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2017 Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road to kick off in NW China

The 2017 Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road will kick off on Sept. 19 in Dunhuang, northwest China’s Gansu province. The event is meant to push forward the positive role of media in promoting the Belt and Road Initiative.

The international media forum will be attended by 265 media outlets from 126 countries. Hosted by the People’s Daily, the forum has been held for three years since 2014. Last year, the forum attracted 212 mainstream media outlets from 101 countries.

China highly values the forum. “Media plays an essential role in communicating information, enhancing mutual trust, and building consensus. This forum provides a platform for media from many countries to engage in dialogue and practice cooperation,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his congratulatory message to the 2016 Media Cooperation Forum on Belt and Road.

This year’s media forum is an event held under the spirit of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May, when President Xi called on people to stick to the Silk Road spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning, and mutual benefit.

Dunhuang, an ancient town on the old Silk Road, was an important intersection between East and West.

The upcoming forum will provide a high-end platform for major Chinese enterprises and domestic and international media to conduct dialogues. It will also open a window to the world to better understand the Belt and Road Initiative, the People’s Daily said in a notice about the media forum on Aug. 18.

Many topics will be discussed at the forum, including global coordination, the roles of governments and enterprises, smart manufacturing, the healthcare industry, the digital economy, and the cultural and tourism industry.

The forum will also host activities, including influential think tank seminars, themed speeches, high-end dialogues, and large-scale media tours.

Bike-sharing rules aim to ensure security of users’ funds, information: Ministry

China’s bike-sharing companies are being urged to waive deposits for users and ensure the security of personal data, under guidelines jointly issued by the Ministry of Transport and nine other government departments on Thursday.

The companies have also been warned against commingling users’ funds with their own. Customers’ money must be held in escrow accounts, which will be subject to scrutiny by finance and transport regulators.

Companies must also establish a quick deposit refund system so that users can get their money back as soon as they return bikes.

Bike-sharing companies must make formal arrangements with banks or similar institutions that can provide payment and settlement services for them, the guidelines note.

In terms of information safety, the companies must set up their servers in the Chinese mainland and take further steps to protect users’ personal information.

Also, the personal data obtained from users should not be used in a manner that violates users’ legal rights or the public interest, or in any way that exceeds the companies’ scope of service, the guidelines said, adding that the government encourages the companies to provide free bike rental deposits services.

Companies will be responsible for adopting a real name registration system and ensuring that bikes are not parked on sidewalks, roads or public right-of-ways, according to the guidelines.

Two major domestic bike-sharing companies ofo and Mobile on Thursday welcomed the new rules, which show the government’s transparent and encouraging attitude toward the industry.

“The new rules are conducive for the orderly and sound development of the nascent industry,” Mobile said in a statement sent to the Global Times Thursday, noting that the company has been using big data and global positioning system technology to reflect rising market standards.

Ofo said in a statement sent to the Global Times that it has sought to build up a credit system across many cities, allowing riders who have accumulated high credit ratings to avoid making deposits.

Source: Global Times

United to exit Hangzhou market

America’s giant closes poorly performing route while local govts encourage cross-continental travel

Having only operated a route to Hangzhou, capital of East China’s Zhejiang Province, just over a year, United Airlines, one of the US’ three main carriers, is set to exit that market in October due to stagnant performance.

United joins the growing list of overseas players that have recently declared they are quitting or suspending certain routes in the Chinese market after just one year of operation.

In January this year, British Airways closed its route to Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, and in October 2016, Lufthansa suspended its route from Frankfurt to Shenyang, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province.

United opened the route from Hangzhou to San Francisco in July last year which flies three times per week with Boeing 787.

Initially, Hangzhou was not the priority city for United’s Chinese market venture and the airline was at first hoping to open a frequent route from Shanghai to San Francisco, but this fell through. Subsequently, it reconsidered Hangzhou and rushed to open the route as a quick alternative.

However, not long after the Hangzhou route opened, United won a slot to open a second daily flight from Shanghai in October 2016, but this resulted in an overall oversupply of flights from Eastern China and a skewed load factor.

United’s withdrawal from the Hangzhou market announcement also comes as the carrier vows to beef up efforts in improving flights in its home market and as its business in the broader Asia Pacific market decreases.

In its latest financial report released last month, United informed that its passenger income in the Asia Pacific market declined by 1 percent year-on-year to $1.01 billion while its yield declined by 2 percent compared to the same period last year.

United’s CCO and VP Andrew Nocella said the company will make “really careful” moves in the Asia Pacific market, particularly in Shanghai and Beijing, over the next 12 months with regard to capacity deployment. Currently, the airline operates flights to five destinations in the Chinese mainland.

Sluggish performance

The US Department of Transportation’s data shows that from July last year to January this year, the average load factor for the Hangzhou route was 61 percent, lower than the average 81 percent for other Chinese routes of United.

By contrast, United’s Chengdu route – one of China’s second-tier cities that the airline sought earlier on – reached an average load factor of 82.2 percent in 2016, slightly lower than the 83 percent in Beijing.

Given United’s performance in the Hangzhou market as well as in the wider Asia Pacific region, it seems reasonable for the airline to exit the former.

Also in October 2016, Sichuan Airlines launched a route from Chengdu to Los Angeles via a stop in Hangzhou, which flies twice per week and may have posed some competition for United.

Although this is Sichuan Airlines’ first route to the US, due to a poor load factor, the airline limited the number of flights to just one per week.

A boom in second-tier cities

Many routes that open in second- and third-tier cities receive government subsidies as local governments are looking for new driving forces to develop their economies.

They believe the aviation industry could stimulate the development of other sectors and ample subsidies could be the key to this.

To encourage airlines to open up routes in these cities, airports across China normally enact advantageous policies such as decreased landing fees or subsidies for players operating international routes. These ”discounts” amount to millions of yuan per year.

However, airports have gotten more clever recently, particularly in those popular Chinese destinations. Some media reported that the airports in Sichuan and Hangzhou have selected some particularly canny business strategies on the subsidized routes.

 

China will resist if US starts trade war: experts

A model of DJ Brown appears at the pop-up store of Beats and LINE Friends in HKRI Taikoo Hui in Shanghai on Wednesday. The Beats Studio Wireless headset with the Line Friends special edition, which was promoted by the US tech giant Apple Inc, is priced at 2,288 yuan ($340). Photo: CFP

Chinese officials and experts on Thursday strongly criticized a potential investigation that the US government is said to be launching into China’s trade practices and warned that any unfair measure against China would draw a strong response and inflict damage on both economies.

Experts also urged relevant government agencies and industries to prepare countermeasures, including filing complaints at the WTO and tit-for-tat probes into US companies and products, to protect their interests from what they describe as “bullying” from the US.

The US government is reportedly mulling opening a broad investigation against China’s trade practices, under a domestic law known as Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The investigation, which could come in the coming days, could result in steep tariffs or restrictions on Chinese imports, according to US media reports.

Such prospects drew strong criticism and stern warnings in Beijing on Thursday.

Warnings

The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), while reiterating China’s willingness to work with the US over trade issues through dialogue and cooperation, warned that a potential fight over trade between China and the US could hurt both.

“The China-US trade relationship is… mutually beneficial. Cooperating would benefit both sides and fighting would hurt both,” Gao Feng, spokesman for the MOFCOM, said in response to a question about the potential US trade probe.

The spokesman called on the US to engage in dialogue and consultation with China to address differences regarding bilateral trade and follow WTO rules. “Any member of the WTO should comply with WTO rules when taking any trade measures,” he said.

Though the US investigation has not been announced officially and details remain elusive, Chinese experts with ties to the government said that China would not stand idly by any potentially unfair measures from the US.

“This is bully negotiating tactics from [US President Donald Trump], trying to pressure China into meeting its unreasonable demands that only benefit the US,” said Mei Xinyu, an associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the MOFCOM.

“But China is not what it was two decades ago. Today, we are the world’s second-largest economy and largest trading nation. There are many tools we can use to deal with the US,” Mei told the Global Times.

Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, which is also affiliated with the MOFCOM, also said Trump, with a stalled domestic legislative agenda, is trying to “get anything he can from China to make good on campaign promises and ease pressure.”

“If [Trump] wants to make small gains by picking a fight with China, I think he is seriously miscalculating and might be picking up a stone that could crush his own feet,” Huo said

Han Bing, an expert at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China would not accept any demand from the US that would make it give up its own interests. “That’s a bottom line,” she told the Global Times.

Countermeasures

The experts said China has a lot of tools at its disposal to counter the US.

Mei said that should the US take unfair measures against Chinese companies and products, such as imposing higher tariffs and restrictions on imports, China could do the same for US companies and products.

“This could cause chaos in both countries’ economies and markets,” noted Mei.

Another option for China would be using the WTO mechanism to protect its legal interests, according to Huo, who also participated in negotiations for China’s entry into the WTO.

“Though the process should take a long time, it’s an ideal way to protect our interests while avoiding further confrontation.”

The experts also said that China should start looking into different industries that are likely to be targeted in the US investigation and build a case against any US accusations, while also reassessing the overall China-US trade relationship to prepare for potential turmoil.

The US move, though it would have limited impact on China economically, could reverse a positive trend in the China-US relationship established during meetings between the leaders of the two countries in Florida and in Germany on the sidelines of the G20 summit, experts said.

Source:Global Times

China expected to take lead in fight against organ trafficking

Chinese and international experts on organ donation and transplantation gather in Beijing on Thursday ahead of a conference. Photo: Courtesy of China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation

The international community is looking forward to China taking a leading role in the global governance of organ transplantations and the fight against organ trafficking, representatives from international societies said at a conference held in Beijing on Thursday.

“It is the great hope that China could be a model for all the countries, especially those in Asia and the Pacific region,” Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), told the Global Times.

Sorondo also expressed his expectations on connecting organ transplantation with China’s Belt and Road initiative, such as sharing China’s techniques and model to other countries in need.

“The model developed by China is an example for other countries and provides groundwork for ethical practice against organ trafficking for other countries to follow,” said Campbell Fraser, an international human organ trade expert from Griffith University in Australia.

Fraser is among eight foreign experts who hailed China’s model, which features strong government engagement, as a significant contributor to the country’s reform and progress at the Thursday conference on organ transplantation.

After banning the use of organs donated from executed prisoners in 2015, China’s reform to establish an ethical and transparent system for organ donations and transplantations is hailed by international societies that once shut their doors to the country.

By the end of July, 2,866 people had donated organs in China this year, a 33 percent increase over the same period in 2016, surpassing the total number of donations made in 2015, according to data provided by China’s top health body.

Taking the lead

In 2016, China harvested organs from 4,080 donors and performed 13,263 transplant surgeries, the second highest in the world.

The number of transplantation surgeries is expected to surpass 16,000 in 2017, according to Huang Jiefu, a former Chinese vice-minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee.

By 2020, China is expected to surpass the US in performing the largest number of organ transplant surgeries in the world, Huang said.

“This [the change] is very real, very genuine and very accomplished, there are no rumors, and government support of these efforts is very real,” said Francis Delmonico, former president of the Transplantation Society and Harvard Medical School professor.

This progress has been made with strong government determination against using organs from executed prisoners, as well as legal and administrative support to implement the voluntary donation system, Huang added.

China criminalized the trading of organs in 2011, and in severe cases of violation, the death penalty could apply. Meanwhile, a computer-based system for organ distribution was launched in 2013 to make sure that the distribution is fair, ethical and traceable.

“China has shown us that it is equipped to be a global leader, and the world should not fear that,” said Fraser.

“We are confident in the future with China taking that position and taking a strong leadership against organ trafficking,” he added.

Narrow the gap

Though China has made much progress in the donation and transplantation sector, there is still a huge gap between the supply and demand of organs and the effective use of the donated organs.

There are around 300,000 patients in need of transplant surgeries every year and only 10,000 of them receive surgery, the Xinhua News Agency reported in March. Meanwhile, the per million population donation rate in China is only 2.98, much lower than the EU rate of 19 and the US rate of 26.

“The shortage of donated organs, lack of qualified doctors, as well as economic and social reasons are behind the gap,” Huang said.

Currently, 173 Chinese hospitals are qualified to perform organ transplantation surgeries, and the number will increase to 300 by the end of 2020, Huang said.

A total of 293,883 volunteers have registered as organ donors in China as of July 16, including more than 220,000 registered on online platforms.

Source: Global Times

Military-based tourism gets boost from PLA birthday

Soldiers stand guard at an outpost on the Xisha Islands in South China’s Hainan Province. The Xisha Islands lie in the middle of South China Sea, consisting of Xuande Islands and Yongle Islands. (Photo/CTPphoto)

Celebrations for the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have boosted military-themed tourism in China, including cruises to the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea.

The number of tourists who joined military-themed tour groups this summer is 1.3 times the number from the same period in 2016, while the red tourism market is three times larger than last year’s, according to data provided to the Global Times by online travel platform lvmama.com on Thursday.

Some sites of famous battles and modern military facilities have become popular destinations, especially for families and young tourists.

Lvmama.com said the Tianjin Binhai Aircraft Carrier Theme Park, Qingdao Naval Museum in East China’s Shandong Province and Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province are three of the most popular destinations.

Military tourism in China includes visits to military museums, relics and facilities, military-related activities, as well as survival training, the People’s Daily reported on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Nanchang Military Theme Park, the first such theme park in China, opened to the public, China Youth Daily reported on Wednesday. Nanchang, the capital of East China’s Jiangxi Province, was the site of an armed uprising during the Chinese Civil War on August 1, 1927, which marked the founding of the PLA.

China on Sunday held a military parade at the Zhurihe military training base in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to celebrate the PLA’s 90th anniversary, which falls on August 1. More than 12,000 servicemen from the army, navy, air force, armed police and newly formed rocket force and strategic support troops took part in the parade.

“Military tourism in China only accounts for a small part of the whole industry,” Lucas Zhou, general manager of Scenic & Activities Group of lvmama.com, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“But China has rich resources for military tourism, which has been rapidly developing,” Zhou said, noting that mysterious, fresh and high-tech content are the greatest attractions.

He added that military tourism helps visitors learn about national defense, strengthen patriotism and develop physical fitness. He also suggested that travel agencies arrange more military tourism tours with local governments.

Xisha tourism

“We have been receiving more inquiries about the Xisha cruise,” a sales agent for Xisha tourism surnamed Xiong told the Global Times on Wednesday.

China started to promote Xisha Islands tours with cruises in 2013.

The Changle Princess and the Dream of the South China Sea, together with the since-retired Coconut Princess, have taken more than 20,000 tourists on over 120 trips to Sansha since 2013, according to the Sansha government’s website, which administers the Xisha Islands.

Luo, another Xisha sales agent, said the four-day tour takes tourists to three islets: Quanfu, Yagong and Yinyu.

The Xisha tours are also about the military and patriotism, calling them “a journey to support the PLA.” Activities include raising the national flag, singing patriotic songs and trying military cuisine, according to Kangtai Travel of Hainan.

“But the tour does not include interactions with army officers, and tourists will not land on the military-controlled islands,” Xiong said, adding that the tour is not available to foreign citizens or residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

“The cruises are suspended when military drills are held,” Xiong added.

“Tourists to Xisha are mostly made up of senior citizens, who have a special emotional attachment toward Xisha,” Luo said.

Since the 1970s, countries have illegally occupied some islands and reefs in the South China Sea, China’s foreign ministry said. They remember films on defending the South China Sea released in the 1970s.

Xiong also said Xisha tourism has attracted younger people because of the beautiful scenery.

Source: Global Times

Baihetan dam project begins construction

A ceremony is held at the construction site of Baihetan project, which is located downstream of the Jinsha River, the upper section of the Yangtze, in Ningnan county of southwest China’s Sichuan Province and Qiaojia county of neighboring Yunnan Province, on Aug. 3, 2017. Building work on what will be the world’s second largest hydropower station started Thursday. (Xinhua)

China on Thursday began construction on the world’s second-largest hydropower station on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, amid environmentalists’ concerns over river pollution and geological damage.

Located on the downstream Jinsha River where Ningnan county of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province borders Qiaojia county of Yunnan Province, the Baihetan Hydropower Project (Baihetan), with a planned capacity of 16 gigawatts, began the construction of the dam after over 16 years of survey and preparation, according to a statement sent by China Three Gorges Corporation on Thursday.

Following the construction of Xiluodu, the world’s third-largest hydropower station, and Xiangjiaba, China’s third-largest hydropower station, the construction of Baihetan marks another milestone in China’s energy development, said the statement.

According to the statement, Baihetan has a normal impounding level of 820 meters and a corresponding reservoir capacity of 17.9 billion cubic meters. The station could generate an average of 62.4 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is equal to two-thirds of Beijing’s electricity consumption in 2015.

However, the dam, located in a seismic fracture zone, has triggered grave concerns among Chinese environmentalists and geologists.

Wang Yongchen, a 62-year-old journalist-turned-environmentalist, said that her team, consisting of several environmental journalists and experts, conducted some research on the dam in 2015 and found that along with the water storage and blow-off, the reservoir sediments and fragile geological elements (such as mud rock flows) may cause tremendous damage to the land.

The decision to build the dam has also spurred frantic exploration of local mines. Some of the mining is led by small factories which have no awareness of environmental protection, therefore, a large amount of heavy metal material has been dumped into the Jinsha River’s tributary, eventually moved into the Jinsha River, seriously polluting the water, said Wang.

But China Three Gorges Corporation said in the Thursday statement that the station will play an important role in restoring the eco-environment of the Yangtze River. “It could help reduce consumption of coal for 19.68 million tons as well as emissions of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide,” according to the statement.

In 2016, Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed on ecological protection and “green development” in boosting the growth of the Yangtze River Economic Belt. Restoring its ecological environment will be an overwhelming task and no large-scale development will be allowed along the river at present and for a rather long period to come, Xi said.

Aerial photo taken on July 27, 2017 shows the construction site of Baihetan project, which is located downstream of the Jinsha River, the upper section of the Yangtze, in Ningnan county of southwest China’s Sichuan Province and Qiaojia county of neighboring Yunnan Province. Building work on what will be the world’s second largest hydropower station started on Aug. 3, 2017. (Xinhua)

 

Source: Global Times

Abe’s China policy may change: expert

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center) joins hands with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s new leadership at the party headquarters in Tokyo on Thursday. Abe appointed experienced and trusted allies to key roles within his party in an effort to reverse plunging approval ratings. Photo: IC

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet reshuffle signals a “slight adjustment” of policy on China, an expert said on Thursday.

Abe, recently hit by scandals and weakening support, appointed new ministers such as Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera in Cabinet reshuffle on Thursday.

With the Cabinet reshuffle, Abe appears to be seeking a balance between the right and left wings. And appointing a new foreign minister, who is believed to hold a moderate view on China, would lead to a slight adjustment in Japan’s policy toward China, Hu Lingyuan, a professor at the Center for Japanese Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, told the Global Times.

“Since Abe is struggling with scandals and failing public support, he needs to find a way to stabilize his government, and the choice of Kono, who is considered a dove, (compared to Abe, who is on the hawkish side) surprises me, and shows Abe’s willingness to balance the Cabinet,” Hu said.

Kono, 54, is the son of former chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono, who wrote a landmark 1993 apology to “comfort women” forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.

Kono headed the National Public Safety Commission for 10 months, and was responsible for G7 summit security in Ise-Shima while working as administrative reform minister.

Latest opinion polls show support for Abe has plunged to its lowest since he took power in December 2012 with a promise to revive Japan’s economy and bolster its defenses, endangering his goal of revising the pacifist constitution.

Abe had until recently also been seen as likely to win a third term as head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), putting him on track to be Japan’s longest-serving prime minister.

But support has fallen below 30 percent, with the opposition fanning suspicions of Abe’s favoritism to a friend and voters believing that he and his aides have grown arrogant in office. He was also hurt by the LDP’s defeat by a novice political party in a July assembly

election, Reuters reported on Thursday.

New LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida, the former foreign minister, emphasized the Cabinet’s intention to return to fundamentals after taking up his new post.

“We need to fulfill economic policies under Abenomics so that the public can better feel the benefits of Japan’s economic revival,” Kishida told a news conference, referring to Abe’s signature plan to reboot Japan’s economy.

Agencies contributed to this story

Source: Global Times

Part of Yellow Sea to seal off for military purposes for 2nd time

China’s navy will temporarily seal off a part of the Yellow Sea for approximately four days to maritime traffic for “large-scale” military purposes, authorities announced for the second time in the past two weeks.

The area, which stretches from Qingdao, Shandong Province to Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province – two major shipping ports, will be closed to all vessels from 6 am on Saturday until 6 pm on Tuesday, qingdaonews.com, a local news site in Shandong reported on Friday.

A map illustrating the restricted area – which covers approximately 57,000 square kilometers – was included in the report, which was attributed to a PLA troop codenamed 91208, the Shandong Maritime Safety Administration, the Jiangsu Maritime Safety Administration and armed police authorities of Shandong’s Qingdao, Rizhao and Jiangsu’s Lianyungang.

This is the second time in the past two weeks the authorities have planned to seal off the region in the Yellow Sea, with both claiming it is for “large-scale” military purposes.

Restriction was previously imposed on activities in the area for three days, from July 27 to 29.

No further details on the “large scale military operation” were released in the report.

Source: Global Times

Ancient architecture unearthed under government building in E China

A piece of ancient architecture more than 1,000-years-old was recently excavated from a government courtyard in Linan, east China’s Zhejiang province, China News reported on August 2.

The architecture was identified as the remains of a southern state from the Five Dynasties era, which can be traced back to a 1,000 years. Experts suggested relocation of the municipal government building in order to protect and better use the cultural heritage.