Headlines from China
Shanghai Daily Nation
Updated: 8 hours 47 min ago
The top anti-graft agency of the Communist Party of China, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, will hold its second plenary session from Thursday to Saturday to outline the Party’s anti-corruption work this year. The country maintained a tough stance against corruption in 2017. Five centrally administered officials have been put under investigation on suspicion of “severe disciplinary violations” since the 19th CPC National Congress in October. During the congress, President Xi Jinping said corruption was the “greatest threat our Party faces,” urging all CPC members to have the resolve and tenacity to persevere in the “never-ending” fight against corruption. The downfall of the five high-ranking officials was a potent sign that the Party will build on the momentum and keep up pressure on corruption in the new year. The anti-graft watchdog has ousted corrupt officials from low-level “flies” to high-ranking “tigers” in 2017. According to the CCDI, at least 18 centrally administered officials were investigated and nearly 40 were given Party disciplinary punishments last year. Meanwhile, local anti-graft bodies have been detecting low-level bureaucrats suspected of embezzling public funds, such as using public funds for banquets, accepting bribes and holding lavish banquets. Besides the crackdown on “tigers” and “flies,” the anti-graft watchdog has been busy hunting corrupt officials hiding abroad. By the end of December, 3,866 fugitives had found themselves hunted down and captured from more than 90 countries, with more than 9.6 billion yuan (US$1.5 billion) recovered by police, according to the CCDI. China also targeted corruption in its national poverty relief scheme. Nearly 450 people were investigated and punished for fraudulent claims or misappropriation of funds, and 730 million yuan of misused funds recouped in an inspection of 28 provinces last year, said the Ministry of Finance and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. A public opinion poll showed that about 75 percent of Chinese people were satisfied with the anti-corruption efforts in 2012. The figure rose to almost 94 percent by 2017. Supervisory system reform is among the latest efforts to rein in corruption. China has started setting up supervisory commissions at the national, provincial, prefectural and county levels to ensure that “supervision covers everyone working in the public sector who exercises public power.” The commissions will be tasked with supervising the execution of duty and ethics by public functionaries. They will also investigate illegal activities such as graft, misuse of power, neglect of duty and wasting public funds, issue administrative penalties, and transfer potential criminal cases to the procuratorates, according to a decision adopted by the country’s top legislature in November.
Next time you bite into a donkey burger beware — it might actually be horse, pig or even mule meat.That is the warning from authorities in China after a media investigation revealed that some butchers in a city famed for its donkey burgers had engaged in a nefarious plot to substitute donkey with cheaper meats.Restaurants all over China, but mainly in Beijing, bought the fake donkey meat, Xinhua news agency and other Chinese media said.Underlining the severity of the problem, authorities in the northern city of Hejian — unofficial home of the donkey burger — called an emergency meeting on Monday and launched an investigation.Officials there vowed to punish those producing the dodgy donkey meat, which was also transported beyond Beijing to other cities around China.Undercover reporters with Beijing News exposed the ruse, filming a dingy workshop in Hejian where red meat was dumped in buckets and lay on wooden slabs.
A Hong Kong court found an ivory trader guilty of illegal ivory possession and imposed a relatively light penalty yesterday. Hong Kong trader Lau Sai Yuan was fined HK$8,000 (US$1,020)for illegal ivory possession after pleading guilty in Hong Kong’s Eastern Magistrates’ Court.The maximum penalty under current laws is two years in jail. Hong Kong lawmakers are considering a significant increase in penalties, with a fine of up to HK$10 million and imprisonment of 10 years.The special administrative region has lagged behind China’s mainland in the crackdown on illegal ivory trading and only set a timetable for a ban last year, with a phase-out time of five years.China used to be the world’s largest importer and end user of elephant tusks. Since the end of 2017 China has implemented a total ban on ivory sales. Wildlife activists called the ban a vital step toward reducing the slaughter of the endangered animals.Hong Kong is a prime transit and consumption hub with more than 90 percent of consumers from the mainland. It has the largest retail market for ivory, which it has traded for more than 150 years.Hong Kong adheres to regulations set by The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which started to regulate the international trade of ivory in the 1970s and has banned such trade since 1990.Only “pre-Convention ivory” is allowed to be traded when the ivory is accompanied by a pre-convention certificate.China has made a big push to eradicate ivory sales and demand has fallen since early 2014. Up to 30,000 elephants are estimated to be killed illegally every year.
One of China’s leading photo apps has broadened its spectrum with the addition of a skin testing function.MTskin is built into Meitu app Cosmetics. Since it was released in October, over 25 million users have had their faces tested using the app, according to Xu Qingquan, chief technology officer of the Meitu research center.Meitu is one of the most widely used free photo editing apps in the world, and MTskin is based on a database of medical photos of facial problems. AI technology matches users’ selfies with the problems and link them to professional dermatologists who deal with such issues as acne or chloasma.Guo Hui, a 32-year-old office worker, is a selfie lover. She now frequently takes selfies to check the pimples on her face.“I was astonished when the app told exactly how many blackheads I had,” said Guo, “I am also glad that it tells my skin’s ‘age’ is only 26.”Guo said the test only takes a few seconds to deliver a report, which comes with advice and recommends a range of cosmetics.“The AI uses data, algorithms and a deep learning platform coupled with our long experience of photo editing and human face technology,” said Xu.He admitted that the data base of facial problems needed to be expanded to improve the accuracy of testing, because a human doctor needs a lot more information than a mere photo. “As MTskin collects data it continually optimizes its algorithm. It will be the equal of human experts one day,” he said, but so far MTskin just provides skincare tips.“I don’t think the results are totally reliable, but it is fun to know,” said Guo.Headquartered in Xiamen, in southeast China’s Fujian Province, Meitu is an innovator in mobile video and photography. Its selfie app can remove blemishes and brighten teeth. Its virtual makeup app allows users huge scope to experiment with new styles of make-up.Established in 2008, the company has grown into one of the biggest tech companies in China, with its apps downloaded more than a billion times.The company began its global expansion in 2016 and has since registered more than 500 million overseas users.
Emblazoned with a black high heel shoe with a pink background, extra-wide parking spaces for women have sparked debate on sexism on social media in China.The parking spots at the Jiande and Tonglu highway service areas in east China’s Zhejiang Province are 1.5 times the size of normal spaces, with the color and icon indicating “women only.”“It’s significantly larger, and I find it a very considerate design,” said Yang Xin, a female driver who recently got her driver’s license.The microblogging site Weibo has been awash in debate over women’s parking spaces, with many contending that the spots perpetuate the stereotype that women are bad drivers.“This is utterly sexism. Parking depends on driving skills, not gender,” said Weibo user “youyouzizi.”Yet many female online users said the parking spots just showed concern for those in need, and calling the spots an example of gender discrimination was an overreaction.According to a survey on Weibo, 63.7 percent of 1,700 respondents said it was a good idea to designate female-only parking spaces.Fang Hongying, manager of Jiande highway service area, said that the women’s only parking spots were launched in October 2017, and that driving skills were only part of the reason behind them.“The women’s parking spaces are closer to exits and monitoring systems, which is more convenient for female drivers to take a break or go shopping, and much safer, especially at night,” she said.“If it could be called a parking space for new drivers, the discrimination label could be shrugged off,” said Chen Jianguo, associate professor of sociology at North China Electric Power University.A number of priority seats, corridors and subway carriages for women have appeared in public venues in Chinese cities in recent years. Women’s security check channels have been opened at some airports as security staff explain that the special lane can improve efficiency and protect the privacy of female passengers.
AFTER 17 years of effort, archeologists in southwest China’s Sichuan Province said on Monday they have restored a “dragon bed” believed to be used by an ancient king 2,500 years ago. The bed, 2.55 meters long, 1.3m wide and 1.8m tall, is the oldest and the best-preserved lacquered bed unearthed in China, said Yang Tao of Chengdu Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute. Featuring cinnabar dragon patterns on the side, the bed consists of 45 parts, with the largest 3.2m long and the smallest 20cm. All components are connected by mortise and tenon joints. The bed was unearthed in 2000 in a tomb complex discovered in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan. “Parts of the bed were scattered in a number of boat-shaped coffins at the time of the discovery, and it took archeologists and their staff 17 years to restore the bed to its original form to the best of their ability,” said Xiao Lin, who heads the restoration department of the institute. Based on its structure and patterns, the bed is very likely to have been used by an ancient king of Shu State, who ruled the region 2,500 years ago,” said Yan Jinsong, an archeologist who headed the excavation work of the tomb complex.
TWO Chinese scientists, explosives expert Wang Zeshan and virologist Hou Yunde, won China’s top science award yesterday for their outstanding contributions to scientific and technological innovation. President Xi Jinping presented award certificates to them at an annual ceremony held in Beijing to honor distinguished scientists and research achievements. Yesterday’s ceremony honored 271 projects and nine scientists with national prizes. Seven foreign scientists won the International Science and Technology Cooperation Awards. On behalf of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, Premier Li Keqiang extended congratulations to the prize winners and thanked foreign experts for their support to China’s science and technology development. Li called for more scientific and technological research in major disease prevention and control to improve people’s well-being. He said that more efforts should be made in food safety and pollution control to enable people to live a better life. The premier called for building China’s strength in science and technology and urged increasing basic scientific research, diversifying investment in research and development, boosting integration of basic and applied sciences and enhancing innovative ability. Li said China would pursue international cooperation in science and technology and take a more active role in the global innovation network. “We welcome all kinds of talented people to join China’s innovation and entrepreneurship campaign.” Wang Zeshan is known as China’s Alfred Nobel for his contributions to the study of gunpowder, one of ancient China’s four era-defining inventions (the others being the compass, papermaking and printing). During 60 years of researching gunpowder, Wang has designed new propellant charging theories and technologies, helping to improve the launch range of China’s artillery by more than 20 percent, lifting the nation’s ballistic performance of similar artillery above international levels. The dynamite specialist was the first to develop technology for reusing obsolete explosives, turning a potential threat to the environment and security into more than 20 popular military and civilian products both at home and abroad. He has also made breakthroughs in propellant charging technologies with low temperature sensitivity. Wang, professor with Nanjing University of Science & Technology and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, was born in 1935 in northeast China’s Jilin Province. Despite his age, he still spends about 12 hours a day working. Research on flammable explosives is usually conducted in the field under extreme conditions. One month before he won the top national science award yesterday, he visited the country’s desert twice for experiments. Wang now has a new goal. “The problem of solvent-free manufacturing of smokeless powder has not been solved since it emerged more than 100 years ago. We’re planning to replace the current technology with a new breakthrough,” he said. Hou Yunde has dedicated himself to antiviral research. Hou, born in 1929 in east China’s Jiangsu Province, is an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and also a researcher of the National Institute for Viral Disease Control and Prevention with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1958 to 1962, he went to the Soviet Union to study medical science. During those years, he published 17 academic papers and earned a PhD in medical sciences from the higher education ministry of the Soviet Union for his academic excellence. In the early 1990s, Hou started China’s first genetic engineering drug company. As one of China’s top scientists in biotechnology, Hou’s teams have developed recombinant human interferon, alpha 1b, which has been key in new drug research and development and the industrialization of China’s genetic engineering project. Interferons are a group of signaling proteins that act as antiviral agents. In the 1980s, China depended entirely on imported interferons, but now the majority of interferons in China can be produced domestically. “Alpha 1b has few side effects and will not cause high fevers,” said Hou. “I expect that it will replace similar foreign products in the international market in the future.” Due to the efforts by Hou and other medical workers, China has set up an infectious disease detection system, effective within 72 hours, that can identify about 300 known pathogens and test unknown pathogens, including the H1N1 influenza virus, the H7N9 bird flu virus, Ebola virus, and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus.
CHINA stands ready to work closely with France to enhance cooperation including that under the framework of the Belt and Road initiative, President Xi Jinping told visiting French President Emmanuel Macron in Beijing yesterday. Xi said China attached importance to coordination with France on major international issues in the hope of promoting world stability and prosperity. France was the first Western power to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. “Chairman Mao Zedong and General Charles de Gaulle made a historic decision with remarkable political foresight to forge diplomatic ties in 1964,” Xi said. “The decision not only changed the world pattern at that time, but also has effects on the world development nowadays.” “In the new era, we should follow the spirit of being responsible for history, stick to the right path so as to move toward a bright future of China-French ties,” Xi said. China advocated the building of a community with a shared future for mankind, Xi said, while France had similar views. “The two countries can enhance political mutual trust and fully tap the potential of cooperation transcending differences on the social system, development stage and culture,” Xi said. Macron said he hoped to increase mutual trust and advance France-China relations and EU-China relations via the visit. “France would like to take an active part in the Belt and Road initiative,” said the French leader, adding that France would work with China to address common challenges of the international community such as climate change. He said he believed that his visit to China would be a new milestone in the history of France-China relations. The French president’s state visit to China ends tomorrow. He arrived in Beijing yesterday afternoon after a half-day visit to the northwestern city of Xi’an. Along with his wife Brigitte, Macron visited the famous terracotta warriors in Xi’an, the Dayan Pagoda — a centuries-old Buddhist site — as well as the city’s mosque. Macron began the three-day visit in Xi’an as a gesture to Xi’s New Silk Road project, an ambitious initiative to connect Asia and Europe by road, rail and sea. The US$1 trillion infrastructure program is billed as a modern revival of the ancient Silk Road that once carried fabric, spices, and a wealth of other goods in both directions. Known in China as the Belt and Road, the plan is to see new road and rail networks built through Central Asia and beyond, and new maritime routes stretching through the Indian Ocean and Red Sea. Macron endorsed the initiative in an interview with China.org.cn posted yesterday. “It represents a real opportunity to create bridges, through exchange, between countries and civilisations, just as the ancient silk routes once did,” he said. “I think it’s very important that Europe and China strengthen their collaboration on the initiative. France is ready to play a leading role in this.”
FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron went out of his way to win the heart of the Chinese leader on the first day of his state visit yester, offering President Xi Jinping a horse of the elite French Republican Guard. An adept of soft diplomacy and symbols, Macron picked an 8-year old brown gelding named Vesuvius from the presidential cavalry corps and braved stringent Chinese quarantine checks to offer it to President Xi. The choice of the gift, an “unprecedented diplomatic gesture” according to the French presidency, was made after the Chinese president expressed his fascination for the 104 horsemen who escorted him during his last visit to Paris in 2014. It is the first time France has offered one of the elite cavalry corps’ horses and is also a response to China’s “panda diplomacy,” after Macron’s wife Brigitte became the godmother of a giant panda lent by China to a zoo near Paris. “It mattered a lot for the president, even if it was very complicated to import a horse for sanitary reasons. It’s a symbol of French excellence,” an Elysee official said.
RESCUE crews wrestled to bring a blaze on an Iranian oil tanker off China’s east coast under control yesterday as fire raged for a second day following a collision with a grain ship, while the body of one of the 32 missing crew members was found on board. The fate of the remaining 31 sailors is not known. Concerns were growing that the tanker, which hit a freight ship on Saturday night in the East China Sea and burst into flames, might explode and sink, the China Central Television said yesterday, citing experts on the rescue team. Poor weather conditions continued to hamper the rescue work, said Lu Kang, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry. The size of the oil spill from the ship and the extent of the environmental harm were not known, but the disaster has the potential to be the worst since 1991 when 260,000 tons of oil leaked off the Angolan coast. The remains of one of the 32 mariners on board was found yesterday afternoon, Iranian officials confirmed. Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying that the body had been sent to Shanghai for identification. The Sanchi tanker run by Iran’s top oil shipping operator, National Iranian Tanker Co, collided with the CF Crystal on Saturday about 160 nautical miles from Shanghai and the mouth of the Yangtze River. CCTV yesterday showed footage of a flotilla of boats dousing the flames with water as plumes of thick dark smoke continued to billow from the tanker. “The Chinese government takes maritime accidents like this very seriously, and has already dispatched many search and rescue teams to the scene to carry out search and rescue,” said Lu. China sent four rescue ships and three cleaning boats to the site, South Korea dispatched a ship and a helicopter, while a US Navy military aircraft searched an area of about 12,350 square kilometers for crew members. The Shanghai Maritime Bureau’s navigation department said the collision did not affect traffic in and out of Shanghai or ports along the Yangtze River. The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultra-light and highly volatile crude. That is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels. The freight ship, which was carrying American grain, suffered limited damage and the 21 crew members, all Chinese nationals, were rescued. China’s transport ministry said the CF Crystal was being taken to the port of Luhuashan, just south of Shanghai, where authorities will start an investigation into the cause of the incident. Bad weather conditions made it hard for the rescue crews to get access to the tanker, but toxic gas from the burning oil posed a major risk. When condensate meets water, it evaporates quickly and can cause large-scale explosion as it reacts with air and turns into a flammable gas, the transport ministry said yesterday.
SNOW has killed at least 21 people in central and east China since last Tuesday, according to the China National Commission for Disaster Reduction. Heavy snowfall has damaged houses, agriculture and power facilities in the provinces of Anhui, Jiangsu, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Shaanxi and Shanxi, and Chongqing Municipality. More than 3,700 people were relocated and 14,000 were in need of emergency assistance, said the commission, noting that over 700 houses collapsed and nearly 2,800 were damaged. The weather has affected more than 233,100 hectares of farmland, with more than 8,100 hectares destroyed, causing direct economic losses of 5.55 billion yuan (US$854 million). Nineteen expressways in northeast China’s Liaoning Province have been closed or controlled since snow started on Sunday night. The snow would result in icy roads, the local observatory forecast yesterday morning. Following the snow, Liaoning will see temperatures plunge by up to 10 degrees Celsius. In Xinyang City, Henan Province, snow from last Wednesday to Friday, the worst since local records began in 1951, killed one person and injured three. Schools in the city have suspended classes since Thursday. In east China’s Anhui Province, quilts and coats have been distributed to residents to withstand the biting cold, following heavy snow since last Wednesday, the worst recorded in Anhui since 2008. The snow has affected 1.5 million people and damaged over 160,000 hectares of crops, causing total economic losses of 3.5 billion yuan.
EVERY day just as the sun rises, life inside the Drepung Monastery begins as it has for centuries — monks awaken, chant sutras, have a light breakfast, and begin their studies. An asphalt road connects the monastery at the foot of a mountain with the western suburb of Lhasa. Behind its whitewashed walls lurks a hidden world of golden sculptures and colored murals. Wooden signage in both Chinese and English is everywhere inside Drepung directing for endless streams of Buddhist pilgrims and foreign tourists hither and thither. For 600 years, Drepung, the largest monastery of the Gelug school, has stood silent witness to events beyond its walls. Having survived hundreds of years, many monasteries are in a poor condition and in need of work. More than 200 million yuan (US$30.8 million) of government money have been spent renovating Drepung over the past five years. “The buildings were repaired and parking lot and nursing home built,” said Nyima, head of Drepung’s management committee. Tibet started providing funds to monasteries in 2011, supplying them with electricity and water, and building roads, bath houses, greenhouses and garbage treatment facilities. In addition to government money, Drepung Monastery makes more than 10 million yuan each year from ticket sales, alms given by pilgrims and earnings from shops and teahouses. Most of the money is used to maintain the buildings and preserve the monastery’s artwork. The remainder is making life easier for the monks. A management committee consisting of government officials and monks has been set up in almost every monastery in Tibet. They work with monk members to manage monastery affairs and resolve problems faced by monks. Dradul entered Tsurpu Monastery 31 years ago. He enjoys high prestige in the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism since completing a three-year retreat of fully cloistered meditation. Dradul is a member of the monastery’s management committee and a political adviser of Tibet. It is through those management committees that monks now have medical and endowment insurance, and living allowances. Buildings are maintained. Infrastructure such as roads are improved. Datri, a government-designated member of the management committee of Drepung Monastery, has helped to source more than 200,000 yuan in medical aid to 39 monks. He also helped 114 monks to apply for living allowances. “These officials are like a family member to us. Whenever we have a problem, we will look for their help,” said Ngawang Gonchen, a monk. Religious study and services are the main activities of monastic life. Tibet Buddhist Theological Institute, the autonomous region’s first comprehensive Buddhist academy, has branches in 14 major monasteries. Aged between 17 and 30, the monks at the institute’s branch at Drepung study sutra to acquire the highest academic degree — “Geshe Lharampa” — similar to a doctorate. Since 2005, over 100 monks have received the degree in Tibet. Grand sight to behold “Those monks who study sutras are the future of any monastery,” said Ngawang Kunqing, head of the Drepung branch of the institute. “So it’s important to look after them well.” Those with excellent conduct and academic performance have the opportunity to study at the institute, which recruited its first batch of 150 monks in 2011. “To acquire the highest degree is not easy,” said Ngawang Chupa, a sutra teacher from Ganden Monastery. It took him 32 years to obtain his Geshe Lharampa. He now teaches sutra to more than 100 monks in four classes. Dharma assemblies are still the most important activities in monasteries. On the anniversary of the birth of the Buddha every year, Sera Monastery begins an assembly at 6am, when over 500 monks chant sutras together. It’s a grand sight to behold. On auspicious days of Tibetan calendar, monasteries, big and small, hold the same traditional ceremonies as they have for centuries. Tsurphu Monastery holds 38 such ceremonies a year, while Sera and Drepung monasteries hold even more. An official survey found 1,787 places of religious activity in Tibet, with over 46,000 Buddhist monks and nuns in-residence, offering on-the-spot services like weddings or funerals. “Such services not only meet the religious demand of Tibetans, they are also the responsibility of monks,” said Dorje Tsering from the religion bureau of Xigaze City.
Fraudulent health-care products targeting elderly people topped the list of complaints from Chinese consumers in 2017, a survey showed yesterday.Sham advertisements and quack medical experts have tricked many older citizens into buying fake products, leading to consumer complaints and tough measures from drug regulators, according to the survey released by China Consumers Association and a public opinion monitoring center under people.cn.A McKinsey report showed last November that Chinese consumer confidence reached a decade high in 2017, while the CCA survey showed that market development still lags behind consumers’ growing demand for better products and services, especially in online consumption.Micro-credit services targeting cash-strapped college students also drew public criticism as some micro-lending platforms forced borrowers to pay back deposits and interest by means of coercion or violence.In June, China’s top banking regulator and the ministries of education and human resources introduced strict measures to crack down on unscrupulous micro-credit services targeting campus consumers.Bike-sharing became the third most complained about service last year as some companies had difficulty returning users’ deposits after fierce competition and overexpansion drained them financially.Other major concerns for Chinese consumers in 2017 included food safety in online takeout services, hygiene in hotel rooms, price hikes by car-hailing services, and risks in prepaid card use.
About a third of professional online anchors — or broadcasters — in China can earn up to 100,000 yuan (US$15,300) a year.A report by Momo, a Nasdaq-listed social platform with online broadcasting business, said such earnings, more than 8,000 yuan a month — almost double the national average monthly income in 2017 — makes online broadcasting a key player in the booming digital economy in the country.And it is a young person’s industry. According to Momo, two-thirds of the online anchors are born after 1990.Anchors, who offer music, dance, talk shows, games and other performances in the cyber world, bring billions of dollars to the industries with players including Momo, iQiyi and Huajiao.Shanghai’s anchors have the highest academic degrees, the Momo report said. The broadcasters’ talents includes both ICT expertise and trans-disciplinary skills.Such talent drives the development of the digital economy, which is essential to power China’s economic and digital transformation, according to a report released by LinkedIn and Tsinghua University.Double-digit growthChina’s digital economy grew 16.6 percent in 2016, more than double the GDP growth rate that year, due to the country’s cyber services from e-commerce, mobile payments, the sharing economy to online broadcasting, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.Barely a presence three years ago, the fastest-emerging Internet broadcasting sector produced revenue of about US$5 billion in 2017. The industry will maintain double-digit growth in coming years, said Credit Suisse in a report.In 2017, iQiyi’s online broadcasting revenue jumped 10 times since it debut services three years ago, said Xu Weifeng, iQiyi’s co-president.The top show of iQiyi attracted 94 million online clicks last year.Two years ago, some popular programs promoted sexual content to attract audiences. But now programs have become more diversified and less sleazy thanks to government regulation and websites’ self-policing.
CHINA unveiled a guideline yesterday to push for safe development of cities, as accidents in large urban areas have caused great casualties and property loss in recent years. The country must uphold the vision of making development people-centered and never seek development at the cost of safety, according to the guideline made public by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council. By 2020, China aims to achieve “noticeable progress” in safe urban development, and create a number of demonstration cities in line with the objectives for becoming a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the guideline said. By 2035, the country should put in place an improved system for safe urban development and create safe cities that are in line with the requirements for basically realizing socialist modernization, it added. China must continuously push forward the formation of a systematic and modernized mechanism to ensure urban safety, and step up building safely developing cities on the foundation of central districts to lead the development of neighboring areas and bring benefits to the people, it said. With the acceleration of China’s urbanization, the population, functions and sizes of its cities have been expanding rapidly, but safety hazards are also on the rise. At the end of 2016, the ratio of permanent urban residents to total population was 57.35 percent, up from 52.57 percent at the end of 2012, National Bureau of Statistics data showed. The country must raise the capability of ensuring urban safety and prevent major accidents to create a sound environment for people’s lives and work, according to the guideline.
AN Iranian oil tanker collided with a bulk freighter and caught fire off China’s eastern coast, leaving its entire crew of 32 missing and causing the tanker to spill oil into the sea, authorities said yesterday. The missing — 30 Iranians and two Bangladeshis — are all from the tanker Sanchi, which was floating while still burning yesterday afternoon, said Chinese maritime authorities, who have dispatched eight vessels, including three specialized cleansing vessels, for search and rescue. The South Korean coast guard also sent a ship and a plane to aid the search effort. The Panama-registered tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea late on Saturday when it collided with the Hong Kong-registered freighter CF Crystal in the East China Sea, 257 kilometers off the coast of Shanghai, China’s Ministry of Transport said. All 21 crew members of the Crystal, which was carrying grain from the United States, were rescued, the ministry said. The Crystal’s crew members were all Chinese nationals. It wasn’t immediately clear what caused the collision. The size of the oil slick caused by the accident was also not immediately known. It was not clear as of yesterday afternoon whether the tanker was still spilling oil. Thick clouds of dark smoke could be seen billowing out of the Sanchi tanker, engulfing the vessel as rescue efforts were hampered by bad weather and fire on and around the ship, Mohammad Rastad, head of Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, told Iranian television. The tanker was sailing from Iran to South Korea, carrying 136,000 tons of condensate, an ultra light crude. That is equivalent to just under 1 million barrels, worth about US$60 million, based on global crude oil prices. “Sanchi is floating and burning as of now,” a Chinese transport official said. “There is an oil slick and we are pushing forward with rescue efforts.” China Central Television showed pictures of the tanker ablaze and billowing plumes of thick dark smoke. “There is a wide perimeter of flames around the vessel because of the spillage and search and rescue efforts are being carried out with difficulty,” Rastad said. “Unfortunately, up to this moment, there is no news of the crew.” It was not immediately clear how much environmental damage had been caused or the volume of oil spilled into the sea. The last major oil tanker disaster was the sinking of the Prestige off Spain in November 2002, which caused one of Europe’s worst environmental catastrophes. About 63,000 tons of fuel oil leaked into the Atlantic, damaging beaches in France, Spain and Portugal and forcing the closure of Spain’s richest fishing grounds. Reuters ship tracking data shows Sanchi was built in 2008 and was managed by the National Iranian Tanker Co. Its registered owner is Bright Shipping Ltd. It was due to arrive at Daesan, South Korea, from Kharg Island in Iran yesterday. The Sanchi tanker, leased by Hanwha Total Petrochemical Co, had “valid foreign insurance,” Iranian oil ministry spokesman Kasra Nouri told Iran’s state television. CF Crystal was carrying 64,000 tons of grain from the US to China’s southern province of Guangdong, the Chinese government said.
FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron left Paris for China yesterday afternoon for his first state visit to China. During the three-day trip which begins today, Macron plans to seek a “strategic partnership” with China, notably on terrorism and climate change, an official in the French president’s office at the Elysee Palace said. In particular, France is hoping China will join it in playing a decisive role in implementing the Paris accord to fight climate change after the United States pullout pledged by President Donald Trump. China is the world’s biggest investor in clean-energy technologies. Macron also said last week that China had a key leadership role to play in easing the crisis provoked by North Korea’s nuclear program. Macron will also ask China to help to support the G5 Sahel force being created with forces from Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania, tasked with fighting jihadist forces spread across an area of desert the size of Europe. China has already become a key business partner across Africa, with total investments reaching US$31.6 billion in 2016 in projects including railways, highways, ports and power stations. They are part of the extensive network of transport links President Xi Jinping is developing as part of the Belt and Road initiative for increasing trade. The state visit will be the first by a European leader since the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in October. China has praised Macron’s decision to make it the first Asian nation he visits. ”We hope this visit will reinforce mutual political confidence and strategic communication,” China’s foreign minister Wang Yi said last week. Macron will be traveling with a delegation of business executives hoping for a bonanza of contracts, including from AccorHotels, LVMH, Airbus and BNP Paribas. “We will be signing an exceptional number of strategic deals, about 50,” the French official said, including sales of Airbus planes and Safran jet engines. State nuclear giant Areva is also negotiating a contract to build a reprocessing site for radioactive waste. France is pushing to “rebalance” its trade relations with China. Although China is France’s second-biggest supplier of goods, it ranks eighth in terms of the top buyers of French goods. ”Paris intends to seek a rebalancing and market access, for example in financial services,” the official at the Elysee Palace said, at a time when major French banks are hoping to tap into the rapidly expanding Chinese market. The two countries also plan to announce a China-French investment fund worth 1 billion euros (US$1.2 billion) which would help midsize companies, mainly from France, get a foothold in China. Accompanied by his wife Brigitte, Macron will begin his visit in the northwestern city of Xi’an, Òan important symbol because it is the cradle of Chinese civilization, and the starting point for the ancient Silk Roads,Ó the Elysee official said. After visiting the terracotta statues of warriors near the city excavated from the tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang, who ruled from 221BC to 210BC, Macron will give a speech on the future of China-France relations. An agreement is also expected to be finalized for a temporary exhibition in Shanghai by Paris’s Pompidou Centre for modern art. Not least, Macron will also be exporting his ÒRevolutionÓ Ñ the campaign manifesto published in 2016 ahead of his sweep to the presidency. The Chinese edition of the book, in which France’s youngest president lays out his vision for France, hits bookstores today. (AFP)
ICE sculptures of Moscow’s Red Square and Bangkok’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha are among landmarks featured in the world’s largest ice festival. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival in the frigid northeastern Chinese city is known for massive, elaborate and colorfully lit ice sculptures featuring animals, cartoon characters and landmarks. Some of this year’s displays center on the Belt and Road initiative — an ambitious plan to connect Asia with Europe and Africa along, and beyond, ancient trade routes by putting in place an unparalleled trade and infrastructure network. Ice sculpture artist Han Zhenkun designed his work based on the historic Silk Road. “Back then, through the Silk Road, exquisite art works from China like potteries were transported by camels and horses to the Western world,” Han said. Main activities start this week and the festival runs through late February, with heavy crowds expected during Lunar New Year celebrations. Temperatures at this time of the year can dip below minus 18 degrees Celsius. Last year’s festival drew 18 million visitors and 28.7 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion) in tourism revenue for Harbin, data from the city’s tourism bureau showed. One park, the Harbin Ice-Snow World, features more than 2,000 ice sculptures made from 180,000 cubic meters of ice collected from the Songhua River by nearly 1,000 workers. In the evening, sculptures are lit with colorful lights. In addition to ice sculpture competitions, the festival also includes winter swimming, ice hockey, skiing and snow biking. “Art has no borders,” Han said. “It’s an abstract language. We communicate with our works in this international event. It means a lot.”
A fisherman shows off his catch yesterday in Bayannuur, North China’s Inner Mongolia. Fishermen have started their traditional winter fishing in the local Hongyan (Wild Geese)Lake after breaking the half-meter thick ice on the lake’s surface and then hauling their nets out of the freezing water where temperatures reach around minus 30 degrees Celsius. =
Li Guoping is 60 years old and the conqueror of some of the world’s highest mountains, driven ever upward by his passion for photography.A former volleyball coach born in Sichuan Province, Li carried an American explorer’s camera gear on a trip to the Yarlung Zangbo River in Tibet in 1997, and that was when he began to think about photography.In 2005, he was a member of the support staff for a scientific expedition to Mount Qomolangma. He took photos of glaciers for the first time and fell in love with capturing the plateau landscape.Li made up his mind to visit all eight of China’s peaks over 8,000 meters, with his camera. “Walking at high altitude can be extremely dangerous. You could be killed at any moment by a rift on glacier or avalancheHis first brush with death was in 2010 on a mountain in northwest China’s Qinghai Province. He stepped on a scree slope, slipped and began a calamitous descent toward a cliff edge, unable to gain purchase on the loose stones running under his feet.“I thought it was all over and just closed my eyes,” he said. He came to a stop when he hit a protruding rock just a few meters from the precipice. Collecting himself, he marched onward to the top of the mountain. “At the peak, I saw the beautiful curve of the river passing through the mountains and knew that all the hardship was worthwhile,” he said.Li has spent about two thirds of his time in the mountains during the past 10 years and has been to all 14 of the world’s mountains over 8,000 meters. His work is bought by tourist magazines and web sites.Li always climbs on his own. Once he got stranded by an unexpected rainfall on an glacier in Tibet. He had to spend the night in an ice cave on the glacier. “I was in T-shirt and shorts since I had planned to be finished within a day,” he said. He kept warm by jogging in the cave.He has been to Tibet over 100 times and even has a glacier he discovered there named after him. He has reached Mount Qomolangma’s summit 20 times.To get through the tough times alone in a world of ice and snow, Li sings, practices his calligraphy and even plays chess with himself.Li is also interested in nature. “I can vividly see the effects of climate change. Many of the glaciers I visit have retreated noticeably during my 10 years photographing them.”“My family was against me at the beginning, but they soon came around after seeing the photos,” he said.He once left a note for his daughter saying “If I don’t return from the plateau, don’t come to look for me, for I will have returned to the arms of nature.”Years on the mountains have taken their toll on his knees and neck, but he has no plan to retire. “As long as my knees support me, I will continue walking the glaciers,” he said.