China Digest

 Audio book seeks to raise AIDS awareness

The UNAIDS China office on March 6 released The Bravest Boy I Know, a free Chinese-language audio book, to raise awareness and fight AIDS-related discrimination, particularly against children.

Actor Huang Xiaoming, a UNAIDS national goodwill ambassador, provides the voice for central character Xiaoming, an 8-year-old HIV sufferer.

The book tells the story of the friendship between Xiaoming and Xiaoli, who is HIV free, and sends the message that with treatment and support from families, friends and school, children with HIV/AIDS can have a normal and happy childhood.

It was released to mark Zero Discrimination Day, on March 1, and can be downloaded for free from the UNAIDS China website.

“These are children who were born with HIV. They are young people yearning for a better future. The more I listen to their stories, the more I’m eager to do something to help them,” Huang said at the book launch in Beijing.

China plans potent new solid-fuel rockets 

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC), the nation’s largest missile maker, is striving to build solid-propellant, heavy-lift carrier rockets as powerful as existing liquid-fuel types, according to a senior researcher.

Hu Shengyun, a senior rocket designer, said CASIC intends to offer solid-propellant rockets as alternate launch vehicles for heavyweight spacecraft.

All of China’s heavyweight spacecraft use liquid-fuel rockets as launch vehicles because their lift capacity is greater than existing solid-fuel models.

But solid-propellant engines are less complicated, need less time for prelaunch preparations, place fewer demands on launch facilities and are more mobile.

The engine will have a diameter of more than 4 meters and a liftoff thrust of more than 1,000 metric tons, making it the largest solid-propellant rocket engine in the world, surpassing the record held by the United States, said Hu.

Shanghai aims to ban smoking in parks

Authorities in Shanghai have launched a pilot project to extend the city’s smoking ban to its parks under a new code released on Feb 28.

According to the Shanghai Municipal Administration of Landscaping and City Appearance, the city is still deciding on a park in which to test the policy, which would include the construction of smoking areas, but the ban is expected to be gradually implemented in all Shanghai parks.

The city followed Beijing and Shenzhen in March last year with a total ban on smoking in public places and workspaces.

Figures from the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning show a sharp decline of smoking in indoor public spaces. Smoking has been banned in more than 88 percent of indoor public places.

Jiuzhaigou scenic area sees partial reopening

Jiuzhaigou, a scenic area on the UNESCO World Natural Heritage list in Southwest China’s Sichuan province, partially reopened on March 8 after a devastating earthquake in August 2017.

Admission fees will be reduced in March to 40 yuan ($6.30) each. After March, admission will rise to 110 yuan, per person.

Before the earthquake, the entry fee at Jiuzhaigou was 220 yuan during the peak season (April 1 to Nov 15), and 80 yuan during the offseason (Nov 16 to March 31).

In 2018, only 2,000 visitors will be admitted to Jiuzhaigou daily, as it is being rebuilt.

Located in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang autonomous prefecture in Sichuan, Jiuzhaigou means “nine-settlement valley”. It is named after the nine Tibetan settlements on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. 

Sichuan secures 10b yuan for panda park

Construction of the planned Giant Panda National Park took a step forward as the government of Southwest China’s Sichuan province has secured funding of at least 10 billion yuan ($1.58 billion) over the next five years.

According to an agreement signed on March 6 by multiple parties, including the Sichuan provincial branch of the Bank of China and the Sichuan provincial Department of Forestry, the bank is in charge of securing the financing by 2023 for the park’s construction.

Planning for the park began on Jan 31, 2017, when the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and State Council issued a circular on the project.

It will cover 27,134 square kilometers — three times the size of Yellowstone National Park in the United States — and is expected to help wild pandas isolated on six mountains across Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces to breed, strengthening their gene pool.

Research begins on advanced icebreaker

Chinese scientists have begun preliminary research on a next-generation icebreaker capable of lengthy research missions in the Arctic and Antarctica, according to the program’s chief designer.

“The new type will be much stronger when it comes to capabilities in breaking ice and resisting extreme cold,” Wu Gang, from the Marine Design and Research Institute of China in Shanghai, said.

“It will be able to break ice about 3 meters thick and withstand -45 C, which means it can stay for a long time in polar regions,” he said.

The new type of research icebreaker will be assigned long-term scientific expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica, helping other ships enter polar regions and responding to emergencies in ice-covered areas.

Though some heavy-duty polar icebreakers are nuclear-powered, this new ship will use a conventional propulsion system, Wu said.

Chengdu to be key Central city by 2020

Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province, aims to develop itself into a National Central City by 2020, and it eventually plans to become a sustainable world city by 2050, according to a draft planning document.

National Central Cities, a concept first proposed in 2005, are metropolises meant to lead, develop and perform tasks on a large and effective scale in political, economic and cultural areas.

The plan for Chengdu was drafted in August as a pilot project of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

According to the plan, Chengdu also wants to develop into a world-class garden city.

The metropolitan area, including the city’s downtown, satellite cities and suburbs, will reach a size comparable to leading global counterparts such as New York, Tokyo and Paris.

Hangzhou to attract, retain foreign talent

Hangzhou has rolled out a new wave of policies to attract and retain international talent, as the eastern Chinese city seeks to emulate better known metropolises such as Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

Foreign professionals working in Hangzhou, capital of East China’s Zhejiang province, will benefit from favorable policies in applying for permanent residence, entry-exit visas and temporary residence permits, city officials said on March 7.

Entrepreneurs from overseas who introduce projects compatible with the city’s long-term industrial vision may be eligible for subsidies of up to 5 million yuan ($789,000), with the maximum subsidy capped at 100 million yuan for projects deemed especially meritorious.

In addition, an international entrepreneurship park will be established, with qualified entrepreneurs eligible for startup subsidies of up to 5 million yuan. Important technological projects may receive up to 3 million yuan in direct funding and tax benefits.

Northeast bullet train section begins trial 

The Liaoning section of the Beijing-Shenyang high-speed railway began its first trial run on March 1, testing the line’s power supply equipment, according to project officials.

The railway linking Beijing and Shenyang, Northeast China’s Liaoning province, is about 700 kilometers long, and trains will run at speeds of up to 350 kilometers per hour. The line will cut travel time between Beijing and Shenyang from 4.5 hours to 2.5 hours.

The project, which costs 124.5 billion yuan ($20 billion), was launched in July 2014 as part of the Beijing-Harbin high-speed railway. It is considered a vital link connecting Beijing with Northeast China.

It is also the only part of China’s high-speed rail network — comprising four north-south lines and four east-west lines — that remains unfinished.

US-driven trade war will have ‘no winners’

China does not intend to become embroiled in a trade war with the United States, and the two sides have agreed to continue communicating on trade issues in the near future, which in turn will create conditions for further cooperation, senior Chinese officials said on March 4.

The comments were made as the recently announced intention of the US to impose tariffs has heightened global concerns over potential trade confrontations, particularly those between the world’s two largest economies.

Although Beijing does not want a trade war with the US, it “will never sit by and watch while its rights and interests are infringed upon”, Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the first session of the 13th National People’s Congress, said at a news conference in Beijing.

Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Baodong said: “There is no winner in a trade war.” China hopes the US will comply with international rules, particularly those of the World Trade Organization, Li said.

Nanorobots created to fight cancer tumors

Chinese scientists say they have created and tested the world’s first autonomous DNA nanorobots to combat cancerous tumors, paving the way for potentially revolutionary breakthroughs in the treatment of malignancies.

Scientists from the Beijing-based National Center for Nanoscience and Technology led the research and cooperated with scientists from Arizona State University in the United States in upgrading the design of the nanorobots. The scientific study was published last month in the journal Nature Biotechnology.

A nanorobot refers to a designed system that can perform a specific task on a microscopic scale.

According to researcher Ding Baoquan, the DNA-based nanorobot has a tube-shaped structure with a diameter of about 19 nanometers and a length of about 90 nanometers.

“It is about 5,000 times smaller than the tip of a needle,” Ding said.

Fishing moratorium to last until June 30

The annual fishing ban on China’s rivers from March 1 to June 30 began on Feb 28. The ban covers the main streams, tributaries and lakes along the Yangtze, Huaihe, Minjiang and Pearl rivers.

Nearly 10,000 people and 1,000 vessels from 21 provincial regions will work to prevent illegal fishing and related activities during the moratorium.

Local governments will provide compensation to fishermen who are adversely affected by the ban.

The fishing restriction aims to protect aquatic resources and biodiversity, authorities said. Overfishing threatens resources over the long term.

“The ban period covers the spawning season for most aquatic life in the rivers, which will boost aquatic resources and help maintain the ecological balance,” said Chen Shi, an official in East China’s Jiangsu province.

The annual fishing ban was initiated in 2002 on the Yangtze River, the country’s longest, and on the Pearl River in 2011.


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