China Digest

Family binds nation, its people, president says

The weeklong Spring Festival holiday ended on Feb 21 after the reunion of numerous Chinese families around the world. And as President Xi Jinping put it, such family reunions are important to fulfill the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

“During Spring Festival, when members of a family get together, we feel that reunion is happiness and unity is strength,” Xi said at a gathering on Feb 14, two days ahead of Spring Festival.

Spring Festival, or lunar new year, is regarded as the most important traditional festival for those of Chinese origin.

“We should nurture and practice core socialist values, foster the traditional virtues of the Chinese nation and love both family and the country,” said Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

The president urged the people to integrate their personal and family dreams with the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

Tourism revenue up 12.6% during holiday

China posted double-digit growth in tourism revenue during the weeklong lunar new year holiday which started on Feb 16, official data showed on Feb 21.

The tourism industry garnered 475 billion yuan ($74.6 billion) in revenue, up 12.6 percent from last year’s holiday, according to the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA).

Some 386 million trips by tourists were made, up 12.1 percent from last year’s holiday, the CNTA said in a statement. 

Guangdong, Sichuan and Hunan received the most tourists among all provincial regions. Nearly half of travelers drove instead of taking public transportation. 

Overseas travel remained popular, with Chinese tourists from nearly 200 cities visiting 68 countries and regions during the holiday.

Southeast Asia was the top destination. Nearly half of overseas travels were independent tours rather than escorted group tours.

Nation tops world in patent applications

China has been the world leader in patent applications on inventions for seven consecutive years, said Wan Gang, president of the China Association for Science and Technology.

The Chinese mainland issued about 1.36 million patents on inventions by the end of last year, working out to about 9.8 patents per 10,000 people, according to the State Intellectual Property Office.

“China’s input on research and development rose to the second-highest in the world in 2017,” said Wan, adding that the number of full-time R&D personnel in China is the highest in the world.

“For years, China has been investing in major S&T (science and technology) fields, such as infrastructure, high-speed rail, aerospace and biological technology. It is time to reap the fruit,” said Zhang Ping, a Peking University professor who specializes in intellectual property.

Xi sends Teheran message over crash

President Xi Jinping on Feb 19 sent a condolence message to his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, over the crash of an Iranian jetliner a day earlier.

The Iranian passenger plane crashed into Dena mountain on the morning of Feb 18, killing all 65 people on board.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a message to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, expressed deep condolences over the victims in the air tragedy and extended his sincere sympathy to their families.

The deputy governor of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad province in southwestern Iran said that the wreckage of the aircraft was found near the province’s city of Dengezlu.

The aircraft disappeared from the radar 50 minutes after taking off from Teheran, with 59 passengers and six crew members on board.

Chinese cities join world’s richest list

China has shone in the latest list of the world’s richest cities, due to the rapidly accumulated personal wealth in the country.

According to the World’s Wealthiest Cities list released by the South African market consultancy New World Wealth in February, three Chinese cities entered the top 10 — Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

The market research firm gauges the total amount of private wealth based on property, cash, equities and business interests. Government funds are excluded from the figures.

Beijing came fifth on the list with a total wealth of $2.2 trillion, which was the highest ranking among all the nominated Chinese cities. Shanghai caught up with Beijing to arrive at sixth place with a total private wealth reaching $2 trillion. 

New York City topped the list with total wealth of $3 trillion. 

Second-longest river to impose fishing ban

Fishing will be banned every year from April 1 to June 30 on China’s second-longest river to protect its fishing resources and biodiversity, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

The ban covers the main portion of the Yellow River, which extends more than 5,400 kilometers, as well as primary tributaries of its 13 major branches and three lakes that are connected to the river.

Provinces and autonomous regions through which the river flows have the option to extend the period of the ban within their jurisdiction, the ministry said.

Fishing for scientific research or for reproduction studies during the ban must get approval from fishing administrations at the provincial level or above, according to the announcement.

Violations can result in fines, confiscation of fish or fishing boats, and criminal penalties.

Social media attracts visitors to Edinburgh

A social media campaign to attract more Chinese visitors to the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, has been hailed a success with tourist numbers shooting up by 40 percent.

The Edinburgh Chinese Social Media Campaign was launched in November 2016 by the Edinburgh Tourism Action Group. It has attracted almost 60,000 followers and received 66 million hits across its channels, according to the country’s national tourist board, VisitScotland.

The campaign used influential Chinese social media platforms Weibo and WeChat to push Edinburgh as a must-see destination for visitors from China, offering travel tips, itineraries and promotions in Mandarin, from the city’s most popular tourism businesses. 

It also recommended key points of interest for Chinese travelers, covering history, architecture, film locations and shopping.

Anti-poverty campaign goal comes within sight

China has lifted more than 68 million people out of poverty over the past five years and is determined to help another 30 million before the end of 2020, Xinhua News Agency reported.

In all, 68.53 million people, two-thirds of impoverished Chinese, have said goodbye to their straitened circumstances since late 2012, when the Communist Party of China opened its 18th National Congress and Xi Jinping was elected top leader, said Liu Yongfu, head of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, Xinhua reported on Feb 18.

These past five years saw the greatest achievements in China’s poverty alleviation, Liu said.

He said that in the coming three years, the central government will strive to assist nearly 30 million people to leave destitution behind. 

Experts to fix thumb of Warrior at US show

The cultural relics authority of Northwest China’s Shaanxi province will send conservationists to repair a Terracotta Warrior that had its thumb stolen by a member of the public while on display at a Philadelphia museum in the United States.

US departments that are involved should guarantee the safety of the relics on display, and parties concerned will be held legally accountable, the provincial cultural heritage department said on Feb 18.

The Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Center said it has organized more than 260 overseas exhibitions in the past 40 years and has never before come across such a situation.

The statue of a cavalryman, which dates back to at least 209 BC, is one of 10 Chinese Terracotta Warrior statues now on display at the Franklin Institute in Pennsylvania. The exhibit will run through March 4.

UN agency praises eco-protection moves

China has taken great strides since 2013 in environmental protection, with effective air pollution measures and other controls put in place, and it is working to bring its best practices to the world, the regional head of a UN development agency said.

During the past five years, China has made a powerful push from the central and local levels to improve air quality, “and the achievement in the (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei) area has not gone unnoticed, as we are now experiencing many more blue skies in Beijing”, said Nicholas Rosellini, the United Nations Development Program resident representative for China.

Data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection show the dramatic decline of air pollution, with the average level of PM2.5 — hazardous fine particles — in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region reduced by 39.6 percent since 2013.

Beijing to allow foreign domestic helpers

Beijing municipality is considering allowing foreign professionals to bring their own domestic servants to work in Beijing this year, authorities said on Feb 21.

Beijing Municipal Commission of Commerce said in a statement that the move was to attract more high-level foreign talent, and to help the city improve the domestic service system to match its metropolitan status. 

Home servants holding foreign passports and those from the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions will be allowed to work in Beijing if their employers hold a working visa or permanent residence in Beijing and provide an employment contract as well as a personal guarantee for the maids.

Foreign maid services are currently illegal in Beijing. By the end of 2017, Beijing had more than 5,000 businesses in the home services sector.

Scientists develop new type of flu vaccine

A research group from Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, announced that they have developed a new type of flu vaccine using nanotechnology.

The intranasal nano-vaccine can target broad-spectrum flu viruses and induce robust immune responses, said Cui Zongqiang, leader of the research group.

“In our study, an intranasal nano-vaccine worked well against infections of H1N1 and H9N2 virus in mice,” Cui said.

“The results suggest that the 3M2e-rHF nanoparticle is a promising, needle-free, intranasally administered, cross-protective influenza vaccine,” he said.

Across China, measures have been taken to contain the winter flu outbreak. Experts said flu infections this winter are 71 percent above average for the same period over the previous three years, with child cases rising sharply.

Chinese tourists hurt in Thailand bus accident

A Thai driver was killed and 17 Chinese tourists were injured in a tour bus accident in the southern Thai province of Phang Nga, according to the Chinese consulate general in Songkhla. 

According to Thai media, a bus carrying 35 Chinese tourists heading from a hotel in Krabi Province to a port in Phang Nga crashed into a roadside pole on the morning of Feb 16. 

The Chinese consulate general in Songkhla said that nine of the 17 injured were hospitalized. Among them, three suffered severe injuries, including two children. 

Eight tourists who suffered minor injuries spent time under observation at the hospital. The remaining 18 went back to their hotels. 

Doctors performed surgeries on the two severely injured children.

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