Upcoming Chinese National Day holiday not a straw for sluggish South Korean tourism

The upcoming week-long National Day holiday in China will not be the straw for South Korean tourism to clutch at, said South Korean media.

According to Yonhap News Agency, group tours from China almost stopped since March, leading to a drastic downturn in the South Korean tourism industry. Consumption by Chinese tourists in South Korea during the upcoming “Golden Week” will likely experience a 30% drop, the news agency estimated.

South Korea will embrace a 10-day holiday starting from early October. Though domestic tourists will contribute to the country’s overall consumption, it’s still far from the level of consumption by Chinese tourists.

Citing China Daily, Yonhap said that some six million Chinese tourists will travel abroad for the upcoming holiday, but South Korea is no longer a favorite destination.

With the impact of the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, only 7.76 million Chinese people visited South Korea in the first seven months of 2017, a 20.9% drop compared with the same period of the last year.

People in the tourism industry in South Korea predict escalated tension between the two countries upon the completion of the temporary deployment of the system. The number of Chinese tourists will keep dropping during the upcoming holiday, they said.

“We have suffered great loss because of the decreased number of Chinese tourists, and the deployment of the additional four launchers will worsen the situation,” said an insider. “The golden week was a money time for us last year, but now I have no expectation,” he added.

High school student in Harbin organizes TEDx event

A TEDx event was organized by a high school student at Harbin No. 3 High School on Aug. 21. With the theme of “blooming,” the event received warm responses from the students.

Jiang Zhuowen, the organizer of the activity, invited intelligent transportation expert Wang Yinhai, Australian psychologist Shen Yi, and U.S. film director Chen Jianying to deliver speeches.

Harbin No. 3 High School is the only high school in northeast China that is qualified to host TEDx events.

It was the third TEDx program held by the school. Thanks to Jiang’s personal achievements and his public welfare contributions, reputable speakers have been invited to the school.

In addition to a series of titles, such as president of school debate society, provincial champion of a national high school debate tour, and first-prize winner in a national high school physics competition, Jiang is also an enthusiastic volunteer teacher.

He founded an association for volunteer teaching at his school, and 200 students participated. They have conducted both online and offline activities, helping a total of nearly 10,000 students from local middle schools. It is inspiring that some of the students have entered top high schools under their assistance.

Jiang’s experience has earned him a chance to apply for a TEDx license. Because of his extraordinary performance, he has won the hearts of interviewers and has been qualified.

On Aug. 21, the three famous speakers made excellent speeches to the students with the theme of “blooming,” covering a wide range of topics, including self-adjustment, life choices, and future lifestyles.

“This event was the brainstorm of the three speakers, and also exactly what I think of when I think of ‘blooming,’” he said.

“I want to be a promoter of cultures who introduces new ideas to people, and brings knowledge and information through activities, such as volunteering and TEDx,” Jiang noted, adding that he will continue this path in the future.

Triplet daughters cry before daddy’s peacemaking mission in Africa

Sept. 9, triplet daughters of a military physician from Chengdu Military General Hospital cried before their father left for the Democratic Republic of the Congo for a peacemaking mission.

It is serviceman Liu Xi’s second peacemaking mission. He was sent to Lebanon six years ago.

Now a father of three girls under 2 years old, Liu once again faced a choice between family and service. Though his daughters were unwilling to part from him, his wife still encouraged and supported him.

Traditional Chinese medicine introduced to elementary school curriculum in Zhejiang

Fifth-grade students in elementary schools of eastern China’s Zhejiang province will learn traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) starting from this semester, Qianjiang Evening News reported on Tuesday.

Zhejiang is the first and only province in China that has introduced TCM to the curriculum of elementary schools.

The innovation has triggered heated debate among Chinese netizens. Parents in favor of the act believe that TCM is a treasure of Chinese culture and it will benefit the children by helping them develop a healthy lifestyle. However, some parents hold a different opinion, saying that TCM is totally beyond the young students’ ability to comprehend.

“We parents care more about the actual effect of the course,” said a man surnamed Wang, adding that it might be eliminated because students usually have a very tight schedule especially at this grade.

According to Fang Jianqiao, the chief editor of the TCM textbook, the proposal to incorporate TCM into the curriculum of elementary and middle schools was raised by a member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference in 2011.

Fang believes that TCM has made unique contribution to China’s 5,000-year history. Before western medicine entered China around 100 years ago, TCM provided the major therapeutic approaches, and Chinese people should be proud of it, he added.

In addition, China has laid great importance on the development of TCM at the national level. According to the Outline of the Strategic Plan on the Development of Traditional Chinese Medicine (2016-2030) issued by the State Council last year, TCM should be widely promoted on campuses and in communities, villages, and families.

The textbook is specifically designed for 5th-grade-level students, Fang said. “We have invited Chinese teachers to examine it to ensure that the textbook is readable,” he explained.

Fang also slammed those who doubt the reliability of TCM, saying that it’s not scientific for them to belittle the discipline when they themselves don’t understand the discipline.

Internet of Things sees explosive growth in China

2017 World Internet of Things Expo is held in Wuxi on Sept. 10, 2017.

China’s Internet of Things (IoT) industry saw its output value reach 950 billion yuan ($146 billion) in 2016, a senior official said during an IoT Expo in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu province, where a lot of cutting-edge technologies, such as unmanned shops, self-driving vehicles, smart clothing, and smart hosting were on display.

The IoT industry offers a new vision for medical treatments and healthcare. For example, it is now possible for a patient to send his or her health data to their personal doctors so that they can quickly be informed what medicine to take.

China’s NarrowBand IoT, an important branch of the industry, has taken the lead in many areas. “With a new alternative provided by IoT, fewer people will go to the hospital in future,” said deputy director of a hospital in Wuxi.

IoT will bring about other changes to people’s life as well, including helping relieve traffic congestion, assisting supervision work, as well as promoting industrialization and urbanization, according to industry insiders.

The technology will also help monitor environmental pollutants. For instance, the Taihu Lake in Wuxi is closely monitored by 23 stations, 18 floating signs, and other sensors, which transfers data to computers, helping those who monitor its environment to take needed action.

China’s IoT network is mainly concentrated in four regions, including the areas surrounding the Bohai Sea, the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, as well as the country’s central and western regions.

However, insiders warn about weaknesses in core technology and software, as well as lack of talents and an industry standard system, all of which they suggest could be changed by better planning, cultivating more talents, and cutting costs.

Freight trains draw China closer to the world

(file photo)

Freight trains have become an important link between China and European, Central Asian, and South Asian countries, as Lanzhou, capital city of northwest China’s Gansu province, gears up to become an international trade and logistics center along the Belt and Road.

In 2015, thirty-eight freight trains set out from Lanzhou, and the number increased to 104 in 2016. By mid-July this year, the number of freight trains had surpassed the whole number of last year, said Xu Chunhua, director of Lanzhou International Trade and Logistic Park.

The park, planned in 2013 and put into use in 2016, was aimed at becoming an international logistics pivot under the Belt and Road Initiative and an important platform to open up the country westward.

Last year, the park handled 5 million tons of cargo worth $300 million in total. This year, the park plans to complete 8 million tons of cargo valued at $1 billion, Xie said.

“The park has five core functions with a total investment of 10.5 billion yuan ($1.6 billion),” said Luo Zhe, deputy director of the park’s administrative committee. Other services, such as containers, special cargo, and bulk cargo have been formulated and put into operation, Luo added.

To date, more than 4,000 freight train journeys have been made between 28 Chinese cities and European and central Asian cities, and about 9 journeys are made per day, said Chang Ming, deputy director of the freight department under the Lanzhou Railway Bureau.

Lanzhou is the main junction of several railways and is a must-go spot linking Chinese cities with their European, Central Asian and South Asian counterparts, Chang pointed out.

In January 2016, the Gansu Government and the General Administration of Customs signed a memorandum on cooperation, agreeing to forge the Lanzhou Railway container center into a national station for China-Europe freight trains.

Under the framework of the Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, China has opened several freight services between Gansu and European and Central Asian cities in recent years.

In August 2015, a freight train service between Hamburg, Germany, and Lanzhou opened. It takes about 15 days to travel the track to Hamburg, fifteen days less than travel by sea.

In 2016, the Lanzhou International Trade and Logistic Park launched international freight train services to Central Asian countries, including Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Two to three journeys are made every week and 104 journeys have been made by 4,455 trains so far, delivering 103,000 tons of exports with a total value of $198 million.

China’s freight train services have also connected Nepal and Pakistan, and radiated India, Bangladesh, and other South Asian countries. Last year, 295 trains made 10 journeys between China and the South Asian countries, delivering over 10,000 tons of exports with a total value of $88.5 million.

Currently, Lanzhou is preparing to launch a second freight train service to South Asia. The new line will start from Lanzhou and travel through Kashgar in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to the Gwadar Port of Pakistan.

Trump’s visit set to strengthen ties

The upcoming visit of US President Donald Trump will help yield positive results in Sino-US bilateral economic ties, experts forecast on Thursday.

In response to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s invitation, Trump is expected to pay a state visit to China this year, Geng Shuang, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said during a press conference on Wednesday.

During Trump’s visit, the two leaders will discuss long-term plans and the basis of China-US relations, He Weiwen, an executive council member at the China Society for the WTO, told the Global Times on Thursday. “Trump will bring up some urgent issues, such as the Korean Peninsula crisis. But in terms of the economy, the talks will center on trade, investment and global economic growth,” He said.

A key priority for Xi and Trump will be to further strengthen China-US strategic cooperation and to come up with a plan to bring North Korea back to peaceful dialogue and reduce military tensions in the Korean Peninsula, Rajiv Biswas, chief economist for IHS Markit Asia-Pacific, told the Global Times on Thursday.

However, the US government should realize that playing the North Korea card to put pressure on China over trade issues would be useless, He Weiwen noted. “The US holds the key to solving the Korean Peninsula crisis, not China,” he said. He also suggested that the two sides should keep trade issues separate from geopolitical ones.

The US has long had a trade deficit with China, and rebalancing bilateral trade relations has been one focus of the Trump administration.

The US’ exports to China recorded $115.6 billion in 2016 while it imported $462.6 billion worth of goods from China, according to the US Census Bureau, resulting in a trade deficit of $347 billion.

“China has never sought a trade surplus with the US. The current situation is completely market-driven,” Gao Feng, spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, told a press briefing on Thursday.

From January to August, China imported $100.4 billion worth of goods from the US, up 20.1 percent year-on-year, Gao noted. The growth rate was much higher than that of the overall bilateral trade volume or China’s exports to the US.

The upcoming visit of Trump to China will be an important opportunity to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation and improve understanding on a wide range of trade issues, Biswas noted.

Common ground

The meeting between Xi and Trump in the US in April set a good example for China-US dialogue, and the 100-day trade plan could be further extended, Diao Daming, an assistant research fellow at the Institute of American Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday. Under the plan, China has allowed more market access to the US in sectors such as finance, agriculture and energy.

“China may have a trade surplus with the US, but the US gains most of the benefits,” Diao said, noting that US companies operating in China have gained growing profits, and some of them have played an active role in promoting stable China-US relations.

Some trade frictions exist in sectors such as steel and rubber, but this will not change the fundamentals of bilateral trade and investment, Diao said.

“The upcoming visit will also shed light on emerging sectors such as high tech, cyber security and intellectual property rights,” he remarked.

China’s rapid growth in technology has generated increasing benefits for domestic companies, which may become strong competitors for their US counterparts. “This is what the US government is really afraid of,” Diao noted.

More open market

An important focus for the two leaders will be to strengthen their commitment to liberalize trade in more goods and services under bilateral trade agreements, noted Biswas.

“Key areas where the US may be able to gain more access to the fast-growing Chinese consumer market are in agricultural commodities and processed foods, as well as in financial services,” he said.

“But the US should realize that it will be more and more difficult to grant foreign investors super-national treatment as China pursues economic reforms and sees rising labor costs,” he noted.

Still, experts forecast that talks on the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) may not gain pace despite Trump’s visit. “The major obstacle to BIT negotiations comes from the US Congress,” Diao noted.

Source: Global Times

From coal minor to sand fighter: Old man persists in desertification control saying he wants to pay back the earth

Wang Hengxing, an 81-year-old rich business owner devoted to desertification control has turned a large area of desert in Miaomiao Lake Village, Pingluo County, northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, into an eco-tourism area.

“All I have done is paid the debt to earth,” said Wang, who has invested all his hard-earned money into the undertaking.

Starting second career in seventies

Wang undertook his second career of deforestation control through planting trees in the 70s. Before then he was head of a coal enterprise with a fortune of over 100 million yuan ($15.3 million).

Despite no initial support from family and the difficult conditions of the desert, he persisted in his career.

The sand fighter unremittingly led people to plant trees, dig irrigation ditches, and lay drip watering pipes in the desert. Years of hard work also consumed his health.

To pay the debt to earth

The Miaomiao Lake Village was covered by a large area of desert in the past, while now it is an eco-tourism area with trees and lakes, offering more than 100 jobs to the locals.

When asked in an interview why he insisted on planting trees in the desert several years ago, Wang noted that he excavated a lot of coal during his lifetime, so he would like to plant as many trees as possible to pay the debt to earth.

Media reports brought him fame, as well as trouble. “You are just finding trouble for yourself. Desertification control is a public cause. Can you pay off the debt on your own?” said some people, especially other coal bosses who did not understand him.

To make things worse, Wang received many threatening phone calls asking for a large amount of money every day during that period of time, but he never gave in to the pressure.

Strong support from his children

Wang often worried that he has left a heavy burden on his children, as he invested more than 210 million yuan, almost all his money, in the career.

However, Wang’s children all understand their father’s good intentions and know that he wants them to achieve success through their own efforts and to repay society as he did.

His children even organized nearly 1,000 employees in their enterprise to help plant trees every April, even if they have to shut down the enterprise for a month.

Certainly, Wang’s career would have ended earlier without his children’s support. What he left them seems like nothing.

Forestation is not a cause that can be achieved once and for all, especially in the dry area of Miaomiao Lake Village, where forestry experts say even trees cannot survive.

Wang, therefore, invested money in building a hydraulic engineering system to draw water from the Yellow River. Even so, the water is not enough for the trees.

He had to adopt drip irrigation and the irrigation tapes need to be replaced every year because of the high temperatures and severe sand and dust storms. It can cost up to 6 million yuan each year to maintain the trees.

Wang used to take the money out from the enterprise to support the career. However, the cost became a burden for the enterprise due to the economic slump in recent years.

Fortunately, desert tourism, the breeding industry, and subsidiary agricultural products of the eco-tourism area are able to offset the financial strain to a certain extent.

Although it is difficult for them to take good care of the trees, Wang’s son said they will not let their father down, as that is the best way for them to show filial piety.

China takes the lead in launching facial recognition payment for commercial use

China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba has recently launched the world’s first facial recognition payment technology at a KFC restaurant in Hangzhou, signifying that China has taken the lead in the commercial use of the technology, Workers’ Daily reported on Sept.13.

It takes approximately 10 seconds for a costumer to pay their bill using the facial recognition service, greatly increasing payment efficiency.

CNBC, Reuters, Yahoo News, and other Western media outlets praised China for taking the lead and putting the technology into commercial use.

Data shows that the market size of the facial recognition industry in China exceeded 1 billion RMB ($153.3 million) in 2016, and is estimated to reach 5.1 billion RMB by 2021.

However, many factors from the amount of light and to different angles influence the accuracy of the technology, so this mode of payment cannot be the only way for user authentication right now, said Liu Yunhuai, an expert at the third Research Institute of China’s Ministry of Public Security.

In addition, the future of the payment service still depends on safety assessments by supervision departments, and the aided validation process limits its convenience, so it is difficult to promote the application of the technology widely, Li Junhui, a researcher at the China Institute of Political Science and Law, noted.

Despite various difficulties in promoting the service, Liu says that this mode of payment still has a bright future, as it is based on the data of users’ facial information and the application of artificial intelligence.