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Chinese university starts training robot engineers

Undergraduates at Wuhan Business University can now major in robots. Eighty students will be enrolled in the upcoming fall semester and will become the first batch of robot engineers with a bachelor’s degree four years later, Changjiang Daily reported on Aug. 3.

Ten industrial robots displayed at the school’s robot training base will serve as teaching equipment for the robot majors, said Ren Yansheng, director of the Office of Robot Teaching and Research.

The objective is not to teach students how to develop, research, or assemble robots, but to produce engineers who are skilled at robotic application and capable of solving concrete problems, said teacher Han Chang.

According to the education plan, these 80 students will start with liberal education and internships in manufacturing in the first academic year. Later on, they will have access to specialized courses and internships in training bases. After graduation, they will be equipped to work for robot system integrators or intelligent manufacturing enterprises.

The graduates with help relieve the current shortage for such talent.

Public moved by disabled Zhejiang woman who auctions personal paintings for charity

Wang Yuting, a disabled woman in Kaihua County, Quzhou City, Zhejiang province, recently moved a lot of people by donating personal paintings valued at 376,000 RMB ($55,900) for charity, Zjol.com.cn reported on Aug. 3.

Wang was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at age 13. As a result, she has little muscular control and the range of motion for her arms is limited to about 5 cm. Despite this, she has drawn nearly 200 pictures and has won many prizes for them. In addition, she auctioned some of her works and donated the gains to charity.

 

University graduate takes over 20,000 aerial pictures of China’s landscapes

Fan Haowei, a graduate from Southwest Petroleum University, Chengdu in southwestern China’s Sichuan province, spent a year taking over 20,000 aerial photographs of the country. He then produced a 6-minute video clip, “Image of China,” which has since gone viral, Thecover.cn reported on August 2.

The graduate, using an unmanned aerial vehicle, photography equipment and a laptop all weighing over 20 kilograms, since August 2016 travelled more than 10,000 kilometers to 20 Chinese cities, including Chengdu, Dali, Guangzhou, Chongqing, Wuhan and Changsha.

Lots of beautiful sceneries in China including Erhai Lake, Dali, night view of Hongya Cave in Chongqing, Three Gorges Dam of Yichang and the Giant Buddha of Leshan, can be seen in the video clip, all displaying the breathtaking landscapes of the country.

“Every second of the video clip has my painstaking effort, which will be valuable memory in my life,” said Fan. He plans to produce more videos in two or three years, though he has already started his career.

 

China attracts increasing number of overseas returnees

China’s rapid development in all fields and preferential policies has been attracting an increasing number of overseas returnees in recent years.

The country attracted 54,000 high-level overseas Chinese talents by 2016 since it introduced the Thousand Talents Program in 2008, a talent recruitment program to recruit highly skilled university professors and researchers abroad.

Advanced technology, experience, strong leadership and scientific research abilities are the qualities sought from the overseas professionals to support frontier research and industrial development of the country.

Bao Jie, a doctoral supervisor at the Department of Electronic Engineering, Tsinghua University, returned to China in 2013. He set up the university’s quantum dot spectroscopy integration laboratory after years of study and working in Brown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology in the U.S.

Two years ago, Bao’s team invented a micro quantum dot spectrometer about the size of a mobile phone chip. It is expected to be less expensive, portable as well as available to the public.

“I hope my research goes further in China, and this means much to me,” said Bao, adding that he enjoys the scientific research atmosphere in China as the country has of late increased its research input.

There are currently 347 high-tech business incubators in China attracting 79,000 Chinese returnees to start their businesses in strategic emerging industries.

Meanwhile, the number of Chinese travelling abroad compared to returnees dropped from 3.15:1 to 1.26:1 from 2006 to 2016. Statistics show that many job opportunities with bright prospects for development and attractive salaries are contributors to the talents’ return.

Europe finds cause of Galileo’s faulty clocks

A rocket carrying four Galileo satellites lifts off from Europe’s spaceport in French Guiana in November 2016. Photo: CFP

Investigators have uncovered the problems behind the failure of atomic clocks onboard satellites belonging to the beleaguered Galileo satellite navigation (satnav) system, the European Commission said Monday.

For months, the European Space Agency (ESA), which runs the program, has been investigating the reasons behind failing clocks onboard some of the 18 navigation satellites it has launched for Galileo, Europe’s alternative to the US Global Positioning System (GPS).

Each Galileo satellite has four ultra-accurate atomic timekeepers, two that use rubidium and two hydrogen maser. But a satellite needs just one working clock for the satnav to work – the rest are spares.

Three rubidium and six hydrogen maser clocks were not working, with one satellite sporting two failed timekeepers.

“The main causes of the malfunctions have been identified and measures have been put in place to reduce the possibility of further malfunctions of the satellites already in space,” commission spokeswoman Lucia Caudet said.

ESA found after an investigation that its rubidium clocks had a faulty component that could cause a short circuit, according to European sources.

The investigation also found that operations involving hydrogen maser clocks need to be controlled and closely monitored, the same sources said.

The agency has taken measures to correct both sets of problems, the sources added, with the agency set to replace the faulty component in rubidium clocks on satellites not yet in orbit and improve hydrogen maser clocks as well.

“The supply of the first Galileo services has not and will not be affected by the malfunctioning of the atomic clocks or by other corrective measures,” Caudet said, adding the malfunctions have not affected service performance.

‘Most accurate clocks ever’

The Galileo system went live in December last year, providing initial services with a weak signal, having taken 17 years to develop at more than triple the original budget.

The civilian-controlled service is seen as strategically important for Europe, which relies on two military-run rivals – GPS and Russia’s GLONASS.

ESA boasts that Galileo has the most accurate atomic clocks ever used for geolocalization.

Similar to traditional clocks relying on the tick of a pendulum, atomic timekeepers also count regular oscillations, in this case switches between energy states of atoms stimulated by heat or light.

But Galileo has experienced many setbacks, including the placement of two satellites in the wrong orbit.

In January, ESA director general Jan Woerner announced that the system had suffered a setback with its atomic clocks. The EU Commission expects Galileo to be fully operational by 2020.

ESA signed a contract in late June with a German-British consortium to build eight more satellites for Galileo, which will eventually comprise 30 orbiters. A total of 24 will be operational, in three orbital planes, with the rest standing by as spares, in orbit and on the ground.

Once fully deployed, Galileo aims to pinpoint a location on Earth to within a meter – compared to several meters for GPS and GLONASS.

Clients of a paying service will be able to receive even more accurate readings – down to centimeters. Such accuracy will be very useful in search-and-rescue operations.

All new cars sold in Europe by 2018 will be fitted with Galileo for navigation and emergency calls.

Its high-precision clocks will also boost synchronization of banking and financial transaction, telecom-munications and energy smart-grids, making them more efficient.

Bike-sharing rules aim to ensure security of users’ funds, information: Ministry

China’s bike-sharing companies are being urged to waive deposits for users and ensure the security of personal data, under guidelines jointly issued by the Ministry of Transport and nine other government departments on Thursday.

The companies have also been warned against commingling users’ funds with their own. Customers’ money must be held in escrow accounts, which will be subject to scrutiny by finance and transport regulators.

Companies must also establish a quick deposit refund system so that users can get their money back as soon as they return bikes.

Bike-sharing companies must make formal arrangements with banks or similar institutions that can provide payment and settlement services for them, the guidelines note.

In terms of information safety, the companies must set up their servers in the Chinese mainland and take further steps to protect users’ personal information.

Also, the personal data obtained from users should not be used in a manner that violates users’ legal rights or the public interest, or in any way that exceeds the companies’ scope of service, the guidelines said, adding that the government encourages the companies to provide free bike rental deposits services.

Companies will be responsible for adopting a real name registration system and ensuring that bikes are not parked on sidewalks, roads or public right-of-ways, according to the guidelines.

Two major domestic bike-sharing companies ofo and Mobile on Thursday welcomed the new rules, which show the government’s transparent and encouraging attitude toward the industry.

“The new rules are conducive for the orderly and sound development of the nascent industry,” Mobile said in a statement sent to the Global Times Thursday, noting that the company has been using big data and global positioning system technology to reflect rising market standards.

Ofo said in a statement sent to the Global Times that it has sought to build up a credit system across many cities, allowing riders who have accumulated high credit ratings to avoid making deposits.

Source: Global Times

United to exit Hangzhou market

America’s giant closes poorly performing route while local govts encourage cross-continental travel

Having only operated a route to Hangzhou, capital of East China’s Zhejiang Province, just over a year, United Airlines, one of the US’ three main carriers, is set to exit that market in October due to stagnant performance.

United joins the growing list of overseas players that have recently declared they are quitting or suspending certain routes in the Chinese market after just one year of operation.

In January this year, British Airways closed its route to Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, and in October 2016, Lufthansa suspended its route from Frankfurt to Shenyang, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province.

United opened the route from Hangzhou to San Francisco in July last year which flies three times per week with Boeing 787.

Initially, Hangzhou was not the priority city for United’s Chinese market venture and the airline was at first hoping to open a frequent route from Shanghai to San Francisco, but this fell through. Subsequently, it reconsidered Hangzhou and rushed to open the route as a quick alternative.

However, not long after the Hangzhou route opened, United won a slot to open a second daily flight from Shanghai in October 2016, but this resulted in an overall oversupply of flights from Eastern China and a skewed load factor.

United’s withdrawal from the Hangzhou market announcement also comes as the carrier vows to beef up efforts in improving flights in its home market and as its business in the broader Asia Pacific market decreases.

In its latest financial report released last month, United informed that its passenger income in the Asia Pacific market declined by 1 percent year-on-year to $1.01 billion while its yield declined by 2 percent compared to the same period last year.

United’s CCO and VP Andrew Nocella said the company will make “really careful” moves in the Asia Pacific market, particularly in Shanghai and Beijing, over the next 12 months with regard to capacity deployment. Currently, the airline operates flights to five destinations in the Chinese mainland.

Sluggish performance

The US Department of Transportation’s data shows that from July last year to January this year, the average load factor for the Hangzhou route was 61 percent, lower than the average 81 percent for other Chinese routes of United.

By contrast, United’s Chengdu route – one of China’s second-tier cities that the airline sought earlier on – reached an average load factor of 82.2 percent in 2016, slightly lower than the 83 percent in Beijing.

Given United’s performance in the Hangzhou market as well as in the wider Asia Pacific region, it seems reasonable for the airline to exit the former.

Also in October 2016, Sichuan Airlines launched a route from Chengdu to Los Angeles via a stop in Hangzhou, which flies twice per week and may have posed some competition for United.

Although this is Sichuan Airlines’ first route to the US, due to a poor load factor, the airline limited the number of flights to just one per week.

A boom in second-tier cities

Many routes that open in second- and third-tier cities receive government subsidies as local governments are looking for new driving forces to develop their economies.

They believe the aviation industry could stimulate the development of other sectors and ample subsidies could be the key to this.

To encourage airlines to open up routes in these cities, airports across China normally enact advantageous policies such as decreased landing fees or subsidies for players operating international routes. These ”discounts” amount to millions of yuan per year.

However, airports have gotten more clever recently, particularly in those popular Chinese destinations. Some media reported that the airports in Sichuan and Hangzhou have selected some particularly canny business strategies on the subsidized routes.

 

China will resist if US starts trade war: experts

A model of DJ Brown appears at the pop-up store of Beats and LINE Friends in HKRI Taikoo Hui in Shanghai on Wednesday. The Beats Studio Wireless headset with the Line Friends special edition, which was promoted by the US tech giant Apple Inc, is priced at 2,288 yuan ($340). Photo: CFP

Chinese officials and experts on Thursday strongly criticized a potential investigation that the US government is said to be launching into China’s trade practices and warned that any unfair measure against China would draw a strong response and inflict damage on both economies.

Experts also urged relevant government agencies and industries to prepare countermeasures, including filing complaints at the WTO and tit-for-tat probes into US companies and products, to protect their interests from what they describe as “bullying” from the US.

The US government is reportedly mulling opening a broad investigation against China’s trade practices, under a domestic law known as Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The investigation, which could come in the coming days, could result in steep tariffs or restrictions on Chinese imports, according to US media reports.

Such prospects drew strong criticism and stern warnings in Beijing on Thursday.

Warnings

The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), while reiterating China’s willingness to work with the US over trade issues through dialogue and cooperation, warned that a potential fight over trade between China and the US could hurt both.

“The China-US trade relationship is… mutually beneficial. Cooperating would benefit both sides and fighting would hurt both,” Gao Feng, spokesman for the MOFCOM, said in response to a question about the potential US trade probe.

The spokesman called on the US to engage in dialogue and consultation with China to address differences regarding bilateral trade and follow WTO rules. “Any member of the WTO should comply with WTO rules when taking any trade measures,” he said.

Though the US investigation has not been announced officially and details remain elusive, Chinese experts with ties to the government said that China would not stand idly by any potentially unfair measures from the US.

“This is bully negotiating tactics from [US President Donald Trump], trying to pressure China into meeting its unreasonable demands that only benefit the US,” said Mei Xinyu, an associate researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the MOFCOM.

“But China is not what it was two decades ago. Today, we are the world’s second-largest economy and largest trading nation. There are many tools we can use to deal with the US,” Mei told the Global Times.

Huo Jianguo, vice chairman of the China Society for World Trade Organization Studies, which is also affiliated with the MOFCOM, also said Trump, with a stalled domestic legislative agenda, is trying to “get anything he can from China to make good on campaign promises and ease pressure.”

“If [Trump] wants to make small gains by picking a fight with China, I think he is seriously miscalculating and might be picking up a stone that could crush his own feet,” Huo said

Han Bing, an expert at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China would not accept any demand from the US that would make it give up its own interests. “That’s a bottom line,” she told the Global Times.

Countermeasures

The experts said China has a lot of tools at its disposal to counter the US.

Mei said that should the US take unfair measures against Chinese companies and products, such as imposing higher tariffs and restrictions on imports, China could do the same for US companies and products.

“This could cause chaos in both countries’ economies and markets,” noted Mei.

Another option for China would be using the WTO mechanism to protect its legal interests, according to Huo, who also participated in negotiations for China’s entry into the WTO.

“Though the process should take a long time, it’s an ideal way to protect our interests while avoiding further confrontation.”

The experts also said that China should start looking into different industries that are likely to be targeted in the US investigation and build a case against any US accusations, while also reassessing the overall China-US trade relationship to prepare for potential turmoil.

The US move, though it would have limited impact on China economically, could reverse a positive trend in the China-US relationship established during meetings between the leaders of the two countries in Florida and in Germany on the sidelines of the G20 summit, experts said.

Source:Global Times

China expected to take lead in fight against organ trafficking

Chinese and international experts on organ donation and transplantation gather in Beijing on Thursday ahead of a conference. Photo: Courtesy of China Organ Transplantation Development Foundation

The international community is looking forward to China taking a leading role in the global governance of organ transplantations and the fight against organ trafficking, representatives from international societies said at a conference held in Beijing on Thursday.

“It is the great hope that China could be a model for all the countries, especially those in Asia and the Pacific region,” Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), told the Global Times.

Sorondo also expressed his expectations on connecting organ transplantation with China’s Belt and Road initiative, such as sharing China’s techniques and model to other countries in need.

“The model developed by China is an example for other countries and provides groundwork for ethical practice against organ trafficking for other countries to follow,” said Campbell Fraser, an international human organ trade expert from Griffith University in Australia.

Fraser is among eight foreign experts who hailed China’s model, which features strong government engagement, as a significant contributor to the country’s reform and progress at the Thursday conference on organ transplantation.

After banning the use of organs donated from executed prisoners in 2015, China’s reform to establish an ethical and transparent system for organ donations and transplantations is hailed by international societies that once shut their doors to the country.

By the end of July, 2,866 people had donated organs in China this year, a 33 percent increase over the same period in 2016, surpassing the total number of donations made in 2015, according to data provided by China’s top health body.

Taking the lead

In 2016, China harvested organs from 4,080 donors and performed 13,263 transplant surgeries, the second highest in the world.

The number of transplantation surgeries is expected to surpass 16,000 in 2017, according to Huang Jiefu, a former Chinese vice-minister of health and current head of the National Human Organ Donation and Transplant Committee.

By 2020, China is expected to surpass the US in performing the largest number of organ transplant surgeries in the world, Huang said.

“This [the change] is very real, very genuine and very accomplished, there are no rumors, and government support of these efforts is very real,” said Francis Delmonico, former president of the Transplantation Society and Harvard Medical School professor.

This progress has been made with strong government determination against using organs from executed prisoners, as well as legal and administrative support to implement the voluntary donation system, Huang added.

China criminalized the trading of organs in 2011, and in severe cases of violation, the death penalty could apply. Meanwhile, a computer-based system for organ distribution was launched in 2013 to make sure that the distribution is fair, ethical and traceable.

“China has shown us that it is equipped to be a global leader, and the world should not fear that,” said Fraser.

“We are confident in the future with China taking that position and taking a strong leadership against organ trafficking,” he added.

Narrow the gap

Though China has made much progress in the donation and transplantation sector, there is still a huge gap between the supply and demand of organs and the effective use of the donated organs.

There are around 300,000 patients in need of transplant surgeries every year and only 10,000 of them receive surgery, the Xinhua News Agency reported in March. Meanwhile, the per million population donation rate in China is only 2.98, much lower than the EU rate of 19 and the US rate of 26.

“The shortage of donated organs, lack of qualified doctors, as well as economic and social reasons are behind the gap,” Huang said.

Currently, 173 Chinese hospitals are qualified to perform organ transplantation surgeries, and the number will increase to 300 by the end of 2020, Huang said.

A total of 293,883 volunteers have registered as organ donors in China as of July 16, including more than 220,000 registered on online platforms.

Source: Global Times

Military-based tourism gets boost from PLA birthday

Soldiers stand guard at an outpost on the Xisha Islands in South China’s Hainan Province. The Xisha Islands lie in the middle of South China Sea, consisting of Xuande Islands and Yongle Islands. (Photo/CTPphoto)

Celebrations for the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) have boosted military-themed tourism in China, including cruises to the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea.

The number of tourists who joined military-themed tour groups this summer is 1.3 times the number from the same period in 2016, while the red tourism market is three times larger than last year’s, according to data provided to the Global Times by online travel platform lvmama.com on Thursday.

Some sites of famous battles and modern military facilities have become popular destinations, especially for families and young tourists.

Lvmama.com said the Tianjin Binhai Aircraft Carrier Theme Park, Qingdao Naval Museum in East China’s Shandong Province and Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province are three of the most popular destinations.

Military tourism in China includes visits to military museums, relics and facilities, military-related activities, as well as survival training, the People’s Daily reported on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the Nanchang Military Theme Park, the first such theme park in China, opened to the public, China Youth Daily reported on Wednesday. Nanchang, the capital of East China’s Jiangxi Province, was the site of an armed uprising during the Chinese Civil War on August 1, 1927, which marked the founding of the PLA.

China on Sunday held a military parade at the Zhurihe military training base in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region to celebrate the PLA’s 90th anniversary, which falls on August 1. More than 12,000 servicemen from the army, navy, air force, armed police and newly formed rocket force and strategic support troops took part in the parade.

“Military tourism in China only accounts for a small part of the whole industry,” Lucas Zhou, general manager of Scenic & Activities Group of lvmama.com, told the Global Times on Thursday.

“But China has rich resources for military tourism, which has been rapidly developing,” Zhou said, noting that mysterious, fresh and high-tech content are the greatest attractions.

He added that military tourism helps visitors learn about national defense, strengthen patriotism and develop physical fitness. He also suggested that travel agencies arrange more military tourism tours with local governments.

Xisha tourism

“We have been receiving more inquiries about the Xisha cruise,” a sales agent for Xisha tourism surnamed Xiong told the Global Times on Wednesday.

China started to promote Xisha Islands tours with cruises in 2013.

The Changle Princess and the Dream of the South China Sea, together with the since-retired Coconut Princess, have taken more than 20,000 tourists on over 120 trips to Sansha since 2013, according to the Sansha government’s website, which administers the Xisha Islands.

Luo, another Xisha sales agent, said the four-day tour takes tourists to three islets: Quanfu, Yagong and Yinyu.

The Xisha tours are also about the military and patriotism, calling them “a journey to support the PLA.” Activities include raising the national flag, singing patriotic songs and trying military cuisine, according to Kangtai Travel of Hainan.

“But the tour does not include interactions with army officers, and tourists will not land on the military-controlled islands,” Xiong said, adding that the tour is not available to foreign citizens or residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

“The cruises are suspended when military drills are held,” Xiong added.

“Tourists to Xisha are mostly made up of senior citizens, who have a special emotional attachment toward Xisha,” Luo said.

Since the 1970s, countries have illegally occupied some islands and reefs in the South China Sea, China’s foreign ministry said. They remember films on defending the South China Sea released in the 1970s.

Xiong also said Xisha tourism has attracted younger people because of the beautiful scenery.

Source: Global Times