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Average lifespan in China extends by half a year as PM 2.5 density drops 12 percent

Blue sky over Beijing. (Photo/Chinanews.com)

The life expectancy of Chinese citizens has been extended by half a year thanks to the remarkable achievements of China’s air pollution control, causing a significant drop in the PM 2.5 density, according to the Air Quality Life Index, recently released in Beijing by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago.

The Index indicates that China’s PM 2.5 density fell by 12 percent between 2013 and 2016, a pollution reduction equivalent to an additional half a year to the average lifespan.

Tianjin, one of the three most polluted Chinese cities in 2013, saw a decline of 14 percent PM 2.5 density in 2016. If this improvement is maintained, 13 million citizens living in the city are expected to see their average lifespan increase by 1.2 years.

Henan, a central province in China, also witnessed improved air quality. Statistics showed that the length of time people are exposed to PM 2.5 in the region is down 20 percent compared with 2013, meaning they could live an average of 1.3 years longer.

Air pollution has continued to be a severe issue for China. In 2010, it caused 1.2 million premature deaths and a reduction of 25 million healthy life years (the number of years that a person is expected to live in a healthy condition).

According to standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the permissible density of PM 2.5 is ten micrograms per cubic meter, while China’s national ambient air quality standard is still more than three times that figure.

Average life expectancy in China could be raised from 76 years to 79 years if the WHO standard is reached, the Index noted.

Robert OKeefe, vice president of the US Health Effects Institute, said that China has responded well to air pollution, bringing substantial public health benefits. Early deaths, as well as cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, have already been dramatically reduced.

Tibetan family saves wild animals on 4,000-meter-high plateau

Detsokyi, Robow’s wife touches two wounded Tibetan gazelles. (vip.people.com.cn/Song Linji)

A Tibetan man, Robow, together with his wife and daughter, has been saving wild animals on a plateau 4,000 meters above sea level in China’s Qinghai province since 2010.

First arriving in Haixi Mongolian-Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture nine years ago, this family have dedicated everything to wildlife protection, despite the plateau’s harsh living conditions.

Robow and his wife feed rescued Tibetan gazelles. (vip.people.com.cn/Song Linji)

The Tibetan man was a village cadre before he moved his family to the plateau, and quit his job to save wild animals. The family sold over 100 sheep and 40 cows between 2015 and 2016, and raised more than 700,000 yuan to keep the animal shelter running.

Rinchen Lhamo, Robow’s daughter feeds two rescued Tibetan gazelles. (vip.people.com.cn/Song Linji)

The family have saved 18 wild animals so far, including black-tailed gazelles, red deer, white-lipped deer, Bharal sheep and Tibetan gazelles.

The family treats the animals in the shelter like their own children, and they are released back into the wild as soon as they have recovered.

A rescued Tibetan gazelle in Robow’s house. (vip.people.com.cn/Song Linji)

China to roll out more tax cuts for small businesses

China will reduce taxes and fees on a larger scale to ease the burden on small and micro-sized businesses, it was revealed at a press conference in Beijing on Jan. 15.

In 2019, the country will conduct inclusive and structural tax cuts for small and micro-sized businesses based on its tax and fee cuts of 1.3 trillion yuan in 2018, said Assistant Finance Minister, Xu Hongcai, during the conference.

The threshold for small-scale taxpayers of value-added tax will be raised from 30,000 yuan to 100,000 yuan in monthly sales.

Criteria for small and low-profit enterprises will be relaxed, and more special measures will be rolled out. Any enterprise with less than 50 million yuan in total assets, less than 300 employees and a taxable income of less than 3 million yuan will be classified as a small and low-profit enterprise.

Local government will be allowed to reduce some local taxes including resources taxes, city maintenance tax, stamp duty, and urban land use tax, as well as an education surcharge for small-scale taxpayers by no more than 50 percent.

Technology startups will also be offered more preferential tax policies.

Restaurants act to reduce plastic usage

Restaurants in Beijing and Hong Kong are banning drinking straws in a bid to reduce the use of disposable plastic.

Café de Coral, a fast food restaurant group in Hong Kong, has already banned the use of straws across 164 stores and encourages customers to bring their own dishware.

In November 2018, 10 MacDonald’s restaurants in Beijing also stopped offering plastic straws to customers. On the whole, customers have accepted the green consumption mode.

The campaign to eliminate the use of plastic straws was rolled out by Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong last June, and has already gained the support from more than 20 large-scale restaurant chains. The activity calls on restaurants to stop offering straws to customers completely, or gradually implement the changes, for example by banning straws on the 8th day of each month, or every Friday.

Yu Xuerong, executive director of the Jiangsu Dining Association, said the campaign could upset some people who have difficulty changing their habits, noting that restaurants should properly guide people while improving drinks packaging so that people can drink without using straws.

According to a survey by the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation Hong Kong, Hong Kong residents aged between 15 and 59 years old use 5.73 straws on average per person per week. The total number of straws used in the region every year is an enormous 1.44 billion.

However, it takes more than 100 years to dissolve these plastic straws. If not properly disposed of, this plastic can impact the environment and people’s health.

Huang Ying, an energy and environment professor with Southeast University, said reducing the use of straws is an effective move towards phasing out plastic completely.

However, there is still a long way to go, as plastic-free consumption could cause a rise in cost for catering enterprises. Other issues, such as a lack of recycling facilities, disagreements on the plastic-free mode between industry insiders and environmental protectors, as well as the long and arduous process of changing behavior, make the campaign more difficult than it seems, said Environment Secretary of Hong Kong Wong Kam-sing.

Internet advertising breaks new ground in 2018: report

Photo courtesy of the Interactive Marketing Lab in Zhongguancun

In 2018, the total revenue from Internet advertising stood at 369.4 billion yuan, with an annual growth rate of 24.2 percent, according to a report released by the Interactive Marketing Lab in Zhongguancun, Beijing.

According to the report, the income generated through Internet advertising accounted for about 4.2 percent of the country’s GDP last year, an increase of 0.6 percent from 2017.

The market share of the industry’s top 10 platforms rose to 92.67 percent in 2018, as the traditional giants continued to maintain growth and new giants, such as Jinri Toutiao and Xiaomi, rose rapidly.

Last year, due to the substantial increase in mobile terminal access traffic, Internet advertising was more inclined towards those using mobile phones, and the mobile advertising revenue ratio increased to 68 percent, up 6 percent from 2017.

The report indicated that enterprises are now more willing to invest in high-quality and accurate traffic, making application platforms the most mainstream advertising channel.

Photo courtesy of the Interactive Marketing Lab in Zhongguancun

In regards to media platforms, income from e-commerce and search platforms contributed to more than half of the total Internet advertising revenue. In terms of the forms of advertising, display, e-commerce and search platforms accounted for more than 80 percent of the total income.

The report also showed that fast-moving consumer goods, food and beverages are still the main Internet advertising categories, accounting for 49.31 percent of all advertised goods, followed by transportation, network communication, and real estate.

The report noted that the implementation of China’s Cyber Security Law and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) raised the importance of network data security to a new level, pointing out that strengthening self-discipline and maintaining a good Internet advertising market environment is the responsibility of every Internet operator.

Report calls for visa reform to boost China’s inbound tourism

Foreign tourists visit the Great Wall in Beijing. (Photo/Xinhua)

A report showed that China is expected to witness a tourist deficit of 100 million in the next five years, calling for the country to make visa application easier, thepaper.cn reported on Jan. 16.

China’s current visa classification is traditional and conservative compared to those of Western countries, according to the report jointly released by the Center for China and Globalization (CCG), a Beijing-based think tank, and Ctrip, a Chinese travel service provider, suggesting the country carry out reforms on visa policies and improve visa application platforms to reduce the deficit.

Ctrip chairman Liang Jianzhang pointed out that the number of inbound arrivals is an important indicator for China’s tourism development, adding that inbound tourism must be boosted so that the country can gain a larger share of the international market.

Latest statistics from Ctrip indicate that Chinese people will make 400 million trips during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday, 7 million of which will be overseas trips.

The report also pointed out that China’s visa facilitation remains in the bottom six in the global rankings. It suggests innovating the visa system, building a self-service visa application platform, and improving visa facilitation to help reform visa policies.

 

China to see shortage of 22 million high-end technical workers by 2020

(Photo/Chinanews.com)

Due to the surge in development of smart manufacturing in China, the country is witnessing a growing gap in its employment structure, and it’s predicted that China will see a shortage of 22 million high-end technical personnel by 2020, according to CCTV Business Channel.

Currently, the increasing labor cost is forcing enterprises to apply higher numbers of robots and intelligent systems to their production force.

For instance, Zhejiang, a province located in China’s manufacturing base – the Yangtze River Delta, is now suffering from a severe labor shortage, especially in the run up to Chinese New Year, a festival centered around family reunion.

“I have had to halt 500 machines because of recruitment failures,” said Zhu Li, head of a clothing factory in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. “The workshops, which are supposed to be in busy operation, are now covered in dust,” he added.

Fan Boyuan, chairman of the board of a Zhejiang-based smart home solution company, explained that the material cost of the clothing industry had gone up by around 10 percent in recent years, but labor cost had increased by 35 percent.

He is now investing in smart production, hoping to find a solution to the labor shortage and increase profits through industrial upgrading.

However, the shortage of technical staff came shortly after the expansion of smart production.

Fan noted that currently, there aren’t many workers who know how to control smart production systems, and many high-end professionals are not willing to work in factories or workshops. The only solution is self-training, he added.

Changes have affected both the production line and the workers. Those who are familiar with the industry and also capable of smart device operation are now in high demand.

The urgent need for technical personnel in the employment market stimulated recruitment from vocational schools. Statistics indicated that in 2017, the employment rate of students from such schools exceeded those holding a bachelor’s degree for the first time.

However, these vocational schools are still facing difficulties when it comes to recruitment, and have experienced downward enrollment for six years since 2009.

Although titles such as technician and senior technician are encouraging to an extent, the incentive systems are still facing problems in that industries are not doing enough to build a full workforce, said Zeng Xiangquan, dean of the School of Labor Relations and Human Resources at Renmin University of China.

Experts believe that in addition to these incentive systems, the expansion of training channels for technical workers and the acceleration of vocational education development is also very important to fill the employment gap.

Jiangsu the first Chinese province to hit GDP of 9 trillion yuan

Suzhou in Jiangsu province (Photo/Chinanews.com)

10 Chinese provinces have so far announced their economic performances for 2018, as the local two sessions, the annual meetings of the local legislature and the local political advisory body, recently commenced.

Among the many provinces that have pushed ahead in the race, Jiangsu is the province showcasing the most remarkable achievements so far.

According to the provincial government work report, Jiangsu maintained medium-high economic growth last year. Its GDP growth is expected to have reached around 6.7 percent in 2018, with a total GDP of 9.2 trillion yuan.

It marks the first time a Chinese province has achieved a GDP of 9-trillion-yuan, with a figure more substantial than the national economic total of Australia – the 13th largest economy in the world.

Guangdong province is also likely to join the 9-trillion-yuan club this year. Its GDP hit 8.99 trillion in 2017, and also ranked first in China for 29 consecutive years. The only question remaining is whether Guangdong’s GDP could have already surpassed 10 trillion yuan.

Yin Li, governor of the southwestern province of Sichuan, announced that their GDP may have exceeded 4 trillion yuan in 2018, securing an 8-percent growth. Sichuan is likely to become the second province in China to cross the 4-trillion-yuan GDP mark in 2018, after the central province of Henan.

Seventeen other Chinese cities are expected to have ended 2018 with a GDP of more than 1 trillion yuan.

Alipay allows people to send money to relatives in Beijing jails

Alipay teams up with the Beijing Municipal Administration of Prisons (BMAP) to provide better service for prisoners and their relatives. Photo from the Weibo account of Chinanews.com.

Relatives of prisoners in Beijing jails can now use Alipay to send money to an incarcerated family member’s online account, which prisoners will now be allowed to access and use under the Beijing Municipal Administration of Prisons (BMAP), Chinanews.com reported on Jan. 14.

This move marks the BMAP’s latest attempt to build a smart prison with the help of Alipay.

The prison administration explained that online payment is now connected to the e-commerce platform and medical service system of the prison.

The online system aims to provide convenience for prisoners and their families. Relatives can make deposits using Alipay, registered with their real names. The deposit service is free of charge.

Rare migratory birds cared for in Hebei

Staff members treat an oriental white stork at a wild animal rescue center in Cangzhou, north China’s Hebei province, Jan. 14, 2019. A number of wounded birds that are unable to fly back to southern China have been brought here for treatment. In the last three months, vets have rescued and treated more than 20 birds, including oriental white storks, which are under first-class state protection. (Xinhua/Fu Xinchun)