Chinese scientists artificially breed rare snake species

A research team in China has artificially bred a rare snake species, elaphe perlacea, for the first time, reported.

(Photo/Sichuan Daily)

Elaphe perlacea, hailed as the most beautiful snake in the world, is a mild and non venomous snake species.

It was first spotted by the U.S. scholar Leonhard Stejneger in southwestern China’s Sichuan province 98 years ago. It remained undiscovered for the next couple of decades. Some people even doubted its existence.

The snake was later spotted in 1980, 1987, and 1988. Ding Li, the leader of the Chinese research team, who is also a researcher with the Chengdu Institute of Biology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, confirmed the snake as a unique species in 2017.

According to Ding, less than 30 elaphe perlacea have been found in the recent century. Even pictures of the mysterious snake are very precious, let alone artificial breeding, Ding added.

Ding captured the snake three years ago, and he finally made a breakthrough in the artificial breeding of the species after three years of hard work. The first batch of snake eggs was hatched recently.

Ding believes the snakes could make good pets for reptile lovers, but people should not capture them from the wild, since they might face extinction once their habitats are destroyed.

Scientists usually omit the location of such discoveries in media reports and scientific literature, because poachers can trace the rare animals through such documents. The practice has become an unwritten norm in academia.

Currently, elaphe perlacea is not a protected species in China. But fortunately, it has been locally protected by Sichuan province. Ding hopes the country will make further efforts in this regard and add this species of snake to the list of animals protected by the nationwide Wildlife Protection Law this year.

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

Ancient rice variety helps villagers shake off poverty

Rice fields in Yuanyang

Yuanyang red rice, a rice variety with a long history in Yuanyang County, southwestern China’s Yunnan province, has contributed a lot to local poverty relief, as it sells well on the Taobao platform launched by Internet giant Alibaba, China News reported on Sept. 5.

The 1,300-year-old Honghe Hani Terrace fields occupy more than 28,000 acres of land, yielding nutritious-rich red rice due to favorable water quality and natural environment.

A total of 7,500 kilograms of the rice was sold out in 12 hours on the online shopping platform, creating considerable income for the local villagers.

The county has 92 poor villages involving 40,000 registered poverty-stricken families and 150,000 people, was even included in the national plan for poverty alleviation through development.

However, the county’s cooperation with the Taobao platform altered the situation by selling local high-quality agricultural products online.

An employee from the local food bureau noted that the e-commerce platform not only provides a way for the local villagers to sell red rice, but new ideas to overcome poverty.

World’s first secure quantum communication line in China gets green light

The world’s first secure quantum communication line in China has passed technical inspection and is able to operate, according to the University of Science and Technology of China on Sept. 4.

The secure quantum communication line spans more than 2,000 kilometers, linking the four cities of Beijing, Jinan, Hefei, and Shanghai.

Construction of the line, approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission in July 2013, was completed late last year after 42 months of effort in overcoming technical difficulties to achieve quantum key distribution, technology of single photon detection, and reliable data transmission.

Quantum communication is ultra-secure, as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated. Accordingly, it is impossible to wiretap, intercept, or crack the information it transmits.

China has achieved many “firsts” in the field of quantum communication, such as the world’s first secure quantum communication line connecting Beijing and Shanghai, and the first quantum communication satellite nicknamed “Micius.”

The success in building the line shows that China continues to lead the world in practical application and industrialization of quantum technology.

Chinese railcar maker to invest 9 billion yuan to develop 600 km/h high-speed maglev train

A meglev train undergoes test run in the city of Tangshan in 2009. (file photo)

China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) has started a special project to research high-speed railcars that can reach speeds up to 600 km/h, Sun Bangcheng, deputy director of CRRC Industrial Research Institute, said on Aug. 31.

The project is one of 18 national key research and development plans started by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2016. It will research both high-speed passenger and freight trains, Sun said. With a total investment of over 9 billion yuan, the project will be completed by 2021.

The project includes 3 kinds of freight trains, a high-speed train, and 2 maglev trains, according to CRRC. “Freight trains with speeds of 250 km/h can transport seafood from Haikou in China’s southern province of Hainan to Beijing in less than one day,” a project officer of CRRC said.

The two maglev trains can reach 600 and 200 km/h, respectively. The cost of a 600 km/h maglev train is almost the same as a 400 km/h high-speed train, according to the research. The first domestically made high-speed maglev train will roll off the production line in east China’s Shandong province next year, according to report.

People’s Daily Comments: Sichuan farmer makes fortune by broadcasting village life

Liu Jinyin, a young farmer in a rural area of southwest China’s Sichuan province, has attracted nearly 100,000 followers by broadcasting his daily life in the village. Within six months, Liu earned 80,000 yuan. Some of his followers said his broadcasts reminded them of their childhood memories.

The rise of live streaming has given ordinary people opportunities to receive more attention and multiplied the ways they can boost their incomes. However, vulgar content and lack of originality have long been criticized by society.

The broadcasts of Liu stand out because of their unique content – clean content that is close to real life, such as feeding pigs, transplanting rice seedlings, and catching fish.

Liu’s videos also open a window for urban residents to know more about village life. Liu does not ask for any gifts from his virtual viewers and instead lets the broadcasts serve as a platform for people to exchange views and make friends.

Liu’s parents have found it hard to accept his money earning scheme and criticized their son for ignoring his duties. Honestly speaking, streaming oneself doing things is not an improper occupation. According to Karl Marx, the welfare of mankind and our own perfection should guide our choice of profession.

Starting from the countryside, Liu combines his personal development with the building of a new socialist countryside. His profession of broadcasting rural life is a profession that is worthy of exploring.

China hires Ukrainian engineer of aircraft carrier the Varyag (Liaoning)

Recently, news related to China’s first aircraft carrier the Liaoning was widely circulated among Chinese military enthusiasts.

Ukrainian engineer Valery Vasilevich Babich, the chief designer of the Varyag, the predecessor of the Liaoning, was hired by a ship research and design institute company in Qingdao, east China’s Shandong province.

Valery has called the Liaoning no ordinary training ship, and its historical mission is to provide necessary theoretical and technical support for the localization of China’s successor aircraft carriers. He also believes the Liaoning will shine brilliantly, and its operational performance is likely to be far ahead of the Varyag.

The Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, was refitted from the former Ukrainian vessel, Varyag.

Premier Li Keqiang praises company for valuing spirit of craftsmanship

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasized the spirit of craftsmanship during a visit to Huaxiang Group, a private steel-casting company in Linfen, north China’s Shanxi province, on Tuesday.

Learning that the group provides an annual salary of 3 million yuan ($456,000) to some of its top craftsmen, which is four times that of the company’s CEO, Li said the group will have a brighter future. He added that craftsmen should pass on their skills to apprentices to make Chinese-made products competitive in terms of both price and quality.

WeChat bets on new online fund

Domestic Internet giant Tencent Holdings has launched a new kind of money-market fund on its WeChat platform, a move that experts said may show the company hopes to grab market share from a fund run by technology rival Alibaba Group Holding amid tightening supervision.

Tencent launched the test of a new function Lingqiantong, a kind of money-market fund, on its mobile payment platform WeChat on Monday, the Beijing News reported.

“Invitations to join the test were sent to staff and some external users of our other financial management products on WeChat, and we’ll see how the test group likes it,” a source at Tencent told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“Users usually put small amounts of money they get from red envelopes or friends’ transfers into the WeChat change pocket. Now the money can generate interest with a seven-day annualized return of 4.135 percent via Lingqiantong,” he noted.

Yu’E Bao, an Internet money-market fund for individuals owned by Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial Services Group, had attracted more than 1.43 trillion yuan ($211 billion) under management as of the end of June, accounting for about 28 percent of the market.

“Ant Financial Services has the advantage of providing various professional financial services, which might be a weakness for Tencent. But this new product proves the latter is taking measures to catch up,” said Guo Dazhi, research director with the Zhongguancun Internet Finance Institute.

With people paying for almost everything via mobile phones, Internet companies have built-in advantage in attracting funds, Guo told the Global Times.

“Given WeChat’s vast user base and stickiness, Lingqiantong is likely to post a rapid increase in personal investment once it is officially launched,” an industry insider who declined to be identified told the Global Times.

Lingqiantong is making its debut just as China’s regulatory authorities are tightening regulations on money-market funds.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) issued new regulations on Friday tightening management of liquidity. For the first time, it proposed the concept of funds “designated as systemically important.” The CSRC and the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, will jointly impose new supervisory rules for such funds.

CSRC Vice chairman Li Chao has indicated that the scale of some money-market funds has exceeded that of large banks, which has been taken as a reference to Yu’E Bao, according to media reports.

Yu’E Bao’s 1.43 trillion yuan was not much less than the balance of demand deposit accounts of 1.63 trillion yuan held with Bank of China in 2016, and was more than the 1.3 trillion yuan total of demand and term deposits for China Merchants Bank.

Money-market funds, which mainly invest in liquidity management tools such as interbank deposits and asset-backed securities, have been expanding fast this year, said media reports.

“In this sense, WeChat’s Lingqiantong is a bold move, and it also shows the possibility of the platform … attracting some individual investors from Yu’E Bao,” the insider noted.

Before the latest rule changes were announced, Tianjin-based Tianhong Asset Management Co, a company controlled by Ant Financial Services, which manages Yu’E Bao’s assets, on August 14 said it would cut the ceiling for individual investors from 250,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan.

“All the cash on Yu’E Bao is linked with one asset management company, which is also owned by Ant Financial Services. That means a higher possibility of triggering systematic financial risks,” according to the insider.

WeChat’s Lingqiantong will cooperate with three asset management companies, the source with Tencent said.

“Money market funds are low-return ‘commodity products’ that are largely interchangeable, so there is little basis for competition,” Guo said, noting that traditional banks are also striving to launch Yu’E Bao-like products.

A source in a State-owned bank told the Global Times that his bank has two kinds of cash income products with initial volumes ranging from 50,000 yuan to 3 million yuan, and interest rates ranging from 2 percent to 3.5 percent.

Source: Global Times

Chinese enterprise wins patent lawsuits launched by US companies

(File photo)

A Chinese company that develops self-balancing scooters recently won two patent infringement lawsuits launched by U.S. companies in half a month, Economic Daily reported on Sept. 4.

It was ruled that Hangzhou Chic Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd. did not infringe the two companies’ patent rights in the Section 337 investigation.

Insiders disclosed that the Chinese company was not named as defendant at first, while it volunteered to respond to the lawsuit to safeguard its rights and those of other Chinese companies involved in the industry.

Finnegan, the American intellectual property law firm that represented the Chinese company, respond to the lawsuit launched by Razor and Ninebot, who applied for the general exclusion order from the United States International Trade Commission (USITC).

The scope of a general exclusion order may cover all the infringing products regardless of their origins, importers, and retailers.

Yin Qingyu, a lawyer from the law firm, revealed that the Chinese company has more than 200 patents and patent applications in the world, and this helped it fight the lawsuit.

Legal supervisor of the Chinese company Li Lu noted that if the USITC issued the limited exclusion order against all Chinese enterprises or those related to the case, or even a general exclusion order, it would have been a huge blow to many small and medium-sized enterprises in China.

It takes lots of time, money, and energy for an enterprise to respond to a Section 337 investigation launched by a U.S. company so many enterprises faced with such lawsuits usually give up their right to fight back, the lawyer stated.

However, insiders pointed out that an enterprise that refuses to respond to a lawsuit will be regarded as absence, and USITC, under the accuser’s request, can adopt measures against respondents, including either a limited or general exclusion order or an injunction.

Therefore, experts remind that even though an enterprise is not named as a defendant in a lawsuit, it can still choose to take part in the investigation as an interested party to protect its own rights.

There were more than 1,000 companies selling self-balancing scooters by the end of 2015, with an estimated market value of several billion U.S. dollars. More than ten lawsuits related to the scooters were filed from 2015 to 2016 by the USITC and district courts.

Experts question pace of change, need for intervention

As the yuan continues to rally against the US dollar and is backed by signs of improved domestic fundamentals, a debate over whether the country’s push for a more market-oriented rate-setting mechanism is moving ahead at the right pace is growing among prominent scholars.

Some experts suggest that, given the more solid fundamentals in the domestic economy, the People’s Bank of China (PBC) should be able to complete the reforms more quickly, while others argue that the reforms have already proven effective and should continue to be implemented in a gradual fashion to prevent major fluctuations.

Yu Yongding, a monetary policy expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, questioned the PBC’s decision to continue the use of the central parity system, which weighs the yuan’s exchange rate against the previous closing level and a basket of currencies.

Yu, a former PBC adviser, argued in an interview on Monday with the China Securities Journal that the mechanism is not based on market demand and supply but affected by the PBC’s interventions, so it is not in line with the PBC’s reform goal to have a market-oriented system and allow the currency to float freely.

“Frankly, I don’t understand the central bank’s logic anymore,” Yu was quoted as saying. “Personally, I think the main problem with the ‘closing price plus changes in the rates of a basket of currencies’ pricing mechanism is that it can’t accurately reflect market demand and supply and the yuan’s exchange rate is still affected by the central bank’s intervention.”

The central parity system was put in place in August 2015 as part of the country’s drive to let market forces have a larger say in the yuan’s exchange rate and allow the yuan to float freely, amid a major push for the internationalization of the Chinese currency.

The move initially prompted a steep fall in the yuan’s exchange rate against the US dollar and, experts say, partially contributed to a wave of capital outflows from the world’s second-largest economy.

But under a combination of measures from the Chinese government, including tight control of overseas investments by domestic firms and other monetary policy adjustments, the yuan has stabilized since the beginning of 2017 and continues to rally against the US dollar.

After strengthening to a 14-month high against the greenback on Friday, the yuan continued to gain on Monday, rising 0.58 percent to 6.5185 per dollar at the close.

Yu argued that amid positive signs in economic growth, balance in international accounts and stable capital movements, the conditions are right for the PBC to complete the market-oriented reforms for the pricing mechanism.

Reforms should be gradual

However, several other experts cautioned against any radical moves and argued that the reform is proceeding at the right pace, ensuring both progress and stability.

“It’s very important that we understand one thing clearly: Market reforms don’t mean we will suddenly let the yuan float completely freely. It has to take place gradually and ensure stability,” Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times.

Dong said the exchange rate-setting mechanism in China is now “more market-oriented and transparent” than at any time in history. “We have to acknowledge that,” he noted.

Cheng Shi, head of ICBC International Research Ltd, also said that since the reforms in August 2015, the yuan’s exchange rate has returned to normal movements and the currency has achieved several milestones, including becoming part of the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies.

“Since the reforms [in August 2015], the flexibility of the yuan’s exchange rate has been significantly enhanced and financial opening has increased,” Cheng told the Global Times on Monday.

Cheng said that the market reforms should be carried out gradually. Trading hours in the domestic foreign exchange market could be extended and more market participants could be brought in, in accordance with market conditions.

Experts on Monday also rejected criticism of a recent decision by the PBC to add “countercyclical factors” to the formation of the central parity system. Critics said the move showed a desire to intervene in the setting of the exchange rate.

Dong disagreed. “This is a move that has been adopted in many countries around the world, including the US, to prevent irregular market movements; if anything, this shows China is becoming more forthcoming and transparent in its policy,” Dong said.

Source: Global Times