Technology helps Chinese network novels go global

Legends of the Condor Heroes (Photo/Beijing Morning Post)

Compared with previous generations, foreign readers now have more channels to get translated versions of Chinese novels online, thanks to the Internet and translation apps.

For example, the English versions of Legends of the Condor Heroes, The Message, and The Three Body Problem, have all ranked on bestseller lists in both Europe and the US.

How do these novels full of Chinese elements gain the affection of foreign readers? Zhang Xiaoming, a famous scholar and a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said what matters is that the writing style, as well as the perspectives, values, and preferences of the Chinese writers, are accepted by foreign readers.

Young people all over the world share similar reading preferences, Zhang said, adding that the Internet has further mitigated the differences between countries and cultures through the efficient spread of information and available channels for communication.

Before the Internet became a popular platform for the spread of novels, a book was ready for readers only after going through complex procedures involving the author, the publication house and bookstores.

For foreign readers the process would take even longer because the book had to be copyrighted and translated before it reached them, Zhang noted.

However, the creation of network literature, especially novels, is dynamic and the writer can interact with the readers and make timely adjustments to meet the satisfaction of the readers.

Network novels have satisfied the needs of both Chinese and foreign readers, Zhang explained.

Additionally, some voluntary foreign translators are creating English and French versions of Chinese novels. Some readers even teach themselves Chinese so that they can read Chinese stories on their own.

With the use of tool apps, translation has become easier, especially when the original novels themselves are easy to understand, Zhang said.

Compared with classic works, network novels are easier to read, and we can experience the charm of Chinese culture through them, said a foreign user.

China’s opening up brings substantial opportunities for transnational enterprises: UPS

A UPS employee delivers packages in Beijing [Photo from UPS]

The past 40 years of China’s reform and opening up have brought about substantial opportunities for transnational enterprises, said Harld Peters, president of UPS China, during an interview with People’s Daily.

Atlanta-based UPS, with a history of over 100 years, is one of the largest package delivery companies in the world.

Peters recalled that when the company entered China three decades ago, the Pudong district of Shanghai was merely farmland. However, today, as an international transfer center of UPS, Putong sees an economic total 100 times that of 30 years ago.

Peters told People’s Daily that logistics is the new engine driving economic development, and the business of UPS over the past 30 years has always followed the economic growth of China.

According to Peters, UPS currently has almost 6,000 employees and 228 business facilities in China, and has established a logistics network covering air, land and marine transportation. 208 company flights are traveling between China and the rest of the world each week, he added.

The Belt and Road Initiative and China’s policy to expand openness strengthened the company’s conviction to develop in China. Ross McCullough, president of UPS Asia Pacific Region, said that China’s commitment would further promote sustainable economic globalization, and the expansion of investment in China was an active response to the country’s commitment.

In March 2017, full container load (FCL) and less than container load (LCL) services of UPS from China to Europe, which initially covered Zhengzhou, Chengdu, Lodz and Hamburg, expanded its coverage to six more regions, including Changsha, Chongqing, Suzhou, Wuhan, Duisburg and Warsaw.

“The expansion of multimodal transport services between China and Europe offers more choice to customers on the world’s largest trade route,” said Gu Zhenzhong, vice-president of China Freight Forwarding at UPS China.

This October, UPS further expanded investment in China to enlarge its logistics network. It improved its services in eight Chinese cities including Zhongshan, Zhuhai and Jiangmen, to better support local manufacturing and export enterprises. Peters said the company has faith that the Chinese market would create an opportunity for long-term growth and UPS will continue investing in the country.

The rapid development of China’s logistics industry surprised Peters. In the first 11 months of 2017, the total value of the logistics industry reached 229.9 trillion yuan, growing 6.7 percent year-on-year. The number is expected to hit 280 trillion this year. 123 million parcels are now being delivered in China every day, a figure that will reach 200 million by 2019.

Peters told People’s Daily that China is a market that worships entrepreneurship where small and medium-sized enterprises can grow into transnational corporations in only 10 to 15 years, when it would typically take 50 to 100 years in other countries.

China’s attitude to actively embrace new technologies also impressed the head of UPS China. He noted that China is in a leading position regarding the application of new logistics technologies. Last year, UPS China reached an agreement with China’s logistics company SF to develop new technologies and models together.

Currently, UPS is making significant efforts to apply drones and artificial intelligence in the logistics sector, Peters introduced.

Peters was born in the Netherlands, and China is the fourth country in which he has worked. He told People’s Daily that the population of Shanghai surpasses that of the Netherlands, but the city is still well managed and safe thanks to the excellent municipal planning.

He said the experience of ordering dinner 50 minutes before leaving work every day and seeing the food as he arrives home is beyond imagination in Europe.

What also makes him excited is the ongoing structural reform in China, such as the one-stop service recently adopted by customs. Many measures to improve the business environment for foreign enterprises have also been taken by the Shanghai government, which will benefit logistics and international companies.

Peters found that various levels of the Chinese government are willing to learn and assist enterprises to improve the business environment. He said that both life and work in China are getting more convenient, believing that China’s business environment will be more favorable to long-term investment as the country further improves its infrastructure, policies and administrative efficiency.

Shanghai artist creates CIIE mascot egg sculpture

Li Yafei’s goose egg sculptures featuring plum blossoms, orchids, bamboo, and chrysanthemums. (Photo/Li Yafei)

China’s International Import Expo (CIIE) mascot, alongside delicate flowers, plants, animals and a three-dimensional rotating globe, these are the egg sculptures created by a 55-year-old artist from east China’s Shanghai, reported on Monday.

According to Li Yafei, the creator of these beautiful egg sculptures, he came across egg sculpture online in 2016 and immediately found it fascinating. From that moment, he began to teach himself the art.

A globe, engraved by Li Yafei onto a goose egg (the pedestal) and chicken egg (main body). (Photo/Li Yafei)

Keen on photography, painting, calligraphy, and seal cutting as a young man, Li spent between 40,000 and 50,000 yuan ($5,828-$7,285) on his toolkit, not knowing what would be best to create the intricate designs. As he taught himself, he realized it didn’t have to be so expensive, finding that a carving knife, with the help of modern technology, was enough to create a good egg sculpture.

“Hand skill, method, and preparation are the most important parts,” Li said, adding that all of his eggs are carefully selected when he goes to the market to buy vegetables.

Since he fell in love with sculpture, he doesn’t play mahjong and is no longer attached to his cell phone, saying that he is more gentle than he used to be.

Li Yafei’s egg sculpture of “The Eight Horses,” a famous painting by China’s renowned artist Xu Beihong. (Photo/Li Yafei)

“I can sit there engaged in the job for two or three hours in a row, sometimes I am so involved that I don’t even notice someone walking past me.”

Li has created several egg sculptures for the upcoming 2018 China International Import Expo, engraving the expo’s mascot and logo onto chicken eggs. These works of art, plus other creations, will be displayed during the exhibition, Li disclosed.

According to Li, who is now teaching junior middle school students the basics of egg sculpture, there are fewer than 500 people in the whole country that can carve eggs, and in Shanghai, there are less than three.

“Starting is easy, but you need to make great efforts if you want to become a master, just like with many other things,” Li said.

Li Yafei’s egg sculptures for the 2018 CIIE. (Photo/Li Yafei)

First batch of foreign investors open A-share accounts in China

A number of foreigners in China have recently opened A-share securities accounts, since the securities regulator approved regulation amendments on Sept. 15, allowing them to do so. Many of these investors prefer to put their money into old-age care, automation and robotics, reported on Sept.24, 2018.

The first batch of foreign investors come predominantly from the US, Japan, and Australia, many of whom have been in China for years and are already fluent in Chinese.

Ms. Hayashi, a Japanese woman who has lived in east China’s Shanghai since 1998, became the first foreigner to open an A-share security account in a branch of China’s Everbright Securities.

Japan’s financial management yield is lower, said Hayashi, disclosing that she had opened a B-share account during her early years in China, and had been hoping to enter China’s A-share market for some time. She added that old-age care is her field of preference.

An American man named Mike expressed that he would enter the A-share market immediately after opening a new account, at another major securities trader Guotai Junan Securities. The man, who works in the financial information industry, sees a bright future in automation and robotics.

“Previously, foreigners didn’t have much choice for investment in China, so I invested my money in the US. However, now we have great opportunities here in both work and investment,” expressed Mike, adding that he would start to research listed companies, and would be happy if the annual rate of return could reach 6 percent.

According to relevant regulations, foreigners who are eligible for an A-share security account are those who work overseas for a Chinese A-share listed company and enjoy share-based compensation or those that currently work in China.

Also, foreign investors should be from countries whose securities regulators have established regulatory cooperation mechanisms with the China Securities Regulatory Commission. To date, China has signed 68 memorandums of cooperation and understanding with 62 countries and regions around the world.

Securities traders in China have put in a great deal of effort to materialize the new regulations. Everbright Securities is planning to launch a dedicated platform with bilingual services for foreign investors, Guotai Junan Securities has added new access for foreign investors in its mobile app, and Huatai Securities will provide customized and specialized services for foreigners, such as special investment packages and industry reports in English.

Drones become standard vehicles in China’s logistics industry

A member of staff in a modern agricultural park of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province loads freshly picked fruit onto a drone. (Photo/Xinhua)

As more countries devote time and effort to advancing the use of drones in logistics, China has shifted its position from trying to catch up with the rest of the world to becoming a global frontrunner. Chinese companies have recently become the first in the world to use drones as standard delivery tools, Economic Daily reported on Sept.26, 2018., one of China’s leading e-commerce companies, launched its drone program in 2015, and “since 2016, JD has become the first in the world to realize the normal operation of delivery services performed by drones,” said Liu Yanguang, general manager of the Unmanned Vehicle R&D Center of JD’s X Business Division.

JD has built hundreds of air routes for drone delivery in many Chinese provinces, including Shaanxi, Jiangsu, Hainan, and Qinghai, with hundreds of remote mountain villages included in the total flight distance of over 80,000 kilometers, according to Liu.

As the manufacturing of unmanned aerial vehicles becomes easier in China, more companies are swarming the market. E-commerce companies such as JD and Suning, couriers like China Post, SF Express and Cainiao, and UAV manufacturer Shenzhen Smart Drone UAV Company have entered the market one after another to compete for a market share.

China Post tested its first drone delivery in 2016. A year later, SF Express, the second largest delivery services company in China after China Post, also finished its first test flight of a large-scale drone, while ZTO Express, another sizable Chinese courier, completed its first trial flight in 2017.

Additionally, China has pushed forward the establishment of a state level UAV standard system. In 2017, China released its Guidelines for the Construction of Standard System for Unmanned Aircraft Systems, Fence of Unmanned Aircraft System, and Interface Specifications of Unmanned Aircraft and Cloud System, making it the first country in the world to release such industry standards.

According to the World Logistics UAV Industry Development Annual Report (2017-2018) released by JD this August, the development of UAVs in the field of logistics is gaining considerable momentum around the world. The US comes out on top, with Europe following closely, while China has transformed its position from chasing the other big players to becoming a pacesetter.

“The booming market has accelerated regulation and supervision in the UAV industry around the world,” said Liu. He disclosed that with the three-tier smart logistics network of “main line – branch line – distribution terminal” becoming the mainstream industry layout, drones for delivery will see ever accelerated industrialization over the next three years, and branch line drones will become a focal point of global competition.

Bank savings growth in China drops to record low

The growth rate of China’s RMB bank account deposits has fallen to a record low, as Chinese people today prefer to invest their money rather than save it in a fixed deposit account, while most people pay a large chunk of their income to mortgages or rent, The Beijing News reported on Sept.27, 2018.

Since the beginning of this year, the growth rate of RMB deposits has stayed firmly below 9 percent. Latest statistics released by the People’s Bank of China, China’s central bank, indicate that the growth rate of deposits in China’s financial institutions fell to 8.3 percent in August, the lowest in the past 40 years.

The growth rate of deposits in the residential sector plunged from 18 percent in 2008 to around 7 percent this year. By July 2018, China’s household savings totaled approximately 69.24 trillion yuan (about $10.1 trillion), a decrease of 293.2 billion yuan from the previous month. Moreover, this April, household deposits dropped by 1.32 trillion yuan compared with the month before.

It’s believed that the country’s diversified investment channels have taken away money which would have otherwise ended up in the bank.

The country’s fast-growing financial system has offered citizens more options for investment, including money market funds, stock trading, non-monetary investment funds, and online financial management systems.

“Bank savings? No, I don’t have any,” a woman who is almost 30 and works in the financial circle, told The Beijing News. She added, “I don’t think about keeping a bank deposit, as the interest rates are too low. I invest most of my spare money.”

Now, people can handle their finances with convenient mobile apps and mobile banking services, which offer more flexibility and better interest rates. A bank clerk noted that young people today prefer to use financial services online.

According to incomplete statistics from The Beijing News, by the end of this June, six investment funds linked to Alibaba’s Yu’e Bao, a money market fund, amounted to over 1.86 trillion yuan.

Besides new investment channels, most people pay a large portion of their salary to mortgage and rent costs.

As indicated by data from China’s central bank, by the end of 2001, residential mortgages in China’s commercial banks made up less than 60 billion yuan, which rose to 21.9 trillion yuan by the end of 2017, a compound annual growth rate of 44.59 percent.

“Half of my salary is used to pay the mortgage, and the rest is to support my daily life,” an employee with three years working experience told The Beijing News, disclosing that although he earns 30,000 yuan a month, he only has around 2,000-3,000 yuan spare at the end of every month.

For young people living in big cities, rent is now incredibly expensive. A young man working in east China’s Shanghai told The Beijing News that he makes about 15,000 yuan a month, but has to pay a monthly sum of 4,500 yuan for rent.

“My rent has risen to about 36,000 yuan a year,” said a woman who works in China’s capital Beijing, adding that it’s difficult for her to save money as her rent increased by 500 yuan last month.

Although there are many external factors, Chinese banks must realize that as the largest financial institutions, their service quality and interests for people are far less than those of new financial investment platforms, explained Jiang Han, a researcher of Suning Institute of Finance, an institute of China’s consumer electronics retailer

If banks don’t seek to change themselves, they might find themselves overthrown by other financial institutions in the future, said Jiang.

44-year-old Chinese rag-picker teaches herself to translate English novels

Recently, the story of a middle-aged Chinese rag-picker went viral online. With a keen interest in English, the 44-year-old woman has been teaching herself English for over 20 years, and can now read English newspapers and translate English novels, The Beijing News reported on Sept. 29, 2018.

Yuan Yinghui was born in a village in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong Province. She began learning English in junior middle school and has been passionate about it ever since.

Yuan enrolled in a vocational high school in Qingdao at the age of 17, majoring in clothing, in which she later found herself utterly uninterested. As her classes seemed dull, and more importantly, there was no opportunity to learn English, she decided to drop out of school in her second year to dedicate all her time to English study.

Almost everyone around Yuan disagreed with her decision. Her parents hoped that she could keep her mind on her schooling so that she could find a decent job in a garment factory. People in her village judged her. Eventually, Yuan left home and lived a life on her own.

Though life after leaving home was difficult and unsettled, Yuan never gave up on her passion for English. Except for living expenses, she used almost all of her salary to buy English materials.

Since she wanted to spend a significant amount of time learning English, as soon as she had saved enough money, she quit her job and devoted herself to self-learning, sometimes for several years at a time. Listening to English news, attending English Corner activities held at colleges, reading English magazines, Yuan used every resource available in an attempt to enhance her English skills.

This continued until 2016, when Yuan became afraid that holding down a job might force her to give up on English entirely. So, in May 2016, she decided to become a rag-picker to allow herself more study time.

Last year, Yuan translated The Lost, an English crime novel written by Roberta Kray. She finished the translation in five months, with the translated text handwritten in six notebooks. “I told people I could read English newspapers, and they thought I was lying because I only went to middle school,” Yuan told local media, adding that translating the novel is her way of proving herself.

Being asked why she remained so passionate about English for so many years, Yuan explained that she wanted to make her life more meaningful, and she doesn’t regret her decision. “I would make the same decision if I were given another chance at life,” said Yuan, disclosing that she wishes to become a translator and settle down in the future.

China’s first generation of female train drivers

The first generation female train drivers in a program on CCTV-1. (Photo/CCTV-1)

With the recent launch of the Guangzhou-Hong Kong High-speed Railway, three female train drivers caught the public’s attention, according to CCTV-1, a general channel of China’s national TV station, Sept. 28.

However, female train drivers have been working in the industry for the last 40 years. In 1975, based on the request of female members of railway staff, the then Jinan locomotive depot under the railway bureau of Jinan, capital of east China’s Shandong Province, set up a female train driver team, recruiting a total of 21 women aged from 18 to 24.

These young women, who reportedly wrote a joint letter to ask for changes to be made to the hiring process, became the first generation of female train drivers in China, dedicating their careers to the country’s transport system.

The DF4, a diesel-electric locomotive that the female drivers took charge of, could reach a maximum speed of 120 kilometers per hour, with a maximum actual running speed of between 80 and 100 kilometers an hour.

 Some of the first generation female train drivers take group pictures in front of a train. (Photo/CCTV-1)

It took them seven and a half hours to drive the train from Jinan to Bengbu, a city in east China’s Anhui Province, while the same trip today takes less than two hours by high-speed rail.

Just like their male counterparts, these drivers not only drove trains, but were also responsible for various other tasks related to train operation such as repairs, maintenance and inspection.

Although they had to work over 10 hours a day and had to deal with physically demanding challenges, these young drivers still managed to complete every task professionally and with great passion.

40 years later, in a TV program which aired on CCTV-1, the former train drivers were invited to test drive the G-series high-speed train in a simulated operator cabin.

Op-ed: No way out for unilateralism

The collision between the unilateralism under the banner of “America first” and the multilateralism that values equality and cooperation is getting increasingly fierce these days.

During the current session of the UN General Assembly, plenty of UN officials and global political heavyweights voiced their opposition against the US-held unilateralism, expressing their strong will in safeguarding the multilateral trading system.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that multilateralism was under fire while the world needed it most. He noted that the world was suffering from trust deficit disorder, and polarization and populism was on the rise in some countries, calling on all countries to promote and support multilateralism.

At present, trade protectionism is widely criticized by the international community. People are worried that protectionist measures would lead to isolationism, thus imperiling international systems, damaging world economy, and spoiling the opportunity for common development.

“In today’s multi-polar world, the more the US goes one its own way, the more other countries are empowered to do so, too. That makes this year’s general assembly fraught with danger. It is also an opportunity for those who believe in international co-operation to stand up for it when it is needed most,” wrote a Financial Times editorial titled “At the UN, America first becomes America alone”.

The US unilateralism that rampages around has brought much negative energy to the international community. From triggering international trade frictions by making attacks in all directions to frequently pulling out of international organizations, and from tearing up international agreements to abandoning international commitments, the US government, through a series of short-sighted practices, has not only destroyed its reputation in the international community, but also hurt its international status and strategic interests.

American political philosopher Francis Fukuyama once said that the US injected many unstable factors into the world’s politics. The politics under the realm of “America first”, according to him, would only lead to a world of “America isolated”.

Leaders of the US could not avoid globalization, commented columnist Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post in a recent article, explaining that globalization was wide-spread and deep-rooted.

Time Magazine also pointed out that the idea of “America first” might cause the end of the US’ leading position that has been maintained for 72 years.

The world’s muti-polarization trend is unstoppable, and it is impossible for unilateralism to prevail and find a way out. It is the call of the times that we should stick to multilateralism and improve global governance so as to seek common interests for all countries around the world.

(Zhong Sheng, a homonym in Chinese for “voice of China”, is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)

78-year-old Chinese man receives patents for inventing “flying car”

An explains his design.

A man in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province devoting himself for over 10 years to the invention of dual-use vehicles which can both run along the ground and fly in the sky received a patent for the invention this August, local media reported on Oct. 9, 2018.

The patent was granted for the invention of “a solution for the aerodynamic configuration and power system of dual-use (land and air) sedan cars and service cars”.

The inventor An Shuya, a 78-year-old retired senior mechanical engineer, started the study in 2000 and has become a regular visitor of the municipal library since then, immersing himself in books on automobile industrial technologies and aeronautical technologies.

He had been enjoying a happy life after retirement until one day, his wife shared her concern with the present traffic congestion, and suggested that her husband should do something about it. Hearing this, the man decided to make use of his expertise in mechanical manufacturing and attempted to create a “flying car” so as to help resolve the traffic jam issue.

An shows the certificate for the patent.

When his study finally yielded fruits, as a gift to his wife, An applied for the patent with the name of his wife.

The invention is a combination of the automobile and aircraft, and this new type dual-use vehicle is at present a conceptual machine that needs further detailed development and manufacturing, An explained.

“I haven’t been able to materialize the vehicle, for it needs complicated and refined manufacturing techniques,” An said, hoping that people of vision could help him to materialize the invention.