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Chinese man makes name for himself by making novel handicrafts

A man from Changchun, northeastern China’s Jilin province, has made a name for himself by making novel handicrafts, Changchun Evening News reported.

Plastic or metal model transformers are common, but Liu Xuedong has made a , spending 2 months on the project. The transformer is made from tree branches and held together by more than 500 bolts. Painted in red and blue, the model of Optimus Prime looks like it jumped out of the screen.

Liu’s work has attracted the attention of his residential community, with many neighbors showing interest in his work.

Three years ago, inspired by a foreigner who set a Guinness World Record for making a giant horse with toothpicks, Zhang, who was running a barbeque restaurant back then, decided to make a similar one himself.

The handicraftsman turned 300,000 toothpicks into a vivid running horse on a foam board which is 3 meters in length and 1.5 meters in width.

In 2016, Liu started making hydro cooling computer cases with sheets of iron, wood, and plastic. His motherboard and hard drive have now been stuffed into one of the cases he made, and the system is running smoothly.

The cooling computer case

It is worth mentioning that Liu once participated in a world-class handicraft competition in which only nine Chinese competitors were selected.

People in Heilongjiang spend summer in winter clothes

People in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province recently switched into their winter clothes after a strong cold wave hit the region.

The lowest temperature of Heihe, a northwestern city of the province, dropped to 12 degrees Celsius, and the cold wave is expected to last another week. Tourists even lined up to buy heavy coats to keep warm. Some of them from south China joked that it is good to be here in the summer to avoid the scorching heat at home.

China’s homemade high-speed suspended monorail train imminent

China’s independently developed fast suspended monorail train, also known as the sky train, has been produced by Beijing-based CRRC, the world’s largest supplier of rail transit equipment with most complete product lines and leading technologies. Production of the new train has entered the pilot phase.

The train has a projected speed of 80 kilometers per hour, rivaling that of metros. “Bearing large power and light weight, the train possesses gradability three times more than ordinary subway cars, which makes it a perfect vehicle for transportation in the moutainous city,” noted Liu Yuwen, deputy director at CRRC’s technical center.

In addition, various devices have been installed to ensure the safety of passengers. The suspended monorail train, a unique means of transport with advantages over subway cars in lower cost, shorter construction period and less influence on ground transportation, has huge market potentials.

Apple reportedly working on electric car batteries with Chinese battery maker

Apple is reportedly working on electric car batteries with Chinese vehicle battery manufacturer Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL), Shanghai-based Yicai Global reported.

The Cupertino-based tech titan is working with CATL in Fujian province on a scheme based on a confidentiality agreement. The parties are working together in the field of batteries, sources involved with the cooperation said.

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook disclosed at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) last month that the company was focusing on autonomous systems.

“Clearly one purpose of autonomous systems is self-driving cars. We sort of see it as the mother of all AI projects,” Cook explained. But he made no mention of any specific plans.

Neither Apple nor CATL commented on the reported cooperation.

In recent years, CATL has ranked in the world’s top 3 vehicle battery manufacturers together with Panasonic and BYD, the latter of which is an emerging car maker in China. According to statistics released by China Industrial Association of Power Sources, CATL and BYD sales exceeded 10 billion yuan in the last year.

In the first half of 2017, the battery production of CATL reached 1,312.4 MWh, accounting for 20.98 percent of the domestic market. It has surpassed BYD to become China’s largest vehicle battery maker.

Starting from 2015, Apple has established its own development team for automobiles and called the plan “Project Titan.”

However, just four months after it released its smart system CarPlay, Apple scaled back the project and turned to self-driving technology research.

The cooperation between the two companies might be a hint that Apple will continue its car plan. If true, it would mean that Apple’s Project Titan could be working toward building a fully electric car and not just a self-driving system.

19 Chinese provinces and cites unveil energetic half-year economic data

hina’s economic performance in the first half the year was better than anticipated, with 18 provinces and cities having registered GDP growth of 6.9 percent or above, official data showed on July 23.

Beijing’s GDP growth was 6.8 percent, slightly lower than the nation’s average of 6.9 percent.

China’s eastern provinces and cities still lead the country in terms of overall economic growth, with GDPs of Beijing, Shandong, Shanghai, and Fujian all surpassing one trillion yuan ($180 billion) from January to June.

China’s western regions saw greater economic growth than the eastern regions. Chongqing’s economy rose by 10.5 percent, followed by Guizhou at 10 percent.

“New drivers for economic growth brought by the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ have benefited the western regions,” said Chen Yao, a researcher with the Institute of Industrial Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and secretary general of the China Regional Economic Association.

The rapid development of China’s western regions has narrowed the regional development gap, indicating stronger regional coordination and sustainability, Chen noted.

The service industry contributed to at least 50 percent to the economic growth of the 19 provinces and cities. However, the number was lower than that of big cities in the developed world, Chen pointed out. The service sector accounted for 82.2 percent of Beijing’s GDP.

High and new technologies, the sharing economy, and other emerging factors are becoming an important driving force in the above provinces and cities, data indicated.

China grants more access to US-developed GM crops

China has granted U.S.-developed genetically modified (GM) crops more access to the domestic market after food experts declared them safe for consumption.

The imports of 16 GM crop varieties, including GM soybean and maize, were approved by China’s Ministry of Agriculture last month.

The move aims to meet the domestic demand for high-quality crops, particularly maize, according to Li Xinhai, a researcher at the Institute of Crop Sciences at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Yang Xiaoguang, a researcher at the National Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said scientists widely agree that GM food in Chinese and foreign markets are safe to eat.

Yang, who has been engaged in the research of GM food safety for over 20 years, said no evidence has been found that GM food is harmful to humans.

According to Chinese agricultural experts, the industrialization of homegrown GM crops is a way to make the domestic market less dependent on imported products.

China’s import of soybean has increased from 16.9 million tons in 2003 to 83.9 million tons in 2016, according to Chinese customs data.


Trump reportedly approves US Navy’s annual operation plan in South China Sea

US President Donald Trump has reportedly approved a plan to give the US navy more freedom to carry out patrols in the South China Sea, but an expert said that the US might be wasting its time.

The Trump administration approved an annual plan for when US navy ships will sail through the contested waters, giving greater freedom to the US navy, according to Breitbart News, a far-right American news site.

The plan was submitted to the White House in April by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, an anonymous US official revealed. The official claimed the White House would be aware of all planned “freedom of navigation operations” so it would not be “a surprise” when requests came up the chain of command, and they would be approved faster than before.

The faster approval process would mean operations could be conducted on a “very routine, very regular” basis, as a part of a program to keep the waters open, rather than as a “one-off event,” the official said.

This move is a clear sign that the US is planning on stepping up operations in the South China Sea, Zhu Feng, dean of the School of International Studies at Nanjing University, told Global Times on July 23.

However, the US may not reach its goal, as stepping up such operations goes against the trend of stability, cooperation, and dialogue in Asia-Pacific region.

The US military’s annual plan aims to send a message to US allies that the US remains committed to securing the Asia-Pacific region, especially East Asia, and will not back away from containing China, Zhu said.

The scholar also noted that the approved plan will impact China-US relations.

In fact, the US Congress has debated what impact the plan would have in the South China Sea.

Some have realized that so-called “freedom of navigation” exercises will not put an end to China’s claims over the South China Sea, which are based on sovereignty and jurisprudential evidences. The unilateral move by US navy will just put more pressure on China and further aggravate the situation in the South China Sea, which is something that the international community, including ASEAN countries, is reluctant to see, he added.

China to return 820,000 hectares of farmlands to forests in 2017

China plans to return about 820,000 hectares of farmlands to forests and grasslands in 2017, according to the State Forestry Bureau on July 24.

The figure will increase the total coverage of farmlands returned to forests and grasslands to 5.3 million hectares since 2014, when the country carried a new round of land reclamation work, aiming to return almost 2.83 million hectares of farmlands to forests and grasslands by 2020.

In May 2017, the State Council approved a project to return about 2.5 million hectares of farmlands to forests and grasslands in 18 provincial regions and in parts of southwest China’s Yunnan province.

Bike-sharing helps alleviate China’s traffic congestion: report

China’s famous bike-sharing industry is more than just convenient; it has also been getting a lot of credit for alleviating traffic congestion in the country’s major cities.

China News reported on Tuesday that traffic problems in China’s cities have declined significantly in the second quarter of 2017, partly due to bike sharing.

Last year, the Scientific Research Institute under China’s Ministry of Transport and the Tsinghua-Daimler Center for Sustainable Transportation Research released a report showing traffic conditions have eased in almost 80 percent of China’s cities on year-on-year basis.

According to the report, the amount of traffic congestion in 15 cities has dropped by more than 8 percent, most notably in the cities of Tianjin, Qingdao, and Wuhan.

The amount of fuel saved through using shared bicycles in short distance travel is projected to reach 1.4 million tons in 2017, accounting for 1.1 percent of total consumption, according to the report.

Aside from bike sharing, the report has also attributed the improving traffic conditions to ride-hailing services, urban traffic network improvements, and better traffic management.

Bike sharing and ride-hailing are parts of China’s booming sharing economy, which is enabling people to share things like cars, bikes, beds, and boats directly from other people online.