China Digest

Swearing oath seen as ‘vitally important’

The State Council, China’s cabinet, held its first ceremony to swear in central government employees on Sept 18, with 55 newly appointed officials pledging to uphold the Constitution.

Overseen by Premier Li Keqiang, the group took an oath in front of a red-bound copy of the Constitution in a State Council assembly hall.

“This ceremony is short but vitally important,” Li told the officials. “You must abide by the oath you swear today and be dedicated to the commitment with endless efforts.” 

An executive meeting of the State Council passed a regulation on July 20 to clarify procedures and participants of the oath ceremony, which aims to build a government based on the rule of law and educate all employees to carry forward the spirit of the Constitution. 


Leprosy declining with end seen by 2020

After decades of effort against leprosy, the elimination of the disease in China will be possible by 2020, according to Ann Aerts, head of the Novartis Foundation, on Sept 20.

Eradication is measured by the reduction of new cases over time. Because leprosy has an incubation period of five to 10 years, a person showing symptoms today may have been infected years ago. But the disease has been in decline in China and is expected to trickle to a halt by 2020.

Aerts was speaking during the 19th International Leprosy Congress in Beijing. 


Island ‘seizure’ marks end of naval drill

The Chinese and Russian navies staged a mission to seize an island on Sept 18 as part of an eight-day exercise in the South China Sea.

As the key element of the annual drill, the navies dispatched warships, marine forces, helicopters and amphibious armored equipment for the mission.

The exercise demonstrated the Chinese and Russian navies’ capacities in command management, telecommunications coordination, and intelligence and information sharing, said Senior Captain Li Xiangdong, who commanded the Chinese warships.

The mission marked the end of the China-Russia Joint Sea 2016 drill, which started on Sept 12 in eastern waters off Zhanjiang, the southernmost city in Guangdong province and the base of the Nanhai Fleet. A closing ceremony was held on Sept 19.


Airport security lanes set aside for females

Three security lanes created especially for women began processing passengers at the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in South China’s Guangdong province on Sept 19, with the aim of protecting the privacy of female passengers and helping them avoid the embarrassment of being checked by male security guards.

All the security guards who work in the women’s lanes, which uses pink as its identifying color, are women, according to a news release from the airport. Children who fly with their mothers are also allowed to use the lanes.

The Guangzhou airport is said to be the first on the Chinese mainland to have opened such special security lanes.

Officers checked more than 3,600 women passengers and dozens of children on Sept 19.


Death of artiste puts depression in spotlight

The death of a popular actor and singer, rooted in depression, has stirred public attention and drawn calls from medical experts for better understanding of the condition.

Qiao Renliang, 28, was found dead in Shanghai on Sept 16, police said, while ruling out the possibility of foul play. 

Warner Music China, with which Qiao had signed a contract, released a statement saying Qiao was depressed last year and had suffered from insomnia for several years. He tried medication in recent months and saw some improvement, Warner said.

Qiao was an upbeat personality, and many of his colleagues were not aware that he suffered from depression, said media reports. He had 10.8 million followers on his social media account and had acted in several popular TV series.


Disabled man cycles across 21 mountains

A one-legged man cycled 2,800 kilometers and crossed 21 mountains more than 3,000 meters high to reach the base camp on Qomolangma, known as Mount Everest in the West, at an altitude of 5,200 meters above sea level, said online portal zynews.

The Sichuan-Tibet cycling lane, which combines beautiful scenery with treacherous conditions, is famous for its difficulty, said 27-year-old Sun Youzhi, speaking about his trip on Aug 8. The lane includes snow-capped mountains, age-old forests and torrential rivers.

Sun Youzhi, a native of Miaogu village in Huixian county, Central China’s Henan province, had his left leg amputated after an accident in 2009, when he was a student.


New ship will track October spaceflight

When the Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft starts its journey next month to meet the Tiangong II space lab, it will be tracked by China’s latest space monitor and communications system aboard a new tracking ship.

The fourth-generation, shipborne space monitor and communications system, developed by China Electronics Technology Group Corp, a State-owned defense giant, is carried by the Yuanwang 7 space-tracking ship and is the best of its kind in the world, said company designers.

Currently, China detects around 600 to 700 new leprosy patients annually. They can receive immediate treatment through the country’s healthcare system, which has successfully reduced transmission of the disease, Aerts said.


Use of bus security guards to spread

Concern over deadly arson attacks is prompting wider use of security guards on buses, a practice expected to become more common nationally, according to bus company officials.

Since August, some 260 security guards have been assigned to buses on Shanghai’s main roads and commercial or tourist districts such as Xujiahui and People’s Square.

More bus routes will employ the guards in response to a notice from the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Transport saying municipalities and provinces need to boost security on buses, according to a senior manager, who declined to be named, from Shanghai Bashi Public Transportation, the city’s bus operator.

In Beijing, the first group of key routes were assigned guards in December 2013.


Dalai Lama visit hurts relations with the EU

China said the recent meeting of leaders of the European Parliament with the Dalai Lama has damaged China’s core interests and severely impaired the political basis of interparliamentary exchanges between China and the European Union.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang made the remarks on Sept 19, after the Dalai Lama visited the European Parliament and met with its president, Martin Schulz, and its foreign affairs committee chair, Elmar Brok, on Sept 15.

“China resolutely opposes the wrong behavior by the European Parliament. It’s impossible China will stay unmoved over such behavior,” Lu said at a daily news conference, responding to a request to confirm reports that China has postponed a visit by European Parliament members to the country after the incident. 


Second and largest space lab launched

China launched its second space laboratory, the Tiangong II, on Sept 16, which space officials said will become the country’s largest scientific platform in space.

The space lab, the nation’s first spacecraft with a modular design, was lifted off atop a Long March 2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China’s Gobi Desert at 10:04 pm.

The lab will undergo preparations in space for about one month before the Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft, in a flight scheduled for mid-October, takes two astronauts to the lab. The astronauts will stay inside the lab for 30 days.

Its predecessor, Tiangong I, was launched in September 2011 and was mainly used to test technologies involved in space rendezvous and docking.


UK’s PM approves nuclear station

UK Prime Minister Theresa May paved the way for improved relations with China by approving the construction of the controversial nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C in the southwest of England, to be built using French technology with Chinese investment.

China will invest 6 billion pounds ($7.8 billion) in the 18 billion pound project. Conditions of the investment include Chinese technology being used at a new plant at Bradwell-on-Sea in eastern England, and Chinese investment at another plant at Sizewell, on Britain’s east coast.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the approval is in the interest of all parties.

Shortly after taking office in July, May announced that she would freeze the project until she had reviewed it, prompting concerns that refusal to approve the construction would damage relations with China. 

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