China looks for “green delivery” methods to cut express delivery packaging waste

A worker places shared parcel boxes on the conveyor belt in a logistic base in Jiangsu province.

Parcel packaging pollution has recently become an environmental threat as the daily lives of citizens are increasingly facilitated by the growing express delivery industry.

Statistics show that less than 20 percent of general packaging used on express delivery parcels in China had been recycled in 2017, and the figure for cardboard and plastic package recycling was even lower at 10 percent.

A total of 40 billion parcels were delivered across the country in the last year, and all the tape used to seal these parcels would be able to reach around the globe 425 times.

In Chinese mega cities, the newly produced parcel packaging garbage accounted for 93 percent of total household garbage, while the figure stood at 85 to 90 percent across major cities.

Ma Shengjun, head of China’s State Post Bureau, said that the country will guide more enterprises with a “green delivery” campaign and promote the use of degradable packaging. In addition, material management and advanced packaging technologies will be enhanced to further lower material consumption.

E-commerce giant Alibaba’s chairman Jack Ma once said on Chinese micro-blogging website Weibo that speed is what keeps the industry running, but greenness is what keeps it winning.

Alibaba has set a goal that its e-commerce platform Tmall will go green with all of its packaging before 2020.

JD, Alibaba’s rival company, predicted that by 2020, the use of single-use cardboard packaging will have decreased by 10 billion pieces, and 80% of the packaging material will be recyclable at the supply end.

However, the change of packaging materials is only part of the environmentally-friendly delivery. Major e-commerce platforms and logistics enterprises still have to optimize their production and data analysis to seek new paths.

“Big data can be applied to delivery routes planning, thus reducing fuel consumption and promoting environmental protection,” said Wan Lin, the president of Alibaba’s logistics platform, Cainiao Network Technology Co.

In addition, establishing an incentive mechanism that encourages consumers to make greener decisions will also further balance the contradiction between the high costs of green delivery and its low profit.

Expert predicts China may shortly have a third aircraft carrier

China might soon have its third aircraft carrier, said military expert Song Zhongping, after a picture showing three aircraft carriers was made public in a news piece by China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC) on Wednesday.

Song told Global Times that the three aircraft carriers shown could be China’s original aircraft carrier Liaoning, with the first domestically-developed aircraft carrier alongside a new one with electromagnetic aircraft launch systems.

The picture shows that one of the carriers is equipped with three electromagnetic aircraft launch systems, which suggests high speed launch capabilities, high frequency take-offs and quick responses.

A giant “island”, or command center on the deck explains that the warship is a conventionally-powered carrier rather than a nuclear-powered one. However, Song added that according to the “unwritten rules” of the People’s Liberation Army, a nuclear-powered carrier is probably already under development since the warship with electromagnetic launch catapults has now been exposed.

Man goes viral for taking more than 400,000 magnificent aerial photos of China

The Red Beach in Panjin, Liaoning province

A Chinese man has gone viral on social media for his stunning aerial photos of magnificent Chinese landscapes.

Lv Fengxiao spent his time off over the last two years traveling across China, and every photo he has posted online is breath-taking.

At a very young age, Lv began to wonder what China was really like. After graduating from college, he became a landscape designer. Though he consistently worked overtime, his childhood curiosity never died.

When the aerial photo craze hit China in 2016, Lv came up with an innovative idea: why not look at China from another perspective? From that moment on, there was no stopping him. Over the following two years, he left his footprints all over the country, from mountains to glaciers, modern cities to remote villages, taking more than 400,000 photos.

The earth forest in Yuanmou, Yunnan province

While on the road, he has been mistakenly arrested by the police as a suspected spy, and has even been trapped on an isolated island due to the rising tide. But he said it was all worth it when he saw the magnificent pictures he took.

In order to pay for his trips, Lv spent all of his savings. Originally, his family did not understand his decision. However, after seeing the photos they finally showed support.

“Spending money taking these beautiful images is always better than spending the money on bad habits,” Lv said.

The part-time photographer is currently planning another trip to shoot aerial videos, in a bid to introduce the broad and majestic Chinese landscape to more people.

Zhalong Wetlands in Heilongjiang province

The Jiulong Waterfalls in Yunnan province

Arxan in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region

A flyover in Guangzhou

Source: Wechat public account “视觉志” and “白中黑艺术” 

E-commerce giant JD officially starts robot delivery in Beijing

China’s e-commerce giant JD officially started robot deliveries in Haidian District, Beijing on June 18, ThePaper.cn reported.

The robots can run at up to 15 kilometers per hour, thus covering a wide service area. The operator of the robots told ThePaper.cn that even though it’s hard for these machines to work every day due to the workload differences and maintenance requirements, they will be running on a regular basis.

The robots can automatically park at their delivery address, and are even able to avoid barriers and wait for traffic signals.

Users can get their orders by using the robot’s facial recognition feature, scanning the QR code or using the link in JD’s mobile app. The robots have largely reduced the number of working staff and improved operation efficiency.

China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier completes sea trials

China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier sets out to sea near the Dalian Shipyard in Liaoning province on May 13 for its first sea trial. The first sea trial mainly focused on testing the reliability and stability of the ship’s power systems.

China’s first domestically-built aircraft carrier has completed all sea trials successfully, Hu Wenming, chairman of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), said on June 19, ThePaper.cn reported.

The ship set out and began sea trials ahead of schedule, completing all trials in advance of its delivery to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy. Experts predict it will arrive with the PLA before the end of the year.

The CSIC has made major headway in manufacturing new equipment and applying new technologies; the quality of all key projects is under control and all work is proceeding in an orderly manner, Hu disclosed.

The ship is China’s second aircraft carrier after the Liaoning, and its construction began in 2013. It set out to sea near the Dalian Shipyard in Liaoning province on May 13, 2018.

China builds research lab for rare animal protection

A national-level laboratory was established in China’s Giant Panda National Park on June 19, to enhance research on the protection of rare animals in the area, cctv.com reported.

It is the first national lab created to study ways to better protect giant pandas along with 144 other species, such as the golden snub-nosed monkey and snow leopard.

Scientists aim to decipher why these animals are on the verge of extinction and how to save them within the next three years, said Zhang Hemin, deputy head of the lab. Zhang explained that he and his fellow researchers will also provide technical support to the sustainable use of animal and plant resources and the construction of nature reserves within the park.

“We have decided to study certain problems such as how they breed, how to control disease, releasing them into the wild and other situations,” Zhang said.

The lab will try to apply techniques used when breeding pandas to other rare species, said Zhang Zhizhong, head of the lab.

The Giant Panda National Park covers 27,134 square kilometers across China’s Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. According to new statistics, there are currently 1,387 wild and 401 captive pandas in Sichuan alone, laying a solid foundation for international research and cooperation when it comes to giant pandas.

The lab will open to domestic and international research institutes. According to Zhang Zhizhong, the lab will cooperate with many Chinese colleges including Zhejiang University and Sichuan University, as well as those abroad such as the University of Edinburgh, to study giant pandas and other rare animals.

Modernization of rural China

China’s ongoing trend of agricultural upgrades is creating diversified jobs in rural areas including drone operators and livestream broadcasters, and their participation is not only drastically improving production efficiency but also boosting agricultural product sales.

Wu Di, a 20-year-old drone operator at Jiuyang Agricultural Machine Cooperative in Heling township, East China’s Jiangxi Province, is a rising star in the country’s modern agriculture industry.

Wu, after substantial training and practice, now operates three farming drones to spray pesticides over a total of 1,300 mu (86.7 hectares) of farmland that is owned by the cooperative.

“A drone is able to cover 200 mu to 300 mu of land every day, which means [the workload of the cooperative’s 1,300 mu of farmland] can be completed by three drones within just two days,” Wu explained.

That compares with the past situation, when five rural workers collectively could only spray pesticides on 100 mu of farmland a day, according to the cooperative’s president Li Xiaojun.

“Sometimes workers are also exposed to risk of sunstroke and intoxication, and we also have a hard time recruiting farmers in busy seasons,” Li was quoted as saying in a report by the Xinhua News Agency, noting that the new jobs of drone operators, therefore, could help save time and labor costs.

Meanwhile, drones have gradually been gaining market recognition. And Wu noted that they are now “in great demand.”

Unimaginable production

In addition to drones, the application of smart technologies is also reshaping the way agricultural products are being cultivated across China.

In a planting base in Gao’ao, Jiangxi, cameras and wireless sensor systems have been installed above and underneath every five to 10 mu of farmland, which can collect and monitor in-time crop data.

The data then serves as a basis for big data analysts to help them achieve precision fertilization and irrigation so as to improve farming efficiency.

Xiao Wen, president of Jiangxi Bafulo Eco-agricultural Science and Technology Co and manager of the planting base, said that the sensors boast the advantage of ultra-low power consumption, with a battery life as long as 20 years.

“In traditional agriculture, farmers live at the mercy of [natural disasters and erratic weather], but in modern agriculture, it’s all about using technologies to maintain precision management in farming,” said the 51-year-old manager.

Experts also noted that after agricultural products go into the market, further big data is collected to guarantee the establishment of a sound product safety traceability system.

Such data is collected when customers actually purchase the products in supermarkets. For example, consumers can scan the QR code attached to vegetable and fruit packaging to learn about the growing process of the plants as monitored by the cameras. This is also an efficient way to lift sales.

In the high-end market, consumers can also view information about the climate conditions and surrounding environments of products when scanning the QR code, for example the average duration of sun exposure of a vegetable, Lei Yingguo, a rice farmer in Jiangxi’s Leifang, was quoted as saying in the Xinhua report.

And because of such detailed information, Lei is able to sell his rice at 37.6 yuan ($5.8) per kilogram, higher than the market average of 10 yuan per kilogram, according to Lei.

Promotion strategies

With regard to market sales, poor rural workers have also come up with creative marketing strategies to attract consumers and promote product sales.

“Dear friends, please check out and learn how our farmers are making delicious local dried bamboo shoots here – I’m drooling,” Jiang Jinlin said as he began livestreaming via a mobile application in Jiangxi’s Hengfeng county over the weekend.

Thanks to his accent skits and humorous impersonations, his livestreaming attracts thousands of fans in just the first few minutes of every broadcast.

The 39-year-old farmer is seen as an “internet celebrity” in the agricultural sector and promoting local crops to his fans has become a daily routine.

And through his livestreaming, the agricultural products of 200 households in 500 nearby villages have been sold elsewhere in China.

More and more agricultural internet celebrities like Jiang are now budding across China, opening more sales channels for agricultural products while reflecting a shift in the mindsets of farmers toward the rising internet economy, the Xinhua report said.

Tourist attraction

At the same time, village tourism in rural Jiangxi is also becoming a new source of revenue, as more residents in villages change their professions.

Wan’an county in Jiangxi is home to dozens of farmer painters, with more expected to join the industry in the coming years. In 2013, local authorities invested more than 70 million yuan so art teachers could go to villages and train local residents. That money also went toward the building of relevant facilities.

In 2017, Wan’an’s booming farmer painting sector attracted 500,000 tourists, helping local families that provide home stay services to rake in lucrative profits.

Xiao Qun, a local farmer painter whose paintings feature local landscapes and capture the scenes of harvesting, made 100,000 yuan by selling paintings in 2017, according to the Xinhua report.

Similar to Wan’an, the talents of farmers in Jiangxi’s Genling village are attracting tourists from major cities and helping to generate bigger incomes, thanks to the village’s 500-year-old traditional paintings that depict autumn harvesting. Those paintings are created when farmers use rice as the underpainting and colorful agricultural products as the pigment.

“We now can make 2,000 yuan a month, much more than our incomes from farming, and it’s also easier,” said a local villager named Cao Xiuyun.

Source: Global Times

 

North Korea’s tourism sector set to thrive as country develops coastal regions

The Wonsan-Kalma area in North Korea’s Kangwon Province, best known for its four-kilometer sandy beach resort called Myongsasipri and its modern international airport that was completed in 2015, is helping to drive the country’s coastal tourism.

According to the Korean Central News Agency, a tourist resort taking up hundreds of hectares is being built in the area. And such facilities including a dozen hotels, beaches, open stages and national culture experience zones are to become available there.

About 180 kilometers away from Pyongyang, Wonsan, a rising port city with both beautiful natural sights and well-developed urban infrastructure rarely seen in the country, is expected to become the second most popular city after the capital, the Korea Economic Daily reported.

North Korea’s development plans for Wonsan were initiated as early as 2014. Containing 160 pages in nearly 30 brochures, the plans were released by the Wonsan Zone Development Corporation in Korean, Chinese, Russian and English in 2015 and 2016, Reuters reported in October 2017.

South Korean experts have said that the reason why Wonsan is being rapidly developed is because it is the best place in the country to be transformed into a sightseeing spot within a short period of time.

Griffin Che, founder of INDPRK, a travel company that runs tours to North Korea, told the Global Times that the country’s coastal cities have huge potential.

Take Wonsan as an example. Because it boasts obvious advantages in terms of urban planning, location and population quality, it is a suitable tourist resort, Che said.

At the moment, there are only three coastal cities that have been developed in North Korea – Nampo, Wonsan and Rason, with many other coastal cities and small islands to be developed in the near future.

According to naenara.com.kp, the official web portal of the North Korean government, North Korea considers tourism development as significant to strengthening mutual understanding and cultural exchanges between the country and people from around the world as well as to contributing to the nation’s economic development on the basis of freedom, peace and friendship.

The website divides the nation’s tourism resources into nine different categories including Pyongyang – the center of politics, economy and culture – Mount Kumgang and Mount Myohyang, where picturesque mountains lie as well as the aforementioned coastal cities.

New travel trend

“I think traveling to North Korea made me look like a cool person,” a Chinese woman surnamed Shan told the Global Times, recalling her travel experience to North Korea with her parents from Dandong, a border city in Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, in the summer of 2016.

“In my heart, North Korea is a country full of mystery where Westerners find it difficult to enter,” Shan said, noting that her parents wanted to see “what the other socialist society looked like,” which is sometimes dubbed “China in the past.”

Che from INDPRK said the majority of Chinese tourists traveling to North Korea are middle-aged and the elderly, most of whom feel nostalgic about China prior to economic reform, while some are the family members or descendants of Chinese volunteer soldiers who fought in the Korean War.

Other international North Korea travel groups are operated by and attract youngsters who are curious about the isolated country, which is very different from most countries in the world, Che noted.

“Of the more than 100,000 international tourists that travel to North Korea on an annual basis, those from China roughly account for 80 percent,” he said.

Simon Cockerell, general manager of Koryo Tours, a British-run company specializing in DPRK travel, was quoted as saying in a New York Times report that of the 4,000 to 5,000 Western tourists who visited North Korea each year, 20 percent came from the US before a ban on American travelers on September 1, 2017.

For the majority of travel agencies running tours to North Korea, their itineraries typically include Kim II-sung Square, Juche Tower and the Mangyongdae Revolutionary Museum in Pyongyang as well as Kaesong’s Panmunjom, where the historic Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Reunification of the Korean Peninsula was jointly signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on April 27.

“These traditional tour routes have stayed basically unchanged over the past decade,” Che noted.

However, some novel “specialized tour routes” have been emerging in recent years, including an in-depth tour during the International Workers’ Day holiday, said Che.

During the newly launched specialized tour, tourists this year can set foot on North Korea’s farmlands to experience “new socialist villages” plus a visit to the dormitories of textile mill workers to learn about their daily lives.

Still, only authorized tours are permitted in the country.

“No matter which route you take, whether it be a customized tour by two persons or a group tour, it is largely restricted,” Che said, noting that every tour needs at least two local tour guides and all trips outside the set tours are prohibited.

Rich in tourism resources

North Korea raked in between $30.6 million and $43.6 million from tourism in 2014, the year the country’s GDP stood at just $30 billion, CNBC reported in 2015, citing a report by the Korea Maritimes Institute, a think tank based in South Korea.

North Korean tourism has huge growth potential, seeking to attract 2 million visitors each year by 2020, the CNBC report said.

Zheng Liaoji, a professor at Eastern Liaoning University in Dandong, told the Global Times that North Korea has rich tourism resources, including beautiful natural resources and cultural relics such as the historical architecture built during the Koryo Dynasty (918-1392).

“In fact, North Korea is a suitable place to develop all-region tourism. The [current] travel itinerary does not have to focus only on Mount Kumgang and Kaesong [capital city during the Koryo Dynasty] since other areas also have good views,” said Zheng.

“The biggest advantage of North Korean tourism is its ‘controversial’ features, which enable tourists to feel a different political and social atmosphere,” Che noted.

Shan, the aforementioned Chinese traveler, also told the Global Times that “quite a few postcards sold in North Korea feature the country’s unique revolutionary slogans.”

Tourism “will drive investment and consumption, as it’s beneficial to improving the country’s image,” Che believes.

However, development restrictions also exist. As far as Zheng is concerned, poor infrastructure, especially in the transport sector, tends to be a major obstacle.

“The reception ability of [the resorts] is also limited,” Shan said.

Zhao Juecheng, Mang Jiuchen and Ding Yuqing contributed to this story.

Source: Global Times

Scientists reveal panda’s long-lost lineage after extracting DNA from ancient skull

Chinese scientists revealed long-lost panda lineage by extracting DNA from a 22,000-year-old skull, and this discovery may help unearth the species’ evolution.

Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology discovered the mysterious relative in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by the institute.

It said the panda’s relative was located in Cizhutuo. It is the oldest panda that has received gene sequencing so far.

Researchers analyzed the fossil using DNA fragments. By comparing its outer membrane or mitochondria with 138 present-day bears and 31 ancient bears, scientists discovered that the Cizhutuo panda shares the closet genetic relationship with current giant pandas.

And results also show that the split between ancestors of Cizhutuo panda and the ancestor of present-day pandas goes back about 144,000 years.

The research also shows that the Cizhutuo panda belongs to a different mitochondrial lineage.

Fu said that a comparison between the Cizhutuo panda’s nuclear DNA to present-day genome-wide data would allow a more thorough analysis of the evolutionary history of the Cizhutuo panda, as well as its shared history with present-day pandas.

The discovery is of vital importance to obtaining the giant panda’s ancient nuclear DNA, which is significant to accurately determine the species’ evolutionary history, the institute said.

As the population of giant pandas drops, gene rebuilding alone is impossible to describe the evolutionary history of this species, it noted.

We also need to sequence more DNA from various ancient pandas to capture how their genetic diversity has changed over time, and how did these changes relate to their current, much more restricted and fragmented habitat, Fu said.

She said getting genome-wide data also helps us understand what happened to them in the past.

Fu said her next goal is to get the nuclear genome of the southern giant pandas, whether it be from the Guangxi skull or from related fossils.

Today, pandas only live in China’s southwestern subtropical bamboo forests. The animal is considered a national treasure in China, yet few people really know how the giant panda evolved, the Xinhua News Agency reported in January.

Since giant pandas are confined to China, many researchers had assumed China to be the origin of the panda family. Some fossils support this idea.

In the 1980s, Chinese scientists discovered dental specimens of the primal panda in Lufeng in China’s southwestern Yunnan Province. The fossils, dating back eight million years, suggest the primal panda was the oldest known panda and gave rise to the panda line.

Source: Global Times

 

China’s economy heads toward high-quality development

China has made new achievements on its way to high-quality economic development as indicated by economic data released in May. Since the beginning of 2018, the Chinese economy has maintained stable performance with good momentum for growth.

The country’s macro economy is shown to be developing in a stable manner. The country’s GDP, for example, has kept a growth rate between 6.7% and 6.9% for 11 consecutive quarters. As a result of deepening structural reform, The utilization rate of industrial capacity by enterprises above designated size reached 76.5% in the first quarter of 2018, 0.7% higher than the previous year. In addition, the unemployment rate in urban areas dropped by 0.1% to 4.8% on both a yearly and monthly basis.

Micro economy in the country has also been growing steadily. Indicators including the total electricity consumption and volume of railway freights kept growing, reflecting the continuous expansion of Chinese enterprises.

By mid-March, the number of market entities in China had exceeded 100 million, over 31 million of which were enterprises.

From January to April of this year, the total profit of enterprises above designated size increased by 15 percent, thanks to a series of beneficial tax policies which have lowered the cost of real economy and injected more energy to push forward the transformation and upgrading of the country’s economy.

Along with the vigorous development came an enhanced confidence of the market. The entrepreneur confidence index climbed to 75.8% in the second quarter, up from 74.2% in the first three months of 2018, according to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). By the end of May, Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in manufacturing sector had stayed above the threshold of 50.0 for 23 consecutive months.

China’s economy fundamentals have stayed positive thanks to resilience and having enough room to maneuver, said Du Feilun, director of the situation analysis department at the Macro Economic Research Institute under the National Development and Reform Commission of China.

With solid foundations and enormous potential for sustainable development, China’s economy will continue to rise amid dynamic and balanced development.