China has no plans to clone humans following success of monkey trial

Long-tailed macaques Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua

China has no plans to conduct human cloning following the success of its monkey trial, according to a report by Chinese newspaper Science and Technology Daily.

The recent birth of two identical long-tailed macaques – Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua – marked the first time primates have been cloned using the same cloning technique that made Dolly the sheep.

While the achievement was seen as a breakthrough, critics raised ethical concerns about the research and suggested it could ultimately lead to human cloning.

However, in order to suit the rapid development of biotechnology, China formed an ethical review system for scientific research in the 1990s. A committee has also been established in accordance with the request of ethical assessment of international projects.

In addition, a series of codes and regulations have been formed to guide scientific research, restraining and even closing those substandard projects.

According to a document issued by the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology in December 2003, human reproductive cloning is prohibited. Though therapeutic cloning is permitted, it must conform to the codes, the document said.

Regarding China as a “threat” reflects narrow-minded mentality

The Western countries have been busy depicting China as a “threat” this year, with changing rhetoric.

On Jan. 19, the U.S. Department of Defense published a summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS), which labels China as a “revisionist country” that poses security challenges to the United States.

In line with the NDS report, the U.S. media and think tanks expressed fear that their government is losing its dominance in Asia to China.

In addition to imposing protective tariffs on Chinese products, such as washing machines, solar batteries, and battery panels, the U.S. government also stated clearly that it will take action against China for the latter’s “intellectual property theft”.

And it is not just the United States. Germany has initiated EU legislation with France and Italy to strengthen monitoring of foreign direct investments into the European Union. The draft law is widely regarded as targeting China.

Matthias Machnig, state secretary in Germany’s economics ministry, reportedly said that it was urgent to police surging Chinese investment.

But their accusations and decisions against China are not accepted in their own country. The protective tariffs on Chinese solar batteries and battery panels are expected to shut the door on billions of dollars in investments in the United States, resulting in thousands of lost job opportunities.

Likewise, the European countries’ claim of “surging Chinese investment” is also a rejection of win-win cooperation and results. Previous acquisitions were often the result of European enterprises trapped in difficulty, which were in the end aided by the Chinese investment and the market advantages of the Chinese firms.

What should be a win-win situation has turned out to be otherwise. What happened to the confidence of the Western countries?

Times have changed. The world is undergoing a major transformation, and the international order is becoming fairer, more orderly, more balanced, and more inclusive.

However, this positive change has made the countries that place themselves above all others worried and anxious, fearing that they may lose their dominant positions in global affairs and their leading roles in technology to other countries such as China.

Behind their behavior is zero-sum mentality.

In sharp contrast to this, the world feels the warmth of the China-proposed concept of “building a community of shared future for mankind.” Just recently, for example, The New York Times reported that the real star at the 2018 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, may have been China.

China’s influence was clearly felt during the forum, and its proposal of jointly building a community with shared future was also echoed by the whole world.

China is not an advocator of isolationism, but a supporter of cooperation. Twisting this beautiful vision into a threat reflects the narrow-minded mentality of some countries.

Chunyun travel season kicks off at Beijing Railway Station

Train No. 3603, an additional train running from Beijing to Chongqing, leaves Beijing Railway Station on Feb. 1. The train will travel 1,982 kilometers before arriving in the southwestern Chinese city. The 2018 Spring Festival travel rush, known as Chunyun, kicks off on February 1 and last till March 12. Railway authorities expect about 2.98 billion trips to be made during this year’s rush period.

Prestigious soldiers who guard the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse

On Jan. 30, the TV channel of 81.cn, the website of the People’s Liberation Army, released a video unveiling the demeanor of soldiers who guard the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing.

Each year, 40 soldiers stand out among nearly 1,000 of their peers to qualify to take part in training for the position. In the end, only about 11 will be recruited for the prestigious job, says Yang Zixuan, the platoon leader, who was born in 1990.

Like Yang, most of the soldiers were born after 1990. Though they are young, they have served the military for years. Huang Hanting, the squad leader, said the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse is a political place, so they have to be very careful when carrying out foreign affairs missions.

To practice for the activities, the soldiers would do the same pose for thousands of times to guarantee it is absolutely accurate. Some of them have even got injured during the training.

Besides routine training, they have to memorize more than 800 license plates, 20 kinds of certificates, and the national flags and ambassador numbers of over 100 countries, in order to make sure there are no mistakes during major foreign affairs missions.

As a result of the rigid training, they are dubbed “living computers.” From 1983 to now, the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse soldiers have carried out protocol missions during visits of more than 600 foreign state leaders and 2,700 foreign dignitaries.

Former US President Bill Clinton saluted the Chinese soldiers to show his respect and gratitude to them after wrapping up his visit to China in 1997.

Limited promise from Trump plan, Chinese firms ‘unlikely’ to get large slice of action

Chinese companies are unlikely to play a large role in the trillion-dollar infrastructure plan announced by US President Donald Trump, but analysts said that there are still contracts that they could bid for.

The comments came after Trump unveiled a large-scale infrastructure plan in his first State of the Union address on Tuesday (US time). The US president spoke of the need to rebuild the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

“Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment that our country so desperately needs,” he said.

The plan announced by Trump includes new roads, bridges, highways, railways and waterways, and any bill must also streamline the permit and approval process, getting it down to no more than two years.

“The Trump administration has focused on tackling the US trade deficit with China, and the bilateral trade order has been in a wobble since last year,” Wang Yongzhong, a research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

There will be more tit-for-tat escalation this year, the expert predicted, and as a result, “granting a large amount of infrastructure projects to Chinese companies seems unlikely,” he said.

When it comes to construction contracts in foreign countries, Chinese companies export both equipment and workers to construction sites abroad, Wang said.

“If Trump wants to win this trade-deficit battle, increasing imports to the US may become challenging,” he said.

China is willing to make joint efforts with the US to encourage Chinese enterprises to participate in US infrastructure construction, China’s Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a report published in May 2017. China’s infrastructure has late-mover advantages, as the scale of its highways, high-speed railways, subways, ports, tunnels and power grid all rank first in the world, the MOFCOM report said.

Infrastructure development in the US has fallen short of demand. Despite the efforts of Congress and some states, there is still a $2 trillion gap in terms of needed infrastructure, according to an annual report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers in April 2017.

In 2016, China signed a total of 1,319 contracts for projects in the US, with a total value of $4.3 billion, according to MOFCOM. Given the enormous scale of the US infrastructure market, the current market share of Chinese enterprises is relatively small, the report said.

Broader cooperation

Still, some Chinese firms that have localized their production in the US market have a positive view about Trump’s infrastructure plan.

“We have a 40,000-square-meter production base in the US and we manufacture, sell and support construction and material handling equipment such as crawler cranes and rough terrain cranes, so this massive infrastructure plan is good news for us,” Chinese multinational heavy machinery manufacturer SANY said in a note sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

Chinese firms with a track record of participation in infrastructure projects in the US and other advanced economies such as the UK and Canada would have strong credentials to pitch for such work, possibly as part of joint ventures with US firms that are also bidding for the projects, Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit, told the Global Times.

“Such joint ventures would also enable more cooperation between US and Chinese firms on other international infrastructure projects, such as China’s Belt and Road initiative projects in many developing countries worldwide,” Biswas said.

Other options

Due to the recent tightened scrutiny of Chinese investment in the US, the Trump administration is unlikely to approve a large amount of projects by Chinese firms, Wang noted. “But still, Chinese firms can bid for some small subcontracts,” he said.

Chinese firms could get contracts worth up to $15 billion as part of the massive plan, Wang predicted.

Chinese investors may have more ways to invest in infrastructure projects as contractors.

“For instance, Chinese investors could purchase US bonds or infrastructure bonds issued by the federal and local governments, or make equity investments,” said Liu Jianying, an associate fellow with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

Source: Global Times

 

Keepers carry food to feed monkeys on snowy days

Keepers carry food for golden snub-nosed monkeys at a research base in Shennongjia Forestry District in central China’s Hubei province, Jan. 30. The female monkeys are pregnant these days, but due to the heavy snow, their food sources have become scarce. To help them get through the cold days, the keepers carry some 200 kilograms of food, including peanuts and sweet potatoes, to feed them every day.

McDonald’s employee suspected of making drinks with snow

A video circulating online showing a McDonald’s employee getting snow outside the restaurant on Mount Tianzi in Zhangjiajie, central China’s Hunan province, has made people wonder if the employee used snow to make drinks, ThePaper.cn reported.

The video photographer, surnamed Yang, said that he did not see the employee making coffee or milk with the snow, but some of his friends developed diarrhea after dining at the restaurant.

Yang said that the road closures caused by heavy snow should not be an excuse for the restaurant to do such things to its customers.

McDonald’s responded the next day on Jan. 31, calling the situation a misunderstanding. The snow dug by the employee was used for cleaning the restaurant, and not for making food or drinks, it said, adding that the restaurant will also get in touch with those involved as soon as possible.

China’s online food ordering platforms hit 80M monthly active users in 2017

The number of monthly active users on China’s online food ordering platforms hit 80 million in 2017. The thriving take-out food industry is changing both people’s eating habits and catering operators’ operation models.

The number of registered users on China’s online food ordering platforms rose to 300 million in 2017 from 110 million in 2013, and monthly active users hit 80 million, according to a report published by Meituan-Dianping, China’s largest group deals site.

People used to order only lunch and dinner on the platform. But in 2017, an increasing number of users also ordered breakfast and midnight snacks. Medicine, flowers, and fruits can also be ordered through the platform. The delivery time is about 30 minutes on average.

The thriving take-out food industry is changing people’s eating habits, with 52 percent of the users reporting they now cook by themselves less often.

In addition, data shows that the size of the online food ordering market was about 204.6 billion yuan ($32.4 billion) in 2017. More and more catering operators are choosing to join such platforms.

Data analyst Yang Xu said that access to the intelligent food ordering system improves the operators’ efficiency.

With the thriving industry and rising needs of online food ordering users, regulatory departments and food ordering platforms are also tightening oversight over operators to ensure food quality.

More Cambodians are celebrating the Chinese New Year: Prime Minister

Hun Sen on the Great Wall (File photo)

On Tuesday, Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen said on his Facebook page that the number of people celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year in Cambodia is increasing.

Cambodians now celebrate three New Year celebrations annually, including New Year’s Eve, Chinese Lunar New Year, and Cambodian New Year, the Prime Minister said.

Hun Sen said the fact that more and more people are celebrating the Chinese New Year is a gift of peace in Cambodia, which gives people the freedom to choose the celebration of festivals according to their traditions.

The Prime Minister also posted a 27-year-old picture of himself and his spouse on the Great Wall in Beijing.

Tsinghua’s debated admissions policy aimed at introducing more overseas talent

China’s prestigious Tsinghua University has come under fire recently after it released a set of admissions requirements for foreign applicants, with many Chinese netizens criticizing the school for offering “preferential admissions,” Southern Metropolis Daily reported on Jan. 31.

According to the university’s 2018 requirements for international bachelor’s degree applicants, foreign citizens may apply if they have a high-school diploma and are proficient in Chinese.

Some critics argue the new rules have made it much easier for foreigners to get into Tsinghua University, especially those who are originally Chinese. However, education experts say they do not lower standards for international applicants.

According to the new rules, applicants must pass two hurdles before receiving an admission offer from Tsinghua University: the online application and a comprehensive evaluation that is used by domestic universities to examine overseas applicants.

For those who have given up their original Chinese citizenship and have become foreign citizens, they should have lived overseas for at least two years during the last four years before April 30 in the year they are admitted by the university.

Peking University, Renmin University, Xiamen University, and other prestigious universities have also adopted the online application and comprehensive evaluation mechanism to examine undergraduate applicants.

Tsinghua says that the number of domestic students won’t be affected by international student recruitment.

Xiong Bingqi, an education expert, says the threshold has not been lowered for international students, and the online application and comprehensive evaluation mechanism eliminate some of the candidates, as the school only chooses the best.

Some experts suggest that more attention should be paid to how to strengthen the school’s ability to attract more exemplary overseas talents from across the world.

According to the country’s plan to internationalize its education, by 2020, some 500,000 foreign students will be admitted by all levels of schools, and a yearly growth rate of 6.94 percent in the number of foreign students will be achieved.