Conservators struggle to preserve true original colors of China’s Terracotta Warriors

Pieces of Terracotta Warriors in a pit of the First Qin Emperor’s Mausoleum in Xi’an, Shaanxi Province. Photo: VCG

In August, a digital museum of the First Qin Emperor’s Mausoleum was officially launched with the help of Internet technology.

Thanks to the panoramic, 20-billion-pixel image, users can now view China’s iconic Terracotta Warriors up close and personal to view the true ancient colors that remain on some of the figures.

Pretty much every tourist and visitor to the First Qin Emperor’s Mausoleum (aka The Terracotta Army) in Lintong county, Xi’an, Shaanxi Province, can’t help but be amazed by their grandeur. However, few people have had the luxury to see their true, two-millennia-old colors except archaeologists, experts and historians granted special access into the dig site.

Forty-three years ago, when Chinese archaeologists carefully removed the yellow earth away with shovels, brushes and cotton swabs, a mysterious underground army interred for more than 2,000 years surfaced, which became one of the most shocking archaeological discoveries of all time.

An array of clay warriors, with each and every figure differing in facial features and expressions, clothing, hairstyle, gestures and colors (ranging from scarlet, purple, pink and pale green to lilac, light blue, orange, black, and white) solemnly stood in the pits as if they were still guarding the first ever Empire in imperial China.

However, their 2,000-year-old Chinese colors, once exposed to sunlight and modern air, lasted for just a few minutes or even only 15 seconds. The pigments immediately dehydrated, curled up, flaked off and were gone.

Now, with advanced technology, Chinese and scientists and their foreign counterparts are able to preserve the true colors of clay warriors that have not yet been unearthed.

A riot of colors

On March 29, 1974, farmers digging a well in the village of Xiyang discovered some strange fragments of clay sculpted in the human form. Three months later, archeologists dug their first probes, which led to the staggering find.

The unexpected scene of these time-travel Terracotta Warriors, the rich historical heritage as well as the fleeting moments of their colorful beauty, all left archeologists with a lasting impression.

“Indeed, every warrior and horse figure was painted, but after more than 2,000 years the pigments were so old they began to change just 15 seconds after they were unearthed,” said Xia Yin, researcher and director of Relics Protection Department at First Qin Emperor’s Mausoleum Museum.

An academic report published in 1988 mentions the fact that the Terracotta Warriors were actually painted many times over.

Yuan Zhongyi, the then-head of the archeological team and “the father of the Terracotta Warriors,” knows everything about the 2,000 figures that have been unearthed after many decades of excavation, observation, research and analysis.

“I have looked at all of the figures and made the excavation reports. I know their body shapes, clothing, hairstyles, shoes and the color when they were unearthed,” says Yuan. “If we could go backwards in time, we would be able to see how colorful these figures were: scarlet, crimson, purple, pink … just to name a few.”

Yuan explained that the clay warriors and horses were buried for over 2,000 years, so their color coating was already aging and peeling. Before the finish, the workers would brush a layer of lacquer to the figures to bond and highlight the pigments.

“The lacquer will be curled up and flaked off because of dehydration when being exposed to air, therefore we have to be exceptionally attentive with this. We use small tools such as bamboo sticks, scalpels, tweezers and cotton swabs in our work. This is a very sophisticated work that allows zero carelessness,” Yuan added.

Today, Yuan is retired, but from time to time he has been invited back to the site where he spent most of his life excavating, together with younger archeologists, with an expectation of showing the true colors of Terracotta Warriors to the world.

Faded wonders

In First Qin Emperor’s Mausoleum Museum, pit 1, at 260 square kilometers, is the largest and most impressive. It yields over 1,000 warriors and horses, all facing east in a rectangular array in solemn ash black, which is the color that most people know about the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC) and see in their pictures.

For archeologists, the excavation and preservation of the Terracotta Warriors are the two major problems. Changes in the environment are the main cause of the rapid color fading of figures while their preservation is confronted with micro-organisms and soluble salt.

Mold spores that exist extensively in the air and earth grow rapidly when temperatures and humidity are appropriate. Some mold growth can secrete pigments and produce acid or other harmful substances, deposited on the surface of clay figures, causing damages to the treasure relics.

Meanwhile, a layer of frosty soluble salt is congealed on the clay surface, leading to irreversible damage. A slight change in temperature and humidity would result in the repeated coagulation and dissolution of the soluble salt, enlarging the interspace in the sculpture and lowering their strength. Even a gentle touch will cause the surface to flake like a crispy biscuit.

“Environmental change, micro-organisms and soluble salt are what archeologists have identified as culprits to the discoloring of Terracotta Warriors,” Xia said. “The temperature and humidity underground function as the shield of the figures’ colors. Once unearthed, the surface quickly dehydrated and flaked off, which is truly regrettable. When we first discovered the Terracotta Warriors, we were not able to preserve the colors of the figures at that time.”

Power of science and technology

Since the 1980s, Chinese and foreign scientists have carried out collaborative research on preservation of the Terracotta Warriors and their original colors. Breakthroughs have been made.

According to the president of the First Qin Emperor’s Mausoleum Museum, Hou Ningbin, Chinese researchers have worked with experts from the Bavarian State Conservation Office in Germany since 1990s and have found a method to treat the surface with an emulsion of polyurethane and polyethylene glycol.

The preservative, known as PEG, helps save the figures’ colors. During the recent excavation, archeologists sprayed the exposed parts with PEG the moment a painted figure was unearthed, then wrapped it with a plastic film to keep the humidity. The most colorful pieces were moved together with the surrounding earth to an on-site lab for further treatment.

The museum also established five special labs including a scanning electron microscope lab, a microbiology lab, a microscopic analysis lab, a colored cultural relics preservation lab and a comprehensive restoration lab. To everyone’s delight, the modern techniques for preserving ancient colors have proved to be working.

“The new color preservation technique can help keep the original colors for at least 10 years,” says Xia.

With the rapid development of modern science and technology, they are able to keep the Terracotta Warrior’s true colors. With the deepening of research, experts also found that the Qin people had very sophisticated methods of utilizing colors. But there are still unsolved mysteries.

Unsolved mysteries

According to The Basic Annals of First Qin Emperor in Shiji, after the First Emperor’s annexation of the six kingdoms following protracted wars, the color black was believed to be the most exalted color.

According to statistics, Terracotta Warriors are pale green, red, crimson, pink, sky blue, white, ochre and other colors, from which four colors – green, red, pink purple and sky blue – are the most popular. Does this finding contradict the record of “the Qin exalted black”?

“Colors are advocated differently in different dynasties in Chinese history. Color usage is related to folklore and culture. Some say that Qin advocated black, but the Terracotta Warriors show that Qin actually might have advocated many colors,” Hou said.

“More types of colors and more vivid colors are used on the generals; the regular warriors have few colors and sometimes only show a simple paint, showing the concept of ‘class’ during the Qin Dynasty,” he added.

“We divided the Terracotta Warriors into four levels. There are only nine generals, and their use of color is very complex and extremely delicate,” Hou said. For intermediate and lower-ranking military officer figures and commonplace soldiers’ figures, the use of color is relatively simple.

A kneeling figure, that has relatively good preservation of color, reflects that the Terracotta Warriors had very colorful clothes: he is clad in a pale green long jacket, ochre armor and the armor covered with red belts and white nails, with lower body in blue pants and purple gaiters.

Yuan believes there were both exalted colors and popular colors in ancient clothing. Exalted colors reflected the characteristics of the era and politics, with black used for a sacrifice, daily meetings and other national events while popular colors were used for daily cloths among the public.

“The colors of the Terracotta Warriors fully display the liveliness of the Qin people. It is definitely not that everyone wore black just because Qin exalted black, neither did they show sadness or low spirit,” says Yuan.

“We have only excavated 1 percent of the total mausoleum. Since our technological methods are limited, with many unpredictable factors, we’d rather keep them buried,” Hou said.

“It will take hundreds of years or even longer to fully reveal those colorful mysteries to the public,” he said.

Source: Global Times

Tibet forging ahead on stable development path: experts

Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region has seen great development and stability in the past five years and is expected to progress even further thanks to its development path with Chinese characteristics, experts said.

“The achievement of Tibet in the past five years should give credit to the accurate plan and policies of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee,” Penpa Lhamo, deputy head of the contemporary studies institute of the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

She noted that “the social management in Tibet has improved a lot since the 18th National Congress in 2012 with the policy of governing the region by law.”

“With concern from the CPC Central Committee, aid from other provincial regions and State-owned companies and the efforts of the local government and people, Tibet has found its own development road with Chinese characteristics,” said Lian Xiangmin, an expert at the China Tibetology Research Center.

Since the 18th National Congress of the CPC, Tibet has progressed greatly in constructing infrastructure including roads, power, water and communications that all brought energy to the economic and social development of the region, the Xinhua News Agency reported in September.

A total of 739 kilometers highways have been built or are under construction in the region. A new large hydropower station and airports have been constructed in the past five years, according to tibet.cn.

The per capita disposable income of rural residents in Tibet reached 9,316 yuan ($1,416) in 2016, a 13 percent increase compared with the same period in 2015, according to data released by the autonomous government in February.

During the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15), 2.6 billion yuan was invested in public cultural projects in Tibet. The region has been actively working on international communication to present the image of a “socialist new Tibet” to the world. This has created a stable international environment for the reform and development of Tibet.

“The upcoming 19th National Congress will put forward a clear direction for China’s development as well as provide a great environment for Tibet to develop,” Lian said, noting that in the future the region should continue to focus on preserving its fragile ecology during development and infrastructure construction.

Harmonious and stable

In the past five years, Tibet has also maintained a harmonious and stable condition in terms of religious and ethnic issues.

The autonomous Communist Party commission has improved the management of 1,787 temples in Tibet since 2012, promoting and leading religious groups to love the country and Buddhism, the Tibet Daily reported on Tuesday.

An annual fund of 26 million yuan is provided to lamas and nuns in Tibet for social insurance.

“Both residents and tourists feel very safe in Tibet,” Lhamo said, adding that police stations in Tibet have maintained social stability and provided public services.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a conference in August 2015 on Tibet work that the country should “firmly take the initiative” in the fight against separatism, vowing to crack down on all activities seeking to separate the country.

“Confronting splittism will still be the challenge for Tibet in the future. This calls for enforcing ethnic cohesion under the leadership of the central government. All levels of governments in Tibet should work practically,” Lian said.

Source: Global Times

Chinese NEV firms feeling bullish

Two leading Chinese new-energy vehicle (NEV) makers have said they are confident in competing with global auto giants as the era of green vehicles dawns, citing support from a solid home base and recent technological advancement.

Domestic players are feeling confident as governments and automakers around the world have been rolling out timetables to adopt NEVs amid pressure to curb environmental damage, the Economic Information Daily reported on Tuesday.

According to a Fitch report issued in August, Chinese automakers have emerged as formidable players in the global electric vehicle industry thanks to rapid expansion of the domestic market.

BYD Co, which is backed by US investor Warren Buffett, overtook US-based Tesla Inc to become the world’s largest NEV maker by sales volume two years ago. Additionally, nine Chinese NEV brands ranked among the world’s top 20 in 2016, the Fitch report said.

A new era

In a statement sent to the Global Times on Tuesday, BYD said that it was drawing confidence from the awards it has received, increased brand awareness and strong sales performance.

BYD has been the world’s top NEV firm for two consecutive years, selling 67,100 units in 2015 and 114,315 in 2016, according to the statement. The company also sells its products to over 50 countries and regions globally, and has set up plants in the US, Brazil, Hungary and France.

The company has expanded its product portfolio beyond passenger cars in the past two years and now also makes buses, taxis and special-purpose vehicles used in logistics, urban sanitation, airports and mining sites.

Meanwhile, BAIC Group’s electric car making arm, Beijing Electric Vehicle Co (BAIC BJEV), also said it is in a strong position in terms of sales, product offerings and ecosystem buildup.

The company has rolled out a dozen models so far, with recharge mileage ranging from 200 to 400 kilometers, according to a statement the company sent to the Global Times on Tuesday, and it plans to reach an annual sales volume of 500,000 units by 2020.

BAIC BJEV said that NEVs will definitely be the vehicles of the future, but it is still too early to say the NEV era has truly arrived.

However, policy support and the industry’s growth momentum will ensure the era will come soon, the company said.

“China lags behind in terms of knowhow about combustion engines used by traditional cars, but NEVs are new and domestic and foreign players are at roughly the same starting point. This situation is conducive for China’s transformation from a big auto market into one with a strong industry,” read the statement from BAIC BJEV.

BAIC BJEV said it ranked first among automakers in the number of charging points, having built about 7 percent of the nation’s public charging points and 18 percent of the private ones.

The company also said it will complete the construction of 200 battery swap stations around the nation, allowing its battery-powered vehicles to swap from empty to fully charged batteries in less than three minutes, boosting operational efficiency.

Challenges

The Chinese companies face competition from carmakers in the US and Japan, Fitch analysts said, but the firms themselves are confident that they can succeed.

“The company’s existing technological lead and market dominance give us confidence,” BYD said.

BAIC BJEV said the Chinese market is big enough to accommodate foreign brands and their joint ventures once they bring their new products in, but domestic brands will still have significant advantages.

“This is our home turf, and we have already built up a user base along with technological know-how and infrastructure, so we are fully confident we can compete with foreign brands,” the company said.

Gao Jian, an independent industry observer, told the Global Times Tuesday that domestic brands are well-positioned to compete with foreign carmakers, given their current strong positions.

“Traditional auto giants probably won’t be able to make as much of a dent [in the NEV sector] as they have with their traditional gasoline-powered offerings. The domestic brands will maintain their lead in the market,” Gao said.

Source: Global Times

Kazakhstan’s failing refinery returns to profitability after being upgraded by Chinese enterprise

An executive of the refinery is interviewed by journalists.

The Atyrau Oil Refinery in Kazakhstan, once on the verge of closure, is under a full test run and its oil production rises by times after being upgraded by a Chinese enterprise, CCTV.com reported on Oct. 9.

The refinery, one of the largest in Kazakhstan, was built in 1945 and is designed to produce 4.9 million tons of oil a year. But it has been on the verge of closure for a long time due to backward technology and equipment.

Since 2009, China’s Sinopec Engineering (Group) Co., Ltd. has invested a total of $2.7 billion in the upgrading of deep-processing equipment and the manufacturing of aromatics, which has greatly alleviated insufficient supply of refined oil in the country and helped to produce high-quality oil products that meet international standards.

A manager at the refinery said that the refinery has become the most important one of its kind in the country, with the yearly production of gasoline increasing to 1.7 million tons from 600,000 tons in the past.

In addition, the project drove the technological progress of equipment manufacturing and employment in Central Asia, especially in Kazakhstan over the past few years, Li Zhigao, director of the project pointed out.

China’s increased holding of US Treasuries is purely market behavior: expert

(Photo/Chinanews.com)

An expert says that China’s increased holding of US Treasuries is purely market behavior against the backdrop of its external surplus and increasing foreign reserves, People’s Daily Overseas Edition reported on Oct. 9.

China’s holdings of US Treasuries were valued at $1.17 trillion by July after the country increased its holding for six consecutive months to become the largest foreign holder of US Treasuries, according to statistics recently released by the US Treasury Department.

Chinese authorities say that the US Treasury market is crucial for China, and both increasing and reducing holdings is normal market behavior.

China’s increased holding of US Treasuries is a reasonable choice, as China’s trade surplus continued to expand and its foreign reserves rose this year, said Zhang Yongjun, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.

The expert added that US Treasuries are an important choice for China in terms of foreign investment, as it has both safety and liquidity compared with other security assets.

In addition, experts are making a bullish bet that the US dollar could get rid of its weakness in the second half of 2017.

Zhang noted that the US dollar is expected to increase in value after undergoing depreciation since this year. Therefore, purchasing dollar-based assets at a relatively low price point now could bring profits later.

While investment behavior is influenced by many factors, China will still choose to slightly increase its holding of US Treasuries if its trade surplus continues to expand, the expert added.

Alipay made available for Chinese tourists in shops worldwide during holiday

Alipay was made available for Chinese tourists in over 100,000 shops worldwide during the eight-day National Day holiday that started on Oct. 1, People’s Daily Overseas Edition reported on Oct. 9.

One way for Chinese tourists to enjoy a preferential price is to get tax refunds via Alipay. For example, tourists can immediately get a 12-19 percent refund in Europe just by offering their phone number, passport information, and scanning a QR code.

At present, duty-free shops at 16 airports in the world have launched the service for Chinese tourists. Tourists from other countries were amazed at the rapid development of China’s Internet technology.

A manager at the duty-free King Power shop in Thailand noted that Chinese consumers are inclined to use Alipay nowadays, as it is really convenient, and other countries should learn from them in this respect.

Apart from Thailand, many countries like Japan, Finland, and New Zealand all made Alipay available for Chinese tourists to improve their consumption experience in dining, shopping, and accommodation during the holiday break.

Party Congress offers insights into China governance

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will attract domestic attention in coming weeks. This process may be familiar in Chinese political culture but is not very well known in the West. Naturally it provides a good opportunity to better understand China. The development of socialism with Chinese characteristics is interwoven into the CPC National Congress and – if carefully studied – can offer useful insights into China’s governance.

President Xi Jinping’s leadership is expected to be widely endorsed. Apart from internal political developments, the Congress will monitor progress achieved in the last five years and set new priorities until 2022. The fight against corruption deserves special emphasis. There are several politicians – in different countries – who regularly talk about the need to eradicate corruption. But what distinguishes an opportunist politician from a real leader is deeds not words.

Xi has succeeded in this aspect and this is acknowledged by almost all international media. He did not hesitate to take away the immunity and eased protection of some CPC members. And his effort goes beyond influential figures to people working in local governments, public institutions, State-owned enterprises and financial institutions irrespective of their position. Through extended investigations and inspections, Xi has managed to make his anti-corruption campaign popular with ordinary people and unpopular with the elite. The gradual transformation of the Chinese economy is an additional element of progress achieved and outlines future perspectives. It is no longer about numbers. When Xi started to govern five years ago, double-digit growth numbers were being annually monitored. This could not last forever. Chinese leadership realized that what mattered more was not necessarily quantitative but qualitative development. The “New normal” is serving this goal attaching importance to domestic consumption and some investments – especially green energy – instead of exports. Under Xi’s leadership, China also overcame the stock market panic of 2015 and returned to stability. Some market reforms subsequently took place and will possibly be completed in the future.

By supporting sustainable development, the Chinese government seeks to create prosperity for generations to come as well as to contribute to the reduction of inequality. While it never hid that China is a developing country and more work needs to be done, it has already eliminated poverty to a large extent. According to the State Council, China has lifted an average 13.9 million people out of poverty each year from 2012 to 2016, and the annual per capita income in impoverished rural areas has grown 10.7 percent every year. Xi’s vision is to end poverty by 2020.

Last but not least, the previous five years have seen China strengthen its international standing. These are two pillars on the basis of which this is realized. The first is the increasing contribution of China to world annual output, slowly paving the way for changes in world governance. And the second is the implementation of the Belt and Road initiative which makes China a catalytic investor in different geographical regions and the driving force of interconnectivity among nations. Under Xi, Beijing is also showing international responsibility – for example in respecting the Paris Agreement – in an era of increasingly unknown and unpredictable factors.

Approaching the 19th National Congress of the CPC, the Chinese leadership is counting on tangible results to function as a beacon for the future. Without ignoring difficulties, problems and challenges, the leadership promises hard work and commitment to specific objectives and policy guidelines. And while this was an internal affair in the past, it is certainly acquiring a broader dimension with China becoming a colossus in the world sphere.

Source: Globaltimes.cn

Trilateral alliance threatens peninsula security

The US’ alliance with Japan and South Korea has strengthened amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Some American strategists even suggest that Washington allow Seoul and Tokyo to develop nuclear weapons, triggering concern among Chinese and Russian analysts.

In the last few months, North Korea has conducted several ballistic missile tests and one nuclear test. Whether Washington will provide security guarantee to its allies has become a key concern in Seoul and Tokyo. In contrast to previous administrations, US President Donald Trump has adopted a transactional approach when it comes to dealing with alliance relations. Trump argues that the US has invested too much in safeguarding its allies’ security, criticizing South Korea and Japan for a huge surplus in trade with the US. Recently, Trump also called for a withdrawal from its free-trade agreement with South Korea.

Since July, Trump, President of South Korea Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe have sought stronger communication with each other in the hope of coordinating their stance toward Pyongyang. In late September, as Trump and Moon consulted on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, both sides have agreed to take a tougher approach. Moon and Abe also met during the third Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Russia.

The coordination between Washington, Seoul and Tokyo has gone to a deeper level in terms of military cooperation. They have conducted joint military drills with strategic bombers and nuclear submarines. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile defense system has been deployed on South Korean soil. South Korea even proposed the purchase of billions of dollars’ worth of US military equipment and asked the US to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. Japan suggested installing the land-based Aegis anti-missile system. South Korea and Japan also announced an extension of their General Security of Military Information Agreement for one year.

The strengthening of the alliance between the US, South Korea and Japan has profound domestic political reasons. Trump hopes a strong leadership image will ease domestic pressure. Moon, who used to favor dialogue with North Korea to alleviate tensions, now has to tighten his alliance with the US to calm hardliners and the military. The goal of Abe’s administration is to make full use of the North Korean nuclear crisis to amend its constitution and upgrade Japan’s armaments.

The stronger alliance will have a profound influence on Northeast Asian regional security. The idea of reintroducing tactical nuclear weapons is obviously dangerous and counterproductive. The US Navy’s long-range nuclear strike capability is enough to deter and destroy North Korea. Allowing the US Forces stationed in South Korea to regain tactical nuclear weapons sends a signal that the US will wage war against North Korea. Besides the potential overreaction from North Korea, it will spark anti-nuclear sentiments among people in South Korea and Japan, and provoke strategic suspicions from China and Russia.

The Trump administration’s control of South Korea and Japan is also at risk. The US so far has sent mixed signals when it comes to its North Korea policy due to disagreement within the Trump administration. But the military is becoming more influential. Preparations for a military strike against North Korea are being stepped up, including plans by Admiral Harry Harris, chief of the US Pacific Command.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson advocates engaging with North Korea but has not received much support from Trump. Someone in the White House has to have a clear line of thought about dealing with North Korea and adhering to it. Otherwise Trump, who tends to make random decisions, might be influenced by his military commanders and launch a rushed, impulsive attack on North Korea. Once the war starts, Seoul and Tokyo will face a retaliatory attack that could cost hundreds of thousands of lives.

Although Beijing insists on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, a strengthened US-South Korea-Japan trilateral alliance nearby is not what China would like to see. China has shouldered enormous pressure the last few months by strictly implementing UN Security Council sanctions. A few days ago, China’s Ministry of Commerce issued a notice banning exports of condensate and liquefied natural gas to North Korea and a complete ban on textile imports from North Korea. Oil price in Pyongyang has started to rise and further economic hardship is expected.

As China has always said, sanctions are not the aim and military strikes are not the solution. However, as the US, South Korea and Japan strengthen their alliance, the possibility of a direct military confrontation is increasing on the Korean Peninsula. When you hold a hammer in your hand, every problem looks like a nail. The international community must not only firmly stop North Korea from developing nuclear weapons, but also prevent the military hawks taking dangerous risks.

Source: Global Times

 

Xinjiang university calls for promoting Putonghua

Professors at Kashgar University in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have called for the faculty and students there to speak Putonghua to promote social stability, in a letter published on the school’s WeChat account on Sunday.

They asked that all members of the faculty and students from all ethnic groups use Putonghua to communicate as a common language, meaning they are asked to speak Putonghua both in and outside the classroom, and between teachers, students, friends and family.

“Speaking Putonghua is necessary for the blending of all ethnic groups and a reflection of each citizen’s national awareness to safeguard our integrity and ethnic unity and maintain social stability,” they said.

More specifically, teachers are being encouraged to use Putonghua for their teaching materials, blackboard writing, and in checking student homework and students are being encouraged to use it in their homework and for taking notes.

The letter emphasized that the use of Putonghua should be done consciously and that everyone should be a model at using it, and that teachers and students should correct those who do not use it.

“Schools at different levels in Xinjiang currently are encouraging teachers to teach in Putonghua, so encouraging teachers from various ethnic groups to communicate with each other in Putonghua is the next step,” Sun Houming, president of the Xinjiang Education Institute’s School of Humanities, told the Global Times.

Sun’s institute launched courses on Putonghua and Uyghur languages for local-level officials back in 2014, with Han officials taking classes on the Uyghur language and Uyghur officials taking part in Putonghua classes.

“A bilingual education is important for the children of different ethnic groups. If they can master Putonghua, it will be easier for them to find jobs, and more important, contribute to national unity,” Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Minzu University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times.

Xiong added that learning Putonghua is also important for motivating ethnic minority groups to participate in anti-terrorism work.

Xinjiang education officials have taken many approaches to boosting bilingual abilities since 2014, and more courses are taught by bilingual teachers.

To ensure the quality of bilingual education, the regional government has expanded its teacher evaluation system to cover both Putonghua and Uyghur studies, according to a 2016 plan. And, as of September, around 1,176,000 rural preschoolers were getting a free bilingual education, with the coverage reaching nearly 100 percent in rural areas, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the region’s education authorities.

In addition, at least 61,000 new Putonghua teachers have been employed by rural kindergartens, and primary and middle schools over the past five years in Xinjiang.

Source: Global Times

Weibo inspectors should avoid excessive content control: expert

China’s social media platforms need to train their content inspectors more seriously to avoid overreaching their controls, a Chinese expert said after users accused Sina Weibo’s new content inspectors of abusing their assigned power to randomly delete posts.

“Hiring inspectors is a necessity for the platform to deal with the government’s call on management of Internet information. However, this approach and its incentives might be a breeding ground for post-deletion abusers, for example getting paid for deletions,” Wang Sixin, a media law professor at Communication University of China, told the Global Times.

The platform needs to take its training of inspectors more seriously and they need to weed out any who don’t qualify as soon as possible, he added.

Wang’s suggestion comes after one Weibo user claimed that her selfies, posts of pets, pictures of legs, even swimsuit photos were designated “pornography,” which led to a penalty on her account.

Meanwhile, many users complained that inspectors were deleting posts at will and some remarked sarcastically that the platform needed “inspectors” to supervise the new inspectors it announced to hire last month.

Wang added that platform employees and inspectors might also collude with each other to share rewards.

Sina Weibo replied on its account on Thursday that the offending inspector had been fired.

It added that it welcomes users to report to the company if they find that the inspector’s work is inappropriate.

Sina Weibo made the announcement that it would hire 1,000 inspectors from among its users, on September 27, to weed out harmful information on the platform, including pornography and other illegal contents to keep the Internet cleaner.

Those people qualified enough to become inspectors would be given 200 yuan ($30) a month and a membership card and those who reported the highest number of offending posts would be given iPhones and tablets as rewards.

The inspectors were supposed to be subject to an assessment, where they needed to report on no fewer than 200 harmful posts a month and, conversely, would be dismissed if they were found to be blackmailing users, making three or more false reports, or were hovering around the bottom in annual reports.

Source: Global Times