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If permitted, Palace Museum could open for free: Museum director

Ticket prices for entry to the Palace Museum will not be raised, and the museum would potentially welcome visitors for free if the government approved and the public were on board, according to Shan Jixiang, the director of the museum.

Shan said in 2016 that the number of visitors to the Palace Museum had hit a record high, totaling 16 million, more than the visitors to the Louvre and the British Museum combined. In 2017, the museum put a cap on its number of visitors–80,000 per day.

More visiting space has been opened in recent years. In 2012, only 48 percent of the museum was open to the public. In 2014, that area was enlarged to 52 percent, and in 2015 it expanded to over 65 percent, Shan said. Last year, visitors could access more than 76 percent of the compound. By 2020, more than 80 percent of the Palace Museum compound will open to the public.

Shan said that the current price of museum tickets is not expensive. Peak season tickets are 60 RMB ($8.80), while off-peak tickets cost 40 RMB. These prices won’t be raised, he emphasized.

In order to better protect and manage cultural relics, Shan has reiterated on many occasions that the museum hopes to be recognized as a world cultural heritage site.

In January 2017, the “antiques hospital,” the museum’s repair and restoration workshop, was opened to the public. The workshop is equipped with 200 trained employees and boasts advanced facilities. Objects there are treated with as much care and respect as actual patients are in a hospital.

The Palace Museum’s Taobao store, home to a number of cultural and creative products, has become a hot topic on the internet. Statistics show that more than 9,170 distinctive cultural creative products and accessories had been launched by the end of 2016.

China’s air quality improved during 12th Five-Year Plan: Report

China’s air quality has improved since the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) was implemented, according to a report on satellite remote monitoring in 2016, which was released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences on June 12, Thepaper.cn reported.

The report made full use of remote sensing data from China’s independently developed resources satellites, meteorological satellites, sea satellites, high-resolution earth observation as well as international remote sensing satellite data. It discussed issues including land use, atmospheric conditions of city clusters and food production, in addition to Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development.

(The images show the concentration of NO2 from 2010 to 2015)

According to the report, the national average atmospheric turbidity showed a downward trend from 2010 to 2015. In addition, the concentration of NO2 in most areas of China was reduced during the five-year period, indicating that air-pollution control policies were effectively implemented.

Seasonal variation of NO2 concentrations reflects the important role of anthropogenic discharge, as increased energy use for heating in the winter leads to annual peak concentrations.

In addition, the PM 2.5 concentration steadied from 2010 to 2013, and the period between 2014 and 2015 saw significant decreases from satellite remote sensing images.

(The images show the PM2.5 concentration in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei from 2010 to 2015)

Apple causes controversy over 30% tax on tips for China’s digital content creators

Apple recently levied a 30 percent tax on tips paid to content creators via social media apps, creating a major controversy among China’s net users and tech community.

WeChat, which has about 889 million active monthly users in China, disabled its tipping function for iPhone users in April after it failed to reach an agreement on the issue with Apple. The U.S. technology company has reportedly negotiated with some Chinese app developers, demanding that they include Apple’s in-app tipping feature.

Some firms, such as the Beijing-based Zhihu, have decided to compromise. The company said in a statement that it will introduce Apple’s in-app tipping service in the latest version of its app. Other companies behind popular apps such as Yingke and YY have also changed the way customers tip in the latest versions of their apps.

The move has provoked a certain amount of outrage from Chinese net users, with many arguing that Apple’s request for a cut is unreasonable, as tipping is voluntary – not a formal exchange. The policy only affects income made by content creators via tips from iPhone users. Tips from Android users are not bound by the rule.

Jilin man modifies old Volkswagen into armored ‘zombie vehicle’

A man in northwestern China’s Jilin province has turned an old Volkswagen Jetta into an armored “zombie vehicle,” equipped with spears on its rims and model machine guns on its hood. Overall, it resembles a car that has just escaped from battle, what with its rusty surface and rough body.

The owner of the vehicle is Zhou Di, a 35-year-old man who runs a workshop that produces industrial-style commodities in Jilin. Inspired by the movies “Mad Max” and “Death Race,” Zhou decided to modify the vehicle himself. He bought the scrapped Jetta about two months ago, and soon removed its engine and gearbox. Later, he installed steel bars above the wind shield, which cover most of the passenger side and leave only a small peep hole.

Zhou has also made defensive body kits and armor for the vehicle. Most of its “weapons” are made from spare parts of old cars and motorcycles. It took Zhou nearly a month to complete the modification, he said.

A fan of machinery from a very young age, Zhou began to repair electric vehicles after his graduation. He later opened a barbershop and restaurant, both decorated in an industrial style. However, the machinery enthusiast eventually changed his profession, opening a workshop that sells handmade industrial-style commodities.

Zhou said he likes his unique car, and he hopes to expand it into a series in the future, creating pick-ups and off-road vehicles.

Automated driving achievable by 2025: Industry insiders

Chinese automakers say the target of producing high-speed automated vehicles can be achieved by 2025. By then, mass production of such vehicles may be a reality, they believe. That vision was included in the government’s medium- and long-term development plan for automobiles, which aims to transform China into an innovative automotive nation.

Smart cars are a hit at the ongoing Shanghai Asian Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where science and technology companies gather to display products and ideas in areas such as the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, robotics and wearable devices.

With the inexorable growth of international cooperation, insiders say the auto industry faces significant changes. On May 31, German technology company Continental signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Baidu, with the goal of establishing a comprehensive strategic cooperation in the areas of automated driving, connected vehicles and intelligent mobility services.

Elmar Degenhart, Continental’s chief executive, said collaboration with Baidu would enable his company to work on core technologies like batteries, machinery and electronic controls.

On June 1, German auto supplier Bosch announced a plan to team up with Baidu to strengthen cooperation on intelligent transportation. Dirk Hoheisel, a member of Bosch’s management board, said the two companies will make full use of their technologies and experience in order to promote smart mobility.

On the same day, China’s Beijing Automotive Group (BAIC Group) and Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group (JAC Motor) signed a cooperative agreement with Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG. Volkswagen AG and JAC Motor announced that they will set up a joint venture to produce electric vehicles. Xu Heyi, chairman of BAIC, said the partnership would combine the strategies of “Made in China 2025” and German Industrie 4.0.

34-year-old giant panda dies of disease in Chengdu

Susu, a 34-year-old giant panda, died from an illness on June 2. The eldest panda at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, Susu’s age was equivalent to 100-plus for a human being.

Susu experienced a hard life, during which she gave birth to five baby pandas. In recent years, she suffered from many diseases including high blood pressure, deterioration of liver function and heart failure. Her condition gradually worsened beginning in late May, and she passed away on June 2.

An autopsy showed that Susu’s liver had hardened, and many of her organs, such as her spleen and lungs, had atrophied.

China contributes a lot to SCO: Secretary-General

By Xie Yahong from People’s Daily

China is an important contributor to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), its Secretary-General Rashid Alimov said in an interview with the People’s Daily, adding that the organization has maintained close cooperation with China.

Alimov’s remarks came after the 17th meeting of the SCO Heads of State Council held on June 8 and 9 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the SCO Charter and the 10th anniversary of the Treaty on Long-Term Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation of the SCO Member States, Alimov said, adding that it is a historically significant year for the organization.

The official hailed that the SCO has made huge contributions to safeguarding the security and stability of its member states.

It has also further expanded its influence by strengthening contact and cooperation with international and regional organizations such as the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia, ASEAN and the UN, he pointed out.

India and Pakistan will complete procedures in line with the SCO rules to become official members this year. Alimov believes it is a reflection of SCO’s increasing significance, saying it will prove to those people who sing the blues about the organization that the prospect of the SCO is worth looking forward to.

“The SCO has been seeking the agreement among its member states on the connectivity of infrastructure, and the Intergovernmental Agreement of the SCO Member States on the Facilitation of International Road Transport signed in September 2014 was one of the important achievements,” said the secretary-general.

There were only a few of flights between China and Central Asian countries a dozen of years ago, and the number has increased by at least 10 times nowadays, Alimov noted.
In addition, the number of the freight trains running between China and Europe is also on the rise, with Central Asia and Russia playing the role of bridging countries, which has boosted trade among the SCO member states, he added.

People-to-people exchanges, according to Alimov, is another focus of the SCO. The organization has always been enhancing the cooperation on higher education and youth communication.

“Young generation is the future of the SCO and its member states,” he said, adding that the organization has always attached great importance to youth development.

“For a long time we have been enhancing mutual understanding among the youth of each member state,” Alimov noted, illustrating that a youth debate competition was recently held by the organization, and the great performance of the debaters inspired him very much.

“We are fortunate to see the new generation growing under the ‘Shanghai spirit’,” he added.

The official also lauded the promising prospect for tourism cooperation among the SCO members. Statistics showed that 12% of the world natural heritage is located in the SCO member states, most of which remain unknown.

“We have the responsibility to advertise those tourist sites that the member states take pride in, and we are currently working on it,” Alimov said.

China will take over the rotating presidency of the SCO after the Astana Summit. Alimov praised the country’s huge contribution to the SCO in recent years, saying that the organization has kept close cooperation with China and held many activities under the country’s support.

“I believe the SCO summit to be held in Beijing next year will be another successful event,” he added.

The SCO head stressed that the cooperation with Chinese provinces and cities will be a major direction for the SCO.

“We hosted the SCO Kunming International Marathon last December which was participated by more than 10,000 athletes from 25 countries,” he said, adding that the event has indicated the huge potential of bilateral cooperation.

He believed that the “Belt and Road” initiative proposed by China provides a major opportunity for SCO member states and will bring broad prospects.

The SCO supported and participated in the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing last month, Alimov said, adding that the organization will accelerate the docking of the “Belt and Road” initiative with the development strategies of its member states for the sake of common prosperity.

5,000-acre lotus pond stretches to edge of sky in Guangxi

A demonstration area of modern agriculture in the Liujiang district of southwestern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region has attracted visitors in droves, as the green leaves in the area’s huge lotus pond seem to stretch all the way to the edge of the sky. Baipeng Township in Liujiang is one of the largest production zones of double-cropping lotus roots in China. The township’s lotus pond occupies an area of 5,271 acres.

South China Sea combustible ice rig unaffected after typhoon

Mining of combustible ice in the South China Sea was unaffected after a drilling rig encountered a full-blown typhoon that stirred tides up to 6.5 meters on June 12.

As Typhoon Merbok blew past the area, all workers and equipment on board the rig remained safe. The project was not affected, according to the operator of the rig. Prior to the typhoon, authorities decided not to move the vessel, but to shut down its outdoor activities.

The rig is located 320 kilometers southeast of Zhuhai, Guangdong province. It has been in operation since May 10. Currently, Chinese researchers are exploring between 4,000 and 5,000 cubic meters of combustible ice per day, and tests are proceeding smoothly.

Expert: McCain calling China a ‘bully’ shows strong Cold War mentality

Republican U.S. Senator John McCain’s labeling China as a “bully” and calling on its allies to confront China demonstrates a strong Cold War mentality, an American Studiesprofessor said.

As a guest of the U.S. Studies Center at the University of Sydney on May 30, McCain said China has grown wealthier and stronger, and it seems to be acting more and more like abully.

McCain’s thinking still lingers on in last century. Lots of his remarks are very harsh andunreliable, Xin Qiang, professor and Deputy Director of the Center for American Studies atFudan University, noted on May 31.

In his speech, McCain also blasted China for refusing to open more of its economy,stealing other peoples’ intellectual property, asserting vast territorial claims that have nobasis in international law, and using its trade and investment as tools to coerce itsneighbors.

Xin dismissed McCain’s remarks as ideology, saying the U.S. politician has repeatedly lashed out at Russia and China. As chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee,McCain represents the powerful interests of the military-industrial complex, which feedson manufacturing massive amounts of military weapons in a world of war. For that reason, fabricating enemies and breaking world peace can help maximize the group’s interest, hecontinued.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop hasn’t responded directly to McCain’s invitationto join the U.S.-led freedom-of-navigation exercises as of press time.

(The story is also published on People’s Daily Online)