to and guiding economic globalization", said Stephen Roach, senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University, in an interview with China Daily.

Globalization debated

The speech came at a time when the world was standing at a crossroad. A vigorous debate about the impact and future of globalization has emerged. The multilateral trading system, with World Trade Organization rules at its core, has been challenged by unilateralism, protectionism and populism.

China stood in sharp contrast with the United States, which subscribes to the notion that protectionism will lead to prosperity and strength, Roach said.

In an interdependent world increasingly linked by vast networks of global value chains-which provide enormous benefits to consumers and workers alike-any backlash against globalization will be a major setback for the world economy, he added.

In his keynote speech, Xi identified the crux of current social and economic problems, charted a path for global economic integration and envisioned a better tomorrow for all.

He suggested that countries should view their own interests in a broader, global context and refrain from pursuing them at the expense of others. He described the community with a shared future as an open, inclusive and beautiful one that fosters lasting peace, universal security and common prosperity.

Rising protectionism

However, Xi's message was challenged by "the worrisome outbreak of protectionism over the past two years", Roach said.

He listed a number of events arising from protectionism that are practiced by the US, including the escalation of tariffs, the blacklisting of individual companies such as Huawei, pressures on long-established supply chains as well as on its efforts to undermine the World Trade Organization, the Paris Agreement on climate change, the International Monetary Fund and other key institutional pillars of the multilateral global architecture.

In 2013, Xi proposed the Belt and Road Initiative-China's solution to the fractured international situation and a blueprint for achieving mutually beneficial, win-win international cooperation. The initiative aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe, Africa and the world at large along, and beyond, the ancient Silk Road.

As of the end of October, China had signed 197 cooperation documents with at least 137 countries and 30 international organizations regarding joint efforts for the Belt and Road.

Through its impact on infrastructure investment, trade facilitation and pan-regional integration, the BRI certainly has the potential to boost global economic growth, Roach said.

Citing the World Bank's 2019 report titled Belt and Road Economics, he said BRI transport projects have the potential to boost global trade by 1.7 percent to 6.2 percent and global real income by 0.7 percent to 2.9 percent. These estimates cover the period from 2018 to 2030 and translate into relative small annual average increments-a range of 0.1 to 0.5 percent on annual global trade growth and 0.06 percent to 0.2 percent on annual real global income growth.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a recent interview with Chinese media that Xi's vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind rejects the estrangement brought by differences in social systems, development stages, ethnicities and religions, and provides the China solution to the problems the world is facing.

Xi's vision continued to be influential at the 2018 WEF meeting themed "Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World", which revived the concept of a community with a shared future for mankind Xi had put forward in 2017, WEF Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab told Xinhua News Agency. Schwab said Xi's speech was "very important... and had brought us some sunshine" at a critical time.

This year's WEF annual meeting, which runs from Tuesday to Friday, will develop the theme "Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World". It will bring together more than 3,000 participants from around the world, with the aim of assisting governments and international institutions in tracking progress toward the Paris Agreement on climate change and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It will also host discussions on technology and trade governance.

In his UN speech in 2017, Xi called for joint efforts to implement the Paris Agreement; pursue green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable ways of life and production; and advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in a balanced manner. He pledged that China will continue to take steps to tackle climate change and carry out its obligations.

Wide praise

Citing the November 2019 UN Emissions Gap Report, Roach said that with global warming exceeding the worst-case trajectory envisioned during the 2015 negotiations for the Paris agreement, sustainability considerations are critical for every economy in the world.

He praised China's sustainability strategy as an example of global leadership that the rest of the world should consider seriously, as the country is starting to make good progress in bending the emissions curve by changing its economic model.

Faraji Kasidi Mnyepe, permanent secretary-general of Tanzania's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation, underlined China's contributions toward providing international public benefits to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and said the BRI can help countries involved have better connectivity and sustainable growth and ultimately inject vitality into global development.

In recent years, Xi's vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind has won international acclaim. In February 2017, the vision was incorporated into a UN resolution for the first time at the 55th Session of the UN Commission for Social Development. That same year it was recognized by the UN Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council.

In an increasingly interdependent world, upholding the concept of a community with a shared future is important because it's in the spirit of mutually beneficial cooperation and helps promote world peace and equality among countries, said Naomie Gray, assistant to Liberia's Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Jean-Claude Ndenzako Karerwa, senior adviser and spokesman for the president of the Republic of Burundi, also commended the vision, saying it advocates for the common interests and values of all of humanity.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[17 new cases in pneumonia viral outbreak]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532849.htm Authorities in Wuhan, Hubei province, reported 17 new cases of pneumonia caused by a new strain of coronavirus on Sunday, with three of the patients in serious condition, prompting the city to expand testing and heighten monitoring in public spaces.

The Wuhan Municipal Health Commission had also reported four new cases of viral pneumonia on Saturday. Previously, the tally of infections had stood still at 41 cases for more than a week after researchers identified a new form of coronavirus on Jan 8 as the culprit behind the pneumonia outbreak clustered in the city.

The sudden increase in new infections announced over the weekend brought the total 62, with eight patients in serious condition and two deaths. Nineteen patients have been discharged from hospitals, and the remainder are in stable condition, the commission said in a statement on Sunday.

Source still not clear

The National Health Commission said on Sunday that the overall outbreak is preventable and under control. "However, the source of the new strain of coronavirus is still not clear, the mode of transmission is not fully understood, and possible mutation of the virus requires close monitoring," it added.

The commission will fully implement disease prevention and control measures while ramping up efforts to hunt down the source of the virus and monitor potential mutations.

During the Spring Festival holiday that runs from Jan 24 to 30, the commission will increase its staff on duty to keep a close eye on the developments, and it will guide local authorities to enforce measures to curb the disease's spread.

With the approach of the Spring Festival holiday, in which hundreds of millions of people will travel through China and abroad, authorities in Wuhan have enforced preventive measures in public places and stepped up illness detection among outbound travelers.

The Hubei Provincial Health and Family Planning Commission said on Sunday that authorities had begun taking temperatures of people traveling by air, rail or road in Wuhan.

Huang Chaolin, vice-president of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital and a member of the expert team investigating the outbreak, said the spike in new cases is linked to the use of newly developed diagnostic kits that have enabled more accurate diagnosis of the virus.

"As detection and testing measures will be further expanded, the number of new cases is expected to rise further," he said at a news conference on Sunday.

Worldwide, Japan confirmed one case of the new virus on Thursday involving a resident of Kanagawa prefecture who had recently traveled to Wuhan. Thailand has reported two isolated cases recently-both are Chinese nationals traveling there from Wuhan.

South Korea, which reported a possible case of the viral pneumonia on Jan 8, has stepped up screening of Chinese travelers, according to a statement released by the consulate-general of China in Busan, South Korea, on Tuesday. That case has not been confirmed as being caused by the new strain of coronavirus.

Various illnesses

The new strain belongs to a family of coronavirus that can cause infections ranging from a mild common cold to lethal respiratory conditions, including SARS, which originated in China in 2002 and by 2003 had killed 774 people.

According to the commission, the 17 newly diagnosed patients are 12 males and five females, ranging in age from 30 to 79 years old. They began displaying initial symptoms such as fevers and cough a week ago and were confirmed as having the illness on Friday.

Epidemiological studies of older cases show that some infected patients had no exposure to a local seafood market believed to be the epicenter of the outbreak, according to the commission, raising concerns of possible human-to-human transmission.

Li Gang, director of the Wuhan Disease Prevention and Control Center, reiterated on Sunday that based on preliminary research, the transmission capability of the virus is not strong and the risk of sustained spread of the virus between humans is deemed low, though the possibility cannot be ruled out.

"The majority of infections only result in minor symptoms," he said. "So far, we have traced 763 people who had close contact with confirmed cases, and observation of over 681 close contacts has been discontinued, with no such cases reported."

"As a series of prevention and control measures are being implemented and strengthened, the disease is preventable and under control," he said.

Chen Xiexin, deputy mayor of Wuhan, said major commuter hubs across the city have been equipped with infrared thermometers, and more temperature checkpoints will be set up soon.

Public health officials in the United States said early on Saturday that screening will begin at three airports-in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York-to identify travelers from Wuhan who show symptoms of the viral pneumonia.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Several economic indicators signal positive outlook]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/20/content_37532861.htm China's economy has shown positive changes in production, consumption, market expectations and prices, indicating that the world's second-largest economy is stable and resilient in the face of headwinds and is laying a solid foundation to counter downward pressure, officials and experts said.

In December, the country's growth in industrial output, retail sales and foreign trade accelerated. Surveys of purchasing managers indicate that market expectations are improving, Meng Wei, a spokeswoman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a news conference on Sunday.

Consumer prices month-on-month also stopped rising in December, she said.

Value-added industrial output rose by 6.9 percent in December from a year earlier, 0.7 percentage points faster than the previous month. The purchasing manager's index, which reflects market expectations about conditions in the country's manufacturing sector, remained unchanged at 50.2 in December, the second straight month of expansion in factory activity.

The consumer price index rose by 4.5 percent year-on-year in December, but its growth was zero month-on-month.

"Those changes are the result of a series of policy measures and indicate that the Chinese economy has strong resilience, great potential and a lot of leeway," she said, adding that as more supportive policies are implemented in the coming months, the positive trend should continue.

China's overall economy expanded by 6.1 percent year-on-year in 2019, meeting the preset target range of 6 to 6.5 percent for the year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Meng noted that China's per capita GDP exceeded $10,000 for the first time in 2019, a solid step toward becoming a high-income country. But she said the country still lags far behind developed countries, which typically have a per capita GDP of more than $30,000.

Looking ahead, China's GDP growth should be around 6 percent this year, said Tang Jianwei, chief researcher at the Bank of Communications' Financial Research Center.

"China's economy, despite downside pressure, is likely to remain steady this year, as external headwinds may ease in the coming months and the effects of countercyclical macroeconomic policies gradually appear."

Tang added that the recent phase-one economic and trade agreement signed by China and the United States is expected to inject confidence into both economies, and China may witness a pickup in growth this year.

Zhang Wei, an analyst at Southwest Securities in Chongqing, said the Sino-US agreement is conducive to piping more foreign investment and talent into China, which will help foster high-quality development and push reforms forward.

The NDRC's Meng said,"Deepening Sino-US economic and trade cooperation is in line with China's high-quality economic development requirements. It's conducive to promoting more competition in the domestic market and speeding up the upgrading of products and services.

"Chinese companies will follow WTO rules and negotiate import agreements with US companies in accordance with market-based principles to expand imports of goods and services from the US."

Meng urged more efforts to optimize the business environment as part of the country's larger drive to deepen reforms and open up the economy, which will also add new momentum for the economy.

China has shortened its negative list in three consecutive years, with the number of items down to 40 from 93.

"In the next step, China will open up more industries to foreign investors with a shortened negative list for foreign access to business sectors," Meng said.

]]> 2020-01-20 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Implants give paralyzed man's brain new control]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532757.htm Chinese scientists made a significant stride forward in the clinical application of brain-computer interface technology with a successful procedure on a 72-year-old male patient whose body was paralyzed from the neck down.

Zhejiang University announced on Thursday that a team of researchers and doctors at the university's Qiushi Academy for Advanced Studies and its Second Affiliated Hospital in Hangzhou, had successfully implanted two microelectrodes into the man's brain to link his central nervous system to a mechanical arm outside his body. He can control the arm through natural signals from his brain.

It was said to be the first successful brain-computer interface, or BCI, operation on an elderly patient in China.

For people with spinal nerve trauma or disabilities in motor function, even simple motions, such as grasping objects with a hand, can be virtually impossible. Completing such movements requires the transmission and decoding of complex electrical signals from the brain.

"There are billions of neurons in the brain sending out electrical pulses to give instructions to our body parts," a researcher at the university said. Their work is to collect and decode the signals, and then match them to the appropriate target to command physical movement. That may be either a mechanical body part, such as a hand, arm or leg, or an external mechanical device.

A BCI usually uses tiny recording instruments or microelectrodes to manage the communication pathways from the brain-in the case of the 72-year-old quadriplegic, to a mechanical arm. As long as the cerebral cortex functions well, computers can receive and read the signals to control such devices.

Research on BCIs requires a combination of knowledge from neuroscience, information technology, engineering and medicine, said Wang Yueming, a professor at Zhejiang University, who was a leading participant in the breakthrough experiment.

Gao Shangkai, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Tsinghua University, hailed the BCI technology as an important tool in physical therapy and rehabilitation.

"Most of the rehabilitation training done at hospitals involves movements of the arms and legs, which is far from enough. The main problem is in the brain," she said.

With special training, the patient who volunteered for the experiment in August, can convey brain signals to the microelectrode devices in his brain, which then translate his brain's electrical activity via computer algorithms into "thoughts", and from there into motions.

He has learned to shake hands with other people and get food, as shown in a video.

"In this experiment, we had no references, so we needed to explore and innovate ways to perform operations. We had to analyze signals and design training methods," said Zhang Jianmin, director of the neurosurgery department of the hospital.

According to Zhang, there have been other such operations on young and middle-aged people elsewhere in the world, but Zhejiang University's team performed the first such operation on an elderly patient who was generally considered to be weaker in physical strength, concentration and emotional control. Those factors were believed to lead to unstable neural signals and special decoding difficulties.

"The success of the experiment proves the feasibility of using implantable brain-computer interfaces to help senior citizens make complicated movements," Zhang said.

The ultimate goal of basic medical research should be clinical applications that tackle practical problems, he added.

Qin Jirong contributed to the story

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]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[NBS: Growth of 6.1% shows nation's resilience]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532780.htm The Chinese economy not only remained stable last year, it expanded by 6.1 percent despite external turbulence. That suggests resilience backed by a vast domestic market, data released on Friday indicated.

After 6 percent year-on-year GDP growth in the last quarter, which was unchanged from Q3, the world's second-largest economy registered annual growth of 6.1 percent year-on-year, which is within the country's target range of 6 percent to 6.5 percent set for 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

"The economy was generally stable last year, with a steady rise in the quality of development," said Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS.

China's annual GDP came in at 99.09 trillion yuan ($14.4 trillion) last year, while per capita GDP topped $10,000 for the first time at $10,276, Ning said.

Despite the easing of growth from 2018's 6.6 percent, China remains the strongest engine of the global growth, Ning said, adding that its growth last year was the greatest of all economies whose annual GDP exceeds $1 trillion.

Liu Chunsheng, associate professor of international trade at Central University of Finance and Economics, said the 6.1 percent figure was "hard-earned" and added that the trade dispute with the United States, together with a decade-low in global growth, have taken a toll on demand and confidence.

"Even under such heavy downward pressure from the external environment, the Chinese economy has remained largely stable. This is, without a doubt, an indication of China's great resilience," Liu said.

The strong domestic market, with its booming service sector and steadily rising consumption-each of which contributed to nearly 60 percent of last year's economic growth-has helped the Chinese economy withstand external uncertainties, the NBS figures suggest.

Output growth of the services sector stood at 6.9 percent last year, outpacing the 5.7 percent growth of the industrial sector, while retail sales rose by 8.0 percent from 9.0 percent in 2018.

"In a disorderly world economy, China has maintained its advantage of relative stability," said Cheng Shi, managing director and chief economist at ICBC International Holdings.

Cheng expected the economy to remain on a trajectory of stable growth during the first quarter of this year, given the easing of trade tensions with the US after the signing of the phase-one trade deal with China on Thursday, and in combination with the country's accelerated issuance of special-purpose bonds, which will bolster infrastructure investment. These will help confidence recover in the market, he said.

The International Monetary Fund has raised its 2020 GDP growth forecast for China from 5.8 percent to 6 percent as a result of the inking of the phase-one deal.

NBS head Ning said that the authorities will take resolute steps to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the end of this year and that China's ample policy space, complete industrial chains and huge potential in domestic demand will help ensure steady and sustainable economic growth.

The office of the financial stability and development committee of the State Council said on Friday that positive factors are on the rise.

The country should stick with reform and opening-up measures to break bottlenecks in economic development, including advancing supply-side structural reforms in the financial sector and further opening up the sector to foreign investors, it said in a statement.

China's quarterly GDP growth (year-on-year, %) LIU CHEN/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Messages sent]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532759.htm President Xi Jinping and Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei each sent congratulatory messages marking the official launch of the China-Brunei Tourism Year 2020 on Friday in Brunei's capital, Bandar Seri Begawan.

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Xi greeted with gusto in Myanmar]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532760.htm China is willing to consolidate and deepen its pauk-phaw friendship with Myanmar and jointly build a China-Myanmar community with a shared future, visiting President Xi Jinping said on Friday in Nay Pyi Taw.

Xi made the remarks in a meeting with Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi after a grand welcoming ceremony hosted by his Myanmar counterpart, President U Win Myint, at the country's presidential palace. The two leaders agreed to hold talks on Saturday to exchange views about bilateral relations and other issues of mutual concern.

During the meeting, Xi thanked the Myanmar government and the people for their warm welcome and said China firmly supports Myanmar in pursuing a development path it chooses on its own.

The state counsellor described Xi's visit as "long expected" by Myanmar, and said it has special importance as the two countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties.

Saying Myanmar highly appreciates and values China's strong support, she said the pauk-phaw friendship between the two countries has been tested by time, and only they themselves understand the essence of the relationship.

China has been Myanmar's good friend, Aung San Suu Kyi said, and her country stands ready to work with China to build a community with a shared future. She added that Xi's visit will move forward bilateral ties to achieve new development.

On Friday, Xi also held talks with U Win Myint and attended a welcoming banquet hosted by him.

The visit is Xi's first overseas trip this year, and is the first visit to Myanmar by a Chinese president after an interval of 19 years. The visit hit the headlines of Myanmar's media and was hailed by local people as a historic trip to consolidate the traditional friendship and intensify bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

The English language newspaper Myanmar Times reported on Friday that the Chinese leader's visit is seen as an attempt to further establish bilateral relations and push ahead the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor concept, as well as other projects under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Hla Kyaw Zaw, an observer of Myanmar-China relations based in Yangon, said Xi's decision to make his first overseas trip of the year to Myanmar demonstrates the importance China attaches to its relationship with the member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Zaw Lin Oo, a Yangon resident, said he heard news that Myanmar and China will sign a number of cooperation agreements during Xi's visit. He expressed hope that the visit will help strengthen bilateral economic collaboration and create more opportunities for young people like him.

May Myat Noe Thu, who worked for the local branch of Yunnan Yuntianhua Co in Myanmar, said this is a good opportunity for Myanmar to be involved in the BRI and boost its development. She said she hopes China will assist in the country's peace process.

President Xi Jinping and Myanmar President U Win Myint pose for photos with performers at the launching ceremony of the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism in Nay Pyi Taw on Friday. It was one of the events held on the first day of Xi's state visit to the country. KUANG LINHUA/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[President says mutual learning will be of benefit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/18/content_37532765.htm China and Myanmar should strengthen mutual learning about each other's civilizations and consolidate their bilateral friendship through jointly hosting a number of celebratory events, President Xi Jinping said on Friday on the first day of his state visit to Myanmar.

He made the remarks during a speech at the launching ceremony of the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism held in the country's capital.

The launching ceremony is an important event that marks the glorious history of friendly communications between the two countries, Xi said, adding that the China-Myanmar friendship is thousands of years old.

The two sides will host a string of events this year to expand exchanges and cooperation on education, religion, media, movies and television. The events are expected to help strengthen public support for China-Myanmar friendship, thus cementing and re-energizing the pauk-phaw friendship, Xi said.

In the local language, pauk-phaw refers to siblings from the same mother. It is a description of the fraternal sentiments between the people of the two countries, whose close ties reach to ancient times.

Noting that China will secure victory on its path of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects this year, Xi said the two countries should enhance practical cooperation to bring more benefits to the people in the new era.

He said uneven and unfair issues remain in international affairs, and China and Myanmar should make joint efforts to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Accompanied by Myanmar President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Xi visited a photo exhibition celebrating the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations before the launching ceremony. The leaders watched a performance by artists of the two countries after the ceremony.

In a statement delivered upon his arrival at Nay Pyi Taw International Airport on Friday afternoon, Xi called China and Myanmar friendly neighbors that are linked by the same mountains and rivers.

]]> 2020-01-18 00:00:00 <![CDATA[China, Vietnam leaders share greetings in call]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532601.htm China and Vietnam should continue to build mutual political trust, maintain their traditional friendship and resolve their differences properly, President Xi Jinping said on Thursday.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remark during a phone call with Vietnam's President Nguyen Phu Trong, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Central Committee.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Vietnam. It's an important year for both countries' socialist causes, Xi said.

He said he was pleased to speak on the call as Spring Festival approaches, as it's a traditional celebration for people in both countries.

He said that he and Trong have stayed in close communication in recent years and have reached important consensuses in the development of ties between the two political parties and countries.

Xi said he is ready to strengthen strategic communication with his Vietnamese counterpart and jointly draw a blueprint to guide the development of China-Vietnam relations in the new era.

Bilateral ties are developing for the better, injecting new momentum into the socialist causes and contributing to peace and development in the region and world, Xi said.

The two countries should push forward their cooperation in a comprehensive way and promote the joint construction of the Belt and Road to help their people enjoy a greater sense of gain and happiness, he added.

The Communist parties of China and Vietnam are the core entities for leading each country's socialist cause, and they play a key and leading role in the development of ties between the two countries, Xi said.

On behalf of the CPC and the people of China, Xi extended congratulations to the CPV and the people of Vietnam on the upcoming 90th anniversary of the CPV's founding.

Trong expressed appreciation for China's long-term support for Vietnam's national liberation and socialist cause. He said Vietnam hopes to strengthen political trust, exchange governing experiences with China, enhance pragmatic cooperation and improve communication and coordination on multilateral occasions.

]]> 2020-01-17 00:00:00 <![CDATA[MUDFLATS DECISION SAFEGUARDS MIGRATORY BIRDS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532660.htm Two years after he retired in 2014, Zhu Xianwen became a wetland protection consultant in a coastal township of Jiangsu province.

Zhu, 65, worked as a fisherman and in fishery management for most of his adult life.

He now promotes the importance of wetland protection for marine and migratory birds among fishermen. To improve conditions for migratory birds, he has even persuaded some of the fishermen to return their ponds to the local government.

Zhu's work coincided with his hometown's inclusion in July as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site-the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China (Phase I).

Until three years ago, he had no idea that the intertidal mudflats near his hometown, Jinggang township in Yancheng, would become one of the core zones of the heritage site.

Zhu said that he knew that the mudflats area facing the Yellow Sea, known locally as Tiaozini, was rich in fish, crabs and clams.

Food has attracted many birds to the area, he said.

However, he never thought that the mudflats would become so important to migratory birds, resulting in their being listed as part of a World Heritage Site.

The Jiangsu provincial government has dropped its ambitious plan to reclaim 66,667 hectares of mudflats in Yancheng, a large part of which overlaps with Tiaozini.

"Being a World Heritage Site will save our mudflats from land reclamation, which in turn will ensure fishermen's livelihoods for generations," Zhu said."To be honest, that's why I am willing to work for the cause of conservation."

Great sacrifices

Yuan Yongjun, deputy director of the city's development and reform commission, said, "To realize Yancheng's commitment to the international community while bidding for the World Heritage Site, the city government has had to make great sacrifices."

He said that in 2010, the city's major strategy was marine economic development. The Tiaozini mudflats in Dongtai, a county-level city in Yancheng, were planned for such development.

"There was to be land for ecological use, for agriculture, for industry and even for a port," he said. "It would come from reclamation of the mudflats."

Wu Qijiang, director of the city's World Heritage Site bidding office, said that under the plan, the main target was the mudflats at Tiaozini, 10 percent of which had been reclaimed in 2012 and 2013, partly for agriculture and aquaculture.

In launching the World Heritage Site application in 2016, Wu said the government had not considered including any part of the Tiaozini area.

Yancheng has two nature reserves-the Dafeng Milu Deer National Nature Reserve and the Yancheng Rare Birds National Nature Reserve. "The two were initially the major areas nominated for the site," Wu said.

Wen Cheng, a member of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration's World Heritage Expert Committee, said two experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature made a field trip to Yancheng in October 2018 and suggested expanding the nominated area for the World Heritage Site to include Tiaozini.

The IUCN is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources.

Since 2017, Wen, who took part in the entire nomination process for the World Heritage Site, has made dozens of field trips to Yancheng.

During the nomination process, he said there had been a noticeable shift in attitude toward conservation policy.

In May 2017, China promulgated its first regulation on coastlines, requiring that at least 35 percent of the total coastline should remain undeveloped until 2020.

In July 2018, the State Oceanic Administration stopped approving reclamation projects, except for those passed by the central government aimed at infrastructure construction, public services and national defense, for the rest of that year.

Against this backdrop, Yancheng announced that the Tiaozini Wetland Park, occupying 12,746 hectares, would be built and that the entire Tiaozini area would be added to the World Heritage Site nomination.

As a result, the Phase I heritage site covers 186,400 hectares, taking in Dongtai, Sheyang county and Dafeng and Tinghu districts.

Yuan, from the Yangcheng development and reform commission, said placing Tiaozini under preservation means it can no longer use encroaching land for economic development.

Land in Yancheng near the Yangtze and Yellow river estuaries, rich in sediment from the two rivers and which took up 582 kilometers of coastline, had continued to encroach toward the Yellow Sea.

This area had expanded by 2,000 to 3,333 hectares a year, Yuan said. But now, as the upstream sections of the rivers have become much cleaner, this encroachment has fallen to about 500 hectares.

"We got the land for nothing," Yuan said. "It had long been considered for economic development. Now, it will become a habitat for birds."

Yu Quansheng, deputy director of Yancheng's nature resources and planning bureau, said many development projects within the heritage site will gradually be ended.

Fishing ponds or farmland rented to individuals or private companies-often by governments at all levels-have to be bought by the authorities even though the leases are not due to expire, including a 533-hectare reservoir in Tinghu district.

"The rent for 1 hectare of water is usually more than 15,000 yuan ($2,156) a year," Yu said. "Some 600 million to 700 million yuan will be needed to buy land in Dafeng and Sheyang. This has become a budgetary burden."

In addition, he said court action has been taken in some cases to obtain land.

Ecological gains

Although Yancheng will experience some economic losses, Wu, from the bidding office, said there are obvious ecological gains.

By placing its mudflats under preservation, China has acquired its first intertidal wetland heritage site.

Due to land reclamation, encroachment of spartina (also known as cord grass), environmental pollution, overfishing and overcultivation, Wu told Global Times that coastal wetland has suffered the most, compared with other types. From 2003 to 2013, China witnessed the loss of 1.3 million hectares of such wetland.

He said that under the original plan, migratory bird sanctuaries included 16 nature reserves in Jiangsu, Shandong, Hebei and Liaoning provinces. However, he said protection measures for many of these reserves have been unsatisfactory and do not meet the requirements for a World Heritage Site.

Although the Phase 1 site includes only two nature reserves in Yancheng, the 186,400-hectare nominated area occupies 42 percent of that planned for the bird sanctuaries. As a result, international experts suggested that Yancheng bid first. It did so and was accepted.

Wu said: "The importance of our wetlands, especially the intertidal mudflats, to migratory birds on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway has been hard to match elsewhere in the country."

The flyway is one of the world's nine leading migratory routes. In the north, it stretches from Siberia in Russia to Alaska, and in the south it encompasses Australia and New Zealand. It passes through 22 countries with some 55 migratory wading bird or shorebird species using it. The total number of birds flying the route is estimated at about 5 million.

Yancheng is in the middle of the flyway. Wu said that every year some 3 million migratory birds, especially shorebirds, make stopovers, breed or spend the winter on wetlands in the area, especially Tiaozini.

Of these birds, more than 80 percent of the world's spoon-billed sandpipers, a critically endangered sparrow-sized shorebird, make stopovers during their migration between their breeding grounds in Siberia and their wintering grounds in the south. "There are only about 200 breeding pairs and 100 of these young birds left in the world," Wu said.

Almost 80 percent of the world's Nordman's greenshanks, another shorebird, use the Tiaozini mudflats as a break during their migration. At least 40 percent of China's wild red-crowned cranes, or more than 200 birds, winter at the Yancheng Rare Birds National Nature Reserve.

A total of 17 species of endangered migratory birds depend on the coastal wetlands to complete their migration."Our wetlands are a 'gas station' for migratory birds," Wu said."They are vital for their survival."

After the bidding success, Wu said Yancheng drafted its three-year (2019-21) plan for sustainable development of the heritage site.

A wetland research institute and a museum are being built; ecotourism projects have been launched; some reclaimed land for economic use will be returned to nature or left for restoration; and an international wetland conference and a bird race will be held annually.

Yu, from the nature resources and planning bureau, said regulations on Yellow Sea wetland conservation, approved by the authorities in Jiangsu, have been implemented since Sept 1. "This provides legal support for our management of the heritage site," he added.

In Jinggang township, the local government is spending about 60 million yuan on a project to return fish ponds to the wetlands. As a result Zhu, the consultant, is busy with his work persuading fishermen to return their ponds to nature.

He said that this is not too difficult, because the fishermen know the land they return will be used for conservation, not for any other economic development projects.

"Conservation suits them," Zhu said. "If they knew the land would be used for a chemical plant, believe me, the fishermen could turn very nasty."

A flock of red-crowned cranes gather in a field in the Yancheng Rare Birds National Nature Reserve. CHEN GUOYUAN/FOR CHINA DAILY
2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[CPC leadership highlights key role of Party building, inspections]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532658.htm The importance of enhancing Party building and opposing formalism and bureaucracy were highlighted at a key meeting attended by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on Thursday.

Xi, who is also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, presided over the meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

The meeting was held to review a report from the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau on its hearing and studying of reports from leading Party members' groups of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the State Council, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the Supreme People's Court, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee.

The meeting also reviewed two reports on the fourth round of disciplinary inspections launched by the 19th CPC Central Committee and the major inspection work in the past year.

During the meeting, the leading Party members' groups of the top legislature, the State Council, the top political advisory body, the top court and the top procuratorate were urged to follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and make effective efforts in all their work.

They were required to keep pace with the CPC Central Committee, focus on the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, fulfill their duties and ensure the implementation of the policies and decisions made by the CPC Central Committee.

They were also required to make Party building their top priority, implement the eight rules on frugality, strengthen thematic education on remaining true to the Party's original aspiration and keep their mission firmly in mind and to continue to oppose formalism and bureaucracy.

The fourth round of disciplinary inspections has achieved major outcomes and played the role of political supervision, according to a statement released after the meeting.

The related departments should rectify the problems found by the inspectors and enhance daily supervision, and this rectification would be an important way of evaluating the officials' work, the statement said.

The central and State institutions should take the lead in enhancing Party building, implement the policies of the CPC Central Committee, continue to resolutely fight corruption and enhance supervision over the exercise of power, it said.

2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Millennia-old relations with Myanmar 'enter new era']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532652.htm President Xi Jinping said he looks forward to renewing China's close ties with Myanmar and discussing future cooperation during a trip to the Southeast Asian country starting on Friday.

He made the remark in a signed article titled "Writing a New Chapter in Our Millennia-Old Pauk-Phaw Friendship", published on Thursday in Myanmar newspapers ahead of his two-day state visit.

Pauk-phaw, which means siblings from the same mother in the Myanmar language, "is an apt description of the fraternal sentiments between our two peoples, whose close ties date back to ancient times", Xi said.

Myanmar was among the first countries with a different social system to recognize the People's Republic of China after its founding in 1949.

Xi said that the elder statesmen of the two countries have since made enormous efforts to develop China-Myanmar relations.

"Our relationship has been marked by mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual support. It has become a prime example of equality, win-win cooperation and common development between countries of different sizes," he wrote, noting that the close ties have delivered real benefits to people in both countries.

China has long been Myanmar's largest trading partner and its most important source of investment. Bilateral trade reached $16.8 billion in the first 11 months of 2019.

According to Xi, more and more agricultural and livestock products from Myanmar are making their way to Chinese kitchens, with fruitful cooperation taking place in infrastructure construction and many other fields.

The vibrant cultural, religious and personnel exchanges provide solid support for deepening the friendship between the two nations, he added.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations, Xi said it is important that the two countries carry forward their traditional friendship and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation to bring this relationship into a new era.

He called on the two sides to continue to harness the vital role of high-level exchanges in guiding their relations, step up communication and coordination at all levels and share development experience.

"It is important that we continue to show strong mutual support on issues concerning each other's core interests," Xi said.

China supports Myanmar in advancing the peace and reconciliation process through political dialogue, he said, asking the two sides to work together to ensure peace and stability along the border.

Xi proposed that two sides deepen results-oriented Belt and Road cooperation and move from a conceptual stage to concrete planning and implementation in building the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

"We also need to deepen practical and mutually beneficial cooperation in such areas as connectivity, electricity, energy, transportation, agriculture, finance and livelihood to deliver more benefits to both peoples," he wrote.

China and Myanmar have designated 2020 as the China-Myanmar Year of Culture and Tourism.

"Myanmar's charming natural scenery and fascinating cultural heritage will surely attract more and more Chinese tourists," Xi wrote.

Confronted by rising unilateralism and protectionism, the president said the two countries need to strengthen coordination and collaboration in the multilateral platforms, such as in the United Nations and within the framework of East Asia cooperation and Lancang-Mekong cooperation.

"Let us work hand in hand to build an even closer China-Myanmar community with a shared future and write a new chapter for our millennia-old pauk-phaw friendship," he wrote.

2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Documentary about country makes big impression]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532606.htm The Myanmar version of China: Time of Xi, a documentary about China's governance, was introduced on Thursday in Yangon ahead of President Xi Jinping's state visit to the country.

Speaking at a ceremony marking its release, Xu Lin, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and minister of the State Council Information Office, said the documentary will help the people of Myanmar learn more about China's governance under the leadership of Xi and about the country's development experience.

The documentary was a hit in China and abroad after being broadcast on several global media platforms. It will be broadcast on Myanmar's Skynet TV from Thursday to Saturday.

The documentary comes to Myanmar as the two countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties this year. Its release was timed to coincide with Xi's state visit on Friday, Xu said.

Characterizing the documentary as highly significant in bilateral relations, he said it will further enhance people-to-people bonds.

Xu called on the two countries to step up their efforts to strengthen synergies in their development strategies by jointly building the Belt and Road and intensifying pragmatic cooperation in various fields that will push the comprehensive strategic partnership to a higher level.

More than 100 officials from China and Myanmar attended the ceremony, along with media representatives.

The three-episode documentary, which presents Xi's vision of governance, was jointly presented by the China Intercontinental Communication Center and the Discovery Channel from the United States. It uses vivid stories to explain practices and achievements in the governance of China under Xi's leadership and provides deep insights about China's development path. And it shows why China is an inspiration to the world.

The first episode, The People's Republic, features stories about poverty reduction, healthcare reform, construction of high-speed trains and various other fields that relate to people's everyday life.

The second episode, Running China Now, presents case studies on China's supply-side reform, technical innovation and pollution management, among other endeavors the country is undertaking on the domestic front.

The final episode, All Aboard, features China's major global initiatives and undertakings.

The documentary includes interviews with a panel of experts and scholars, including former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; US scholar Robert Kuhn; British scholar Martin Jacques; Zheng Yongnian, director of the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore; and Zambian economist Dambisa Moyo.

Kyaw Win, chairman of Shwe Than Lwin Media Co, said at the ceremony that he was impressed by China's poverty reduction and its efforts to fight corruption. Myanmar can learn from China's governance experience, as it deals with similar problems, he said.

Kyaw Win also called for media cooperation to promote cultural and people-to-people exchanges.

During media exchanges, representatives of Chinese and Myanmar outlets held a roundtable discussing bilateral cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative on Wednesday.

A book of Xi's remarks on the BRI was introduced at the meeting.

A band performs at a hall in Yangon, Myanmar, on Wednesday, where an exhibition of around 100 photos from China and Myanmar featured the natural scenery, history, culture and folk customs of the two countries. Pictures illustrating economic and trade exchanges were also on display. DU YU/XINHUA
2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[More US agricultural products on way]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532623.htm More agricultural products imported from the United States will help meet demand from Chinese consumers and promote supply-side structural reform in the agricultural sector, experts said on Thursday.

Their analysis followed the signing of the phase-one China-US trade agreement on Wednesday in Washington, winding down a 22-month trade dispute between the world's two biggest economies.

Under the agreement, China will purchase more US agricultural products, including beef, pork, wheat, dairy, rice and aquatic products, from now until the end of 2021. The US will allow Chinese agricultural products, such as fragrant pears, citrus and jujube, to enter the US market.

These moves could create more space for both sides to enlarge trade volume with even more agricultural products in the next stage if the terms on the agreement can be smoothly implemented, said Cheng Dawei, professor of international trade at Renmin University of China's School of Economics.

The US and China are complementary in the agricultural sector. Increasing domestic demand for high-quality products and the Chinese people's diverse dietary habits will ensure the country can absorb the increased US imports, Cheng said, adding that the agreed purchases are based on changing domestic conditions.

Although Sino-US trade fell by 10.7 percent to 3.73 trillion yuan ($542.13 billion) in 2019 because of the trade tussle, China's imports from the US recovered some lost ground in the final two months of last year. US shipments to China rose 9.1 percent year-on-year to 78.83 billion yuan in December, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Agricultural products coming from the US to China reached 14.1 billion yuan last month, a surge of 200 percent year-on-year, the GAC said.

The trade deal with the US will not adversely affect the Chinese economy because China has pledged to further promote its domestic economic development based on mutual benefit, said Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

He stressed that the additional imports of US agricultural products must be based on market demand and World Trade Organization rules. The prices of those US products should be competitive and meet the quality and safety standards required by the Chinese authorities.

If US companies want to increase their market share in China, they must improve the competitiveness of their products, Mei said, adding that it is advisable for them to enter into more partnerships with domestic companies in the processing and retail sectors to boost their understanding of the local market, Mei said.

2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Trade pact 'good for China, US, world']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532614.htm The signing of the China-US phase-one trade pact, which has both economic and political significance, will bolster the world economy, while the top priority is ensuring its efficient implementation, officials and analysts said.

Vice-Premier Liu He said the China-US phase-one economic and trade agreement bears economic and political significance and addresses the key concerns of both sides.

The deal has injected positive energy into the stability and development of the world economy, Liu said on Wednesday after signing the pact with US President Donald Trump in the White House.

As the world's two largest economies and two major countries with great responsibilities in international affairs, China and the United States have reached the deal "with the big picture in mind", Liu said at a briefing with Chinese media after the deal was signed.

In a message delivered at the deal-signing ceremony, President Xi Jinping said the conclusion of the phase-one economic and trade agreement is good for China, the US and the entire world.

"It also shows that our two countries have the ability to act on the basis of equality and mutual respect, and work through dialogue and consultation to properly handle and effectively resolve relevant issues," he said in the message.

In the next step, the two sides need to implement the agreement in earnest and optimize its positive impact, in order to make even greater progress in China-US trade and economic cooperation, Xi said.

After the signing of the deal, Wall Street finished Wednesday's session higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 90.55 points, or 0.31 percent, to 29,030. The S&P 500 grew 0.19 percent.

Asian markets finished mixed. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.38 percent, Japan's Nikkei 225 climbed 0.07 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.52 percent.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said it is imperative for China and the US to work together, adhere to the principles of equality and mutual respect and strictly abide by the agreement.

Both sides need to take care of each other's core concerns and strive to implement the first phase of the agreement, which is important for the future development of China-US economic and trade relations, Geng said.

Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said: "The deal signing itself means much more than the content. It shows that China and the US-two countries with different political, economic systems and in different stages of development-are able to find a solution when conflicts occur."

"The resolution of the nearly two-year China-US tensions also set a good example for other countries to solve their potential disputes," Wei said.

There is still a "long way to go" for the two countries to further improve their economic and trade relations, Wei added, noting the top priority should be effective implementation of the deal.

Derek Chan, president of the North China Committee of professional accounting organization CPA Australia, said the conclusion of the initial accord will help strengthen confidence in global trade and investment.

A stable economic growth rate of around 6 percent in 2020 and high-quality growth driven by investment in emerging technologies will see China remain a key driver of growth, Chan said.

China's gross domestic product is estimated to expand over 6 percent in 2019, and the January data also points to a better-than-expected economic outlook, Vice-Premier Liu said on Wednesday.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Vice-Premier Liu He and United States President Donald Trump shake hands after signing the China-US phase-one trade deal at the White House on Wednesday. WANG YING/XINHUA ]]>
2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Wuhan in all-out effort to curb outbreak of virus]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532613.htm Authorities in Wuhan, Hubei province, have intensified efforts to prevent the spread of a virus that has caused a pneumonia outbreak in the city, resulting in one death so far.

Outside China, a second case linked to the virus has been reported in Japan, following a case in Thailand.

All outbound travelers from Terminal 3 of Wuhan Tianhe International Airport, a major airport in Central China, have had to receive temperature tests before boarding flights since Wednesday, and those displaying fever symptoms are quarantined, the airport authority said on Thursday.

The airport authority said it had requested airlines to cooperate with affected travelers in refunding or changing tickets for free.

At Wuhan Railway Station, employees told China Daily on Thursday that they had received notification from the authorities to start checking travelers' temperatures.

In the waiting room of Wuchang Railway Station, another major railway station in the city, medical services were provided to passengers in need on Thursday.

Forty-one confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by a new coronavirus had been reported in the city as of Wednesday night, including seven people who were cured and discharged from the hospital, six still in critical condition and one death, according to the Wuhan Health Commission.

The city authorities had traced 763 people who had close contact with the patients as of Wednesday night, and 313 of them were still under medical observation. Observation of the others had been discontinued, the commission said, adding that it has intensified monitoring and search efforts in hospitals and clinics across the city to identify suspected cases.

People confirmed to have the illness mostly displayed symptoms of fever and coughing at the early stage of the disease, it said.

Although investigations have shown no clear evidence that the new coronavirus can be transmitted between human beings, the possibility of human-to-human transmission cannot be ruled out, it said earlier.

Japan confirmed its first case of the virus, public broadcaster NHK reported on Thursday, quoting officials from Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. The man was released from a hospital after his condition improved, and no related sickness has been found in his family or among the medical staff who treated him, the report said.

Earlier this week, the World Health Organization urged all countries to intensify monitoring and preparedness following the confirmation of the first case of the virus outside China.

"The possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected," it said in a statement following the case in Thailand.

The US State Department issued a health alert update on Wednesday about travel to the Wuhan area. It referenced a Watch Level 1 Alert by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urged people traveling in the region to avoid contact with animals, animal markets and animal products, among other precautions, Reuters reported.

Thai health authorities said on Wednesday they were stepping up monitoring of passengers arriving at airports ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, when 800,000 Chinese tourists are expected to visit the country, the report said.

China's National Health Commission and the WHO did not respond to questions from China Daily on Thursday.

Wang Yuedan, an immunology professor at Peking University's Health Science Center, said he thought the virus would not spread globally to any great extent, due to the limited capacity of its human-to-human transmission.

In addition, the disease control and prevention measures taken by the authorities in Wuhan, such as temporary quarantines of people who have had close contact with patients, are very strict, and a pandemic similar to the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003 is unlikely, he said.

2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Phase-one deal accelerates opening-up of financial service sector]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532612.htm China and the United States pledged in their phase-one trade agreement on Wednesday to accelerate two-way opening of the financial service sector and expand market access for each other's companies-a move that is mutually beneficial and in line with China's objectives, analysts said on Thursday.

The countries agreed to provide fair, effective and nondiscriminatory market access for each other's financial companies in sectors such as banking, securities, insurance, futures, asset management, electronic payments and credit rating.

They also reached consensus on macroeconomic policies and exchange rates, recognizing that strong fundamentals, sound policies and a resilient international monetary system are essential to exchange rate stability. Stability, in turn, leads to strong and sustainable growth and investment.

The People's Bank of China, the central bank, said in a statement that the agreement reflected the progress China has made to actively push an orderly opening-up of the financial sector, which helps the competitiveness and resilience of the Chinese financial system and will boost China-US cooperation.

Dong Yan, a research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics, noted that financial opening is an established national policy. The country has adopted a fresh round of liberalizing measures that largely reflect the content of the agreement on financial services.

"The opening of the financial service sector will be mutually beneficial. The agreement included commitments from both China and the US. It will also enable Chinese financial institutions to go abroad and carry out business in the US market," Dong said.

Under the agreement, China will eliminate foreign equity limits in securities, fund management and futures, as well as in the life insurance, pension and health insurance sectors, no later than April 1. The country will also grant US companies greater market access in the areas of credit rating services, electronic payments and management of debt distress.

Meanwhile, the US affirmed in the agreement that it will expeditiously consider pending requests by Chinese financial institutions, including CITIC Group, China International Capital Corp and China Reinsurance Group.

Dong said that further financial opening will not likely have a negative effect on China's financial security, as it will focus mainly on business cooperation. Chinese regulators will continue to improve their capabilities and make them compatible with the level of opening.

Li Chao, chief researcher of macroeconomy at Huatai Securities, said one highlight of the China-US agreement is the opening-up of the electronic payment sector. It signals that US companies such as Visa and MasterCard will take a step forward in China's vast payment market, Li said in a research note.

In the agreement, the US also promised to give nondiscriminatory treatment to Chinese electronic payment service suppliers, such as UnionPay.

The phase one trade agreement and the bilateral commitment to further liberalize the financial industry have boosted corporate confidence.

"We are encouraged that the United States and China are making progress in addressing the trade concerns that exist between the two countries," American Express said in a written note.

The US company is waiting for the regulatory approval for its Chinese joint venture to start the clearing and settlement business in China.

Jiang Xueqing and Chen Jia contributed to this story.

2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Freelance photographer sees ray of light in the gloom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/17/content_37532651.htm After hearing that an area in Jiangsu province had been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July, 57-year-old Li Dongming couldn't sleep until the small hours.

The freelance photographer was excited to hear that the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the Coast of Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf (Phase I) had been awarded the honor.

The area was listed as a World Heriatge Site in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan.

"As a bird photographer and conservationist, I feel that 2019 was my best year to date because of this decision," he said.

Li, who lives in Dafeng district, Yancheng, Jiangsu, began taking pictures of birds 10 years ago. Two years later, he said he saw his first spoon-billed sandpiper, a shorebird known for its flattened bill that flares into the shape of a spoon at the tip. Knowing that the species was critically endangered, he started to focus on it exclusively.

At first, he drove 160 kilometers to Xiao Yangkou in Rudong, Jiangsu, to see the birds.

This small port north of the Yangtze River estuary on the southernmost reach of the Yellow Sea was known for its rich intertidal mudflats stretching for some 250 kms.

During a five-day survey in October 2013, water bird experts recorded at least 140 spoon-billed sandpipers along 120 km of coastline near Rudong.

However, Li said the mudflats at the site virtually disappeared during the next two years. "Pollution from chemical plants, along with land reclamation and the spread of spartina (also known as cord grass) are some of the reasons," he said.

At Tiaozini in Dongtai, Yancheng, researchers and bird watchers found spoon-billed sandpipers.

During the migration season from March to November, Li drives 100 km from his home to see these birds.

"I go almost every day during the season to count and take pictures of them," he said. He once saw more than 20 spoon-billed sandpipers on one patch of the mudflats. The highest count by experts is nearly 200.

To get good photographs of the birds, he often has to walk 4 or 5 km across the mudflats.

Over the years at Tiaozini, he has photographed more than 200 types of bird, including about 50 species of shorebird. He has also joined several nonprofit grassroots conservation organizations, such as the Tiaozini Loving Bird Society, to advocate protecting the area and the birds there.

"Along the provincial highway, only an 85-km stretch of coastline, mainly in Dongtai, is free of chemical plants," Li said. "There are such plants in the north and south, so the shorebirds now mainly gather at Tiaozini. The loss of habitat has been rapid, and the future for these birds is gloomy."

That was why he was so excited that Tiaozini had been included as part of the World Heritage Site.

"I saw this as a ray of light in the gloom," he said.

Li Dongming takes photos of shorebirds on the intertidal mudflats at Tiaozini. CHINA DAILY
2020-01-17 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Premier vows steps on taxes, expenditure]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532429.htm Premier Li Keqiang pledged greater strides on Wednesday in cutting taxes and reducing government expenditure as a key part of proactive fiscal policies this year to lift market expectations and keep major economic indicators within an appropriate range.

Li's remarks came as he presided over a State Council meeting that solicited suggestions from economists and business leaders on the annual Government Work Report to be delivered in March.

The premier said China could be faced with an even more complicated and challenging domestic and international environment this year, and more targeted policies and measures must be adopted to cope with the challenges.

The government must further tighten its belt and cut its normal expenditure, especially administrative expenses, by a large margin, to ensure that systematic tax cuts can be fully implemented and the basic public livelihood can be ensured.

He underlined the importance of maintaining reasonably sufficient liquidity during the implementation of a prudent monetary policy, with stronger measures to improve its transmission mechanism, so that the financing difficulties faced by small and medium-sized enterprises can be effectively alleviated.

The government will continue with an employment-focused policy and prioritize efforts to expand channels for job creation and support flexible employment, he said.

The government must minimize its direct intervention in the market to provide a more enabling environment for business operations and to create more businesses, he said, adding that market players have a key role to play in withstanding the downward pressure on the economy.

The premier also highlighted the significance of further tapping the potential of domestic consumption and giving play to the strength of China's vast domestic market.

He urged proactive efforts to develop community services such as elder care and day care for infants, and to strengthen weak areas in infrastructure and urban facilities.

It is also important to move forward with the renovation of old residential communities to expand effective investment and harness the momentum of growth, he said.

Among the attendees were Gao Peiyong, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and Lei Jun, founder and CEO of Xiaomi Corp.

Gao urged the government to make its cuts in expenditure part of its institutional arrangement, while Lei called upon the authorities to scale up measures to attract foreign professionals to work in China.


2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China, US ink initial accord to ease trade]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532485.htm The United States and China signed the long-awaited phase-one trade deal at the White House on Thursday morning Beijing time, capping a bruising battle that had lasted nearly two years.

The signing signaled a thaw in economic and trade relations between the world's two largest economies.

The deal, agreed to in mid-December after a dozen rounds of negotiations led by China's top trade negotiator and Vice-Premier Liu He and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, was finally closed at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House that was attended by leading US officials and about 200 representatives of business, government and diplomatic circles.

The trade truce came 22 months after tensions flared between the world's top two economies in March 2018. It is widely expected to reduce the uncertainties that have dampened the business investment mood in both countries and around the world.

The signing of the phase-one deal will be beneficial to both countries and help bolster the global economy, analysts said. They also urged that concerted efforts be made to resolve potential uncertainties in the future.

Wei Jianguo, vice-president of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges in Beijing, said, "The conclusion of the pact benefits consumers and companies in both China and the US, and it will help restore confidence in the foundering world economy."

The deal proves that the two economies complement each other and that cooperation is the best choice for them, he said.

Looking ahead, it may be inevitable that China and the US will "step on each other's feet", but the conclusion of the phase-one deal will lead to dialogue in more fields and at deeper levels, Wei said.

Liu Liu, a macroeconomics researcher at China International Capital Corp, a leading investment banking firm, said that because the pact was concluded, "trade between China and the US will pick up".

"In general, the easing of Sino-US trade frictions will reduce external uncertainties and benefit global trade and the world economy," Liu said.

Consumer demand is expected to improve at home and abroad this year, along with trade growth, while the exchange rate of the yuan will have more support from improving fundamentals, he said.

Between November and December, growth of China's imports from the US recovered to some extent. US shipments to China rose by 9.1 percent year-on-year to reach 78.83 billion yuan ($11.44 billion) in December.

Exports of US agricultural products to China reached 14.1 billion yuan last month, climbing 200 percent year-on-year. In the same month, China imported 23,000 automobiles from the US, up 150 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Bi Jiyao, deputy director of the Academy of Macroeconomic Research of the National Development and Reform Commission, said potential challenges persist this year, and coping with them will require more effort.

Also, protectionism may reignite, which, together with pending reforms of the World Trade Organization, will make it difficult for companies worldwide to make long-term investments, Bi said.

On Tuesday, before the signing of the deal, Vice-Premier Liu He said that Beijing and Washington will work together to obtain tangible results going forward, according to Xinhua.

Liu told International Monetary Fund President Kristalina Georgieva and some US representatives during a meeting in Washington that the deal would benefit both countries and the world.

Liu also said China and the US can work together in a win-win relationship despite differences in their political and economic models.


2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Official calls one-China principle key for Taiwan]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532484.htm The one-China principle is the unshakable foundation for the relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said on Wednesday.

Ma was responding to Tsai Ingwen, who spoke after her reelection on Saturday as Taiwan's leader. She said that "peace, parity, democracy and dialogue are the key to positive cross-Straits interactions and long-term stable development".

Tsai, who heads the Democratic Progressive Party, said the four words mean that the mainland should abandon threats of force against Taiwan and accept Taiwan's existence. She said the future of Taiwan must be decided by its people, and both sides of the Straits must be able to discuss future development.

Ma said that "the future of Taiwan lies in national reunification".

"The well-being of Taiwan compatriots depends on national rejuvenation," he said. "Taiwan belongs to all the Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots, and Taiwan's future will be decided by all the Chinese people."

Ma said the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the principle of one China, is the unshakable foundation for the peace and stability of cross-Straits relations, and shaking it is more difficult than shaking a mountain.

He said forces seeking "Taiwan independence" are the biggest threat to peace and stability and that they imperil the well-being of all compatriots on both sides.

Ma said the DPP authorities have refused to recognize the 1992 Consensus since they took office in 2016. They have undermined the common political basis for the development of cross-Straits relations, supported Taiwan separatists, relied on foreign forces to build themselves up and opposed the mainland by blatantly provoking cross-Straits hostility.

He added that these are the fundamental causes of the deterioration of relations and the suspension of dialogue, and they have made the situation more complicated.

"The election does not change the fact that Taiwan is part of China," Ma said, adding that policies toward Taiwan will not change. Only by adhering to the consensus will the interests and welfare of Taiwan compatriots be enhanced, he said.

"National reunification is a trend that cannot be stopped by anyone or any force. We have the will, confidence and ability to thwart any form of independence and will never allow anyone, any group or any political party to separate Taiwan from China-not at any time or in any form," he said.

Ni Yongjie, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies, said Tsai's election victory means she will continue to confront the mainland or even create conditions for decoupling, which is definitely not good for cross-Straits relations.

"We should not underestimate our Taiwan compatriots," he said, because a large number of people support parties that favor peace and stability.

Cross-Straits relations will not make positive progress politically with Tsai at the helm, he said, but exchanges between people and cities will not be hindered and are likely to increase.

"We should not underestimate Taiwan people's need for better cross-Straits relations, nor the impact of the mainland's preferential policies toward Taiwan or the efforts made by mainland people," he said.


2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Liaison office chief outlines key tasks for HK]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532483.htm The new director of the central government's Liaison Office in Hong Kong said on Wednesday that ending violence and chaos remains the most pressing task for Hong Kong, appealing to the whole community to cherish Hong Kong and uphold the "one country, two systems" principle.

"Given the current situation in Hong Kong, I want to say that ending violence and chaos and restoring social order still remain the most pressing task for Hong Kong," said Luo Huining, the new director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

"I also want to say that treasuring Hong Kong, our home, is a shared view, expectation and responsibility of all who truly care for and cherish Hong Kong," he added.

Luo made the remarks at the annual Spring Festival reception held by the liaison office in Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center and attended by around 4,000 guests including representatives of the central government and the HKSAR government, foreign diplomatic missions and various sectors of Hong Kong society.

Pointing out that Hong Kong has not completely emerged from its predicament of prolonged social unrest, which has brought Hong Kong's economy into a recession and severely affected residents' lives, Luo called on the whole community to cherish their home by making the best use of "one country, two systems", upholding the core values of the rule of law and civilized society, and realizing the aspiration of prosperity and development.

"Despite our differences in political views, all should agree that recognizing the 'one country' and cherishing the 'two systems' will be key to securing Hong Kong people's livelihood as well as the region's future," he said.

"Overstepping the bottom line of the rule of law as well as the civilized society will only lead to disastrous damage to society," he said, urging people who love the country and Hong Kong to work in unity. He also called on Hong Kong's 180,000 civil servants to fulfill their responsibilities, and all sectors of society to make joint efforts to firmly uphold the core values of the rule of law and resolutely support the HKSAR government in its effective administration in accordance with the law.


Luo Huining (2nd from left), the new director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, toasts with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor (center) and other dignitaries during the Spring Festival reception hosted by the Liaison Office at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center on Wednesday. CALVIN NG/CHINA DAILY



2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Wuhan enhances virus monitoring]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532444.htm The possibility of human-to-human transmission of a new virus that has caused 41 pneumonia cases in Wuhan, Hubei province, cannot be ruled out, although the risk of widespread transmission between humans is low, local authorities said on Wednesday.

Authorities in the capital of the province have intensified monitoring and search efforts in hospitals and clinics across the city to identify suspected cases, Wuhan Health Commission said in a statement released early on Wednesday.

Investigations have uncovered no clear evidence that the new coronavirus could be transmitted between human beings, and experts are conducting further research into the virus, the statement said.

Most of the 41 confirmed cases occurred in males and middle-aged or elderly people. Symptoms mostly seen in the early stage of the disease are fever and coughing, and those patients in serious condition are mostly elderly or those with other diseases, the commission said.

One of the cases involved a man employed at a seafood market in the city. His wife, who got sick following him, denied having been to the market, the commission said. Local authorities closed the market, a suspected source of the outbreak after reports of the outbreak last month.

A Wuhan resident was diagnosed with the virus in Thailand and is in a stable condition, and authorities in the city have put all people who have had close contact with the patient under observation, and no abnormalities have been found, the commission said.

As of Tuesday night, seven people confirmed to have been ill from the virus had been cured and released from the hospital, six in critical condition, one had died and the remainder were in stable condition. All the patients under treatment were in designated medical institutions in the city and quarantine measures had been taken, the commission said on Tuesday night.

Close contact

Also as of Tuesday night, the city had tracked 763 people who had close contact with patients, such as cohabitants and medical workers who did not take effective precautions when giving them diagnosis and treatment. The medical observation had been terminated with 450 of them, and the remaining 313 were still under observation. None had been found to be infected, the commission said.

The outbreak was first reported last month in Wuhan. Researchers said last week that the outbreak was caused by a new coronavirus and ruled out that it was a new SARS-severe acute respiratory syndrome-outbreak.

Measures recommended by the World Health Organization to prevent spread of the infection include regular hand washing, covering the mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs, and avoiding close contact with anyone showing respiratory illness symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.

Investigations continue

The WHO said in a statement on Monday that after the recent case in Thailand, "the possibility of cases being identified in other countries was not unexpected", adding that active monitoring and preparedness in other countries are needed.

"The genetic sequencing shared by China enables more countries to rapidly diagnose patients," it said. The WHO said it was essential that investigations continue in China to identify the source of the outbreak and any animal reservoirs or intermediate hosts.

Wang Yuedan, an immunology professor at Peking University's Health Science Center, said despite the possibility of limited human-to-human transmission of the new virus, large-scale spreading of the disease is unlikely.

"The existing control and prevention measures adopted by health authorities are very strict," he said. "Local authorities quarantined people who had close contact with the patients from the start, which guards against the risks of human-to-human transmission."

"I think the risk of the disease spreading is controllable and chances of massive, worldwide spread are not high."


2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Anti-graft body to focus on livelihoods]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532460.htm China's top anti-graft watchdog will step up supervision in areas related to people's livelihoods this year, especially poverty reduction tasks, to ensure victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, defeating serious poverty, according to an official communique.

The top disciplinary body adopted the new emphasis on Wednesday, vowing to achieve a high standard of intra-Party and State supervision to boost the country's governance system.

The communique was adopted during the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which was held in Beijing from Monday to Wednesday.

President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, addressed the session on Monday. He stressed strengthening inspections and supervision of the exercise of power and demanded strict governance of the Party.

He also emphasized upholding and improving Party and State supervisory systems and said the effort would ensure that the Party line and policies are faithfully followed. This will provide a strong guarantee for a more prosperous society and the fight against poverty, he said.

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

"Strict" governance of the Party must be maintained for a long time, the communique said, describing a system under which officials "don't dare to, are unable to and have no desire to commit acts of corruption". That must be advanced as a whole, it said.

Disciplinary inspection and supervisory organs at all levels should focus on addressing prominent problems that have aroused strong public concern and help promote the fight against poverty, it said.

More inspections will scrutinize performance in poverty alleviation work, the continuity and stability of poverty relief policies and the work to come after anti-poverty goals have been achieved, the communique said.

Officials who fake poverty alleviation data, embezzle public property or make use of their position to gain benefits for their relatives and friends, should be held accountable and punished severely, the communique added.

Attendees agreed. Feng Zhili, the top disciplinary inspection official in Yunnan province, said scrutiny of the performance of Party committees and governments at all levels in poverty alleviation should be enhanced, with a focus on the problem of ignoring the Party's political disciplinary rules.

Disciplinary departments should carry out their supervision responsibility, and those who fail to fulfill it should be held accountable when violations occur, he said.

Wang Lishan, the top disciplinary inspection official in Hubei province, said, "To effectively address the practice of bureaucratism and formalism in the fight against poverty, we must mobilize the public to supervise the work because they see clearly and have deep feelings about such issues."

Xia Hongmin, the top disciplinary inspection official in Guizhou province, said discipline inspection efforts will be made in areas that are directly related to people's well-being, including education, medical care and employment to increase residents' sense of happiness.

The session also concluded that accurate investigations should be carried out to discover and punish officials who provide protection for criminal gangs and otherwise solve problems in ways that harm people's interests, the communique said.

Deepening reforms in the disciplinary inspection and supervisory systems through building a qualified team of discipline inspectors who are loyal, upright and have a high sense of responsibility was also listed as a goal in the communique.

Xinhua contributed to this story.


2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[A history lesson from Hungary helps widen knowledge]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532459.htm When introducing wine from the Tokaj region of Hungary, David Varga-Sabjan always starts with a history lesson.

He tells his audience that Tokaj wine has been made for 500 years and over the centuries it has been favored by European kings, emperors and great artists.

"Today, more and more customers choose a certain wine because of its history and the winemaker responsible for the product," said Varga-Sabjan, who heads the Hungarian Federation of Winecraftsmen's China office. "I am sure that once anyone hears about the history of Tokaj wines, they will start planning a visit to the area."

At a recent dinner in Beijing, he presented eight bottles of Tokaj wine to Chinese wine industry insiders and enthusiasts. A Hungarian state-certified course aimed at introducing Chinese wine drinkers to Tokaj wines was also announced.

Zhu Yong, a principal at consultancy Roland Berger China, said more overseas brands and wine masters are arriving in China, as they view the great potential of the country's market.

"More wine-producing areas are promoting their unique products and offering specific education to industry insiders and wine lovers, to educate the Chinese market about wine and to attract buyers," he said.

The Tokaj Wine Region of Hungary is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Varga-Sabjan said that in recent years, wines from the area have reached a growing number of Chinese buyers. However, without understanding the rich culture and long history behind these products, many people do not know how to enjoy the wine properly, or how to pair it with food.

The wine course, which will be staged by the Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting School in Beijing, with support from the Hungarian state-owned Grand Tokaj winery, will offer training for Chinese wine experts and enthusiasts.

Gergely Goreczky, CEO of Grand Tokaj, said it will be the first Hungarian wine course to be backed by the Tokaj Wine Region Assembly. It will start early next year and it is planned to expand the course to other major Chinese cities.

Xu Wei, founder of the Xiaopi Wine School in Shanghai, said that with consumption upgrading, Chinese consumers are not only buying wine, but are also attracted by its cultural elements.

He said the school is working with brands and industry associations from the Bordeaux wine region in France, to offer instruction related to wine produced in the province.

"We have held nearly 30 training conferences in 20 cities across China," he said.

Participants were offered the chance to taste different types of Bordeaux wine and ask questions related to the region.

This year, French wine producer Domaine Baron de Rothschild de Lafite designed a course with Xu's training school to introduce Chinese audiences to wine from the producer's eight vineyards, which proved highly popular, he said.

Fongyee Walker, who founded the Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting School in Beijing in 2007, said that each time she visits a wine-producing region, she thinks about developing a course on that specific area, as more Chinese consumers are looking for detailed knowledge about wine from a particular locality.

Consumers are also becoming increasingly interested in wines produced domestically, such as those from Shandong province, and the Ningxia Hui and Xinjiang Uygur autonomous regions, she said.

Despite consumers' desire to broaden their knowledge of wine, it is important that they treat different producing regions with an open mind. She has noticed that sometimes instructors and their pupils jump to conclusions in pronouncing that one type of wine is better than another.


2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[More integration seen for centrally administered SOEs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532458.htm China will push "targeted integration" in its centrally administered State-owned enterprises this year to improve their efficiency and encourage qualified SOEs to go public, the country's top State assets regulator said on Wednesday.

Peng Huagang, secretary-general of the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, said the authorities will accelerate the pace of integration in areas of equipment manufacturing, chemicals, maritime engineering, and overseas oil and gas assets this year to enhance the earning capabilities of SOEs.

To improve the efficiency of State capital, China has reorganized 41 central SOEs since 2012, including the merger of China State Shipbuilding Corp and China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, and the structural reorganization of China Poly Group Corp and China Silk Corp.

The country will continue to spin off a number of SOE subsidiaries that lose money, as well as non-primary businesses. And it will further cut the administrative functions of centrally governed SOEs, Peng said.

Thanks to progress of mixed-ownership reforms in China and the reorganization and asset securitization of State capital, the country's central SOEs reported faster profit growth with lower debt-to-asset ratios last year compared with 2018, the SASAC reported on Wednesday.

Net profits at China's central SOEs amounted to 1.3 trillion yuan ($188.6 billion) last year, jumping 10.8 percent year-on-year.

Peng said the growth rate had picked up steadily in the second half of the year, and the SOE target of "ensuring 7 percent year-on-year growth while striving for 9 percent" was attained.

At the end of last year, the average debt-to-asset ratio for central SOEs stood at 65.1 percent, a drop of 0.6 percentage points from the beginning of the year.

Sixty-four central SOEs saw their debt-to-asset ratio drop from the beginning of last year. In industries such as metallurgy, power, mining and construction, the ratio fell by more than 1 percentage point.

"We will encourage central SOEs and their subsidiaries with strong technological innovation capabilities and promising market prospects to go public," Peng said.

The government also supports central SOEs being listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, Peng added.

China First Heavy Industries Co, which supplies technical equipment, high-tech products and services for a number of industries, including steel, nonferrous metals, electrical power, energy and automobiles, suffered financial losses in 2016 but has seen a notable jump in net profits since 2018, after it steadily deepened its supply-side structural reform and adjusted its operating model.

Liu Mingzhong, the group's chairman, said it has upgraded its products and introduced wider mixed-ownership reform in some of its subsidiaries to tap new industries and provide more diverse products.

The improved efficiency of the SOEs will benefit the whole corporate sector as they provide broad opportunities for the investment and growth of businesses with varied ownership, as well as promote deep integration of industrial, supply and value chains for enterprises of differing sizes in home and global markets, said Liu Xiangdong, deputy director of the economic research department of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges in Beijing.

Operating revenues of central SOEs totaled 30.8 trillion yuan in 2019, a year-on-year growth of 5.6 percent, the State assets regulator said. Among them, 10 central SOEs achieved revenue growth of more than 20 percent last year, and 29 registered over 10 percent growth.


2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[WINE LOVERS DEVELOP A THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/16/content_37532461.htm Everyday wine drinkers may struggle when asked to describe the contents of their glass. Typical comments, which are inadequate at best, range from "delicious" to "not very good".

But Fongyee Walker, one of around 400 people worldwide recognized by the Institute of Masters of Wine, has no such problem.

At her Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting School in Beijing, which she founded in 2007, 3,000 wine traders and enthusiasts are trained each year.

Holding up her glass, she pronounced judgment.

"This wine is ruby in color and has a subtle aroma. It contains hints of strawberry and mulberry. It balances natural acidity and sweetness with smooth tannins. It could be a good match for many meals, because its delicate bouquet does not mask the flavor of the food."

Such professional analysis shows the way it's done. It serves Chinese people's desire to raise their level of sophistication.

Zhu Yong, of consultancy Roland Berger China, said there is an increasing demand for wine education among merchants and consumers because of China's economic development and consumption upgrades.

According to the Wine& Spirit Education Trust, the largest global provider of wine, spirits and sake credentials, 108,557 candidates qualified for a WSET certificate in the 2018-19 academic year, a year-on-year rise of 15 percent.

The Chinese mainland market, which has grown for 11 consecutive years, is the second-largest for the WSET, after the United Kingdom. In the 2018-19 academic year, 18,206 Chinese candidates sat for a WSET certificate, a rise of 20 percent on the previous year.

Zhu said Chinese, especially those born in the 1980s and '90s, are seeking quality lifestyles.

China's economic development and consumption upgrading means that wine is increasingly being served to accompany meals. Among the younger generation in particular, drinking wine is viewed as being elegant and fashionable.

"Continuous growth in wine consumption has triggered a demand for knowledge, and 'wine culture' has also become a topic discussed on social occasions," Zhu said.

Basic know-how

Learning about the origins, varieties and vintages of wine, how to properly decant it and the right variety to accompany dishes help broaden the consumer experience, he added.

"For industry insiders, basic know-how will help them better run their business, while for consumers, it will help them better choose and appreciate different kinds of wine."

Walker said that just a decade ago, wine education was rare in China. "But since around 2012, the number of people learning about wine and the number of training schools have both seen explosive growth."

She started Dragon Phoenix with her husband, who is also a Master of Wine, and it took them eight weeks to recruit the first batch of four students.

Wine courses at the school are offered under a number of categories, including "foundation" for beginners, "intermediate" and "advanced". It also offers the WSET level 4 diploma in wines. The duration of the courses ranges from just a few hours to several years.

Once, only those working in the wine industry took part in the courses, but now, more than 75 percent of Walker's students are consumers.

"The progress has been huge," she said. "In 2007, few Chinese had heard about WSET wine courses. Now, almost every industry insider knows about them, and many of them have achieved WSET certification and various other global certificates."

Rebecca Li, a Beijing etiquette expert, was awarded a WSET certificate in 2013, enabling her to hold a wine course for her clients.

"Wine does not traditionally feature in Chinese dining culture," she said. "Many people still have a very limited knowledge of it. I'm glad that my courses introduce customers to a new world, letting them in on some of the mysteries of wine."

In the seven years since she opened her etiquette school, she has noticed a rapid increase in people's passion for wine and to learn more about it.

"Wine is now served at most formal banquets in China," she said. "Also, more ordinary consumers want to know how to taste a particular type of wine properly, how to drink it at the table politely, and where to find quality wine," she said.

'Fun and helpful' course

Beijing resident Tian Tian took part in a course last winter. She sampled more than 10 wines, learned about their origins, along with the basic rules for evaluating them.

Tian, who works for the New Oriental Education and Technology Group in Beijing, said the course was "fun and helpful". In May, she even acted as a "wine reporter" on a company tour to the Two Hands Wines vineyard in the Barossa Valley, South Australia.

Xu Wei, a former wine trader, started offering training on fine wine in 2009, as there were few such services in China at the time.

"When I was a trader, I found that wine could only be well appreciated and promoted when consumers understood it," he said. "So I started offering free training to retailers, but it was frequently declined as they thought this was unnecessary. However, they soon realized that a deep understanding of wine helps with their business."

Xu's company, Xiaopi Wine School, which is based in Shanghai, trains 4,000 to 5,000 people a year, and the number has grown by 30 to 40 percent per year. It has adopted most of the major global certificated courses such as the WSET and the Bordeaux Wine Certificate.

While the courses initially targeted industry insiders, half of his students are now ordinary consumers, he said.

"China is increasingly open to the world, and Chinese consumers have more access to rich global cultures," he said. "Wine is a product that has its unique cultural connotations and stories behind it, including its origins and unique local customs and practices, which serves to satisfy consumers' curiosity."

Xu said Chinese consumers are now more curious to learn about wine from a specific country, particularly France, Australia and Hungary.

This year, the school worked with Domaine Baron de Rothschild de Lafite in France to design a course introducing wine from the producer's eight vineyards to Chinese audiences. The course has been highly popular, he said.

"Many consumers are also curious about domestically produced wine, which they didn't understand before, so we are developing more courses about Chinese wine-producing areas," he added.

Xu said the wine-education market reached about 100 million yuan ($14.2 million) last year. As the industry is still in the early stages of development, its potential could be huge.

Liu Sen, senior general manager at major e-commerce platform JD, who is in charge of wine education at the company, said it launched a course intending to help staff members working in the sector better purchase wine and distinguish different varieties. Initially, about 90 percent of his students were involved in the wine business, but now they only account for 30 to 40 percent of the total, with many consumers now attending his classes.

"There are still only a few Chinese people who truly understand wine, even though many of them have drunk it a lot," he said. "Education could help staff members and consumers to purchase smarter and to taste wine better."

He said many global wine-producing regions are entering the Chinese market, as they attach great importance to it. International wine exhibitions are also being staged in the country.

"Many global wine associations want to influence the Chinese market and develop their networks in the country's second-tier cities, such as Wuhan (capital of Hubei province)," he said. "They are aiming for the future, as they see Chinese people's consumption power."

Zhu, from Roland Berger, said Chinese consumers' enthusiasm for wine education will endure, and more people will join the industry. Some wine schools offering a professional approach to their training systems are closely connected with wine-producing areas around the world, he added.

"The problem is, wine training in China focuses too much on getting certificates, but development of the wine community and research about the industry are still weak," he said. "Moreover, as the market booms, the industry will need more regulation."

Walker, from the Dragon Phoenix School, encourages her students to be more critical when tasting wine and to understand how all the elements involved in making it, including climate, soil and production techniques, can affect the flavor.

"The scope for wine knowledge is broad and very diverse. In addition to what is written in the textbooks, there is a lot of other knowledge to seek and digest," she said, adding that a lack of qualified teachers could restrict development of the country's wine-education sector.


Tokaj wine from Hungary is introduced to Chinese industry insiders in Beijing. CHINA DAILY



From top: Students attend a wine class in Beijing; Rebecca Li, an etiquette expert, holds a wine course; Fongyee Walker, who founded the Dragon Phoenix Wine Consulting School in Beijing in 2007, gives a class; wine is stored in a Hungarian cellar. CHINA DAILY





2020-01-16 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi urges all parties to work toward socialist goals]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532347.htm Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, called on the country's non-Communist parties to make new contributions to securing the victory of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and fighting poverty on Tuesday.

Xi, who is also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks while attending a gathering to extend Lunar New Year greetings to people from non-Communist parties, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and those without party affiliation.

After listening to a speech by a representative of the non-Communist parties, Xi expressed appreciation for the contributions made by non-Communist parties last year.

The non-Communist parties have maintained the authority of the CPC and followed its centralized and unified leadership in the past year, Xi said, adding that they had launched a thematic education campaign on remaining true to their original aspiration and put forward important suggestions on the CPC's governance.

Xi spoke highly of the poverty alleviation efforts made by the non-Communist parties last year, saying that these activities are important in the fulfillment of the country's poverty reduction goal.

Noting that this year is a decisive one in securing the victory of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and fighting poverty, Xi said that the non-Communist parties should make further efforts to achieve these goals.

The system of CPC-led multiparty cooperation and political consultation is a new type of political party system originated in China, Xi said, adding that the system has played a special role in achieving consensus, improving decision-making, coordinating relations and maintaining stability.

Xi said that he hoped the non-Communist parties would implement the spirit of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee and called on their members to follow the CPC's leadership and uphold socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Xi pointed out that the wisdom and strength of all Chinese people including people from non-Communist parties, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and those without party affiliation are needed to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Xi told them to focus on the CPC's plans, make investigations on these goals, raise suggestions based on facts, and be good advisers to the CPC.

Noting that the CPC is making consistent efforts to build itself up, Xi said that the non-Communist parties should also build themselves up consistently and make new contributions to promote the modernization of the country's system and capacity for governance.

The All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce should speed up its reforms and promote the healthy development of nonpublic businesses, Xi said.


2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Premier says reform efforts will be pushed]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532391.htm China will push for greater reform, opening-up and innovation to keep the Chinese economy running in a reasonable range for high-quality development this year, Premier Li Keqiang said at a plenary meeting of the State Council on Monday in Beijing.

He said the government is faced with heavy work tasks that also bear great significance, as China will realize its goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects in 2020.

Greater efforts should be made to improve the business environment, guide public expectations, boost the vitality of market entities, accelerate the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries and foster new growth drivers, he said.

Li said the government should make coordinated efforts to maintain stable growth, advance reform, make structural adjustments, improve living standards, guard against risks and ensure stability.

Speaking of China's economic growth last year, the premier said the country has reached its major goals and completed its tasks for economic and social development, despite being faced with significant growing risks at home and abroad as well as downward pressure on the economy.

In 2019, the economy ran within a reasonable range, with steadily improving development quality, he said, noting that 13 million new urban jobs were created for the seventh consecutive year and people's livelihoods have been further improved.

These achievements have not come easily, Li said.

He noted that economic performance in the first quarter serves as an indicator for the market in the coming year. Governments at all levels and all departments of the State Council need to make a good start with concrete efforts, he added.

Local authorities should speed up the issuance of local government special-purpose bonds and make good use of them, pushing projects forward, he said.

He also called for greater credit support from financial institutions for the manufacturing industry, private companies and small and medium-size enterprises.

He said preparations should be made to guarantee stable supplies and prices of pork, as well as to ensure that the basic needs of disadvantaged people are met ahead of the upcoming Spring Festival holiday.

A draft of the Government Work Report, to be delivered at the third annual session of the 13th National People's Congress in March, was deliberated at the meeting.

A good draft should reflect responsible opinions from all walks of life, Li said.


2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Lam promises resources for courts, updates virus alert]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532390.htm Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said her administration will give additional resources to the judiciary if the courts need help handling cases related to unrest.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday ahead of the weekly meeting with her cabinet, the Executive Council, Lam said she is "extremely grateful" to the judiciary for devising ways to cope with the large number of arrests and prosecutions so that justice can be "effectively served" amid the unprecedented challenges facing the city.

Her remarks came a day after Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said in his address at the opening of the new court year that a task force had been set up to study how courts could manage the surging volume of cases.

Ma said extending the courts' sitting hours would be one way to expedite proceedings in protest-related cases. Hong Kong's massive anti-government protests, triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill, have led to 6,956 arrests and 1,051 prosecutions as of Jan 2.

Alert for Wuhan virus

Lam said the government will not be lax in its effort to control the spread of the viral pneumonia that originated in Wuhan, Hubei province, as the Lunar New Year holiday approaches with its heavy travel.

The authorities have notified entry ports, restaurants, hotels and universities to scale up sanitation work and closely monitor the health condition of travelers and mainland students, Lam said. Residents have also been urged to maintain careful personal hygiene.

A team of health officials returned to Hong Kong from Wuhan on Tuesday night after being briefed on control measures and clinical experience by mainland health departments. They will provide more details about the two-day trip on Wednesday, Lam said.

In two or three days, experts from the Centre for Health Protection and the University of Hong Kong are expected to announce a fast-track diagnostic test for the mystery disease. They had obtained the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus from mainland authorities. The new test will provide more accurate results and shorten diagnostic time to less than three hours.

As of noon on Tuesday, 71 patients with Wuhan travel histories within the past two weeks have presented symptoms of fever and respiratory infection, including pneumonia. But none of them have been diagnosed with the Wuhan strain of the virus.


2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[2019 foreign trade up 3.4% as American imports rise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532386.htm Increased imports from the United States will not reduce China's import volume from other countries, after the signing of the first-phase economic and trade agreement between China and the US, a senior customs official said on Tuesday.

China has a large and diversified market and Sino-US trade will make new progress on the basis of mutual benefit after the signing of the agreement, which will help the two countries and the whole world, Zou Zhiwu, vice-minister of the General Administration of Customs, said at a news conference in Beijing.

Imports from the US saw a recovery in growth from November to December. In particular, US shipments to China rose 9.1 percent year-on-year to 78.83 billion yuan ($11.46 billion) in December.

Exports of US agricultural products to China reached 14.1 billion yuan last month, jumping 200 percent year-on-year, while China imported 23,000 automobiles from the US, an increase of 150 percent from the same period a year earlier.

The official made the remarks as a Chinese delegation, led by Vice-Premier Liu He, arrived in Washington for the signing of a phase-one trade agreement at the White House, scheduled for Wednesday.

The Sino-US trade tension has not only put pressure on domestic manufacturers, but also caused difficulties for other global companies trading with the US, he said.

Affected by the 22-month-long bilateral trade tussle, Sino-US trade fell by 10.7 percent to 3.73 trillion yuan in 2019.

Although China's exports to the US have declined, domestic businesses have made notable progress in exporting to new markets in other parts of the world, Zou said, stressing that the country's foreign trade remains resilient as the national economy remains on track.

China's foreign trade volume stood at 31.54 trillion yuan in 2019, growing 3.4 percent year-on-year, according to the GAC data.

The country's exports rose 5 percent to 17.23 trillion yuan and imports grew by 1.6 percent to 14.31 trillion yuan last year, while its trade surplus increased by 25.4 percent to 2.92 trillion yuan.

In the meantime, the European Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the US and Japan remained China's top four trading partners.

In addition to the accelerated negotiation pace of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and free trade agreement among China, Japan and South Korea, China should seal more free trade deals with economies related to the Belt and Road Initiative, said Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges. China can also further boost bilateral trade with Russia through enhanced energy and farm product trade, he said.

China's trade with economies related to the BRI reached 9.27 trillion yuan last year, up by 10.8 percent year-on-year, 7.4 percentage points higher than its overall trade volume growth.

The expanded trade has benefited enterprises in both China and economies related to the BRI.

Yadea Technology Group Co Ltd, a major manufacturer of two-wheeled electric vehicles, or EVs, is one of Chinese firms that are keen to grow their global sales by adding new stores, plants and distributors in markets participating in the BRI.

Many opportunities come from a number of countries including Germany, South Korea, India and Indonesia, where there is an ongoing effort to cut energy use and pollution, and pursue sustainable development, said Dong Jinggui, chairman of Yadea, a major producer of electric bikes based in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.


China's foreign trade volume 2014-19 CHINA DAILY



2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[STAR PERFORMER REVITALIZES PEKING OPERA]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532348.htm Tickets for actress Zhang Huoding's latest performance in the classic Peking Opera Farewell My Concubine sold out fast, as they have done for all of her shows in China.

The performance will be staged at the Chang'an Grand Theatre in Beijing on Friday.

Tickets, which cost from 100 yuan to 1,080 yuan ($14 to $155) and went on sale on Jan 5, were all snapped up by noon. According to the online sales platform Damai, each buyer could only purchase one ticket with their ID card.

On May 25, when the show was staged at the 19th Meet in Beijing Arts Festival, tickets also sold out within a few hours, according to Mu Wen from the China Arts and Entertainment Group, which organizes the annual event-one of the largest arts festivals in the Chinese capital.

An audience of more than 1,000 watched the show at the Chang'an Grand Theatre, with many people leaving messages online asking for Zhang to appear in more performances.

Netizen "Doudou", a 24-year-old Shanghai native who watched Zhang perform in Farewell My Concubine on Oct 26 at the Shanghai Grand Theatre, said: "I am intrigued by her craft as a Peking Opera actress, which is just as I imagined it to be."

Veteran actor Zheng Rong, 95, who watched the Beijing show on May 25 from his wheelchair, said: "It's great to watch her perform-I cried. Thankfully, Zhang and her team are keeping Peking Opera alive."

Fu Jin, a professor at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts, said: "Zhang Huoding is phenomenal. It's hard to believe that a Peking Opera actress can be as popular as a pop star. Many of her fans are young people.

"With such traditional genres facing challenges from contemporary forms of entertainment, it's valuable to have such a great actress, who tries her best to let more people know about this genre."

Known as jingju in Chinese, Peking Opera is more than 200 years old. It combines singing, dancing, martial arts and acrobatics. UNESCO declared it an intangible cultural heritage in 2010.

Zhang, who will be 49 on Jan 24, had the idea of adapting Farewell My Concubine more than 10 years ago. About a month before the show in Beijing on May 25, she announced in a rehearsal room at the National Academy of Chinese Theatre Arts that she would appear in the performance.

She was excited and kept smiling, although she kept her comments brief.

Zhang realized her dream of adapting Farewell My Concubine in collaboration with Peking Opera artist Gao Mukun, 78, and composer Wan Ruixing, 79.

"I'd been dreaming about adapting the piece for over 10 years. I loved the performances of Mei Lanfang and I deeply respect him," Zhang said, referring to the late Peking Opera master.

Farewell My Concubine, which tells the love story between Xiang Yu, a warlord from the Chu Kingdom, and his concubine, Yu Ji, is one of the best-known Peking Operas.

Adapted from the Kunqu Opera Qian Jin Ji, written by Shen Cai during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Farewell My Concubine was first performed in Beijing in 1918 by Peking Opera masters Yang Xiaolou (1878-1938) and Shang Xiaoyun (1900-76).

In 1922, Mei (1894-1961), along with Yang, performed the piece, which later became one of the best-known works in Mei's repertoire. It is also regarded as a classic work from the "Mei School", the performing style he developed.

Fu said that at one time it seemed impossible that the show could be adapted for Zhang, as she was trained by Peking Opera master Zhao Rongchen and had kept up the traditions of the "Cheng School". Developed by Cheng Yanqiu (1904-58), this school was one of the four major performing styles of the genre to emerge in the early 20th century.

Like Mei, Cheng mastered the techniques of men playing female roles, known as nandan. The Cheng School is known for interpreting tragic roles for women with frequent changes in rhythm.

"The two styles of tones, gestures and movements are very different," Fu said. "Zhang had to make lots of changes, challenging both tradition and herself."

To everyone's surprise, Zhang even changed one of the best-known scenes in Farewell My Concubine, in which Yu Ji dances with two swords.

In Mei's signature creation, Yu dances in this scene with Xiang's sword on their last night together before she uses the sword to kill herself.

Unlike Mei's version, in which the swords did not have tassels, Zhang added two long red ones attached to the swords in her interpretation, making her performance more impressive, but difficult.

Fu, a friend of Zhang's who reviews her shows, said, "Her dress had many ornaments, such as pearls and raised embroidery, which became entangled with her swords' tassels as she turned around waving her arms."

The sword-dancing scene lasts about 10 minutes and Zhang practiced for it for a year.

"She told me that every day she practiced sword dancing at the end of her daily rehearsal because it's energy-consuming," Fu said. "It's very difficult for her to control her breathing to sing after dancing with swords. But she performed the part perfectly."

Zhang said in an interview after her performance on May 25 that she was exhausted and sweating heavily, adding, "I could do the moves better if I was 10 years younger."

Born in Baicheng, Jilin province, she was introduced to traditional Chinese opera by her father, who performed Pingju Opera, a traditional art form popular in northern China.

Her elder brother, Zhang Huoqian, who began studying Peking Opera as a child, was trained to play qingyi-"graceful female roles".

In 1989, after graduating from school in Tianjin, Zhang Huoding joined a military Peking Opera troupe in Beijing, and from 1995 to 2008 she performed with the National Peking Opera Company. She now teaches at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts in Beijing.

She always keeps her hair short and neat, dresses in colorful outfits, but rarely gives interviews, keeping her personal life a closely guarded secret.

Ye Shaolan, a 78-year-old Peking Opera master who performed with Zhang Huoding in the classic piece The Legend of White Snake in 2016, said: "She really loves Peking Opera. Her life is simple and although she rarely gives performances, she practices every day in the rehearsal room at the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts."

After watching her rendition of Farewell My Concubine, Ye wrote in a People's Daily article: "Zhang Huoding designed her moves and singing totally based on the role of Yu Ji. The performance style of the Cheng School blends naturally and convincingly in her interpretation, and the show deserves to be watched over and over again."

In 2016, the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts launched a project that enabled Zhang Huoding to mentor young female Peking Opera students performing in the style of the Cheng School. Ten actresses have been recruited.

In May, her students staged a show to highlight classic roles from the Cheng School, including Bai Suzhen from The Legend of White Snake and Zhu Yingtai from The Butterfly Lovers, at the Tianqiao Performing Arts Center in Beijing.

One of Zhang Huoding's students, Li Li, 30, said: "She told me that the only way to guarantee the quality of a performance is to practice again and again, from eye contact to breathing and movements. Although she speaks few words, she is very disciplined and always inspires us."

Li started her Peking Opera training in her hometown of Tianjin at age 7, before moving on to graduate with a master's from the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts. She now works with the Jingju Theatre Company of Beijing.

She said that before she studied with Zhang Huoding, she was struggling, as Peking Opera was losing popularity. She even considered quitting her job as an actress.

However, in 2014, she changed her mind after watching a performance by Zhang Huoding at the Chang'an Grand Theatre. The standing ovation, which Li said was the longest she had ever seen, and the enthusiastic response from the audience restored Li's faith in the art.

"I used to be restless, as I had lost my career path as a Peking Opera actress, but now I am very calm and determined. I am touched not only by Zhang Huoding's solid technique onstage, but also by her attitude toward this old art," said Li, who sports short hair, just like her mentor.

Zhang Huoding's fame has spread beyond China. In 2015, she made her debut in the United States with shows at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York.

Media reports compared her performances with those given by Mei Lanfang in New York in 1930. Then, as now, there was a sense that traditional Chinese opera could be popular overseas and even influence the global arts scene.

In an interview with The New York Times published on Aug 31, 2015, before she made her debut in the US, Zhang Huoding said, "Peking Opera has always had a calming effect on me." She also lamented that "the great age of Peking Opera may be coming to an end".

Performances mainly attract the older generation. Few young people decide to take up the art form as a career, as it entails a rigid training process and takes years before a young performer is ready to appear onstage.

According to the latest report by the Beijing Trade Association for Performances, some 250,000 performances of all types were staged in Beijing in 2018, attracting audiences of more than 11.2 million and grossing over 1.7 billion yuan. However, the report said traditional Chinese art forms, such as Peking Opera, are losing fans.

According to Fu, from the National Academy of Chinese Theater Arts, the government is eager to revive the art form by offering low-priced tickets and free shows. Some young artists are striving to popularize Peking Opera among the younger generation by experimenting with new technology, exploring the psychological portrayal of characters and enhancing young people's appreciation of Chinese operatic genres.

For example, Peking Opera shows staged at smaller theaters have been well-received by younger audiences. Unlike traditional Chinese opera shows, which are usually staged in large theaters with grand stage sets and large casts, the smaller Peking Opera productions only last for about one hour, involving just a few actors and a simple set.

Fu said: "Audiences do not have the patience or interest in sitting in a theater to watch two-hour-long Peking Opera shows. Companies usually present some of the best-known excerpts from traditional repertoires to give audiences a glimpse of the art form, hoping that they will return to the theater again. This is a pity, and we need more Peking Opera stars like Zhang Huoding to revive the genre."


Zhang Huoding (left), a Peking Opera star actress, performs in Farewell My Concubine at the Chang'an Grand Theatre in Beijing in May. CHEN HUAHUA/XINHUA






]]> 2020-01-15 00:00:00 <![CDATA[China off US list of 'currency manipulators']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532363.htm The United States removed the label of "currency manipulator" from China on Monday, a move that a leading US expert called "just recognizing reality" and will be welcomed by investors.

The US Treasury Department said in a report to Congress that no major US trading partner currently meets the relevant legislative criteria for currency manipulation.

Noting that the department assessed developments over the last few months with China and its currency practices, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that "China has made enforceable commitments to refrain from competitive devaluation, while promoting transparency and accountability".

The announcement came after the Trump administration designated China a "currency manipulator" in August.

China has never used and will not use the currency exchange rate as a tool to deal with external disruptions such as trade disputes, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a news conference on Tuesday, after the US reversed its decision to label China a currency manipulator.

China has never manipulated its currency, Geng said, adding that the conclusion reached by the US on Monday is in line with the facts as well as international consensus. China has clarified many times that it will not engage in competitive currency devaluation, he said.

China remains committed to deepening exchange rate marketization and improving its exchange rate system to keep the RMB exchange rate "basically stable at a reasonable and equilibrium level", he added.

"China has not been manipulating its currency, so this is just recognizing reality," said David Dollar, senior fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution.

Sheng Songcheng, a former official at the People's Bank of China, the nation's central bank, said that the US Treasury's removal of the label will contribute to easing of trade and economic relations between the countries.

"China has never resorted to competitive devaluation," said Sheng, deputy head of Shanghai-based CEIBS Lujiazui Institute of International Finance. "The market plays the main role in determining the exchange rate of the RMB."

In early August, the RMB depreciated to beyond 7 per dollar, but that was because of the escalation of Sino-US trade frictions, which triggered market panic, and it was not the result of any manipulation, he told China Daily.

Even when the Chinese economy soured in the third quarter, the country had not resorted to currency devaluation to boost exports and growth and the RMB remained quite stable at that time, he said.

Sheng suggested that a currency exchange rate coordination mechanism should be established.

"While a floating exchange rate regime helps offset external shocks, excessive exchange rate fluctuations will hurt the corporate sector and stable economic development."

The US dropped the currency manipulator designation the same day that a Chinese trade delegation, led by Vice-Premier Liu He, arrived in Washington for the signing of a phase-one trade deal at the White House, scheduled for Wednesday.

Andrew Karolyi, a professor of finance at Cornell University, said investors will welcome the action largely because it appears to be tied to an impending agreement set to normalize trade relations between the two major economies.

"These steps individually and together help to reduce global trade policy uncertainty, something markets have been craving for months," Karolyi told China Daily.

"It is more than just symbolic, as lower trade policy uncertainty likely means more trade flows and greater cross-border portfolio and corporate investment flows, all of which stimulates more economic growth," he said.

Mark Sobel, US chairman of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, an independent think tank, said China should never have been designated as a currency manipulator. "Designation was a blatant/errant political act," Sobel said on social media on Monday.

On Tuesday, the RMB rose to around 6.87 per dollar, the strongest in five months. "It is difficult for the RMB to depreciate back to 7 and beyond, given the weaker US dollar index after the peak in the third quarter last year. But the room for RMB appreciation is limited," said Huang Jun, chief China analyst at Forex.com, a global foreign exchange platform.

Zhou Jin contributed to this story.


2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Ministry: Employment remains stable, exceeding last year's target]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532362.htm China added 13.52 million new urban jobs last year, with employment remaining stable among college graduates, migrant workers and other groups vulnerable to unemployment, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said on Tuesday.

The urban jobless rate was kept low at 3.62 percent as the Chinese economy maintained a steady pace, ministry spokesman Lu Aihong said at a regular news conference in Beijing.

China exceeded last year's job creation target. In March, it set the 2019 target at 11 million, but by the end of November around 12.79 million new urban jobs had already been created.

The job figures have been bolstered by a host of factors, including the continuous expansion of the service sector and the central government's efforts to cut labor costs, said Zhang Ying, head of the ministry's division of employment promotion.

She said steady economic activity was behind the encouraging figures, and the rapidly expanding services sector and new business models had helped to create job opportunities.

Employment also grew thanks to a number of policies aimed at reducing labor costs, including lowering social security contributions and subsidizing employers who refrained from shedding staff or those who hired laid-off workers, she added.

Zhang said employment would remain stable this year, as China sought quality economic development.

Chinese employers also pay for a proportion of their employees' social security coverage, which includes the pension fund, work injury insurance, jobless insurance, maternity insurance and health insurance.

Figures from the ministry show that covering the costs of employees' social security coverage accounted for 23.45 percent of company payrolls last year, 7.05 percentage points less than in 2015.

Nie Mingjun, who oversees pension funds at the ministry, said China has lowered the combined rate six times since 2015, and last year's reduction was the largest. He said the reduction in social security fees since 2015 had reached almost 1 trillion yuan ($145.2 billion).

Nie said the impact of relieving this burden had been significant for businesses, regardless of their size.

"Many employers said the rate reduction had effectively lowered their labor costs, and the money saved in turn has created further momentum for innovation, or some of it had become financial benefits given to employees, which ultimately enhanced the company's appeal," he added.

Nie said the lowered rate also created a virtuous cycle for pension funds, which had run short of funds in some rapidly aging areas due to the lack of contributors.

He said lower labor costs had invigorated businesses, enabling them to buy insurance for more employees, which meant more people contributed to the fund.

The ministry said the national pension fund's balance had reached over 5 trillion yuan, with 319.9 billion yuan received last year, which Nie said was not bad considering the drop in the contribution rate and the increasing benefits that pensioners collected.


2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Capital legislators pitch tighter auto emission rules]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532356.htm Beijing is considering further restrictions on automobile emissions and strengthening inspections of vehicles to further curb environmental pollution, a top official of the capital's legislative body said on Tuesday.

A draft regulation was submitted to the Beijing Municipal People's Congress on Tuesday, and a decision is expected on Friday.

Vehicle exhaust is the main source of polluting PM2.5 particles-small particles that are hazardous to health-said Zhang Qing, deputy head of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal People's Congress, in a report delivered at the third session of the 15th Beijing People's Congress.

"Mobile emission sources, primarily vehicle exhaust, account for 45 percent of PM2.5 particles-the largest portion," Zhang said.

PM2.5 is a closely monitored air pollutant because of its potentially serious effects on human health. The World Health Organization recommends a PM2.5 standard of no more than 10 micrograms per cubic meter. Last year, Beijing recorded an average 42 mcg/cu m, a 17.6 percent drop from 2018.

Vehicles that fail emissions inspections under the proposed regulation must be repaired and tested again within a certain period of time. Drivers could be fined up to 5,000 yuan ($725) for failing to comply with the rules, or driver's licenses could be revoked.

In addition, Beijing encourages the conversion of motor vehicles in the city, as well as some stationary machinery, such as cranes, to new energy fuels-gradually replacing diesel engines in older trucks, for example.

Even as the capital has achieved bluer skies and cleaner air in recent years, vehicle emissions continue to pose major problems, Zhang said. At the end of last year, there were 6.36 million cars in Beijing, the highest number for any city in China.

Under the capital's draft regulation, a public credit platform will be established in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei province region to share information about violators. Municipal government agencies will then take appropriate punitive action.

The regulation also requires municipal management departments to share information with the public about each vehicle's emissions, inspections and repairs.

Zhang Qiangbin, a professor at China University of Petroleum and a member of the Beijing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, acknowledged Beijing's high vehicle count and said it's necessary for enterprises to come up with innovative technologies to reduce motor vehicle emissions.

"Rather than a 'one size fits all' instant solution, the policies and standards should be implemented over time," he said.

Elsewhere, Hebei, passed a law on Saturday to improve air quality in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei cluster.


2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Collapsing road kills 9; boy seen saving baby]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/15/content_37532381.htm The sudden collapse of a road into a sinkhole in Xining, Qinghai province, on Monday killed nine people, authorities said.

The incident occurred at around 5:30 pm near a bus stop on Nandajie Street. Sixteen people were injured and were sent to the hospital. All are in stable condition, according to the city's emergency management bureau.

Online videos show people at the bus stop running from the collapsing road as a bus fell in. A boy was seen rescuing an infant from the edge of the hole and carrying the baby to safety.

Then the boy returned to the hole to save others, but a second collapse caused him to fall in. Yellow smoke arose from the hole after an explosion.

The video of the boy went viral on the internet, with many netizens moved by his courage and worried about his safety.

The boy was seen getting into an ambulance in another video, accompanied by an adult. His clothes, which were black, had been yellowed. Local authorities confirmed in an interview with news website ThePaper.cn that the boy was safe.

An investigation into the collapse is underway. Local authorities said at a news conference that more than 1,000 rescuers participated in the effort to save people.

The Ministry of Emergency Management has dispatched a team to Xining for rescue and investigation, the ministry said in a news release. It also urged governments to roll out corrective measures to prevent road collapses in urban areas.

It was not the first time a deadly road collapse has made headlines in China. In February 2018, a road collapsed in Foshan, Guangdong province, claiming 11 lives. About 30 meters of the road sank about 6 meters.

That collapse was caused by flooding at a nearby subway construction site, according to the Work Safety Committee of the State Council.

In 2016, three people fell into a huge sinkhole in Zhengzhou, Henan province, and one of them died. The collapse was triggered by broken water pipes beneath the surface during heavy rain.


Rescuers using a crane extract a bus from a sinkhole in Xining, Qinghai province, on Monday. MA MINGYAN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE
2020-01-15 00:00:00
<![CDATA[FM: Cross-Straits unity inevitable]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532204.htm State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Monday that the one-China principle cannot be changed by local election results in Taiwan and will not be shaken by the erroneous statements and actions of Western politicians.

The rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and cross-Straits reunification is a historical inevitability, Wang said on Monday during his seven-day visit in Africa.

Any move that goes against the trend will run into a dead end, and those who divide the country will be doomed to eternal infamy, he said.

Wang said the governments of the countries he visited since arriving in Africa on Jan 7 have clearly stated that they adhere to the one-China principle and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.

Experience shows that the one-China principle is not only the unanimous position of African countries, but has also been widely accepted by international community, he said.

Wang wrapped up his five African nation tour on Monday. The trip took him to Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe, and he also inspected the construction and operation of the Mombasa-Nairobi railway during a stop in Kenya.

At a news conference with Zimbabwe's Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Sibusiso Moyo in Harare on Sunday, Wang said there are three reasons for Africa being the destination of all Chinese foreign ministers' first overseas visit each year for the past 30 years.

First, he said, there are the special feelings of friendship from generation to generation and sharing in prosperity and misfortune between China and Africa. Second, it is based on the realistic needs of deepening bilateral cooperation and common development, he said, adding that China and Africa are natural partners with complementary advantages and have unlimited room for cooperation and potential. And finally, he said, there is the important mission of strengthening international cooperation and safeguarding of common interests between the two sides.

The world is becoming less peaceful, especially in recent years, as unilateralism and power politics have prevailed and the Cold War mentality has resurged, Wang said, adding that developing countries, including African nations, have suffered greatly from this.

There is an urgent need to strengthen communication and coordination between China and Africa, demonstrate the power of solidarity and speak in a unified voice in order to safeguard the legitimate rights of the Chinese and African people to oppose external interference, pursue fairness and justice, and lead a better life.

Efem N. Ubi, a senior research fellow and head of the division of International Economic Relations at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, said in an article posted online by China Global Television Network that the visits indicate that Africa occupies an utmost important position in China's foreign policy and to a considerable extent further demonstrate that the African continent in China's view is the equal of other continents.

The visits create an opportunity bilaterally for one-on-one communication in various areas between China and the host countries, he said.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum. Wang said at the news conference that the forum has become an important platform for dialogue and an effective mechanism for practical cooperation, and that it maintains a leading position in international cooperation with Africa.

Trade volume between China and Africa exceeded $200 billion last year, and China has become Africa's largest trading partner for 11 years in a row, Wang said.

China's direct investment in the continent has reached $110 billion, and more than 3,700 Chinese enterprises have invested and operated in Africa, he said.

China has built over 6,000 kilometers of railways and roads in Africa, as well as nearly 20 ports and more than 80 large power plants, all of which has promoted industrialization in Africa and enhanced its ability for independent development, he said.

Motivated by China-Africa cooperation, other foreign countries have also increased their attention to Africa, bringing more opportunities for the continent's development, he added.

2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[AI companies stress social responsibility]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532248.htm Experts from China's artificial intelligence companies underscored how the industry is devoted to alleviating social problems globally, as AI took center stage recently at the world's largest tech expo.

"Today we are applying AI technology to fields such as education and health, which carry social significance. And we're using it to solve some supply chain problems," Duan Dawei, senior vice-president and CFO of China's top voice-recognition company, iFlytek, said in an interview on Wednesday in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Global tech companies were showing their best at the 2020 International Consumer Electronics Show, which concluded on Friday.

"I believe our practice of helping low-income regions with scarce resources to develop has global significance," he said during an introduction of the company's latest products, which included a real-time translator with support for 60 languages, a smart education companion and a language learning portal to teach Chinese to students of all levels.

Although it was a 2019 CES Innovation Award honoree, the company was not listed among companies on the showroom floor at this year's expo. Its exhibition was held in another location.

Three months ago, iFlytek was placed on a trade blacklist by the United States over issues related to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, a move Duan said could affect US companies that were once part of the company's supply chain.

"Our key focus is not on hardware-we purchase that from other companies," he said. "The foundation of our company is self-developed technology by Chinese scientists. Now, as we are adjusting to a supply chain with no US companies, I feel that the US companies will bear more of the impact," Duan said.

Chinese people have built an environment that is friendly and encouraging for the application of AI, bringing the technology closer to people's everyday lives, he said, noting that China is the largest market for the application of the technology. Its economy has developed to the extent that innovation is understood and welcomed by the people, and AI products are popular with families and children.

He said companies like iFlytek have begun to alleviate resource scarcity through AI by introducing educational and health products to less-affluent communities.

"With AI technology, we can connect people in suburban areas or villages with high-quality education and health resources that are normally accessible only in metropolitan areas," he said. The company's Las Vegas exhibition focused on how it is helping disadvantaged communities.

Some problems iFlytek has been solving are global, and Duan believes technologies from China are having a worldwide impact.

For example, he said, "In China, we use AI technology to help people with hearing and vision disorders." The company was able to develop technologies that translate audio to text and vice versa-technology that is "applicable for all humankind".

"I hope China and the US can keep the doors open for communications and cooperation in technology development and application that is meaningful for both countries and the world," Duan said, noting that in recent years, both China and the US have developed strategies that support advancement in AI technology.

In February last year, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order that laid out plans for "maintaining US leadership in AI", and associated the development of AI with the country's national security. The US recently imposed new restrictions on exports of certain AI software.

Reuters reported that US authorities were considering submitting rules to international bodies in an attempt to create a level playing field in response to China, which has emphasized development of the AI industry for years. It introduced the idea of "new digital infrastructure" that includes AI, a move Duan praised as significant.

"Actually, all of the world's major economies have AI-centered national strategies supporting the industry," said Tan Huan, co-chief technology officer of UBTECH, a Shenzhen-based company focused on intelligent humanoid robots.

"We all believe that AI is the future," said Tan, who displayed an educational toy the company brought to this year's Las Vegas expo. "By investing in AI education, we are preparing for the future."

Tan said technology companies bear social responsibility.

"We believe our investment should not be based purely on commercial benefits," Tan said. "We see it as a responsibility and hope to do something for the next generation."

He believes that only products designed with society and the future of humankind in mind will be sustainable in the long run.

UBTECH has been investing heavily in companion and service robots for the healthcare industry. For Tan, AI is the answer to concerns about aging populations in many countries.

Pursuing a similar vision, iFlytek has been leading the development of real-time translators, which Duan said facilitates seamless communications among all people.

"We are different in race, culture, social institutions, language and skin color, but we share a lot of similarities in our wish to develop," he said.

"That's why we still decided to bring a showcase to CES. We hope to advance cooperation with foreign partners and reduce the barriers that are hindering it."


2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[PATIENTS FEEL BENEFIT AS DRUG PRICES CUT]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532244.htm Li Lanzhi, a lung cancer patient in Beijing, used to spend nearly 50,000 yuan ($7,255) a month on a new drug called alectinib to control the disease.

The drug, developed by Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche and sold under the name Alecensa, has proved effective in easing breathing during sleep for patients with Li's type of cancer.

However, because of the high cost, she feared she would be unable to afford it much longer, as the balance of her pension savings account was falling rapidly.

"I would have given up but for my son. He comforted me by saying that at least I had a drug to use," she said.

Li's fears may soon end. On Jan 1, the drug was included in the country's basic healthcare insurance program for reimbursement. That followed a significant drop in its price through negotiations led by the National Healthcare Security Administration last year.

As a result, starting as early as this month, medical expenses for patients like Li could drop by 80 percent or more.

In addition to patients with lung cancer, many others with serious diseases can expect to see their spending on drugs drop considerably this year because of price negotiations.

Last year, 70 new drugs were placed on the list for reimbursement after months of talks between the authorities and pharmaceutical companies, both domestic and international.

The negotiations resulted in the average price of drugs being reduced by just over 60 percent, according to the health administration. Agreements were also renewed for another 27 drugs already on the list, with an average price cut of 26 percent, the administration said. The expanded list took effect on Jan 1.

These drugs have proved effective in treating cancer and other serious illnesses, such as hepatitis, diabetes, tuberculosis, and both rare and cardiovascular diseases.

Most of the drugs have only been on the market for one or two years. Their inclusion on the reimbursement list will further reduce patients' financial burdens, according to the administration.

Xiong Xianjun, head of medical services supervision at the administration, said, "The negotiations were the largest of their kind in China in recent years, resulting in many achievements, including a significant fall in drug prices.

"Some imported drugs will be sold on the Chinese mainland at the lowest prices in the world. Coupled with reimbursement by healthcare insurance funds, it is estimated that the price drops will reduce patients' spending by more than 80 percent in general, and by over 95 percent in a few cases."

Only a few years ago, many imported patented drugs, including those to treat cancer, cost more in China than in many other countries due to factors including higher tariffs, costs incurred by middlemen and a lack of domestic competitors. There was no price negotiation system, and few of the drugs were included in the basic healthcare insurance program for reimbursement.

This placed a great financial burden on millions of cancer patients, with many having to buy cheaper generic drugs from countries such as India through the internet, posing potential health and legal risks.

Cancer cases and other chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease are rising. According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 10,000 people a day in China are diagnosed with cancer due to the aging population and unhealthy lifestyles. As a result, medical bills are expected to rise rapidly in the coming years.

Last year, Dying to Survive, a movie based on real-life events centering on the dilemma facing many leukemia patients, sparked heated public debate and calls for accelerated efforts to improve patients' access to expensive patented drugs.

The film focuses on Lu Yong, a businessman in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002 and initially spent 24,000 yuan a month on Gleevec, a patented drug developed by Swiss company Novartis. However, just two years later, the high cost forced him to turn to a generic version of a drug sold in India, which cost just 4,000 yuan a box.

He told many patients about this online and bought the drug for them through the internet, but in 2014, Lu was detained by police and charged with selling a fake drug, as it had not been registered with Chinese regulators.

Now, under the revised Drug Administration Law, which took effect on Dec 1, drugs legally available overseas are no longer considered to be fakes.

Prosecutors eventually withdrew the charges and released Lu in 2015, following petitions from more than 300 leukemia patients.

After the case, the drug Lu bought was included on the reimbursable list by authorities in many areas of China, and most patients who used to rely on generic versions from India have since turned to patented ones, Lu said.

In 2015, to reduce prices of expensive patented drugs and improve access to them for patients with serious diseases, China launched pilot negotiations with pharmaceutical companies. In return for cutting prices, the companies can increase sales by being included on the national medical insurance program.

This resulted in the first three drugs-two for lung cancer and one for hepatitis B-being approved for inclusion in the healthcare insurance program in 2016.

The following year, 36 drugs, including 15 to treat cancer, were approved. In 2018, a total of 17 anticancer drugs were included in the program.

Shi Lichen, founder of Beijing Dingchen Consultancy, a medical company in Beijing, said drug price negotiations take place in many countries.

"The difference is that in many European countries and the United States, such negotiations are regularly held between commercial insurers and pharmaceutical companies, but in China, the talks have been held between the government and such companies."

In addition to improving patients' access to expensive drugs, lowering prices can help control spending increases by the basic healthcare insurance fund. Meanwhile, buying drugs in bulk can motivate domestic producers to improve research and development to enable their products to be included on the reimbursement list, Shi said.

Among the 70 new drugs included on the list, three used to treat hepatitis C are produced by two overseas companies. They were selected from six drugs made by four companies-three overseas and one domestic.

Xiong, from the National Healthcare Security Administration, said all six drugs are highly effective in treating hepatitis C, but cost more than 50,000 yuan per course.

To encourage price reductions, pharmaceutical companies were told before the negotiations that only three of the drugs would be added to the reimbursement list. The health administration also promised that the list would not include any new drugs to treat hepatitis C for two years, Xiong said.

As a result, companies made significant reductions, with prices of the three drugs selected falling by more than 85 percent on average, he said.

Hu Shanlian, a professor of public health at Fudan University in Shanghai, who took part in the negotiations last year, said the National Healthcare Security Administration set up a special team of about 40 experts to assess prices of drugs in the talks.

Beforehand, the experts provided the health administration with prices for each drug for reference, based on a number of factors. These included China's economic development, the number of patients with a certain disease, and the prices of the drugs in some other countries, he said.

After the negotiations, the price of Sintilimab, an injected drug used to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma-a lymph gland cancer-that became available on the domestic market early last year, fell by nearly 64 percent. The drug was developed by Innovent, a pharmaceutical company in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.

Xi Hao, Innovent's chief financial officer, said the company was encouraged to cut the drug's price, with an eye to profits.

Despite the reductions, the inclusion of the drug in the basic healthcare insurance program will help increase its sales, which will lead to rises in production and reduced manufacturing costs.

Liu Hongsheng, an official with the Jilin Provincial Social Security Administration, said negotiations in recent years have resulted in considerable price reductions for a number of drugs. This means that more patients with serious or chronic diseases can access better-quality medication at lower prices.

He said the authorities should continue to conduct negotiations to reduce prices, and measures should be taken to guide domestic pharmaceutical companies to improve innovation.

To ensure the quality of drugs, authorities should not lower prices too much, to prevent producers using substandard materials, he added.

Drugs are handed to a patient in the pharmacy at the Shanghai Chest Hospital. A reduction in prices has brought many benefits. LIU YING/XINHUA
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Reforms to give market forces more IPO clout]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532242.htm China will accelerate capital market reforms this year, giving priority to expanding the market-based initial public offering system, improving the quality of listed companies and increasing market openness to draw more long-term institutional capital from home and abroad, analysts said.

The country's top securities regulator, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, will hold its annual work conference later this month to set the agenda for the reforms and will lay out the regulator's key tasks and main objectives.

Investors have followed previous meetings closely to look for policy clues that could affect their strategies in China.

A top priority of the regulator's reform agenda this year is gradually expanding the pilot registration-based IPO system to a wider marketplace, after the country's top legislature adopted the revised Securities Law establishing the system's legal basis and abolished administrative approvals for new share sales, analysts said.

The IPO reforms will be expanded first to ChiNext, the startup board of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. The regulator had successfully experimented with a registration-based IPO system at Shanghai's technology-focused STAR Market in June.

The market-based IPO reforms, which are endorsed by the country's top leadership, represent a fundamental shift in approach that has been in the making for several years. It is designed to let market forces play a major role in new share issuance, remove administrative intervention and improve market efficiency.

"Marketization has been the core philosophy of China's economic reform, as well as the reform of the securities market," said Chen Jiahe, chief investment officer of Beijing investment firm Novem Arcae Technologies. "With the registration system, the market itself and investors will become the primary decision-makers when it comes to IPO issuance. This will make the IPO mechanism, as well as the whole securities market, more efficient than before."

The revised Securities Law, which takes effect on March 1, will help facilitate the smooth market-based reform of China's capital market, analysts said, as the revised law significantly raises the cost companies will face if they engage in fraudulent activities, such as financial fraud or insider trading. The law also stepped up requirements on information disclosure and boosted the legal protection of investors' rights and interests.

Investor sentiment was boosted by expectations of favorable reforms. The Shanghai Composite Index was up 0.75 percent, closing at 3115.57 points on Monday. The startup board in Shenzhen rose 1.62 percent to 1935.07 points, its highest level in 33 months.

The regulator's reform agenda this year is expected to follow the 12 priorities announced by CSRC Chairman Yi Huiman in September, which include improving the quality of listed companies, enforcing stricter delisting rules, stepping up regulation on mergers and acquisitions, improving refinancing rules and further opening the capital market to foreign investors.

Li Daxiao, chief economist at Yingda Securities, said investors will see stricter regulation of listed companies and a rise in the number of delistings.

"China's capital reform efforts are market-oriented, rules-based and more compatible with international standards. As the Chinese stock market grows rapidly, the acceleration of the reforms will help boost the market's global profile and enable it to better serve the economy," Li said.

Xue Yi, a professor of finance at the University of International Business and Economics, said the reforms will help build a fair, transparent and dynamic market in the long run, which will boost its attractiveness to foreign investors and maintain a stable market environment.

2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Retrial frees man serving life for rape conviction]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532208.htm Zhang Zhichao, who served 14 years in prison for rape, was found not guilty in a retrial by a court in Shandong province on Monday due to insufficient evidence.

The Shandong High People's Court overturned the original ruling, in which Zhang was convicted of raping a girl and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was acquitted on Monday because the evidence was found insufficient to support his conviction.

After the court announced he was free, Zhang, now 30, left the courtroom, embraced his mother, Ma Yuping, and said, "I couldn't control myself when I heard I was found innocent, and all the past tough days came to my mind at that moment."

On Jan 10, 2005, a school student surnamed Gao was found missing, and a month later, a teacher discovered her body in a restroom at a high school in Linshu county, Shandong.

In the following days, Zhang, then 15, was interrogated by local police and then named as the suspect and detained.

On March 6, 2006, the Linyi Intermediate People's Court in the province convicted Zhang of rape and gave him a life sentence. At the same time, Wang Guangchao, Zhang's classmate, was found to have helped him cover up the crime and was sentenced to three years with a three-year reprieve.

Zhang and Wang did not appeal to a higher court at the time "because they were too young and frightened by the ruling," Wang Dianxue, Zhang's lawyer, told China Daily on Monday.

"After learning about law in prison, my client realized that he could protect his legitimate rights by rule of law, so he told his mother, Ma Yuping, when she visited him in prison in 2011 that he had confessed to the crime because he was tortured during the police interrogation," the lawyer said.

Ma began appealing for her son, but the appeals were successively rejected by the Shandong intermediate and then high courts in 2012.

Five years later, the Supreme People's Court, China's top court, ordered after a review that the Shandong High People's Court to retry the case. The public rehearing opened on Dec 5, 2019, and the provincial prosecutors suggested acquitting Zhang and Wang for insufficient evidence.

"It's gratifying to see the high people's court correct the judicial misconduct, and it's the best way for Zhang and Wang, as well as their families, to feel justice," said Wang Dianxue, the lawyer.

"The police didn't find any physical evidence, such as Zhang's semen or hair, at the scene, so it was a mistake to detain the student based only on his confession at that time," he said.

He noted that he and Zhang's family will apply for state compensation for the wrongful conviction. "We're going to apply for more in compensation, because Zhang was a minor and suffered greater emotional damage when he was wrongly convicted," he said, adding that an exact amount is still pending.

Zhang is planning to learn some technical skills so he can support himself, the lawyer said.

Wang Guangchao, the other wrongfully convicted man, is a driver in Ningbo, Zhejiang. He was very thankful for those helping the two in the appeal and said he would also apply for compensation.

Zhang Zhichao and his mother, Ma Yuping, leave court on Monday in Zibo, Shandong province, after he was found not guilty in a retrial of a rape case that had sent him to prison at age 16. WANG HANBING/FOR CHINA DAILY
2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi urges more efforts against graft in govt]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532228.htm Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, ordered officials on Monday to make consistent efforts against graft to secure victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and fighting poverty.

Xi, China's president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, spoke at the fourth plenary session of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC.

The annual session of the top anti-corruption agency was attended by all seven members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

Xi stressed upholding and improving the Party and State supervisory systems, saying that the efforts would ensure that the Party's policies are faithfully implemented.

Since the Party's 18th National Congress, which was held in late 2012, the CPC has strengthened its supervision over the exercise of power and made historic achievements, Xi said.

Guided by scientific theories, the CPC has set up systems to remain true to its original aspiration and keep its mission firmly in mind, Xi said, adding that the whole Party's belief in fulfilling the Chinese dream has been strengthened.

Party unity has been strengthened and the CPC has punished corruption with an iron fist in recent years, Xi said.

The Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, which concluded in late October, made strategic plans to promote the modernization of the country's governance system and governance capability, Xi said, adding that anti-graft authorities should implement the requirements of that session.

He attached great importance to the supervision of poverty reduction tasks, saying problems that harm the people's interests in poverty-stricken areas must be addressed.

Xi called for tough measures against officials who undermine the law by providing protective umbrellas to mafia-style gangsters, and he told anti-graft authorities to continue to fight both tigers and flies-meaning both senior officials and those at lower-levels. Those who did not cease their misbehavior after the Party's 18th National Congress must be punished severely, Xi said.

Anti-corruption agencies should also keep an eye on State-owned enterprises, corrupt activities hidden in local government debt, cheating in the healthcare system and State-owned assets overseas.

The CPC Central Committee's eight-point rules on frugality should be further enforced and supervision of the chief officials of Party organizations at all levels must be enhanced, Xi said.

The disciplinary and supervisory authorities should take the lead in enhancing Party building, he said, adding that they should be loyal to the Party and be brave about fighting corruption.


2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA['Reverse' holiday travel can save money]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532224.htm Every Chinese New Year, cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou-which sustain millions of jobs-empty out, as people working or studying return to their smaller hometowns for family reunions.

Trains, planes and buses are typically jammed with people going home from the big cities before the holiday, while those heading in the opposite direction-from home to the cities-have far fewer passengers.

To ease the burden on crowded trains and fill empty seats heading the opposite way, railway companies this year are offering more discounts travel during the rush, which began in earnest on Jan 10 and will end on Feb 18. Spring Festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Jan 25.

In recent years, China has seen more "reverse travel", with many elderly people going to the cities where their adult children live, and it wants to encourage the trend.

In the Yangtze River Delta region, for example, the local railway operator in Shanghai said eight bullet trains and 15 slow trains will see ticket discounts as deep as 45 percent off to encourage people to take a reverse route against the travel rush.

Previously only slow train services were sold at discounted prices during the peak travel period.

China State Railway Group, the national railway operator, said the number of trains offering discount tickets has risen from 64 last year to 102 this year. The deepest discount has been increased from last year's 35 percent off.

The price cut is a response to a call by the National Development and Reform Commission, which issued a document on the Spring Festival travel rush in December urging railway departments to take actions promoting reverse routes.

Industry observers said it's the first time the central government has made such a call in its guidelines on the holiday, although the practice is not new.

Liu Zhi, a 40-year-old engineer in Beijing is one of those who got a discount this year. He prefers to have his parents come to his city of work from their hometown, Changde, Hunan province, to celebrate Chinese New Year instead of traveling himself. Since the birth of his daughter in 2012, he has invited parents to Beijing every year.

"For us, it was not easy to travel 1,400 kilometers with our little daughter. During the Spring Festival travel rush, trains and planes to Changde are crowded, with people packed shoulder to shoulder."

He said his parents also like to come to Beijing.

According to online travel agency Ctrip, the number of airline tickets booked to some big cities-Hangzhou, Zhejiang province; Nanjing, Jiangsu province; and Shanghai-in the week before Spring Festival this year has doubled that of last year.

But the price of airplane tickets from small cities to large ones can be discounted as much as 80 percent. A flight from Changde to Beijing was listed at 790 yuan ($113) for the day before Lunar New Year's Eve, 600 yuan cheaper than going the other direction.

Still, for some, the traditional way is preferable. Many younger people who don't have children or haven't settled in workplaces would still rather suffer the travel rush and return home to reunite with their families.

Lu Yuhang, a 27-year-old writer in Beijing, whose original home is the Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous region in Yunnan province, said he doesn't have a relative in the capital and there is no atmosphere for a New Year's celebration.

"It's also easier for me to travel such a long way rather than my parents. And in Beijing, it's cold in January, but it's warm in Yunnan," he said.

Wang Keju contributed to this story.

2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA['Reverse' holiday travel can save money]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532217.htm Every Chinese New Year, cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou-which sustain millions of jobs-empty out, as people working or studying return to their smaller hometowns for family reunions.

Trains, planes and buses are typically jammed with people going home from the big cities before the holiday, while those heading in the opposite direction-from home to the cities-have far fewer passengers.

To ease the burden on crowded trains and fill empty seats heading the opposite way, railway companies this year are offering more discounts travel during the rush, which began in earnest on Jan 10 and will end on Feb 18. Spring Festival, the Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Jan 25.

In recent years, China has seen more "reverse travel", with many elderly people going to the cities where their adult children live, and it wants to encourage the trend.

In the Yangtze River Delta region, for example, the local railway operator in Shanghai said eight bullet trains and 15 slow trains will see ticket discounts as deep as 45 percent off to encourage people to take a reverse route against the travel rush.

Previously only slow train services were sold at discounted prices during the peak travel period.

China State Railway Group, the national railway operator, said the number of trains offering discount tickets has risen from 64 last year to 102 this year. The deepest discount has been increased from last year's 35 percent off.

The price cut is a response to a call by the National Development and Reform Commission, which issued a document on the Spring Festival travel rush in December urging railway departments to take actions promoting reverse routes.

Industry observers said it's the first time the central government has made such a call in its guidelines on the holiday, although the practice is not new.

Liu Zhi, a 40-year-old engineer in Beijing is one of those who got a discount this year. He prefers to have his parents come to his city of work from their hometown, Changde, Hunan province, to celebrate Chinese New Year instead of traveling himself. Since the birth of his daughter in 2012, he has invited parents to Beijing every year.

"For us, it was not easy to travel 1,400 kilometers with our little daughter. During the Spring Festival travel rush, trains and planes to Changde are crowded, with people packed shoulder to shoulder."

He said his parents also like to come to Beijing.

According to online travel agency Ctrip, the number of airline tickets booked to some big cities-Hangzhou, Zhejiang province; Nanjing, Jiangsu province; and Shanghai-in the week before Spring Festival this year has doubled that of last year.

But the price of airplane tickets from small cities to large ones can be discounted as much as 80 percent. A flight from Changde to Beijing was listed at 790 yuan ($113) for the day before Lunar New Year's Eve, 600 yuan cheaper than going the other direction.

Still, for some, the traditional way is preferable. Many younger people who don't have children or haven't settled in workplaces would still rather suffer the travel rush and return home to reunite with their families.

Lu Yuhang, a 27-year-old writer in Beijing, whose original home is the Honghe Hani and Yi autonomous region in Yunnan province, said he doesn't have a relative in the capital and there is no atmosphere for a New Year's celebration.

"It's also easier for me to travel such a long way rather than my parents. And in Beijing, it's cold in January, but it's warm in Yunnan," he said.

Wang Keju contributed to this story.

2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[We felt enormous pressure on our shoulders, says price talks team member]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/14/content_37532241.htm Delegates taking part in last year's negotiations on drug prices experienced both a sense of being under pressure and of responsibility, according to Liu Hongliang, a leading member of the National Healthcare Security Administration team.

"During the negotiations, we had to consider public expectations and the healthcare insurance fund's ability to pay, as well as the interests of pharmaceutical companies and the costs of drug research and development," said Liu, deputy director of the Jilin Provincial Healthcare Insurance Administration in Changchun, Jilin province.

"We had to strike a balance, and felt enormous pressure on our shoulders."

All drugs on the list for the negotiations had been carefully selected and were needed urgently by patients, he said.

"The drugs on the list are relatively costly, and many patients will still find that they cannot afford them, even if they are included in the basic healthcare insurance program for reimbursement, unless the prices are reduced."

For example, in Jilin, he said that due to improved healthcare and preferential policies, patients living in poverty now only have to pay 10 percent of their medical expenses. However, because many of them are on low incomes, they may still struggle to foot their bills.

After years of efforts covering more than 95 percent of the population, China has built the world's largest basic medical insurance network, according to official data. However, healthcare varies in different areas, with insurance subscribers' medical bills reimbursable at a range of rates among different groups of people.

Before last year's negotiations, which resulted in 70 new drugs being included on the reimbursement list, such talks had been held for several years, and their success had given experts from the National Healthcare Security Administration more confidence, Liu said.

In addition, with bulk purchases of drugs, the administration's position in the negotiations has greatly improved in recent years, he said, adding that cooperation from pharmaceutical companies involved in the talks is also key to their success.

"When drug prices were reduced to a level lower than that expected by companies, some manufacturers immediately decided to continue efforts to reach an agreement," he said.

Some companies changed their strategies to reduce operating costs, enabling prices to be lowered further and agreements to be reached, Liu added.

2020-01-14 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi sends messages to Oman's new sultan]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532108.htm President Xi Jinping sent two messages on Sunday to Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, the new sultan of Oman-first a congratulatory message about his succession as sultan and second a message of condolence over the death of Sultan Qaboos bin Said.

In the congratulatory message, Xi said that since the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries, bilateral relations had made significant progress and the two sides have become strategic partners with mutual trust.

He said he attaches great importance to the development of China-Oman relations and stands ready to work with Sultan Haitham to take the strategic partnership to a new level.

In his message of condolence, Xi extended sympathies from the Chinese government and people, and in his own name, to the family of Sultan Qaboos and the people of Oman.

Sultan Qaboos bin Said died on Friday at age 79, Oman's state media reported on Saturday.

Sultan Qaboos was a great leader of Oman and had made important contributions to the country's development, as well as to the peace and stability of the Middle East and the Gulf region, Xi said.

Calling him an old friend of the Chinese people, Xi said Sultan Qaboos had made positive contributions to advancing the China-Oman strategic partnership, facilitating practical cooperation between the two countries in various fields and deepening the friendship between the two peoples.


2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Plane crash tied to 'high tension' in Gulf region]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532134.htm The crash of a Ukrainian passenger jet was a tragedy arising from the supercharged tensions of the Middle East and could have been avoided, an expert said following Iran's admission that it "unintentionally" shot down the jet with missiles.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that a military probe into the tragedy had concluded that "missiles fired due to human error" brought down the Boeing 737-800. He called it an "unforgivable mistake".

The acknowledgment came days after the Wednesday crash, which killed all 176 people on board. Teheran first denied the possibility of human error and said the crash was the result of a technical problem.

Iran's assignment of blame to human error was reasonable, given the overall context, said Li Shaoxian, a Middle East studies expert at Ningxia University.

The missiles struck the jet just a few hours after an Iranian missile strike against two United States military facilities in Iraq.

"It sounds reasonable that the Iranian military made the mistake because of the high tension. The Iranians had no idea how the US would react to the military strike," he said. Commanders at the front line had authority to launch missiles against any suspicious targets.

The General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces said on Saturday that the Ukraine flight "resembled a hostile target approaching a sensitive center" of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, especially "under sensitive and critical conditions" when US aircraft flights had increased near Iran's borders.

Li described the tragedy as the unexpected product of high tension in the Persian Gulf region and Iran's high alert for attacks. A war mentality, he said, was rooted in the US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Iraq on Jan 3.

"Without the assassination, there would be no high tension in the regional situation," Li said. "The US bears responsibility for this situation and the painful accident."

He called the shooting down of the aircraft "a freak".

"It shouldn't have happened. This is why all parties, including China, have been urging the US and Iran to de-escalate and maintain restraint," he said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Saturday that the tragic accident "only reinforces the importance of de-escalating tensions in the region".

"It is vital that all leaders now pursue a diplomatic way forward," he said. "We can all see very clearly that further conflict will only lead to more loss and tragedy."

In his statement, Rouhani apologized for the catastrophe and extended condolences to the families of the victims. He also promised to investigate further to "identify all the causes and roots" and prosecute anyone who may have acted inappropriately.

After a conversation with Rouhani, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter that acknowledging the missile strike was "a step in the right direction".

"I insist on the immediate completion of identification of the bodies and their return to Ukraine," Zelensky said. "The perpetrators must be held accountable."

Rouhani said joint investigations between the Iranian and Ukrainian experts will continue, and judicial measures will start "soon".

In a phone conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose country had 57 citizens on board, Rouhani said he welcomed cooperation within the framework of international regulations that is aimed at clarifying the dimensions of the incident.

Li, the expert at Ningxia University, said Iran's acknowledgment should have come earlier, but it was still a wise and necessary move that could help in a difficult time.

"The series of measures, from acknowledging the mistake to promising investigation and compensation, can build some trust in the international community, as well as eliminate some misunderstandings," he said.

Meanwhile, on Friday, the US imposed fresh sanctions on Iran despite international calls for restraint. The sanctions cover metal manufacturing and other sectors of the Iranian economy.


2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Migrants' holiday travel getting safer]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532133.htm Visible only by moonlight and the odd stray light along the way, the street was mostly empty-little traffic and just an occasional pedestrian. The roar of a motorcycle and cheerful music from a portable speaker suddenly broke the silence.

Pan Chunguo, 27-year-old migrant worker, left his dormitory at an electronic factory in Zhaoqing, Guangdong province, at 6 am one day last week and hit the road. Without companions to join him, he felt lonely going by motorcycle back home for Spring Festival this year.

"It's very dangerous heading out on the road on my own, especially during the travel rush, when people are all heading home in their trucks and cars," he said the day after the trip. "There's more risk of getting into an accident-big trouble if that happens," he said.

In 2015, Pan chose to make the nearly 12-hour trip to Wuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, with an eight-member fleet of motorcycles, since a train ticket was almost impossible for him to get at the time. This year, it's just Pan and his speaker.

Co-workers who in the past would ride back with him have turned to a faster, safer means of transportation-the high-speed train.

Clad in heavy, protective clothing and leather knee pads, and carrying gifts for parents and children, fleets of homebound motorcyclists like Pan were once a common scene in southern China among the huge throngs of people rushing home for the Spring Festival, China's most important holiday for family reunions.

However, such risky trips are gradually becoming a thing of the past, thanks to the country's quickly expanding, high-speed network of eight east-west and eight north-south rail lines, especially in Guangdong and Guangxi, where many migrant workers come from.

By the end of last year, China had more than 139,000 km of rail lines, with 35,000 km for high-speed rail alone, further easing transportation.

Rail authorities in Guangdong and Guangxi have taken many measures to enhance transportation capability, including making full use of new rail tracks and putting more additional trains into operation.

Rail authorities in Guangxi will mobilize per day an additional 39 trains in the daytime and nine at night to meet the surging Spring Festival travel demand. In Guangdong, rail authorities will expand rail service to handle an expected 67 million passenger trips, an increase of 8 percent over the previous year.

According to an official in the Guangxi Department of Transport, the number of motorcycles heading to the Wuzhou from Guangdong during the Spring Festival travel rush plummeted from 400,000 in 2013 to 48,000 last year. The number is expected to drop by another 8,000 more during the travel rush this year.

Li Xiaojun, a volunteer at a rest station along the way that provides riders with a quick meal, hot tea, and medical and motorcycle repair service, has been more than happy to see fewer motorcycle fleets.

"The rest stop used to be filled with groups of motorcyclists at this time of year, but we've come across many loners in recent years," he said, "Three years ago, it wouldn't have been unusual to have gone through dozens of bottles of hot water by lunchtime, but now there's still much left after a whole day."

This was Pan's sixth journey home by motorcycle-a freezing, tedious and dangerous trip he hoped would be his last.

"These rides are brutal. After a while, I'm exhausted and my whole body is freezing and tired," Pan said, "I will definitely take a high-speed train next year."

Volunteer Tang Zhengzheng shows a train model to young passengers while they wait at Chongqingxi Railway Station in Chongqing on Friday. LIU CHAN/XINHUA
2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[2019 a big year in anti-corruption fight]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532132.htm China's sweeping campaign against corruption brought a long string of victories last year, as the list of senior officials taken down continued to expand, especially in the financial sector.

In 2019, 63 senior officials from central Party and State organs, State-owned enterprises, major financial institutions and universities, were placed under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission, the country's top anti-graft watchdogs, compared with 15 the previous year.

Among the 63 officials, 15 were from the financial sector, including banking, insurance, trust, guarantee, investment and financing-virtually all aspects of the financial industry.

President Xi Jinping, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, called for more efforts in fighting corruption in the financial sector during a key meeting of the top watchdog in January last year.

Addressing the third plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, Xi said: "We should step up efforts to combat corruption in the financial sector and resolutely investigate and punish all corruption when it is discovered."

The fourth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will be held Monday to Wednesday.

Banking bigwigs in the 2019 list of "tigers"-a reference to senior officials-include Zhao Jingwen, former executive director of CITIC Group, and Hu Huaibang, ex-chairman of the China Development Bank. Both worked at the ministerial level.

Officials of financial regulators were also targeted. For example, Liu Jinming, a former member of the Party committee at the Inner Mongolia bureau of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, was put under investigation by the watchdog in November.

Some retired officials have also been investigated in the crackdown. Liu Jidong, former vice-president of PICC Investment Holding Co, was placed under investigation by the watchdog in June.

The officials were expelled from the Party and removed from public office. They typically used their positions in financial units for personal gain, the watchdog said.

Anti-corruption work in the financial sector is necessary for the healthy development of the industry, protection of the vital interests of the people and protection of national security, the top watchdog's China Discipline Inspection newspaper said in a commentary in November.

Interests and resources are relatively concentrated in the financial sector, and financial corruption cases often affect the stability of financial markets and economic development, causing great harm to society, it said.

The anti-graft campaign stepped up last year. From January to November, disciplinary inspectors and supervisory organs across the country filed and investigated 555,000 cases, with 485,000 people receiving disciplinary measures within Party or government agencies. Around 19,000 cases were transferred to procuratorates for criminal investigation.

During the past year, 20 officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above were placed under investigation and 23 received Party disciplinary punishments.

From January to November last year, 1,841 fugitives suspected of economic crimes, including 816 Party members and civil servants, were brought back to China for trial, and 4.09 billion yuan ($591 million) of illegally obtained money was recovered, according to government records.


2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Timeline]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532109.htm ・ Jan 3, last year: The Chang'e 4 robotic probe lands on the far side of the moon after a 26-day journey from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. The landmark mission carries out close observation work.

・ March 10: A Long March 3B carrier rocket lifts off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center and places a communications satellite into geostationary orbit, marking the 300th launch in the Long March family.

・ May 17: LandSpace, a private rocket maker in Beijing, carries out the first test run of its TQ 12 methane rocket engine in Huzhou, Zhejiang province. The engine is the third of its kind in the world, following SpaceX's Raptor and Blue Origin's BE-4.

・ June 5: A Long March 11 solid-propellant rocket lifts off from a mobile platform in the Yellow Sea, sending seven satellites into orbit and realizing the nation's first seaborne space launch.

・ July 19: The Tiangong II space lab makes a controlled return to the Earth's atmosphere after 1,036 days in space. Most of the spacecraft burns up during re-entry, while a small amount of debris falls in a designated secure area in the Pacific Ocean.

・ July 25: A SQX 1 solid fuel carrier rocket, developed by i-Space, a startup in Beijing, blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, ferrying two satellites and several experimental payloads into space. It is the first orbital mission achieved by the domestic private space industry.

・ Aug 17: Smart Dragon 1, the nation's newest carrier rocket, makes its maiden flight from the Jiuquan center, complementing the home-produced Long March, Kuaizhou and SQX carrier rockets.

・ Nov 14: A key experiment is carried out in Hebei province for China's forthcoming Mars mission, watched by dozens of foreign diplomats and journalists. The experiment verifies the design and capability of the landing vehicle for the robotic Mars probe.

・ Dec 16: Launches of the 56th and 57th satellites complete the core space-based network of the Beidou Navigation Satellite System.

・ Dec 27: The third launch is staged of the country's biggest rocket-the Long March 5-at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, placing the Shijian 20, the largest, heaviest and most advanced domestic satellite, into orbit.

2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Mainland policy 'clear' after Taiwan vote]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532113.htm The Chinese mainland's policy toward Taiwan is clear and consistent, a spokesman said after Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party was re-elected as the island's leader on Saturday.

"We uphold the basic principles of peaceful reunification, 'one country, two systems' and the one-China principle," said Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesman for the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

"We resolutely safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, resolutely oppose separatist action toward Taiwan independence in any form and resolutely promote the interests and well-being of Taiwan compatriots," Ma said.

The peaceful development of cross-Straits relations is the right path to promote common development and benefit compatriots on both sides, Ma said.

"On the common political foundation of adhering to the 1992 Consensus and opposing independence, we are ready to work with Taiwan compatriots to promote the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties, advance toward peaceful reunification with the motherland and jointly open up bright prospects for the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation," he said.

Tsai, of the Democratic Progressive Party, and her running mate Lai Ching-te won Taiwan's leadership election on Saturday, the island's election commission announced.

They received more than 8.17 million votes-57.1 percent of the total. Kuomintang candidate Han Kuo-yu and his running mate, Chang San-cheng, received 5.52 million votes (38.6 percent), and James Soong of the People First Party and his running mate, Sandra Yu, received 600,000 votes (4.3 percent).

Taiwan's legislative election was held simultaneously with the leadership election. Among the 113 seats in the island's legislature, the DPP garnered 61 seats while KMT got 38.

Zhu Songling, a professor at Beijing Union University's Institute of Taiwan Studies, said the DPP had done a lot in the election campaign to create cross-Straits tensions.

The legislative department of the island passed an "anti-infiltration law" last month to combat what the DPP called "infiltration" and "threats" from the Chinese mainland, which it said paid people on the island to promote political aims.

Zhu said the violence by protesters in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in recent months was also used by the DPP as a weapon against the mainland for political benefit in the election.

The United States and some anti-China forces in the West intervened in the election, he added, noting that the US Congress had introduced a series of Taiwan-related bills to help the DPP strengthen its capacity to confront the mainland.

Although Han Kuo-yu of the KMT was defeated, Zhu said Han and his voters, who emphasized improving the island's economy and its people's livelihoods, cannot be ignored.

He said he expected the island's economy has little chance to improve in the coming years with Tsai at the helm, in light of strained cross-Straits relations and difficult global conditions.

Nevertheless, the Chinese mainland will continue to take the lead in cross-Straits relations and press for reunification of the country, he said.

The widely recognized one-China principle around the world will remain unchanged, Zhu said, adding that the US can be expected to continue interfering in Taiwan and should be carefully watched.

On Sunday, the Foreign Ministry urged the international community to continue to abide by the one-China principle.

"We hope and believe that the international community will continue adhering to the one-China principle and understand and support the just cause of the Chinese people in opposition to secessionist activities and in favor of national reunification," Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

The Taiwan question is an internal Chinese matter, Geng said, adding that no matter what happens in Taiwan, the fact that there is only one China and that Taiwan is part of it will not change.

The Chinese government will not change its stance, he said. Rather, it adheres to the one-China principle and opposes the notions of Taiwan independence, two Chinas and "one China, one Taiwan". The universal consensus of the international community in support of the one-China principle will not change either, he said.

Geng also expressed indignation and opposition to countries that have diplomatic ties with China and engage in any form of official exchanges with Taiwan.

He made the remarks in an online statement after senior officials in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan sent congratulations to Tsai.

The election in Taiwan is China's affair, Geng said, and such moves violate the one-China principle, which is the basic norm governing international relations and has been widely accepted by the global community.

China has lodged stern representations to relevant countries, he said.

Xinhua and Zhou Jin contributed to this story.




2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[FAST radio telescope passes test, starts work]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532112.htm China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, the world's largest single-dish radio telescope, passed national evaluation on Saturday and officially began operation.

The telescope's superior sensitivity is expected to lead scientists to great scientific breakthroughs in research on astronomical phenomena including pulsars, hydrogen in the Milky Way and neighboring galaxies, and fast radio bursts.

It will also serve some researchers working at the frontiers of cosmic studies, including detecting the magnetic fields of exoplanets, which may harbor extraterrestrial life, and gravitational waves-"ripples" in space caused by some of the most violent and energetic processes in the universe-that were only directly observed for the first time in 2016 by an observatory in the United States.

"We hope it will help systematically expand our vision of the universe and discover a completely new unknown world," said Yan Jun, director of the National Astronomical Observatories, the Chinese Academy of Sciences subsidiary that operates FAST.

The idea of building the world's largest single-dish radio telescope was first put forward in the 1990s by a group of astronomers including Nan Rendong, FAST's previous chief scientist, who died in 2017.

Located in the remote Dawodang depression in Guizhou province, the project was approved by the central government in 2007. Construction kicked off in 2011 and finished in 2016, with an investment of about 1.15 billion yuan ($166 million).

After overcoming a number of construction difficulties due to the super-large scale and ultrahigh sensitivity of the telescope, the facility entered testing in 2016 and passed a series of technical and performance assessments last year.

Li Di, FAST's chief scientist, said the facility was opened for domestic research last year and has since received 140 applications from 21 academic institutes and universities. Many projects selected have been generating new scientific results.

FAST has also helped scientists obtain valuable data, including the discovery of 102 confirmed pulsars.

Now that it has passed evaluation, Li said it will begin a systematic survey of the universe this year.

"FAST has unique advantages in its observation capabilities. It can map out the most important baryonic matter in the universe, namely atomic hydrogen, which is much more massive than all the visible stars and galaxies combined," he said.

One of the focuses will be the Milky Way and M31, the nearest spiral galaxy to it. The scientific results will help scientists explain the formation of galaxies, the composition of the gases, and the processes and mechanisms of the origin of stars and planets such as the sun and Earth.

Although FAST already excels in discovering pulsars with its speed and efficiency, Li said that is just the beginning of a more systematic study of pulsars-dead neutron stars that emit beams of electromagnetic radiation.

At the evaluation meeting on Saturday, the State assessment committee said the FAST project had achieved a number of innovations, significantly improved China's research ability in radio astronomy, promoted innovation of related technologies and produced large social and economic benefits.

"The comprehensive performance of FAST has reached a top level internationally, which is of great significance in promoting major astronomical breakthroughs in China," the committee said.

2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Regulators aim to reduce financial risks]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532111.htm Regulators are determined to deal with high-risk financial institutions and continue to dismantle shadow banking, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission said on Saturday.

At its recent annual work conference, the commission highlighted the importance of comprehensively strengthening the regulation of asset quality and the liabilities of financial institutions in the banking and insurance sectors.

The commission, China's top banking and insurance regulator, said it will formulate detailed rules to improve the accuracy of asset classification based on the current five-category system that organizes bank loans according to their inherent risks. The categories are pass, special-mention, substandard, doubtful and loss.

It will also comprehensively strengthen regulation of assets and liabilities' quality to improve the liability status of banks and insurers, especially small and medium-sized financial institutions.

"The year 2020 is the closing year of a tough battle against financial risks," said Zeng Gang, deputy director-general of the National Institution for Finance and Development. "Preventing and resolving financial risks remains the primary task of the regulator."

As banking business innovations continue to increase, noncredit obligation assets now account for a fairly large proportion of banks' total assets. As a result, the previous methods of asset quality classification, which mainly aim to disclose nonperforming loans, no longer describe the current features of bank assets.

"To obtain a true risk profile in the banking sector, the regulator decided to expand the scope of bank assets covered by the asset quality classification system, from loans to total financial assets," Zeng said.

"China must also adjust the previous five-category system to adapt to changes in international financial regulations and accounting standards, as well as to enhance the accuracy of asset quality classification."

The regulator said it will guide financial institutions to allocate more funds to key areas and weak links in the Chinese economy and to enhance the quality and effect of finance in serving the real economy, the portion that produces goods and services.

It urged commercial banks to further cut financing costs for small businesses-to which banks grant a total credit line of up to 10 million yuan ($1.45 million) for each borrower-by 0.5 percentage points, in addition to asking China's five largest commercial banks to increase their offerings of these types of loans by more than 20 percent this year over 2019.

Lian Ping, president of the China Chief Economist Forum, said that compared with large State-owned companies, small private businesses are under greater economic pressure, so lowering financing costs for small businesses is an important measure to improve their financial condition.

It is necessary for the regulator to mobilize financial institutions to play a larger part in this respect, he said, adding that the five largest commercial banks should play a core role.

But Lian said that to achieve the goal of reducing financing costs of small businesses, simply relying on the five largest commercial banks is not enough.

"China should launch a series of targeted policies to encourage small and medium-sized banks, credit unions and emerging financial institutions such as village banks to play a greater role in serving small businesses. It's the main duty of these types of financial institutions to serve small businesses and private companies. The regulator should also allow more small and medium-sized financial institutions that meet compliance requirements to grow," Lian said.

He asked the regulator to notice that small and medium-sized banks may lose high-quality small, private corporate clients to large banks, as the latter are urged to increase small business lending. This change in market structure must be handled well, he said.


2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Claims 'made up' in Western media sources]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532110.htm The comments of a few United States and Western politicians about "suppressing Uygurs and persecuting Muslims in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region" conflict with the facts. Their goal is to provoke ethnic discord and antagonism between China and Muslim countries, representatives of the regional government said.

"We have noticed that some Western media made up claims like 'the Chinese government restricted Uygurs' communication and freedom of movement'. In addition, some people, incited by the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, have posted online that their relatives in China were 'missing'. I want to emphasize here that neither the personal freedom of any ethnic groups in Xinjiang nor their communications with their overseas relatives has ever been restricted," Gul Ablim, spokeswoman for the Xinjiang government, said on Friday in a news conference in Urumqi, the regional capital.

ABC News in Australia once reported that Azmet Umal, a Chinese citizen living in Australia, said his family members in Xinjiang-including his father, stepmother, three brothers, two sisters and over 20 nephews-were missing. "It has been verified that all his family members in China are living a normal life and enjoy personal freedom. There have been many such reports," Gul said.

Even some members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a terrorist organization that aims to separate Xinjiang via violence, have started to worry that too many of their lies will be exposed sooner or later, she said.

On Dec 31, a mainstream French media source, France 24 TV Station, reported that Alfred Erkin, a member of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement who lives in the US, spoke out against using misinformation as a basis for criticism of the Chinese government.

In addition to such misinformation, some American politicians and media sources claim that Xinjiang's efforts to upgrade social governance with modern technologies is a way to monitor and control Uygurs or Muslims.

"Using modern technology and big data analysis methods to promote social governance has already become a common practice around the world," Gul said. "Xinjiang installed surveillance cameras in public places like main roads, traffic intersections and in urban and rural areas in compliance with law. These cameras themselves are not directed against any specific ethnic group, nor will they identify a specific one."

Actually, the international community has started criticizing hypocritical US hegemonic acts, Yalkun Yakup, a spokesman for the regional government said at the news conference.

As pointed out by Canadian independent journalist Steven Gowans in his article questioning the position of New York Times: "It called Beijing's efforts in tackling separatist-oriented violence inspired by religious extremism 'repression of Muslims'". The New York Times never refers to the US "war on terror" as "suppression of Muslims". When it comes to the US strategic rival (China), the newspaper switches its criteria. It magnifies efforts targeting a small number of 'religious extremism' inspired violent terrorists as suppressing all Muslims, he said.

The region, which has seen frequent terrorist attacks in the past, will continue to strike hard against terrorist and religious extremist activities in accordance with the law, Bahargul Smat, head of the Xinjiang Uygur Regional People's High Court, said while delivering the court's work report at the annual session of the Xinjiang Uygur Regional People's Congress on Wednesday.

2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[NATION SOARS AHEAD WITH SPACE MISSIONS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/13/content_37532114.htm Last year, a long chapter was written in the history of China's space industry, with a host of memorable events taking place.

The nation carried out more space missions than any other country, with 32 successful orbital launches.

At the start of last year, the country mounted the world's first expedition to the far side of the moon, which had never before been closely observed by a spacecraft. The Chang'e 4 robotic probe landed on the far side in early January last year after a 26-day journey that began at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. It was the country's fourth mission to explore the moon.

Yutu 2, the world's seventh lunar rover and the first to reach the far side, was released from the spacecraft to survey the landing site near the moon's South Pole-Aitken basin, the largest and deepest known in the solar system.

The robot has been operating on the lunar surface for about 370 days-a record. The previous mark was set by the Soviet Union's Lunokhod 1, which worked on the moon for 321 days in 1970 and 1971.

According to the China National Space Administration, Yutu 2 has traveled nearly 360 meters on the lunar surface.

In June, the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the nation's leading maker of carrier rockets, carried out the country's first seaborne launch of a rocked in the Yellow Sea.

A Long March 11 solid-propellant rocket was fired from a mobile launch platform in the waters off Shandong province, sending seven satellites into orbit nearly 600 kilometers above the Earth.

The mission-the world's first seaborne space launch for five years-shows that China has the technologies and capabilities required for such an operation and also indicates that the country has found an alternative to its ground-based launch centers.

Before the seaborne mission, more than 310 launches had been conducted at the country's four ground centers.

Compared with conventional launches on land, a sea-based one means there is a lower risk for densely populated areas along the rocket's trajectory. The marine method also allows launches to be made near the equator, increasing a rocket's carrying capacity, lowering launch costs and extending the life span of some satellites.

At the end of last year, the third launch mission of the nation's biggest and most powerful carrier rocket, the Long March 5, was conducted in Hainan province, sending the largest satellite ever built by China into space.

Witnessed by tens of thousands of spectators at the Wenchang Space Launch Center, the 57-meter-tall rocket, the tallest and most technologically sophisticated of China's launch vehicles, rose into a cloudy night sky with a blinding white flash and the combined thrust of more than 1,000 metric tons.

Some 37 minutes later, it placed the Shijian 20 experimental satellite into its preset position in space.

The launch attracted widespread public attention and was closely watched by the space industry. It was tasked with not only ferrying the satellite, but also verifying measures by researchers and engineers to detect structural defects and technical hazards that possibly led to the failure of the gigantic rocket's second flight.

Furthermore, its outcome will determine whether China can fulfill its first Mars mission as well as the Chang'e 5 lunar expedition as scheduled.

Carried by the rocket, the 8-ton Shijian 20 is the country's largest and heaviest satellite. It is also the second technology demonstration satellite based on the nation's new-generation platform, the DFH 5, after the Shijian 18, which was lost during the Long March 5's second flight.

Private powers

This year marks the 50th anniversary of China's maiden space mission, which placed its first satellite into orbit in April 1970.

During most of the past 50 years, government-run organizations and major State-owned contractors have controlled all the country's space programs, ranging from navigation networks to manned journeys and lunar expeditions.

They include the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.

However, private enterprises have risen over the past year to become a new force, thanks to government encouragement and support.

In July, i-Space, a Beijing startup founded by a group of rocket researchers, used its own carrier rocket, the SQX 1 Y1, to send two satellites and several experimental payloads into space, marking the first orbital mission by the country's private space industry. The researchers previously worked for State-owned enterprises.

The solid-propellant carrier rocket, the first in the SQX 1 series, blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert.

Nearly 15 minutes after ignition, the 25-meter-tall rocket placed two satellites from State-owned organizations into orbit about 300 km above the Earth.

The mission's success is considered by industry observers as a new landmark in the country's space industry.

It showed that after previous failed attempts, a domestic private enterprise had finally succeeded in conducting an orbital launch-a threshold for any serious newcomer in the global space sector that had only been crossed previously by the United States' SpaceX.

Leading private manufacturers in China, including i-Space, Land-Space and OneSpace, which are all based in Beijing, have been going all-out to develop their own carrier rockets, which are currently mainly built by State-owned contractors. Such rockets are in short supply because of surging demand for launch services from the domestic satellite industry.

Executives at these companies are aware that becoming the first private company to launch a carrier rocket into orbit is not only an achievement but also means lucrative contracts.

Two previous attempts at orbital launches, by LandSpace and One-Space respectively, failed in flight.

Industry observer Xing Qiang, founder of Micro-Rocket Union, a nonprofit space research organization in Beijing, said the SQX 1 mission will become a symbol of the Chinese private space sector's technological capability and determination, and will also boost investor confidence in the business.

"In the near future, privately built carrier rockets can play a major role in the construction of low-orbiting satellite systems and space-based internet of things networks," he said. "In addition, the rapid growth of the space-based technology demonstration business will need a great number of launch services by these rockets."

Lan Tianyi, a senior industry analyst in Beijing, said this success will help other private rocket makers build up their confidence and will also focus more public attention on the industry.

In researching and developing the engine, the most important part of a rocket, i-Space and LandSpace made key achievements last year. They designed, manufactured and tested their own methane rocket engine, a cutting-edge technology previously dominated by the US' SpaceX and Blue Origin.

Such engines use liquid methane as a fuel and liquid oxygen as an oxidizer. They are reusable, nontoxic and powerful, and central to recyclable rockets.

Zhang Changwu, founder and CEO of LandSpace, said construction of the first of his company's ZQ 2 liquid-fuel rockets, which will be propelled by methane engines, has started and is expected to be completed before the end of the year. The rocket is likely to be ready for launch next year, he added.

Opportunities from 5G

Unlike private rocket makers who made headlines last year, private satellite developers kept a low profile. They set their sights on the game-changing fifth-generation wireless technology, or 5G, for digital cellular networks, as it can create many business opportunities for them.

Xie Tao, CEO of Commsat, said he is looking to a combination of 5G technology and low-orbiting satellites as a major growth stimulus for the domestic satellite industry.

Commsat, based in Beijing is a frontrunner in the private satellite sector. The company has placed in orbit eight small satellites it designed and built.

"If we put 5G technology and a low-orbiting satellite network together, we will be able to do a lot of things, like regular monitoring of wild animals and real-time tracking of transporting hazardous goods," he said.

Xie said the company will develop and build four or five more small satellites this year and is preparing to set up a mass-production factory.

He said that when the Space Law is enacted (due this year), he hopes that a specific proportion of government-funded space programs can be undertaken by private enterprises.

Xie added that this would significantly foster the private space industry and consequently strengthen the nation's overall competitiveness in space.

Data businesses

In addition to rockets and satellites, private players are active in the satellite data business, which uses space-based assets to develop information products for users.

Wang Chi, co-founder and CEO of TerraQuanta, a satellite data solutions provider in Beijing, said such products made from satellite-generated data and images have become increasingly popular among a wide range of businesses requiring time-sensitive data.

"They are useful in sectors such as finance, insurance, futures, agriculture, environmental protection and many others," Wang said. "For instance, satellite images help insurers better determine the level of damage to clients' farmland, factories or other premises. Similarly, they enable futures brokers to better evaluate trends of bulk commodities."

He said his company obtains unprocessed satellite data and images from satellite operators. It then uses algorithms and artificial intelligence technologies to collect usable information and prepare analysis for specific users.

In 2018, TerraQuanta used satellite data to produce a general survey report on the combined area of soybean farms in the US, and supplied it to private equity funds in China.

"Our report was even one day ahead of the one published by the US Department of Agriculture that year and proved to be valuable to our clients," Wang said.

He added that domestic satellites, such as those in the Gaofen series, have substantially broadened the sources of data and images for his company, helping to diversify its product portfolio and adding more value to its products.

"Gaofen high-resolution Earth observation satellites offer us extra options when we choose satellite-generated materials," he said. "Their deployment also helps us a lot when we negotiate with our foreign suppliers for lower quotations."

However, compared with material from foreign satellite companies, that from domestic operators is usually lower in quality, Wang said, adding that this is understandable, as the domestic satellite data industry is still relatively new and not as developed as those in the US and some European countries.

He suggested that the coverage of Gaofen satellites should be improved, including searching, downloading and transmitting the data and images they generate to give users faster access to information.


A Long March 5 rocket lifts off on Dec 27 from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province to place the Shijian 20, the largest, heaviest and most advanced domestic satellite, into orbit. XU JINGXING/CHINA DAILY



Scientists watch the Chang'e 4 robotic probe land on the far side of the moon after a 26-day journey from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. JIN LIWANG/XINHUA



Scientists watch the Chang'e 4 robotic probe land on the far side of the moon after a 26-day journey from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. JIN LIWANG/XINHUA



Scientists watch the Chang'e 4 robotic probe land on the far side of the moon after a 26-day journey from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province. JIN LIWANG/XINHUA



A SQX 1 solid fuel carrier rocket, developed by i-Space, blasts off from Jiuquan on the first orbital mission by China's private space industry. CHINA DAILY





2020-01-13 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tech to ease travel stress during Spring Festival rush]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37532047.htm China will better cope this year with the heavy traffic during the Spring Festival travel rush, with some 3 billion trips set to be made, as technologies from cloud computing to artificial intelligence kicked in to help cope with anticipated and unexpected congestion.

The 40-day travel rush that started on Friday unleashed the world's largest annual human migration-15 days ahead of the Lunar New Year-as families reunite for China's most important traditional holiday.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission, the Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan 25 this year, the earliest in the past eight years, will test both the transport system and the nerves of those caught up in it since the return trips of college students overlap with the travel rush.

In a bid to better manage the traffic peak, the Ministry of Transport said it will make full use of technologies such as big data to enhance connectivity and efficiency between multiple modes of transportation by dispatching more public transport vehicles, buses and taxis to transportation hubs including railway stations, airports and tourist attractions.

Alibaba Cloud, the nation's top cloud computing provider, has also rolled out a suite of offerings including data analytics, stronger computing power and the internet of things to help take the stress out of the festive journeys.

Xiao Lu, general manager of smart traffic business at Alibaba Cloud, said that data intelligence solutions on Alibaba Cloud, which supports a variety of clients such as railway ticketing app 12306, major airlines and highway operators, will help predict when peak periods draw near and suggest pre-emptive countermeasures.

"Data intelligence is widely applied across all scenarios in holiday traffic. By utilizing these cloud technologies, we can precisely pinpoint a route for circumventing congestion and save time," Xiao said, adding that this will help provide real-time traffic alerts to the public and allocate resources in advance to alleviate traffic jams.

The number of road trips, according to the Ministry of Transport, is projected to reach around 2.43 billion during the travel rush. With growing risks of accidents due to the large number of vehicles on the road, the traffic faces tougher challenges and is in greater need of new technologies to cope with such a huge passenger flow.

To be more specific, Amap, the Alibaba-owned digital mapping service with 100 million daily active users, will predict traffic conditions with a 30-minute lead time so that drivers can avoid traffic jams and take on alternative routes even before congestion takes place, said Wu Zeju, who oversees smart traffic solutions at Amap.

Should an accident happen, connected infrastructure such as vehicles, road blocks and even vests worn by rescue teams will send signals to a central command platform, which then informs traffic authorities in charge and Amap users, Wu noted.

"Machine learning manages to identify any accidents or malfunctions in real time, which is much more efficient than the human eye," said Zhao Shengqiang, a senior engineer responsible for Alibaba Cloud architecture.

"And it greatly shortens the time for problem detection to 10 to 20 seconds, allowing the transportation platforms to take measures in a more efficient manner and consequently reduce the likelihood of traffic congestion."

Didi Chuxing, a ride-hailing company, also said it will keep applying artificial intelligence technologies to detect driver fatigue during the travel rush as part of efforts to reduce accidents and ease traffic congestion.

Statistics from the company showed that traffic accidents involving its 2 million registered Didi drivers decreased by 15 percent in the first half of last year with the adoption of the technology.

Another highlight of the digital makeover is that enhanced storage and computing may ensure travel sites do not crash when travelers swarm to snap up tickets at the predicted peak time. According to Xiao, the company will also leverage its cloud computing resources to help airlines and the railway company conduct marketing tailored to target audiences.

Beihuan Highway in Guangdong province has begun to use cloud-backed services to examine conduct violating traffic regulations, which greatly enhances efficiency and saves labor, according to its board member Shi Yongcan.

Wang Changfu (right) waves to his daughter at Beijing Railway Station on Friday. The Spring Festival travel rush that started on Friday unleashed the world's largest annual human migration. JU HUANZONG/XINHUA
2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[Bond market to attract more overseas capital]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37532041.htm China's nearly $14 trillion bond market is likely to see a substantial increase of foreign capital inflows this year as higher yields, a relatively stable yuan and further opening of the onshore market have made Chinese bonds an increasingly attractive asset for global investors.

Foreign investors made a net purchase of Chinese bonds worth 1.1 trillion yuan ($160 billion) in the interbank bond market last year, according to the latest figures from the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. As of December, the total value of yuan-denominated bonds held by overseas investors reached 2.19 trillion yuan, up by about 26 percent from the level of 2018, according to financial data provider Wind Info.

Foreign purchases of Chinese bonds will likely rise further as the low-yield environment in global bond markets and the meager expected returns from core government bonds have prompted yield-chasing investors to look at other options. Many of them believe that the Chinese bond market will stand out to be the one that could offer one of the best opportunities this year.

"We are living in a world today where more and more debts have become negative yielding. And this is forcing global investors to look further away ... and explore new markets that are opening up-in particular, the Chinese market," said Hayden Briscoe, head of fixed income for Asia-Pacific at UBS Asset Management.

Governments in major economies have adopted accommodative monetary policies to stimulate growth, which has caused a dramatic fall in government bond yields and took nearly a third of global bonds into negative-yielding territory at one point last year. Investors started to be concerned that the monetary easing could be exhausted and any policy normalization could send interest rates and bond yields higher, which would depress bond prices.

In the case of China, foreign investors' consensus is that the Chinese policymakers will continue with a relatively easing policy stance to shore up growth, and further interest rate cuts by the Chinese monetary authority in the first half of this year are possible. That's a positive signal for the Chinese bond market.

Alvin Cheng, a fixed-income portfolio manager at international asset manager Fidelity International, said in a research note that China's bond yields will remain relatively attractive this year, which should continue to draw more foreign participation. Cheng added that China's growth is still under pressure with structural adjustment and declining interest rates have been the market consensus.

The bullish sentiment toward Chinese bonds was also supported by the expectation that Chinese regulators will further liberalize the onshore financial markets and remove investment barriers for foreign investors. Meanwhile, the growing inclusion of Chinese bonds in major global indexes will also draw more foreign capital inflows.

China has the world's second-largest bond market and yet foreign investors have a very small exposure as their holdings only account for about 2 percent of the total value of the Chinese bond market.

Growing foreign ownership has been supported by the gradual inclusion of Chinese bonds in the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index, which began in April. JP Morgan is also expected to add Chinese government bonds to its emerging market local currency bond index in February.

"It is extremely encouraging to see the Chinese bond market being further opened up to investors globally. There are fewer and fewer solid sovereign credits around ... especially after the European sovereign debt crisis. Global treasuries are one of the safe-haven investment asset classes and adding the diversity from a significant economy like China is welcomed," said Kevin Anderson, head of investments for Asia-Pacific at State Street Global Advisors.

2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[Tibet gains traction with tourism boom]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37532033.htm The Tibet autonomous region plans to expand its tourism income stream this year from the current mainstay-entry tickets at major attractions-to an integrated, year-round industrial chain that includes restaurants, hotels, transportation, entertainment and the arts, the regional government said in a work report released on Tuesday.

The report, presented at the ongoing third session of the 11th Tibet People's Congress, said the region received more than 40 million tourists last year, up 19 percent year-on-year, with revenues rising to 56 billion yuan ($7.9 billion).

The region aims to attract 47 million tourists and increase revenues to more than 60 billion yuan this year, according to Qizhala, chairman of the regional government, in his work report to the legislature.

"In 2019, we will continue the work of building Tibet into an important world tourism destination and promote our brand, The World's Third Pole," Qizhala said.

"Last year, the region linked nearly all its villages to 4G networks with fiber-optic cables and broadband internet services."

Tourism's role as a leading industry in the region is important, with an industry chain enriched by the soul of local culture having formed in recent years, he said.

Many of the region's residents rely on tourism for their livelihoods, and their quality of life has improved.

According to the work report, more than 400,000 rural residents worked in Tibet's tourism industry last year. Around 16,000 of those had jobs in the cultural entertainment sector, with an average annual income of 17,000 yuan.

Karma Chodrak, a resident of Ruba, a village in the region's Nyemo county, said tourism contributed to his business as a woodblock craftsmen.

"Traditionally, the orders I receive are for Tibetan scripture woodblocks or Buddha images from monasteries or Tibetan Buddhists. But more tourists have been coming to me in recent years, thanks to the promotion of the entire region as a tourism destination," Karma said.

He added that some tourists like to collect Tibetan cultural woodblocks for their homes.

"The woodblock craft is an endangered heritage today," he said. "Only a few people practice it. However, with more tourists I believe it will revive."

Zhang Feng, general manager of Tibet Pengxiang Tourism Agency, said the region's policies have been helping to attract more tourists to Tibet in the winter.

"Before 2008, winter was a slow season. But now, thanks to various discounts for winter visitors, we no longer have to shut our doors," Zhang said.

For the region's final winter tourism campaign period this year, ending in mid-March, 55 sites are offering discounts.

Liu Qimei, a tourist from Shanxi province who is touring Tibet with her family last week, said she appreciated the winter discounts.

"It's a pleasant journey, and we were exempted from buying tickets to the Potala Palace, Jokhang Monastery and other sites," Liu said.

"The Tibetan people are friendly and the winter sunshine is warm. Apart from that, the air is a bit dry for us."

A tourist poses on Barkhor Street, a circular road with numerous shops, which winds around Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet autonomous region last summer. SUN FEI/XINHUA
2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[Penalties heightened for attacks on police]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37532028.htm Anyone who attacks a police officer on duty will be given heavier punishment under the law as a new guideline took effect to better protect officers and curb violence against them.

If people directly attack police officers or damage a police car or equipment, they will be subject to harsh penalties set for the crime of disrupting public service. If they drive a vehicle and hit or drag a police officer or try to take police weapons, they could be charged with the crime of endangering public security, weapon theft or intentional homicide, depending on the seriousness of the consequences, the guideline provides.

The guideline, jointly issued by the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Supreme People's Court on Dec 27, took effect immediately.

It is the country's first formal rule aimed at punishing those who violently assault police officers in the performance of their lawful duty, ministry spokeswoman Guo Lin said on Friday.

"The police are an important law enforcement force of the country and they perform their duty on behalf of the State," she said at a news conference. "Because of the special nature of the job, police officers are frequently the target of violent attacks, sometimes for revenge, by criminals."

She said attacking the police not only harms the personal interests of the individual officer but also undermines social management and respect for the law.

Sun Ping, deputy director of the ministry's legal affairs bureau, said the guideline explicitly states what kinds of behaviors are subject to criminal punishment and requires tougher punishments in accordance with the law.

She said that, in the past, the absence of unified criteria had resulted in different understandings in legal practice across the country and allowed some criminals to escape punishment or receive lighter penalties.

"The guideline emphasizes protection of police officers in the performance of their lawful special duties ... and can curb frequent attacks," she said.

From 2016 to 2019, prosecutors nationwide charged 79,024 people with obstructing public services.

"Quite a few of those fell in the category of attacking the police," said Gao Jingfeng, an official of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

While the guideline provides better protection for police officers, Sun said the ministry will continue to push for law enforcement standards and better regulation of police activities so that the public can see justice in every law enforcement action.

2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[NATION'S FILMS RISE AS MAJOR FORCE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531986.htm After shivering for most of last year through a harsh business winter, China's film industry ended 2019 on a hopeful note.

With the number of screens in urban areas reaching 69,787-more than any other country-the nation's box offices grossed 64.3 billion yuan ($9.28 billion), up 5.4 percent from 2018, according to the China Film Administration, the sector's top regulator.

By comparison, North America-the world's largest movie market-grossed $11.3 billion, down 4.8 percent year-on-year, according to movie data tracking website Box Office Mojo.

One highlight last year was the strong performance of Chinese blockbusters.

Of the 10 highest-grossing titles, eight were Chinese and the remaining two were from Hollywood. In both 2017 and 2018, six of the top 10 films were made by Chinese studios.

In addition, 47 of the 88 movies that took in more than 100 million yuan at the box office last year were made by Chinese filmmakers.

Rao Shuguang, president of the China Film Critics Association, said:"Last year, a significant chapter was written in the history of Chinese cinema, reflecting that homegrown films have made great improvement in expanding their diversity.

"The two highest-grossing movies, Ne Zha and The Wandering Earth-which together earned 9.68 billion yuan-boosted the morale of domestic filmmakers," Rao said after Beijing newspaper Securities Daily reported that with 1,884 film and television companies having closed, the local industry was "struggling in a severe winter".

Ne Zha, the directorial debut feature from animator Yang Yu, better known by his nickname Jiaozi, which translates as "dumpling", unexpectedly rescued a flagging summer almost single-handedly, becoming the best-performing film last year.

It is one of only two films in the history of Chinese cinema to take more than 5 billion yuan, the other being action star Wu Jing's blockbuster Wolf Warrior 2, released in 2017.

Loosely based on a mythological figure evolving from ancient works of literature, Ne Zha was the 11th-highest-grossing film worldwide last year, according to Box Office Mojo.

Cao Xiaohui, vice-president of the Beijing Film Academy Animation Institute, said that in addition to Ne Zha, the success of White Snake and The Legend of Hei, released in January last year and September respectively, show that the country's animators had found a way to win bigger audiences.

Inspired by one of ancient China's best-known folk tales, White Snake, which tells the bittersweet love story between a snake spirit and a handsome man, features a number of romantic scenes aimed at adult audiences.

The Legend of Hei, featuring a blend of martial arts and picturesque landscapes, centers on an adorable but powerful cat monster.

Cao said:"In the past, a number of domestic animators wrongly thought that such works should be made for children, making the storylines too naive and unappealing to adults. But after years of learning from top-class foreign counterparts and keeping an element of exploration in the storytelling, domestic animation works have improved a lot."

Taking second place after Ne Zha in the highest-grossing slot, The Wandering Earth, a sci-fi blockbuster adapted from the eponymous novel by China's first Hugo Award winner Liu Cixin. It was the 12th top-earning film worldwide.

Along with director Ning Hao's Crazy Alien, also inspired by a novella written by Liu, and other Spring Festival blockbusters such as Pegasus, a comedy hit, The Wandering Earth took the monthly gross in February to 11.2 billion yuan, the world's highest for a single month.

Edward Cheng, CEO of Tencent Pictures, one of the film's backers, said, "The Wandering Earth employs Chinese-style storytelling to convey the country's values and understanding of a shared future for humankind, as well as demonstrating Chinese ways to solve problems."

Directed by sci-fi aficionado Guo Fan, the movie is set in the year 2075 and uses 2,003 special-effect shots, 75 percent of them produced by domestic companies.

In the mid-1990s, China introduced an annual quota system for imports of foreign films.

Cui Ting, a film industry observer based in Beijing, said that as a result, before the success of The Wandering Earth, few people believed that a Chinese sci-fi movie could succeed in the home market, as the local industry lagged far behind Hollywood.

Enthusiastic filmgoers hailed The Wandering Earth as the start of "Year Zero" for Chinese sci-fi productions, a genre which had long struggled to earn recognition.

But a shadow was cast over their expectations when Shanghai Fortress-a sci-fi film in which Shanghai stands as the last hope of resisting an alien invasion-flopped disastrously in August.

Even with a stellar cast, including heartthrob Lu Han and A-list actress Shu Qi, Shanghai Fortress, which reportedly had a budget of up to 360 million yuan, took just 123 million yuan at the box office.

In addition, online criticism of its plotlines and special effects saw the film receive 2.9 points out of 10 on Douban, China's most popular review site.

In November, Liu, the novelist, said during the 2019 Science Fiction Conference in Beijing: "We should not easily draw conclusions by saying that the door for Chinese sci-fi films to thrive has been opened by just one movie (The Wandering Earth). On the other hand, it's not fair to say that such a door has been closed by a single movie."

Liu said that Chinese sci-fi-including literature and movies-has only just taken off and needs to break free of "bottlenecks" in some aspects, ranging from scriptwriting to making props.

Meanwhile, a group of talented directors has proved that real-life stories can inspire and spawn blockbusters.

During the National Day holiday in October-one of the country's most lucrative box-office seasons-three films triggered unprecedented enthusiasm among moviegoers nationwide, propelling ticket sales for the week to 5.13 billion yuan, a year-on-year rise of nearly 136 percent.

The top earner among the three was My People, My Country, an anthology of seven short stories marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The other two movies were The Captain, based on the true story of a pilot who had to ensure the safety of 128 passengers and crew members when a plane's windshield was damaged in mid-flight, and The Climbers, which centers on Chinese mountaineers' ascents of Qomolangma, known in the West as Mount Everest, via the perilous north face in 1960 and 1975.

Yin Hong, deputy chairman of the China Film Association, said the success of these films marks the rise of the Chinese movie industry, especially in terms of post-production.

Cheng, from Tencent Pictures, said:"In recent years, China has produced a string of excellent movies, ranging from Operation Mekong to Operation Red Sea and My People, My Country. ... These movies easily strike a chord with audiences."

Such films, known in China as "mainstream melody movies", feature adaptations of real-life events and reflect the country's progress, achievements or revolutionary history.

In the past, movies of this type found it difficult to attract audiences due to their cliched depictions. However, the situation has changed in recent years, thanks to blockbusters that tell more human-interest stories and are studded with nail-biting action sequences and A-list stars.

My People, My Country and The Captain grossed 3.12 billion yuan and 2.9 billion yuan respectively and occupied the fourth-and fifth-highest grossing slots in last year's top 10 movie rankings.

Yin said younger Chinese filmmakers have shown their potential in telling excellent and in-depth stories, exemplified by Better Days, an unlikely youth movie that focuses on school bullying. The film earned 1.55 billion yuan and ranked ninth in last year's rankings.

Despite not featuring in the top 10, some domestic films won both international and domestic acclaim last year.

Such works include So Long, My Son, which won best actor and best actress awards at the 2019 Berlin International Film Festival, and The Wild Goose Lake, the only Chinese-language film nominated at the 72nd Cannes Film Festival.

While Chinese cinema is energetically diversifying genres and themes, Hollywood is seemingly becoming more conservative, mainly producing sequels or spinoffs of lucrative franchises.

Avengers: Endgame, the 22nd film produced by Marvel Studios, took 4.25 billion yuan to rank as the third-highest-grossing film in China last year. The other import in the top 10 was Fast& Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw, a spinoff of the Fast & Furious franchise, which ranked 10th.

Figures from the China Film Administration show that 1,037 movies were produced domestically last year. However, the top 10 took 28.57 billion yuan, or 44.4 percent of the box office tally for the entire year, indicating that a majority of filmmakers behind small-and middle-budget movies have been struggling to survive.

Rao, from the China Film Critics Association, said: "A film usually needs two to three years' preparation. So, most of the runaway hits last year received their financing in 2017 or even earlier, when the market was more prosperous and attractive to cash-rich investors.

"Blockbusters in 2019 received more positive feedback and online praise than those in the recent past, showing that Chinese filmmakers are putting more effort into seeking breakthroughs in quality and storytelling, and giving us expectations of a promising future."


2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[Foreign, private firms to gain wider access to oil, gas sectors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531985.htm China will fully open its oil and gas exploration and mining market to qualified foreign and private enterprises, so that the industry will become further vitalized, under a pilot guideline released on Thursday by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Domestic companies and foreign ones registered in China with net assets of at least 300 million yuan ($43.16 million) will be eligible to apply for oil and gas prospecting and mining permits.

Previously, foreign companies could enter the industry only through joint ventures or other cooperative arrangements with Chinese companies, mainly State-owned giants.

The guideline, which takes effect on May 1, says that to explore and extract oil and gas a company must meet certain criteria covering safety, environmental protection and technology.

It will also promote "competitive" transfers of prospecting and mining rights through public bidding, auctions and listings, except in special circumstances that allow the rights to be transferred through agreements.

After oil or gas is found, the holder of the prospecting rights must register the resources with the authorities. At that point, extraction may begin. The signing of a mining authorization contract must be completed within five years.

Analysts said the guideline aims to bring more players into the sector to stimulate the vitality of the upstream market for oil and gas, which is currently dominated by large State-owned enterprises.

"The opening-up of the market will attract more players to oil and gas prospecting and mining. It will energize the market and increase oil and gas production," said Zhao Xu, an expert at the School of Economics and Management at China University of Petroleum in Beijing.

China has developed an increasing appetite for oil and gas as its economy grows, but because many of its easily exploitable resources have already been detected and tapped, it takes greater investment and involves greater risks to discover and tap the remaining resources, she said.

The opening of the upstream oil and gas market, and the adoption of competitive mining rights transfers, will ensure open and fair competition among all eligible market entities and facilitate the allocation of prospecting and mining rights to the most suitable players, she said.

Lin Boqiang, head of the China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy at Xiamen University, said the pilot guideline reflects China's push to bring diverse investors and other players into the oil and gas industry as part of the market-oriented reform of the sector. The guideline will have significant influence as time passes, he said.

"In the long term, with more market players and with fair competition, the cost of oil and gas exploration and mining will be reduced and efficiency will be raised. It will become economical and feasible, then, to find and extract resources that are too expensive to make use of right now. And it will increase the oil and gas supply."

However, he said, detail-oriented follow-up policies and down-to-earth implementation are needed to encourage private and foreign companies to take part, because oil and gas exploration and mining is a risky business that requires heavy, long-term investment and technology development. While returns can be lucrative, the cost of getting there is substantial.

Zhao also raised concerns about private Chinese companies' lack of funds and advanced technology, especially compared with foreign entities and the State-owned giants.

She suggested they get into the industry through cooperation with others, including joint ventures.




2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[Liaison office chief pledges support for HK]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531984.htm The central government's new liaison office chief in Hong Kong pledged on Thursday to uphold the "one country, two systems" principle, fully respect and support Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and the special administrative region government's law-based governance, and put the city back on track.

Luo Huining, director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR, who took office on Saturday, made the remarks during his first official meeting with the chief executive at Government House on Thursday afternoon.

According to the news release issued by the liaison office, both Luo and Lam shared the objective of upholding the "one country, two systems" principle and maintaining Hong Kong's long-term prosperity and stability by safeguarding the city's rule of law, ending violence and restoring the city's order.

They also agreed to enhance communication and collaboration between the liaison office and the SAR government, to boost the city's economic development, enhance people's livelihoods and facilitate Hong Kong's integration into the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

Luo and Lam both said they believe Hong Kong can get back on track and embrace further development, with the country's unswerving care and support and the concerted efforts of various sectors in the city, the news release said.

In addition, the new liaison chief expressed his high regard for Lam's courage and commitment in leading the SAR government to end the violent protests that broke out last June, and her efforts to aid local enterprises and improve people's livelihoods during the difficult time.

In the meeting, Lam introduced Luo to the administration's work over the past two years.

The SAR government will continue to strive to end violence and safeguard the rule of law in accordance with the Basic Law and the "one country, two systems" principle, and provide assistance to enterprises and residents when necessary, Lam pledged during the meeting.

On Wednesday, Luo also made his first official visit to Shenzhen as the new liaison chief, meeting Shenzhen Party Secretary Wang Weizhong, Shenzhen Mayor Chen Rugui, and other leaders of the city's administration, legislature and political advisory body.

During the meeting, both sides vowed to strictly uphold the "one country, two systems" principle, and jointly promote cooperation between the two cities in various sectors, including youth innovation and entrepreneurship, the economy and trade, and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.




Luo Huining, the new director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, shakes hands with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor at Government House on Thursday. INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT



2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[Mideast problems need peaceful solution]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531983.htm The escalating tension in the Middle East is a consequence of unilateralism, military intervention and disregard for international justice and fairness, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Wednesday.

The frequently emerging issues in the region cannot only be blamed on the development of regional conflicts, Wang told a joint news conference with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Cairo.

China calls for respecting the principles of the United Nations Charter and sticking to political solutions, Wang said.

He said that China has been and will always be willing to promote peace, stability and the development of the Middle East.

Citing the Libya crisis as an example, Wang said that external military intervention and the use of weapons will only aggravate confrontation and intensify tensions in the country, which will make it harder to solve the problems.

The spillover effects of the crisis are on the rise, and terrorist forces, such as the so-called Islamic State group, are penetrating the country, an issue that the international community should be highly alert to, he said.

The urgent task is to push for a cease-fire among warring parties and return to the negotiating table, he said, urging the related parties to respect and listen to the opinions of their neighbors and seek a solution that accommodates the concerns of all.

The international community should also make joint efforts to fight terrorism and prevent the growth of extremist and terrorist forces in Libya, he said.

Wang added that China will continue to speak out for justice in relation to the Palestine issue.

After more than 70 years, the issue remains unresolved, inflicting tremendous pain on the people of Palestine, Wang said.

The issue must not be deferred indefinitely or become the victim of any deal, he said.

China will firmly support the Arab Peace Initiative, the two-state solution, and the establishment of an independent State of Palestine that enjoys full sovereignty on the basis of the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, Wang added.

Egypt is the first stop of Wang's seven-day African tour, which will also take him to Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe. During his stay in Cairo, he and Shoukry hosted a strategic dialogue between the two foreign ministries.

Wang also met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly on Wednesday.

Xinhua contributed to this story.


State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry attend a joint news conference in Cairo, Egypt, on Wednesday. LI BINIAN/XINHUA



2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[High-speed rail network adopts e-ticket system]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531963.htm All high-speed railway stations will allow passengers to use electronic tickets as part of the effort to streamline boarding procedures and improve service amid robust traffic during the upcoming Spring Festival travel rush, the national railway operator said on Thursday.

"So far, high-speed and intercity railway stations nationwide have adopted the e-ticket service, in which passengers don't need printed tickets anymore," Li Wenxin, deputy general manager of China State Railway Co, said at a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office.

According to the company, as of Thursday, passengers can check in without paper tickets at 1,020 railway stations across the country.

The service was launched on the high-speed rail line in Hainan province in November 2018, and another four high-speed intercity railways have piloted it from last July.

With the service, when entering the station and checking in, passengers only need to swipe an identification card-a second-generation ID card for Chinese mainland residents, a permanent residence permit for foreign "green card" holders, or a mainland residence permit or travel permit for Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan residents-at the self-service counters.

Those whose card or permit cannot be read by the machines are also able to check in by scanning an electronic or printed QR code.

"It's very fast and convenient. Instead of collecting tickets at the station, I just need to bring my ID card or scan QR codes," said Zhang Pengbo, 28, who works for a real estate company in Zhengzhou, Henan province.

"With the new method reducing the crowds in front of ticket booths and ticket checking machines, it greatly enhances the travel efficiency and improves the travel experience for people who travel a lot by train," he added.

With two weeks until Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan 25, e-tickets will also help the rail network better cope with surging traffic during the travel rush as families reunite for the traditional holiday, said Zhao Jian, a professor of rail transportation economics at Beijing Jiaotong University.

"With all high-speed railway stations adopting the paperless system during this year's travel rush, it will further ease the traffic burden and increase travel efficiency," said Zhao.

The nation's railway system is expected to handle about 440 million passenger trips during this year's 40-day-long Spring Festival travel rush, which will start on Jan 10 and last until Feb 18, an 8 percent year-on-year increase, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

Zhang Zhiqian, a researcher at the China Academy of Rail Sciences, said that as part of the company's efforts to improve passengers' travel experience, e-tickets will not only be available at high-speed train stations but will be further promoted at train stations nationwide.

The company confirmed at its annual work conference that it will start piloting the application of digital ticketing this year on a number of regular railway lines.

"We will step up efforts to carry out research on the facial-recognition check-in system, as well as electronic receipts to make train trips more convenient for people," he added.


A railway worker cleans a bullet train at Shenyang North Bullet Train Maintenance Center in Liaoning province on Wednesday, preparing for the upcoming Spring Festival travel rush. YANG QING/XINHUA



2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[Chinese, US negotiators to sign trade deal]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531962.htm China's top trade negotiator will visit Washington next week to sign the phase one deal with his counterparts in the United States, an encouraging sign for both sides to further reduce tensions.

At the invitation of the United States, Vice-Premier Liu He will visit the country from Monday to Wednesday to sign the economic and trade agreement with the US, Gao Feng, a spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said on Thursday at a news briefing in Beijing.

Liu is a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-US comprehensive economic dialogue.

The negotiating teams are in close contact about the specific arrangements for signing the agreement, Gao said.

Experts said the move has the potential to push both sides to conduct other meaningful talks in specific areas and to reset bilateral ties if the deal can be adequately carried out.

The phase one deal could end the costly trade dispute and economic uncertainties in many parts of the world, said Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of Beijing-based China Center for International Economic Exchanges. He stressed that it is critical and necessary for both sides to seal the deal right, rather than in a rush.

Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation and former US ambassador to Cambodia told Xinhua News Agency,"Once they have successfully concluded part of an agreement, negotiators are often encouraged to work harder to find ways to put in place the terms for a second or third part."

China and the US together account for 40 percent of global GDP, nearly 40 percent of global manufacturing output and around 25 percent of the world's total trade volume, according to the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Affected by the 22-month-long trade tussle, China's trade with the US has dropped 11.1 percent year-on-year from January to November to 3.4 trillion yuan ($491.12 billion), while China's exports to the US declined 8.4 percent to 2.64 trillion yuan. China's imports from the US fell by 19.5 percent to about 763 billion yuan, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Alexa Dembek, senior vice-president of the Delaware-headquartered DuPont group, said cooperation is the best option for China and the US. If the two countries do that, the world can prosper, she said; otherwise, the global economy will slow down.

Feike Sijbesma, chairman of the managing board of Netherlands-based Royal DSM, said the company has seen an impact on consumer confidence since the Sino-US trade dispute escalated. That's had an influence on the automotive and electronic industries, he said.

"We believe that globalization builds on the core element of our economy: an exchange of specialized competencies. It has brought prosperity to many countries in the world and billions of people."

Regarding a new US rule requiring companies from the US to apply for a license when they export geospatial imaging software powered by artificial intelligence to other countries (with the exception of Canada), the Commerce Ministry's Gao urged the US to correct its inappropriate practice of generalizing national security and abusing export control measures. It should create favorable conditions for companies around the world to trade and build partnerships, he said.

The rule from the US Commerce Department comes as it works to tighten exports on sensitive technology to potential rivals, including China. It took effect on Monday.

Restricting or otherwise interfering with regular international cooperation will not only harm the interests of businesses, including US companies, but will also raise market concerns about the trade, investment and innovation environment of the US and affect the stability of the global industrial chain, Gao said.


2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[Washington, Teheran may talk despite recent strife]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/12/content_37531952.htm The possibility of war between the United States and Iran is relatively low, while prospects for future talks and negotiations are high, despite the earlier uncertainties arising from Washington and Teheran's rhetoric, an expert said.

Even after US military facilities were hit by Iran in revenge for the US killing of a top general, President Donald Trump appeared to be sending signals that de-escalation is desirable.

That message seemed to be part of Trump's televised address on Wednesday in which he said the US is "ready to embrace peace with all who seek it", said Dong Manyuan, a Middle East studies expert at the China Institute of International Studies.

Trump opened his address by saying that "as long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon".

He also threatened to "immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions" on Iran in response to any aggressive action.

While Trump's tone was harsh with respect to sanctions, he said the US did not necessarily have to hit back. He also said that Teheran appeared to be standing down, calling it "a good thing" for all parties concerned.

Dong said Trump would not want to declare war on Iran and has shown reluctance to involve the US in Middle East conflicts since he became president.

"Trump didn't have the full chance to win," Dong said. "What's important is that reelection is Trump's current priority, and that requires him to gather sufficient resources. A war may distract from his concentration."

Moreover, a US choice to avoid war also meets the demands of its regional allies, he said.

"If the US were to wage a full-scale war, it would need the support of its regional allies. However, the common mentality of those allies is to avoid war and seek peace, which has also created conditions for the relaxation of regional tensions," Dong said.

Arab states, which lie across the Persian Gulf from Iran and fear that their region could be dragged into another conflict, called for cooler heads to prevail in Iraq and beyond.

"The brotherly Arab nation of Iraq today is in need of solidarity among its people to avoid war and becoming the site of a battle in which it would lose most," Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud wrote on Twitter.

At the same time, Iran has an urgent need for a peaceful and stable environment for its economic development, Dong said. "Thus, it is crucial for Iran to have some degree of reconciliation with its main opponent."

Meanwhile, Trump urged world powers to quit the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran. The US withdrew in May 2018 and has tried to promote a new agreement, in Trump's words, to make the world "a safer and more peaceful place" and allow Iran "to thrive and prosper".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reiterated on Thursday that all parties should exercise restraint and resolve disputes properly and peacefully through dialogue and negotiation under the United Nations Charter and basic principles of international relations.

He said it was extreme US pressure on Iran that had created the tension in the Middle East and that unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal showed ignorance of international law.

"The comprehensive agreement did not come easily. It is a crucial achievement of multilateral diplomacy, a support for peace and stability in the Middle East and an important part of international law," Geng said.

He also urged the international community to proceed with a long-term perspective and promote the easing of tensions in the region.

Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran's ambassador to the UN, dismissed as "unbelievable" what he said was Trump's call for cooperation, given that Washington was imposing sanctions on Teheran, Iran's state news agency, IRNA, reported on Thursday.

The Wednesday strikes by Iran caused no casualties to US troops and damage was minimal, Trump said, contradicting an Iranian state television presenter who previously claimed that "at least 80 terrorist US soldiers" were killed and helicopters, drones and other equipment were damaged.

The US Department of Defense said Iran had launched 16 short-range ballistic missiles, at least 11 of which hit Iraq's al-Asad Air Base. One hit a facility in Irbil but caused no major damage, it said.

Zhao Huanxin in Washington, Reuters and AFP contributed to this story.


2020-01-12 09:18:22
<![CDATA[Nation to step up efforts in anti-corruption]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/11/content_37532031.htm Strengthening supervision in all respects, as decided by the central leadership at a key meeting, means the all-around battle against corruption will be intensified across the country to ensure clean governance, experts said.

Highlighting the significance of improving the national supervision system, the four-day Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, which concluded on Oct 31, called for upholding and improving the Party and State supervision systems and strengthening checks on the exercise of power.

"Supervision will cover every walk of life-every aspect of work and everyone working for Party-related departments and government agencies," said Ma Huaide, a law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Ma made the remarks ahead of the Fourth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, to be held from Monday to Wednesday.

Comprehensive supervision as a requirement has been written into the country's first Supervision Law, which was adopted by the National People's Congress, the top legislative body, and took effect in 2018.

Ma Yide, a law professor at Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, said an improved supervision system is a crucial and necessary element in the fight against corruption.

"A sound mechanism for power allocation and restriction will help prevent the abuse of power and help ensure officials do not become corrupt," he said.

He applauded the adoption of the Supervision Law, saying the establishment of the National Supervisory Commission was an important part of fighting graft.

The commission not only integrated the anti-corruption authorities in the country but also coordinated with law enforcement agencies from other countries, including the United States and Canada, to hunt down fugitive corrupt officials.

According to the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and National Supervisory Commission, 1,841 fugitives suspected of graft-related crimes were brought back to China in the first 11 months of last year, and about 4.09 billion yuan ($ 591 million) of illegally obtained money was retrieved.

As efforts to track down corrupt officials and recover assets are increased, China's battle against corruption has been intensified in various aspects.

A report on the People's Daily website said on Dec 16 that officials under investigation for violations of discipline and law in 2019 were not only from Party and government departments but also from sectors such as finance, quality supervision and electricity.

Several high-level officials voluntarily turned themselves in last year because of the more intense level of supervision, the report said.

In May, Qin Guangrong, former Party secretary of Yunnan province, turned himself in and was investigated in connection with serious violations of discipline and law by the CCDI and the commission. It was the first case of a top official of a provincial-level region giving himself up to be announced by the National Supervisory Commission. Qin, 69, was officially charged with receiving bribes in November.

The key Party meeting held in October also stipulated that fully implementing the Constitution and laws is essential to advancing the rule of law.

The meeting underscored the importance of adherence to and improvement of the socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics, according to Yuan Shuhong, vice-minister of justice.

Meanwhile, many measures to improve law-based governance were also decided at the session. For instance, the meeting stressed that interference with law enforcement should be strictly prohibited, as are any hidden judicial activities, Yuan said.

2020-01-11 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Foreigners granted top prize in record numbers]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/11/content_37532042.htm China granted its 2019 International Science and Technology Cooperation Award, the nation's highest scientific honor for foreign scientists, to 10 foreign scientists from eight countries on Friday.

Both the number of recipients and their countries of origin are a record high. This award recognizes the key roles foreign scientists have played in China's scientific development, as well as China's growing effort to diversify its scientific partners in recent years, according to the National Office for the Science and Technology Awards.

Of the 10 winners, three are from the United States, while the United Kingdom, Russia, Finland, Italy, Norway, Austria and Pakistan have one winner each. It is the first time scientists from Norway, Austria and Pakistan have won the award.

"I feel very much honored to be given the award, which represents profound recognition of the collaborative work I've been involved in with Chinese scientists over the last 25 years," said Nils Stenseth, a noted Norwegian evolutionary biologist and a professor at the University of Oslo in Norway.

Last year, China and Norway celebrated the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties, and this relationship has facilitated recent government-level scientific cooperation between the two countries, he said.

In 2015, the Research Council of Norway launched a new funding program to support its international scientific projects and partnerships, which involved Chinese partner institutions, he said. Some notable examples include the study of ecology and the evolution of plague, the social impact of climate change and photovoltaics for sustainable development.

"This partnership is of the utmost importance for the higher education and research sector in Norway," he said, adding that China and Norway are powerhouses in research and education in fields such as marine science and the environment. "We thus have much to learn from each other."

"Close China-Norway cooperation is important in order to further strengthen world-leading research groups, and for some fields help develop knowledge platforms to address the many global challenges facing us today," he said. "China's contribution is essential to solve the global challenges in areas such as poverty reduction, climate, health, energy and environment."

Through these dialogues and cooperation, Stenseth said he has learned much about China just as Chinese scientists have learned much about the academic traditions and cultures of other countries. "Such collegial interactions and dialogues do for sure contribute to a better and more harmonious world," he added.

Austrian civil engineer and winner of the cooperation award Herbert Mang said when he first visited China in the 1980s, the country's science and technology were lagging behind European countries. "Now, China's science and technology have caught up mightily."

"As a civil engineer, I have always been fascinated by China's unique activities in the design of key infrastructure, such as long-span bridges and tunnels in geologically demanding and seismically challenging areas," he said."These types of structures have also played an important role in Austrian civil engineering, and their safe and economic design requires great scientific effort."

Through decades of collaboration between China and Austria in civil engineering, Mang said, one of the main benefits is that both countries have fostered a group of well-trained, promising young engineers for academia and industry.

"I'm optimistic that the mutual scientific esteem of Chinese and Austrian researchers will result in the further intensification of joint research activities for the benefit of the two countries and beyond," he said.

Winners of China's 2019 science cooperation award

Martyn Poliakoff, United Kingdom, green chemist
Herbert Mang, Austria, civil engineer
Markku Tapio Kulmala, Finland, meteorologist
Nils Christian Stenseth, Norway, evolutionary biologist
Frank Leroy Lewis, United States, electrical engineer
Vladislav Panchenko, Russia, laser physicist
Raymond Charles Stevens, United States, structural biologist
Roberto Battiston, Italy, experimental physicist
Robert Graham Cooks, United States, chemist
Atta-ur-Rahman, Pakistan, organic chemist
2020-01-11 00:00:00
<![CDATA[President's Myanmar visit to boost ties]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/11/content_37532051.htm President Xi Jinping will pay a two-day state visit to Myanmar from Jan 17 which will further strengthen the substantial cooperation between the two friendly neighbors.

It will be the first time in 19 years that a Chinese president has visited the Southeast Asian country.

In Myanmar, Xi will attend a series of state activities held by Myanmar President U Win Myint, including a welcoming ceremony, bilateral meetings and a banquet.

Xi will have talks with Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar's Defense Services.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of China-Myanmar diplomatic relations, Xi will attend activities commemorating the 70th anniversary, as well as the launch ceremony of the China-Myanmar Year of Tourism along with Myanmar leaders.

Vice-Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui said on Friday that the two sides will seek to deepen cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and push forward substantial construction of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor during Xi's visit.

"The CMEC and bilateral cooperation on major projects have boosted employment and economic development in Myanmar's related areas and greatly improved local people's livelihoods," Luo told reporters at a news briefing in Beijing about the visit.

China has been Myanmar's largest trading partner and its major source of foreign investment. Last year, bilateral trade volume between the two countries exceeded $15 billion.

According to Luo, China and Myanmar share a high level of mutual trust in politics, in-depth economic cooperation and close coordination on international and regional issues.

During the upcoming visit, the two sides will further enrich bilateral ties and build the China-Myanmar community with a shared future to usher their relationship into a new era, he said, adding that the two countries will issue a joint statement covering areas such as politics, the economy and people-to-people exchanges.

Both as the initiators and practitioners of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, Luo said, China and Myanmar always adhere to basic norms governing international relations, uphold multilateralism and safeguard free trade.

2020-01-11 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi honors outstanding scientists]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/11/content_37532060.htm President Xi Jinping presented China's top science award on Friday to Huang Xuhua, the chief designer of China's first-generation nuclear submarines, and Zeng Qingcun, a famous meteorologist.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, granted award medals and certificates to them at an annual ceremony held in Beijing to honor distinguished scientists, engineers and research achievements.

After receiving the medals and certificates, to show respects, the two scientists were invited to accompany the Party and State leaders on the rostrum.

Huang, 94, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said the award was not for himself as an individual but for those who have been dedicated to researching China's nuclear submarines and who have contributed to progress in national defense.

"My colleagues and I have devoted our lives to the country. We have not wasted our lives, and we have no regrets over that," he said in a speech at the ceremony.

For over three decades, Huang's work designing China's first-generation nuclear submarine remained top secret. In December 1970, China launched Long March I, becoming the fifth nation to have a nuclear submarine.

In 1988, Huang took the vessel to its maximum depth to test it, a task so dangerous that many crew members wrote farewell letters to their families to be delivered in the event of their death.

Huang was also one of the eight recipients of the Medal of the Republic last year for his outstanding contributions to the nation. Other exemplary individuals who received the medal included agriculturalist Yuan Longping and Nobel laureate Tu Youyou.

Zeng, 85, is a renowned atmospheric physicist who helped modernize the world's weather forecast systems and meteorological satellite remote sensing technologies. He is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

In 2016, Zeng won the International Meteorological Organization Prize for his contributions to satellite meteorological remote-sensing theory, numerical weather prediction theory, meteorological disaster prevention and the earth system model.

Premier Li Keqiang delivered a speech at the ceremony during which he congratulated the scientists on their awards, greeted those who devoted themselves to the country's scientific research and expressed gratitude toward foreign experts who supported China's scientific work.

Noting that China will achieve its first centenary goal to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects this year, Li said that the whole country should be guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and further implement the strategy of innovation-driven development.

Li pledged to take such measures as increasing fiscal support, encouraging enterprises' investment and improving the research fund coverage system to bring more rewards to those who stay focused on research for decades.

Li required the relevant departments to implement tax reduction policies for scientific companies, respect and protect intellectual property rights and increase the companies' will and capability to innovate.

President Xi Jinping presents awards to Huang Xuhua (right), the chief designer of China's first-generation nuclear submarines, and Zeng Qingcun, a notable meteorologist, during the National Science and Technology Award Conference in Beijing on Friday. LI XUEREN/XINHUA

Overview of the National Science and Technology Awards LIU CHEN/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-11 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Xi sends condolences to Ukrainian, Iranian presidents]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/10/content_37531939.htm President Xi Jinping sent his condolences on Thursday to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani over the Wednesday crash of a Ukrainian airliner in Iran that killed all 176 people aboard. The flight was bound for Kiev.

In the message, Xi said he was shocked to learn about the crash of the airliner. On behalf of the Chinese government and people, and in his own name, Xi conveyed his deep sorrow and extended sincere condolences to the families of the victims.

The Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 crashed in the outskirts of Teheran on Wednesday just minutes after its takeoff from Teheran's Imam Khomeini International Airport. Eighty-two Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British people were killed, according to Ukraine's Foreign Minister.

The plane was trying to return to the airport when it crashed, Iranian investigators said.


President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine lays flowers on Thursday at Kiev's Boryspil International Airport, the destination of the Ukraine International Airlines' plane that crashed in the outskirts of Teheran on Wednesday. UKRAINIAN PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE/HANDOUT/REUTERS



2020-01-10 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi calls for unremitting self-reform efforts]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531796.htm Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, called on Wednesday for unremitting efforts to deepen self-reform of the Party to enable the whole Party to remain true to its original aspiration and keep its mission firmly in mind.

Xi, who is also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at a meeting summarizing an education campaign on the theme of "staying true to our founding mission".

For the Party to always win the support of the people and fight for the eternal well-being of the Chinese nation, it is important to resolutely remove whatever undermines the Party's purity and advanced nature, and rid the Party of any tumor on its body, Xi said.

He highlighted the importance of preventing all dangers that go against the Party's original aspiration and missions and rock its foundations.

The whole Party must use the thematic education campaign as a new starting point and continuously deepen its self-reform so that it always remains true to its original aspiration and keeps its mission firmly in mind, he said.

The thematic campaign, which was launched throughout the Party in June, has achieved its desired purpose and attained major results, he noted.

The campaign was a vivid chapter for the Party to deepen its self-reform and ensure strict Party governance in the new era, and it has helped the Party to become more unified in its thoughts, politics and actions, he said, adding that it has prioritized efforts to oppose the practices of formalism and bureaucratism, and enabled officials at the primary level to devote more efforts to fulfilling their duties.

Going forward, Xi said, remaining true to the Party's original aspiration and keeping its mission firmly in mind must be a continuous subject in the Party building process and a lifelong pursuit for all Party members.

Party organizations at various levels and all members must be guided to keep examining themselves, remaining true to their original aspiration and shouldering their missions, he said.

He underlined the significance of pushing forward the Party's self-reform, with courage to face problems head on.

The whole Party must maintain revolutionary ideals and a vigorous fighting spirit to improve its conduct, enforce discipline and fight corruption, he said, adding that unrelenting efforts must be made to strengthen the Party's ability to purify, improve and reform itself and to make itself even stronger.

It is important to give play to this fighting spirit and daringly assume responsibilities so that the whole Party can always stay alert and devote itself to a great struggle in the new historic conditions, he said.

He encouraged Party officials to bolster their talents in the face of challenges, cope with major challenges, prevent major risks, overcome major obstructions and solve major conflicts.

Xi also called for measures to refine and develop a mechanism inside the Party to enable a long-term mechanism for the thematic campaign, saying that Party and State bodies and officials must take the lead in remaining true to their original aspiration and keeping their missions firmly in mind.


2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[SMEs to be given wider access to financing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531852.htm China's Cabinet-level financial regulatory body said on Tuesday it is planning a new set of measures to ease the financing difficulties of small and medium-sized enterprises, through monetary policy adjustments and encouraging banks to increase lending to smaller businesses.

The first meeting this year of the Financial Stability and Development Committee of the State Council was held in Beijing on Tuesday, chaired by Vice-Premier Liu He. It focused on resolving the financial problems of SMEs-the lifeblood of the economy-which account for more than 90 percent of businesses in China.

A statement issued after the meeting announced some preferential measures, such as improving the monetary policy transmission system, using various money and credit policy tools, and encouraging financial institutions to increase credit to SMEs.

Access to finance remains one of the big challenges for Chinese SMEs, although the government has launched a series of policies to support their development during the past two years, to hedge against the external headwinds of China-US trade tensions, said economists.

Dong Ximiao, a researcher at the National Institution for Finance and Development, a financial think tank under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, expected additional "targeted cuts" to the cash amount that banks must set aside, known as the reserve requirement ratio, especially for small and medium-sized commercial banks, in order to free up more funds for loans to SMEs.

The People's Bank of China, the nation's central bank, injected 800 billion yuan ($115 billion) into the financial sector by cutting the RRR for banks by 0.5 percentage point on Monday, the eighth such reduction since 2018, in the hope that improving banks' lending capacity will translate into stronger economic growth.

Wen Bin, chief economist at Minsheng Bank, said a number of new policies to support the financing of SMEs may be launched in the short term, including those related to monetary and regulatory policy.

Requirements on the quantity, price and length of maturity of SME financing may be included in the evaluation system for banks' performance. And different regulatory standards, compared with larger banks, may be introduced for smaller banks, according to Wen, who also expected targeted RRR cuts.

This year, slowing economic growth and trade uncertainties may result in a challenging operating environment for financial institutions in China, especially for smaller banks. The central bank will continue to maintain ample bank funding through accommodative policies, according to research from Moody's.

Although lower interest rates can reduce funding costs for SMEs, they will weigh on banks' net interest margins and decrease their investment returns, which may lead to rising refinancing risks for some smaller banks, according to Sonny Hsu, a senior credit officer of Financial Institutions Group with Moody's Investors Service Hong Kong Ltd.

Financial regulators in China will continue to prioritize financial stability, and the support could be extended to smaller banks, Dong said.

To reduce funding challenges, the committee called for supplementing the capital of small and medium-sized banks through multiple channels, and promoting their ability to provide credit to SMEs.

It also highlighted improving the government financing guarantee system, accelerating the building of a credit information platform for companies, and broadening direct financing channels for high-quality SMEs.

Compared with the situation in 2019, the risks of a liquidity shortage and a credit crunch will be further eased in the Chinese financial system, and more policies will focus on stabilizing growth and promoting reforms this year, said Cheng Shi, chief economist at ICBC International.

According to the central bank, outstanding loans for micro and small companies stood at 11.4 trillion yuan by the end of November, up by 23.1 percent from a year earlier. The outstanding loans for private companies reached 45.9 trillion yuan, at a year-on-year growth rate of 7.1 percent.


2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Timeline]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531851.htm ・ Dec 1, 2018: Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou is arrested in Canada at the request of the United States.

・ Jan 29, 2019: The US government hits Huawei with 23 indictments for alleged trade secrets theft and fraud.

・ March 8, 2019: Huawei sues the US government over a ban on the use of its equipment in US federal agencies.

・ May 15, 2019: Washington puts Huawei on its Entity List, forbidding the company from accessing crucial US technologies without special government approval.

・ May 20, 2019: The US issues a 90-day temporary license, loosening restrictions on business deals with Huawei. However, the license only allows the company to buy US components to maintain its existing networks and smartphone services.

・ May 21, 2019: Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei says the curbs imposed by Washington will significantly harm US jobs and companies, and that the US has underestimated the company's "ability to persevere".

・ June 6, 2019: Licenses granted to Chinese telecom carriers for commercial use of 5G.

・ June 21, 2019: The US places five more Chinese tech companies, including high-performance computer maker Sugon, on its Entity List.

・ Aug 9, 2019: Huawei unveils its in-house operating system Harmony OS, a key move expected to mitigate the influence of Washington's ban on the company's access to Google's Android operating system in smartphones.

・ Aug 19, 2019: The US issues another 90-day temporary license, loosening restrictions on business deals with Huawei.

・ Oct 7, 2019: The US places eight more Chinese tech companies, including artificial intelligence pioneer iFlytek, on its Entity List.

・ Oct 31, 2019: China launches commercialization of 5G services, with the nation's telecom carriers rolling out plans for data packages.

・ Nov 19, 2019: The US extends the 90-day temporary license for the third time, loosening restrictions on business deals with Huawei.

・ Dec 5, 2019: Huawei sues the US Federal Communications Commission, seeking a court ruling to overturn the latter's order banning local rural telecom carriers from using federal funding to purchase the company's equipment and services.

・ Dec 31, 2019: China secures about 3 million 5G mobile subscribers, with some 130,000 base stations entering service.


2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Govt pushes to pay off money owed to businesses, migrants]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531850.htm China will work to ensure that government departments and State-owned enterprises clear their undisputed arrears owed to private and smaller businesses as much as possible by the end of this year, and resolute efforts will be made to see the task through, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang determined on Wednesday.

"Much work has been done to tackle this problem over the past year," Li said. "There must be no letup. This problem is primarily about wage payments that departments and SOEs owe to private companies, small and medium-sized enterprises and migrant workers. It has directly affected the government's credibility, the business environment, expectations of private businesses and people's lives."

It was noted at the meeting that as of the end of last year, some 75 percent of the more than 890 billion yuan ($128 billion) of the arrears identified nationwide had been paid, exceeding the original target of making no less than half the delinquent payments in 2019.

Supervision from higher levels of government and public scrutiny will be applied to repayments of large sums, it was decided at the meeting. Provincial governments have overall responsibility for the payments and must formulate plans for any cities and counties that are unable to complete the task, ensuring that no arrears are left unaddressed. Large State-owned enterprises must coordinate with their subsidiaries to make sure the late payments are made.

Going forward, when it comes to construction projects, sufficient capital will be allocated and issued on time in accordance with contracts for wage payments to migrant workers, it was determined. Governments at all levels, and State-owned enterprises-and public institutions in particular-must not fall into arrears on payments to migrant workers for any reason, it was decided.

"New government officials must not be allowed to disavow obligations undertaken by their predecessors," Li said. "Undisputed arrears must be paid off by the end of this year."


2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Some swine fever risks remain]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531829.htm Yu Kangzhen, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said on Wednesday that controlling the spread of African swine fever remains a complex task.

Since the first case of the disease, which is fatal to pigs but doesn't affect humans, was discovered in Liaoning province in August 2018, China has reported a total of 162 outbreaks, affecting 31 provincial-level regions.

All quarantines have been lifted in affected regions in China except for one virus-stricken area in Yunnan province, he said.

"The disease has invaded large swaths of the country, so it is predicted that sporadic cases will continue to occur in the future," Yu said.

Seasonal risk factors will compound the difficulty of fighting the disease. Yu said that winter and spring generally see more animal diseases, including African swine fever. The chance of a fresh outbreak will also increase because hog production has rebounded and shipments of live hogs and pork products will become more frequent ahead of Spring Festival.

"Preventing and controlling the disease is likely to be the biggest task in the recovery of hog production in China," he said.

To deal with risks, the ministry recently launched an online training program targeting all breeding farmers and local officers in charge of animal disease prevention and control. The program aims to boost bio-safety.

So far, China has implemented a series of measures to prevent the disease from spreading.


2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[FM begins visit to Africa, makes first stop in Cairo]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531797.htm State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi called for deepening the strategic partnership between China and the League of Arab States in upholding international peace and justice and promoting the political resolution of hot regional issues.

Wang made the remarks on Tuesday in a meeting in Cairo, Egypt, with Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit of the League of Arab States.

It was the first stop on Wang's first trip of the year, which will also take him to Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe.

China considers the league's role to be an important one and appreciates its upholding fair and objective positions on major international and regional issues. It supports Arab countries' use of the league as a platform for coordination in coping with challenges, Wang said.

He hailed the outstanding achievements of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum and underlined the need for the two sides to use the ninth ministerial meeting of the forum, which is set for later this year, as an opportunity to raise a unified voice on developments that affect the region.

Gheit said the league attaches great importance to relations with China, adding that all league members are willing to discuss the building of a China-Arab states community with a shared future.

The Arab states appreciate China's fairness and the positive role it plays in resolving issues in various hot spots in the Middle East, Gheit said, and they thank China for its consistent, firm support of the Arab people, particularly the Palestinians, as they strive to protect their rights and interests.

Speaking about issues related to China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Wang expressed gratitude to Gheit for the league's staunch support for China's policies. He said the country will welcome officials from Arab states who want to visit Xinjiang so that they can witness the situation firsthand and feel the effects of the region's anti-terrorism and deradicalization measures. They can also observe the religious freedom, stability and prosperity of the region, he said.

Gheit said the league fully understands China's position on Xinjiang and opposes interference in China's internal affairs.

In an interview with Egypt's Al-Ahram newspaper on Wednesday, Wang criticized some Western media reports about Xinjiang, saying they were prejudicial and "choose to ignore basic facts".

The media fabricate lies to smear and discredit the counterterrorism and deradicalization efforts in Xinjiang, and even try to drive a wedge between China and Islamic countries, Wang said.

He expressed confidence that the people of Egypt and the wider Islamic world will take an objective and impartial position and not be deceived by such deliberate misinformation.




2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Iran fires missiles at US military bases in Iraq]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531815.htm Iran fired a series of missiles at US military bases in Iraq on Wednesday to avenge the killing of the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force by the United States, worsening the already tense situation in the Persian Gulf region.

The strike began early on Wednesday when the Revolutionary Guard targeted the US air base at Ain al-Assad in Al-Anbar province in western Iraq with dozens of missiles. US planes on the ground were hit in the strike, according to Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency.

The other attack took place on US forces in Irbil, northern Iraq.

A source from the Revolutionary Guard said at least 140 targets of the US and its allies had been identified in the region and would be attacked "if the Americans commit any kind of mistake again".

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the missile attack as a "proportionate measure" made "in self-defense" in response to Friday's killing of Qasem Soleimani.

In remarks made on social media, Iran's top diplomat said that the nation "took and concluded proportionate measures in self-defense" under article 51 of the UN Charter, targeting the base from which the "cowardly armed attack against our citizens and senior officials was launched".

Soleimani was killed in a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on Friday.

An Iranian state television presenter later claimed, without offering evidence, that Wednesday's strikes had killed "at least 80 terrorist US soldiers" and damaged helicopters, drones and other equipment.

'Slap in the face'

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei referred to the attack as a "slap in the face" of the Americans, adding that military retaliation is not sufficient.

He also said that US forces should withdraw from the region. "The corrupt presence of the US in the region should come to end."

The Revolutionary Guard Corps also said in a statement that the US should withdraw its army.

"We advise the American people to recall American troops in the region in order to avoid further losses and not to allow the lives of its soldiers to be further threatened by the ever-increasing hatred that the American regime, with its hatred of any people, is stirring up against it."

Meanwhile, the Iraqi military said that no casualties among its forces had been reported as a result of the Iranian missile attacks.

US President Donald Trump responded shortly after the strike on social media, saying that "all is well!" He did not reveal any more information on losses but said "so far, so good" regarding casualties.

The changing situation in the Gulf region has drawn concerns over whether there will be another war, but Zarif emphasized that the country has no willingness to start a war.

Zarif stressed that Teheran does not "seek escalation or war", but Iran will defend itself against any aggression.

Restraint urged

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang on Wednesday called on the related parties to exercise restraint and resolve conflicts through dialogue.

Geng said at a news conference in Beijing that China has always advocated solutions to conflicts and differences based on respect and through peaceful negotiations, as well as efforts to jointly maintain regional peace and stability in the Middle East.

"We have stated many times that the further deterioration of the situation in the Middle East is not in the interest of any side, and ensuring peace and stability is of great importance to the world," he said.

Li Weijian, a researcher at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said all indications are that both Iran and the US are reluctant to worsen the already tense situation and there will probably be no large-scale war in the region.

The fact that Iran called an end to its military action on Wednesday shortly after the strike indicated that it does not want to provoke a war, and that the strike was only an act of revenge, Li said. "Besides, Iran is not sure whether it can beat the US."

On the other hand, Li suggested that the US also does not want to embark on a path of greater retaliation against Iran, especially a war requiring large commitments of troops and financial resources.

However, the expert said it is hard to predict the direction of the situation, but "at least both sides have shown their attitude is not to have a war".

Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, reiterated on Wednesday the need to reduce tension in the region.

"The use of weapons must stop now to give space for dialogue," she said. "We are called upon to do everything possible to rekindle talks. There cannot be enough of that."

Meanwhile, a top commander in Iraq's Hashd Shaabi paramilitary network said on Wednesday it was time for an "Iraqi response" to the US drone strike, which also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the network's deputy chief.

"That response will be no less than the size of the Iranian response. That is a promise," Qais al-Khazali, a hardline Hashed commander, threatened on social media.

Reuters, AFP and Xinhua contributed to this story.


2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Airplane crashes in Teheran, killing 176]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531814.htm A Ukrainian airliner carrying 176 people crashed on Wednesday shortly after takeoff from Teheran, killing all people on board.

The plane had taken off from Imam Khomeini International Airport when a fire broke out in one of its engines, said Qasem Biniaz, a spokesman for Iran's Road and Transportation Ministry. The pilot of the aircraft then lost control of the plane, and it slammed into the ground, Biniaz said, according to Iran's state-run IRNA news agency.

IRNA also said one of the plane's two black boxes-the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder-had been found.

The plane carried 167 passengers and nine crew members from different nations, Reuters said. Ukraine's Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko said that there were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians and 11 Ukrainians on board. The Ukrainian nationals included two passengers and the nine crew members. There were also 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans and three British people. Airline officials said most of the passengers were en route to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, transiting there to other destinations.

In a statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky extended his condolences to the families of the victims. "My sincere condolences to the relatives and friends of all passengers and crew," Zelensky said, adding that Ukraine was seeking to establish the circumstances of the crash and the death toll.

At a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said "China expressed deep condolences to the victims and their families", adding that the Chinese embassy and consulate general in Ukraine had contacted Ukrainian authorities for further information.

So far, there has been no notification of casualties involving Chinese citizens, Geng said, and further information, if any, will be published promptly. "We hope the relevant parties will find out the cause of the accident as soon as possible," he said.

Yevhen Dykhne, president of Ukraine International Airlines, said at a briefing that the aircraft involved was "one of the best planes we had, with an amazing, reliable crew".

Flight data from the airport showed the Boeing 737-800 flown by Ukraine International Airlines almost immediately stopped transmitting data after it took off on Wednesday morning, according to website FlightRadar24.

According to Reuters, the plane, fully loaded with fuel for its 2,300-kilometer flight, crashed in farmland near the town of Shahedshahr on the outskirts of Teheran. Video footage taken immediately after the crash shows fires lighting up the darkened fields before dawn.

The Boeing 737-800 was introduced in the late 1990s and is a common single-aisle, twin-engine jetliner used for short to medium-range flights. Thousands of these planes are used by airlines around the world.


Rescue teams work near debris after a Ukrainian plane carrying 176 people crashed near Imam Khomeini International Airport in Teheran on Wednesday, killing everyone on board. AFP



2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Huawei braces itself to withstand another year of strong headwinds]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531813.htm Chinese tech major Huawei Technologies Co last year faced arguably the biggest challenge in its 30-year-plus history.

The company dealt with lawsuits, trade restrictions, spying accusations and attempts to ban the use of its equipment in 5G network rollout, as the United States intensified its efforts to curtail Huawei's global business.

But the latest revenue data show that the company, based in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, managed to overcome these obstacles, thanks to the efforts of its 190,000 employees and its years of research and development prowess.

Huawei said its revenue for last year would top 850 billion yuan ($122 billion), marking a record high and an increase of 18 percent year-on-year.

Xu Zhijun, the company's rotating chairman, said in a public letter: "Despite concerted efforts by the US government to keep us down, we've made it out the other side. These figures are lower than our initial projections (of $125 billion), yet business remains solid and we stand strong in the face of adversity."

Huawei's carrier business group, which sells equipment to global telecom operators, secured more than 60 contracts for 5G last year.

It won the trust of foreign carriers, despite the efforts by Washington to dissuade its allies from using Huawei equipment in 5G rollout plans.

The company also maintained steady momentum in its smartphone business. Last year, it safeguarded its reputation as the world's second-largest smartphone vendor, selling more than 240 million handsets, a rise of nearly 17 percent on the 206 million in 2018.

Huawei knows that this year will be tough. Xu said the company will have to continue working hard, as it does not expect to be removed from Washington's Entity List, which effectively restricts its ability to buy US products crucial to its smartphones and telecom equipment.

"It's going to be a difficult year for us," Xu wrote. "The external environment is becoming more complicated than ever, and downward pressure on the global economy has intensified."

The company said it will not grow as rapidly this year as it did in the first half of 2019. "We will have nothing to rely on but the hard work of our people, as well as the ongoing trust and support of our customers and partners," Xu said. "Survival will be our first priority."

He said the company will "need to go all out" to build the ecosystem for Huawei Mobile Services-the foundation for its ability to sell smart devices in overseas markets.

Bai Ming, a senior research fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said Huawei will also improve its self-developed operating system Harmony, in case the US government continues to ban the company's access to Google's Android operating system in smartphones.

As this year will be a tipping point for the large-scale construction of 5G networks worldwide, Huawei said it will actively seize all opportunities to drive global deployment of the superfast technology. The company has already started shipping 5G base stations-with no US components-worldwide.

For example, the stations are being used in the 5G networks of Sunrise, the second-largest telecom carrier in Switzerland.

Olaf Swantee, Sunrise CEO, said no business wants to step into political waters, and he regards Huawei as a "great partner".

"Huawei is dedicated and responsive in making sure that we have a defect-free network," Swantee said.

Such trust will help support the company, which is likely to face stronger headwinds this year.

"We are the bamboo stalk that stands tall and proud against wind from all directions, whether north, south, east or west," Xu said.

This spirit is echoed in a line Huawei often uses on its internal portal: "Heroes are forged, not born."




2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[NATION SETS RAPID PACE WITH 5G DEVELOPMENT]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531798.htm In a mine in Qingdao, Shandong province, an automatic electric locomotive loaded with gold ore runs smoothly as workers on the surface, about 500 meters above the vehicle, monitor operations via real-time video cameras.

This is the first such application of fifth-generation wireless technology in underground mines in China, as part of the nation's broader push to employ technologies to ensure safety in a sprawling industry.

Thanks to 5G, mines, which have traditionally struggled with connectivity, are becoming safer and more efficient.

Liu Pengnan, a technician at Shandong Gold Mining (Laixi) Co, which runs the Qingdao mine, said: "The superfast 5G allows radio signals to pass through thick walls, ceilings and floors. We can access a peak downloading speed of 800 megabytes per second and an uploading speed of 100 Mb/s, making it possible for us to remotely control underground equipment, a big improvement in safety for frontline workers such as me."

The mine, where 5G network coverage was introduced in late November, offers a glimpse of the progress made by China in the past year to commercialize the superfast wireless technology. The nation is pioneering cutting-edge technologies, despite global trade uncertainties and efforts by the United States to contain the rise of tech pioneers such as Huawei Technologies Co.

For example, Chinese companies have enabled the world's first 5G-powered remote surgery on a human brain, transmitted ultrahigh-definition television content through 5G networks and piloted the operation of self-driving buses and automobiles in many cities.

The country boasts the world's largest 5G deployment, with more than 130,000 base stations constructed.

Its telecom carriers provide 5G services in more than 50 cities, securing a total of 3 million subscribers in just two months after the technology was officially commercialized, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Wang Zhiqin, deputy head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a government think tank, said, "China has maintained its 5G deployment momentum in the face of challenges."

She said the technology can enable countless devices and equipment to connect to the internet and "talk" to each other, which will make the long-predicted era of the internet of things a reality.

"This year, we will see large-scale construction of 5G networks, a kaleidoscope of industrial applications emerging and 5G smartphones rapidly becoming popular in China," Wang added

Huawei estimates that some 400,000 new 5G base stations will be built in China by the end of the year, with services available in more than 300 cities.

In its latest report, US investment bank Goldman Sachs painted an even more optimistic picture, forecasting that the country would build about 1 million new 5G base stations this year, up from its original prediction of 600,000.

Wang Jianzhou, senior consultant with the Global System for Mobile Communications Association, said: "Despite the different estimates, there is a consensus that the rapid deployment of 5G in China will offer a sound digital infrastructure for more efforts to generate concrete benefits for both businesses and consumers. It will inject new vitality into the push for high-quality growth."

He said 5G is not a simple technology. It is a platform to link the telecom industry with other sectors-the fundamental difference between 4G and 5G.

"The whole world is fascinated with 5G. It is high time to turn this overwhelming enthusiasm toward the new technology into concrete efforts to promote its wider use," Wang Jianzhou added.

A wide variety of industries-mining, transportation, education, healthcare, manufacturing, agriculture and others-are scrambling to team up with Chinese tech companies for innovative 5G applications.

Significant progress has been made. For example, in March, the world's first 5G-based remote surgery on a human brain was conducted on a patient with Parkinson's disease.

With technological support from Huawei and China Mobile Ltd, a doctor in Sanya, Hainan province, remotely operated surgical instruments to implant a deep brain stimulator, known as a "brain pacemaker", into the patient in Beijing, about 2,500 kilometers away.

Ling Zhipei, chief physician at the First Medical Center of the Chinese PLA General Hospital, conducted the three-hour surgery. "The 5G network has solved problems like video lag and remote control delay experienced under the 4G network, ensuring a near-real-time operation," Ling said.

Hospitals in China have since conducted a string of 5G-enabled remote surgeries, as they strive to tap the latest technologies to solve problems such as insufficient medical resources in poor regions.

Derek O'Halloran, head of Shaping the Future of Digital Economy and New Value Creation at World Economic Forum, said China is one of the most active 5G markets in the world. It is at the forefront of applying the technology in manufacturing, healthcare, media and other sectors.

Chen Hong, chairman of Hina Group, a Chinese investment company that has recently funded 5G-related startups, said that as the technology deepens integration between digital technologies and traditional sectors, it will also play a new role in spurring China's burgeoning digital economy to a new development stage.

"4G has triggered a boom in China's consumer internet applications. But the nation has no star companies that excel in using digital technologies to serve businesses. That is in sharp contrast to the US, where consumer internet companies and enterprise internet companies are thriving in tandem," Chen said.

The landscape in China will be reshaped by 5G, which will trigger the use of digital technologies in enterprises, according to Chen.

Such optimism is in line with the latest report from the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. The think tank forecasts that the commercialization of 5G in China is expected to generate direct economic output of 10.6 trillion yuan ($1.5 trillion) from this year to 2025, and indirect economic output of about 24.8 trillion yuan.

But whatever gigantic numbers are used to showcase the benefits of 5G, the technology first needs to bring benefits to frontline workers such as Liu, from the gold mine in Shandong.

He said that many people are visiting the mine to see how 5G is being used to upgrade the traditional industry.

"I have taken many phone calls to answer questions from our peers. They are all eager to embrace the technology, because once properly used, 5G can save our lives in an emergency," Liu said.


Consumers try the Huawei Mate 20X 5G, the first 5G smartphone produced by Huawei Technologies Co, at a China Mobile outlet in Beijing in August. WANG ZHUANGFEI/CHINA DAILY



A doctor in Changxing, Zhejiang province, uses 5G-supported telemedicine technology to administer ultrasound to a patient in a rural clinic several kilometers away. TAN YUNFENG/FOR CHINA DAILY



Visitors try VR video with 5G technology during the 2019 World 5G Convention in Beijing in November. CHEN XIAOGEN/FOR CHINA DAILY



A police robot patrols East Nanjing Road in Shanghai. WANG GANG/FOR CHINA DAILY



Visitors try a self-driving bus at a high-tech zone in Zhengzhou, Henan province. ZHANG TAO/FOR CHINA DAILY





2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Sufficient supplies of pork coming for Spring Festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/09/content_37531827.htm China has taken a range of steps to secure a sufficient pork supply for the coming Spring Festival feasts-supporting hog production, slaughtering more pigs and releasing more reserves of frozen meat to replenish the market.

"It is a Chinese custom to eat meat during Spring Festival, so we're aiming to supply enough for people while ensuring quality," Yu Kangzhen, vice-minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said on Wednesday.

China's stock of breeding sows rose for the third consecutive month in December, up by 2.2 percent from November, and production of pork feed went up for the fourth consecutive month, by 2 percent month-on-month, the ministry reported.

Both increases signal hog production is rebounding nationwide after a fatal pig disease decimated the national herd, Yu said.

With the approach of Spring Festival, which begins on Jan 25, hog farms have accelerated pig slaughtering operations to meet demand, with the number of hogs butchered rising 14.1 percent in December, the first monthly increase since August, according to the ministry.

"As more full-grown pigs will be supplied to the market, and as meat stocked in reserve or imported from overseas is released, the pork supply and demand will be balanced during the festival," Yu said.

Local authorities have also stepped up their supervision of pork quality at slaughterhouses and cracked down on production violations.

At the same time, regional and State reserves are accelerating the release of frozen pork to shore up supplies in the run-up to the holiday season.

The China Merchandise Reserve Management Center said on Monday that 20,000 metric tons of frozen pork were scheduled for release on Thursday, bringing the total amount of pork released from the center to more than 220,000 tons since September.

In Shenyang, Liaoning province, 3,500 tons of frozen pork will be released and put on the market through February, the city government said last week.

The spread of African swine fever in China, first detected in August 2018, led to the culling of about 1.2 million hogs, squeezing pork supplies and pushing up prices, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

To restore hog production, policies have been rolled out, including improved infrastructure, a boost in financial subsidies and credit insurance and a more streamlined approval process to expand land dedicated to breeding pigs.

Yang Zhenhai, chief of the ministry's animal husbandry and veterinary medicine bureau, said 300 million yuan ($43.2 million) has been allocated to develop new large-scale pig farms or renovate existing facilities.

The central government has also allocated 220 million yuan to subsidize farmers who had culled their pigs because of disease, and another 700 million yuan to support major pork-producing areas, he said.

In November, the overall hog population rose for the first time after 13 months of decline, the ministry said in December.


A pork vendor provides a shopper with plenty of choices at a supermarket in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, in late December. Local authorities released more frozen pork from national reserves to ensure there's enough for the upcoming holiday and keep prices stable. PENG ZHAOZHI/XINHUA



2020-01-09 00:00:00
<![CDATA[SAR chief executive calls for fresh start in 2020]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531606.htm Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor vowed to lead society to a fresh start in 2020 amid economic woes and as unemployment continues to rise in the wake of seven months of social unrest.

Speaking to reporters ahead of Tuesday's weekly Executive Council meeting, Lam said her colleagues in the government would continue to serve as they had pledged.

She also pledged to work with the new director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Luo Huining, to bring the city back on track.

The HKSAR government had announced in November that it would establish the Independent Review Committee to look into the causes of unrest and improve policymaking. But Lam admitted it was not easy to get people to join the committee as actions taken by radicals, such as the publication of people's personal information online as an act of vengeance, as well as threats and physical attacks, had remained strong deterrents since June.

For example, Lam referred to the Jan 1 incident in which radicals spray-painted the exterior of the High Court building with words insulting Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, who had sentenced three people to jail for their involvement in the 2016 Mong Kok riots.

Lam said her government attached great importance to the role of district councils in resolving critical community problems and hoped all councilors could attend a scheduled briefing in order to enhance cooperation with the administration.

The new district councils started to serve on Jan 1. But some district councilors from the opposition camp have called for a boycott of a briefing by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kinchung. It is a long-standing tradition that the SAR's chief secretary would brief newly elected councilors.




]]> 2020-01-08 00:00:00 <![CDATA[China's foreign exchange reserves rise]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531654.htm China's foreign exchange reserves rose to a six-month high of nearly $3.11 trillion as of the end of December, supported by stronger exports and stable capital inflows amid the financial opening-up, according to regulators on Tuesday.

Reserves increased by 1.1 percent over 2018 and were up by $12.3 billion in a single month in December, suggesting general equilibrium of supply and demand in the foreign exchange market, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said. Reserves decreased by $88.7 billion in 2018.

The weaker US dollar index influenced by the easing monetary policy in large economies, and price drops of major countries' bonds, have changed the value of foreign assets reserved by the Chinese government, a statement on the SAFE website said.

Optimism remains

Although global political and economic uncertainties are rising, Chinese monetary authority remained optimistic about stable foreign exchange reserves in the future, supported by economic growth within a reasonable range, SAFE spokeswoman Wang Chunying said on Tuesday.

Foreign exchange reserves usually refer to assets denominated in foreign currency, including cash, foreign bank deposits and foreign securities. The reserves can be used to stabilize the exchange rate and repay foreign debts.

The US dollar index dropped by 1.9 percent last month to 96.4, while the Chinese yuan appreciated to about 6.97 yuan per dollar at the end of December, adding to nearly 1 percent in November. Recent research by Morgan Stanley predicted that the onshore yuan will appreciate modestly against the US greenback in its trade-weighted basket in 2020, given a better economic growth outlook.

"RMB fluctuations have become more market-driven in recent years, serving as an automatic stabilizer to changes in domestic and external conditions," the research said. The Chinese government is expected to continue to open up the domestic capital market. As a result, robust capital inflows are expected to be seen this year, which can maintain stable foreign exchange reserves and support a stronger yuan.

Wen Bin, chief economist at Minsheng Bank, said the stronger exports in December, showed by some leading economic indicators such as the purchasing managers' index, has contributed to the rise of foreign exchange reserves, because of the easing trade tensions between China and the United States.

In 2019, the central bank increased its holdings of gold by 2.7 million ounces, to 62.64 million ounces by the end of December, a level that was unchanged from October.

The price of gold almost hit the six-year high-test level to $1,600 per ounce, up by about 2.4 percent this week, because of elevated geopolitical risks across the heart of the Middle East. Global investors are likely to reserve more gold to hedge fluctuations in the capital market as they speculate that Iran will deliver on threats to retaliate against the United States for the killing of a senior general, analysts said.

Even the Chinese central bank may increase purchases of gold in 2020 if the geopolitical risks continue to rise, but the amount will not be too large, said Zhao Qingming, chief economist at the Institute for Financial Derivatives under the China Financial Futures Exchange.

Key tasks

Pan Gongsheng, vice-governor of the PBOC and the director of SAFE, said key tasks in 2020 include promoting the diversification of foreign exchange reserve investment and supporting the Belt and Road Initiative. He added that the safety and liquidity of reserve assets should be ensured, while preserving and increasing their value, according to a statement.

As China's financial opening-up will continue, more foreign investors will participate in domestic markets. The reform of foreign exchange management is expected to be promoted steadily this year, after major progress in interest rate liberalization reform, said Guan Qingyou, dean and chief economist at the Rushi Financial Research Institute.


2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Rail line opens new prospects]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531653.htm The opening of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway is expected to help with poverty alleviation among rural residents and counties in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, bringing more opportunities to boost local industries, particularly with the 2022 Winter Olympics approaching.

Zhangjiakou, about 200 kilometers northwest of Beijing and the co-host city of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, is the most impoverished area near the capital. Of its 18 counties and districts, five are deeply impoverished.

By the end of 2019, around 98,000 rural residents from 747 villages in Zhangjiakou had been lifted from poverty, according to local authorities.

The example of Zhangjiakou demonstrates the Communist Party of China's pledge to establish a moderately prosperous society in all respects before the celebration of its centenary in 2021 and lift all rural residents out of poverty, said Xu Lin, head of the State Council Information Office.

"It also means significantly that this year we will make every effort to achieve the goal from the grassroots level."

Xu made the remarks to journalists who were about to start an investigative reporting tour of poverty-relief projects in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on Tuesday.

"These vivid stories and achievements in poverty alleviation demonstrate the progress China has made in poverty reduction, which will provide good examples for the next generation," he said.

Han Shuqing, a senior official from China State Railway Group, said there were 1,967 railway lines passing through impoverished regions in 2019.

Of those, the 174-km Beijing-Zhangjiakou line, with a maximum designed speed of 350 km/h, reduces the travel time between the two cities from more than three hours to 47 minutes, making Hebei one of the few provinces with a high-speed rail system connecting all of its cities, he said.

Speaking about the benefits the railway line will bring, Zheng Kuan, 69, a farmer from Kangbao county in Zhangjiakou, said: "My son told me that there will be more visitors coming and opportunities to sell my potatoes and tomatoes."

Zhang Jinggui, a 63-year-old farmer from Kangbao, said: "I can visit Beijing much more easily since the new line opened, and I plan to visit Beijing this weekend, since it will only take a few hours to get there and return.

"As the country prospers, farmers like me benefit a lot. With more visitors coming to Zhangjiakou in the future, I believe that tourism will help lift most of us out of poverty," he added.

Northwestern Beijing's Yanqing district also has benefited from the opening of the railway.

Yu Bo, the district director, said the railway overcame the transport problems that the mountainous area once faced and it will greatly help the holding of the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics.


2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tibet secures victory in battle to improve livelihoods]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531652.htm The Tibet autonomous region has essentially overcome extreme poverty, according to the regional government's work report, published on Tuesday.

Qizhala, chairman of the regional government, said at the ongoing third session of the 11th Tibet People's Congress that the region removed the last 19 impoverished areas from the poverty list and lifted 150,000 people out of poverty last year.

"Absolute poverty has been basically eradicated (in Tibet)," said Qizhala. "We are poised to achieve overall victory in the fight against poverty."

Migmar, director of Layak, a village in Saga county, said 100 people in 33 households in the village were lifted out of poverty thanks to various poverty relief projects.

"Our village had no proper roads or safe drinking water before 2016. Villagers had to travel 30 minutes by tractor or motorcycle to carry water, and the road was terrible," she said.

Migmar said all of the families in the village now have access to tap water, and the village has paved roads.

The creation of three cooperatives in the village had been instrumental in the effort to improve residents' standard of living.

One of these, a textile workshop, produces quilts, blankets, and other handicrafts using locally sourced wool.

Most of the poverty-stricken families were encouraged to invest in the workshop, said Migmar.

"The village officials have organized a great deal of training for residents to help them learn skills and find employment, and this has also really helped the villagers change their views on work and making money," she added.

"Instead of staying at home and doing traditional farming and herding, in recent years most villagers have started to find other ways to create wealth. The change in their outlook has been a key element of this."

In Tuesday's work report, Qizhala said the region had seen a new breakthrough in employment last year, with more than 52,000 jobs provided to urban residents, and the urban registered unemployment rate remained under 3 percent.

In 2019, more than 60,000 jobs had been created for university graduates, the report said, and more than 98 percent of Tibetan college students had found jobs.

Qizhala added that the region aims to create 50,000 urban jobs in 2020 to ensure its urban registered unemployment rate does not rise above 3.6 percent.

According to the work report, the gross domestic product in Tibet was estimated at more than 160 billion yuan ($23 billion) last year, an increase of around 9 percent year-on-year.

Meanwhile, the per capita disposable income for the region's urban and rural residents in 2020 is estimated to grow 10 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

In 2020, Qizhala said Tibet's GDP is expected to maintain stable growth of 9 percent. Total retail sales of consumer goods are forecast to grow by 10 percent this year.


2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Regulators act to avoid risks from digitalized products]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531651.htm Financial regulators in China are moving to manage digitalized products, especially those based on new technology such as blockchain, to prevent systemic risks.

The People's Bank of China, the central bank, is preparing the first set of regulations governing blockchain and is strengthening supervision of financial technology, the bank's fintech committee said late last month.

The committee, established in May 2017, is tasked with strengthening the implementation of regulatory technology.

Given the rapid development of financial technology in China, regulators are facing mounting challenges, ranging from illegal online fundraising to financial fraud; from money laundering to leaks of personal data.

In Beijing, the PBOC has established the country's first pilot program to regulate fintech innovation. Many experts describe the program as a Chinese version of the so-called regulatory sandbox-an experiment allowing pioneering solutions and technologies to be deployed in a live but controlled setting.

In 2015, the world's first regulatory sandbox was created in the United Kingdom, a move later followed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Li Wei, director of the PBOC Science and Technology Department, said China's regulatory tools for fintech innovation have many similarities with the sandboxes in the UK and Singapore.

"The tools are in line with China's national conditions, and also comply with international standards," Li said.

The fintech regulatory pilot program will help provide a real market with controllable risks to detect and avoid defects in fintech products and potential risks, while protecting consumers' rights and interests.

Zeng Zhicheng, deputy head of the PBOC Operations Office in Beijing, said that as of last month, 46 fintech projects had been included in the pilot program, involving 77 companies.

In a statement, the PBOC fintech committee said that all financial service apps should register on the regulators' administrative system this year. The new regulation will standardize the management of apps and improve the security level of online financial service channels.

The bank said China has published a three-year fintech development plan, covering last year to next. The plans aims to set up a system of basic regulations for fintech supervision and create inclusive and prudent regulatory tools for innovating the technology.




The People's Bank of China is preparing blockchain regulations. ZHANG HAIYAN/FOR CHINA DAILY



2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Iran accuses Pentagon of terrorism, blacklists perpetrators]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531607.htm Iran listed the Pentagon, the military command headquarters of the United States, as terrorist organization on Tuesday. It was another step to combat a series of hostile US actions and threats, including the killing of a top Iranian military commander and the targeting of cultural sites.

Lawmakers in Iran announced that the country would blacklist the US Department of Defense, all affiliated institutions and companies, and the commanders "who planned and perpetrated the assassination" of senior general Qasem Soleimani, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"Any aid to these forces, including military, intelligence, financial, technical, service or logistical, will be considered as cooperation in a terrorist act," the lawmakers said.

They also voted to bolster by 200 million euros ($223 million) the coffers of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which was headed by Soleimani. The general was killed in a US drone strike outside the Baghdad airport on Friday.

The bill condemning the Pentagon was an amended version of a law adopted in April last year that declared the US a "state sponsor of terrorism" and its forces in the region "terror groups".

After the vote, the lawmakers chanted "Death to America" and called for revenge, Iran's Press TV reported. It also cited the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani, saying that 13 revenge scenarios had already been drafted, the weakest of which would be a nightmare for the US.

Concerning the escalation of tensions in the Gulf region, Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, said on Monday that China had been following the situation very closely and that the pressing task at the moment is "to prevent the situation from further escalating and running out of control".

Zhang called for the international community, including the UN Security Council, to make efforts to de-escalate tensions.

"China is ready to keep close communication with relevant parties, uphold just and objective positions, stand for international law, fairness and justice, and maintain peace and stability in the Gulf region and the Middle East," he said.

Also on Monday, the US denied a visa to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif that would have allowed him to attend a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York on Thursday, according to a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Zarif, speaking in Teheran, said: "They fear that someone will come to the US and reveal reality."

The US State Department has not commented on Zarif's visa request. As host of the UN headquarters, the US is supposed to allow foreign officials to attend such meetings.

Meanwhile, in Washington, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper suggested that the US military would not strike Iranian cultural sites and would "follow the laws of armed conflict" because targeting such sites would be a war crime.

US President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday night that sites "important to Iran& the Iranian culture" were on a list of 52 potential US targets if Iran hit back following the death of Soleimani a day earlier.

In Russia, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday that Moscow remains fully committed to the nuclear deal even after Iran announced it would reduce its obligations under the accord.

The ministry said in a statement that Iran's decision is a consequence of contradictions accumulated within the agreement, but Russia is still "ready to continue working in order to achieve them" and urged other participants to do the same.

"We do not see any other effective recipe to rescue the nuclear deal. We assume that keeping comprehensive agreements and provisions ... will remain a priority task for all partners," the ministry said.

The Iranian cabinet said on Sunday that the country would "take the final step to reduce commitments" to the nuclear deal and would not observe restrictions in operations.

So far, Russia sees no threat of nuclear weapons proliferation after Iran's announcement, the ministry said.

"Iran is carrying on all its activities in close cooperation and under ongoing control by International Atomic Energy Agency," the Russian ministry said.

Amid the tensions, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced on Tuesday that he would visit Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates next week.

"I'm deeply concerned about the tensions in the Middle East," he said. "I hope to contribute to peace and stability in the region through diplomatic efforts."

Abe has tried in recent months to carve out a role as a mediator between the US and Iran. Tokyo has had ties with Teheran for decades.

Zhao Huanxin in Washington, Hong Xiao at the United Nations, Ren Qi in Moscow, AFP and Xinhua contributed to this story.


2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[WORLD AWAITS DIGITAL CURRENCY BREAKTHROUGH]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531636.htm This year, as the world eagerly awaits news of the first government-issued digital currency in a major economy, eyes are turning to China, which is accelerating development of blockchain, the underlying technology required for e-money.

In the past 12 months, all announcements by the People's Bank of China, the central bank, about updates to its proposed digital currency have attracted global media attention.

No matter which large economy it is generated in, the world's first central bank digital currency, or CBDC, will change the basic rules of the global monetary system.

"The top-level design of China's central bank digital currency, as well as the standards and testing processes, have almost been completed," Mu Changchun, director-general of the central bank's Institute of Digital Currency, said in December.

The next step is to choose pilot areas for testing, including the application scenarios and scope of service, to optimize and enrich the functions of the digital yuan and promote research on this form of money, Mu said.

There will not be an exchange for trading digital currency and electronic payments, or DC/EP, as is the case with other crypto-assets, Mu said. "The digital yuan is for spending, not for speculative investment."

In 2014, the central bank started to research a digital currency. Two years later, it opened the Institute of Digital Currency and in 2017 established a special work team to experiment with DC/EP.

In 2016, a paper from the PBOC Digital Currency Research Group was published in the central bank magazine China Finance. The paper stated that in the early stages of launching DC/EP, "one or two closed-application scenarios, such as the commercial bill market, can be selected (as a pilot)," and then use of DC/EP can later be expanded to the whole country.

The paper said: "We should realize that the use of both digital money and cash will run parallel for quite a long time," with the former gradually replacing the latter. "Later, the transaction costs for cash will gradually rise. For example, there may be a charge for cash withdrawals. Thus, with an incentive mechanism, more people will prefer to use digital currency."

However, behind many of the global headlines, complex questions about CBDC have been raised in relation to monetary policy, central banking operations and payment systems, as well as financial stability and legal foundations and regulations.

International Monetary Fund experts Tommaso Mancini-Griffoli and Tobias Adrian wrote in an article on the IMF website in December, "We have seen an increase in central banks' interest in CBDC following the announcement by Facebook of its Libra initiative as well as reports of a possible launch of a CBDC by the PBOC.

"Each country will have to weigh the pros and cons of the case for CBDC depending on its particular circumstances."

According to PBOC officials, the operating framework for DC/EP will be a two-tier structure, involving the central bank and some nongovernmental institutions jointly running the system.

The IMF also suggested the option of public-private partnerships, and this model envisions private sector companies issuing digital coins to the public-either in the form of accounts or tokens.

An IMF research note said: "These firms would thus be responsible for doing what they do best-innovating and interfacing with customers. The central bank, instead, would provide trust to the system by requiring that coins be fully backed by central bank reserves, and by supervising the coin issuers. At the same time, this limits costs for the central bank, as well as some of the risks."

In any mention of digital currency, it is hard to avoid reference to blockchain, especially as the Chinese leadership in October stated its intention of leading the global development of this nascent technology.

Blockchain is a system in which a record of transactions made in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency are maintained across several computers linked in a peer-to-peer network.

It has been described as "an immutable and tamper-proof public ledger of activity, which is also decentralized". New bitcoins are made through the process of "mining", which is carried out by running extremely powerful computers that race against other "miners".

Distributed ledger technology, or DLT, supports the decentralized network, allowing simultaneous access, validation and updating of records.

In China, financial regulators have not identified crypto-assets as a type of currency. In 2017, they blocked trading in bitcoins and closed all public crypto-asset exchanges. The same year, the government also banned so-called initial coin offerings, or ICOs; a way for startups to raise funds by selling off newly created digital currencies.

According to Mu, the central bank official, the basic regulatory tone for cypto-assets has remained unchanged.

Turning to Stablecoins, defined by the IMF as an electronic version of fiat money, or e-money, Mu said, "We still need time to figure out whether Stablecoins can be seen as currencies," adding that some types of Stablecoins may have an impact on the yuan, especially in cross-border payments and settlements.

Wang Xin, head of the PBOC's Research Bureau, said last month that in the digital era countries can be expected to compete in a race to create government-backed digital currencies.

Some of these currencies issued by the private sector, such as Facebook's Libra, will find it hard to compete with state-issued digital money, Wang said.

"The right to issue money is important for the government, as it is one of the fundamental measures for it to raise funds and implement macroeconomic adjustments," Wang added. If there is a financial crisis, the central bank can inject liquidity and stabilize the system through flexible adjustments to money supply, a function that is hard to achieve for privately issued money, he said.

In October, President Xi Jinping delivered a speech stating that blockchain is an "important breakthrough in independent innovation of core technologies" and China should seize the opportunities of developing it.

Garrick Hileman, head of research at cryptocurrency exchange and trading platform Blockchain, said in an interview with CNBC, "This is an extremely significant development, not just for China but for the broader world.

"Countries are racing to identify strategic technologies and develop sustainable competitive advantages in areas like artificial intelligence and robotics. With Xi's speech, blockchain technology can now be added to this list."

Exchange platform plan

In China, blockchain technology was initially applied in areas such as finance. About five years ago, the country's financial regulators recognized that blockchain could improve the efficiency of commercial paper transactions and reduce regulatory costs.

Xu Zhong, former director of the PBOC Research Bureau, said, "If we introduce the digital currency into the 'commercial paper chain', we will be able to supervise the direction of capital flows in real time, or create new business models based on real-time financing."

In December 2016, the Shanghai Commercial Paper Exchange Corp, a national institution supervised by the central bank, published a plan for an exchange platform based on blockchain, aimed at reducing fake information and controlling illegal transactions.

The State Administration of Foreign Exchange has a cross-border blockchain platform-the nation's high-level and largest blockchain application to date. In March, the platform started a pilot program, providing financial services covering exports and recording companies' cross-border credit information.

This platform also provides cross-system information sharing, including enterprises' collateral and bank loans, which can help ease financing for small and medium-sized companies. More than 170 commercial banks have joined the pilot program, according to SAFE.

In September 2018, the central bank established a blockchain platform for the finance trade in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. The platform provides services including both supply chain and cross-border financing and regulation of international trade funds.

By the end of October, there were 1,898 companies on the platform, with business worth about 75 billion yuan ($10.7 billion), according to the PBOC's Shenzhen branch.

Shu Li, who heads China Minsheng Bank's Beijing branch, said blockchain technology is likely to provide the foundations on which to design the financial system for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

As three currencies (the yuan, Hong Kong dollar and the Macao pataca) are used in the Bay Area, blockchain will help expand transactions and lower financial trading costs, with the aim of building a credible and orderly financial system by coordinating various mechanisms, Shu said.

However, some experts have warned against exaggerating the advantages of blockchain. They said that a good way to assess whether a new technology can be a truly useful addition is to step back and review the fundamental roles of the global financial and economic system, and past examples of failed attempts to create new technologies.

Xu, the former PBOC official, said: "In recent years, there have been some cases that have proved that some blockchain applications are not feasible. In particular, the modern financial system continues to absorb various technological innovations in the development process."

In a research paper Xu wrote that as long as technological innovation helps improve the efficiency of financial resource allocation, security and convenience of transactions, blockchain can be integrated into the financial system.






]]> 2020-01-08 00:00:00 <![CDATA[HK unveils measures to prevent spread of pneumonia-like disease]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531627.htm Patients suspected of having symptoms of pneumonia as they enter Hong Kong from Wuhan in Hubei province will be mandatorily quarantined and banned from leaving Hong Kong starting from Wednesday, the city's health authorities announced on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, all medical practitioners are required to notify the authorities about any suspected cases of pneumonia and have been given legal power to place suspected patients under mandatory quarantine from Wednesday.

The government may also ban people in contact with the patients from leaving the city.

The new rules take effect after the government amended the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance to list the mystery illness as a notifiable disease on Wednesday, in order to prevent a possible spread of the unidentified pneumonia-like disease.

In addition, health authorities have stepped up border checks, especially at the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminal. All passengers on trains from Wuhan need to go through body temperature checks starting from Monday.

The government also asked schools, shopping centers and restaurants to scale up sanitation work after the city's Hospital Authority raised the response level for infectious diseases to "serious"-level two on a three-tier scale.

Speaking to reporters before her weekly Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the government will respond to suspicious cases promptly and seriously and in a transparent manner, although the city has yet to confirm any cases of the pneumonia-like disease.

She added that the government will update the public through media outlets and social media.

Between noon on Monday and noon on Tuesday, eight more patients were identified with fever, respiratory infection or pneumonia symptoms in Hong Kong after visiting Wuhan over the past two weeks, taking the total number to 30. Of these, 13 have been discharged from the hospital and the rest are in stable condition.

The Hospital Authority said these patients had not been to any wet market in Wuhan. A now-closed wet market was believed to be the source of this unknown illness, according to mainland authorities, with 59 cases reported as of Sunday since the outbreak was revealed on Dec 31.

Chung Kin-lai, director of quality and safety at the authority, said that the number of isolation beds in public hospitals is able to be increased to 1,400 within 72 hours if the situation worsens.

In addition, the stockpile of personal protection equipment in public hospitals, including surgical mask and N95 mask, is adequate for three months, according to the Hospital Authority.

Secretary for Food and Health Sophia Chan Siu-chee urged residents to ensure personal hygiene.


2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Shenzhen advisers urge stronger links with Hong Kong]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531626.htm Political advisers in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, called on Tuesday for enhanced youth exchanges between the city and Hong Kong to help overcome problems in the financial hub and also fuel the further growth of its mainland neighbor.

The Shenzhen municipal committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the city's political advisory body, started its annual meeting on Tuesday.

A key focus of its members is how to promote youth exchanges among the Chinese mainland, and the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Dai Beifang, chairman of the standing committee, said in his work report that the city's political advisory body will make greater efforts on guiding members to firmly support the SAR governments and chief executives in carrying out law-based governance, and actively participate in the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

It will also play a more active role in promoting youth exchanges among Shenzhen, Hong Kong and Macao, he said.

John Ma Hung-ming, a member of Shenzhen CPPCC who is also vice-chairman of Hong Kong-listed catering service provider Carrianna Holdings, said the Bay Area blueprint, which was officially launched in February, provides huge opportunities for Hong Kong people, as they can develop their careers in a much larger market.

He suggested that deeper exchanges should be carried out not only among young people in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, but also among professionals from the two cities.

Jamie Sze Wine-him, vice-chairman of All-China Youth Federation, echoed his view. Shenzhen enterprises should offer more internship opportunities to young people from Hong Kong and Macao and set up a joint program on cultivating youth talents, he said.

Sze also suggested that more Hong Kong and Macao students should be admitted to mainland universities.

Witman Hung Wai-man, principal liaison officer for Hong Kong of the Shenzhen Qianhai Authority, highlighted the importance of improving infrastructure and providing a sound business environment in attracting talent from Hong Kong and Macao.

"We don't need every young person from Hong Kong to be willing to go to Shenzhen at the current time. As long as Shenzhen has a developed infrastructure and pleasant business environment, the first group of young people from Hong Kong will make their careers here. When they are successful, more and more will follow in their footsteps," he said.


2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Cutting-edge advancements shine at expo in Las Vegas]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531608.htm Artificial intelligence, 5G wireless technology and electric and self-driving vehicles are the life of the party at the ongoing 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, industry experts said.

The show, one of the world's largest and most influential technology expos, kicked off for members of the media on Sunday with news conferences and a sneak peek. The official opening came on Tuesday.

According to the Consumer Technology Association, the event organizer, more than 4,500 exhibitors came from around 160 countries. There are around 20,000 transformative new tech products on display in 36 product categories. Hundreds of companies are showing off their latest innovations.

Among the categories, streaming services, wireless earbuds, 5G connectivity and AI-enabled devices are the growth leaders, according to an association report released on Sunday.

While the internet of things has set the pace for the market over the past decade, this year the industry is different.

"We are increasingly confronted with an entirely new IoT, the intelligence of things," said Steve Koenig, the association's vice-president of research.

"5G is one of those ingredient technologies that is really powering the intelligence of things," Koenig said. "The 5G narrative is just going to continue to unfold as we move forward throughout the decade."

According to the association, 2020 will see double-digit growth in the number of 5G smartphones sold and revenue generated.

Around 20 million units are expected to be sold, with estimated total revenue of $15.3 billion.

This year is "an inaugural year for 5G-enabled handsets", said Lesley Rohrbaugh, director of research for the group. By 2022, two-thirds of the handset market will switch from a 4G focus to 5G, she said.

The trend is evident at the electronics show, with companies launching 5G-related devices. TCL, the Guangdong-based TV maker, was to unveil its first 5G smartphone on Monday. The company said it will retail for under $500.

Lenovo is collaborating with Qualcomm for its first 5G computer, the Yoga 5G, set for release this spring.

During Qualcomm's news conference on Monday, company President Cristiano Amon gave an ambitious estimate about the application of 5G in 2020, saying that 200 million 5G smartphones will be shipped this year.

More than 45 operators globally already have deployed 5G, Amon said. In October, China's three major mobile operators launched 5G service plans and made them available in dozens of cities.

But 5G is not the only star at the expo.

"You are going to see AI prevalent throughout the entire show," Rohrbaugh said.

The consumerization of AI is leading to advancements in many categories: smart homes, smart speakers, human-machine partnerships in the workplace and automated driving, to name a few.

"I believe the application of AI technology makes our product stand out," said Leilei Shinohara, vice-president of Suteng Innovation Technology, a Shenzhen company devoted to light detection and ranging technology, or LiDAR.

"While companies around the world are also focusing on the same technology, their focus has been more on the hardware," he said. But the company brought in AI algorithms developed by a 100-person team to make detection more accurate. The company's automotive LiDAR product has won the innovation award at the expo for two consecutive years.

Koenig sees the upcoming decade as "the electric decade for vehicles".

"And that's not just cars, but all types of transportation," he said, adding that innovations in battery systems, better-built infrastructure and more developed charging systems are all helping to boost the industry.

This year's show will also see a major shift in content. The launch of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus in 2019 made it a big year for streaming services. NBCUniversal's Peacock, short-form video platform Quibi and HBO Max are all set to launch in 2020.

"There is no shortage of choices out there," Koenig said. The expo reflected the trend, as two of its eight keynote speeches were delivered via streaming service providers-Quibi and NBCUniversal.

With more than 170,000 attendees expected, the expo is an opportunity for big-name companies to break news and for smaller companies to make an impression.

"A lot of media, a lot of distributors are coming here as well. We want to get a little bit of exposure, and we want to have more connections with local distributors," said Wang Kai of Guangzhou Puppy Robot Technology.

Others were also enthusiastic.

"This year, we brought a product that we found most compelling to the overseas market," said Lin Xiaochen, product director of Fujian Nanping Nanfu Battery Co.

"We hope to introduce China's innovative technologies to the world. As our product is winning the CES Innovation Award this year, we hope that introducing it here can help broaden the road for our company, as well as Chinese companies in general in the overseas market."


A model of an electric aircraft capable of vertical takeoffs and landings is displayed at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Monday. DAVID MCNEW/AFP





2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Key meeting reaffirms Party leadership role]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/08/content_37531650.htm A key meeting presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, on Tuesday reaffirmed the importance of upholding Party leadership over work in all areas and aspects.

During the daylong meeting, the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee heard reports from Party organizations of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the State Council, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Xi delivered a speech at the meeting. There was also a report from the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee.

In upholding Party leadership, the primary requirement is to firmly uphold the authority of the Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership, a statement released after the meeting said.

Party leadership and the authority of the Central Committee are the fundamental reason why the country has been able to take solid and assured steps forward over the years in the face of a challenging and complex situation-both within and outside China-and in light of various risks, the statement said.

The CPC Central Committee's receiving of reports from the Party organizations of the five State bodies and the Secretariat each year is an important part of the Party's leadership mechanism, it said, adding that the practice must be upheld and refined so it can be transformed into efficient State governance.

Efforts by the Party organizations of the five State bodies were acknowledged. They were applauded for carrying out the decisions and plans of the Central Committee, discharging their duties in the overall work of the Party and country, adopting concrete measures to enhance the building of Party organizations and fully implementing their responsibilities for strict Party governance over the past year.

The Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee was also commended for ensuring the implementation of decisions and plans from the Central Committee, improving Party regulations and mechanisms and guiding the work and reform of people's organizations.

This year will see the conclusion of the task of building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, as well as the fulfillment of the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), and Party organizations from the five State bodies must closely align themselves with the Central Committee in terms of political stance, direction, principle and path, the statement said.


2020-01-08 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi urges BRI efforts with Kiribati]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531442.htm President Xi Jinping called for joint efforts with the Pacific island nation of Kiribati to build the Belt and Road and expand practical cooperation on Monday.

Xi made the remarks while meeting with Taneti Maamau, president of Kiribati, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Maamau is paying his first state visit to China, which began on Saturday.

Witnessed by the two presidents, China and Kiribati signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly building the Belt and Road and documents covering areas such as diplomacy, investment, agriculture, fisheries and tariff reduction.

China and Kiribati restored diplomatic relations last September after the central Pacific island nation severed its so-called "diplomatic ties" with Taiwan.

The restoration of diplomatic relations on the basis of upholding the one-China principle has opened a new chapter in bilateral ties, Xi said, adding that Kiribati has stood on the right side of history by restoring diplomatic relations with China.

Since the restoration of diplomatic relations, China and Kiribati have launched cooperation in various areas and already made some achievements, Xi said.

The facts have shown that the restoration of diplomatic relations has met the interests of the people of both sides, and there is great potential for the development of bilateral relations, he added.

Hailing the president's visit to China as an important milestone, Xi said that China would like to make joint efforts with Kiribati to further promote the development of relations.

Xi pointed out that the two countries should deepen mutual political trust, saying that all countries should be treated equally no matter whether they are large or small.

China adheres to the principle of peaceful development, and it will not seek hegemony or interfere in other countries' internal affairs, nor will it allow the other countries to interfere in China's affairs, Xi said.

China respects Kiribati's choice of the development path that suits its own national situation, and it would like to exchange the experience of governance with Kiribati, Xi said.

China would like to encourage more domestic companies to invest in Kiribati, and the two countries should enhance people-to-people exchanges, he added.

Maamau said that the decision to restore diplomatic relations with China was made out of trust and confidence toward China.

Maamau said that "as a great power and emerging superpower", China has immense potential on the stage of world affairs. He spoke highly of Xi's leadership in addressing global issues such as maintaining the interests of developing countries and addressing the climate change crisis.

On Monday morning, Premier Li Keqiang also met with Maamau at the Great Hall of the People.

President Xi Jinping greets Kiribati President Taneti Maamau during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY
2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Hong Kong's new liaison chief offers wealth of governance experience]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531489.htm Luo Huining, the newly appointed director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, made his debut in the city on Monday, pledging to lead his office in faithfully implementing the "one country, two systems" principle.

Luo was appointed on Saturday by the State Council to replace Wang Zhimin as director of the Liaison Office.

Meeting with reporters on his first workday, Luo said "one country, two systems" remains Hong Kong's biggest advantage.

Noting that the post of liaison chief comes as a new mission and new challenge to him personally, Luo vowed that he will fulfill his duty with sincerity and affection for the city.

He said he is confident that with concerted efforts of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, together with the SAR government and different social sectors, the national Constitution and Hong Kong's Basic Law can be fully implemented.

The "one country, two systems" principle can be steadily developed, and the city can maintain its prosperity and stability over the long term, he said.

Turmoil in Hong Kong in the past half-year has concerned everyone, and many want the city to return to a normal track, Luo said.

Quoting President Xi Jinping in his New Year's Eve speech, Luo said that people can't live and work in peace and contentment without a harmonious and stable environment, and he sincerely hopes for the well-being of Hong Kong and its people.

Luo, 65, served as Party secretary of Qinghai province from 2013 to 2016 and in Shanxi province from 2016 to 2019. Before taking office in Hong Kong, he was vice-chairman of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress.

David Wong Yau-kar, a Hong Kong deputy to the NPC, said that the appointment of a veteran official with an economic background and rich experience shows the central government's determination to address the pressing problems faced by the city.

Wong said he hopes Luo will bring a new style of work and new measures to help the city get back on track.

Lau Siu-kai, vice-president of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies, said the change of personnel could be seen as a hint that Beijing will launch some new policies on Hong Kong.

Luo needs to prioritize the restoration of order in Hong Kong and promote economic cooperation with the mainland, Lau said.



2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China welcomes PM of Laos]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531474.htm President Xi Jinping hailed Laos on Monday as China's good neighbor, good friend, good comrade and good partner, saying the two sides must move forward with the building of a community with a shared future and better align their development strategies.

In talks with Lao Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith in Beijing, Xi said the two countries should stand closely together, like passengers in the same boat, and jointly safeguard the common interests not only of both sides but of all developing countries.

Communist leadership and the socialist system is ingrained in the political character of both sides, and the tradition of high-level exchanges must be maintained, Xi said.

He urged both sides to step up exchanges on governance to jointly improve the level and capacity of governance and safeguard their political security.

China will continue to offer firm support to Laos in its efforts to guard its national sovereignty, independence and dignity, he said, adding that the two countries should move forward to build a community with a joint future.

He appealed to both sides to align their development strategies, accelerate the development of the China-Laos Economic Corridor and make concrete progress in cooperation in major programs, such as railways and economic parks.

Xi also stressed the importance of promoting people-to-people exchanges, enhancing coordination in international and regional affairs and bringing the bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership to a new level.

Thongloun, whose official visit to China started on Sunday, said Laos will actively push forward important programs of the Belt and Road Initiative, such as the China-Laos Railway, and ensure that it's completed on schedule. The railway will play an important role in the economic growth of Laos and improve people's livelihoods, he said.

China's efforts to improve socialism with Chinese characteristics, as well as to modernize its system of governance, are worth learning from and drawing on for Laos, and they will encourage Laos to stick to the socialist path, he added.

Premier Li Keqiang said in his meeting with Thongloun that China welcomes the inflow of more high-quality agricultural products from Laos to the Chinese market, and the two sides should deepen cooperation in the financial and agricultural sectors.

Leaders witnessed the signing of a number of cooperative agreements, including a currency swap agreement between the two central banks.

Luo Zhaohui, vice-minister of foreign affairs, said in a news briefing on Monday that there is much to look forward to in relations between China and Laos this year.

"Under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, the bilateral strategic alignment has enabled important progress in transforming Laos from being landlocked to being easily accessed via land routes. The China-Laos Railway has seen especially good progress," he said.

Premier Li Keqiang meets with visiting Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos in Beijing on Monday. Li called for the further development of bilateral relations. LIU ZHEN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE
2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China calls on all sides to handle Iran issue with fairness]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531444.htm Tensions escalated in the Gulf region over the weekend as Iran distanced itself from the 2015 nuclear deal amid growing threats and pressure from the United States.

The Iranian cabinet said in a statement on Sunday that the country would "take the final step to reduce commitments to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action", and would not observe restrictions in operational areas, including uranium enrichment capacities, enrichment percentage, the volume of enriched material and research.

Teheran will abandon the last key restriction in the operational field put up in the 2015 nuclear deal regarding "the limitations in the number of centrifuges", and will proceed solely based on the country's technical needs, Iran's Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

As an important party to the nuclear deal, China is highly concerned about the current situation in the Middle East, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday, adding that the region's peace and stability is of vital importance for the entire world.

Geng said that Iran has exercised restraint, although it was forced to end its commitment due to external factors. "Iran has clearly expressed its political willingness to comprehensively and effectively implement the 2015 nuclear deal and does not break obligations as stipulated by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons," he said.

Iran's 2015 nuclear accord with the United Kingdom, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US has been hanging by a thread since Washington's unilateral withdrawal in May 2018.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng said the withdrawal was "the root cause of the Iran nuclear tensions".

"It should also be the basic starting point for all related parties to deal with the Iran nuclear issue in an objective and fair way," he said.

Iran's announcement was another sign of the fallout from Friday's assassination of senior general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad in a drone strike ordered by US President Donald Trump.

On Monday, hundreds of thousands of people in Teheran mourned the death of Soleimani, the former commander of the Quds Force of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Geng said at a regular news conference in Beijing that the risky military behavior of the US "goes against the basic norms governing international relations as well as aggravates the tensions of the regional situation", and the power politics "are neither popular nor sustainable".

The deadly strike has caused an unexpected stir in Iran and even the entire Persian Gulf region and limits opportunities to resume the suspended talks on the nuclear deal, said Zhu Weilie, director of the Center for China-Arab States Cooperation Forum Studies at Shanghai International Studies University.

Iran's decision indicated the rapid escalation of tensions, and under such circumstances it will be difficult to avoid some regional conflicts, Zhu said.

Meanwhile, Zhu said the announcement also shows Iran's disappointment with European countries.

"The solution of establishing a special payment system led by the European countries has failed to meet Iran's expectation to break the economic blockade caused by US sanctions," he said. "Iran is pressing the Europeans by calling off its commitment to the nuclear deal."

The leaders of Germany, France and the UK reacted by urging Iran to rethink its announcement.

"We call on Iran to withdraw all measures that are not in line with the nuclear agreement," German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a joint statement.

They also urged Iran to refrain from taking "further violent actions or support for them" and called on all parties involved to "show utmost restraint and responsibility".

"It is crucial now to de-escalate," they said.

Zhu emphasized that although Iran said it reduced its commitments, it still "plays within the frame and hasn't crossed the line".

"We should see that Iran's noncompliance does not mean that it will begin to resume the development and use of nuclear weapons."

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif referred to Iran's final remedial step under the 2015 nuclear deal and said that Iran will continue its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In comments posted on social media, Zarif said the latest step taken by Iran was within the remit of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and "all five steps are reversible upon effective implementation of reciprocal obligations".

The cabinet statement also said Iran will be ready to return to its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal once the sanctions are removed and the country gets benefits from the agreement.

Meanwhile, Trump insisted on Sunday that Iranian cultural sites were fair game for the US military, dismissing concerns within his own government that doing so could constitute a war crime under international law.

"These media posts will serve as notification to the United States Congress that should Iran strike any US person or target, the United States will quickly and fully strike back, and perhaps in a disproportionate manner," he said on social media.

The president claimed on Saturday that the US had targeted 52 Iranian sites, including cultural sites, and would hit them "very fast and very hard" if Iran retaliates, raising questions about the legality of attacks against significant world heritage sites.

Mo Jingxi, AFP and Reuters contributed to this story.

2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Experts bring wisdom to Yangtze water puzzle]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531463.htm As China promotes environmental progress, Meng Fansheng, a water researcher in Beijing, often travels to share his expertise about pollution control and monitoring.

Among his destinations, Xianning, Hubei province, stands out. He spent more than 40 days there last year.

"I visited the city every week or two. Mostly, I went as needs arose," said Meng, who works at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences. It wasn't easy for him to find the time, but he was duty-bound to respond.

Meng leads a team dispatched by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, whose job is to help the city improve the quality of various water bodies in the Yangtze River Basin as the country's central leadership increasingly emphasizes conservation. Xianning is one of 58 cities along the country's longest river, each of which has a designated team working to improve water quality.

Under a mechanism that features both frontline and follow-up research, the teams have tapped more than 5,000 experts from some 300 research institutes, according to the National Joint Research Center for Yangtze River Conservation. The center was established by the ministry in April 2018.

President Xi Jinping has presided over two national conferences about the Yangtze River Economic Belt, in January 2016 and April 2018. At both conferences, he demanded concerted efforts to protect the Yangtze and avoid excessive development.

Cracking hard nuts

The dedicated teams, which emerged last year, have been welcomed by local authorities and make it easier to get advice from leading experts, whom governments previously found hard to reach. Steady attention from experts can help crack some hard nuts in a complex and lengthy remediation process, they said.

Zu Wenpu, deputy head of Xianning's municipal ecology and environment bureau, said Meng's team arrived in the city at a time when local officials were racking their brains over what to do to restore the city's major lakes after many strenuous but fruitless efforts.

"We thought the problems would be addressed if sewage could be cut off from the lake," he said. What they found, however, was "no marked improvement in water quality" afterward.

Zu said the local government was handed three plans after environmental companies were invited to make proposals through open bids to address problems. But officials were bewildered. They didn't know which one to choose.

But Meng quickly convened a group of top experts on the environmental treatment of lakes from the country's leading research institutes, including the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, in Xianning. The experts offered consultations even before the team officially launched its efforts in March.

"Previously, it was hard for us to reach experts. They might agree to come but often were only available after months of waiting," he said. "We also didn't know which experts were authoritative."

Although the experts dismissed the three commercial proposals, which mainly called for the use of chemical agents in the lakes, they brought clarity to the question of how to treat local water bodies-that is, how to restore the ecological system of the lakes by letting nature play a role in remediation.

Allowing nature to restore itself is a principle that's included in the report delivered by Xi at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October 2017.

Zu said the local government had planned to roll out a series of projects-for example, one to restore the wetlands of rivers where they empty into lakes, and another to place aquatic plants. Most of these are in the bidding phase.

Meng said that while he couldn't stay in Xianning all the time, he could guarantee that colleagues were always available to address various needs in a timely manner. In addition, he kept himself ready to come any time to convene the experts.

"I concentrate mainly on hydrochemical treatment in my research," he said. "As for lake treatment, I don't know that field well. But I could always turn to a strong talent pool established by the National Joint Research Center for Yangtze River Conservation for help and invite leading experts to contribute their expertise."

Meng's team in Xianning includes experts from the Institute of Hydroecology, which is headquartered in nearby Wuhan, Hubei province, and employees of a local environmental company called Huizhi.

He said the team is expecting to help local researchers improve their research capabilities and raise their competence so they can work independently after the experts leave.

New technologies

The national research center has introduced around 600 treatment technologies and brought the achievements of scientific research to the 58 cities in the Yangtze River Basin. It has also offered technical services to around 1,500 companies and 20,000 individuals.

The team dedicated to Yangtze conservation in Wuhan officially started work in June. Yan Zhongning, head of Wuhan Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau, said the approach of the team members could help find tailor-made solutions to address lingering thorny problems.

"Previously, we frequently changed experts for consulting on different projects. That makes it hard to get work done in a systematic manner," he said.

2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[NATION EASES PATH FOR BUSINESS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531450.htm A key part of real estate broker Long Kai's job is to help homebuyers register their properties. Until a year ago, this involved many trips to government offices and waiting in long lines to be served.

"Sometimes, we even had to arrive at midnight during the winter to ensure we could obtain services on time. Life was not easy," said the 36-year-old, who is based in Beijing's Chaoyang district.

Efforts made by the State Council, China's Cabinet, to promote one-stop services as part of a broader attempt to improve the country's business environment have made the work of real estate brokers such as Long much easier. They have also helped homebuyers and sellers nationwide.

Long can now help his clients book administrative services online before paying taxes and real estate registration fees at the same government window in one go.

In October, a regulation on improving the business environment was passed at a State Council executive meeting, stipulating that property agencies must offer one-stop services for registration and publicize the time required for each service, along with reducing both their duration and related costs.

The regulation, which took effect on Jan 1, epitomizes the efforts made by the State Council to reduce bureaucracy, enhance compliance oversight and improve government services.

Last year, more than half of the State Council's 41 executive meetings discussed issues to improve the business climate. These included cutting taxes and fees, leveling the playing field for businesses under various types of ownership, and encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation.

To date, State Council departments have reduced the number of administrative items by more than 40 percent and halved the time required for starting businesses and real estate registration, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.

The World Bank has recognized the progress made by China on business reforms. In the institution's Doing Business 2020 study, China rose to 31st place last year in terms of ease of doing business, up from 46th place a year earlier and 78th in 2017.

The report said it was the second year that China had been included in the world's 10 most improved economies, as the country had carried out a record eight business reforms during the 12 months to May 1.

Following release of the report, Martin Raiser, World Bank country director for China, said, "China has undertaken substantial efforts to improve the domestic business climate for small and medium-sized enterprises, maintaining an active pace of reform.

"Laudable progress has been achieved on a number of Doing Business indicators, particularly in the area of construction permits."

There were nearly 21.8 million new market players in China last year, with close to 20,000 businesses registered on a daily basis, according to the State Administration for Market Regulation.

Burdens reduced

The key measures rolled out by the Cabinet last year to help businesses were large-scale tax cuts and a reduction of the social security contribution rate. These were announced in March by Premier Li Keqiang in the Government Work Report.

The State Council held four executive meetings in March and April to map out details for the tax cuts and fee reductions.

Value added tax for the manufacturing sector was reduced from 16 percent to 13 percent and the VAT rate for industries such as transportation and construction was cut from 10 percent to 9 percent. The first two reductions were introduced in April, while a lower social security contribution rate took effect the following month.

In January last year, a State Council executive meeting rolled out tax cuts for small and medium-sized enterprises, major pillars of the job market.

Liu Kun, minister of finance, said in a speech in November that the total amount of tax cuts and fee reductions last year would reach 2.3 trillion yuan (nearly 287 billion), exceeding the 2 trillion yuan target set in March.

Last month, he said in a report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress that private businesses were the main beneficiaries of the tax cuts. In the first 10 months of last year, the reductions for such businesses amounted to more than 1.05 trillion yuan, or 63.8 percent of the total tax cuts, he said.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the tax cuts and fee reductions helped drive GDP growth by 0.8 of a percentage point, fixed asset investment by 0.5 of a percentage point and the retail sector by 1.1 percentage points.

A report released by the China Center for the Promotion of SME Development, which polled more than 6,000 businesses nationwide, said that over 70 percent of them had seen their VAT cut by an "obvious margin" last year. Over 90 percent said they were satisfied with the current business environment.

The study, which assessed the business environment based on the standards in the World Bank report, said the proportion of businesses saying that they faced heavy burdens fell to 45 percent last year, from 57 percent in 2018.

However, most businesses said the level of access to credit support remained low, the report said, with 75 percent of them calling for continued tax cuts and fee reductions this year. Some 64 percent of the businesses requested lower financing costs and wider credit channels.

Level playing field

One of the most prominent beneficiaries of China's business reforms has been United States electric carmaker Tesla Inc.

The company's new Shanghai Gigafactory, on which work only started in January last year, delivered its first 15 Model 3 sedans on Dec 30, a move marking a major milestone in the manufacturer's global expansion efforts.

At a delivery ceremony for the vehicles in Shanghai, Tesla vice-president Tao Lin hailed China's improved business environment.

She said the government had streamlined procedures and greatly shortened approval periods to facilitate the quick delivery of new cars from the factory, the first wholly foreign-owned car plant in the country and a reflection of Beijing's broader shift to open up the auto market.

In addition to policies backing full foreign ownership of businesses in the auto sector, China will allow wholly foreign-owned securities companies, life insurers and futures and fund companies by this year-a year earlier than scheduled.

In one of the latest actions to address foreign investors' concerns, at an executive meeting of the Cabinet on Dec 12, a regulation on implementing the Foreign Investment Law was adopted.

The regulation clearly prohibits forced technology transfer requirements for foreign investors and companies, either through administrative licenses or other means. It also underlines the equal treatment of domestic and foreign businesses regarding land supply, taxation and fee arrangements.

At six further meetings last year, the State Council also adopted measures to bolster intellectual property rights protection, announcing steps to boost crackdowns on infringements and improve the efficiency of IPR reviews.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, more than 36,700 foreign-invested businesses were set up in China in the first 11 months of last year. Foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland rose by 6 percent year-on-year, to 845.9 billion yuan.

Zhuang Jian, a senior economist at the Asian Development Bank, said that last year China increased efforts to address foreign investors' concerns and stabilize overseas investment by adopting the Foreign Investment Law and its supporting regulations.

"The most important thing is how to implement the law and regulations step by step in 2020. For instance, a legal framework with detailed operating rules should be rolled out, and compliance will be the key," he said.

Way forward

Last month, the annual Central Economic Work Conference highlighted the importance of consolidating and expanding the outcomes of tax cuts and fee reductions, and further alleviating difficulties and high costs in the financing of businesses.

It also emphasized the need to improve the business environment with further reforms and opening-up. Facilitating and protecting foreign investment will be bolstered, and the negative list for such investment will continue to be shortened, according to a statement released after the meeting.

Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the Cabinet's regulation on bettering the business environment marks a new starting point to further reforms to cut red tape and boost compliance oversight and services.

The government will press ahead with widened market access and fair oversight, including accommodative and prudent regulation for emerging sectors, Ning said at a news briefing in October.

He also pledged more measures to cut bureaucracy, with greater efforts to promote one-stop services and make more administrative services available online.

To boost investor confidence, Ning said more would be done to address common concerns of market players, such as high financing costs, difficulties in deregistering businesses, and access to credit and loans.

Zhuang, the economist, said an economic outlook still fraught with uncertainties, along with softening producer prices in recent months, are among reasons that businesses are hesitating to increase their investment. This was despite the People's Bank of China, the central bank, reducing financing costs for the real economy.

He said the key is to stabilize growth expectations, adding that a lasting agreement with the US in the trade conflict with China would help boost investor confidence.

Yan Jirong, a professor at Peking University's School of Government, said the challenge for the authorities in their efforts to improve the business environment is to boost compliance oversight while further reducing institutional barriers in all areas.

"The key is better use of modern technologies, such as the internet and big data, to make oversight more efficient and to make services more easily accessible to businesses and individuals," he said.

]]> 2020-01-07 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Book of president's speeches published]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531449.htm A book of three important speeches delivered by President Xi Jinping on occasions last year celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China has been published by Foreign Languages Press.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the speeches at three events-a grand gathering celebrating the anniversary on Oct 1, a reception for the same purpose on Sept 30 and a presentation ceremony of national medals and honorary titles on Sept 29.

The book has Chinese and English versions, and it is available at bookstores in China and overseas.

In the speeches, Xi reviewed the historical path that the Chinese people had pursued over the past 70 years through relentless efforts to achieve national independence and liberation, a stronger and more prosperous country and the people's well-being, and demonstrated the country's firm resolve to embark on the path toward national rejuvenation in the new era.

He also used the speeches to reiterate China's commitment to peaceful development and its willingness to work with other countries to jointly build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Xi's speeches have greatly ignited patriotism among the Chinese people, boosted the morale of the Party, the military and the people, enhanced the confidence and sense of pride of Chinese people at home and abroad, and have won international acclaim, said an official announcement on the publication of the book.

2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Export curbs on AI show Washington's 'insecurity']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/07/content_37531470.htm Washington's decision to limit exports of certain artificial intelligence software will expedite Chinese companies' efforts to use their in-house alternatives, and the move will have a limited impact on China's booming AI industry, experts said.

Their comments came after a new US rule, which took effect on Monday, requires that companies from the United States apply for a license when they export AI-powered geospatial imagery software to other countries, apart from Canada.

The rule, from the US Commerce Department, comes as it is working to tighten exports on sensitive technology to potential rivals, including China.

Xiang Ligang, director-general of the telecom industry association Information Consumption Alliance, said using AI to process geospatial imagery is a common practice. It can be used to help sensors, drones and satellites automate the process of identifying targets for military and civilian purposes.

"The move is the latest effort by the US government to keep sensitive technologies out of the hands of China. It showcases Washington's insecurity amid Beijing's technological rise," Xiang said.

Chinese drone maker DJI said on Monday the new rule won't affect its business. Instead, it can be a boon for the Shenzhen-based company, as DJI has self-developed aerial survey software called DJI Map. This software provides autonomous route planning and supports aerial photography, the company added.

"The rule won't affect our research using satellite imagery. The analytical tools are developed by ourselves. But this once again serves as a reminder that more efforts are needed to build a self-developed AI-powered satellite research platform," said Wu Haishan, deputy manager of the AI department at WeBank, an online bank affiliated with internet heavyweight Tencent Holdings.

The US government has been targeting the ascent of China's AI sector with multiple means. In October, the US Commerce Department placed eight Chinese AI pioneers including iFlytek on its "Entity List", banning them from buying components from US companies without special government approval.

Bai Ming, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said Washington has intensified its push to keep important technologies away from China, even by sacrificing the interests of US tech companies.

The New York Times published a story last year about how Silicon Valley fears losing its edge due to possible government curbs on AI exports. The story quoted experts as saying that blocking exports of AI to other countries would help such industries flourish in those nations-China, in particular-and compete with US companies.

Ren Zhengfei, founder of Huawei Technologies Co, the world's largest telecom equipment maker, which has been on the US Entity List since May, said earlier that if developing countries cannot buy technologies from the US, they will find or develop their own alternatives.

Fan Feifei and Ouyang Shijia contributed to this story.

2020-01-07 00:00:00
<![CDATA[New top liaison official named for Hong Kong]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531291.htm The State Council, China's cabinet, appointed Luo Huining as top liaison official in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, replacing former director Wang Zhimin, Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.

Luo's appointment as director of the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the HKSAR took effect immediately.

Luo, who was born in 1954, served as Party secretary in Qinghai province (2013-2016) and Shanxi province (2016-2019).

In December 2018, he led a delegation from Shanxi to Hong Kong to promote business cooperation. Meeting with Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, he praised Hong Kong as a "gold mine" and spoke of the city's "irreplaceable role" in China's reform and opening-up in the new era.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Lam welcomed Luo to his new post and said she was impressed by his caring for Hong Kong during their talks in 2018.

Lam said she firmly believes the Liaison Office under his leadership will continue to work with the Hong Kong government for the city's prosperity and stability, and to facilitate the SAR's integration into national development.

Luo's appointment was much expected by highly placed Hong Kong's officials.

Tam Yiu-chung, Hong Kong's sole deputy to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, said Luo's economics background and rich local experience as a provincial leader is a blessing for Hong Kong, a global financial hub.

Brave Chan Yung, a Hong Kong deputy to the NPC, said Luo's appointment can help Hong Kong to recover from an economic recession as the office will be directed by an economics expert who can blaze new trails in the mainland market.

Stanley Ng Chau-pei, president of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, the city's largest labor group, said he expected the experienced new director would come up with new ideas on Hong Kong's problems and would help to end the violence and restore peace and order.

2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xinjiang govt decries attacks by celebrities]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531328.htm Some foreign celebrities who attacked the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in social media were blinded by fake news cooked up by a few foreign reporters who listened to ill-intentioned lies from people with political agendas and then published irresponsible reports, a spokeswoman for the regional government said on Friday.

"Qurans are burned, mosques were closed down, Islamic theological schools, madrassas, were banned, religious scholars were killed one by one. Despite all this, Muslims stay quiet," Mesut Ozil, a soccer star of Arsenal, an English Premier League team, posted on Dec 13 on social media together with an image of the flag of so-called East Turkestan.

Gul Abulim, a spokeswoman for the regional government, pointed out at a news conference on Friday in the regional capital of Urumqi that "Xinjiang has never been called East Turkestan, and never has there been any so-called East Turkestan."

"I don't know if these celebrities have ever been to Xinjiang, but they seem to be blinded by fake news," she said.

Contrary to the accusation about demolishing mosques, local governments at all levels in Xinjiang have made continuous efforts to improve the quality of public services at mosques, she added.

Mosques in Xinjiang now have access to sewage systems, electricity, paved roads, natural gas for heating, telecommunication, broadcasting and TV signals. These services are all welcomed by followers, Gul said.

She said the regional government also noticed that some people recently launched a social media campaign tagged "China kills Muslims".

"This was clearly organized to smear the Chinese government's Xinjiang policy," Gul said.

The New York Times recently carried a report alleging that the Xinjiang government sends children to boarding schools, "separates" them by force from their parents, "replaces ethnic languages with Mandarin" and "brainwashes" them with patriotic education.

It is entirely up to students and their parents to decide whether or not someone should attend a boarding school, said Parhat Roz, a spokesman for the regional government, at the news conference. Because Xinjiang is a vast region, there are a significant number of students who live long distances from their schools. Many of them choose to live on campus. The same principle applies to all students in Xinjiang, regardless of their ethnic group, he said.

"Also, six languages are used in primary-to-secondary education in Xinjiang for courses in the national common language and in languages of their own ethnic groups," he said.

Despicably, Parhat said, The New York Times made irresponsible remarks about Xinjiang's patriotic education of primary school students, which is a common practice in countries all over the world, including the United States.

"Don't schools in the US conduct patriotic education? In fact, since the end of 19th century, it has been a tradition for American primary and secondary students to learn and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. But the patriotic education in schools in Xinjiang has been twisted as brainwashing," Parhat said.

Some foreign reporters have fabricated mendacious reports about Xinjiang and interviewees out of thin air, indiscriminately making up content in violation of press ethics, he added.

MAO WEIHUA in Urumqi and CUI JIA in Beijing

2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[WORLD FEELS THE HEAT OF CLIMATE CHANGE]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531322.htm Deadly bush fires raging in Australia have left cities, towns and vast areas of the countryside shrouded in dense smoke and made headlines around the world.

The fatalities include a volunteer firefighter battling a blaze in New South Wales on Dec 30. In that state, more than 900 homes have been destroyed, a number that is expected to rise.

Late last month, images of a dehydrated koala approaching a cyclist-in temperatures of 40 C-begging for water in the middle of a road near Adelaide, South Australia, went viral.

In New South Wales, it is estimated that 8,000 koalas, or about one-third of the number in the state, have died in the fires.

According to ecologists from the University of Sydney, some 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have been killed directly or indirectly by the bush fires, according to the website Sydney News& Life.

A statement issued by 22 health and medical organizations declared the levels of air pollution caused by the fires a "public health emergency".

More emergency warnings were issued on Dec 30. Some 40,000 vacationers were urged to evacuate East Gippsland, a tourist resort in the state of Victoria in the southeastern part of the country. Many people who ignored the advice have been told it's too late now and that they should take shelter.

All six Australian states and the Northern Territory reported temperatures higher than 40 C on Dec 30. In New South Wales, there were close to 100 bushfires that day as lightning strikes in dry forests sparked new blazes.

Scientists warn

Scientists have long warned that a hotter and drier climate would increase the incidence and intensity of bushfires in Australia.

A survey conducted in late November by polling company UComms found that more than half of the 1,500 Australians surveyed agreed that climate change had worsened the threat of bushfires, which are just one of the growing number of climate change-related disasters recorded globally in the past year.

Counting the Cost 2019: A Year of Climate Breakdown, a report released on Dec 27 by Christian Aid in London, listed the 15 most destructive weather events of the year, including droughts, floods, fires, typhoons and cyclones. Each disaster caused damage of more than $1 billion, and four of them resulted in damage of over $10 billion each.

The report said the figures are likely to have been underestimated, as often only insured losses are shown and no account taken of other financial costs, such as lost productivity and uninsured losses.

While the vast majority of deaths were caused by just two events in India and southern Africa, reflecting how the world's poorest people pay the heaviest price for the consequences of climate change, the financial cost of disasters was highest in richer countries, such as Japan and the United States.

The report said all the events were linked to climate change caused by humans. It stated that scientific studies have shown that climate change made a particular event "more likely or stronger", while in other cases, an event was the result of shifts in weather patterns, such as higher temperatures and reduced rainfall that made fires more likely, along with higher water temperatures that fueled tropical storms.

Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University in the US, said: "If anything, 2019 saw even more profound extreme weather events around the world than the previous year. With each day now, we are seemingly reminded of the cost of climate inaction in the form of ever-threatening climate change-spiked weather extremes."

'Not good news'

At COP25, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Madrid last month, World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas described two reports by his organization as "not good news".

"Global warming continues," he said, adding that average global temperatures had risen by about 1.1 C since the preindustrial era and in the oceans by 0.5 C.

"We have started seeing hunger increase once again after a period of decline. Now, we have more than 800 million people suffering from a lack of food."

Records have been broken worldwide concerning emissions of the three main greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide; methane; and nitrous oxide. Carbon dioxide is regarded as the most significant challenge.

Taalas, who comes from Finland and started his second four-year term as head of the WMO on Wednesday, said: "We are heading toward a temperature increase of 3 to 5 degrees C by the end of the century. If we use all fossil fuel resources, we will move toward 8 C."

Some 85 percent of the world's energy still comes from fossil fuels and only 15 percent from renewable energy.

The United Nations Environmental Programme's 2019 Emissions Gap Report issued in late November also painted a bleak picture. It said the goals of the Paris agreement on climate change "will slip out of reach" unless the world begins to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The goals of the agreement, set in 2015, are limiting global warming to "well below 2 C above preindustrial levels" and pursuing efforts to limit temperature rise to 1.5 C.

Global carbon dioxide emissions have risen by about 11 percent since the first UNEP emissions gap report in 2010. Growing global emissions mean that more and faster cuts will be needed to meet the Paris agreement goals. To achieve the 1.5 C target, nations must increase their commitments fivefold starting this year, according to the UNEP report.

Sivan Kartha, a senior scientist at the Stockholm Environment Institute, described a doomsday-type scenario in which temperatures will rise by 5 C if the world continues to release greenhouse gases and takes no action.

He said at COP25 that in the depths of the Ice Age, when sheets of ice kilometers thick covered large parts of the Earth's surface, where large cities and long coastlines are located today, the planet was only about 5 C colder than it is now.

No one knows what will happen if temperatures rise by another 5 C, he said, comparing the lack of action to "looking at an existential risk to humankind and deciding to take a gamble ... That's madness, and we can't let that happen."

In a report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018, the world's leading climate scientists warned that there are only 12 years left for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5 C. Even half a degree beyond that will significantly increase the risk of droughts, floods, heat waves and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.

COP25, which was extended for two days, was widely viewed as a failure. Nearly 200 nations attending did not agree on setting higher targets and working to settle the details of two outstanding rules of the Paris agreement: Article 6 on the international carbon market and Article 8 on the loss and damage that underdeveloped nations have endured due to the climate crisis and how they will be compensated.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed disappointment. "The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis," he said.

The official withdrawal of the US, the world's largest historical carbon emitter, from the Paris agreement in November has dealt a heavy blow to the global momentum on fighting climate change. This is despite the fact that many US states, cities and businesses have said they will keep their promise to cut carbon emissions.

No giving up

Despite his disappointment at the outcome of COP25, Guterres said: "We must not give up, and I will not give up. I am more determined than ever to work for 2020 to be the year in which all countries commit to do what science tells us is necessary to reach carbon neutrality in 2050 and no more than a 1.5 C temperature rise," he said.

According to grassroots environmental advocacy group The Climate Mobilization, nearly 1,300 local governments and several national administrations have declared a climate emergency, covering a population of more than 800 million.

In his message for the new year, delivered on Dec 29, Guterres said young people are the world's "great source" of hope.

He was referring in large part to the youth climate movement led by 17-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg, a key player at COP25. In August 2018, she began to skip school classes and protest outside the Swedish parliament, triggering the global Fridays for Future movement by students in more than 130 countries demanding action on climate change.

On Dec 11, during COP25, Thunberg was named Time magazine's Person of the Year.

The global movement Extinction Rebellion, founded in the United Kingdom in 2018, now covers some 70 countries worldwide.

It has resorted to civil disobedience to spread the climate change message. Action taken on Dec 14 during COP25 involved dumping horse manure in front of the conference venue.

Some observers see a ray of hope in the latest International Energy Agency report, which projects warming of 2.9 C to 3.4 C, compared with its prediction at the start of the 2010s of a catastrophic warming of 6 C by the end of century.

The growth of renewable energy has also far exceeded expectations. Prices of solar photovoltaic systems, which covert sunlight into electricity, have dropped by 81 percent since 2009. According to Kelly Levin, a senior associate at the World Resources Institute, by 2017, the majority of new power-generating capacity added worldwide came from renewable energy. But she warned, "We are not acting quickly enough."

Countries worldwide are expected to raise their goals at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, from Nov 9 to 19, just days after the US presidential election, with Democrat candidates pledging to rejoin the Paris agreement if they win.

Taalas, from the WMO, said the world has the means to solve the climate change problem through nuclear energy, hydropower and renewables.

"There is a sense of urgency. We need transformation within 10 to 30 years for our energy, transportation and industries," he said.

2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[PBOC says its prudent policies will continue]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531294.htm China will maintain a prudent monetary policy while keeping it flexible this year to ensure reasonably adequate liquidity, and it will strengthen adjustments to support economic growth, the People's Bank of China, the central bank, said in a statement on Sunday.

This year, growth in the broad money supply, credit and aggregate financing of the real economy should be in line with nominal GDP growth, and market-oriented reform of the interest rate system will continue to improve the transmission mechanism of the loan prime rate, which is the new lending rate benchmark, the statement said.

"The market will play a decisive role in the formation of the RMB exchange rate, which will be kept basically stable at a reasonable level and at equilibrium," said the statement, which was issued after the bank's annual meeting in Beijing on Thursday and Friday.

The bank highlighted seven major tasks for 2020, including using monetary policy tools, such as a targeted reserve requirement ratio cut, re-lending and re-discounting to reduce financing costs and supporting financing for small and micro enterprises.

The central bank cut the reserve requirement ratio-the proportion of cash that must be kept in reserve at commercial banks-by 0.5 percentage points on Monday, a move that's expected to inject about 800 billion yuan ($114.9 billion) into the financial system. In 2019, the central bank reduced the ratio requirement three times to counter economic slowdown risks.

Given the backdrop of moderate domestic economic growth and external uncertainties, some economists said monetary policy may tend toward relatively easing but with limited room. The government has a target to balance short-term growth stability and long-term financial safety.

In light of headwinds countering growth, Lu Ting, chief economist at Nomura Securities, said the central bank can be expected to deliver another reserve ratio cut of 0.5 percentage points in the second quarter, when the country's consumer inflation will likely pass its peak.

"The markets may turn much more optimistic about China's growth prospects, but we recommend caution on the economic impact of the reserve ratio cut due to Beijing's new policy thinking of moderate easing that excludes the property sector," he said.

The PBOC will promote credit financing for small and private companies, it said in its statement. Last year, it increased large commercial banks' loans for small and micro companies by more than 30 percent, leading to a drop in lending costs of 1 percentage point. "These targets have been over-fulfilled," it said.

The central bank is aiming this year to "win the battle of preventing and reducing large financial risks" and reiterated its role as "the lender of last resort", which means the it will provide money to financial institutions that are experiencing financial difficulty to prevent their collapse. Last year, financial regulators took over Baoshang Bank in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region and provided liquidity to prevent the spread of financial risks.

To support liquidity and improve commercial bank's asset quality, the PBOC will supplement commercial banks' capital in 2020 through issuance of perpetual bonds-a credit instrument having no date to pay back.

Other risk-control measures will be taken for internet and real estate financing, and a macro-prudential regulatory system will be built to supervise cross-border capital flows, according to the central bank.

Regulatory control over monetary policy operations is expected to continue to strengthen in China. "Monetary easing, if any, is expected to be limited and should not translate into relaxed regulatory control over the riskier types of leverage, which is positive to system stability," said Rowena Chang, associate director of Non-Banks Asia Pacific at Fitch Ratings, an international rating agency.

2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Further US, Iran flare-up hanging in the balance]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531311.htm United States President Donald Trump warned on Saturday that Washington would hit dozens of Iranian targets "very fast and very hard" if Teheran retaliates for the US targeted killing of its top general, and a former national security adviser cautioned that the US is not safer after the attack.

A day after announcing that "the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike" on Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and an Iraqi militia leader, Trump ramped up his rhetoric against possible reprisals from Iran, which has vowed to punish US citizens "wherever they are in reach".

In a series of tweets posted on Saturday, Trump wrote Iran "is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets" in revenge for Soleimani's death. He wrote that in the event of any Iranian reprisals, the US had "targeted 52 Iranian sites" and that some were "at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD."

For Iran, Soleimani's killing was a "horrific assassination", Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Majid Takht Ravanchi said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. It is "an obvious example of state terrorism, and, as a criminal act, constitutes a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law," Ravanchi wrote.

Susan E. Rice, the US national security adviser from 2013 to 2017, said an Iranian response would likely be multifaceted and occur at unpredictable times and in multiple places.

"President Trump will then face what may yet be the most consequential national security decision of his presidency," she wrote in an op-ed piece in The New York Times on Saturday.

If he reacts with additional force, the risk is great that the confrontation will "spiral into a wider military conflict". If he fails to react in kind, he will likely invite escalating Iranian aggression, Rice wrote.

"One thing is clear: Americans are not safer, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued on Fox News the morning after. Rather, American citizens are at greater risk of attack across a far wider battlefield than before," she wrote.

Hundreds of US soldiers were deployed on Saturday from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to Kuwait to serve as reinforcements in the Middle East amid rising tensions following the killing of Soleimani, the Associated Press reported.

The US has failed to deter Teheran thus far, even with the deployment of 14,000 additional American troops to the Gulf region since May, Rice noted.

"The announcement this week that the Pentagon was sending 3,500 more soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division seems unlikely to change things," she wrote.

Jon B. Alterman, a senior vice-president of the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington, said that after the drone attack on the Iranian military leader, Iran will respond, forcing itself to the forefront of US foreign policy considerations for years to come and drawing Washington into precisely the sort of shadowy battles the Pentagon has been trying to avoid for more than a decade.

"As a consequence of this action, the United States will grow more enmeshed militarily in the Middle East despite President Trump's avowed desire to leave the region," Alterman, who is also director of the Middle East Program at the center, said in a post on Friday.

On Saturday, hundreds of demonstrators chanted outside the White House "No justice, no peace. US out of the Middle East". Later, they marched to the Trump International Hotel a few blocks away. Similar protests were held in New York, Chicago and other cities, according to Reuters.

The international community has urged all related parties to exercise "maximum restraint" to avoid further escalating Middle East tensions. Some experts said there is still opportunity for Washington and Teheran to step back instead of further escalating the tensions.

Michele Dunne, director and senior fellow of Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the small window of opportunity for diplomacy to avert a disastrous conflict is within the next few days.

"It is in both US and Iranian interests to preserve the option of diplomacy to resolve the outstanding issues (Iran's regional interventions and nuclear program, US sanctions) before tragedy ensues," Dunne, a US State Department Middle East specialist from 1986 to 2003, said in an article posted at Carnegie Endowment's website.

2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Yangtze protection efforts bear fruit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531305.htm As the weather turned cold, most plants near Xiliang Lake withered. Little green remained around the fog-shrouded body of water in Xianning, Hubei province, in the Yangtze River Basin.

But if you gaze into the water, you might see a different scenario. Aquatic plants cover almost every inch of the lake's bottom at depths averaging about 2 meters. Their vivid green color can be seen easily despite the poor visibility brought by the clouds.

About two years ago, however, what could be seen stood in stark contrast to the current view.

"Two-thirds of the lake was covered with net cages for fish farming," said Zuo Zhiguo, head of the lake's management and law enforcement bureau. The water was so dirty it looked like tung oil, which is yellowish. And the water stank, he recalled.

The turning point for the lake's environment came in January 2016, when President Xi Jinping presided over a national conference in Chongqing about the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Xi said concerted efforts should be undertaken to protect the Yangtze, the country's longest waterway, and excessive development of the river should be banned.

Zuo said an action plan was developed to remove all the net cages in the 80-square-kilometer Xiliang Lake by the end of 2016, and work was completed by April the following year.

To restore the lake after removing the net cages, Zuo said local authorities followed the principle of letting nature restore itself, which was included in an address delivered by Xi at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October 2017.

Fishing was banned in April 2018, and the bureau has strengthened law enforcement to crack down on illegal exploitation of lake resources, Zuo added.

Since 2018, the bureau has discovered 168 violations involving electrofishing, gathering freshwater snails and picking aquatic plants. Twenty-one people received criminal punishments of up to half a year in prison, he said.

In addition to intensifying patrols, employees of the bureau advertise the regulations designed to protect the lake, he added.

Zuo said the work has yielded good results. Before the net cages were removed, the quality of water in the lake had remained below Grade IV, the second-lowest in the country's five-tier water quality system. Currently, 65 percent of the lake has water above Grade III.

Instead of the net cages, visitors can now observe birds by the hundreds over the lake.

Honghu Lake in Jingzhou, Hubei, has also improved significantly, as local authorities have returned reclaimed land to the 414-square-kilometer lake and have forbidden fish farming.

At the turn of the new millennium, 90 percent of the lakes natural wetlands had been degraded by faming activities. While some areas were being used as farmland, others were occupied by net cages for fish farming, recalled Zhu Junhua, administrative head of the Honghu Wetland Nature Reserve.

As of the end of 2018, more than 15,800 hectares of farmland and fish farms had been returned to the lake. With a significant decrease of human activity, the lake has seen rapid growth of aquatic plants and a marked increase in birds, he said.

"Areas with lotus increased by more than 5,000 hectares, and 20 percent of the lake bottom is now covered by plants," he said, adding that water quality in key areas of the lake had improved to Grade III. Previously, some areas of the lake had water even worse than the lowest category, Grade V.

The lake was once visited by merely several thousands of migrant birds annually. So far this winter, it has received more than 100,000, he said.

"The lake was so beautiful when I was a little boy. There were lotuses everywhere. ... You could even drink lake water directly," local resident Zhang Shengyuan, 61, said.

"Though it will take time to see the lake return to what it was in my memory, it is beginning to come back," Zhang said.


2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China urges countries to help keep Middle East tensions from escalating]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531297.htm China has ramped up its diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the heightened tensions in the Gulf region over the weekend, vowing to play a constructive role in maintaining peace and security in the Middle East, the Foreign Ministry said.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had telephone talks on Saturday with the foreign ministers of Iran, Russia and France, reiterating that China opposes the abuse of military force in international relations.

On Friday, China's top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, expressed the country's grave concern over the current Middle East situation in a telephone conversation with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He urged relevant parties, particularly the US, to maintain restraint.

The rarely seen diplomatic activity has come after the US killed Qassem Soleimani, a high-profile commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, in an airstrike near Baghdad International Airport on Friday morning. The attack sparked outrage in Teheran, and Iranian officials vowed to retaliate.

As the risk of further violence between Washington and Teheran looms large, fears are growing about a further escalation of tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

Yang, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, told Pompeo that relevant parties should return to the track of dialogue to achieve, as soon as possible, a de-escalation of tensions.

In telephone talks with Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Wang said that the military adventurism of the US goes against basic norms governing international relations and will aggravate tensions and turbulence in the region.

"Military means will lead nowhere. Maximum pressure won't work either," Wang said. "China urges the US to seek resolutions through dialogue instead of the abuse of force.

"China will continue to uphold an objective and just position and play a constructive role in safeguarding peace and security in the Gulf region of the Middle East."

Speaking to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, Wang mentioned that their countries, together with China, are permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and therefore shoulder important responsibilities in safeguarding world peace and security.

He called on the two countries to strengthen their strategic communication with China, jointly uphold international law, jointly safeguard the principles and purposes of the United Nations Charter and basic norms governing international relations, jointly oppose unilateral military action and play a responsible role in properly handling the current situation in the Middle East.

Both Lavrov and Le Drian said their countries have positions similar to China's on the flare-up between the US and Iran and stand ready to maintain close communication with China to play a positive role in preventing escalation.

The US attack that killed Soleimani took place against a background of tensions between Washington and Teheran since 2018, when US President Donald Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which was signed by Iran, the US, France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the European Union in 2015. Trump then renewed sanctions against Iran.

Wang underscored the importance of implementing the Iranian nuclear deal and expressed hope that all parties would stay in close communication and not let the attack affect the implementation of the agreement.

The Chinese embassy in the US released a security notice on Sunday on its website, reminding Chinese nationals in the US to keep close watch on the security situation, as many US cities have strengthened security measures, along with Washington, to heighten vigilance.

Activists march on Saturday in New York's Times Square to protest the killing of the commander of Iran's Quds Force and other recent US military actions in Iraq. KEVIN HAGEN/AP
2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Many ex-fishermen now protect Asia's longest river]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/06/content_37531321.htm In East China's Jiangsu province, many former fishermen had become protectors and patrollers of the Yangtze River even before China began its 10-year fishing ban in Asia's longest river on Wednesday.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the ban will affect about 280,000 fishermen and more than 110,000 fishing boats in 10 provincial regions along the Yangtze.

The river flows for 432 kilometers through Jiangsu, and the ban will affect more than 10 cities in the province. It has barred fishermen from catching certain kinds of aquatic products since February, including crab, shrimp, and fish, such as the long-tailed anchovy.

Zhou Qixiang, a fisherman in Tongjin, a village in Nanjing, said that all the fishermen in the village have moved ashore and fishing boats have been dismantled.

"All the licenses for fishing in the Yangtze have been withdrawn, and all the fishermen have been given compensation," he said. "Some people, including me, chose to work for the provincial fishery administration and be protectors of the Yangtze. Now I earn about 6,000 yuan ($860) a month. Some villagers preferred to become vendors of aquatic products or migrant workers in big cities."

In Jiangyin, the local government bought all the fishing boats from fishermen before they were dismantled in 2019. That year, the last group of 54 fishermen came ashore and were given compensation of more than 10 million yuan.

Jiangsu has also improved surveillance to prevent illegal fishing activities.

From Wednesday to Jan 12, more than 200 people from the provincial fishery administration and public security and maritime departments conducted a joint operation to crack down on illegal fishing activities.

Chen Jianrong, a director from the Jiangsu fisheries law enforcement division of China Marine Surveillance, said that all the fishing equipment along the river's Jiangsu section has been removed.

"We had spent about four years to remove the equipment," he said. "The banks of the river had endless bamboo poles that were used to fix fishing nets, but now they are rarely seen in the river."

Zhang Jianjun, deputy director of the Jiangsu Agriculture and Rural Affairs Department, said that the fishing ban will greatly improve the river's biodiversity and fish stocks.

"Wild fish from the Yangtze have no better quality than those cultured in other rivers and lakes," he said. "In fact, some cultured crayfish and crabs have better taste and higher safety standards than wild fish in the Yangtze."

Fish caught in the Yangtze now account for only 0.32 percent of China's total freshwater aquatic products. In recent years, the annual catch from the river has fallen to less than 100,000 metric tons from more than 420,000 tons in the 1950s.

In Jiangyin, local fishermen caught less than 0.5 tons of the extremely expensive long-tailed anchovy in 2011, while in 1956 they caught 174 tons of the fish.

Zhang added that scientific departments will continue to monitor and assess the fishery resources and protect aquatic life in the river.

2020-01-06 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Africa visit shows great importance of relations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531256.htm State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi's upcoming visit to Africa next week shows China's sincerity in developing relations with Africa as one of its diplomatic priorities, analysts said.

Wang will on Tuesday start his seven-day trip to Egypt, Djibouti, Eritrea, Burundi and Zimbabwe. It will be the 30th consecutive year since 1991 that Africa has been the destination for the Chinese foreign ministers' first overseas visit of the year.

Li Wentao, deputy director of the Institute of African Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said that China always regards developing countries as the foundation of the conduct of its diplomacy and Africa is the continent with the most developing countries.

"This fine tradition shows that China highly values Africa and stands together with African countries on the international stage," he said. "Unlike some Western countries, China always behaves as a responsible country in providing experience on global governance and assistance to the world's least-developed region."

For example, Wang's visit to Zimbabwe comes at a time when the country is suffering political instability and economic setbacks, which shows that China will not leave or forsake its old friend but instead will help Zimbabwe pull through the hard time, Li said.

According to the Foreign Ministry, during the visit, Wang will promote the implementation of the important consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and African leaders, advance the China-Africa cooperation on the Belt and Road and move forward bilateral ties between China and relevant African countries and China-Africa relations as a whole.

Egypt was one of the earliest countries to express support for China's Belt and Road Initiative, and a total of 44 African countries and the African Union (AU) Commission have signed BRI cooperation documents with China.

Li said that cooperation between China and Africa will speed up accordingly this year as it is an important year to implement the outcomes of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Beijing Summit in 2018.

"Faced with the downward pressure on the global economy, it is important for the two sides to find some feasible commercial projects for investment in such areas as water conservation and electric power to realize win-win cooperation and benefit their people," he said.

Yao Guimei, a researcher of African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said: "China is taking the lead in the world in terms of its engagement with Africa, and Africa is taking an increasingly important position in China's foreign relations and strategy."

As this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, it will be a starting point for China and Africa to pursue high-quality and sustainable development of their relations, Yao said.

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[When one top police dog isn't enough]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531248.htm When you have a top-performing police dog, what do you do next? You clone it, of course.

After seeing the success of six cloned police dogs last year, law enforcement authorities in Beijing said they will continue to work with enterprises to create more. Among other things, they'll create a canine DNA bank to fully preserve the characteristics of the best animals.

Early last year, the police dog center of the Beijing Public Security Bureau unrolled its plan to clone and train police dogs in cooperation with Sinogene, a leading pet cloning company in China.

Based on skin samples from two dogs, both Belgian Malinois, six cloned dogs entered the world in August.

"The two gene donors-one 4 years old and the other 5-are excellent police dogs with outstanding explosiveness and sense of smell," said Ma Jinlei, a police officer engaged in the cloning and training work.

He said the donor dogs have contributed to the capital's law enforcement efforts by helping to solve criminal cases.

Cloning to pass down the genes of prominent police dogs has been a central task of the base in recent years, he said, "especially when high-class dogs get old".

The animals' excellent genes will help improve the quality and efficiency of breeding police dogs and also help to shorten their training period, he added.

At birth, the average weight of the six cloned dogs was 450 grams, with an average body length of 18 centimeters. Their DNA is virtually identical to the donor dogs-more than 99 percent. Four of the animals came from the same litter.

With the dogs' birth, the bureau rose to the No 1 spot nationally for most cloned police dogs.

"The six dogs began their training soon after they were born, and they responded more quickly than other police dogs," said Liu Fengyi, a police officer responsible of the training.

Accompanying the cloned dogs and observing their growth, Liu provided training in sense of smell, hearing and touch to help them adapt to their environment.

"I played music to them, touched them and shared their living space, as such moves can help them grow stronger more rapidly," he said. Such techniques also help test a dog's natural abilities at an early stage.

After about three months of training, the cloned dogs are capable of responding quickly to orders from their trainers and can obey commands to bite, catch and pick up objects, Liu said.

"Other police dogs typically require at least six months of training to get to that level," he said.

On Nov 20, the six cloned canines became official recruits of the Beijing police after passing the center's exams. In a ceremony, trainers put badges, colored collars and uniforms on the cloned dogs, marking their official entry into the force.

The new members-named Ke Zhong, Ke Cheng, Ke Zhi, Ke Hui, Ke Chuang and Ke Xin-"have been our teammates ever since, playing and training with us", Liu said.

When a reporter visited the center in December, the six 4-month-old clones had grown bigger and stronger. Their average weight was more than 15 kg and their bodies had grown to 52 cm. Though they have a similar appearance, they show their own characteristics and offer different advantages.

"Ke Cheng is a very active and easygoing dog. Compared with the other five, my dog is better at biting and picking things up," said Liu Shasha, 38, a female trainer at the center, who said such strong points will help police officers follow and detain suspects.

She regards Ke Cheng as her friend, noting that training a police dog is like looking after a baby that needs patience and care.

"When I find Ke Cheng not energetic as usual, I'll take him to the center's veterinarians to receive medical treatment," she said. "I have to make sure he is trained in top condition."

She said she trains Ke Cheng four or five times a day and also promotes the personal relationship by running with him. "If we can get along with each other, I believe we will be able to solve criminal cases better," she said.

The six dogs are still in the early stages of training. They'll be trained and monitored closely for six or seven months, at which time they'll get new tests to evaluate what specific role each is best suited to play in police work. of the six cloned dogs.

"When they grow six or seven months, we'll give them new tests to evaluate what roles they will play," Liu Shasha added. "At that time, we'll know which clone will be a suspect catcher and which will help anti-drug agencies by smelling."

Established in 1954, the center has more than 300 police dogs. There are around 10 breeds, including German shepherds, Dobermans and Labradors. Most of them are trained to assist police officers in solving criminal cases and assisting in security checks for explosives.

China's first cloned police dog, Kunxun, was born in Yunnan province in December 2018. The animal was cloned from a 7-year-old female Kunming wolfdog named Huahuangma, which serves at Pu'er police station in Yunnan. It has taken part in cracking dozens of murder cases and is considered a great detective.

After completing the training program at the Kunming police dog center, Kunxun passed the tests and is now ready for work.

Two young cloned dogs and their genetic parent (center) receive training at the police dog center of the Beijing Public Security Bureau last month. ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY

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]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Beijing's air gets clearer in 2019]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531246.htm The air quality in Beijing continually improved during the past year with the density of major pollutants falling significantly, the capital's environmental bureau said on Friday.

In 2019, the average concentration of PM 2.5 in Beijing fell to 42 micrograms per cubic meter, a reduction of 17.6 percent year-on-year and down by 53 percent from 2013, Liu Baoxian, head of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center, said at a news conference about last year's air conditions.

Last year's weather conditions were more favorable than the previous years and the city's efforts in different fields also helped to improve its air quality, according to the Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau, which held the conference on Friday.

Other air pollutants also saw a reduction last year. The annual average density of PM 10 and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was 68 and 37 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively, both for the first time reaching the national standard of 70 and 40 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively, Liu said.

Among many measures to cut down pollution, more than 42,000 trucks with high emissions were removed from the roads last year, while over 300,000 new energy vehicles appeared, according to Li Xiang, head of the atmospheric environment department at the bureau.

Nearly 400 polluting companies were closed or relocated and over 40,000 village residents transferred from coal to clean energy for their winter heating, Li said.

As a result, a total of 240 days boasted good air quality in the past year, accounting for 65.8 percent of the whole year, 64 days more than the good days in 2013, Liu said.

Yang Xue, a pregnant woman who lives in Beijing's Dongcheng district, felt the great improvement in her daily life.

"Last winter, I bought an air purifier at home to use it when there were air pollution in the city," Yang said. But the purifier hasn't been used this winter.

"Most of the days in this winter so far were good with better air quality," she said, adding that she goes out for a walk each noon as her exercise, without worrying about harmful smog.

However, the PM2.5, hazardous fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, is still the major air pollutant in the city, exceeding the national standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter by 20 percent, said Liu.

"With the large-scale projects for curbing air pollution completed, there has been little space left for emission reduction," Li with the bureau said.

He added that controlling air pollution is a long-period, arduous and complicated process and the work of fighting air pollution in Beijing has entered a critical stage.

Zheng Jinran contributed to this story.

Annual average concentration of PM 2.5 in Beijing CHINA DAILY

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[Services key to economic upgrading]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/05/content_37531237.htm China will step up efforts to promote the transformation and upgrading of outsourced services, with a view to achieving better structure and higher quality of the services sector, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Friday.

"Developing outsourced services helps keep foreign investment and employment stable, and also contributes to economic upgrading. Though our country started relatively late in outsourced services, we have made fairly fast progress and have our own advantages," Li said.

Friday's meeting decided on steps to build greater capacity in undertaking outsourced services at a faster pace as part of the efforts to facilitate economic upgrading.

Information technology will be applied to promote "Services Plus". New service models such as crowdsourcing, cloud outsourcing and platform subcontracting, and new types of industry such as service-embedded manufacturing will be developed.

Efforts will be made to enhance competitiveness in undertaking outsourced services in pharmaceutical research and development, design and accounting, and to strengthen the capability of contracting and delivering such services.

Trade in services will be further facilitated. Service outsourcing will be gradually included in the "single window" in international trade. In the service outsourcing demonstration cities, materials imported for such service sectors as research and development, design, testing and maintenance will be regulated as bonded goods on a trial basis.

"We must deepen the reform of government functions and further open up the outsourced services sector. A negative list for market access has been formulated. Areas off the list should be opened up as much as possible, and government oversight needs to be accommodating yet prudent to meet the fast-developing trend of the digital economy," Li said.

It was decided at the meeting to revise the catalog of key areas in outsourced services to promote the upgrading toward higher value-added outsourced services and create more jobs for young people, college graduates in particular.

"We must promptly summarize the experience gained in the pilot programs and expand their coverage," Li said.

"Good performance in outsourced services will also help establish Chinese brands."

Data from the Ministry of Commerce show a sound momentum of growth in outsourced services. Between January and July last year, Chinese companies signed service outsourcing contracts worth 722.58 billion yuan ($102.62 billion), up by 7.4 percent year-on-year.

]]> 2020-01-05 14:37:13 <![CDATA[President hails Mongolia ties in greeting to leader]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531221.htm President Xi Jinping and his Mongolian counterpart, President Khaltmaa Battulga, hailed the development of China-Mongolia ties as they exchanged New Year's greetings.

Bilateral ties made progress in 2019, as the two countries celebrated the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Their cooperation in various fields has seen fruitful results, Xi said in his message, which was released on Friday.

Xi said that when Battulga paid a state visit to China and attended the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in April, the two leaders had an in-depth exchange of views and reached many important points of consensus, which serve as important political guidance for bilateral ties.

Xi emphasized that he attaches great importance to the development of ties and hopes to work with Battulga for new progress in the two countries' comprehensive strategic partnership during the coming year.

In his message, Battulga said ties between the two countries have developed comprehensively.

Both respect each other's development path, interests and concerns and are committed to regional security and development, Battulga said, adding that he hopes to work closely with Xi.

]]> 2020-01-04 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Xi highlights Yellow River development]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531238.htm President Xi Jinping on Friday underscored the importance of heightened efforts in ecological protection and pursuing high-quality development in the Yellow River Basin.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks as he presided over the sixth meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs. He heads the committee.

It is important to follow the principles of ecological protection and high-quality development in compiling a plan for the river basin's development, and then ensure its implementation, a statement released after the meeting said.

It also called for efforts to follow an ecology-first policy, including green development, and to enable the transformation from too much intervention and overexploitation to natural restoration and recuperation.

The meeting underlined the significance of water conservation, and listed measures to curb unreasonable water consumption. Water utilization must be transformed from inefficiency to more economical methods, the meeting decided.

Different areas must give play to their comparative strengths and develop sectors such as grain production, other agriculture, industry and commerce based on natural conditions, the statement said.

The meeting also laid great emphasis on solving the major issues in the river basin area, saying that projects such as water source conservation, mitigation of soil erosion, comprehensive treatment of air pollution and treatment of polluted soil must move forward.

Pollution control in the Yellow River Basin must be stepped up, with greater water conservation efforts to replenish the water volume in the river, the statement said.

It also urged efforts to push forward the development of city clusters, including Lanzhou and Xining, and to enable the coordinated development of cities in the middle reaches of the Yellow River.

The leading role of key cities, including Xi'an and Zhengzhou, must be strengthened, the statement said, adding that city clusters in the Shandong Peninsula must play a pioneering role.

To force adjustments in industrial structure, the statement said, water should be used as an evaluation standard for land use and industrial production volume.

A project dealing with the protection of cultural heritage along the river will be implemented, and a Yellow River culture and tourism belt with international influence will be developed, the statement said.

The Yellow River Basin, which has a watershed of more than 752,000 square kilometers and covers nine provincial areas, sustains a population of 420 million people, or 30.3 percent of the nation's total, and a GDP of 2.39 trillion yuan ($343 billion), or 26.5 percent of the national total, as of the end of 2018.

Xi has always attached great importance to the ecological protection of the Yellow River Basin.

He presided over a symposium in Zhengzhou in September during which the region's ecological protection and high-quality development was placed on par with other national strategies, such as the Yangtze River Economic Belt and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

The meeting on Friday also included the discussion of issues involved in promoting the development of a double-city economic circle in Chongqing and Chengdu-both key cities in Southwest China.

It was decided that the leading role of Chengdu and Chongqing must be emphasized so that the area can be developed into an important economic hub and a center for scientific and technological innovation.

]]> 2020-01-04 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Iranian commander killed in US airstrike]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531239.htm The United States killed Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, the top commander of the nation's Quds Force, in an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, on Friday-an action that could sharply escalate tensions in the Persian Gulf region.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps confirmed on Friday that Soleimani was killed "in the raid of US helicopters" at Baghdad International Airport. The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhamdis, the deputy chief of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

The Pentagon said in a statement that it conducted the strike at the direction of US President Donald Trump as a "defensive action" against Soleimani that aimed at "deterring future Iranian attack plans", and that the US will continue taking necessary actions to protect its people and interests of the world.

The Pentagon claimed that Soleimani "had orchestrated attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months". Iran has denied involvement in the recent deadly attacks on US forces in Iraq.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed "severe revenge" to those who shed the blood of Soleimani and his companions, Iranian state TV reported on Friday. He said that Soleimani is "the international face of resistance" and that Iran will hold three days of public mourning over his death.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday that the country's resistance to the US will now be more determined.

"Soleimani's martyrdom will make Iran more decisive in resisting America's expansionism and will defend our Islamic values. With no doubt, Iran and other freedom-seeking countries in the region will take his revenge," Rouhani said in a statement.

Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, said in a statement that the airstrike "risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence.

"America-and the world-cannot afford to have tensions escalate to the point of no return," she said, adding that Congress was not consulted on the strike.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang urged the parties involved, especially the US, to practice restraint and avoid further escalation of tensions.

"China has consistently opposed the use of force in dealing with international relations, and believes that all parties should take effective measures to observe the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, as well as basic norms that guide international relations," Geng said on Friday.

He added that Iraq's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity should be respected, and peace and stability in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region should be maintained.

Xu Liping, a researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that tensions between Washington and Teheran are rooted in Trump's decision in May 2018 to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Friday's airstrike will definitely bring more uncertainty to the Gulf region, Xu said.

"If the US and Iran have armed conflict in this region, it will have an unimaginably huge negative influence on world security and economic development," he said, adding that security in the Gulf region requires global cooperation.

Wang Qingyun and agencies contributed to this story.

]]> 2020-01-04 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Global asset managers see opportunities in China]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/04/content_37531247.htm This year may be a good time for global investors to add holdings in Chinese financial assets, as the nation's efforts to open its capital markets and pursue quality economic development offer "unprecedented" opportunities, according to global asset management giants.

"China's capital markets are not only huge and liquid but have a relatively low correlation with other global assets," said Ben Powell, Asia-Pacific chief investment strategist of BlackRock Investment Institute, a think tank of BlackRock, one of the world's largest investment management companies.

"This, plus China's capital market opening-up that has made it easier for international investors to access the markets, undoubtedly presents an unprecedented opportunity for investors," Powell said in an article released on Thursday.

Marked by the inclusion of Chinese assets in global investment benchmarks, the country's capital markets made historic progress in internationalization last year, and the timing for global investors to consider strategic allocation of Chinese equities and fixed-income assets may have come, Powell said.

In April, Bloomberg Barclays added Chinese bonds to its global benchmark, while the MSCI quadrupled the inclusion factor of A shares in its investment benchmarks by three steps last year.

The BlackRock Investment Institute expected returns on Chinese stocks and bonds to be at the high end of the range against its global counterparts, considering the sheer magnitude of China's growth and its improving quality, according to a report the institute released last month.

Manu George, senior investment director of fixed income with Schroders, another global asset management firm, said a moderation in the rate of growth in the midst of economic upgrading will benefit China's bond market.

As the central bank tries to avoid the excessive deceleration of the economic growth, China may see lower interest rates in the long run and therefore provide a solid foundation for bond markets. Bond prices go up when interest rates drop.

"With the broader economic conditions moving arguably in favor of bond markets, and regulatory change opening the markets to a wider investor base, we think a key moment is approaching for Chinese fixed income," George said.

JPMorgan has announced that it will include Chinese government bonds in its global benchmarks by the end of February, and George expected that FTSE, the other major bond index provider, will follow suit in the short to medium term.

Chinese equity assets are also becoming more attractive to global investors, as stock-connect programs between Chinese mainland and Hong Kong bourses saw a net foreign inflow into mainland stocks of more than 350 billion yuan ($50 billion) last year, the highest level so far.

Xu Gao, chief economist with BOC International, said more foreign investors have been expanding their holdings in the A-share market recently as the market offers an "attractive" valuation level by global standards, and as China's prospects for economic growth stand out among major global economies.

Powell expects the Chinese government to focus on both the quality and quantity of economic growth in 2020, with prudent monetary policy cooperating with countercyclical fiscal policies to maintain a healthy rate of growth.

"We are very selective in the China A-share market but also see great opportunities over the long term," said Nicolas Yeo, head of China equities with global asset manager Aberdeen Standard Investments.

Li Xiang contributed to this story.

]]> 2020-01-04 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Xi signs order for military training]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531089.htm President Xi Jinping ordered the Chinese military on Thursday to further strengthen its combat training and exercises this year.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, signed the commission's first order for 2020 that listed priorities in the training of the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police Force.

The order requested the armed forces to stick to Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as their guiding principle and uphold Xi Jinping Thought on Strengthening the Military, as well as military strategies in the new era.

The military must enhance its troops' combat preparedness, closely observe adversaries' moves, exert all-out efforts to improve training and remain on high alert to ensure it is always ready for, and can win in, any possible war, the order said.

Training must be focused on elements leading to victory, and thorough research must be done on operational goals, enemies and the combat environment, it said.

The order required that units must concentrate on their missions and give more attention to emergency-response capabilities. They must also strive to foster the abilities to construct a favorable situation on the front line, control possible crises, and contain or win in a war.

Training and exercises for joint operations must be priorities, it requested, adding that the military must strengthen the participation of civilians and new types of forces in systemic training.

Troops must inject more scientific and technological factors into training and carry out more mobilization drills, according to the document.

More exercises will be organized to examine and test units' command, planning, fighting and logistical capabilities.

The order also stipulated that officers and soldiers must follow training guidelines while the authorities must conduct strict evaluation and supervision of training and also arrange skills contests.

2020 is the third consecutive year that Xi has issued a training order to the Chinese military.

The first such order was issued in January 2018 when the president oversaw and addressed a massive training-commencement ceremony at a shooting range in northern China.

Xi has repeatedly stressed the importance of combat-readiness training and joint operation to the armed forces since he became the commander-in-chief.


2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi salutes Ecuador ties in message to its president]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531141.htm President Xi Jinping exchanged congratulatory messages with Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno on Thursday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Xi said in the message that the China-Ecuador friendship enjoys a solid foundation and that bilateral ties have developed over the past four decades in a sound and stable way under the principles of equality, mutual benefit and common development.

China and Ecuador established a comprehensive strategic partnership during Xi's state visit to the South American country in 2016.

Bilateral exchanges and cooperation in all areas have been accelerated, Xi said in the message, adding that Moreno's visit to China in 2018 brought new momentum to relations.

The president said he highly values the development of China-Ecuador relations and stands ready to work with his counterpart to promote greater progress at the new starting point marked by the 40th anniversary.

Moreno, for his part, said the Ecuador-China relationship has been characterized by friendship, progress and development over the past 40 years, and that the comprehensive strategic partnership was established on that basis.

He said he wished for friendly and cooperative ties between the two countries to be further consolidated in the future, making new contributions in both countries to people's well-being and national prosperity.


2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Audit offices lauded for contribution]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531140.htm President Xi Jinping has encouraged China's audit offices to assume their duties across the board, carry out audits in accordance with the law and refine their institutions and mechanisms.

Xi made the remark in an instruction to outstanding auditing units and workers commended recently by three Party and State departments.

Xi is head of the central auditing committee, an organ formed in the institutional reform of Party and State bodies in March 2018.

Audit offices, under the unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee, must adapt to new demands in the new era and focus closely on the overall work of the Party and the State in comprehensively assuming their duties, Xi said in the instruction.

He urged them to make greater contributions to the modernization of China's governance system and its capacity for governance.

He also commended audit offices for fully implementing the decisions and plans of the CPC Central Committee, carrying out their duties in line with the law and conducting their work in a concrete and diligent manner.

They have played important roles in ensuring that the decisions made by the CPC can be thoroughly carried out, helping to win the three critical battles against potential risks, poverty and pollution, and safeguarding the order of financial and economic affairs, he said. He also praised them for helping to safeguard and improve people's livelihoods and promote clean governance.

The model workers and units were commended recently by the office of the central auditing committee, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security and the National Audit Office.

Premier Li Keqiang and Zhao Leji, secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the country's top anti-graft watchdog, met with representatives of the units and workers in Beijing on Thursday.

Li and Zhao are both deputy directors of the central auditing committee.

]]> 2020-01-03 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Nation to build over 4,000 km of new rail lines]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531090.htm China plans to build at least 4,000 kilometers of new railway lines this year, including 2,000 km of high-speed lines, the country's top rail operator said on Thursday.

The planned development of new railways this year is part of the nation's effort to maintain large-scale fixed-asset investment, Lu Dongfu, general manager of China State Railway Group, said at its annual work conference.

The Ministry of Transport said in December that China would spend at least 2.7 trillion yuan ($386 billion) on transport infrastructure projects this year, with 800 billion yuan going to railways.

In 2019, 802.9 billion yuan was spent on railways in China and 8,489 km of new track became operational, surpassing the annual targets of 800 billion yuan for investment and 6,800 km of new lines.

As a result, the nation's fast-expanding railway network reached a total length of 139,000 km by the end of last year, while the high-speed rail network exceeded 35,000 km, a year ahead of China's plan to build a total of 30,000 km of high-speed railway lines by 2020.

Among the 51 new railway lines last year, the opening on Monday of the high-speed route linking Beijing and Zhangjiakou, co-host city of the 2022 Winter Olympics, marks significant progress in the autopilot system of China's high-speed trains. Equipped with the system, trains can run automatically at a maximum designed speed of 350 km per hour.

As for this year, measures will continue to be taken to bolster areas of weakness in the nation's railway infrastructure, Lu said.

Construction of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway, the second railway into the Tibet autonomous region after the Qinghai-Tibet line, will be a major project this year, he said.

The company called for preparatory work to take place on the project's official launch, including optimizing a plan for organizing early construction of certain sections, pushing forward the railway's initial design, and drawing up its specified technical and management standards.

Lu also told the conference that the total revenue of the rail transport sector increased 6.1 percent year-on-year in 2019 to 818 billion yuan, and it is expected to reach 868 billion yuan by the end of 2020.

In a bid to make the company more market-oriented and capable of providing better cargo and passenger transport services, it will establish a mechanism for evaluating the profits of train operations and thus better organize rail services.

It will also explore more flexible pricing mechanisms for high-speed trains and offer deeper discounts on a growing number of railway lines, as well as start piloting the application of digital ticketing throughout the network.

Zhang Xiaodong, a professor of rail transportation economics at Beijing Jiaotong University, said, "Since the opening of China's first high-speed railway, the Beijing-Tianjin line, in 2008, the country has constructed more high-speed rail lines than Japan and Europe did in 40 years."

The construction of high-speed railways in China saves passengers travel time and has assisted regional economic development, he said, adding that it also played an important role in boosting the flow of talent and information and reshaping China's economic map.


2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[SOUTH AMERICA RISES TO NEW CHALLENGES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531127.htm Last year was one of political and social upheaval in South America, but the continent also made economic progress.

In Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro survived an attempted coup in January led by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

Neighboring Colombia has taken most of the refugees fleeing Venezuela.

In Bolivia, President Evo Morales, who was the country's first indigenous president, resigned in November after a contested election.

In Chile, an increase in transit fares in the capital, Santiago, fueled days of violent protests that led to other demands. Protesters also hit out at the rising cost of living, as well as privatization and inequality.

Many people are worried that political uncertainty in Latin America may affect economic cooperation between China and the continent. However, in the first half of last year, trade between China and Latin America reached $147.1 billion, up 1.3 percent year-on-year, according to the General Administration of Customs.

To date, 19 Latin American countries have signed cooperation agreements on the Belt and Road Initiative, which was proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

Meanwhile, Chile is forecasting record cherry exports this season, mainly driven by demand from Chinese consumers, which accounted for 88 percent of the nation's exports of the fruit last season.

In Argentina, the newly inaugurated administration of Alberto Fernandez has pledged a series of measures to bolster the economy and domestic consumption, while reining in inflation through a social pact with various organizations.

Fernandez has announced an increase in levies on agricultural exports and is set to raise taxes on purchases abroad and rates paid on properties in an attempt to bolster funds to pay for increased social subsidies.

Argentine Health Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia said after a meeting with industry representatives and Fernandez, "This does not solve all the problems, but it does improve everyone's ability to access medicines."

The country's economy is facing annual inflation of close to 55 percent and poverty levels of nearly 40 percent. Argentina, which is Latin America's third-largest economy, also needs to restructure a large amount of sovereign debt with creditors.

Fernandez may have to deal with sharing attention with leftist populist Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, the nation's former president and now vice-president, who some observers say will be the power behind the new government.

Trade between China and Argentina was valued at $16.5 billion in 2018, with two-thirds of it comprising exports to China, according to official Argentine figures.

The International Monetary Fund expects Argentina's economy to have shrunk by 3.1 percent last year, with inflation above 50 percent.

The country's debt-to-GDP ratio has soared to 93 percent, with the IMF coming to its aid with $57 billion in 2018, despite Argentina having defaulted on $93 billion of debt in 2001.

For its part, China is investing in infrastructure in Argentina.

China Gezhouba Group, a construction company based in Wuhan, Hubei province, has led the building of two hydroelectric dams and a new tunnel connecting Argentina and Chile in the Patagonia region.

Last month, China and Argentina signed a deal for the export of Argentine lemons.

In Ecuador, the government faced a swift backlash in October after it scrapped fuel subsidies, forcing the leadership to quickly retract the measure.

In Peru, President Martin Vizcarra dissolved a congress resisting his anti-corruption reforms and now has to cope with lawmakers who want to shorten his presidency.

In Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro, who was critical of China during his election campaign, has become more open to doing business with the world's second-largest economy.

Mauricio Santoro, an assistant professor in the Department of International Relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro, said, "The deep ties of Sino-Brazilian relations are part of a general trend that is making the whole region more important to China.

"In the 2000s, the big news was the rise in trade. In the 2010s, it was also about Chinese investment in Latin America and several countries in the region joining the Belt and Road Initiative.

"As we head into the 2020s, the perspective is that China will play an even more important role in the Brazilian economy, and this is why President Bolsonaro changed course in the first year of his administration, leaving behind his former harsh criticism of China and adopting a pragmatic approach."

Santoro said that last year Brazilian exports to China grew substantially, especially in the agribusiness sector. China bought more soybeans from Brazilian producers, because of the trade conflict with the US. The agreement for the phase one trade deal is expected to result in China buying more agricultural products from the US, including soybeans.

Santoro said that an outbreak of African swine fever in China saw the nation import much more pork from Brazil.

He added that the Bolsonaro administration is showing signs that it will not bow to US pressure to place sanctions on Chinese tech companies, and it looks as if Huawei will be able to take part in the 5G internet auction that will probably take place sometime this year.

The privatization process announced by the Brazilian government will be vital for Chinese companies, especially State Grid, Santoro said. State Grid is already a major player in Brazil's energy market and is a likely buyer for Eletrobras, Brazil's giant state-owned utility enterprise.

Santoro said public opinion in Brazil is positive toward China, and Brazilians see their country as a major economic partner and a rising power.

He added that Brazilians are wary of US President Donald Trump, who recently accused Brazil and Argentina of devaluing their currencies.

"There is interest and respect for Chinese culture, and this feeling is particularly strong among young people," Santoro said.

In Colombia in November, President Ivan Duque praised the signing of a contract with APCA Transmimetro, a Chinese railway construction consortium, to build the first subway line in Bogota, the capital.

"Bogota has been dreaming of this for decades. Today, we take another step, and I would say that it is the most important-the signing of the contract," Duque said.

"The formal construction of the subway starts now. The transformation of our capital starts now. The largest investment in the history of the city starts now."

Presiding over the signing ceremony at the presidential headquarters in Bogota, Duque said that the project is set to deepen collaboration between China and Colombia in infrastructure development.

"I am sure that the successful construction of Bogota's subway will open frontiers to more projects," he said, noting that the event coincided with the 40th anniversary of ties between the two countries.

He also said that during a visit to China in July, he and Chinese officials spoke of the importance of "having more Chinese companies wanting to come to Colombia to invest in infrastructure projects".

The World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the European Investment Bank are also taking part in the subway project, which is expected to generate some 60,000 jobs, according to Duque.

APCA Transmimetro, comprising China Harbour Engineering Co and Xi'an Metro Co, will be involved in all aspects of the project, from design to partial financing, to building the stations and supplying the trains, and operating the system for 20 years.

In Uruguay, meat processors are looking to increase beef exports to China.

Federico Stanham, head of the National Meats Institute, or Inac, in Uruguay, said that developing brand recognition among Chinese consumers is a "topic that interests us very much".

"Countries that have positioned their brand, such as Australia, have achieved 25 percent higher sales in meats than we have," he said. "Led by Inac, Uruguay has, since April, launched a strong promotional campaign in China on social networks, at points of sale and at food distributors and producers."

The campaign is aimed at making the "Uruguay brand" better known in China, a destination for some 60 percent of the country's beef exports.

Last year, Uruguay exported about 446,000 metric tons of beef, generating revenue of $1.72 million, with China buying 294,000 tons worth $1.01 million.

Panama, a country that connects Central America and South America, and shares a border with Colombia, can be a key player in the Belt and Road Initiative, according to a Panamanian business leader.

Giovanni Ferrari, general manager of Panama's Colon Free Trade Zone, told Xinhua News Agency last month that China and Panama have "much to explore" within the framework of Colon, the largest free-trade zone in the Americas, with some 2,600 companies.

Ferrari was speaking on the sidelines of the 13th China-Latin America and the Caribbean Business Summit in Panama City.

Already home to some 50 Chinese companies, Colon can provide more businesses from the country with the facilities they need to expand their manufacturing, distribution and services to Latin America within the BRI framework, he said.

Ferrari said that in the 1950s, Colon mainly attracted investment from European companies, especially in the pharmaceutical sector. In the 1970s, Japanese electronics companies moved into the area, and in the 1990s, South Korean corporations in the same field arrived.

After 2010, Chinese companies began to enter Colon, Ferrari said.

"China and Panama have a historic responsibility to champion free trade or free access to the markets," he stressed.

Such a partnership would benefit not only the two countries, but consumers and the world as a whole, he said.

In December 2018, President Xi made the first state visit by a leader of the People's Republic of China to Panama. In Panama City, he urged the business communities in China and Panama to expand cooperation and achieve common development.

China is the second-largest client of the Panama Canal after the US. In June 2016, the Chinese container ship Andronikos became the first vessel to pass through the newly expanded Panama Canal.

In 1854, a ship carrying Chinese workers, many from Guangdong province, docked in Panama in preparation for work on the Panama Canal Railway.

More than 300,000 people of Chinese descent live in Panama, accounting for 10 percent of the population, according to the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council, and the Central American country's connection with China dates to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

It is estimated that some 80 percent of Chinese residents in Panama come from Huadu, Guangdong, where some settlements are nicknamed "Panama Village" due to the high number of locals who have migrated to the Latin American nation.

Xinhua contributed to this story.


A man falls next to members of the security forces during a protest in Valparaiso, Chile, on Monday. RODRIGO GARRIDO/REUTERS



The Chinese container vessel Andronikos passes through the Agua Clara locks on the newly expanded Panama Canal in 2016. CARLOS JASSO/REUTERS



A bird's-eye view of the canal. XINHUA



An increase in transit fares in the Chilean capital Santiago triggers days of violent protests last month. CHINA DAILY



The Andronikos is greeted as it arrives at the Cocoli locks after passing through the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean in 2016. CARLOS JASSO/REUTERS



The Chinese naval hospital ship Peace Ark passes through the Panama Canal in 2011. ZHA CHUNMING/XINHUA







2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Global race is on for 6G technology research, commercial use]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531120.htm Before the first image of a black hole could be added to the treasure trove of mankind's greatest scientific achievements in April, scientists responsible for processing it had a big problem: They had to piece together the image from half a metric ton of hard drives holding around 5 million gigabytes of data.

It would take years, if not decades, to send that much data efficiently over the internet, so scientists loaded those clunky hard drives onto trucks and planes and delivered them to data centers around the globe, according to the Event Horizon Telescope project, the international science body responsible for the image.

One might feel a sense of irony that such an iconic image of a cosmic wonder had to be produced in such an old-fashioned way, but scientists said they are already working on the next generation of telecommunication technology after 5G that will be able to transport data faster, be more tailored to users' needs, and make conducting global science projects more convenient and efficient.

However, the so-called 6G technology is still in its infancy and must overcome several technical hurdles in basic research, hardware design, and its environmental impact before the technology becomes commercially available in 2030, according to a white paper on 6G published in September by Finland's University of Oulu.

Moreover, some scientists worried that 6G's new infrastructure, the increased integration of space-air-ground-sea communication technologies, and the use of a new frequency range to transmit data might affect astronomical instruments or public health, or be too expensive or insecure for researchers to use.

"The sharing, analysis and management of research data are crucial for scientific and technological innovation in today's big data era," Wang Ruidan, deputy director of the National Science and Technology Infrastructure Center, said during a Beijing forum on digitized scientific research in early December.

In November, the Ministry of Science and Technology announced that China had entered the global 6G race, and has established two dedicated offices, one for related policymaking and the other, comprising of 37 experts from colleges, research institutions and enterprises, to work out the technical details.

China Telecom, China Unicom and Huawei, as well as companies and telecommunication providers in the US, Russia and Europe are conducting related research on 6G technologies, according to media reports.

Telecommunication technologies, coupled with large-scale computing infrastructure and big data, have played a crucial role in some of China's largest scientific projects in recent years, especially those involving major scientific instruments, according to a blue paper published in Springer Nature last month.

For example, "we used telecommunication technologies to connect observatories from around China to provide key navigation data to help the Chang'e 4 probe land on the far side of the moon for the first time in human history", said Wang Shuzhi, executive deputy director of the Leading Group of Cyberspace at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

"Better connections will undoubtedly improve the precision and efficiency of using big data to conduct cross-regional, interdisciplinary mega science projects," he said.

Nigel Jefferies, chairman of the Wireless World Research Forum, said that although there was no universally accepted definition for 6G technology so far, its future application will have a profound impact on daily life and how scientific research is conducted.

The speed of 6G will exceed 125 GB/s, allowing for ultra-high fidelity virtual reality, zero latency for machine-to-machine communication and global high-speed internet coverage using extensive satellite networks, he said during the World 5G Convention in Beijing in November.

"6G will incorporate technologies that are left out of 5G, such as terahertz signals, satellites and visible light communication," he said.

Terahertz signal waves occupy the 300 gigahertz to 3 terahertz band of the spectrum. This means the frequencies are higher than the highest frequencies that will be used by 5G, which are known as millimeter waves, and fall between 30 and 300 GHz, said Lu Jianhua, president of the School of Information Science and Technology at Tsinghua University.

The shorter wavelengths and higher frequencies suggest that terahertz waves should be able to carry more data more quickly than millimeter waves. But they will have greater trouble penetrating objects than 5G millimeter waves, which already require the installation of a large amount of indoor and outdoor cellular equipment to ensure reliable coverage.

"This creates an existential problem with telecommunication technology, because the whole purpose of our field is to transport more data efficiently with less energy and infrastructure," he said. "But we are doing the opposite for 5G technology and beyond. It will be extremely costly and unsustainable if we still use the same strategy to roll out 6G as we did with 5G."

One of the more popular solutions is to create an integrated global communication network with land, sea, air and space infrastructure to provide 6G coverage, Lu said. However, Li Jinzeng, a research professor at the National Astronomical Observatories of the CAS and the chief scientist of the China-Argentina Radio Telescope, said many telescopes rely on the terahertz range to examine the universe and a global terahertz 6G network may interfere with astronomical observation.

Moreover, the physiological effects of electromagnetic radiation associated with 5G technology are still being researched, he said.

Zhang Zhang, executive deputy director of the BIG Data Center at the Beijing Institute of Genomics of the CAS, said 6G technology will be a positive factor for scientific projects that require the transmission and analysis of large quantities of data.

But there also two major issues-data security and cost, he said. "With 6G, we might be transmitting so much data so rapidly that we fail to notice either small leaks or security risks."

In addition, it costs millions of yuan annually to operate a large data center, and this expense is typically shouldered by the government or the institution. "A full-speed 6G network may be too expensive to use, so funders and policymakers will have to balance the cost and benefits and customize the technology to better suit users' needs," Zhang said.


2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Violence spoils peaceful New Year's march in HK]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/03/content_37531139.htm Hong Kong people's prayers for a peaceful New Year's holiday were shattered by violent protests in the heart of the city. Police canceled an anti-government march in progress on Wednesday and arrested 287 people.

Briefing the media on Thursday, Senior Police Superintendent of Hong Kong Island Ng Lok-chun said violent protesters had "hijacked" residents who were participating in the peaceful procession. Coffee shops and bank branches were smashed up, and police officers were attacked with hard objects not long after the march began.

Businesses that were vandalized appeared to have been targeted for having links to the Chinese mainland or a pro-police stance.

It was imperative the procession end early and protesters disperse; otherwise it would pose a safety threat to peaceful demonstrators, Ng said, adding that radicals often seek cover among peaceful people.

Later in the evening, the police intercepted 464 people who they said refused to leave after they blocked major roads in Causeway Bay. Police held 287 of them.

"It was the rioters and their supporters who forced an end to the rally," said Kwok Ka-chuen, chief superintendent of the Police Public Relations Branch.

Holiday mayhem

Protest chaos spilled over from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day. On Sunday, masked hoodlums vandalized several HSBC bank branches in response to the shutdown of a fundraising account for protesters whose transactions the police suspected to be part of a money-laundering scheme.

A few outlets on Hong Kong Island that have business links to the Chinese mainland or openly support the Hong Kong government were either trashed or firebombed. A number of traffic lights also fell victim to the rampage.

Radicals spray-painted the exterior wall of the High Court with words insulting Madam Justice Anthea Pang Po-kam, who had sent three to jail over the 2016 Mong Kok riot.

In Tuen Mun, five people entered a train that was carrying passengers and set it on fire, according to MTR Corp, the city's railway operator. Gasoline bombs were hurled into a train and bus depot, setting buses on fire.

In all, 307 males and 113 females, aged between 12 and 81, have been arrested over the past few days, the police said. Charges have included possession of offensive weapons, criminal damage and assault causing bodily harm. The 12-year-old was arrested on suspicion of unlawful assembly in Mong Kok on New Year's Eve.

Two officers, one of them in plainclothes, were assaulted by black-clad radicals in separate incidents in Mong Kok on Tuesday and Wednesday. The uniformed officer was in the hospital on Thursday awaiting treatment for injuries to his head and hand. A 19-year-old suspect surnamed Lee was arrested.

Meanwhile, the police are hunting for two men who posed as plainclothes officers and robbed a 63-year-old man of a paper bag containing HK$210,000 ($27,000) in Tuen Mun on New Year's Day.

The first 11 months of last year saw a 44 percent surge in snatch-and-run thefts and a 28 percent jump in robberies, according to the authorities. The increase was attributed to strained police resources amid the social unrest.


Workers clean graffiti on Thursday that extremist protesters had sprayed on the wall of the Hong Kong High Court during a New Year's Day rally. PARKER ZHENG/CHINA DAILY



2020-01-03 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China's achievements hailed by world]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530969.htm China's significant achievements last year and its pledge to unswervingly uphold world peace and promote common development have been highly appreciated by global experts.

President Xi Jinping delivered a New Year's speech in Beijing on Tuesday in which he highlighted the steady progress of China's high-quality development in 2019.

Xi said that 2020 will be "a year of milestone significance", pledging that the country will complete its task this year of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

Noting that China continued to be an active participant in the global community last year, Xi reiterated China's commitment to peaceful development.

Jon R. Taylor, a professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and Geography at the University of Texas at San Antonio, said Xi's speech sends an optimistic message to the world, with its particular emphasis on issues such as poverty eradication and common development.

"What most impressed me about China in 2019 was its ability to handle a series of adverse economic, trade and social stability issues-'winds and rains', in the words of President Xi," he said, adding that he was impressed when Xi mentioned ordinary citizens whose work has had a positive impact on China during the past year.

Andrei Ostrovsky, deputy director of the Institute of the Far East at the Russian Academy of Sciences, said China has made tremendous achievements in improving its economy and people's living conditions in the past decade. He has witnessed the huge differences between China's current economic situation and that of 1978 when the country had just embarked on reform and opening-up.

"At that time, I was not able to imagine that China could make such breakthroughs in its economy," Ostrovsky said.

Yan An, president of the Association of Chinese Education in Japan, said that Xi's words reflect "the dazzling and extraordinary achievements the motherland has made".

"I am very proud of that," Yan said. "We sincerely wish China to be more prosperous in the future."

Christopher Bovis, a professor of international business law at the University of Hull, hailed China's quest to balance its economic progress with social development.

He said that China's structural reforms and the continued opening up of its economy have coincided with the need to adopt a governance model with responsive and responsible political and economic leadership, and the need to promote people-centered sustainable development to eradicate poverty and promote stability, peace and harmonious relations.

Rana Mitter, director of the University of Oxford China Center, said Xi's speech stressed economic development in particular, and that it's vital for global economic development to become increasingly cooperative rather than competitive in the 2020s. He was impressed with Xi's pledges on consistent strategies for international growth and cooperation through this year.

"China will have to play a major role in shaping that new economy," he said. "This is an area where the United Kingdom, the European Union and China can all cooperate, helping to shape a new economic model."

What impressed Alan Barrell, director of studies at Cambridge Innovation Academy, was when Xi said that China is willing to join hands with people of all countries to build the Belt and Road Initiative and push ahead to build a community with a shared future for mankind.

Barrell said it will be "very important" for his country, the United Kingdom, to continue to forge close links with China and expand cross-border cooperation and investment in the post-Brexit era.

"Perhaps it is more important than the eventual outcome of the deals done now between the UK and the EU," he said.

Ren Qi in Moscow, Wang Xu in Tokyo, Wang Mingjie in London and Chen Yingqun in Beijing contributed to this story.


2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Bank reserves lowered to boost economy]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37531017.htm China's central bank decided on Wednesday to inject more than 800 billion yuan ($115 billion) into the financial sector by reducing the amount of cash financial institutions must keep in reserve. The move is designed to maintain "reasonably ample" liquidity and lower financing costs for the real economy.

The reserve ratio requirement for most financial institutions will be reduced by 0.5 percentage point on Monday, the People's Bank of China, the central bank, said in a statement. After this cut, the reserve ratio will be in a range of 6 percent to 12.5 percent, with the largest banks at the higher end.

The central bank has cut the reserve ratio eight times since early 2018 to spur economic growth. The latest move should not be seen as a change in prudent monetary policy, and it is not a "flood irrigation type of easing", according to the central bank.

The monetary authority is asking commercial banks to use the $115 billion fund to increase financial support for small, micro and private companies.

Small and medium-sized commercial banks, whose main business is lending to small enterprises, may receive more than 120 billion yuan from the reserve cut, according to estimates by economists.

Experts in the financial sector predicted the capital injection several days ago, as the monetary authority usually takes measures to hedge against potential liquidity shortages before Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan 25 this year.

Lou Feipeng, a senior economist at Postal Savings Bank of China, said the first reserve ratio cut in 2020 aims to reduce social financing costs by providing capital for the early issuance of local government bonds that will strengthen infrastructure construction. As the cut was made at the start of the year, commercial banks are able to lend more to companies and receive profits earlier.

"The reserve ratio cut is a countercyclical measure to stabilize growth and a reflection of the flexibility of monetary policy," Lou said.

Before the announcement, central bank advisers achieved a consensus in the most recent central bank monetary policy committee meeting regarding more flexible fine-tuning of monetary policy. The use of various tools is expected to keep liquidity ample and provide cheaper loans for small and private businesses, which are striving for a good start to 2020 with upward economic growth momentum.

Other measures may include lowering the interest rate of medium-term lending facilities-the price of the central bank's lending to financial institutions-so they can lend the cheaper money to small business at a lower cost.

Maintaining reasonably ample liquidity is one of the priorities of Chinese monetary policy, in light of economic downside risks and rapid changes in the global environment, the central bank said on Wednesday in a separate statement about the monetary policy committee meeting.

The committee held its fourth-quarter meeting in 2019 on Friday, chaired by Yi Gang, governor of the central bank. Committee members held that China's major macroeconomic indicators are "within a reasonable range", maintaining growth momentum with strong resilience amid external challenges.

Before the end of 2019, the announcement of a phase one trade deal between Washington and Beijing strengthened investor confidence. The latest economic indicators in China, including the stronger-than-expected manufacturing purchasing managers' index in December, also reflected positive expectations on economic performance in the new year, economists said.

In the statement, the central bank said it will "continue to pay close attention to the profound changes in the international and domestic economic and financial situation, to turn the external pressure into a strong driving force for deepening reform and opening-up".

It also said the exchange rate of the yuan is largely stable, with improved two-way flexibility and enhanced ability to sustain external shocks.

Liu Wei, president of Renmin University of China and a member of the committee, wrote in an article that the monetary policy this year is expected to be prudent, but there is a tendency toward relative loosening.

"Through cutting the reserve ratio requirement and lowering the interest rate of the medium-term lending facility and open-market repo rates, the central bank can supplement liquidity and increase financial support for small and micro businesses," said Liu, who predicted the GDP growth target of 2020 will stay above 6 percent, and the target for the consumer price index-a gauge of inflation-may be no higher than 3 percent.


2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[NATION IN POSITION TO ADDRESS CHALLENGES OF NEW YEAR]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37531000.htm This year is destined to be a major one for China, as the country is set to become a moderately well-off society and to have eliminated all forms of extreme poverty in time for next year's 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China.

Many observers expect another challenging year for the economy, which has been affected over the past 12 months by both trade friction with the United States and slowing global growth.

With the US recording the longest period of expansion in its history in July, the inevitable consensus among economists on the global economy is that a recession cannot be far away, even if it doesn't occur this year.

Relations between Beijing and Washington will again be in focus as political fervor heats up for the US presidential election in November.

The United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union, making Brexit a reality, but there is still a risk that no free trade agreement will be reached.

The year ahead also promises to be another important one for the Belt and Road Initiative, with a number of important projects underway across many continents.

As far as the Chinese economy is concerned, the three-day Central Economic Work Conference, which was attended by the country's leaders last month, emphasized stability.

As a result, commentators believe that the central leadership will set a target of around 6 percent for GDP growth in the Government Work Report in March, compared with the range of 6 to 6.5 percent set last year.

After the government revised growth for 2018 in November, a 6 percent expansion this year would be sufficient to achieve a doubling of 2010's GDP, which would equate to China becoming a moderately well-off society.

Imogen Page-Jarrett, China research analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit, a research organization, is forecasting GDP to grow by 5.9 percent.

"The expected growth rate will still be enough for the government to meet its centennial goal. We expect it to introduce more aggressive stimuli in 2020 to ensure economic growth reaches this level, including continued monetary loosening and government spending on infrastructure, as well as moderate loosening of policy in the property sector in certain regions," she said.

Louis Kuijs, head of Asia Economics at the consultancy Oxford Economics, also believes that setting a lower target would be the right course of action

"It would make sense, as it would imply a further softening of the target compared with 2019 without leading to too strong a deceleration," he said.

Jing Ulrich, vice-chairman of global banking and Asia Pacific at investment bank JP Morgan Chase & Co, said Chinese leaders were right to emphasize at the Central Economic Work Conference the importance of transitioning from high-speed to high-quality growth.

"Chinese policymakers have been responsive in managing the nation's financial and economic risks. With the economy facing headwinds, they have reiterated the continuation of supply-side structural reforms in the pursuit of high-quality growth," she said.

If China does succeed in eliminating extreme poverty this year, it would be a remarkable achievement, and one that even some developed economies have failed to match. It would be the culmination of a 40-year journey that has seen 800 million people lifted out of poverty, the highest number ever in such a relatively short period of time.

Stephen Roach, senior fellow at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale University, pointed out that 4.8 million citizens in the US still live in absolute poverty-below the $3.20 a day purchasing power parity threshold. Some 2 million of them do not have running water.

"The elimination of poverty is an important achievement on the road to prosperity for any nation, developing or developed. With many of the world's wealthiest nations still afflicted with significant pockets of poverty, China's progress is all the more impressive," he said.

"China's unparalleled progress on poverty alleviation may well be the singular achievement of its growth and development miracle."

Douglas McWilliams, who carried out extensive research on poverty for his recent book, The Inequality Paradox: How Capitalism Can Work for Everyone, argues that China has been particularly successful in not leaving people behind as it becomes wealthier.

"It has made creating prosperity translate into reduced poverty, and there are lessons other countries could learn from," he said.

Most commentators expect the global economy to remain sluggish this year.

However, Page-Jarrett, from the EIU, believes global growth will pick up slightly, from 2.3 percent last year to 2.4 percent.

"With continued uncertainty in the global operating environment, we expect that business confidence and investment will remain subdued," she said.

"The world's major central banks will continue to pursue ultra-loose monetary policy. This will cushion demand in developed markets and limit the financial pressures that some indebted emerging-market economies might otherwise face."

Kuijs, at Oxford Economics, doubts that this year will herald the start of a global recession.

"We are not very bullish on the global economic outlook for 2020, but we think that the risk of a recession or something close to that remains modest, given the insurance policy provided by monetary and fiscal stimulus pursued across the world," he said.

Last month, the US and China agreed phase one of a trade deal, but many observers expect anti-China rhetoric to increase in the upcoming presidential election.

Shi Yinhong, director of the American Studies Institute at Renmin University and one of China's leading foreign policy experts, believes there will be considerable "China-bashing" from both the Republicans and Democrats on the campaign trail.

"This is not new, but it will be more to the fore because of the trade dispute. As to the outcome, I think Trump has quite a remarkable probability of being re-elected," he said.

"If he isn't, and the Democrats win, I am not certain what the impact on China will be. A Democrat president might be a little more predictable and there might be a little more certainty."

Wang Huiyao, founder and president of the Center for China and Globalization, a leading independent think tank based in Beijing, believes the phase-one trade agreement has provided much needed stability.

"The trade dispute, for now, has probably stabilized, and the challenge is to maintain China-US relations and not let them deteriorate," he said.

Roach, at Yale, agrees that the agreement has eased tensions for the time being, but he thinks they will resurface this year.

"It takes a worrisome source of uncertainty out of the near-term global growth equation. But as the events of the past 21 months have indicated, there is far more to this conflict than tariffs. Tensions over innovation policy, technology leadership, cybersecurity and state-sponsored industrial policy underscore both the breadth and the depth of the protracted tensions between the world's two largest economies," he said.

However, Shi, at Renmin University, believes that the US and China will continue to "decouple" and the world will become more protectionist, and reject globalization.

"The forces of protectionism are becoming stronger. Countries across the world are looking inwards.... This is a trend that is not going to end anytime soon," he said.

As with last year, another source of uncertainty this year could be Brexit. The UK will leave the EU by the end of this month, but will then enter a transition period.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has enshrined in law that this period will end on Dec 31, regardless of whether the UK has agreed a free trade agreement with the EU, creating the prospect of further business uncertainty throughout the year.

Page-Jarrett, at the EIU, believes the UK will not be able to meet its self-imposed deadline.

"Given the complexity of negotiating the final-status arrangement, we expect that the UK will be forced to seek a further extension, concluding a free trade agreement by December 2022 instead," she said.

"This will lead to instability in the British currency. The pound will remain volatile in the coming months, and again toward the end of next year."

While the UK is disentangling itself from the EU, the Belt and Road Initiative will continue to forge new links between countries.

McWilliams, also founder and executive deputy chairman of the Centre for Economics and Business Research, a consultancy based in London, said the initiative will provide one of the most significant global boosts this year.

According to a report by his consultancy, it will add $7.1 trillion annually to global GDP over the next two decades, involving a significant surge in infrastructure spending. This will add some 4.2 percent to global GDP by 2040.

"The BRI is a huge boost to the world economy. While its peripheral elements are important, the biggest one is the development of land-based trading routes from Asia to Europe, which will transform China's trading links with Europe," he said.

"It now costs just $2,600 to send 1 metric ton of freight from Chengdu (capital of Sichuan province) to Lodz in Poland in 14 days by rail; a fraction of what it would cost by other modes of transportation. This is transformative. It is also making the Chinese and Russian economies heavily integrated, which will enhance their links."

Bukola Ogunsina, editor of the Sunday edition of the Leadership newspaper in Nigeria, said the Belt and Road Initiative is particularly important in Africa, where it is fostering a deeper relationship between China and the continent.

"Chinese companies are building bridges, roads and hydroelectric plants in Nigeria and I think people are beginning to grasp the whole concept of what the initiative means," she said.

"What China is offering is a mutual relationship based on respect. It is not a one-sided thing at all."

Ulrich, at JP Morgan Chase, also thinks there is a growing global realization of the scale of the initiative.

"It presents substantial opportunities for the nations involved, ideally boosting regional economic cooperation, promoting growth and fostering trade and investment," she said.

This year, and the new decade as a whole, is likely to be an important time for technology, with major breakthroughs expected in artificial intelligence, robotics and telecommunications, and with Chinese tech giant Huawei already a leader in 5G.

China has set itself the goal of being a global leader in technology by 2035.

Jeffrey Towson, professor of investment at Peking University Guanghua School of Management, feels that China is already ahead in a number of areas.

"China's digital giants are now the leaders in e-commerce, messaging and payments. Alibaba is better than Amazon. WeChat is better than Facebook. I expect them to extend this lead in 2020," he said.

Towson, author of the best-selling The 1 Hour China Book with Jonathan Woetzel, said China has had particular success with consumer products.

"Silicon Valley is dreadfully boring on the consumer side-almost stagnant. China and Asia (as a whole) is where the excitement and innovation is for almost everything on a smartphone. China's tech giants will continue to evolve into global leaders-Huawei in telecommunications and smartphones, Tiktok (known as Douyin in China) in entertainment, and Ant Financial in payments," he said.

Roach, author of Unbalanced: The Codependency of America and China, said it is important to be realistic about the prospects for this year.

"The good news is that key sources of idiosyncratic risk appear to have been addressed for the time being-namely, the tariff war between the US and China as well as the political uncertainty surrounding Brexit," he said.

"The bad news, however, is the downward growth momentum in Europe-especially in Germany-and in Japan. You also have the sluggish state of global trade continuing to take a toll on the export-led economies of East Asia and also Mexico."

McWilliams, at CEBR, said any predictions about this year have to be tempered with the knowledge that a global recession is looming.

"This year looks likely to be a better one than 2019, but there are a lot of imbalances in the global economy that have not been resolved and there is likely to be quite a severe recession within the next five years," he said.









2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[County shows way to win poverty battle]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530999.htm In an ancestral hall in Xiaying, a village in Jiangxi province, Wang Shengdi, 83, and Li Fengying, 81, blew out the candles on a cake together to celebrate their December birthdays.

"The birthday celebration brings me back to the good times of my wedding," Wang said with a laugh. "I would have been much happier if I'd had the house I'm living in now."

They shared the cake and the moment of memory along with more than 60 other village seniors at a free lunch banquet on Dec 16. The lunches, in what's been dubbed the "filial love canteen", have been offered to all residents over age 80 three times a month since May 2018. They provide an opportunity for them to talk and for village officials to brief them on the latest government policies.

"In the past, as we struggled to feed ourselves, we would never have thought of organizing such activities," said Wang Xingjun, 45, Party secretary of the village.

Thanks to the government's poverty alleviation efforts, residents now do not have to worry about basic sustenance. The village has developed some projects in agriculture and rural tourism that have helped fund the canteen.

"We want to make all the elderly people as comfortable as possible so they can fully enjoy it," Wang said. "Many of them celebrated a birthday for the first time in their lives at the free lunches."

Xiaying, with a population of 3,883, is in Huichang county, which was delisted as a national-level poverty-stricken county on April 28. The incidence of poverty dropped to 0.17 percent in 2019 from 22 percent in 2013, the county government reported.

The Chinese government has pledged that all rural residents living below the current poverty line will be lifted out of poverty by the end of this year. The goal by year's end is that no county in the country will have extreme poverty.

"The year 2020 is crucial in winning the anti-poverty battle," President Xi Jinping said in his New Year's speech on Tuesday. "The clarion has sounded. We must work together and work hard … to secure a victory in the battle against poverty."

Rural revitalization

In addition to offering local residents better healthcare and social security services, the infrastructure and environment of Xiaying have significantly improved over the past few years.

The country's poverty alleviation efforts since 2013 have set strict standards on infrastructure construction, such as better local roads and houses.

Wang Shengdi, 83, had her house rebuilt to meet the national standards. The road to it was also paved so her family can easily park agricultural vehicles at their doorstep. Management of the waste disposal system in Xiaying has also been improved to create a pleasant living environment.

Most of the money for all this came from a pool of specialized poverty alleviation funds allocated by the central government and other higher-level governments. According to the Ministry of Finance, the central government allocated 126 billion yuan ($18.1 billion) of specialized poverty-alleviation funds last year.

"I was born in the village, and I've never seen so many changes in such a short period of time in its infra-structure, administration and living environment," said Wang Xingjun, the village official. "Can you imagine that the residents had been used to seeing rats frequently running on the road?"

He said poverty alleviation efforts have laid a solid foundation for the revitalization of the village, and developing suitable industries to bring people more income is the key to preventing them from slipping back into poverty if the specialized support from higher-level governments weakens in the future.

"More than 100 residents who had been working in cities have returned since 2017 because they've noticed they can have quality lives in rural areas just like in the cities," he said.

The village offers opportunities for development as well. With interest-free loans from State-owned financial institutions, the villagers can choose to grow profitable agricultural products such as navel oranges, for example.

In the past year, Xiaying has been encouraging residents to set up greenhouses to grow baby pumpkins, which are lucrative and becoming increasingly popular with people in urban areas who are keen on living a healthy lifestyle. The cost of building the greenhouses is shouldered by the government or companies that come for the opportunities, Wang Xingjun said.

"Since different industries have begun to thrive here, people can now make a good living or find employment at their doorstep," he said.

Under the National Rural Revitalization Strategic Plan (2018-22), establishing industries in villages is key to the sustainable development of rural China and to ensuring people won't fall back into poverty.

Rural revitalization is expected to have made major progress by 2035, when residents should find quality employment and the relative poverty gap will have been narrowed. By 2050, China's villages will become beautiful places to live as the agricultural industry booms. What's more, the residents will become prosperous, the plan said.

Model village

Zengfeng, another village in Huichang county, was stripped of the poverty label in 2017 and is trying to build itself into a model community.

The entrance to the village is clearly marked and beautifully designed. The quality main road passing farms of navel oranges and lotus flowers leads people into the heart of the village. Residents can find the ancestral hall, medical center, kindergarten, supermarket, village square and e-commerce station at the center of the village. At the west end, an agritourism center is being built at the foot of the mountain.

"The village has become more and more appealing," said Zeng Jianming, Zengfeng's Party secretary. "After seeing the transformation, some residents who are migrant workers said they want to return and invest in agricultural businesses with the money they saved."

It's not only residents who want to return. Businesses are also coming in. Meng Xiangning, manager of a small salmon farm in the village, said that good air and water quality are key factors that drew the Beijing-based company to Zengfeng in 2018.

"We wouldn't have set up the farm if the roads had remained poor. We need to ensure the salmon reaches the market fast and fresh," said Meng, who provides jobs for some residents.

Improved infrastructure and residents with higher incomes have also lead to a boom in e-commerce in Huichang, said He Ying, manager of the Huichang branch of JD.com, one of China's e-commerce giants.

He said he returned to his home in Huichang in 2016 from Shenzhen after seeing potential for the e-commerce business in rural areas.

At peak times this winter, the branch handles 22,000 agricultural product packages per day and sends them all across the country. As the residents have more money to spend, the branch delivers about 400 packages daily to different townships in Huichang, up from about 20 in 2016, He said.

Also, thanks to the improved roads, the company can deliver parcels from residents' houses instead of collecting them or leaving them at a collection point in the township.

"We can enjoy quality air, fresh produce and quality services in all respects," He said. "It won't be long before urban dwellers start to envy the life of the rural residents."





Wang Shengdi, 83,(second from left) and Li Fengying, 81, celebrate their birthdays in Xiaying village, Huichang county, in Jiangxi province on Dec 16. CHEN ZEBING/CHINA DAILY



Model village CHINA DAILY



Xu Chuanjie, an official at Zengfeng village in Huichang county, Jiangxi province, displays a picture last month that was taken of the village in 2016, before the construction of infrastructure projects. CHEN ZEBING/CHINA DAILY



2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Q/A: Experts share views on domestic, global issues]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/02/content_37530986.htm For many people around the world, 2019 was a bumpy ride. The eventful year brought more uncertainty, new problems to solve and significant questions to answer in 2020. China Daily invited experts from various fields to answer 20 questions that members of the public said they are most concerned about.

The trade war between the world's largest and second-largest economies is having a tremendous influence, not only on the two countries but on the whole world. With China and the United States having agreed on a phase one deal in the waning moments of 2019, can the two sides settle their differences and work together to stabilize the global economy? That is one of the most pressing questions people have.

For China, the easing of trade tensions and its deepening reform and opening-up measures are bringing hope that the country will be able to maintain a healthy growth rate, and it's wondering how it can build on its achievements along the path of eliminating poverty.

Domestically, 2019 was an unusually chaotic year for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Riots provoked by radicals since June greatly damaged Hong Kong's economy, local people's livelihoods and the rule of law, and many are wondering if that will continue in the year ahead. They also wonder how relations across the Taiwan Straits will fare.

Internationally, the worrying anti-globalization trend is expected to continue in 2020. There are concerns that the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union will continue to drag on and that the US might destroy the World Trade Organization system.

In contrast, with the Belt and Road Initiative, which promotes a new wave of inclusive globalization, people are wondering how it fared last year and what progress it has made.

People are also curious and concerned about how new technology including 5G, blockchain and bio-identification will impact their lives, and whether efforts will be made to strengthen scientific ethics.

There are also concerns about the militarization of space, as the US is creating a military space force. And people wonder what China has planned for space this year.

At home, households are paying great attention to issues closely related to their well-being-the prices of everyday consumables, such as pork, for example, and trends in housing prices and the prospect of a higher retirement age. In addition, there are questions about what will be done to stop bullying in school, improve undergraduate education and harmonize doctor-patient relationships.

Experts give us their views and forecasts on these issues, which will unfold over the year ahead.

See all Q&As, pages 6-7


2020-01-02 00:00:00
<![CDATA[WINNING A BATTLE IN WAR ON POVERTY]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530891.htm On Dec 23, many Chinese people felt excited and proud by the news that the local government in the Tibet autonomous region had decided to strip 19 counties of their poverty labels, after 55 Tibetan counties cast off such labels in 2018.

This means that the vast and sparsely populated region, known for its snowcapped mountains, roaming antelopes and yaks, no longer has counties with registered poverty rates of 3 percent or higher.

In the nationwide battle against absolute poverty, which picked up momentum in 2012, the central authorities created two major indexes to help track the progress.

One is the head count of rural poor, who are defined as people living on less than 2,300 yuan ($328) a year. The bench mark was set in 2011 and is adjusted annually for inflation. The other index involves counting the number of counties categorized as impoverished, which reflects the level of regional poverty.

By stripping the remaining 19 counties of the impoverished label, Tibet has made good progress in eliminating regional poverty-a giant leap toward the zero-poverty target.

"It was an iconic episode in the overall poverty reduction work in China," said Wang Sangui, a prominent rural affairs scholar and a professor at Renmin University of China. "Tibet used to be among the regions hardest hit by extreme poverty, and by delisting all its impoverished counties, China is a step closer to xiaokang shehui," he said, referring to the Communist Party's pledge to establish a moderately prosperous society in all respects before the celebration of its centenary in 2021.

With a population of 3.4 million people predominantly of ethnic Tibetan heritage, Tibet accounts for a majority of the Three Areas and Three Prefectures, jargon that officials use to refer to the deeply impoverished regions. The regions include Tibetan communities scattered across four provinces in western China, the southern part of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and three prefectures in Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan provinces.

In a post that attracted 82,800 likes on Sina Weibo, The People's Daily said the developments were a milestone in Tibet's history, considering that almost 35 percent of Tibetan residents were poor only a decade ago.

"I work in Tibet," said one Weibo user. "I've heard many people from the older generations express their surprise at the tremendous changes that have taken place there in the recent past. The nation has made incredible input there."

Centenary goals

A short time after becoming chief of the Communist Party of China in late 2012, Xi Jinping ramped up efforts to achieve "Two 100s" goals, of which the most imminent was to establish a xiaokang shehui. In the following year, Xi was elected president.

To achieve xiaokang, Xi launched a nationwide campaign to eradicate absolute poverty, the threshold required for a society to boost relatively high living standards.

"It is a battle without smoke," said Liu Yongfu, during an annual gathering of officials in December in Beijing. Liu is director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, the top poverty relief agency.

He said that the sweeping battle "has no bystanders", with almost all of society mobilized in a short time to do their share, based on their respective strengths. All of them aimed at marching into the long-awaited xiaokang era-east and west, rural and urban-on schedule, he added.

Nonprofits, research institutes, banks and even multinationals were also active contributors, offering low-interest loans and gene-editing crops that can survive extreme weather and soil conditions. Many of the programs were tailored for regions mired in poverty.

According to Liu's office, State-owned enterprises allotted 6 billion yuan in financial aid to impoverished regions in 2018 alone. Some 88,000 private businesses offered to be paired with more than 100,000 poverty-stricken villages, investing 75 billion yuan and immense effort to help foster local industries.

"The enthusiasm of private businesses for the task has far exceeded our expectations," said Wang Dayang, who oversees nongovernmental involvement in poverty reduction at the poverty alleviation office.

The payoff has proved it was worth the effort, and the progress in poverty reduction has stunned global observers.

China's rural poor, which stood at almost 100 million in 2012, plummeted to 16.6 million by the end of 2018. The incidence of poverty nationwide fell from 10.2 percent to 1.7 percent during the seven-year period, making China a pioneer in reaching the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, which were set by the UN at the turn of the century.

Authorities estimate that another 10 million or more people will shake off poverty this year.

Targeted measures

China started tackling widespread rural poverty decades ago. In 1986, almost a decade after China decided to reform and open up its markets, Beijing created a cross-departmental office responsible for poverty reduction, which was the precursor of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.

In 2000, the central government launched a landmark program to aid development in vast, poverty-stricken western regions. This in turn expanded much-needed infrastructure in the inland areas and instilled momentum for growth.

But many remained impoverished in rural areas due to varied reasons that could not be solved by a one-size-fits-all approach.

In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the idea of a targeted poverty alleviation plan for the first time during an inspection tour of Shibadong village in Hunan province.

Under the targeted relief campaign, officials are forbidden from merely handing out relief funds without finding ways of attaining sustainable incomes.

Instead, they were asked to carry out a thorough assessment of their resources, environmental conditions and culture, and draw up tailored, efficient relief plans.

The plans vary from village to village in some of the most remote areas, and may cover a range of ethnic groups.

In the vast but sparsely populated Tibet, mass relocation programs were widely adopted in an attempt to boost the incomes of herding communities and better provide public service.

Nyima, who now lives in the Sanyou village that is a one-hour drive from Lhasa, is among hundreds of Tibetans who have recently cast off poverty after participating in a mass relocation program.

For years, Nyima, who like many Tibetans goes by one name, had struggled to feed her extended family of six by rotating crops such as highland barley, wheat and tomato on a small patch of land in an impoverished community on the outskirts of Lhasa.

To bring in extra cash, her husband, who is an unskilled worker, had to seek temporary, poorly paid laboring jobs in nearby towns.

The family's plight was worse in summer when surging rainfall caused frequent flash floods in her village which sits in a ravine. The damaging torrents washed away bridges, disrupted farming and jeopardized the safety of her son and daughter, who both walked kilometers along a worn path to the nearest school.

"Those were hard days," said the 54-year-old Nyima.

In 2016, she applied for a place in a mass relocation program that targeted needy farmers near Lhasa. Her family was given a two-story Tibetan-style house near a train station bustling with travelers from across China.

There, her family runs a milk tea house, which helped her escape poverty in 2017. "My son was admitted to Xiamen University last year, and we all have great expectations for him," she said.

Safety net for strugglers

Despite the progress, millions are still grappling with dire poverty, mostly scattered across the vast Three Areas and Three Prefectures outside Tibet-a mosaic of ethnic communities.

A report made by the Minister of Civil Affairs Li Jiheng at a recent legislative session shed light on the problems there. Li said among some 17.5 million impoverished recipients of State benefits in the Three Areas and Three Prefectures, 63.5 percent were seniors, minors, or people frail with disabilities or chronic diseases.

That had made it difficult for authorities to lift them out of poverty through conventional means, such as fostering local industries or developing tourism.

Basic living allowances and other State benefits are considered the last measures to be adopted in an effort to ward off the "Two Worries"-the lack of food and sufficient clothing.

The "Two Worries" is an euphemism for the income threshold where a household is deemed to have cast off the poverty label.

The report said China allocated 562 billion yuan in subsidies to help people in need from 2016 to 2019. The funds were used to help people in extreme poverty, orphans, the homeless and beggars, among others.

"We'll make concrete efforts to strengthen social relief work, to ensure that the bottom buffer works and that the poverty reduction battle will end in victory," he said.


The Sanyou village in Chushul county, Tibet autonomous region, is home to 184 families of more than 700 Tibetan people, who were once impoverished. Their lives have been improved through relocation to the village. PHURBU TASHI/XINHUA



A villager dries her clothes at the village. PALDEN NYIMA/CHINA DAILY



Poverty relief CHINA DAILY



2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[2020 to have 'milestone significance']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530895.htm China's GDP is expected to edge close to 100 trillion yuan ($14.3 trillion) with the per capita figure reaching $10,000, President Xi Jinping said in his New Year's speech on Tuesday.

Xi highlighted the steady progress of the country's high-quality development in 2019 in his speech and extended his New Year's wishes for 2020.

"The year 2020 will be a year of milestone significance," Xi said, noting that the country will complete its task of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and secure a decisive victory in eliminating poverty.

About 340 impoverished counties and more than 10 million people were lifted from poverty in 2019. Xi vowed in his speech to do the same for all poverty-stricken rural residents and to eliminate poverty in all impoverished counties in 2020.

Saying China continues to embrace the world in 2019, Xi noted that the number of countries that China has established diplomatic relations with has reached 180. "We have friends all over the world."

Xi reiterated China's commitment to peaceful development, and said the country will unswervingly uphold world peace and promote common development.

Human history, like a river, runs forever, he said, witnessing both peaceful moments and great disturbances. "We are not afraid of storms and dangers and barriers."

China is willing to join hands with all countries in the world to jointly build the Belt and Road, to push forward the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, and to make unremitting efforts for the creation of a beautiful future for humanity, he said.

Xi spoke of attending the celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of the return of Macao Special Administrative Region to the motherland on December 20 and said Macao's success indicates that the principle of "one country, two systems" is fully applicable, achievable and popular.

He extended his best wishes to compatriots of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and said, "In recent months, our hearts have been concerned about the situation in Hong Kong."

"Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can people live in peace and enjoy their work?" he said.

"We sincerely hope for the best for Hong Kong and Hong Kong compatriots.

"Hong Kong's prosperity and stability is the wish of Hong Kong compatriots and the expectation of the people of our motherland."

Xi spoke of several significant achievements during 2019, such as China's lunar probe Chang'e 4 landing on the far side of the Moon, the launch of the Long March 5 Y3 rocket, the opening of Beijing Daxing International Airport and the commercial application of 5G technology.

He said coordinated regional development further accelerated in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei Region, the Yangtze River Economic Belt, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and the Yangtze River Delta.

Behind China's development in all sectors is its continuous reform and opening-up, Xi said, citing several examples of progress, from reform of Party and government institutions to the establishment of Free Trade Zones, from cuts of more than 2 trillion yuan in tax and other miscellaneous fees to lower costs for medicine and cheaper and faster internet connections.

While praising the country's steady progress in the reform of national defense and military systems in 2019, Xi mentioned the first domestically built aircraft carrier commissioned two weeks ago in Hainan province.

Xi's heart is also with those ordinary people whose deeds touched him.

In his speech, he mentioned a number of ordinary names, including Zhang Fuqing, who has kept a low profile despite the great contributions he has made to the nation, and Huang Wenxiu, who dedicated her youth and life to poverty alleviation.

He also mentioned his inspection tour and his interactions with people from all walks of life, including the ethnic Derung people in mountainous area of Yunnan province and villagers of Xiadang township in Fujian province. All of them were poverty-stricken and were lifted from poverty last year.


President Xi Jinping delivers his New Year's speech from his office in Beijing. Xi highlighted the steady progress of the country's highquality development in 2019 in his speech and extended his New Year's wishes for 2020. JU PENG/XINHUA





2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[President details goals for CPPCC]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530892.htm China will fully implement a new development philosophy, continue to deepen reform and opening-up, and ensure the sustained and healthy growth of its economy and the stability of its society, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remark while addressing a New Year's gathering held by the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing.

The year 2020 will mark the successful conclusion of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-20), and reaching the country's first centenary goal will be a glorious mission, he said.

Xi stressed the importance of following the general principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability and making comprehensive efforts to maintain stable growth, advance reform, make structural adjustments, improve living standards and guard against risks.

We must have a clear victory in the fight against poverty, he said.

The president reiterated pledges to continue the policies of "one country, two systems," "the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong," "the people of Macao governing Macao," and a high degree of autonomy for both regions so as to ensure their long-term prosperity and stability.

It is important to adhere to the one-China principle and move forward with the peaceful development of cross-Straits relations on the basis of the 1992 Consensus, he said.

China will hold high the banners of peace, development, cooperation and win-win outcomes, step up international exchanges and cooperation, actively promote the Belt and Road Initiative and make new contributions to the great cause of world peace and development, he said.

Xi noted that the 46 key reform agendas and another 61 reform tasks laid out by the Central Committee for Deepening Overall Reform have been completed, while a total of 178 reforms have been carried out by central government departments.

For the new year, the CPPCC should focus its main task on helping the country realize its two centenary goals, center its efforts on stepping up political guidance and creating consensuses to transform the systematic strength of the political advisory body into efficiency of national governance, he said.


2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Quotes from Xi]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530893.htm ・ "We cheered for the glorious achievements the People's Republic has made over the past 70 years and were overwhelmed by the sheer force of patriotism."

・ "Patriotic feelings brought tears to our eyes, and patriotic spirit forms the backbone of the Chinese nation."

・ "United as one, we shall work harder. The greater the difficulty, the farther we advance."

・ "Human history, like a river, runs forever, witnessing both peaceful moments and great disturbances. We are not afraid of storms and dangers and barriers."

・"Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can people live in peace and enjoy their work? We sincerely hope for the best for Hong Kong and Hong Kong compatriots."

・"Let's seize the day and live it to the fullest, and greet the arrival of the year 2020 together."


2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[December PMI signals continued stability, output recovery]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2020-01/01/content_37530894.htm December's better-than-expected manufacturing activity data indicates that the Chinese economy may continue to stabilize, at least for the start of 2020, and more pro-growth policy measures are on the horizon to sustain the recovery, analysts said.

The headline purchasing managers index of the manufacturing sector, a gauge of manufacturing activity growth in China, came in at 50.2 last month, unchanged from November, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.

A figure above 50 indicates manufacturing growth and below 50 contraction.

This is the second consecutive month the index has remained above the boom-or-bust line.

"As traditional holidays (Spring Festival) approached, supply and demand in the manufacturing sector were both brisk," said Zhao Qinghe, a senior NBS statistician, adding that export orders increased considerably last month.

The sub-gauge for new export orders recovered last month, moving into the expansionary range for the first time in the past year and a half, while the production sub-index rose to 53.2 from 52.6 in November, supported by active production in such areas as the food and beverage, clothing, pharmaceutical and automobile industries, Zhao said in a note.

External demand improved on the back of the phase one trade deal text agreement with the United States and the bottoming-out of global manufacturing activities over the last quarter, said Zhang Deli, chief macroeconomic analyst at Yuekai Securities.

"This, in tandem with an expectation of stronger countercyclical policy measures coming, has motivated manufacturers, who have a low level of inventory on hand, to quicken production and get prepared for a potential recovery of demand," Zhang said.

Improvements in economic conditions may continue in the first half of 2020, he said. Zhang added that GDP growth is expected to stand at 6 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, as it did in the third quarter, while full-year growth for 2019 may land at 6.13 percent.

Iris Pang, an economist at ING, a Dutch global financial institution, said both the commercialization of 5G and infrastructure investment will help sustain the recovery of China's manufacturing sector this year.

The commercialization of 5G may successively drive factory activity in 5G receptors, 5G smartphones, and the internet of things, such as self-driving buses, Pang said.

Meanwhile, increasing numbers of infrastructure projects that kicked off last year have passed from the investment to the production stage, boosting manufacturing activities such as electronic equipment production, she said.

Last month's PMI data also signaled, however, that the economic recovery is still fragile. Manufacturers continued to cut payrolls as the employment sub-index remained low at 47.3, unchanged from November, and small manufacturers saw worse conditions, with their PMI down to 47.2 from 49.4 the previous month, according to the NBS.

To sustain the recovery and fulfill the goals of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects by 2020, the government may strengthen countercyclical measures at the start of this year, a Huatai Securities report said.

Monetary authorities may soon roll out targeted measures to facilitate financing of small businesses and manufacturers, while fiscal support may help infrastructure investment growth to rebound in the first quarter, the report said.

China's non-manufacturing activities expanded slower last month, with the non-manufacturing PMI dropping to 53.5 from November's 54.4, the NBS said.


2020-01-01 00:00:00
<![CDATA[New rail line gives boost to winter sports]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530804.htm The new high-speed rail line linking Beijing and Hebei's Zhangjiakou, a popular skiing destination, will further boost the region's ice and snow tourism, industry insiders said.

The 174-kilometer railway, a major project for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, has a maximum designed speed of 350 kilometers per hour, cutting the travel time between the two cities from more than three hours to less than an hour.

Along with the route, a 53-kilometer branch line directly connecting the capital with Zhangjiakou's Chongli district, the site of Winter Olympic Games venues, also began service on Monday, with a maximum designed speed of 250 km/h.

Zhao Chi, 37, who works for an advertising company in Beijing, bought an apartment in Chongli five years ago as his "skiing base". When he heard about the railway opening, he was more than excited and took the first train to spend his New Year holiday skiing there in Chongli.

"I used to ride the bus or drive a car to come skiing here, both of which are tiring and time-consuming. It now just takes me the time of a nap to get here," he said.

Chongli has seen its tourist numbers growing and the world's biggest and state-of-the-art ski resorts and the booming of ski industry come into being in the years since Beijing and Zhangjiakou won in 2015 their bid to co-host the coming Winter Olympics.

According to the district's tourism bureau, during the five-month skiing season from November 2018 to April 2019, Chongli, 200 kilometers northwest of Beijing, welcomed 2.81 million tourists, up 25.9 percent year-on-year.

The high-speed line is expected to give Chongli great momentum to further develop its winter sports industry, according to industry insiders.

Han Yuanjun, an expert from China Tourism Academy, said people who are tired of traditional vacations nowadays need newer, more exciting tourism products. Snow-themed activities, a growing trend, perfectly meet these new demands.

"Chongli has turned itself into one of the best skiing destinations nationwide. With high-speed rail greatly improving transport connectivity between Chongli and the capital, its development will no doubt move up a giant notch," he said.

According to the China National Tourism Administration, the country expects to see over 300 million people involved in winter sports by 2022, creating 1 trillion yuan ($143 billion) market.

Chongli's Wanlong Paradise Resort, which has 101 slopes covering a combined skiing area of 6.48 square kilometers, received over a million visitors and skiing enthusiasts last winter and is expected to see a sharp increase of ski-lovers, according to the resort.

Luo Xingrong, general manager of the resort, said, "About 90 percent of our visitors are from neighboring places, including Beijing, Tianjin and other cities in Hebei. People used to have a three-hour drive to get here from Beijing."

The train will cut the Beijing-Chongli travel time to about one hour and offer tourists more choices to come here, she said, adding that the resort will see many more winter tourists in the coming Spring Festival.




2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Passengers flock to experience first trip]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530863.htm Excitement is what most people familiar with a century-old rail line would feel when the trains complete a transition from the 35 kilometers per hour of the early days to the current 350 km/h.

"I am so excited, I have to try it on its first trip," 67-year-old Yu Ruiqin told reporters.

On Monday morning, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway opened, the world's first on which automated trains can reach speeds of 350 kilometers per hour. It's a new version of the same rail line built from 1905 to 1909.

To experience the speed, Yu, who grew up in Zhangjiakou and now lives in Beijing, bought a ticket for the day's first train, which departed at 8:40 am from the capital's Beijing North Railway Station going to Zhangjiakou in neighboring Hebei province.

She was too excited to wait at home and arrived at the station about two hours before the departure.

"It used to take me about 4 hours to take a one-way trip from Zhangjiakou to Beijing," she said, adding that her family moved to Beijing in 2000.

Yu said how grateful she is for China's great rail development because the trip now takes less than an hour.

"How big the improvement is!" Yu said, holding in one hand a new ticket for the high-speed train and in the other an old ticket she used in 2007 for the same trip.

Passengers like Yu filled the trains on Monday.

The old Beijing-Zhangjiakou rail line was China's first rail artery fully designed and built by Chinese. Zhan Tianyou, its chief engineer, overcame a series of difficulties in building it, the best-known of which is a Y-shaped switchback rail he designed near Qinglongqiao Station to reduce the line's slope and length of a tunnel through mountains, according to the Zhan Tianyou Memorial Museum in Beijing.

Zhan's rail line opened in 1909, greatly boosting the nation's confidence and setting off a wave of railway building across the country, according to the museum.

"He spent four years on the railway, insisting on finishing it without foreign assistance," said Zhan Yong, 48, great grandson of Zhan Tianyou, who also rode the high-speed train on Monday.

"I am very excited and even kind of emotional, because the railway is not only a glorious part of my family's history, but most importantly a great achievement for our country," Zhan Yong said.

Zhangjiakou, located about 160 km northwest of Beijing, played a key role in military and economic areas during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), which is why the late Qing government decided to build the old Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway.


High-Speed Railways CHINA DAILY



2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Beijing's core area plan for next 15 years unveiled]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530862.htm On Monday, Beijing's municipal government published its plan for the city's core area through 2035 for the first time. The area will function as the nation's political and cultural hub and as an international communications center. It will also focus on preservation of historical sites.

The city released details of the plan online and is presenting it at an exhibition center for public comment until Jan 28. The municipal government started to draft the plan in 2017.

Yang Baojun, head of the China Academy of Urban Planning and Design, said the new plan for the core area is well-positioned to reach clear goals.

"Unlike other cities, Beijing, as the capital, should be China's calling card," he said. "I was excited after reading the plan, which combines the area's three functions to better serve the country and people and to better preserve history."

Under the plan, Beijing's Dongcheng and Xicheng districts, with a total area of 92.5 square kilometers, will be divided into 183 blocks for optimal functionality to protect the environment and to better serve residents.

The land area for urban public facilities will increase from the current 11.1 percent to 12.2 percent of the total. Public spaces, both indoor and outdoor, will be raised from 34.4 percent currently to 38.9 percent.

The core area will follow a sustainable development model that balances environmental capacity with city resources to create better living conditions.

Shi Xiaodong, deputy head of the Beijing Municipal Institution of City Planning and Design, said it's crucial for Beijing to function as the political center of the central government and to plan for the needs of the many citizens living in Dongcheng and Xicheng districts. The total population in the core area was around 2 million last year.

One goal is for 85 percent of residents to use public transportation with an upgrade in facilities. Commute times will be reduced to an average 45 minutes during rush hour.

Medical care and cultural facilities will be within 10 to 15 minutes' travel for all residents in the area.

Qiu Yue, president of the Urban Planning Society of Beijing, said people will be able to study the plan and imagine what the capital's future will look like.


2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Doubts over US ties still biggest challenge for Beijing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530855.htm Uncertainties over relations between China and the United States caused by trade frictions and issues related to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Hong Kong remain the biggest challenge for Beijing's diplomatic efforts next year, according to senior experts.

They said this was despite recent positive signs emerging from the trade talks with the US.

In a phone call on Dec 20, President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump set the tone for how Beijing and Washington should deal with their frictions after the two countries reached a phase one trade deal. Both leaders said this initial economic and trade agreement benefited China, the US and the whole world.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, the two countries are working on procedures, such as a legal review, translation and proofreading of the preliminary agreement regarding the phase one deal, and are closely communicating on follow-up measures.

Tao Wenzhao, a researcher with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said he was not optimistic about Sino-US relations from a short term perspective.

Political parties in the US have reached consensus on two issues-that the US should adopt tougher policies toward China, and that neither country should "crush the other completely", Tao said.

He added that the political parties had not reached consensus on many other issues, such as whether China is an economic rival of the US, if a trade war could benefit or harm the US, and whether China wants to assume the US' dominant position on global affairs.

In June, an open letter to Trump and members of Congress signed by 100 leading US specialists on China, including scholars and former government officials, was published. It expressed deep concern over the growing deterioration of US relations with China, which it said "does not serve American or global interests".

Tao said that since the letter had been published, many US experts and former officials had expressed views that differed to those of their government.

"From the mid-and long-term perspective, we should not be pessimistic," he said, adding that China has witnessed a remarkable increase in its economic, technological and international influence, which means that the country is more capable of handling relations with the US.

Chen Fengying, a senior researcher on the world economy at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said Beijing should "increase its capability" of dealing with US relations.

Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies and dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said the US is likely to adopt tougher and more confrontational policies toward China.

He told a seminar in the middle of this month that preventing China's rise is an issue that is being agreed on increasingly by political parties in the US.

Wu noted that the four high-level dialogue mechanisms on diplomacy and security, economy, law enforcement and cybersecurity, and social and people-to-people exchanges, set by the leaders of China and the US in April 2017, had all come to a stand still this year amid the tension caused by trade frictions.

The rise of emerging powers, especially China, had caused the US to fret about its power being weakened, so Washington had resorted to containment policies toward Beijing, Wu said.


2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Rail line symbol of nation's strength]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530816.htm President Xi Jinping stressed the significance of the high-speed railway line connecting Beijing and Zhangjiakou, the co-host city of the 2022 Winter Olympics. The line went into operation on Monday.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that the Beijing-Zhangjiakou line has witnessed the development of China's railways over more than a century.

The original Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway, China's first independently designed line, was first put into operation in 1909 for trains going 35 kilometers per hour.

The current railway line, which came into service on Monday, is a world-leading high-speed railway with trains moving at 350 km/h.

Xi said it also represents a leap in China's comprehensive national strength.

He called the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway an important supporting project for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, adding that the opening marks new progress in the preparations for the Winter Olympics.

Xi called for the advance of related high-standard and high-quality work to ensure the Winter Olympics are held as scheduled.

He also expressed his warm congratulations and New Year's greetings to everyone involved in the project's planning and construction.

The 174-km Beijing-Zhangjiakou line, with a maximum designed speed of 350 km/h, reduces travel time between the two cities from over three hours to 47 minutes, making Hebei one of the few provinces with a high-speed rail system connecting all of its cities, said China State Railway Group.

The intercity railway makes use of big data and has smart technology built into many aspects, including passenger transportation, management, security, maintenance and scheduling, the company said.

Zhang Bo, a researcher at the Locomotive and Car Research Institute at the China Academy of Railway Sciences, said the train can automatically start, run between stations, adjust its timing according to the schedule, accurately stop at a station, and open and close its cars' doors.

"Supported by the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, sensors are installed along the railway so that real-time 'physical examinations' can be carried out to detect problems such as aging components, track subgrade settlement and damaged lights," he said.

Two railway lines opening on the same day-the 136-km line linking Zhangjiakou with Datong in Shanxi province and the 287-km line connecting Zhangjiakou with Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region-also link those cities with Beijing through the Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway.

Travel time between Hohhot and Beijing, a distance of 500 km, is expected to be shortened from nearly 10 hours to about two hours with the launch of the new service. People traveling from Datong will need about an hour and 42 minutes to get to the capital.

"I used to get on the train in the morning and arrive at my home in Hohhot late at night. It's frustrating to spend two days on the round trips. But with the operation of the line, I can even go back over weekends," said Guo Cun, 29, who works in a battery company in Beijing.

"The new rail lines will help these regions better connect with the country's high-speed railway network and thus greatly save the travel time for the local people along the railway," said Zhao Jian, an economics professor specializing in rail transportation at Beijing Jiaotong University.

The high-speed service will also strengthen the flow of labor and information between those cities and the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region and boost regional integration and coordinated economic growth, he added.

Xinhua contributed to this story.


A high-speed train passes through the Juyongguan section of the Great Wall in Beijing on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, which opened on Monday. LEI SHENG/FOR CHINA DAILY



Passengers take a high-speed train from Beijing to Chongli district in Zhangjiakou, part of the Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway, which opened on Monday. The railway will support the 2022 Winter Olympics and winter tourism. PENG ZIYANG/XINHUA



2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Man sentenced for illegal medical practice]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530830.htm A researcher who claimed to have created the world's first gene-edited babies was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 3 million yuan ($430,000) for illegal practice of medicine, a court in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, said on Monday.

In November 2018, He Jiankui said he had used genome editor CRISPR to produce twin girls immune to HIV, provoking an outcry over bioethics and prompting an immediate investigation by authorities.

The court said He, as well as two other people on his research team-Zhang Renli and Qin Jinzhou from two medical institutions in Guangdong-were not licensed as doctors, deliberately violated national regulations on scientific research and medical management in pursuit of fame and wealth and crossed the bottom line of scientific and medical ethics.

He pleaded guilty in court. It was unclear whether he would file an appeal.

He launched the project in 2016 to edit genes in human embryos in the name of producing HIV-resistant babies after learning about the possible commercial benefits of the technology, the court said.

He forged ethical review documents through other parties, recruited multiple volunteer couples with HIV-positive fathers, edited genes of human embryos and implanted them in the mothers through assisted reproduction technology, according to the court.

The experiments resulted in two women becoming pregnant and the birth of three gene-edited babies, the court added.

He conducted the experiments knowing that it violated State regulations and medical ethics, without the safety and effectiveness of the technology having been verified, the court said after hearing the case, which was held in private due to privacy concerns.

Zhang was sentenced to two years in prison and fined 1 million yuan. Qin was sentenced to 18 months in prison with a two-year reprieve and fined 500,000 yuan.

He Jiankui shocked the scientific world and received widespread condemnation soon after he disclosed his experiments, with scientists across the world raising questions about ethical norms for gene-editing research and calling for better international oversight.

In December 2018, as a result of the incident, Premier Li Keqiang urged scientists and research institutes to exercise more integrity and said any academic misconduct should be severely punished.

The results of the investigation, released in January by provincial authorities, also found that He organized and financed the experiments himself in pursuit of personal fame, evaded supervision by forging documents and directly violated China's regulations against using gene-editing technologies on human embryos for purposes of reproduction.

After the investigation, people involved in the case were banned for life from engaging in work related to assisted reproductive technology or applying for any research funding or human genetic resources by health and science and technology departments.

The incident also prompted stricter measures in overseeing academic ethics and integrity. China's draft civil law, which has been submitted to the top legislative body, has added a new item requiring all medical and scientific research related to human genes and embryos follow strict laws and not break ethical codes. The government announced a plan in July to establish a national science and technology ethics committee tasked with supervision of the sector.

The State Council also released a regulation on the management of human genetic resources that took effect on July 1, aiming to protect human genetic resources, promote proper use and tighten supervision.


2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tesla starts delivering its Shanghai-made Model 3s]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530828.htm US electric carmaker Tesla Inc started deliveries of Shanghai-made vehicles in China on Monday, which are expected to facilitate its foray into the world's largest new energy vehicle market.

Fifteen Model 3 sedans were delivered to its employees at the $2 billion Shanghai plant, Tesla's first overseas factory, ahead of schedule in the first quarter of 2020.

Wang Hao, a senior executive at Tesla China, said the plant has already achieved its production target of 1,000 units a week and that orders for the China-made sedan have been "very good" so far. Tesla will ramp up deliveries in January, he said.

The plant, which broke ground in January 2019 and started trial production in October-record speed for global carmakers in China-was hailed by CEO Elon Musk as a "template for future growth".

Tesla's Shanghai factory is China's first wholly foreign-owned car plant, showing the country's effort to open up its automotive market, which has been the world's largest since 2009.

Tesla has been bullish about the Chinese market.

Its China sales revenue surged 64 percent to $669 million in the third quarter this year, while the figure in the United States fell 39 percent to $3.13 billion, according to its financial statement.

"China is by far the largest market for mid-sized premium sedans. With Model 3 priced on par with gasoline powered mid-sized sedans, we believe China could become the biggest market for Model 3," the carmaker's financial statement said.

As its China models roll off the assembly line, Tesla said it will double the number of service centers and fast charging stations in China next year, and it plans to more than double its after-sales workforce from about 600 now to 1,500.

John Zeng, managing director of the LMC Shanghai consultancy, said locally produced Model 3 sedans, with a lower price tag, will help greatly boost Tesla's sales in the country.

He said Tesla, as well as leading local startups Nio and Xpeng, will help bolster the image of electric cars for potential buyers.

"They have tiny sales compared with gasoline car makers, and it is not time that they take each other on," Zeng said.

Carmakers in China sold 1.04 million electric cars and plug-in hybrids in the first 11 months of the year, accounting for 4.5 percent of all vehicles sold in the country, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Wang Bin, a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce, said at a briefing on Monday that China will continue to drive the change from conventional vehicles to electric cars and plug-in hybrid ones and facilitate their use.


Fifteen electric sedans ordered by employees of the new Tesla factory in Shanghai were delivered at a ceremony on Monday. CHINA DAILY



2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Insurance hardly meets needs, Li says]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530823.htm China will further promote the development and increase the supply of commercial insurance covering social services so as to better support an aging population and meet rising demand from people, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Monday.

"We must fully recognize the importance of commercial insurance in the social services sector," Li said. "The current supply of commercial insurance can hardly meet the needs in the changing demographics. Yet commercial insurance is an effective means for senior citizens to maintain and raise their quality of life."

It was agreed at the meeting on Monday that commercial endowment insurance will be developed at a faster pace and the overall pension insurance structure will be refined. Support will be given to developing-by drawing upon international experience-diversified pension annuity insurance products and medical insurance and accidental injury insurance that is tailored to the needs of those over age 60. The development of long-term nursing care insurance will be stepped up.

Insurance companies will be encouraged to provide comprehensive insurance products that cover multiple needs including medical care, nursing care and maternal services. New medical technologies and products will be included step by step in the coverage of commercial health insurances. Insurance products will be created to meet the needs of those working in new types of businesses.

"It is important to plan ahead and provide policy support, as appropriate, to continuously expand the scale of commercial endowment insurance and improve its quality so as to serve the ever-growing needs of the people. What is especially important is to increase the supply of insurance products and resolutely tackle the difficulty in settling insurance claims," Li said.

The meeting urged accelerated efforts to open up the insurance market and foster a level-playing field to promote the upgrading of insurance services.

"China has started relatively late in the development of commercial endowment insurance and thus lacks enough experience. It is important to learn from advanced acquired experience worldwide, continue to open up our insurance sector, and in this process, develop our own commercial endowment insurance to meet the needs of an aging society," Li said.


2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Xi makes country's voice heard]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530818.htm Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China remained committed to multilateralism and championed justice worldwide this year as it strove to push forward major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, according to officials and analysts.

Over the year, Xi traveled to 12 countries in Asia, Europe and South America during seven overseas trips.

The president has taken a lead in safeguarding multilateralism, promoting equality around the world and firmly opposing unilateralism and hegemony.

Xi also presided over four major events hosted by China during the year: the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the Conference on Dialogue of Asian Civilizations, the 2019 Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition and the second China International Import Expo.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: "Wherever he traveled in 2019, President Xi Jinping made China's voice heard. It is a voice of justice that rejects unilateralism, hegemony and power politics in favor of multilateralism, the authority of the United Nations and the norms of international relations."

As a responsible member of the international community, China has been a strong champion of multilateralism, Wang said late this month while summing up the country's diplomatic efforts over the year.

Economic globalization

In his speech at the closing ceremony of the BRICS business forum in November in Brasilia, the Brazilian capital, Xi called for active participation by businesses in BRICS cooperation to promote economic growth and job creation amid a global economic slowdown arising from growing protectionism.

The BRICS nations are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Xi said a new round of the technological and industrial revolution is driving socioeconomic development amid mounting protectionism and economic tensions, which are eroding global trade and investment and weighing down the world economy.

"At present, economic globalization is encountering setbacks," Xi warned, adding that the BRICS countries need to stand firm against protectionism, uphold the WTO-centered multilateral trading system and increase the voice and influence of developing countries in international affairs.

The president's stance on safeguarding multilateralism and promoting economic globalization was evident in his key speeches delivered on a number of other important occasions.

At the opening ceremony for the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai early last month, Xi pledged that China would continue to deepen multilateral cooperation amid the country's efforts to achieve opening-up at a higher level.

"China is a champion for international cooperation and a supporter of multilateralism," Xi said.

The Shanghai expo attracted an impressive gathering of 181 countries, regions and international organizations, more than 3,800 exhibitors and over 500,000 buyers worldwide. Business deals worth more than $71 billion were concluded, a rise of 23 percent year-on-year.

Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the world is undergoing profound changes unseen for a century, and some countries have resorted to unilateralism and protectionism to deal with the situation. This has had a grave impact on the international order.

China, as an important developing country, has proactively engaged itself in the tide of economic globalization and worldwide efforts to move in the direction of multi-polarization, he said.

Belt and Road

Promoting the Belt and Road Initiative remained one of the most important tasks on the president's diplomatic agenda for the past year. Xi has made continuous and sincere efforts to promote this ambitious proposal that aims to bring China and the rest of the world closer.

In April, China hosted the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which was attended by 40 national leaders and heads of international organizations, and nearly 6,000 representatives from 150 countries and 92 international organizations.

This year, China has signed documents on Belt and Road cooperation with 16 countries and international organizations, taking the number of such documents to 199.

Flagship projects such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the China-Laos Railway, the Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway in Indonesia and the China-Europe Railway Express have created substantial development opportunities for participating countries.

Last month, Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, accompanied by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and his wife Mareva Grabowski-Mitsotakis, visited the Port of Piraeus.

In 2009, a subsidiary of China Ocean Shipping Company started managing the port's container terminals. In 2016, the Chinese company acquired a majority stake in the port and formally took over its management and operation.

To date, the project has created jobs for more than 10,000 local people directly and indirectly, and the port has become the largest in the Mediterranean region and one of the fastest-growing container terminals in the world.

Xi said at the port that the Belt and Road Initiative is not an empty slogan, but a successful practice and a brilliant reality.

During his first overseas visit of the year in March to three European countries-Italy, Monaco and France-Xi also promoted the initiative, making substantial progress.

Witnessed by Xi and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, China and Italy signed a memorandum of understanding on jointly developing the BRI. Italy was the first G7 country to sign such an agreement with China.

Wang Yiwei, a professor of international relations at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said the BRI has brought numerous opportunities for the economic development of Europe.

Some European Union countries, such as France, Germany, Italy and Switzerland, became founding members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, showcasing their pragmatic efforts to seize the opportunities offered by the initiative to pursue greater influence for their currencies, Wang said.

During his State visit to Russia in early June, Xi said the two countries should proactively push forward the connection between the Belt and Road and the Eurasian Economic Union and dedicate themselves to promoting integration of the regional economy.

In talks that Xi held in June with Kyrgyzstan President Sooronbay Jeenbekov and Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon, in Bishkek and Dushanbe, the leaders agreed to implement the outcomes of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and bring high quality to the Belt and Road.

Relations improved

In the past year, China has also seen improved relations with many neighboring countries.

During Xi's visit to Russia, he and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed two joint declarations-one on upgrading bilateral relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era and the other on strengthening global strategic stability.

According to a joint statement on the strategic partnership, the China-Russian relationship has entered a new era and is facing fresh opportunities for greater development.

The two countries have made smooth progress on synergizing the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union and also on implementing major strategic projects in areas such as energy, aviation, space and connectivity.

Early this month, Xi and Putin witnessed via video link the launch of the east route natural gas pipeline between the two countries, marking the start of a new era in energy cooperation

In October, Xi flew to the Indian coastal city of Chennai to attend the second India-China Informal Summit, following the first, which was held in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, a year ago.

During an informal meeting, Xi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi agreed that a rules-based multilateral trading system should be supported and strengthened, and that China and India would continue to work for open and inclusive trade arrangements that benefit all nations.

On his trip to South Asia, Xi also traveled to Nepal for the first State visit to the country by a Chinese leader in 23 years. The two countries upgraded their relations to a strategic partnership of cooperation featuring everlasting friendship for development and prosperity.

On Dec 23, Xi held talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. It was the Japanese leader's second trip to Beijing in 14 months, following his official visit to the country in October last year.

Xi said China is willing to maintain close communications with Japan and strengthen political guidance to push the two countries' relations to a new level and better benefit the two peoples.

In late June, Xi met with Abe on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan, where the two leaders reached a 10-point consensus on improving and expanding bilateral ties. Xi agreed in principle to accept Abe's invitation to make a State visit to Japan in the spring.

Xi also paid a historic visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in June, marking the 70th anniversary of China-DPRK diplomatic relations. The visit gave a new boost to the traditional friendship between the two countries.

Jin Yong, a professor of international relations studies at the Communication University of China, said Xi's efforts to promote "neighborhood diplomacy" have helped China achieve a stable and favorable environment for development with its neighbors.

"Facing global challenges, including unilateralism and protectionism, it is necessary for China to build up good relations with neighboring countries," he said.







2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Service sector to grow as workforce drops, study says]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/31/content_37530854.htm The size of China's labor force is projected to see a continuous decrease, according to a green book released by the Institute of Population and Labor Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Monday. A green book is a type of academic study.

The workforce-people between 15 and 64 years old-will decline to around 970 million in 2025, 30 million fewer than at the end of 2020, the study projects.

Despite the drop, the study said workers will remain in short supply as the job landscape continues to change during the next decade.

In one trend, the service industry will continue to expand, providing more jobs, while those engaged in agriculture will continue to decrease.

The study said that by 2050, the workforce will have continued to drop nationally, while the flow of workers among such sectors as agriculture, manufacturing and services will intensify. Farmworkers are expected to continue to flow into the services sector.

In the near future, the job market will stay in relative balance in workforce supply and demand, according to projections for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25), the study said. However, by 2030, the situation will have changed due to such factors as a slowdown in economic development.

The number of people who lose their jobs is expected to rise starting in 2030, as new technological and economic trends deepen, according to the study's projections.

A slowing of economic development will create challenges for employment, said Lai Desheng, a professor in the department of social and ecological civilization at the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Lai spoke at a news conference for the green book's release.

"High technology such as artificial intelligence and computing sciences and also the international commerce landscape will greatly influence employment," he said. "Employment is not merely a social issue but is also key to the nation's economy."

Feng Xiliang, director of the School of Labor and Economics at the Capital University of Economics, said at the news conference that high-quality employment is a long-term target as the nation's economic development goes through a transformation.

The demand for employees "changes with the emergence of new industries and professions", he said, citing the example of food delivery workers, who have more flexible work hours and higher wages than most migrant workers. "It's really important in order to improve working conditions to encourage more people to take jobs in new industries," Feng said.


2019-12-31 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Western data on Uygurs has serious flaws]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530693.htm Claims that the Chinese government is "detaining millions of Uygurs" in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region are being increasingly repeated in the reporting of Western media, but little scrutiny is ever applied, an investigative journalism organization said recently.

On Dec 21, The Grayzone published on its website, thegrayzone.com, a detailed review of media claims that China has detained millions of Uygurs in Xinjiang. That claim goes unquestioned in the West, yet a closer look at the figure and how it was obtained reveals a serious flaw in the data gathering, it said.

The review found the data cited in Western media is based on two highly dubious "studies" from a US-backed organization and a farright researcher "led by God against Beijing".

According to The Grayzone report, the "millions detained" claim was first popularized by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders, or CHRD, an organization backed by the US government. It formed this estimate based on interviews with a mere eight people.

In a 2018 report submitted to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CHRD estimated that "roughly one million... ethnic Uyghurs have been sent to 're-education' detention camps and roughly two million have been forced to attend 'reeducation' programs in Xinjiang".

The CHRD report says those figures are "based on interviews and limited data". From interviews with eight Uygurs from eight Xinjiang villages, the study calculated the population in the "re-education camps" based on the interviewees' villages.

It estimated that "at least 10 percent of villagers are being detained in 're-education detention camps', and 20 percent are being forced to attend day/evening 're-education camps' in the villages or townships".

According to The Grayzone, CHRD applied these estimated figures to all of Xinjiang to arrive at the claim submitted to the UN that 1 million ethnic Uygurs have been detained in "re-education detention camps".

Since the report was released, the US government and many Western major media outlets cited it as an open source reporting to denounce China as a "violator of human rights", ignoring the flaws in the data. In addition, it was misrepresented in Western media as a UN-authored report.

A spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights confirmed in a statement to The Grayzone that the allegation of Chinese "camps" was not made by the UN, thegrayzone.com reported in August, 2018.

The second study came from Adrian Zenz, a far-right researcher of China studies who reached the figure of "over 1 million" based on a single report from Istiqlal TV, a Uygur-separatist media organization in Turkey, according to The Grayzone.

The Chinese government has said on many occasions that the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang were established in accordance with the law for combating terrorism and extremism.

"Those who have participated in the courses on the standard Chinese language, laws and vocational skills-as well as the deradicalization programs-have all graduated. They've found jobs, and their quality of life has been improved," said Shohrat Zakir, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, at a news conference earlier this month.

The establishment of the centers is part of the region's measures to root out terrorism and extremism. "Measures against terrorist attacks and extremists taken in Xinjiang are no different from those in many other countries, including the US," the chairman said.


2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Central bank to use new rate for lending]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530750.htm China will stop using the traditional benchmark lending rate for new loans starting next year, which is considered a milestone in the 25-year process of market-oriented interest rate liberalization reform. Economists expected a more flexible mechanism to reduce financing costs for companies and households.

The loan prime rate, which was introduced by the central bank in August, will become the only benchmark rate for banks' new lending as of Jan 1. Financial institutions and their clients can negotiate a floating rate higher or lower than the benchmark, according to a statement from the People's Bank of China, the central bank, on Saturday.

For the loans already issued but not yet due, borrowers will need to sign new contracts with banks between March and the end of August to shift the benchmark interest rate into the LPR, the central bank said.

The LPR will also become the new anchor for home mortgages. But the mortgage rate for 2020 will remain unchanged. Starting in 2021, mortgage loan borrowers can either choose a fixed rate or a floating rate that changes along with the LPR, according to the PBOC.

The central bank has long advocated for a price-based framework, where market-oriented interest rates, instead of central bank administrative controls, play a larger role in order to improve the efficiency of the country's macroeconomic management.

To maintain financial stability, the process of interest rate liberalization reform has been gradual since 1996, and the monetary authority has taken prudent measures that did not lead to risks associated with excessive price competition between banks. The deregulation of lending rates was ahead of deposit rates. Interest rates in the money and bond market have already been determined by market demand and supply.

"The benchmark rate shift in January is one quarter earlier than the market expected, and the transformation of outstanding loans showed the PBOC's determination to push forward lending rate liberalization reform," said Li Chao, chief macroeconomy researcher at Huatai Securities.

Because the LPR is refreshed on the 20th day of each month, the new interest rate mechanism will be more flexible, and over the long run, the LPR is likely to decrease, so financing costs may continually go down, said Zhang Xu, an analyst at Everbright Securities.

When more bank lending is linked to the LPR-once the PBOC cuts the LPR in the future-more companies will be able to get cheaper loans and financing costs will be reduced as a way to counter economic downside pressure, Zhang said.

In line with the new policy, it is also likely that in January the central bank will cut the reserve requirement ratio, the cash commercial banks must hold in reserve, to increase liquidity in the financial system, he added.

The PBOC also may abandon the traditional one-year lending rate after August, when the outstanding loans' transform period ends, Li said.

Using the unified new benchmark rate for outstanding loans will decrease commercial banks' profits from the deposit-lending interest margin, but the central bank is expected to increase credit and total social financing to ensure the stable performance of banks, Li said.

The traditional, one-year benchmark lending rate set by the central bank has been unchanged since 2015. The new anchor LPR reflects lending rates that 18 banks offer to their best clients and are set with reference to rates on the medium-term lending facility-a central bank monetary policy tool for lending money to commercial banks.

The one-year LPR was 4.15 percent, the PBOC reported on Dec 20. The five-year LPR, a reference rate for mortgage loans, was 4.80 percent. Within five months, the one-year LPR has been reduced by 15 basis points, or 0.15 percentage point, when many of the world's major central banks cut the policy rates or restarted quantitative easing to spur economic growth.

By the end of November, outstanding loans denominated in yuan and foreign currencies stood at 157.56 trillion yuan ($22.52 trillion), up by 11.9 percent from a year earlier, the PBOC said. About 29 trillion yuan of that is home mortgages.


2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Revised law to deepen capital market reform]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530742.htm China has laid the cornerstone to build a capital market that is more capable of serving the real economy via revisions to the Securities Law, with breakthroughs in deepening market-oriented reforms and intensifying a crackdown on illegal market behavior, experts said.

The revision made systemic amendments to gradually implement the registration-based new share sales system across the whole A-share market, and will take effect on March 1, according to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the country's top legislature.

The committee voted to adopt the revised law on Saturday, after the fourth review of the draft revision during a six-day session.

"The revised law made it clear that the registration-based system will entirely replace the approval-based system, and not merely in one or two pilot submarkets," said Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology.

"This should be the biggest breakthrough of the revised law, and it is a significant milestone in China's capital market reforms," Dong said.

The revision abolishes the system of requiring a committee review of public offerings-in which the securities regulator reviewed public offering applications-and instead authorized stock exchanges to review the applications. The securities regulator will instead be responsible for registration of securities.

It also made information disclosure requirements stricter and streamlined requirements for issuing securities.

Implementing the registration-based system is of great importance because it will drive a slew of market-oriented reforms that are intended to elevate the efficiency of resource allocation, boost the quality of listed firms and remove bottlenecks weighing on market performance over the long run, Dong said.

The revision authorized the State Council, China's Cabinet, to decide the scope and steps of registration-based reform, allowing phase-in reforms and a smooth transition.

"The China Securities Regulatory Commission will fully consider the actual situation of the market, and, especially, coordinate securities issuances, securities registrations and the market capacity to absorb the reforms," said Cheng Hehong, director of the Department of Legal Affairs of the CSRC, the top securities regulator.

The commission is now ramping up efforts to advance registration-based reform on the ChiNext, Shenzhen's innovative enterprise-heavy board, Cheng said on Saturday.

This followed the debut of the sci-tech innovation board, or the STAR Market, in Shanghai this July, about nine months after President Xi Jinping announced that China would launch the board as the test for the registration-based system.

Hong Rong, founder of Shanghai-based investor platform Hongda Education, said it is critical to ensure a phase-in of the registration reform to avoid any bumps in raising funds that could put heavy pressure on market liquidity.

Another major breakthrough in revised law is the stringent crackdown on illegal market behavior, stipulating not only the confiscation of illegal proceeds but harsher administrative punishments.

For instance, if a company engages in fraudulent public offerings and has yet to issue the securities, it will face fines of between 2 million and 20 million yuan ($286,000 to $2.86 million). This contrasts with the current fines of between 300,000 and 600,000 yuan.

A listed firm that discloses false, misleading or incomplete information will face fines of between 1 million and 10 million yuan, while an individual will be fined up to 10 times the illicit gains for insider trading or market manipulation, according to the revised law.

Liu Junhai, director of the Business Law Center at Renmin University of China, said the higher fines will help address the problem that the cost of illegal behavior can be less than the resulting profits in the capital market. Increasing the fines also will reduce unfair and dishonest market behavior and considerably boost investor confidence, Liu said.

To better protect the legitimate rights of investors, the new law also makes a distinction between ordinary investors and professional ones in order to set up appropriate investor protection arrangements.

Li Xiang and Cao Yin contributed to this story.




2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Uygurs upset by posts calling them missing]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530702.htm More people in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have expressed anger after seeing inaccurate information posted about them online, giving the impression that they were missing or illegally detained. Interviewees called such posts a way to attack China's policy in the region.

"I don't know the person who claimed that I was missing," said a visibly angry Ablizjan Aidin at his home in Turpan's Toksun county. The 37-year-old has been working for a logistics company as a driver since he graduated from a vocational education and training center in October.

Twitter user Guly Mahsut said in a post tagged "StillNoinfo" on Dec 10 that her "best friend" Aminagul Amat, the wife of Ablizjan, deleted her from her WeChat contact list "under pressure from the government", so she is unable to contact the family. She also claimed that Ablizjan had a "forced labor experience". The user is now living in Canada, according to the account's details.

"The fact is that I haven't had any contact with Wurmat Mahsut, which is the real name of Guly, since 2005 after she and I both graduated from the university. I later learned that she went abroad. How on earth would she know about the situation of my family?" Aminagul said at their family home.

A group of individuals, overseas organizations and media have been posting photos and names of allegedly missing Uygurs on social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook. The purpose is to convince the international community that those people were illegally detained by the government, Xinjiang officials said. Those officials have said that many of the posts distorted the truth or were fabricated.

Aminagul said she is the one who persuaded Ablizjan to study at a center that provided courses on standard Chinese language, laws, vocational skills and deradicalization programs after noticing he was deeply influenced by religious extremism.

The centers set up around the region have been portrayed by some people-as a part of political agenda to restrain China-as concentration camps where Uygurs have been brainwashed, said Zhang Yonghe, executive director of the Human Rights Research Institute at Northwest University of Political Science and Law, in Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

Azez Niyaz, 63, said Mayirem Azez, his oldest daughter, is the one who has been missing.

Mayirem claimed her parents were nowhere to be found, and she said she suspected they were being held in a "concentration camp", according to a post on her Twitter account carrying the name Mahire. She also added the tag "StillNoinfo".

Mayirem moved abroad with her husband, a naturalized Canadian who originally is from Xinjiang's Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture. Azez said he hasn't heard from her since May 2016 and still wonders why.

"My phone number hasn't been changed, so she can always reach me. I was shocked and angry to hear that she said on social media that her mother and I were missing. How can a child so easily claim her parents had disappeared. What a shame," Azez said at his home in Kuqa, Aksu prefecture.

Mareyem Kazit, Mayirem's mother, burst into tears when talking about how difficult it was to sponsor Mayirem to study at a university. "She failed to take care of us as she promised. Now she has even claimed that we were missing?" Mareyem said. "Her behavior hurts us a lot."

Despite her disappointment, she hasn't stopped thinking about her daughter and hopes she will return home one day, Mareyem added.

Abudulqukur Rexiti claims that his brother, Abdulwali Rexiti, was missing in a Dec 15 post carrying the tag "StillNoinfo" on his Twitter account, which goes under the name Uyghur Fighter. He clearly knows that Abdulwali was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2015 for instigating ethnic hatred and ethnic discrimination as well as gathering people to disturb social order, because his wife visited Kuqa in 2016, according to Ayjiamali Rexiti, Abudulqukur's sister.

"Abudulqukur's wife even bought a dictionary for Abdulwali, who was in prison. What's more, I regularly visit him in prison and talk to him on the phone," said Ayjiamali, 35.

Abdulwali had been following religious extremists and becoming involved in criminal activities. "He is an adult, so he should be responsible for the things he did," Ayjiamali said.

She said she hopes Abudulqukur will stop separatist behavior and instigating ethnic discrimination and hatred. "How could we both have gone to universities if we were discriminated against?"

"I hope Abudulqukur will come home and see Abdulwali in person, but he needs to drop the biased attitude first and see our lives in Xinjiang fairly," she said.

Many of the posts were uploaded after the US House of Representatives passed the so-called Uygur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019 on Dec 3. China expressed strong opposition to the bill. Many officials in China said it was packed with lies and was the latest US action to interfere in China's internal affairs.


Azez Niyaz, 63, and his wife, Mareyem Kazit, say they are upset that their daughter, Mayirem Azez, who moved abroad, claims they are missing. MAO WEIHUA/CHINA DAILY



2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Minister lays out 2020 growth priorities]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530740.htm China will continue to beef up the domestic market, boost high-level opening-up and ensure high-quality development of trade and investment in 2020, the commerce minister said on Sunday.

Speaking at the ministry's year-end meeting, Commerce Minister Zhong Shan laid out key priorities for further development in the coming year.

He said the country will rev up efforts to "build a strong domestic market, open up to the outside world at a higher level, promote high-quality development of commerce and build the economy into an economic and trade powerhouse".

He said these moves will help contribute to the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects-a target China aims to meet in 2020.

The year 2019 has been full of risks and challenges at home and abroad, but main indicators for the nation's commerce have shown steady and sound development, Zhong said.

In the first 11 months, retail sales of consumer goods totaled 37.3 trillion yuan ($5.3 trillion), up 8 percent year-on-year, the ministry reported.

Consumption, which contributed more than 60 percent of economic growth in the first three quarters, is expected to remain the "primary driver" of such growth, Zhong said at the meeting.

Foreign trade totaled 28.5 trillion yuan between January and November, up 2.4 percent year-on-year, the ministry reported.

China plans to establish an evaluation system for high-quality trade development including indicators, policies, statistics and performance by 2022, aiming for significant improvement in trade structure and efficiency, according to a guideline released in November.

The guideline was unveiled to promote high-quality development of trade with a key focus on forging stable and better-structured trade development.

Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said, "In the future, the country is expected to carry out more measures to optimize trade structures, foster new businesses, build a better trade environment and continuously deepen reform and opening-up."

He said the foreign investment law, taking effect on Wednesday, will bring about several changes. For instance, in the upcoming year, foreign investment is expected to flow not only to big-ticket projects but also to small and medium-sized ones, Wei said.

More than 1,000 medium-sized projects-those worth more than $1 billion-are expected to attract foreign capital in the next year, Wei said.

Foreign direct investment this year has steadily increased. In the first 11 months of this year, FDI reached 845.9 billion yuan, up 6 percent year-on-year, according to the ministry.

"The country's business environment is expected to ensure relatively stable foreign direct investment," said Li Yumei, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Uncertainties have hampered the flow of foreign capital into China's high-tech industries, but the impact is still relatively small, Li said.

The country needs to come up with more effective measures to cushion potential impacts, she said.


2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Railway links capital, Winter Olympic slopes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530715.htm A high-speed railway line linking Beijing and Zhangjiakou in North China's Hebei province opens on Monday, significantly cutting the travel time between the two 2022 Winter Olympics hosts and providing an engine to fuel growth, said a senior Zhangjiakou economic planning official.

The Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway line will spare Beijing businesswoman Yin Yu from having to drive three hours from Beijing to Zhangjiakou's Chongli district to work at her ski equipment business there. The new rail line will cut the travel time to just 47 minutes, China State Railway Group Co said on Saturday.

The 174-km line runs from Beijing North Railway Station, in the capital's Xicheng district, passes through Changping and Yanqing districts, and ends at Zhangjiakou Railway Station. There are 10 stations along the line.

"The high-speed rail line will promote economic and technological communication between the capital and Zhangjiakou, enhancing the integrated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region," said Zhang Zuoyu, an official at Zhangjiakou Development and Reform Bureau, the city's economic planning authority.

Zhang added that since 2015, when China won its bid to hold the 2022 Winter Olympic Games, increasing numbers of business travelers have been coming from the capital. But the trip was not easy because of the slow train.

The high-speed Beijing-Zhangjiakou line is an important part of the rail network between the capital and Lanzhou, in West China's Gansu province, one of the country's eight major East-West high-speed rail lines, China Railway said.

In addition to the high-speed rail link, a feeder line from Xiahuayuan North Station to Chongli district, where most of the 2022 Winter Olympics snow events will be held, will also be in operation on Monday.

The feeder line, named Chongli Railway, is 53 kilometers, running to Taizicheng Railway Station at Chongli Olympic Village, serving mainly the Games and regional tourism development.

The Beijing-Zhangjiakou line has a designed speed of 350 kilometers per hour-it was tested at up to 385 km/h-and the feeder Chongli Railway line will reach 250 km/h, according to China Railway.

More than 30 round-trip trains will run daily on the two lines.

Two other high-speed rail lines-linking Zhangjiakou and Hohhot in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and Zhangjiakou and Datong, Shanxi province-will also open on Monday. Hohhot and Datong both lie west of Zhangjiakou, which is northwest of Beijing.

Yin Yu, who works in Gulou, in Beijing's Dongcheng district, said, "The convenience will rid me of my reluctance to go to Chongli on business trips". She said it takes her about 20 minutes or so to go by taxi to Beijing North Railway Station and hop on a train to Chongli.

Yin's travel cost will also be reduced. In the past, driving round-trip between Beijing and Chongli cost her about 500 yuan ($71).

A second-class seat for the 64-minute trip on the Beijing-Chongli high-speed train will cost only 99 yuan, according to seat-booking platform 12306.com.

Fares for Beijing to Zhangjiakou cost 91 yuan, 146 yuan or 275 yuan, depending on the seat, and other near prices depending on travel time.


Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway



2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[NATION WARMS TO HOTPOT IN ALL SEASONS]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530703.htm Zhou Yaxuan, 22, is a fan of the Beijing hotpot restaurant Wangjiadu. She said she especially likes it in winter, and she's a big fan on the restaurant's sesame sauce, which has the consistency of ice cream.

Zhou, an accountant, said she also likes the eatery's fresh tripe and tries to remember the waiters' instructions to dip the organ meat up and down in the steaming liquid seven times to get it done just right.

The tripe Zhou had recently came out crisp and tender, in part because it had arrived fresh in Beijing that day from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Thanks to advances in logistics, transportation and cold-storage technology, hotpot is no longer a seasonal choice, but can be enjoyed throughout the year in China. Faster delivery services and more do-it-yourself options mean it is now being eaten more frequently.

Last year, the country's hotpot market reached 875.7 billion yuan ($125.2 billion), one-fifth of the total catering sector, according to the China Restaurant Industry Survey released by the China Hospitality Association in July. Since 2014, the hotpot market has grown by more than 50 percent.

Of all hotpot restaurants in China, 57 percent focus on cuisine from Sichuan province and Chongqing, according to a report on diners' preferences released in October by online food delivery and ticketing services platform Meituan Dianping.

Hotpot served in these restaurants features either an authentic spicy soup base or chuan chuan, where the ingredients are placed on a skewer to boil in the soup.

Wang Kun, brand manager for the Wangjiadu hotpot chain in Beijing, said it is bringing the authentic taste of Sichuan to the capital, with the aim of attracting a white-collar clientele.

In addition to the beef tallow soup base from the province, special pork luncheon meat and fresh tripe are popular at the chain's restaurants.

"Each season, we bring in traditional ingredients from Sichuan to Beijing-including bamboo in springtime and freshwater fish in the autumn," Wang said.

"The sesame sauce is our specialty and includes dried shrimp and stewed mushroom."

Chuan chuan hotpot restaurants are favored by the younger generation. They are usually cheaper than those offering Sichuan hotpot, and evolved from roadside food stalls.

Malubianbian, which translates as "side of the road", is a chuan chuan hotpot restaurant chain, where the average cost per person is 80 yuan. Founded just three years ago, the business now has more than 800 restaurants nationwide, mainly targeting a younger clientele.

Hu Jun, a co-founder of the chain, said it did not expect to expand so rapidly.

The restaurants are decorated in a style that takes diners back to the 1970s and '80s, Hu said. The decor features three main elements: interior streetlamps; wallpaper covered in graffiti; and blue chairs. In each city, the graffiti is localized.

"We also ensure that our dipping sauce has the authentic flavor of Chengdu (the capital of Sichuan) by adding a spoonful of soup to the minced chili and peanut, rather than sesame oil with garlic sauce or minced chili, pepper and salt."

Hu said the company's branches never compromise when it comes to the food they serve. "We only serve a spicy-flavored soup base, which can bring back childhood memories."

He thinks the spiciness of Sichuan hotpot is a particular attraction for diners, and this ensures repeat business.

Hu said that in Chengdu people sometimes waited in line at a Malubianbian restaurant for up to six hours, adding, "Now, as we have opened more branches, the lines aren't that long," The company also has branches in the United States, Australia and Malaysia.

In northern China, lamb is the preferred choice for hotpot. In the Michelin Guide Beijing 2020, released on Nov 28, no stars were awarded to a hotpot restaurant in the city, but two won Big Gourmand accolades and another two won Michelin Plate ratings.

A Big Gourmand is awarded to restaurants judged to be both good quality and value by a team of assessors, while a Michelin Plate indicates that quality food is served.

A Michelin Plate went to Beijing's Yangdaye Shuanrou restaurant, which translates as "Uncle Yang's Mutton Hotpot".

Cai Shihong, 63, who is known as Uncle Yang, opened the restaurant in 1996. Only the meat from a lamb's back legs is traditionally used for the hotpot, but Cai decided to feature different parts of the animal.

He said that during his childhood in the 1960s, the mutton for hotpot was carved by a chef. "It was so thin that people could read the words of a book through a single slice," Cai recalled.

In the mid-1970s, the arrival of electric meat slicers meant that mutton could be sliced by machine in hotpot restaurants. "The skill of slicing the meat is actually a culture, and now at my restaurant I am bringing this technique back by serving hand-cut meat," Cai said.

He added that the restaurant serves "yuanyang pot", which consists of both spicy and plain soups. "This is a compromise for younger customers, as it's usually the case that when couples come to my restaurant, the men will have the clear soup to enjoy the mutton, while the women usually want to try the spicy soup," Cai said.

He always considers the younger generation when he updates his hotpot menu.

"People my age used to be picky about all the hotpot ingredients, from the mutton to the fermented bean curd added to the sesame sauce. But now, the younger customers don't care that much about the ingredients-atmosphere is the key," Cai said.

Three years ago, he invented a way of serving the sliced meat on a meter-long wooden board, which was quickly adopted nationwide.

"The board has 400 grams of meat on it. I got the idea when I saw the wooden boards we use to serve beer," Cai said.

His business has moved several times, and each time a new location opens, he considers the decor. Cai recently opened a branch named Aunt Yang's hotpot, which features neon lights to target younger customers.

Hong Kong-style hotpot is also becoming popular in Beijing because of its high-quality ingredients.

Guo Jianxing, executive chef at the Xifenglou Hongkong-style Seafood Hotpot in the capital, said a feature of its fish maw and chicken soup base hotpot is that the soup is tasted first before the other ingredients are boiled.

"The soup is boiled for 10 hours with chicken, pork bone, ham and a 1.25-kilogram, 45-day-old chicken from Qingyuan, Guangdong province. The fish maw is added to the soup after orders are placed, to ensure that the golden-colored soup is tasty and nourishing," Guo, 37, said.

"The soup base is the key. If we don't master a particular soup on the day, that type of hotpot will not be available."

Guo, who grew up in Zhongshan, Guangdong, moved to Beijing 20 years ago. He said fish maw and chicken hotpot has only been available in the city for three years, but has been warmly welcomed by diners in northern China.

"I think they have accepted this Cantonese-style flavor step-by-step. At first, they tried lightly flavored Cantonese dishes, but now they like the hotpot," he said.

"We don't boil the lamb in our hotpot, but add it gradually, as many diners have requested," he said.

Fish, local vegetables and fresh fish maw are sent from Guangdong to Beijing daily. "Some 40 percent of our diners on weekends are families from Guangdong and Hong Kong, and it is traditional for us to have a large Cantonese-style brunch together," he added.

Unlike hotpot using frozen lamb, which is popular in North China, Chaoshan-style hotpot from Guangdong features a soup base consisting of boiled beef balls with radishes and corn.

The beef is accompanied by Shacha sauce, which is made from soybeans, oil, garlic, shallots, chilies, brill fish and dried shrimp, and is savory and slightly spicy.

Jin Yiqi, 25, who works for a bank in Beijing, developed a taste for Chaoshan-style hotpot after making a trip to Shenzhen, Guangdong, earlier this year.

Two years ago, she ate Sichuan hotpot three times a week to "release pressure from work", but now she cares more about the quality and freshness of the ingredients, especially the meat and the flavor of the soup base.

"For spicy-flavored hotpot, you cannot tell if the ingredients are fresh or not, but for Chaoshan hotpot, you can," she said.

Taiwan-style hotpot is a new trend in Beijing, as its spicy soup base is a version of that found in Sichuan, but the spiciness is reduced. The Taiwan variety is always paired with fresh duck's blood and tofu.

Hainan-style hotpot with a coconut and chicken soup base is also becoming popular in the capital. The chicken used for it must come from Wenchang, Hainan province, as it has a particularly thin skin and tender meat.

Yunnan-style hotpot features mushrooms and other ingredients from the southwestern province, along with tofu made in Jianshui county, which is particularly tough. The dipping sauce consists of minced chilies and other spices, which highlight the flavor of the mushrooms.

Hotpot from overseas is also gaining traction in China, such as a sukiyaki and soybean milk-flavored version from Japan and an offering from South Korea based on pickled cabbage.

Tom Yum Kung soup from Thailand is also being used as a new flavor for a hotpot soup base. In Chengdu, the Jiyu restaurant quickly became popular after it introduced this version. Long lines also formed in Beijing, where a branch opened this year.

Jin, the bank employee, said, "Many new hotpot restaurants are opening in Beijing, so I'll read the comments and photos on Meituan Dianping to see if they have any specialties before choosing which one to try."


The Yang Da Ye Shuanrou restaurant in Beijing offers good-quality meat. HE JING/FOR CHINA DAILY



A restaurant run by the Malubianbian chain does good business. CHINA DAILY



The Wangjiadu hotpot chain offers an authentic taste of Sichuan province in Beijing. CHINA DAILY





2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Orders flooding in as online delivery market reaches 30 billion yuan]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/30/content_37530741.htm Hotpot was the most popular food ordered online in China last year, comprising just over 20 percent of the market, according to a report released by online food delivery and ticketing services platform Meituan Dianping.

The hotpot delivery market reached 30 billion yuan ($4.27 billion) last year, attracting companies including restaurant chains such as Haidilao and Xiabuxiabu and online-to-offline fresh produce retailers Hemaxiansheng and Meiriyouxian.

According to Haidilao's annual report, its delivery business earned 323 million yuan last year, and it had reached 188 million yuan in the first six months of this year, a rise of nearly 41 percent on 2018.

Haidilao's delivery team ensures that orders reach clients living within a 5-kilometer radius of the company's outlets in 60 minutes and in 90 minutes if they live within a 10-km radius.

Pots and cookers pose obstacles for hotpot delivery, so chains, including Haidilao and Wangjiadu, provide a rental service. Clients pay a deposit to rent pots and cookers and the restaurants send staff members to collect them after use.

The number of diners governs the size of the pot. For example, for just one person, restaurants such as Wangjiadu supply a single pot, along with ethanol to use as fuel.

Haidilao has also introduced a hotpot using precooked ingredients. When the water is poured over the heating pad behind the box containing the ingredients, sufficient heat is released to warm the ingredients to 100 C in about 10 minutes.

All diners need do is prepare cold water to enjoy the hotpot, and this product has proved particularly popular among students and travelers.

The Xiabuxiabu chain also provides precooked hotpot for delivery. However, the company's highend subsidiary, CouCou, decided against joining the delivery market, as it does not have its own team for this purpose.

Guan Qingshan, CouCou's general manager for North China, said that as the freshness of ingredients is key for the business, it had decided for the time being not to operate such a service.

On Oct 17, Hou Yi, CEO of Hemaxiansheng, announced the launch of a project to deliver a hotpot soup base and fresh ingredients to customers within 30 minutes.

Qiu Jun, who heads the project, said the team took two months to look at soup bases from different regions, along with the ingredients to be added.

For the annual Nov 11 shopping festival on Taobao, Qiu said the team sold more than 14,000 hotpot meals in 170 stores nationwide, and this unexpected success prompted the company to feature seasonal promotions in its annual planning.

Providing hotpot styles ranging from Chaoshan to Sichuan, and Tom Yum Kung to coconut with chicken, the Hemaxiansheng app offers a range of soup bases together with all the other ingredients needed.

"The flavor of each soup base differs from region to region, with the amount of spice used for a Sichuanstyle soup base being lower in Beijing than in Chengdu," Qiu said. "We are also developing new flavors and new products specially for the hotpot market."

Hemaxiansheng does not provide a rental service for pots and cookers, but clients can buy these through the app. Friday evenings and weekends are the peak times for hotpot orders on Hemaxiansheng.

"We usually cater to families or friends gathering together," Qiu said. "Our major clients for hotpot are women ages 25 to 40, " he added.


Hemaxiansheng is just one of the companies that has joined the hotpot delivery market. CHINA DAILY



2019-12-30 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Construction of 3G Beidou nears finish]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/29/content_37530652.htm China plans to complete construction of its third-generation Beidou Navigation Satellite System network by June, including the launch of two new satellites into geostationary orbit by that time, the China Satellite Navigation Office said on Friday.

Ran Chengqi, the office's director, said 10 satellites were launched into space this year, resulting in a key 24-satellite constellation being placed in medium Earth orbit, forming the bedrock of the system's ability to provide a variety of services worldwide.

"Though Beidou began providing global services at the end of 2018 based on an 18-satellite constellation, the expanded network has enabled the space-based navigation system to operate more reliably and accurately," Ran said at a news conference held by the State Council Information Office.

As construction draws to a close, the office will increase its stocks of backup satellites and schedule them for liftoff to retire older satellites that have been in service for 10 to 12 years, he said.

Management at ground stations will also be improved to ensure smooth operation.

Chen Jinping, a chief engineer with Beidou, said that in 2019 the maintenance team managed to address nearly 20 satellite problems and nearly 100 issues related to ground-based facilities.

"With the service expansion of the third-generation of Beidou next year, we will strive to rectify issues discovered during risk analysis, improve regulations and enhance training to further boost the reliability of the system," Chen said.

The rapid growth of Beidou has also prompted the homegrown system to seek collaboration with three other celestial navigation networks around the globe, according to the China Satellite Navigation Office. They are the United States' GPS, Russia's GLONASS and the European Union's Galileo.

Ran said a cooperation agreement between the satellite authorities of China and Russia, which took effect recently, will provide organizational and legal support as the two countries join forces to build ground stations. China is also working with the EU to synchronize the frequencies of each other's satellite systems so global users will have access to more than one service provider.

The office has also expedited efforts to incorporate Beidou into international standardization systems. "Beidou is expected to be officially adopted by the standardization system of the International Civil Aviation Organization next year. Meanwhile, preparatory work including drafting documents and running tests is being carried out to facilitate Beidou's incorporation into the global search and rescue network," he said.

Ran added that Beidou is making significant inroads into countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.

"A wide array of products and services based on Beidou has been exported to over 120 countries and regions, including many countries taking part in the initiative," he said. "They have played an important role in the fields of agriculture, construction and port management by increasing productivity and bringing plenty of other benefits.

"Neighboring nations as well as countries and regions involved in the BRI are crucial partners in terms of promotion and application of Beidou, and we are looking forward to seeing more useful applications being developed in these regions," Ran added.

2019-12-29 12:13:06
<![CDATA[Profits up as economy shows strong signs of rebound]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/29/content_37530649.htm China's economy is showing strong signs of a rebound after months of slowdown, with industrial profits rising at the fastest pace in eight months in November, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.

Officials and experts said profit growth is an effect of accelerating production and sales, as well as rising prices. They said further support for those sectors is needed amid mounting downside pressure.

Profits at China's major industrial companies jumped 5.4 percent in November year-on-year to 593.91 billion yuan ($84.86 billion), ending three months of decline, according to the NBS. In the first 11 months of this year, the cumulative profits of major industrial companies declined 2.1 percent year-on-year.

Zhu Hong, an NBS senior statistician, attributed the increased profits in November to accelerated industrial production and sales, as well as to the fact that producer prices contracted at a slower pace.

Some key sectors have shown clear signs of profit recovery in November, Zhu said.

Consumer goods manufacturing posted 8.2 percent year-on-year profit growth in November, 3.1 percentage points higher than October, according to the NBS.

In particular, oil, coal and other fuel processing industries saw profits surge 45.5 percent in November, compared with a 31.2 percent decrease in October.

Profits at private and small enterprises surged 14.7 percent and 8.6 percent in November, respectively, From page 1 the NBS reported.

"Despite the significant growth in profits, we still face mounting downward pressure," Zhu added. "There's uncertainty around industrial profits, which will be affected by multiple factors, such as market demand and industrial product prices."

Tang Jianwei, chief researcher at the Bank of Communications' Financial Research Center, said, "Because of the negative growth rate from January to November of industrial profits, the future of profits remains to be seen. However, there are more positive factors conductive to industrial operations."

In fact, China's November manufacturing activity returned to the expansion zone, a sign that the country's economy is gradually stabilizing. The purchasing manager's index for the manufacturing sector firmed up in November to 50.2 from 49.3 in October.

"It is likely that we'll see profit growth pick up in 2020, with the government's ongoing efforts to reduce taxes and fees, provide financial support, stabilize the economy and expand domestic demand. Since China and the United States have reached a phase-one trade deal, we will also see improvement in factory production and investment expectations," Tang said.

Looking ahead for 2020, Tang said there is a high probability that China's growth will be around 6 percent, on the premise that the Sino-US trade dispute doesn't escalate to a higher level. The premature withdrawal of counter-cyclical policies should be avoided, Tang said.

A recent report released during the monthly China Macroeconomy Forum estimated that the country would see 6.1 percent GDP growth in 2019, meeting the annual projected growth target range of 6 to 6.5 percent. GDP growth is expected to be around 5.9 percent in 2020.

Yu Ze, a professor at Renmin University of China's School of Economics, said the economy is recovering, mainly buoyed by strong domestic demand.

"Actually, the government's strong supportive policies are playing a key role in supporting the growth," Yu said during a recent forum held in Beijing. "Despite large fluctuations in monthly economic data, overall industrial performance is relatively stable."

Yu said the basic problem is the downward trend caused by structural and institutional factors.

"We should not simply pursue rapid economic growth. Instead, we should focus on increasing people's sense of gain and on high-quality development," Yu said. "One factor affecting economic growth is the substantial slowdown in domestic consumption growth. So, more efforts are needed to exploit the domestic market potential and address weak links."

2019-12-29 12:13:06
<![CDATA[Top court lays down rules to protect foreign investors]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/29/content_37530648.htm The rights of foreign investors in China will be better protected with the release of a new judicial document on Friday. It instructs courts across the country to support investment contracts that do not involve the negative list contained in China's Foreign Investment Law.

In contract-related lawsuits, unless the investment sector is explicitly prohibited, courts will support foreign investors even if the other side argues that the contract wasn't approved or registered, a judicial interpretation issued by the Supreme People's Court said.

If China adjusts the negative list before a verdict is determined and allows foreign investment in a specific sector, investment contracts in that sector should also be deemed valid, the new rule said.

The judicial interpretation of the Foreign Investment Law will take effect on Jan 1, concurrent with the law. While the law was adopted by the country's top legislature in March, many argued that it was too general to be carried out in practice.

The top court said its new rule will guide the proper implementation of the Foreign Investment Law nationwide, and offers equal protection for domestic and foreign investors.

"We'll adopt a more open and inclusive attitude when dealing with such lawsuits to protect the rights of foreign investors and offer a sound legal environment for the country's further reform and opening-up," said Gao Xiaoli, deputy head of the No 4 Civil Division of the Supreme People's Court.

She said the new interpretation could been seen as "a crucial move to help the country attract more foreign investment".

The rule applies to all contracts arising from direct or indirect investment by foreign individuals, enterprises or other organizations in China, including contracts on the establishment of foreign-invested companies, new projects or the transfer of shares, property or stock rights.

However, courts will not support a contract if the investment area is on China's negative list. If it's a restricted sector, judges will have to review the detailed circumstances, the interpretation said.

"In short, we'll treat investors equally under the law, no matter where they come from," Gao said.

She said the interpretation focuses on contract validity "because about 70 percent of foreign investment disputes relate to contracts".

Luo Dongchuan, vice-president of the top court, said contracts are essential for investors and are "a primary step in international trade".

The interpretation is a signal that Chinese courts will support foreign investment contracts to the full extent the law allows, he said.

Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said the upcoming implementation of the Foreign Investment Law is a notable step for China.

"Most foreign investment entering China will no longer need approval from local authorities," Wei said. "These new judicial rules can help fight monopolies and other forms of unfair competition in the domestic market."

Rachel Duan, president and CEO of GE Global Growth Markets, said, "We believe that an integrated Foreign Investment Law is a significant improvement and a key step forward for China as it moves toward further openness in legislation.

"In recent years, we have been pleased to see that the Chinese government has given consideration to the development needs of different market entities in China. By constantly deepening reform in free trade zones, establishing and improving the negative list, reforming and streamlining regulations on foreign investment and adopting a service-provider level of awareness, the government has given strong support to foreign companies."

2019-12-29 12:13:06
<![CDATA[Profits up as economy shows strong signs of rebound]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/29/content_37530637.htm China's economy is showing strong signs of a rebound after months of slowdown, with industrial profits rising at the fastest pace in eight months in November, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.

Officials and experts said profit growth is an effect of accelerating production and sales, as well as rising prices. They said further support for those sectors is needed amid mounting downside pressure.

Profits at China's major industrial companies jumped 5.4 percent in November year-on-year to 593.91 billion yuan ($84.86 billion), ending three months of decline, according to the NBS. In the first 11 months of this year, the cumulative profits of major industrial companies declined 2.1 percent year-on-year.

Zhu Hong, an NBS senior statistician, attributed the increased profits in November to accelerated industrial production and sales, as well as to the fact that producer prices contracted at a slower pace.

Some key sectors have shown clear signs of profit recovery in November, Zhu said.

Consumer goods manufacturing posted 8.2 percent year-on-year profit growth in November, 3.1 percentage points higher than October, according to the NBS.

In particular, oil, coal and other fuel processing industries saw profits surge 45.5 percent in November, compared with a 31.2 percent decrease in October.

Profits at private and small enterprises surged 14.7 percent and 8.6 percent in November, respectively, From page 1 the NBS reported.

"Despite the significant growth in profits, we still face mounting downward pressure," Zhu added. "There's uncertainty around industrial profits, which will be affected by multiple factors, such as market demand and industrial product prices."

Tang Jianwei, chief researcher at the Bank of Communications' Financial Research Center, said, "Because of the negative growth rate from January to November of industrial profits, the future of profits remains to be seen. However, there are more positive factors conductive to industrial operations."

In fact, China's November manufacturing activity returned to the expansion zone, a sign that the country's economy is gradually stabilizing. The purchasing manager's index for the manufacturing sector firmed up in November to 50.2 from 49.3 in October.

"It is likely that we'll see profit growth pick up in 2020, with the government's ongoing efforts to reduce taxes and fees, provide financial support, stabilize the economy and expand domestic demand. Since China and the United States have reached a phase-one trade deal, we will also see improvement in factory production and investment expectations," Tang said.

Looking ahead for 2020, Tang said there is a high probability that China's growth will be around 6 percent, on the premise that the Sino-US trade dispute doesn't escalate to a higher level. The premature withdrawal of counter-cyclical policies should be avoided, Tang said.

A recent report released during the monthly China Macroeconomy Forum estimated that the country would see 6.1 percent GDP growth in 2019, meeting the annual projected growth target range of 6 to 6.5 percent. GDP growth is expected to be around 5.9 percent in 2020.

Yu Ze, a professor at Renmin University of China's School of Economics, said the economy is recovering, mainly buoyed by strong domestic demand.

"Actually, the government's strong supportive policies are playing a key role in supporting the growth," Yu said during a recent forum held in Beijing. "Despite large fluctuations in monthly economic data, overall industrial performance is relatively stable."

Yu said the basic problem is the downward trend caused by structural and institutional factors.

"We should not simply pursue rapid economic growth. Instead, we should focus on increasing people's sense of gain and on high-quality development," Yu said. "One factor affecting economic growth is the substantial slowdown in domestic consumption growth. So, more efforts are needed to exploit the domestic market potential and address weak links."

2019-12-29 12:13:06
<![CDATA[Roaring rocket lifts satellite into space]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/28/content_37530647.htm China's biggest and most powerful carrier rocket, the Long March 5, kicked off its latest space mission on Friday night in Hainan province. It was carrying the largest satellite ever built domestically.

As the launch sequence of the Long March 5-Y3 rocket started at 8: 45 pm, 10 engines-at the bottom of the first core stage, plus four boosters-generated a tremendous combined thrust of more than 1,000 metric tons to lift the gigantic craft from its launchpad at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in the island province.

The 57-meter-long rocket, the tallest, strongest and most technologically sophisticated in China's launch vehicle family, then thundered up into the cloudy night sky with a blinding white flash.

About 33 minutes into the flight, it successfully placed the Shijian 20 experimental satellite, China's largest and heaviest-weighing 8 tons-into a geosynchronous orbit 36,000 kilometers above Earth.

The 8-ton Shijian 20 is the second technology demonstration satellite based on China's new-generation satellite platform, the DFH 5. It follows the Shijian 18, which was lost in the failed second flight of a Long March 5.

In addition to transporting the satellite to space, the flight is intended to verify the engineering adjustments that were made to improve the rocket's overall design, as well as key technologies to be used in a journey to the moon with the Chang'e 5 probe, according to the China National Space Administration. Another task of Friday's mission is to verify several key satellite technologies.

The successful launch sparked a wave of public cheers and celebrations, along with those from within Chinese space circles.

Xing Qiang, an independent space affairs researcher and a well-known observer in Beijing, said a great number of people in China are attached to this mission because Long March 5 is so important. It shoulders the responsibility of making many of the country's space aspirations a reality.

The Long March 5-Y3 was transported in late October by two ships, Yuanwang 21 and Yuanwang 22, to Wenchang from the production facility in Tianjin. It was assembled and tested at the Wenchang center over the past two months.

The Y3 designation signifies the third mass-production rocket in the Long March 5 series.

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

The craft is capable of ferrying spacecraft weighing up to 25 tons-roughly the combined weight of 16 midsize cars-to a low-Earth orbit, or 14 tons to a geosynchronous transfer orbit.

For coming missions, it is capable of transporting an 8-ton probe to an Earth-moon transfer orbit or a 5-ton probe to an Earth-Mars transfer orbit.

The concept of the Long March 5 initially came from Chinese rocket scientists in 1986. After 20 years of technological preparations, the rocket's research and development program was approved and officially begun in 2006 at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing, a subsidiary of State-owned space conglomerate China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

Wang Xiaojun, president of the academy, said the Long March 5 has substantially improved the country's spacefaring capability and laid a solid foundation for the research and development of future rockets that will be even bigger and mightier.

Making it reliable

The first flight of the colossal rocket type was carried out in November 2016 at the Wenchang center. The second mission was in July 2017 at the same site, but it failed as a result of structural abnormalities inside the first core stage's liquid oxygen/liquid hydrogen engines.

According to project leaders, in the 908 days since that failure, the project team, together with a large number of scientists and specialists from domestic institutes and enterprises, worked all-out to find solutions. They held more than 600 seminars and carried out at least 1,000 experiments and tests to make sure the third Long March 5 would be reliable.

Wang Jue, the Long March 5 project manager, said: "Over the past two and a half years, our team managed to overcome technical problems in the engines and removed all other possible hazards."

Li Dong, the rocket's chief designer, said the troubleshooting efforts of designers and engineers also made breakthroughs in improving the rocket's technology and reliability.

"Compared with the Long March 5-Y2 that was used in the failed second mission, the new one had about 200 technical improvements including in engines' design," Li said.

The Long March 5's future missions include enabling China's fifth and most sophisticated lunar expedition, as well as placing parts of the country's manned space station into orbit.

"In 2020, we will use the Long March 5 to launch the Chang'e 5 probe to the moon and also send a rover toward Mars," Wang Xiaojun said. "Rockets to fulfill these missions are in the assembly and testing phases."

China will continue to be the world's most frequent user of carrier rockets this year after gaining the title in 2018, with 33 successful launches this year.

Next year is also expected to be a busy one for the nation's space launch industry. A host of new types of rockets, such as the Long March 5B, Long March 8, Smart Dragon 2 and Kuaizhou 11, will make their debuts.

A Long March 5 rocket carrying China's heaviest satellite yet lifts off on Friday night in Wenchang, Hainan province. XU JINGXING/CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-28 00:00:00 <![CDATA[China's largest satellite enters orbit]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/28/content_37530650.htm China's biggest, heaviest and most advanced satellite has blasted into space to carry out demonstrations and verifications for advanced satellite and communications technologies.

Shijian 20, a technology demonstration satellite developed by the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing, achieved liftoff using the Long March 5 carrier rocket at Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province on Friday night.

It was the second satellite based on China's new-generation satellite platform, DFH-5, after the Shijian 18 was lost during Long March 5's failed second flight in July 2017.

The satellite has a liftoff weight of more than 8 metric tons, carries over 10 world-class technological payloads and is equipped with the country's largest, longest and most sophisticated solar arrays. It is expected to work at least 16 years in a geosynchronous orbit about 36,000 kilometers above the Earth.

The spacecraft's major tasks are to test the overall design and reliability of the DFH-5 platform as well as to verify several key space-based technologies and new equipment, according to Zhou Zhicheng, chief engineer at China Academy of Space Technology and project manager of the Shijian 20.

Hao Yanyan, a supervisor in the Shijian 20 program, said that DFH-5 can be the basis of a wide range of satellite models for different operations ranging from high-orbiting communication and microwave remote sensing to space-based scientific exploration as well as technological experiment.

"DFH-5 is our new-generation satellite platform with an ultrahigh capacity. Its overall capability is world-class," Hao said on Friday in Wenchang. "Its research and development began in 2010 to meet increasing demand for high-performance communication satellites. Each DFH-5-based satellite is three times stronger than those developed on its predecessor, DFH-4, when it comes to operational capacity."

She added that DFH-5 is suitable for all types of large-capacity satellites in the coming two decades.

Li Feng, chief designer of the Shijian 20, said that the satellite will embark on several in-orbit technological experiments and some of them will be "cutting-edge and strategically significant", including satellite-ground laser communication tests. Results of these experiments will be useful in the research and development of next-generation space technologies, Li said.

Shijian 20, a technology demonstration satellite developed by the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing, prepares for liftoff using a Long March 5 carrier rocket at Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province on Friday night. ZHUANG QIANQIAN/FOR CHINA DAILY

]]> 2019-12-28 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Stay true to mission, Xi tells officials]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/28/content_37530678.htm Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee urged Party officials to be responsible, remain true to the CPC's founding mission and increase their efforts to improve governance.

Xi made the remarks at a two-day meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, which wrapped up on Friday in Beijing.

He said the fundamental reason the CPC has made remarkable achievements that have captured the world's attention is that the Party has always kept in mind seeking a better life for the Chinese people and a rejuvenation of the nation.

CPC cadres should always take the people into account whenever they make decisions or implement policies, Xi said, asking them to understand public opinion-both people's demands and criticisms-and to listen to suggestions through various channels.

Xi stressed that officials should be responsible because that will determine how successful their work will be.

He urged CPC officials to remain vigilant politically and be prepared for dangers even in times of calm. In the face of major risks and challenges, difficulties and conflicts, they should make and carry out plans to address them as soon as possible, rather than avoiding or fearing them, he said.

The world is undergoing change at a rate that hasn't been seen in a century, and the situation at home and abroad is complex, Xi said, adding that rising risks and challenges pose an urgent need for greater efforts to strengthen the country's institution-building and governance capacity.

Xi said CPC officials play an important role in bringing out institutional advantages and transforming them into effective governance by safeguarding the authority of the CPC Central Committee and implementing major decisions of the central government.

Efforts should be made to turn major decisions into specific tasks by which departments and local authorities can solve practical problems one by one, he added.

The president also underlined the importance of CPC Political Bureau members being clean, honest and self-disciplined, and he urged them to prevent corruption by family members, friends or colleagues.

In June, the CPC launched a nationwide educational campaign to remind members of the Party's fundamental purpose and historic mission.

]]> 2019-12-28 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Plane crashes after takeoff in Kazakhstan; at least 15 killed]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/28/content_37530679.htm At least 15 people were killed early on Friday when a plane with 93 passengers and five crew members aboard crashed after takeoff near Kazakhstan's biggest city, Almaty, local authorities said.

Flight Z2100, a Fokker 100 aircraft operated by Kazakhstan-based carrier Bek Air, was scheduled to fly from Almaty to Nur-Sultan, the country's capital.

Airport authorities released a passenger list. At least 60 people survived the crash.

The officials said another 35 people, including eight children, are in serious or critical condition, and the death toll is expected to rise.

The Chinese consulate in Almaty said one Chinese citizen was on board and survived the crash without injury.

According to Almaty aviation authorities, the aircraft, which made its first flight 23 years ago, "lost altitude during takeoff and broke through a concrete fence", before striking a two-story building near Almaty at approximately 7:22 am local time.

There was thick fog in the area at the time of the crash, according to Reuters.

A survivor told news website Tengrinews that she heard a "terrifying sound" before the plane started losing altitude.

"The plane was flying with a tilt. Everything was like in a movie-screaming, shouting, people crying," she said.

Data from Flightradar24.com indicated the plane crashed 19 seconds after takeoff, approximately 5 kilometers from the airport. News videos and other images of the crash site in Almerek village, just beyond the end of the runway, showed the damaged plane broken into several parts, with its nose embedded in a partially collapsed house.

The village has been cordoned off by the authorities, Reuters reported.

Parts of the fuselage appeared to be relatively intact, raising hopes that many of those on board had survived the initial impact.

Emergency responders at the scene could be seen evacuating passengers and crew members from the wreckage. There were no reports of fire associated with the crash.

Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev sent his condolences to the friends and families of the victims. He said a special government commission had been established to investigate the crash and that "all those responsible will be severely punished in accordance with the law".

The Kazakh Civil Aviation Committee published a statement online promising a thorough investigation of the cause of the crash. Authorities have not yet suggested what could have caused it.

As a precautionary measure, the authorities said all flights using the Fokker 100 aircraft would be temporarily suspended until the circumstances of the crash were clarified.

The aircraft is a medium-size twin-turbofan jet often used for short-haul flights. The company that built the plane went bankrupt in 1996.

A rescue team works at the crash site of a Bek Air plane near Almaty International Airport in Kazakhstan on Friday. EMERGENCY SITUATIONS MINISTRY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN PHOTO/AP

]]> 2019-12-28 00:00:00 <![CDATA[Ministry says phase one deal advances]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530547.htm China and the United States are working on necessary procedures regarding their phase one trade deal and closely communicating on other follow-up matters, the Ministry of Commerce said on Thursday.

Gao Feng, a ministry spokesman, said necessary procedures such as legal review, translation and proofreading the preliminary deal are underway. The two negotiating teams are maintaining close contact on follow-up work including officially signing the agreement, Gao said at a weekly briefing.

About two months have passed since China and the US outlined the much-anticipated phase one agreement to end their protracted trade war.

The two sides agreed on the text of the partial economic and trade agreement based on the principle of equality and mutual respect earlier this month.

In a Dec 20 telephone call, President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump both said the phase one economic and trade agreement benefited China, the US and the whole world.

Trade developments continue to be a key focus for markets. Analysts said they hope China and the US will come to a quick resolution, while warning that certain uncertainties persist.

In a prospective investigation into the phase one deal, Zhang Xinyuan, a researcher at Huatai Securities, said increased imports from the US will mainly include crude oil, semiconductors, gas, soybeans, consumer goods, automobiles, ethanol and tourism services.

Ding Shuang, chief economist of Greater China and North Asia at Standard Chartered, said that with the phase one deal reducing downside risks facing the global economy, 2020 should be a year of soft but stabilizing growth for the global economy.

Zhu Jianfang, chief economist at Citic Securities, said in a recent research note that trade disputes may reoccur in the future. So the company's research team is temporarily "cautiously optimistic", and maintained its outlook that China's economic growth will be 6 percent for this year, Zhu said.

In another development, Gao said China strongly opposes the 2020 US National Defense Authorization Act.

China believes that provisions of the act that restrict the purchase of some Chinese products and tighten export controls against Chinese enterprises are "bad examples" of how the government intervenes in the normal business activities of enterprises, Gao said.

He said the US move will endanger the global economic and trade order and affect the security of the global industrial chain.

Xinhua contributed to this story

]]> 2019-12-27 00:00:00 <![CDATA[China near to eliminating poverty]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530588.htm When Marko Djuric, vice-chairman of the Progressive Party of Serbia, visited Jiangxi provincial capital Nanchang last month, he was touched by the story of a local farmer who escaped poverty by growing navel oranges with the help of the local government.

The success story of 62-year-old Deng Daqing, a farmer in Longhu, a village in Ruijin's Huangbai township, shows that the governance of the Communist Party of China in poverty reduction is "responsible and efficient", Djuric said in an interview with China Daily.

Until 2013, Deng's family was one of the poorest in his rugged mountain village. With help from local authorities, Deng secured a bank loan and planted more than 800 orange trees. Three years later, he brought in 30,000 yuan ($4,286) from fruit sales, an amount far exceeding the national poverty threshold of 2,300 yuan a year.

By using an e-commerce platform, Deng's income has grown significantly as his business has expanded nationwide. Last year, Deng earned more than 280,000 yuan.

As a CPC member, Deng said he was unwilling to reap the benefits alone, so he offered to help his fellow villagers grow navel oranges. In 2016, he worked with the Party branch in the village to start an agricultural cooperative, which provides unified management, training, pest prevention, cheaper fertilizers and marketing for poverty-stricken families.

Deng said the per capita income of his village reached 13,000 yuan in 2017, and all 54 households that were impoverished were lifted out of poverty by growing and selling navel oranges.

Deng's story sends an "emotional" message that it's never too late for poverty-stricken people to become prosperous through hard work, Djuric said. Importantly, it also shows how the province's Party organization played a significant role in helping the village escape poverty.

Deng and his fellow villagers are only a few of the beneficiaries of the country's poverty alleviation efforts in recent years. From 2013 to 2018, the nation's impoverished population has been reduced by an average of more than 12 million annually, from 98.99 million at the end of 2012 to 16.6 million at the end of last year.

At the fourth plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, in late October, the CPC reaffirmed to eradicate absolute poverty in rural areas by the end of next year. Meanwhile, it would set up a long-term mechanism to deal with relative poverty to meet people's ever-growing demand for a better life.

Resolute efforts must be made to win the critical battle of poverty reduction, build on the outcomes achieved in relieving extreme poverty and establish a mechanism to address relative poverty, according to a document adopted by the key Party meeting

The document is seen as a guideline for the CPC to lead the nation to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and advance the modernization of the country's system and capacity for governance, and also a road map to turn institutional strength into even more effective governance.

Djuric said that when he read President Xi Jinping's book The Governance of China this year, he was impressed by the achievements of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, particularly in poverty alleviation, with more than 700 million people having been lifted out of extreme poverty in the past four decades.

He attributed the country's remarkable achievements in poverty reduction to its effective system and targeted measures as well as the CPC's efficient governance.

"China's governance system has proved to be very efficient in promoting the country's progress and development. ... There is no doubt that Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era has yielded concrete results in Jiangxi," Djuric said.

He added that the Chinese model can be implemented in many places in the world. "It requires hard work, dedication, good governance and responsible governance."

Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, placed poverty reduction at the top of the list of major tasks as the Party vowed to build a moderately prosperous society in 2020. This means that by the end of 2020, the population of rural poor should be guaranteed food, clothing and safe housing, compulsory education and basic medical care.

In Xi's view, if rural China-particularly people in impoverished areas-is left behind, a moderately prosperous society will not emerge.

Because the earlier one-size-fits-all poverty relief policy no longer works when applied to the most impoverished families, Xi proposed the idea of targeted poverty alleviation for the first time in November 2013, when he made an inspection tour of Shibadong village in Hunan province. He said targeted relief and customized policies are needed to help different types of people and households.

When carrying out poverty-relief work, the central authorities coordinate the entire program and provinces take major responsibility, while cities and counties ensure policies are implemented.

Overall responsibility for leading the work lies with the Party and government chiefs, according to the action plan for poverty alleviation jointly released by the general office of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council in 2016.

Targeted measures designed to help residents of rural areas shake off poverty have been pushed forward. They include developing industries, improving education and medical services, building adequate infrastructure and facilities, helping migrant workers find jobs and relocating people living in poor conditions and fragile environments to more prosperous areas.

More than 770,000 officials from the government, universities, State-owned enterprises and civil associations work in rural areas nationwide.

Liu Yongfu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, said at a news conference in September that 95 percent of the impoverished population is expected to be lifted out of poverty in the end of this year.

Through continued efforts in 2020, he added, the historic goal of rooting out absolute poverty across China will be achieved and the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be attained.

The success in targeted poverty alleviation in Jiangxi reflects a miracle China has created in securing large-scale poverty reduction while achieving rapid economic growth, said Liu Qi, secretary of the CPC Jiangxi Provincial Committee. It fully demonstrates the political advantage of CPC leadership as well as the strength of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Liu said.

The fourth plenary session also laid out a map for turning institutional strength into even more effective governance, covering key fields like Party leadership, rule of law, the economy and the environment.

The session is of great significance, said Khamphanh Phommathath of Laos, a member of the Political Bureau of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party Central Committee, adding that the CPC has been continuously working to improve its governance capacity and system as well as sticking to its commitment to seek happiness for the people.

Guided by the session, the CPC will achieve greater progress in governance in the future, he said.

Amirah Kaca Sumarto, vice-chair of the young leaders' sisterhood of Indonesia's Golkar Party, said that China has managed to formulate its own system that suits its history, culture and people, and it has proved to be effective. "China is a different kind of role model compared with Western countries."




2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Uygur mom mystified to be reported as 'missing']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530587.htm Halnur Halik said she was furious after learning her personal information was used in an online campaign to "find missing Uygurs in China" while she had been busy working toward a better life in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

Some individuals, overseas organizations and media have been posting photos and names of allegedly missing Uygurs on social media platforms including Twitter and Facebook, to smear China's policy in Xinjiang.

Many of the posts have been shown to have "distorted the truth or be fabricated stories", Xu Guixiang, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee, said on Wednesday.

On Dec 12, Twitter user Abdulla Rasul wrote in a post tagged "Still-Noinfo" that Halnur, 24, a mother of two, was among those still missing, even though Halnur has been working as a waitress at a restaurant in Turpan since May.

Abdulla Rasul is her cousin's husband and the couple moved abroad many years ago, Halnur said. Abdulla's Twitter account says he is based in Istanbul, Turkey. "I only met Abdulla once, when he and my cousin got married, and seldom have had contact with them since. I don't understand why he said I was missing," she said on Wednesday.

Halnur attended a vocational education and training center in 2018 after having been influenced by thoughts of religious extremism since high school. "I dropped out of my school, although I was a very good student, because the religious extremists told me that going to school was useless. Later, I also refused to go to work and focused only on taking part in religious extremist activities," she said.

The establishment of the centers in Xinjiang has been an effective preventive measure to help eradicate extremism in the region, which is believed to have led in the past to frequent terrorist attacks in Xinjiang, officials said. The centers provided courses on standard Chinese language, laws, vocational skills and deradicalization programs.

People who took part in the courses have all graduated. The centers will be open to all local residents and officials who wish to improve their standard Chinese language and vocational skills and legal knowledge, Shohrat Zakir, regional government chairman, said this month.

"I was worried about whether people would be willing to give me a second chance after I graduated, but a restaurant owner immediately recruited me after I graduated from the center in May," said Halnur.


2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[NANJING COMPANY SPREADS THE WORD ON BIBLES]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530558.htm Zhong Yuanyuan applied the final layer of glue to the spines of copies of the New American Bible before they passed quality checks and were ready for export to the United States.

The 39-year-old works for the world's largest Bible-printing facility and China's top Bible exporter in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province.

She is just one of more than 500 staff members employed by Nanjing Amity Printing Co, for which printing Bibles has become a specialty. It took the company 25 years to print the first 100 million and just seven years for the next 100 million.

"Since I started work here 20 years ago, I've handled Bibles produced in more than 20 languages, such as English, Portuguese, Thai, Swedish as well as the language used by the Lisu ethnic group in China," she said.

Zhong spoke while Bibles produced in different designs and languages were coming off noisy production lines. "The factory floor is like a sea of Bibles," she said.

Copies ordered worldwide are stacked neatly next to each other on the factory floor.

Qiu Zhonghui, chairman of the company, said the books will be packaged after undergoing strict quality inspections, as they are designed to accompany the purchasers for the rest of their lives.

"Compared with other publications, people still prefer to have a beautifully printed Bible in their hands, rather than reading it from a digital tablet. So Bible printing hasn't been affected by the digitalization of books, and I believe the situation won't change in the next 10 years," Qiu said.

Michael Perreau, general secretary of the United Bible Societies, said people often wish to have printed copies of the Bible after reading a digitalized version.

"In short, digitalization actually supports the distribution of the printed version of the Bible," he said.

On Nov 11, the 200 millionth Bible came off a production line at the printing factory, which in 2008 moved to a bigger site covering 85,000 square meters to cope with its expanding business overseas.

Of the Bibles printed in more than 130 languages, over 85 million have been distributed to churches in China, including copies in Braille and in 11 ethnic languages. The remainder have been exported to over 140 countries.

The company is expected to export 12.7 million Bibles this year, a rise of 6.6 percent year-on-year.

At the factory's warehouse, packaged Bibles are quickly dispatched to overseas buyers, and this demand is surging.

Ferenc Szucs, director of Patmos Records, which distributes Bibles in Hungary, was attempting to see if he could spot those heading to his country by going through the names of the recipient nations marked on the boxes.

"I am impressed with the quality of the Bibles produced in China. That's why I'm here, to place more orders," Szucs said. Two years ago, his company placed an order for 30,000 Bibles, and it plans to order another 30,000 next year. Bibles in denim covers with floral prints are particularly popular in Hungary.

Xu Yihua, a professor with the Department of International Politics at Fudan University in Shanghai and a member of the China Committee on Religion and Peace, said the country has become one of the largest Bible exporters in the world.

Some people feel that Bibles are mere commodities, but he believes the exports have built a platform for Chinese churches to better communicate and enhance understanding with their counterparts worldwide. "During the process, the world can better understand the real situations of Chinese churches," Xu said.

Qiu added, "The establishment of the company (Nanjing Amity Printing) was the result of China's opening-up and the policy of freedom of religious belief, while the increase in Bible exports has shown that China has expanded its scope for international trade."

Under the Belt and Road Initiative, the company has set up branches in Ethiopia and Kenya, in 2015 and this year respectively, to better serve the public in those countries, Qiu said.

Xu Xiaohong, chairman of the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China, said the healthy development of Bible printing in the country is closely linked to national progress.

"By serving followers in more than 140 countries, the company has sent a signal to the world that China seeks peaceful development and is willing to take on more international responsibilities," Xu Xiaohong said.

In 1986, the company was established through the joint efforts of the independent Chinese voluntary organization the Amity Foundation and the United Bible Societies to meet the needs of Christians in China. The first copy of the Bible in Chinese rolled off a production line a year later.

The circulation of Bibles in the country is supervised by the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China and the China Christian Council. From 2014 to last year, the two organizations distributed more than 18 million Bibles in China.

He Jiemiao, president of the Jiangsu Provincial Christian Council, said, "Many churches in China have set up bookstore-like facilities to distribute Bibles to improve followers' experiences."

As living standards have improved, demand has risen among Chinese Christians for better-designed Bibles, especially those with traditional Chinese characters.

In recent years, the company has produced Bibles with covers made from bamboo and has integrated elements of blue-and-white porcelain into the designs to inject Chinese culture into its work.

To cater to participants in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the company printed 100,000 Bibles bearing the logo for the Games, Qiu said.

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Union Version Bible, which is the main translation used by most Chinese Christians. It is not only available in China, but also in churches worldwide where Chinese is spoken.

The translation of Bibles into Chinese can be traced to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). This work in modern-day China has been accompanied by the sinicization of the country's churches.

By the second half of the 19th century, translations of the Bible had been undertaken by missionaries in China from different nationalities, denominations and societies. Some copies were translated in classical Chinese and others in modern Chinese.

As the 19th century drew to a close, the need for a unified version became increasingly urgent for Chinese churches. It took nearly 30 years before the classical and modern Chinese versions of the Bible were published by more than 30 foreign missionaries and their Chinese assistants in 1919.

Since then, the modern version has grown to be the most popular in Chinese.

The birth of the Chinese Union Version Bible ended an era of biblical translations by foreign missionaries. The first version of the Bible translated by Chinese in their own language was published in 1922.

In 1980, the National Committee of Three-Self Patriotic Movement of Protestant Churches in China and the China Christian Council reprinted the 1919 edition of the Chinese Union Version Bible in traditional Chinese. In 1988, it was translated into simplified Chinese, with the revised version first printed at Nanjing Amity Printing Co.

Bishop Shen Bin, vice-president of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association and Bishops Conference of the Catholic Church in China, said the number of Bibles printed is a "barometer" for the development of Christianity, while changes in Biblical translation can also showcase the sinicization of Chinese churches.

"Chinese followers now have higher requirements for Bible translations, so there are proposals to make some adjustments, such as making the translations of certain people's names and places more accurate," Shen said.

Perreau, from the United Bibles Societies, said the Nanjing company is now the biggest supplier to the organization. More than 60 percent of the Bibles distributed by the Societies' network in over 200 countries and regions were produced by the company.

In August, the US government announced that Bibles and other religious literature would not face additional tariffs of 10 percent.

"Bible printing and exports have great potential in China, which will be more open in the future," Perreau said. "Even the trade war between the country and the US has not affected such exports."


The final layer of glue is applied to spines of copies of the New American Bible at Nanjing Amity Printing Co in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. CUI JIA/CHINA DAILY



A worker gives Bibles for export a final check. CUI JIA/CHINA DAILY



From left: Workers check Bible pages; copies roll off a production line; the books are packaged for export. CUI JIA/CHINA DAILY





2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Official slams Washington's military bill]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530580.htm Any attempts by the United States to stifle China's development will be in vain, and will only backfire and harm the US, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, a spokesman at the Ministry of National Defense, said at a news briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

"If someone insists on forcing China into being a competitor, then China will certainly be a formidable one," Wu said when commenting on the recent hawkish rhetoric and actions by the US, which he said have "blatantly interfered with China's domestic affairs" and seriously damaged military-to-military relations and bilateral ties.

In early December, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said China is now the United States' top military priority, and he accused Beijing of seeking "veto power" over the economic and security decisions of smaller nations.

John Rood, under secretary of defense for policy, said earlier this month that China has a massive military budget that it will use to "militarize" the South China Sea, improve its cyberattack capabilities and space potential and undermine the current world order.

On Dec 20, the US signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act into law. The $738 billion military spending bill includes clauses that support the protests in Hong Kong, improve Taiwan's defense capabilities through military exchanges and arms sales and require the compilation of regular reports on the condition of Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

"It is blatant interference in China's domestic affairs, and seriously violates the one-China principle and three joint communiques between China and the US," he said.

"It has damaged the growth of China-US military-to-military relations and bilateral ties, undermined mutual trust and cooperation, and the Chinese military resolutely opposes these acts," he said.

"The recent baseless accusations against China lodged by US officials sound like a criticism of the US itself," Wu said. "The NDAA authorizes a $738 billion military budget for the US, accounting for over 40 percent of global military spending. I don't know how the US has the conscience to criticize other countries for having a big military budget," he said.

Moreover, the NDAA greenlighted the launch of the US Space Force. Wu said US efforts to greatly expand its space combat capability will lead to an arms race and the militarization of outer space.

"The US is citing so-called military threats from other nations as an excuse to build its Space Force. Its intention is to pursue an absolute military advantage in space. This can easily lead to arms races and seriously threatens peace and security in space, as well as global strategic stability."

For the South China Sea, Wu said the so-called freedom of navigation operations in the region are "extremely irresponsible and dangerous", and should be renamed "hegemonic navigation".

"The US actions have seriously undermined the sovereignty and security interests of countries in the region, damaged regional peace and stability and threatened the life and safety of frontline military personnel," he said.

As for cybersecurity, Wu said the US is notorious for cyberespionage and cyberattacks against other countries. "The world is still waiting for a verdict on the Snowden incident. The US is the least qualified country to point fingers at others," he said.

Edward Snowden is a former employee of a company that worked for the US National Security Agency. In 2013, he left his job in the US and released top secret information about Washington's global surveillance programs to international media sources.

When asked about Taiwan, Wu said the island is an inseparable part of China, and the US attempt to use Taiwan to pressure China is merely a pipe dream. "We will not allow anyone, at any time, using any methods to separate Taiwan from China," he said.

The US is also publicly interfering in Hong Kong and Xinjiang affairs using "despicable and sinister means", Wu said. "It is using various excuses to interfere with China's domestic affairs, destroy the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and slander China's efforts in fighting terrorism and radicalization."

Wu said these actions have seriously violated international laws and basic principles in international relations. "We urge the US to abandon its Cold War mentality and hegemonic logic, immediately stop interfering in China's domestic affairs and take concrete actions to maintain the overall big picture of China-US relations."

When asked about China's newly commissioned aircraft carrier, the CNS Shandong, Wu said it will undergo testing and training in accordance with plans to build its systematic combat capabilities.

The carrier's deployment will be decided by current situations and mission needs, he said. As for whether China will build more aircraft carriers, Wu said it will depend on national security needs and the progress of equipment technology development.




2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[New trend: HK people spend holiday in Guangdong]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530576.htm John Lam arrived in Shenzhen on Wednesday morning after standing in a long line to complete entry procedures at the Shenzhen Bay Control Point.

"It was really crowded in the checkpoint's arrival hall," he said.

Lam, one of the thousands of Hong Kong residents who traveled to neighboring Guangdong province for the Christmas holiday over two days, planned to see friends and dine out before visiting some scenic spots.

Previously, the trend was reversed, with crowds of mainlanders crossing the border to witness the Christmas celebrations in Hong Kong.

Guangdong's wealth of tourist sites has made the area a desirable destination for people from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in recent years. Crowds were heavy as more than 50,000 people had passed both ways before noon on Wednesday. More than 42,000 of those were arriving from Hong Kong-an increase of 45 percent over the same day last year-while only 8,000 were heading to Hong Kong.

Authorities said the crush of people entering Shenzhen via the checkpoint, one of the busiest entry gates from Hong Kong, didn't let up on Thursday, and similar throngs were expected through Saturday.

Among the other things that attract visitors from Hong Kong are Shenzhen's Cantonese cuisine, the availability of goods at low prices, convenient transportation and holiday promotions.

Suki Mok arrived in Shenzhen via the Luohu Checkpoint on Wednesday. "There are crowds at the checkpoint, but they're orderly and the flow is smooth and good," she said.

Mok, who visits Shenzhen at least twice a week, spent about 200 yuan ($28.60) to have dinner with friends in a Shenzhen restaurant on Wednesday evening.

"But it cost me more than HK$800($103) for a similar dinner with friends in Hong Kong on Christmas Eve," she said.

Mok usually gets a massage, which also is much cheaper than in Hong Kong. Also, Shenzhen competes with Hong Kong in cleanliness, she added.

With major infrastructure projects linking Hong Kong and Guangdong opening in recent years, it only takes about an hour to travel between many cities in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. It now takes Hong Kong residents less than 20 minutes to reach Shenzhen via high-speed train and about 40 minutes to drive to Zhuhai via the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, which opened a year ago.

In addition to shopping centers, department stores and restaurants that offer holiday promotions, many banks have introduced special Greater Bay Area dual-currency credit cards to attract Hong Kong residents.

Many banks promise discounts and cash back for those who use their credit cards in Guangdong, which is widely viewed as a showcase for China's reform and opening-up process.


Hong Kong residents flock to the mainland via Shenzhen Bay Control Point on Wednesday for Christmas. LI SHUOJIN/FOR CHINA DAILY



2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[China releases article critical of money's impact on US elections]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530564.htm The China Society for Human Rights Studies on Thursday published "Money Politics Exposes the Hypocrisy of 'US-Style Democracy'."

The article argued that money politics is the main reason for the severe divisions in politics and society in the United States.

"In recent years in the US, the wealthy class has exerted an increasingly important influence on politics while the common people's influence on politics has declined," said the article, adding that money politics exposes the hypocrisy of US democracy.

It noted that money has infused the entire US political system and has become a persistent in US society.

The article said that the money politics of the US has distorted public opinion and turned elections into a "one-man show" of the wealthy class.

In 2016, the US elections, including campaigning and events related to presidential and congressional elections, cost a total of $6.6 billion, making it the most expensive elections in US history, the article said.

Meanwhile, a large amount of secret funds and "dark money" have also been injected into the US elections, it added.

The article cited a 2018 report by NBC News as saying that as the US Treasury Department announced that it would no longer require most nonprofit organizations to report their sources of donations, the transparency of election funding would be significantly reduced.

Over 40 percent of TV commercials broadcast by these outside groups to influence congressional elections are funded by unknown donors, said the article.

Money politics brings serious consequences, the article said. Ordinary people are deprived of their political rights. Government posts have become the exclusive domain of rich people and the upper class. Money politics is blatantly delivering benefits to the rich, and makes it more difficult for the US to solve its pressing political and social problems, including gun violence.

"Money politics is an inevitable result of the US capitalist system," the article said.

US democracy is a political form through which the bourgeoisie rule. Given this, US democracy naturally reflects the will of capitalists and serves their interests, it said, adding that candidates of the country's two major political parties are merely representatives of different factions within the bourgeoisie.

Money politics exposes the nature of US society and its lies when it praises itself as the best example of democracy and the guardian of human rights for the world.

"In the US, where money governs politics, political participation and discussions can never be actualized without the help of money," it said.


2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Online spending on pets makes big jump]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/27/content_37530586.htm The country's pet product industry has witnessed vigorous growth, with online buying playing a vital role in bolstering sales, according to recent reports.

Growth has been bolstered by the tech-savvy younger generation's preference for buying high-end, imported pet food and other products such as grooming and medical care products and services through e-commerce platforms.

According to a report by e-commerce giant JD and global data analytics company Nielsen, the groups of consumers born after 1985 and after 1990 represent a 40.3 percent share of online pet care purchases, and those pet owners are willing to pay more for premium, imported products seen as nutritious and safe.

The report noted that single people and women make up the majority of online purchases of pet products, especially as marriage and childbirth rates decline.

The top five cities for online spending on pet products are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu and Shenzhen, the report said.

Pet food sales-the largest segment in the overall pet industry-increased from 28 billion yuan ($4 billion) in 2015 to 59.4 billion yuan in 2018.

The report also said that unmarried people are the biggest online buyers of dog and cat food and related services, while the majority of owners of aquatic animals and exotic pets, such as birds, mice and rabbits, are married.

JD reported that high-end and high-tech pet products were very popular during the most recent Singles Day shopping event.

Sales revenue for insect repellents for pets surged 243 percent year-on-year, and sales of litter boxes for cats increased 232 percent.

Zhang Qiang, a partner at Roland Berger China, said having pets has become increasingly popular, especially among empty nesters and single people, groups that also are big buyers of high-end pet products and services.

"Buying online has become a major channel for Chinese pet owners, due to its wide range of pet products, quality guarantees, convenience and precise digital marketing strategy," Zhang added.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics, China has become the third-largest pet market after the United States and Japan.

The market for China's pet industry skyrocketed to 172.2 billion yuan in 2018 from the 49.4 billion yuan spent in 2013, according to a report market research firm Frost& Sullivan released this year.

Industry experts said they expect China's pet industry will further develop along with the growing number of pets and the increasing buying power of pet owners. China's pet product market is forecast to reach 472.3 billion yuan by 2023.

Zhang said the market for pet goods and services is expected to sustain an annual compound growth rate of about 15 percent by 2023, while competition between domestic and foreign pet brands is expected to grow in intensity in the next few years.

Neil Wang, president of Frost & Sullivan China, said, along with rising disposable incomes and consumption upgrades, residents are increasing their spending on leisure and entertainment purchases, which include products and services needed for raising pets. Wang said veterinary services also are expected to grow quickly and offer enormous development opportunities.


Pet food sales in China CHINA DAILY



2019-12-27 00:00:00
<![CDATA[99,000 telecom fraud suspects detained]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530343.htm Police have detained over 99,000 suspects accused of telecom and internet fraud across the country since June, an increase of 135.6 percent year-on-year, the Ministry of Public Security said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Public security authorities nationwide have closed more than 118,000 cases related to telecom and internet fraud, a 62.7 percent year-on-year increase, ministry officials said.

The crackdown on fraud was a part of a special campaign codenamed Yunjian, or "sword in cloud", launched by the ministry on June 13, and it was planned to conclude at the end of October but continued.

In order to ensure a safe and stable social environment at the end of the year, the campaign has been extended to January, and public security organs will continue to intensify efforts to fight such crimes, said Liu Zhongyi, director at the ministry's criminal investigation bureau.

The number of fugitives captured during the campaign reached 243,000, and 96 of them are on a list of top A-level warrants issued by the ministry.

"We have organized domestic police forces from 13 provinces and cooperated with foreign counterparts in Cambodia, the Philippines and Laos to crack down on cross-border crimes, and 2,553 suspects involved with telecom and internet fraud were sent back to China for trial," Liu said.

"In Europe, we have cooperated with the Spanish police, extraditing 229 suspects related to telecom fraud back to China, and in Mongolia, we have brought back 251 fugitives who committed crimes of fraud," he added.

"We are taking various measures to crack down on criminal activities related to telecom and internet fraud, including big data and artificial intelligence technologies, and such measures played a positive role in the campaign," said Sun Jinfeng, deputy director at the criminal investigation bureau of the ministry.


2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Policies to benefit Taiwan compatriots]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530393.htm As the Democratic Progressive Party of Taiwan erects barriers to cross-Straits exchanges, the mainland is concerned about the interests and well-being of the island's residents, the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday.

Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for the office, reminded Taiwan compatriots at a news conference on Wednesday that they can dial 12308, the hotline for Chinese citizens overseas, to seek consular protection and assistance anytime.

The hotline is one of the "26 measures" unveiled last month to further promote economic and cultural exchanges across the Taiwan Straits and to offer Taiwan residents the same treatment as mainland residents.

Mainland authorities, embassies and consulates overseas are always there for Taiwan compatriots to handle issues including procedures for travel documents, overseas civil disputes, economic and criminal cases and emergencies such as earthquakes, floods and evacuations, Zhu said.

According to the 14th of the 26 measures, Taiwan compatriots can seek consular protection and assistance and apply for travel documents at embassies and consulates of the People's Republic of China overseas, said Yang Shu, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

"We've always attached great importance to safeguarding the safety, rights and interests of Taiwan compatriots overseas and have been active in providing them with consular protection and assistance," Yang added.

Besides consular protection, the 26 measures also provide Taiwan people with more preferential policies.

Wang Zhiwei, an official at the Ministry of Education, said the ministry has continuously worked to make favorable policies for Taiwan students studying on the mainland.

More than 12,000 Taiwan students now are studying at Chinese mainland colleges and universities, and about 7,000 have won scholarships, Wang said.

The ministry will allow more mainland schools to enroll Taiwan students and adjust majors to better meet their needs, he said.

Li Jinsheng, an official at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said the policies give Taiwan people access to professional title reviews on the mainland, and 173 Taiwan people in Fujian province have obtained corresponding titles.

Wu Jian, an official with the State General Administration of Sport, said the mainland will host several international sporting events in the coming years, including the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and the mainland will offer help to Taiwan athletes who come to the mainland for training.

Zhu said Taiwan people on the mainland enjoy the same housing policies as locals and can even apply for public housing if qualified.

She said 38 Taiwan people in Shanghai and 16 in Xiamen, Fujian province, have moved into such apartments. Guangzhou, Guangdong province and Shanghai recently authorized 1,000 and 300 government-subsidized apartments, respectively, for application by Taiwan people living in the two cities.

The ruling DPP of Taiwan has said on several occasions that the Chinese mainland issued such policies to interfere in the island's upcoming elections scheduled for Jan 11.

In response, Zhu said on Wednesday: "We have never been involved in Taiwan elections. We are concerned about prospects for the development of cross-Straits relations and the interests and well-being of our compatriots in Taiwan."

In contrast, the DPP authorities have for more than three years been engaged in trickery, trying to divide Taiwan society and create hostility across the Straits, Zhu said.

"They are doing everything possible to block the island's residents from coming to the mainland," she said, adding that they punished some Taiwan people who worked on the mainland, ordered officials not to visit the mainland and threatened media that criticize them.

"It is clear that the DPP authorities manipulate elections by elevating cross-Straits confrontation. They deprive Taiwan residents of the opportunity to choose and restrict their development space," she said.

This year, cross-Straits relations have become increasingly complex. The DPP authorities have continued to push for various "Taiwan independence" activities, seriously undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, she added.

Zhu called on compatriots on both sides to be on high alert and not be deceived by the political manipulation of the DPP.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[TASTE BUDS TANTALIZED IN NATION'S 'DUCK CAPITAL']]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530392.htm While Peking duck has made a name for itself both in China and overseas, Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, is known as the country's "duck capital".

Every year, more than 100 million ducks are consumed in the city, which has a human population of more than 8 million. Numerous restaurants and shops selling duck products are scattered throughout residential communities.

Unlike Beijingers, who usually eat roast ducks in restaurants, people in Nanjing often buy freshly roasted or salted ducks from roadside shops to eat at their leisure.

While a whole roast duck in Beijing may cost about 200 yuan ($28), people in Nanjing usually spend about 20 yuan on roasted or salted birds that have been quartered. The vendors then chop the ducks into smaller pieces and wrap them for customers.

In winter, a dark, succulent sauce made in rice cookers is scooped into plastic bags by vendors and sold with chopped roast duck.

If any sauce is left over after the duck has been eaten, it can be used in wax gourd recipes. Many people also add rice to the sauce to make it extra tasty.

Nanjing's love for ducks is well-known nationwide. Duck Duck Goose, a computer-animated comedy film released last year, which was produced by a Nanjing company, tells the story of two ducklings and a goose who gradually form a bond as they fly south.

However, many netizens said the storyline for the movie was unrealistic.

One of the comments made was, "No duck can fly out of Nanjing alive because it will have been made into savory dishes in the city-let alone two ducks journeying south together."

Qin Lin, a Nanjing resident, said: "There are more than 10 shops selling duck products within 1 kilometer of my home. Visitors to Nanjing ask seniors they meet where they can find the best one. Another way is to look for the shop with the longest line of customers, which must make it the most popular in the neighborhood," she said.

The 20-year-old, who is studying at a university in Shanghai, said the first thing she does when she gets off the bullet train in Nanjing is head home to eat duck.

"My parents buy the ducks in advance and put them on the dining table. I like the smell and flavor. To me, this is the smell and taste of my hometown."

Though Peking ducks and Nanjing ducks vary in flavor, appearance and cooking methods, the two have a connection that dates to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

In the 1420s, Emperor Zhu Di, also known as the Yongle Emperor, moved the country's capital from Nanjing to Beijing. Chefs working for the royal family also moved to Beijing, where they came up with new methods to cook duck.

Bianyifang, a well-known Peking duck restaurant in Beijing, was named "Jinling Sliced Duck" when it first opened. "Jinling" is another name for Nanjing.

Peking duck has crispy skin and is sliced into about 100 thin pieces before being served with pancakes, spring onion and cucumber. Sometimes, it is also served with plum or other sauces, and sugar.

However, the sauce that coats roast duck in Nanjing has a color and texture similar to soy sauce. Every restaurant and shop selling ducks in the city claims to have its own special recipe for the sauce.

Not only does the sauce accompanying the duck have a secret recipe, so does the city's signature salted duck.

Xu Jing, who runs a duck shop in Pukou district, said, "The recipe is the secret that makes the ducks delicious and helps us survive in a competitive market.

"The ducks are soaked in a specially made braising liquid for four hours after being covered with salt for three hours," she said. "The braising liquid at my shop has been used for nearly 20 years. The older it is, the better the aroma."

A range of spices, along with water, are added to the pot from time to time to ensure it remains full. New supplies of spring onion and ginger are bought every day.

"We now sell more than 100 ducks a day," Xu said. "My husband and I have to get up at around 3 am to simmer and roast the ducks. But we're satisfied with the money we make, which supports my family."

Zhou Hai, a manager at the Jinling Hotel in Nanjing, said the ducks it uses are chosen carefully to ensure a better taste.

"The ducks should weigh 1.9 to 2.1 kilograms, so that the meat is tender," he said. "The skin should remain intact after the duck is plucked so that the meat doesn't get too salty.

"After being salted and marinated, the duck is cleaned and boiled in water at about 90 C to ensure the meat doesn't get dry too quickly."

Nanjing duck dishes are mentioned in books dating to 2,300 years ago. During the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), there were already more than 100 duck shops in Nanjing.

The Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) ordered 500 ducks every year from Nanjing, and at the State banquet to mark the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the final dish served was salted duck.

In Nanjing, salted duck is also called osmanthus duck, because high-quality birds can be found in September and October, when the sweet-scented osmanthus plants blossom.

Tao Siyan, a professor with the art school at Southeast University in Nanjing, said geographical reasons have also contributed to the city's love for ducks.

"Surrounded by many rivers and lakes, including the Yangtze River, local people in ancient times raised many ducks that ate the shellfish and other fish in the water. Local people have eaten duck for nearly 1,800 years.

"People used to reward soldiers with rice and ducks. They used salt to give duck meat a longer shelf life, and the special flavor gradually emerged."

Goose meat was also in high demand in ancient China. It was first used for sacrifices and then for banquets by rich families.

Nowadays, geese lay fewer eggs than ducks and require a strictly controlled environment, including humidity levels, temperature and exposure to the sun. As these birds are larger than ducks and chickens, many people worry that goose meat may go bad before it is eaten.

Ducks reach maturity quicker than chickens, with the former ready to be served on dining tables in about 45 days, contributing to their popularity in Nanjing and neighboring areas.

Tao said, "In the Qing Dynasty, Nanjing ducks were not only served to royal families, but also used as presents by officials."

Local people traditionally eat the "five yellows" during Dragon Boat Festival, Tao said, referring to eel, yellow croaker fish, cucumber, salted duck egg and wine. The egg yolk is believed to dispel evil spirits and bring good luck.

"The Chinese word for duck is ya, which sounds the same as 'suppress'. People hope that by eating duck egg yolk, evil spirits can be suppressed," Tao added.

During Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on May 5 in the Chinese lunar calendar, some children in Nanjing hang small sachets round their necks, each with a duck egg inside.

In addition to roast and salted ducks, a range of street foods consisting of duck meat, fat and blood can be found in Nanjing and neighboring cities. One of the best-known is duck blood vermicelli soup, which may conjure up images of Halloween for many visitors. The blood used for the soup is formed into small, red cubes and tastes similar to tofu, only with a more subtle flavor.

Other popular foods made from ducks include soup dumplings stuffed with small pieces of roast duck meat, duck blood wonton and sesame pastry made with duck fat.

People line up for hours at two small shops near the Confucius Temple in Nanjing to buy freshly baked sesame pastry made with duck fat.

Zhu Jun, manager with Nanjing Osmanthus Ducks Group, said it has developed duck products, redesigned its packaging and taken part in many activities to attract more customers and publicize the city's duck culture.

"We've provided new-flavored duck wings, hearts and gizzards," he said. "They are vacuum-packed in well-designed wrapping. We only have about 40 workers at the factory, but we have produced 10 million ducks annually in recent years by using new technologies.

"We hope that time-honored brands of duck products will remain popular among the next generation, and we'll follow trends to publicize the products with more attractive images and better quality."

Guo Jun contributed to this story.




Workers use traditional methods to prepare ducks in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province. The city is known as China's "duck capital". CHINA DAILY



Ducks are checked for quality at Nanjing Osmanthus Ducks Group CHINA DAILY



Modern machinery is used to package the birds. CHINA DAILY



A laboratory worker at Nanjing Osmanthus Ducks Group performs a safety test to assess the quality of duck meat. CHINA DAILY



2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Beijing, Tokyo eye broader cooperation]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530391.htm Beijing and Tokyo have agreed to expand cooperation in coping with aging societies and other issues as they seek to foster new areas of bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

The consensus was made between Premier Li Keqiang and his Japanese counterpart, Shinzo Abe, on Wednesday. The two leaders had talks in a hotel at the foot of Mount Qingcheng, a Taoist holy site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, about one-hour drive from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province.

The two leaders, together with Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in, convened in the city for the eighth China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting on Tuesday.

Li said China's ongoing efforts to further open up its services sector will provide more opportunities for both countries to expand win-win cooperation. There is broad space for greater bilateral cooperation in coping with aging societies and achieving mutual benefits, he said.

Both countries also face challenges of rapidly aging societies. New births in Japan have fallen below 900,000 per year for the first time on record, while births in China dropped for two consecutive years despite a universal two-child policy being adopted.

He highlighted the modern services-including securities, life insurance and healthcare-as sectors where the two countries can work together further.

"We can select some pilot areas where there will be greater opening-up so as to foster new highlights for bilateral cooperation. Chengdu could be a good option," Li said.

He also urged more cooperative measures in investment, innovation and tapping into third-party markets, as well as higher level people-to-people exchanges.

Abe echoed Li's proposal, saying that there is broad space for bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

He said Japan appreciates China's efforts to further open up its services sector, and it is willing to actively take part in the process.

During the meeting, Li also called upon both sides to stay committed to the principles set out in four political documents that are fundamental to Sino-Japanese relations, carefully handle sensitive issues and enable continuous new progress.

Abe said the two countries must conduct closer high-level exchanges, enhance communication and dialogue and jointly open a new era for bilateral relations.

After the meeting, Li accompanied Abe on a visit to the Dujiangyan irrigation system, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bilateral trade between China and Japan reached more than $327 billion in 2018, up 8.1 percent over the previous year. Since 2007, China has been Japan's largest trade partner.

Relations between China and Japan were long clouded by issues including wartime history and territorial disputes. But they have come back on track since Li's visit to Japan in May 2018. Five months later, Abe visited Beijing.

When President Xi Jinping and Abe met in June on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, Xi agreed in principle to accept Abe's invitation to make a state visit to Japan next spring.

Ahead of his trip to Chengdu, Abe met Xi in Beijing on Monday.

Zhou Yongsheng, deputy director of China Foreign Affairs University's Japanese Studies Center, said Japan has much expertise to share with China in its services sector.

"Both economies now face downward pressure and require vitality from outside to shore up growth," Zhou said, adding that closer bilateral trade relations and investment cooperation will offer the two countries more leeway amid the sluggish global economy.

Xu Liping, a researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said greater political mutual trust is needed for the two countries to elevate bilateral relations.

"It is important for the two countries to see each other as cooperative partners rather than opponents," he said, adding that more must be done to promote understanding between the two peoples.

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi also met with Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Beijing on Wednesday.


2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tax, fee cuts boosting economic growth]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530344.htm China's tax and fee reduction initiative may boost overall economic growth by 0.8 percentage point this year, and policymakers are saving money to support economic growth through controlling unnecessary expenditures, Finance Minister Liu Kun reported to the country's top legislature on Wednesday.

Tax and fee cuts in 2019, predicted to exceed the annual target of 2 trillion yuan ($286 billion), will speed up the GDP growth, promote increases in fixed-asset investment by 0.5 percentage point and lift retail sales by 1.1 percentage points, Liu said at the ongoing bimonthly session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

From January to October, tax and fee cuts totaled 1.97 trillion yuan, with the full year's amount to be over 2 trillion yuan, representing about 2 percent of GDP, much higher than any other country, Liu said.

The Ministry of Finance said that in the April-October period, the value-added tax in manufacturing and wholesales industries dropped by 459.88 billion yuan, down by 25.7 percent from the level before April 1, when VAT reform was launched.

For small and micro-enterprises, about 186 billion yuan in taxes had been reduced by the end of October. The average per-person income tax payment dropped by 1,786 yuan by the end of October, compared with a year earlier.

Li Xuhong, a senior researcher with the Beijing National Accounting Institute, said that given the tax cuts, "attention should be given to the sustainability of fiscal policies." The cuts will put pressure on the fiscal budget and push the government to increase debt.

To maintain stable fiscal spending-the major force behind infrastructure investment-the government's daily administrative expenditures may drop by over 10 percent this year, given that the top leadership pledged to "tighten the belt" in some areas, Liu said.

Given less tax income, local government budgets may see a shortage this year, while the central government is able to achieve its budgeted income. Any shortages, if amounts are small, will be supplemented through reducing spending that is not urgent, Liu added.

"Policymakers … plan to consolidate the effect of tax cuts this year, which almost rules out the possibility of further tax cuts," said Song Yu, chief economist of Beijing Gao Hua Securities. "The fiscal deficit target of 2.8 percent in 2019 is likely to be hard to achieve already and further cuts are not practical. But this should have been widely anticipated."

On Nov 27, the Ministry of Finance issued a new special bond quota of 1 trillion yuan in advance, accounting for 47 percent of the 2.15 trillion yuan total quota in 2019. The ministry instructed local governments to use funds raised by the special bonds for infrastructure projects "as soon as possible". The policy's effect should be seen at the beginning of 2020 in shoring up economic growth, the ministry said.

The annual Central Economic Work Conference on Dec 10 to 12 indicated that policymakers recognized that downside pressures on growth are increasing and they have vowed to work to stabilize growth, according to Nomura Securities research.

"On fiscal policies, we expect no new tax cuts, and instead believe Beijing will focus on implementing existing tax cuts," the research said.


2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Gas stations of Sinopec, CNPC to offer fast food]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530373.htm In addition to filling up the tank or grabbing a cup of coffee, now drivers in China can pick up some Mexican food or fried chicken at gas stations.

Fast-food chain Yum China Holdings Inc-parent company of the China operations of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell-has joined hands with the country's two largest gas station chains to open 100 restaurants of various formats and brands in the country over the next three years.

The move is expected to quickly boost its fast food presence along the country's vast highway network and further diversify nonfuel services at gas station chains.

Yum China announced this month the opening of its first group of franchised restaurants in collaboration with China Petrochemical Corp (Sinopec) and China National Petroleum Corp.

On Dec 17, the first franchised KFC under the cooperation agreement opened at a CNPC gas station in Kunming, Yunnan province. In Dalian, Liaoning province, the first KFC-franchised restaurant in a Sinopec gas station opened on Monday.

The two gas station operators will open new restaurants-either franchised or leased on their properties. Yum China began opening drive-through restaurants at gas stations using a lease model in 2008. But it was only last year that Yum China started to draw up plans to work with CNPC using the franchise model.

A pilot KFC-franchised restaurant, which opened in October 2018 at a CNPC gas station in Tangshan, Hebei province, has been a big hit, serving as proof of "the synergies achieved from combining the unique location of gas stations with Yum China's operating management expertise", Yum China said.

To franchise, Sinopec and CNPC are responsible for investing in store operations and offering Yum franchising fees, the company said.

The franchising model only applies to KFC restaurants. According to the agreement, KFC has become CNPC's only Western quick-service restaurant franchise partner at its gas stations.

Other Yum brands will be operated using the leasing model in collaboration with Sinopec and CNPC, the company said.

Lin Boqiang, head of Xiamen University's China Institute for Studies in Energy Policy, said that adding retail and catering operations is beneficial for Chinese oil and gas companies to tap new growth potential by leveraging from their massive network.

For example, in September, Sinopec's Easy Joy chain of convenience stores rolled out an Easy Joy cafe in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, offering delivery and in-store consumption services. Lin expects more oil and gas service companies from the private sector will expand into retail.

Zhu Danpeng, an independent food and beverage analyst, said collaboration with the catering giant will further enhance the diversification of business offerings and thus boost income-generating capacities for State-owned enterprises such as Sinopec and CNPC. The two SOEs collectively operate more than 50,000 gas stations across China, of which over 30,000 belong to Sinopec and more than 20,000 to CNPC.

Diversification of non-gas services has been on the agenda for Sinopec and CNPC as they attempt to boost profitability. The franchised model will encourage gas station operators to open restaurants at key locations, said Jason Yu, general manager of consultancy Kantar Worldpanel.

"For fast food franchises, availability is critical. So building their presence in petrol stations helped further drive availability and create new consumption occasions for travelers behind the wheel," Yu said.

Easy Joy, the retail unit of Sinopec, had 27,259 outlets in 2018, tops nationwide among convenience stores. It is followed by 19,700 uSmile convenience stores operated by CNPC, according to a report jointly released by KPMG and China Chain Store and Franchise Association.

Yum China, which also owns brands including Little Sheep and East Dawning, had more than 8,900 restaurants in over 1,300 cities by the end of September.

The partnership with both companies will enable Yum China to accelerate the expansion of its portfolio of brands into a previously underserved segment of the market, specifically gas stations and highway service areas across the country, according to Yum China.

]]> 2019-12-26 00:00:00 <![CDATA[CFA works to improve domestic soccer clubs]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530364.htm The Chinese Football Association is determined to make Chinese soccer leagues more professional, as the nation's governing body for the sport is busy developing new policies ahead of the 2020 season.

The CFA had a "policy clarification" meeting with representatives of Chinese Super League clubs on Wednesday in Beijing.

Many details of the new policies, which will include salary caps, youth training, player transfers and registration, are yet to be released. But the CFA has made it clear the aim is to ensure the healthy and sustainable development of Chinese soccer leagues.

The new regulation on player salaries has attracted the most attention. The CFA will install an annual salary cap of 10 million yuan ($1.43 million) for Chinese players in professional leagues, Xinhua News Agency reported. Players selected for the national squad will have an annual cap of 12 million yuan. The policy is meant to regulate contracts that were signed after Nov 20.

For foreign players, the annual salary cap will be 3 million euros ($3.3 million) for contracts that are signed after Jan 1. The limit for total expenditures for CSL clubs in 2020 would be 1.1 billion yuan, with salaries representing no more than 60 percent. In 2021, the total limit would shrink to 900 million yuan, with salaries not exceeding 55 percent.

A strict salary cap is seen as a way to make Chinese clubs healthier financially and encourage more Chinese to gain experience in high-quality leagues abroad. Wu Lei, playing for Espanyol in La Liga, is the only Chinese playing in a top European league. Fans blame the high salaries and less competitive environment at home for weakening Chinese players' willingness to compete in foreign leagues.

CFA officials said during the meeting that Chinese soccer should learn from Japan and South Korea to improve soccer management and teams' competitiveness. The CFA also said it would establish a joint working group for policymaking and refining details of the new policy.

"The purpose of making new policies is to ensure the healthy growth of our professional leagues and keep them energetic," said Dong Zheng, leader of the working group. "We are working to give our clubs healthier finances and facilitate the growth of young players.

"We hope to reach an agreement with our clubs and achieve the goal together. This is not like ordering our clubs to do something. We are collecting opinions from clubs, and we now have a general direction for our policy."

The CFA also will allow each CSL team to register up to six foreign players a season. For each game, a club could use five foreign players, and four could be on the pitch simultaneously, Xinhua reported. For the second-tier China League One, a club could register four foreign players per season and use three of them each match, with two playing at the same time.

Other policies the CFA is working on include youth training and giving young players more playing time in professional leagues. The CFA also would help Chinese clubs eliminate the use of company identifiers in their names.

"Many policy details and how to execute them are not determined," Dong added. "The next step is to work out the details with club representatives and other organizations as a joint working team.

"We are facing a tight schedule with the new season approaching. Clubs can make preparations based on the general direction of our policy, and we will release the details as soon as possible."


2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Two dishes]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530350.htm SIMPLIFIED METHOD OF COOKING SALTED DUCK

Two duck legs

60 grams salt

30 grams star anise

5 grams Chinese paprika

15 grams spring onions

5 grams ginger

10 grams Shaoxing wine (yellow rice wine)

Clean the duck legs and poke a few holes in them with a fork.

Heat the star anise and Chinese paprika until you can smell the aroma, then add salt, spring onions and ginger and fry them together with a little oil.

Pour hot water into the pot and boil.

Add the duck legs and Shaoxing wine and boil on a medium heat for 30 minutes.

Prepare a bowl of iced water and place the duck legs inside.

Filter the braising liquid left in the pot and allow it to cool.

Place the legs in this liquid overnight. It may need to be put in a fridge in summer. Serve.


One duck

Five-spice powder (star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and brown pepper, which can be bought in supermarkets)



Soy sauce

Spring onions


Sweet sauce made of fermented flour; dumpling wrappers (both can bought in supermarkets)

Clean the duck and let it dry for about three hours.

Mix soy sauce with five-spice powder and add salt.

Rub the mixed seasoning on the duck skin and inside the bird.

Wrap the duck and place in a fridge overnight.

Bake at a temperature of 175 C for 30 minutes.

Brush skin with honey and bake for another 30 minutes, before brushing with honey again and baking for a final 30 minutes. There is no need to turn the bird over.

Brush oil inside two layers of dumpling wrappers. Place several layers together and roll into thin pancakes.

Boil water and steam the pancakes

Slice the duck into thin pieces.

Serve with spring onion, cucumber and soy sauce.


2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Stabilizing employment emphasized]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/26/content_37530385.htm China is working to stabilize the job market by supporting its employment-first policy and improving mechanisms for securing full, high-quality employment, according to a recent State Council guideline.

Six measures are included in the guideline, released on Tuesday, to help stabilize the job market and avoid the potential for elevated unemployment.

Service businesses, including domestic services, tourism and nursing, would get support for encouraging more job creation.

The government will provide more financial support to private enterprises and small and medium-sized enterprises to help them in the domestic market, while their job cuts will be regulated. Flexible employment and entrepreneurship will be emphasized to invigorate the job market. Loan application requirements for people wanting to start small and micro businesses will be relaxed.

The government also will improve the job information monitoring system and allow the jobless to register as unemployed in another province to make job information easier to access.

Large-scale skill training courses will be provided to the jobless under age 20 and those unable to obtain higher education after junior or senior high schools. Financial assistance will be given to those in training courses.

"Though we face great pressure in employment given the current economic landscape, the government is taking positive measures to stabilize the job market," said Chen Lixiang, vice-dean at Peking University's China Institute for Occupation Research. He said pressure on employment comes from adjustments in the domestic economic structure and the international landscape.

"Information technology also is bringing a revolution to the job market with automation," he said. "The emergence of the virtual economy did create some new professionals but it also shocked the real economy and people who serve the real economy."

Li Qiang, vice-president of Zhaopin, an online recruitment platform in Beijing, said some groups are facing greater difficulty in finding jobs.

"Industrial workers may face difficulties seeking jobs in the service sector," he said. "The work they used to do in factories usually involved repetitive tasks requiring strength. However, jobs in the service sector put greater emphasis on brain power. It's important for them to have access to training programs to develop new skills for new jobs," he said.

Still, experts remained positive.

"The economy is growing healthily, which is important for boosting employment," Chen said. "There is pressure on the job market, but it won't become too great."

In March, the employment-first policy was elevated to an important national policy, joining fiscal and monetary policies, for the first time this year.

As of the end of November, there was continuous and stable growth in employment with about 12.79 million new urban jobs created this year, outperforming the target of 11 million set in March, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Based on an NBS survey in November, the national jobless rate that month was 5.1 percent. Among people 25 to 59 years old, the rate was 4.6 percent, roughly unchanged from October. The unemployment rate is within a reasonable range, the NBS said in a news release.


2019-12-26 00:00:00
<![CDATA['Win-win' wins app's Word of the Year contest]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530170.htm China Daily's app users have chosen "win-win" as the app's 2019 International Word of the Year.

In answer to the app's call to reflect on the world and nominate a 2019 word of the year, readers from around the world selected the word that in their view captured the international events that caught their attention over the past 12 months.

Five top words were chosen from hundreds of candidates-Belt and Road, climate crisis, multilateralism, turbulence and win-win.

The app received altogether 10,569 votes from Dec 13 to Monday, with 38 percent of voters selecting "win-win".

Some users explained why they chose the word.

"My choice of this word argues against the notion of the zero-sum theory," said a reader with the username "George".

Experts viewed the hyphenated word choice as a vision shared by people worldwide. "This word is not only relevant to the current international situation, but is also closely related to everyone's life and vital interests. Everyone hopes that the two largest economies-China and the United States-can cooperate with each other and achieve mutual benefits so that the world can become more peaceful and prosperous," said Wang Peng, an associate research fellow at Renmin University of China's Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies.

Amid rising unilateralism and protectionism, the concept of win-win was a common theme around the world this year.

"It (the choice of win-win) reflects the core value of China's participation in global governance. China advocates inclusive globalization, pursues multilateralism and win-win cooperation and opposes unilateralism and protectionism," said Jiang Zhida, an associate research fellow at China Institute of International Studies' Center for Belt and Road Studies.

In second place came "Belt and Road" with 26 percent of votes. A reader with the username "black" said: "It (the Belt and Road Initiative) is a good way to develop the economy. For example, one country's products can be exported to other countries and vice versa. In this way, the whole Earth is a family."

The word "climate crisis" received 13 percent of votes as awareness of the problem grows. Meanwhile, 12 percent of votes went to "turbulence". The world witnessed growing turbulence in 2019 with the Middle East once again seeing clashes, and protests in South America led to chaos.

"Multilateralism" received 11 percent of the votes. A reader said multilateralism is critical to building a new world order that will ensure people reach the future they desire.

Jiang Lu contributed to this story.


2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA[FOREIGN MUSICIANS MAKE OVERTURES TO CHINA]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530226.htm Fans welcome Galen Crew, 29, at airports and hotels where he stays, his concerts sell out fast and his followers sing along to the lyrics he writes.

The singer-songwriter-who was born in Ocean City, New Jersey, United States, grew up in Tennessee and now lives in Nashville, the state capital-has accumulated a large fan base in China, as have some of his peers from other countries.

From Nov 28 to Dec 7, Crew played a seven-city Chinese tour, including concerts in Shanghai, Beijing and Chengdu, Sichuan province.

He updated his schedule on his Sina Weibo account, where he interacts with his Chinese fans, who have given him a nickname, chuan zhang, which translates as "captain".

"I have been to all of the cities at least twice now-but this is actually my third time in Guangzhou (Guangdong province), Beijing and Shanghai," Crew said. "The most exciting thing is appearing in city after city and seeing that fans know the words to my songs. When they sing along with me, it is exhilarating."

His interest in music started at an early age, and he wrote his first composition at 11. He has played with various bands since high school, performing on a range of instruments, including acoustic guitar, ukulele, bass guitar and piano. He also produces music for other artists.

Crew describes his music-a combination of pop, electronic and some folk elements-as "dreamy", as he draws a lot of inspiration from stories, both fantasy and real-life.

On Dec 5, one fan, named Rongyan, posted on Crew's music page on NetEase Cloud Music, one of the main online music platforms in China: "It was a touching moment to watch his show in China and hear him speak Chinese. He worked hard to learn to speak Chinese for his fans."

In 2014, Crew began hearing from Chinese fans, who told him his songs were becoming popular in the country.

He said: "I wasn't even sure if it was true, but then some fans sent me a link to a Chinese music platform, where my songs were getting millions of plays. I said: 'Wow!! This is amazing!'"

He then created a profile on Sina Weibo and began communicating with his fans more regularly. Inspired to learn just how much his followers in China were enjoying his songs, he began planning a trip to the country in 2016.

Crew said: "One thing that many fans say to me is that they feel a strong sense of peace and calm when they listen to my songs. Others say that my songs make them feel as if they have suddenly stepped into a joyful dream. It really motivates me to continue writing new songs when I see the uplifting effect the music is having on them."

His popularity in China has extended to the US, where he now has a great number of Chinese followers.

"My music is actually much more popular in China than in the US. I have fans in the US and I have toured many states there, but these fans are typically not as passionate about my songs as those from China. However, when people in the US hear about my popularity in China, they are fascinated by this," Crew said.

"My American friends are always asking me about China and about my fans there. I have told many people in the US about the wonderful experiences I've had in China and the interesting things I've learned about Chinese culture. I have fallen in love with the Chinese people. It is very heartwarming for people to hear about this unique international connection we share."

His recent tour, titled Apologue, features 20 songs he released in four separate volumes.

"I wanted the tour to sort of make listeners feel as if they were reading a book of fairy tales as they listened to the songs. This project is a journey of adventure and excitement, but also what it feels like to walk through sadness and hardship," Crew said, adding that he used his own life experiences to craft songs that can relate to everyone. "Ultimately, I want people to feel a sense of hope and peace when they listen to them."

His latest release is I Want You Close Forever. The artwork to promote it was done by a fan in Shanghai named only as May. Crew released the number in China before the rest of the world, saying, "It's almost like a love song from me to the Chinese people."

During his debut tour of China in 2016, he wrote a song titled Fragrance. Crew said he was so inspired by what he was experiencing in the country that "my mind was kind of blown". He had never been to China before, and yet huge numbers of fans were coming to his shows and singing along to all the songs. He even featured the traditional Chinese instrument the erhu in Fragrance, as well as filming the video for it in China.

NetEase Cloud Music, where Crew can see fans' comments and how they react to each song, has helped him reach out to his followers in the country.

"My songs first became popular on NetEase Cloud Music, so I knew I needed to focus on engaging my audience there", he said.

In August 2016, one of Crew's songs, Sleepyhead, received nearly 20,000 comments, later becoming one of his most popular in China.

One fan who watched Crew's show in Beijing on Dec 2 at Mao Livehouse, commented on the artist's Weibo account the following day: "I discovered Galen through the song Sleepyhead and I enjoyed his music, which is warm and uplifting. His music gives me so much courage to believe that everything will be OK."

Another fan, who wrote to Crew, said: "We are cheered by your musical work. Sometimes life is difficult, but your music is always warm."

Crew wrote Sleepyhead with British songwriter Roger Cook, who is a friend of his. "It was very surprising to me at first when the Chinese responded to this song so much. Now, one of my favorite moments in the show is to perform Sleepyhead, because the Chinese fans sing along to every word."

Meanwhile, New Zealand singer-songwriter Luke Thompson has begun his first tour of China, appearing in Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province.

"Before I gave my first show in Shanghai on Dec 8, I thought there would be about 20 people in the audience. But I was surprised to see over 200 show up," Thompson said in an interview before he appeared in Beijing on Sunday.

The self-managed artist has released albums, including To the Common Dark in 2012, Strum Strum in 2015 and Hosts in 2016.

One of his most popular songs among Chinese fans is On a Slow Boat to China. They apparently enjoy the number due to its title, although it refers to something that takes a very long time.

About two years ago, Thompson started to receive emails and messages from Chinese fans, who shared their feelings about his music. With his smooth guitar-driven melodies, he now has more than 30,000 followers on his page on Net-Ease Cloud Music.

"I didn't know much about China, but I was eager to explore it," he said. During his trip to the country, he was drawn to its ancient history and he also bought some traditional musical instruments.

He even wrote a song just after he arrived in Shanghai, titled From Shanghai to Anywhere Else, which voices his feelings about the country.

In 2017, China was a new entrant to the global top 10 music market, and rose to seventh place last year, according to the report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. The country's music market has enormous untapped potential, with an online user base of 650 million people and a growing number of licensed digital services, according to the federation.

Since its launch in 2013, NetEase Cloud Music has collaborated with more than 200 music companies on legal copyright issues. The music platform now has over 30 million authorized songs, which have attracted about 900 million comments.

Mathew Daniel, vice-president, international, of NetEase Cloud Music, said almost 90 percent of its music is Western, as it represents the largest growth category.

"It (the platform) is among the social media available to artists to connect to their fans in China, and those who have invested their time and efforts in cultivating their Chinese fans have definitely benefited. The fans are now eager to familiarize themselves with more music genres that have traditionally been dominated by Western artists, so the opportunity is there for these artists to reciprocate that interest via social media."

With the daily number of user-generated playlists standing at nearly 1 million, comments at 1.6 million, and shares at more than 10 million, users spend an average of at least 1.5 hours a day on the service.

With Chinese music fans embracing a variety of genres, international artists such as Dutch disc jockeys R3HAB and W&W have built a strong profile in the country in collaboration with Net-Ease Cloud Music.

Other artists, including singer-songwriters Kim Taylor from the US and J.Fla from South Korea, have gained more popularity in China than at home.

Daniel said: "While the rest of the music world was evolving in one direction, China's music market was moving in a different direction and at a different pace.

"But with the internet, everything rushes into China from the rest of the world, but often without context or chronology. So, part of the challenge for international artists and potential fans is to try to find a match musically, especially when the potential audience is not aware of the background of the music, genre or artists. As such, social media has taken on a more important role in providing more musical context."

In addition to online music platforms, the Chinese record company Modern Sky, one of the largest indie labels, also helps bring foreign artists to the country. In 2006, it launched its first overseas office in New York, while in 2017, it opened Modern Sky UK in Liverpool, northern England.

The overseas offices sign local bands as well as introducing them to Chinese fans via social media and the Strawberry Music Festival, an annual outdoor event held in a number of Chinese cities.

The label, launched in 1997 by rocker Shen Lihui, has held sold-out concerts for international acts, including Australian singer-songwriter Lenka Kripac and Brett Anderson from the British rock band Suede.

It has signed nearly 100 Western bands and singer-songwriters, and in December last year launched the Modern Sky International Artist Booking Agency, which represents 17 international acts, including Wednesday Campanella, a Japanese group, and the British four-piece alternative rock band Wolf Alice.




Singer-songwriter Luke Thompson performs in Shanghai on Dec 8. CHINA DAILY



Galen Crew, who also writes his own songs, toured seven Chinese cities from Nov 28 to Dec 7. CHINA DAILY



Fans attend Galen Crew's concert in Beijing on Dec 2 CHINA DAILY



Luke Thompson performs in Shanghai CHINA DAILY



Crew interacts with his fans in Beijing. CHINA DAILY



2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Leaders vow to jointly tackle challenges]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530224.htm Leaders from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea reaffirmed on Tuesday their commitment to bolster regional economic integration and jointly tackle common challenges such as aging societies, healthcare and environmental protection.

Premier Li Keqiang, ROK President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also laid out a blueprint for trilateral cooperation for the next decade as they convened in Chengdu, Sichuan province, for the eighth China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting.

The three leaders agreed to speed up negotiations on a trilateral free trade agreement, aiming for a comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial FTA with its own value.

They also underlined the significance of coping with aging societies, with ways of promoting healthy and active aging through comprehensive policy measures. Trilateral cooperation in environmental protection, healthcare and addressing climate change was also highlighted.

China proposes the establishment of a joint investment fund between financial institutions from the three nations under commercial and market principles to provide funding support for trilateral cooperation and cooperation at an even larger scope, Li said at the leaders' meeting.

The three countries, all firm supporters of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, must push for the signing of the trade pact next year as scheduled and work toward further regional economic integration, Li said.

The three sides must consolidate the foundation for mutual trust, respect one another's interests and major concerns and stay committed to dialogue and consultation in solving differences, he said.

China, Japan and the ROK, all major countries in innovation, must step up cooperation on innovation, foster new growth points and share innovation outcomes, he said.

He urged more efforts to enable easier mobile payments to provide more convenient services for tourists from the three countries.

Regarding the Korean Peninsula, Li said the three sides must jointly safeguard regional peace and stability and advance denuclearization and the establishment of a mechanism to promote peace on the peninsula, which fits with the common interests of all three countries.

The premier also stressed the need to uphold free trade and push forward reform of the World Trade Organization under the principles of mutual respect, fairness and win-win outcomes.

Moon said at the meeting that it is important that the three sides work closely together and keep expanding common interests against a backdrop of rising protectionism and increasing factors of instability.

He also urged greater efforts in protecting intellectual property rights and enabling closer people-to-people exchanges.

Abe said that Japan is committed to jointly uphold free trade and multilateralism with China and the ROK and to develop a fair, just and unbiased investment and business environment.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the trilateral cooperation mechanism. Trade volume among the three countries increased from $130 billion in 1999 to over $720 billion in 2018.

On Tuesday afternoon, the three leaders attended an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the trilateral cooperation mechanism at the Du Fu Thatched Cottage, a park and museum in honor of the poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Li took the other two leaders on a tour around the park, which has a cluster of ancient buildings and was decorated with bonsai and thick vegetation.

They jointly signed three commemorative envelopes printed specially for the celebration, and planted a tree in the park.

Shumpei Takemori, a professor at Keio University in Tokyo, said new economic norms should be prepared for sustainable economic cooperation between Japan, China and the ROK, and the RCEP and the tripartite FTA should be actively and properly employed.

Yuzo Tanaka, an economics professor at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, said a free trade zone benefits all three nations because the economies are complementary.


Premier Li Keqiang, Republic of Korea President Moon Jae-in (left) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attend a commemoration on Tuesday of the 20th anniversary of China-Japan-ROK cooperation in Chengdu, Sichuan province. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY



2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Minister reviews diplomacy in 2019]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530171.htm No person or force can stop the 1.4 billion Chinese people marching toward modernization as China will firmly safeguard its core interests and legitimate development rights, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in a year-end interview on China's diplomacy published on Tuesday.

Wang said that this year should have been an important anniversary for China and the United States to mark and look into the future, given that it is the 40th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties between the two countries.

"Regrettably, the US has successively imposed restrictions and put pressure on China in various fields such as trade and economics, science and technology, and interfered and engaged in smearing China on a series of issues concerning its territorial sovereignty," Wang said.

What the US has done not only has undermined China-US mutual trust established over the past four decades, but also affected the entire world's stability and development, he said.

Wang stressed that China always wants to talk and negotiate with the US on the basis of mutual respect, and the phase one trade deal is an example of how problems can be solved through equal dialogue between the two nations.

"We hope the US will rebuild an objective and correct acknowledgment of China, and we urge the US to return to a rational and practical policy toward China," he said.

In the interview, Wang reiterated that any attempt to interfere in China's internal affairs or hold back China's development "will be crushed by the wheels of history".

"We firmly support the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government in ending the violence and chaos, restoring order and exercising law-based governance," he said.

Referring to the Taiwan question, Wang said that this year saw China establish diplomatic relations with the Solomon Islands and resume diplomatic ties with Kiribati after both severed so-called "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan authorities, more widely establishing the one-China consensus in the international community than ever before.

In the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, China has ensured the safety and well-being of the over 24 million fellow countrymen of different ethnic groups, allowing no space for terrorism and radical ideologies, he said.

Calling the China-Russia relationship a prime example of harmonious coexistence and win-win cooperation between countries, Wang said Beijing and Moscow have shown firm mutual support on issues concerning each other's core interests and worked together to resist attempts by external forces to keep them down.

"We have enhanced back-to-back coordination in international affairs and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in opposing power politics and bullying practices," he said.

Wang said the rising trend of unilateralism and the supremacy of unchecked national interests threaten to collapse the international order and system that all countries rely on for development, with dire consequences for small and medium-sized countries.

"The international community has no choice but to join hands and firmly resist this perverse trend," he said.

As two major civilizations and forces, Wang said China and Europe stand together for a multipolar world and greater democracy in international relations, for multilateralism and the basic norms of international relations, and for free trade and an open world economy.

"Working together, China and Europe can provide more stability to an otherwise uncertain world," he said.


Wang Yi, state councilor and foreign minister



2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Opening-up of services sector seen]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530190.htm China will accelerate steps to open up its services sector and allow full foreign ownership in more areas, Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday.

In a speech delivered at the seventh China-Japan-Republic of Korea Business summit in Chengdu, Sichuan province, the premier said China's investment environment will become more fair, transparent and predictable, and the country will offer equal treatment to businesses under all forms of ownership.

China will become more and more open, and harsher measures will be adopted to crack down on intellectual property rights infringements, he said.

China stands ready to work with the two countries in giving play to complementary strengths, continuing to expand cooperation under market principles and expanding common interests even further, he said.

Li said he welcomes businesses from Japan and the ROK to take advantage of their close geographical proximity to China, seize new opportunities from China's expanded opening-up and achieve more business successes.

China, with its massive market, has seen rising demand for services such as eldercare, healthcare and day care for infants, he said.

The country is also promoting financial sector opening-up, with measures to allow full foreign ownership of securities firms, life insurers and futures and fund companies by 2020-a year earlier than originally scheduled.

"It (the opening-up in the services sector) will be a step-by-step process. But, with China's huge market, it will represent huge progress when you look back," he said.

The move will help the three countries cope with common challenges from aging societies, achieve health and financial stability and better realize common development, he said.

In his speech delivered at the summit, ROK President Moon Jaein called upon the three countries to jointly develop emerging sectors.

The three nations will be endowed with cutting-edge capacities in innovation in sectors such as manufacturing, the internet, artificial intelligence and healthcare-as long as they work more closely together, Moon said.

The three nations are not only committed to pursuing economic growth but also people-centered development, which will contribute to the resolution of global issues such as climate change, he added.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe highlighted the importance of stepping up trilateral cooperation in rule-making in the digital economy and e-commerce sector.

The three countries must provide each other with fair, transparent and predictable business environments and step up understanding of each other's policies and systems, Abe said.

He also called upon the three nations to consolidate the multilateral trading system based on the World Trade Organization and further promote free trade.

Tomihiro Saegusa, president of Japanese retailer Ito-Yokado, said on the sidelines of the summit that China has made remarkable progress in the protection of intellectual property rights, and he believes the country will attract more foreign businesses.

The trade volume between China and Japan has expanded. A free trade agreement between the three countries will enable them to further lead economic growth in Asia, he said.




2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA['Missing' Uygurs found living happy lives]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530188.htm The people alleged to be missing from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region have been found to be living peaceful and happy lives, an official from the region's government said on Tuesday.

One lie after another about Xinjiang has been proved to have "distorted the truth or be fabricated stories", Xu Guixiang, deputy head of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee, said at a news briefing in Beijing organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Xu was referring to the online campaign initiated by some individuals, overseas organizations and media, who posted photos and names to "find missing Uygurs in China". The move is aimed at hyping China's policy in the autonomous region, he said.

The hashtag "StillNoInfo" has been used on social media platforms Twitter and Facebook in the past week.

Xu cited several examples of Uygurs who were said to be "missing" but were found to be living better lives after graduating from vocational education and training centers. Among them is Ruzi Memet Atawulla, 23, who went to a vocational education and training center in 2017 after being influenced by extreme thoughts.

Ruzi Memet graduated in April 2018, and now works in a shoe factory in Hotan, a city in southwestern Xinjiang. "He earns 2,500 yuan ($357) per month from his work, and doesn't want to be disturbed, especially by those connected with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement terrorist forces," Xu said.

Aziz Niyaz and Meryam Gayit, an old couple in Kuqa county, Aksu prefecture, were also described as "missing" on overseas social networks, but actually they are retired and enjoying the life of taking care of their 3-year-old grandson at home, according to Xu.

Xu described the building of the vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang as an effective preventive measure of eradicating extremism in the region, which was plagued by violent terrorism three years ago.

He said that there have been no terrorist attacks in Xinjiang since the centers were established in 2017, and people now live peaceful lives.

Rexiati Musajiang, mayor of Hotan, criticized the United States for its interference in China's internal affairs by using Xinjiang's human rights as an excuse. He said at the briefing that the region enjoys stability and people's livelihoods keep improving.

The motives behind US politicians' remarks and acts to smear China's policy in Xinjiang, particularly the Xinjiang-related act that the US House of Representatives recently passed, have demonstrated US attempts at hegemony, he said, and the purpose is to contain China's development and damage the stability of Xinjiang.


2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Science popularization promoted, more private funding encouraged]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530181.htm The popularization of science in China is going through a positive transition phase in hopes of attracting more talent and diversified funding to produce higher-quality digital content.

The budget for promoting science to the general public last year was around 16.1 billion yuan ($2.3 billion), a 0.68 percent year-on-year increase. Government grants remain the largest financial contributor at 12.6 billion yuan, according to a 2018 survey by the Ministry of Science and Technology, published on Tuesday.

Last year, there were more than 76.3 million visits made, a 21 percent increase, to China's 518 general science museums, and over 142 million visits to the nation's 943 subject-specific museums, such as the Geological Museum of China and the Daqing Petroleum Science and Technology Museum.

"In recent years, the Chinese government and various research institutions have attached great significance to bringing science to the public," said Qiu Chengli, the survey's leader and a researcher on science popularization at the ministry.

Chinese scientists from selected institutions are now also more motivated to share their work with the public thanks to new reforms such as counting science popularization efforts in performance evaluations, establishing dedicated awards and granting senior titles for noted disseminators of science, he said.

"Elderly academicians and young scientists are some of the most active science disseminators, and this ensures works produced are both authoritative and interesting," Qiu said, adding that content in books and TV programs created by scientists were highly popular and some even had won national science awards in recent years.

However, Qiu also highlighted some problems this year, including a lack of private funding, uneven distribution of educational resources, a small decrease in the pool of science disseminators and the declining role of the print industry in science popularization as more people get their science information from online sources including via social media.

"Many of these problems are the result of recent institutional restructuring or existing limitations. We are currently going through a transitional phase because our science popularization efforts are heavily influenced by the country's overall economy and development," he said.

More spent in cities

In terms of accessibility to science education facilities, the survey showed that on average, there was one science education venue for every 955,100 Chinese people last year, while in developed countries the figure stands at around 500,000, Qiu said.

Each Chinese citizen on average spent about 4.45 yuan last year on science popularization. This budget was significantly higher in big cities like Beijing, whose inhabitants spent around 54.3 yuan, while residents from neighboring Hebei province spent only 1.19 yuan.

As for talent, the total number of full-time science disseminators-including teachers, professors, and other communicators of scientific knowledge and principles-was around 224,000 last year, a 1.34 percent year-on-year decrease. The number for part-timers was 1.56 million, 0.42 percent lower than in 2017.

"This small fluctuation in science disseminators is normal because many research institutions in China were undergoing reforms last year," Qiu said.

Despite the small dip in total numbers, the structure of the talent pool was further optimized with increased numbers of full-time content creators and museum guides, respectively reaching 15,500 and 32,900 last year, "though more are certainly welcome".

Online science popularization had seen the biggest growth, especially on social media platforms. Last year, microblogging platform Sina Weibo hosted 2,809 science education related accounts that sent more than 904,200 posts, with both figures up 36 percent year-on-year.

As for WeChat, the number of public accounts dedicated to sharing scientific information increased to 7,060, a year-on-year increase of 28.8 percent. Users posted around 1.08 million articles, a 15.3 percent year-on-year increase.

"Due to our changing reading habits, the internet is becoming the most popular channel for science information," Qiu said. As a result, the science popularization print industry took a huge hit last year, selling around 86 million books, a significant drop from 112 million in 2017.


2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA[More cross-Straits flights added for Spring Festival]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/25/content_37530221.htm Civil aviation authorities on the mainland and Taiwan agreed to add extra flights across the Taiwan Straits for Spring Festival in January and February to meet the demands of Taiwan residents on the mainland to return home during the holiday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said on Tuesday.

Air regulators on the two sides came to an agreement that airlines of the two sides could arrange additional Spring Festival flights across the Straits from Jan 11 to Feb 8 to meet the needs of cross-Straits travelers.

The total number of the additional flights is not limited, the CAAC said in a statement. The Spring Festival holiday on the mainland is Jan 24 to 30 as the first day of the Lunar New Year falls on Jan 25.

Due to limits on availability of mainland airspace, the number of additional flights is capped at a few busy mainland airports. Airports in Beijing will not arrange additional flights, and the maximum number is 147 for airports in Shanghai, 9 for Guangzhou and 23 for Shenzhen, both in Guangdong province, and 17 for Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, the CAAC said.

Specific plans for extra flights will be approved by the air regulators of the two sides before the last day of the year to facilitate passengers' booking and scheduling, according to the statement.

"Adhering to the principle of serving passengers, the two sides will do their best to ensure that all airlines' plans for additional flights are carried out, and they will not place restrictions on airlines that apply under the plan," the CAAC said.

Adding more flights during Chinese New Year has been a common practice between the two sides for years to facilitate Taiwan people returning home for family reunions.

Also, the election for the island's leadership is expected to be held on Jan 11, when many Taiwan residents on the mainland will return to vote. The Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland said in a statement last week that tickets from some busy mainland cities to Taiwan were in short supply around election day and many couldn't get tickets. The association urged the island's air authority to make arrangements to open up more flights.

Considering the market demand, extra flights are expected be arranged in some places on Jan 9 and 10, the CAAC said.

The Cross-Straits Air Transport Committee of the China Air Transport Association said in a statement last month that it had contacted the air authority of the island several times to allow the arranging of extra cross-Straits flights from Jan 4 to Feb 15, but that was declined.

Spring Festival and election day are very close, so many Taiwan residents on the mainland want to make two consecutive round trips across the Straits. Some 10 mainland air companies have offered discounts for ticket packages.


2019-12-25 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Finance expert warns against the pressure for increased access]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530076.htm China should not be under any pressure to open up its capital markets, according to a leading finance expert.

Michael Pettis, professor of finance at Peking University, said it is a fallacy that when an economy reaches a certain size it has to be financially open to the rest of the world.

"There is no evidence that large economies really need to open their capital markets. It helps bankers and it helps the owners of capital, but there is nothing to support it helping producers, businesses or workers. On the contrary, there is considerable evidence it does not," he said.

Pettis, 61, who is a frequent commentator on the Chinese economy, writing for publications such as the Financial Times, was speaking at his home near Houhai Lake in Beijing.

He said he has a different perspective on the Chinese economy than economists because of his financial specialization and his experience as a Wall Street trader-he headed Latin American capital markets for global investment bank Bear Stearns before coming to China in 2002.

"I'm a Wall Street guy and used to do all this stuff. When you have done that, it is hard to argue that you really need it to increase the productivity of the economy," he said.

He believes one of the problems for some Western economies is that they are too reliant on their financial sectors, and therefore he does not feel that this is an example China should follow.

"The financial services sector in the US-and the UK also-as a share of GDP is the biggest it has been since the 1920s. Is that really such a good thing? I think the answer is no. You need a certain level of financial sophistication, but when you go beyond that, the benefits aren't clear."

Pettis also said that Shanghai or Shenzhen, Guangdong province, do not have to become major international financial centers for the Chinese economy to develop further.

"To have an international financial center, you obviously have to have open capital markets. I would argue that in the period of greatest economic growth in the United States (the late 19th and early 20th centuries) New York was only a local financial center, along with those in San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia. It seemed to do perfectly well without one," he said.

Pettis believes the Chinese financial authorities need to be careful about opening up capital markets.

"One of the reasons put forward for doing this is that it creates pressure to speed up reform of the banking system. I think this is very risky because it does indeed raise the pressure, but the reason it does so is because if you don't reform the banking system, then inflows and outflows (of capital) can be quite devastating," he said.

In a relatively closed system such as China's, the authorities have a lot of control and can prevent runs on local banks, but this would not be the case if there were many foreign banks and institutions operating in the country, as they would not be able to control their activities in the same way, Pettis said.

"Only countries with very sophisticated well-functioning financial systems can tolerate open capital markets."

He said that having a strong and solvent economy would not prevent a financial crisis when there are open markets.

"South Korea had a crisis in 1997 and it wasn't insolvent at all. The problem comes when your liabilities do not match your assets; they might be long term, while your assets might be short term; they might be in different currencies or structured in ways that don't match, and you find yourself suddenly not being able to meet your liabilities."

Pettis said that while China might be looking to open its markets, the debate in countries such as the US is about closing them.

He pointed out that the architects of the postwar Bretton Woods financial order, John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White, were in favor of free trade but opposed free capital flows, and that the US did not have completely open capital markets until the 1980s.

"In theory, capital flows are the result of money leaving the UK to go to Mexico or the US because of better investment opportunities. In reality, however, that is not why money flows around the world. Most of the money flowing around the world is actually speculative."

Pettis' new book, Trade Wars Are Class Wars: how rising inequality distorts the global economy and threatens international peace, which is relevant to the current US-China dispute, will be published next year. He wrote it with economics commentator Matthew C. Klein.

"The book argues that trade wars are not really wars or conflicts between countries, but between economic sectors in these countries, and often serve the wealthy elites and not the workers," he said.

Pettis, who is also well-known for promoting independent rock music in China and has his own record label, Maybe Mars, has written extensively about China's debt.

He has argued that it is wrong to view urbanization as driving the country's growth, because it would only build up debt if it did not produce economic returns.

"The argument was that urbanization creates good jobs. But no, it doesn't. Urbanization is a cost and it is only worth paying if productivity goes up. Otherwise, it just creates debt," he said.

As far as opening up capital markets is concerned, Pettis is wary of the thinking that foreign institutions would be the catalyst for reform in China.

He cites the work of Belgian economic historian Raymond de Roover.

"He concluded that the reason the Canadians failed to get rich in the 19th century, as opposed to the Americans, is that they had a financial system imposed on them by the UK, which was only suitable for a developed economy," he said.

"The American financial system was a scandal, with regular bankruptcies, but it sort of fumbled its way into the right financial system for it. It was a scandal, but it worked."

He said the Chinese really need to address the benefits of opening up.

"They should not just have an open system because other countries do. They have to ask themselves what the economic advantages are and whether, in fact, there are any," he said.




Michael Pettis, professor of finance at Peking University, and his latest book, which will be published next year. ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY



2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Consensus urged for new era relations]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530075.htm President Xi Jinping underlined on Monday the need for China and Japan to implement their political consensus that they "treat each other as cooperative partners instead of threats" in developing bilateral ties.

While meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi said the two countries should keep moving their relations forward along the right track in the spirit of "turning competition into coordination".

Xi told Abe that Sino-Japanese relations in the new era call for a clear strategic consensus. Both countries should actively advance mutually beneficial, win-win cooperation on the basis of mutual respect, Xi said.

Both nations should adhere to the principles of the four political documents they signed in 1972, 1978, 1998 and 2008, to properly handle major sensitive issues and consolidate the political basis of bilateral ties, Xi said. He added that these are fundamental for developing the Sino-Japanese relationship in the new era, and must not be lightly treated and undermined.

He called on the two countries to advance high-quality collaboration in jointly building the Belt and Road, as well as third-country market cooperation, and to strengthen pragmatic, mutually beneficial cooperation in such sectors as artificial intelligence, big data and the internet of things.

Both countries should also proactively foster a two-way, transparent and nondiscriminatory environment for innovation cooperation, Xi said, and he called for tourism cooperation and people-to-people exchanges, as well as mutual support for hosting the Tokyo Summer Olympics in 2020 and the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

Xi underscored the importance of enhancing mutual trust in security issues, and called on Japan to shoulder its international responsibilities, uphold multilateralism and promote free trade to advance the building of an open world economy.

Abe said frequent high-level exchanges between Japan and China this year have enhanced mutual understanding.

He said Japan-China relations have maintained good momentum for development, which is greatly significant for the peace, stability and prosperity of the region and even the world.

Japan considers Xi's state visit to Japan in the spring to be very important, and Tokyo is willing to keep close communications to ensure the visit is a full success, Abe told Xi.

Japan stands ready to work with China to advance third-country cooperation, and intensify communication and coordination on regional issues, he added.

Bilateral trade between China and Japan reached more than $327 billion in 2018, rising 8.1 percent year-on-year. Since 2007, China has been Japan's largest trade partner.

Abe arrived in Beijing on Monday. He will attend the eighth China-Japan-ROK leaders' meeting in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Tuesday.


President Xi Jinping meets on Monday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Great Hall of the People. XU JINGXING/CHINA DAILY



2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[Tariffs cut on some imports, including pork]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530111.htm China's decision to lower tariffs on a broad range of imported goods, including frozen pork and high-tech products, will satisfy domestic consumption and reduce production costs next year, experts said.

On Monday, the Customs Tariff Commission of the State Council announced that tariffs on some imports will be reduced starting Jan 1. Temporary tariff rates, which are set for a specified period, will be applied to 859 items. Designated items will enjoy import tariffs lower than the existing most-favored-nation rates in 2020.

For imported frozen pork, the tariff rate will temporarily be reduced to 8 percent from 12 percent-a measure aimed at increasing pork supply and taming food price rises-the commission said.

The spread of African swine fever since August 2018 has resulted in hog herds in China falling by 41.1 percent in September year-on-year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in October.

The reduced numbers led to soaring pork prices, which in turn fueled consumer inflation to 4.5 percent in November.

"China has taken various measures to restore hog production to ensure that pork supply and market prices are basically stable. Tariff reduction is another vital policy tool," said Yang Weiyong, an economics professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Economists predicted that as pork supplies rebound thanks to government efforts, consumer inflation is likely to moderate in the second half of next year.

According to the customs tariff commission, the government will increase imports of food items to boost domestic consumption. The tariff rate for frozen avocados will be cut to 7 percent from the most-favored-nation duty of 30 percent, it said.

Tariffs on some high-tech components, including semiconductor testing and sorting equipment and parts for automobile transmissions, will be temporarily cut to strengthen such sectors as integrated circuit, aerospace, automobile and telecommunication production, the statement added.

Tariffs on some precursors used in the production of asthma and diabetes drugs will be cut to zero, down from 6.5 percent. Lower tariffs will also be placed on more than 150 types of wood and paper products, the commission said.

The tariff adjustments are conducive to reducing import costs and promoting "the orderly and free flow of international and domestic production factors". The move will also facilitate the country's high-quality opening-up and accelerate the construction of free trade zones to improve the global trade environment, the commission said.

Although sluggish global growth momentum may continue to create significant headwinds for Chinese exports next year, Louis Kuijs, head of Asia Economics at Oxford Economics, predicted that sequential import momentum will pick up moderately after inventory destocking in heavy industries for much of this year.

Import growth, which was 0.3 percent in November and registered the first positive year-on-year growth since May, is likely to stay in solid positive territory in the near term helped by "quite favorable base effects", Kuijs said.

Most-favored-nation tariff rates on 176 information technology items will be further reduced starting July 1. It will be the fifth such tariff cut since December 2015, when 24 members of the World Trade Organization, including China, the United States and Japan, agreed to expand the covered product range within the Information Technology Agreement.

Under the agreement, tariffs on some IT products will be gradually eliminated. China had completed four cuts by July, said the Ministry of Finance.

Gao Lingyun, a research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that as China is one of the world's major importers and exporters of IT products, cutting import tariffs on such items can help reduce manufacturing costs for many domestic producers and enhance competitiveness.

It is conducive to the economy's high-quality development and the upgrading of manufacturing in the future, Gao said.

Goods from 11 countries, including New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Chile and Pakistan, will have even lower levies under their free trade agreements with China and the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, according to the commission.


2019-12-24 00:00:00
<![CDATA[President meets Japanese, ROK leaders]]> http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/kindle/2019-12/24/content_37530109.htm President Xi Jinping called for a deeper strategic cooperative partnership be