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The top eight things you should do in China in 2018

A bowl of luosifen Photo: VCG

Tourists walk on the glass skywalk in Hunan. Photo: VCG

A panda plays in the snow. Photo: IC

China is a huge country with an extremely long history, as such it can be difficult to decide what to do or where to go. Below is a list of the top eight not-to-be-missed activities you should take part in if you visit, or are already in, China.

Panda snow fight in Chengdu, Sichuan Province

What is more interesting than having a snowball fight with your friends? Watching pandas play around in the snow!

When an unexpected snowfall hit Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, at the beginning of 2018, no one was more surprised than the local resident pandas. Living in the southern part of China where the temperature is usually warmer, pandas usually don’t have the chance to see snow. So when this recent snow hit the region, the animals had a great time rolling in snow covered fields. Their charmingly naive behavior has attracted numerous visitors to the Chengdu Giant Panda Research Base and some of their funny actions have even become memes online. Who knows how long it will be before the snow melts, so you might want to book your trip as soon as possible.

Location: 1375 Panda Road, Northern Suburb, Chengdu, Sichuan

Explore the newly opened Qixiang Gate area at the Forbidden City

On January 1, the Palace Museum opened up the Qixiang Gate in the Forbidden City. This move opened up several areas of the imperial palace that had never before been seen by the public. This year will also be a good time to visit the Palace Museum because the regular exhibitions at the Treasure Hall and Clock Museum are going to be changed up for the first time ever, meaning some new exciting objects are sure to be put on display.

After a day-trip in the imperial palace, we recommend taking home a Chinese fu (fortune) character from the shop, it just might bring you good luck!

Location: Palace Museum, Beijing

Enjoy the Tibetan ‘Epic of King Gesar’ in Gansu Province

Many travelers enjoy heading to Tibetan regions in China to take in these areas’ unique scenery and sacred religious culture. If you want to learn more about Tibetan culture, then the Epic of King Gesar is a performance you shouldn’t miss.

One of the three famous epics in China, the Epic of King Gesar was listed as a World Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2009. A story passed down through the ages, it was adapted into live performances that can be seen in many theaters throughout the province.

Test the limits of your courage on Hunan’s glass skywalk

Want to see how brave you and your friends are? Then you should head to Hunan Province’s Shiniuzhai National Geological Park for a walk on its unique transparent skywalk! Traveling across this special skywalk made of glass, you can get a great aerial view of the valley 180 meters below.

The sound of your heart beating in your ears as the wind rushes past is sure to become an exciting memory as you inch your way along the transparent glass walkway.

Shiniuzhai is not only famous for its walkway, but also because it was an important historical military position.

Old Shanghai atmosphere at the Lane Museum

Viewed mainly as a modern city, Shanghai attracts a lot of foreign visitors for its cosmopolitan culture, but what makes the city attractive is far more than that. This is where the spirit of Old Shanghai and its numerous traditional alleyways come in.

Recently, a museum dedicated to the history of these alleyways opened to the public. If you truly want to understand all facets of Shanghai, this is a great place to start.

Location: Xiwang Garden Lane Museum, 68 Fengxian Road, Jing’an district, Shanghai

Ice fishing in Inner Mongolia

Every winter, Hulun Buir in North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, holds the Ice Fishing Festival. During this special time, the men of the Daur ethnic minority group dress in traditional clothing and compete in a fishing competition.

Accompanied by the beat of drums, participants gather around holes cut into the frozen river and use harpoons to catch fish as they are cheered on by the singing and dancing of beautiful Daur women.

Location: Inner Mongolia Morin Dawa Daur Autonomous Banner

A foodie’s search for flavor in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region

Tired of walking around with an empty stomach? Why not treat yourself to a wonderful local treat in Guangxi Province known as luosifen (Snail Rice Noodles)! The smell of this dish might be a little unappealing to some people, but its taste is guaranteed to not let you down. The dish mixes specially-made rice noodles that originated from the Dai ethnic minority, local snails and a soup made from sour bamboo shoots, agaric, peanuts, and other sauces. Both sour and spicy, luosifen impresses visitors with its unforgettable flavor.

If you want to learn more about the dish, you can head to the Luosifen Museum in Liuzhou, which aims to introduce the beauty of this food to the world.

Location: Luosifen Museum, 9 Putaoshan Road, Yufeng district, Liuzhou, Guangxi

Enjoy the scenery from Hunan to Yunan by High Speed Rail

Last but not least, traveling by the high-speed train is definitely something you don’t want to miss! Starting from Hunan and heading all the way to Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, you can enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes China has to offer. This line is famous because it passes through numerous beautiful tourist sites. Don’t forget to capture the memories from this trip with your camera!

Location: Changshanan Railway Station, Changsha, Hunan

Source: Global Times


Alipay says it will respect more ways to pay after Jack Ma seen using bank card

Alibaba’s third-party online payment service platform, Alipay, released an emergency statement on its Weibo account on Thursday, saying that everyone, including its staff, can pay how they want and their choice should be respected.

The announcement came after Alibaba’s Chairman Jack Ma was seen paying for his bill with a bank card instead of Alipay at a bar in southwest China’s Chongqing, Jan. 10.

“Doesn’t Alipay want to help build a cashless society?” Weibo users joked. However, Alipay said it has never wanted to put an end to cash, adding that new forms of payment don’t make older ones obsolete.

Jack Ma reportedly showed up at a little-known bar Wednesday evening. However, he was soon recognized and left after about an hour.

Chinese children’s hospital unveils fun way to transport young patients to operating room

A children’s hospital in central China’s Hunan province has unveiled a new way to transport young patients to the operating room: remote-control toy cars.

The mini cars, unveiled at Hunan Children’s Hospital, allow young patients to “drive” themselves to the operating room. The idea behind it is to make the children more relaxed before surgery.

The novel approach has benefited more than 100 young patients aged between one and six.

Three rice scientists honored for boosting nation’s agricultural development

Three projects on rice are winners of the State Natural Science Award for 2017, a testimony to the nation’s growing research capabilities in fundamental science, Xinhua reported on Jan 10.

They include Yuan Longping’s hybrid rice innovation team, bioengineer Li Jiayang’s team, which discovered the molecular mechanism that decides the quality and yield of rice, and frigid rice breeding by Pan Guojun with the Rice Research Institute of Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences in northeastern China.

China is committed to feeding 20 percent of the world’s total population with less than 8 percent of the global arable land. Therefore, food security always guides the country’s agricultural development.

Last year was a big year for Yuan Longping and his team. The maximum yield of sea rice on saline-alkaline soil developed by the team has reached 620.95 kilograms per mu (0.07 hectares), a historic high.

In October 2017, super hybrid rice, known as Xiangliangyou 900, achieved an average yield of 1,149.02 kilograms of rice per mu of farmland, setting a new world record.

Last year, Yuan’s team launched 31 super hybrid rice test fields in 13 provinces and cities.

Now, China is planting 240 million mu of hybrid rice per year, 57 percent of the total coverage of rice fields. The annual yield of hybrid rice is increasing by 2.5 million tons per year, which could feed 70 million people per year.

Li Jiayang’s discovery has allowed scientists to create an ideal rice crop that is nutritious and tasty and produces a high yield. The new discovery has spurred a new agricultural revolution.

“The new discovery has made China one of the world leaders in agricultural biology research. Just like assembling a computer, scientists could combine related genes to create better rice,” Li explained.

Frigid rice breeding has long been dominated by Japan, and Pan’s team, which created high-quality frigid rice with higher yields, has greatly promoted development in this area.

The report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China stated clearly that China’s food security must be ensured, so that the people always have control over their own food supply.

By constantly innovating technologies, these Chinese scientists are making real efforts to protect food security.

Story of an expert who boosts population of red-crowned cranes from 5 to 131

Zhao Shiwei and his colleagues are raising 131 red-crowned cranes at a breeding center in Panjin City of northeast China’s Liaoning Province. The number accounts for 1/5 of the country’s total population of wild red-crowned cranes.

Zhao, who is in his 40s, has been feeding the cranes a bucket of fish for 24 years.

“They are just like us, thinking only about eating when they were young, about having fun when they are older, and about finding a mate when they are fully grown up,” Zhao said, adding that after years of observation he knows the cranes very well.

When Zhao graduated as an animal husbandry and veterinary student in 1993, Zhaoquanhe Wildlife Reserve, where he got his first job, was home to only five red-crowned cranes. That number was inadequate for natural breeding.

Zhao started to put more efforts on artificial breeding in 1996.

From then on, he moved to the incubation house to better look after the eggs so that they could hatch successfully. He waited for 30 days and nights till the first three chicks came out of their eggs. At that moment, Zhao burst into happy tears.

Now, the fertilization rate of the eggs is 80 percent and the survival rate remains above 90 percent. From 1996 to 2005, the crane population grew from five to more than 30.

But Zhao wanted to let more birds breed naturally.

After seeing some of his cranes fall in love with wild ones, Zhao started releasing the captive ones so that they could be together.

Some wild cranes decided to stay at Zhao’s base after finding that they had fell behind the group because they were too busy wooing their captive darlings.

From 2005 to 2015, the number of red-crowned cranes rose to 80. From 2015, Zhao started to train the cranes to survive in the wild. “I always kept away from them, because they would come to me once they knew I was nearby,” Zhao said.

“Releasing them into the wild is easy, but the point is to teach them how to survive. I will feel that my job is done when they learn how to survive in the wild,” he added.

Approaching 30 years with the cranes, Zhao expects that it will take another 5-10 years to see the results of his training. “When their population reaches 300, their release will prove more useful to boost the whole species,” Zhao is confident.

Red-crowned cranes are currently listed as an endangered species in China. The government has created multiple breeding programs to help keep these majestic birds from becoming extinct.

Chinese average life expectancy increases to 76.5 years

The average life expectancy for Chinese in China rose to 76.5 years in 2017, according to a news briefing of the National Health and Family Commission (NHFC) on Tuesday, reported.

Medical reform made periodical headway in 2017, including comprehensive reform of public hospitals, elimination of drug price markups, and direct settlement of trans-provincial medical expenses, said an official with the NHFC.

Currently, the country has 999,000 medical organizations and 11.2 million health workers, figures from the commission showed.

In 2017, more than 4.2 million patients from impoverished families have been aided. The proportion of health care expenses borne by individuals dropped from 34.3 percent to 28.8 percent.

Maternal mortality dropped to 19.9 per 100,000 persons; and infant mortality declined to 7.5 per 1,000, according to the NHFC.

In addition, the major health indicators for Chinese residents were generally higher than people in medium- and high-income countries in 2017.

In 2018, the commission will continue deepening medical reform, promoting a hierarchical medical treatment system, consolidating the result of cutting off the channel of making money through over-prescription, and further boosting the medical insurance system.

Family doctor services will be extended to more families. Meanwhile, traditional Chinese medicine education will be further promoted.

First Chinese team to row across Atlantic

Four Chinese girls have withstood Atlantic storms and large waves when they rowed across the ocean, an adventure of nearly 5,000 kilometers, or 3,100 miles, according to a news site based in southern China’s Guangzhou.

The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is the most difficult rowing event in the world, challenging one’s offshore physical limits.

Bad weather had made the four nervous. But thanks to timely guidance, they made it through. On Christmas Eve, they received words of blessing and encouragement from Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing and an official with the Li Ka Shing Foundation.

The Kung Fu Cha Cha team is the first Chinese team to row across the Atlantic by oar. They are competing with 24 teams.

The team departed from San Sebastian de La Gomera, Canary Islands, Spain, and will reach the Caribbean island of Antigua in North America.

In February 2017, after one-year of training at their university, the four girls took a challenge of rowing from Shantou, a coastal city in southeastern China, all the way to Hong Kong. The Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge is a continuation of their passion for adventure.

“Snow boy” receives nationwide aid

“Going to school isn’t hard. My classmates told me my hair was completely covered in snow and then I made a face at them,” said Wang Fuman, the boy who touched many hearts for trekking to school in freezing colder weather on Jan 8.

Wang’s father, Gangkui, a 28-year-old migrant worker, is the only wage earner in the family. He supports the family with a monthly income of over 2,000 yuan ($307).

The family also raises two pigs as an additional source of income. After school, Fuman is in charge of attending the pigs.

After the boy’s story went viral, the family received many calls from warmhearted people across the country, wanting to offer the poor family a hand.

The father didn’t refuse the help. “I gave them our address and my phone number. I really appreciate their help,” he said.

The boy, who is good at math, said when he grows up, he wants to become a policeman to catch bad guys, or a scientist.

The family will move into a new house built by the local government soon. They said the new one is much closer to the school.

Like Wang, many children in the rural areas of Zhaotong, Yunnan Province, are impoverished.

On Wednesday, local provincial authorities and a youth development fund launched a program to provide winter clothes to Wang and other children in the area. About 100,000 yuan (about $15,000) of charitable donations has been sent to Wang’s school and other nearby schools.

Each of the 81 students at Wang’s school received 500 yuan as winter heating allowance.

Wang became known by more people after a picture of him with his hair covered in ice after hour-long walk to classes in freezing temperatures was widely shared on social media.

Wang had walked 4.5 kilometers (about 2.8 miles) from his home to school when his teacher took that now famous photograph.

Longer-term plan needed to reach economic goals

While the Chinese economy grew at an annual rate of about 6.7 percent in recent years, its potential economic growth has been on the decline, falling by 0.1 to 0.2 percentage points annually.

From 2013 to 2015, the central government formulated several major economic strategies. Top leaders said in 2013 that the Chinese economy was undergoing a “triple transition.” In 2014, the economy was said to have entered a “new normal.” In 2015, supply-side structural reform was proposed.

However, with no fundamental changes seen in the pursuit of economic expansion, the debate over growth rates still had an impact on economic policies, as many still believed in boosting GDP through stimulus plans. This thinking explains why China’s leverage ratio has continued to rise since 2012.

The IMF and the Bank for International Settlements said in a 2013 study of financial crises that the credit-to-GDP ratio had exceeded its long-term trend by 10 percent in the three years preceding 50 percent of those crises and in the five years preceding 75 percent of these crises.

But China has exceeded the threshold since 2012, with its credit-to-GDP gap already above 20 percent. The international community has been concerned about economic developments in China and worried about a “Minsky Moment,” and that in turn has affected the confidence of some Chinese companies, especially private ones.

In 2013 and 2015, the Chinese economy saw problems such as liquidity crunches, stock market plunges and capital outflows. However, since 2016, the economy has resumed steady growth, accompanied by a continuously optimized structure, the moderate reduction of financial risks and a slightly lower leverage ratio. Several factors have contributed to these macroeconomic improvements.

First, supply-side structural reform has achieved results. Second, the proactive monetary and fiscal policies implemented since 2015 have provided support to investment. Third, export demand has picked up due to gradual recoveries in the US, EU, Japan and other economies amid stable global financial markets, rising commodity prices and recovering international trade.

While China’s economic performance has stabilized to a certain extent, such problems as overcapacity, real estate bubbles and expanding local government debts persist. So do problems related to shadow banking, internet finance and illegal fundraising. These problems have pushed up the macro leverage ratio in China, which could seriously affect the country’s financial stability and economic development.

In light of this situation, the central government took strict measures in four areas in 2017. Strict oversight was applied to the financial sector; strict curbs were put on the real estate sector; strict controls were adopted for local government debts; strict standards for environmental protection were executed.

As a result of these steps, investment in infrastructure and real estate is expected to have declined moderately in 2017.

Meanwhile, short-term liquidity may be somewhat volatile and financing costs may be relatively high. Also, tighter environmental controls may lead to increased production costs for manufacturers. In this sense, goods prices will rise in general, with the nominal GDP growing relatively fast and the leverage ratio basically stable.

Against this backdrop, there are three suggestions for China’s macro control policy in 2018. First, China should maintain its expansionary fiscal policy, particularly in regard to increasing special-purpose debt issues by local governments to maintain the necessary investment for infrastructure. Second, monetary policy should be neutral with a bias toward tightening. Third, the yuan’s exchange rate should be properly devalued in 2018, while authorities should tighten capital controls to strengthen the independence of China’s monetary policy.

As the economies of the US, EU and Japan recover and the US tightens monetary policy, China should use the opportunity to appropriately devalue its currency against the US dollar, the euro and the yen, with the aim of supporting exports and maintaining general economic stability to create conditions for domestic structural adjustment and deepening reform.

The biggest challenge facing China in the years to come is to stabilize its GDP growth at about 6.3 percent to create the foundation to achieve the goal of building a comprehensively prosperous society. The government should also guard against and address financial risks, putting the leverage ratio under control. It is also necessary to improve the quality and efficiency of economic growth.

To achieve a balance among the goals of stabilizing growth, preventing risks and improving quality, a three-year plan is needed that should include the liquidation and debt resolution of “zombie” companies, the disposal of implicit local government debts and the reform of financial institutions, financial supervision, capital injections and financial aid.

Source: Global Times

Food delivery by drone expected to become reality

Food delivery by drone is expected to become a reality in the foreseeable future, as the Beidou open laboratory in Chongqing has recently been set up to improve positioning accuracy of China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System, Chongqing Evening News reported.

The lab was unveiled at the Beidou IoT Global Launch Conference & IoT Innovation and Development Conference held in Shapingba District, Chongqing, on Jan. 8.

The director of the lab introduced that it will integrate Beidou’s communication and navigation technology with its ground-based augmentation system to improve positioning accuracy.

Food and parcel delivery is now technically possible, but more tests are needed before the service is widely promoted, the director said, adding that the world’s first IoT (Internet of Things) modules based on Beidou’s communication technology have been developed, accurate to the centimeter level.

In addition, the director noted that Beidou Aerospace Group also launched a map based on the Beidou system to provide users with accurate navigation and positioning services and life services. The map app is expected to be available for users in May 2018.

Compared with Gaode Maps and Baidu Maps, the Beidou-based map will provide positioning accuracy at the sub-meter level, and will be compatible with the GPS system to achieve indoor positioning and location-based services, said the director.