Launch of Bitcoin futures sets scene for more gambling, but concerns still linger

Bitcoin action is now available without Bitcoins. CBOE Global Markets launched its futures on the crypto-currency late on Sunday. It opens fresh avenues for trading, but for now the new contracts have little utility beyond speculation.

The one-month future surged more than 20 percent from the open before trading below $18,000 on Monday morning – still a premium to the crypto-currency itself. Considering the price of Bitcoin has risen two-thirds this month alone, that seems fairly sedate. Volume was roughly $50 million, Breakingviews calculates, less than 0.5 percent of actual Bitcoin trading in the prior 24 hours, according to coinmarketcap.com.

Futures have real-world value, for example allowing producers or consumers of a commodity to insure themselves against price movements, or helping investors to hedge their positions. In the Bitcoin world, there are so-called miners with investments in processing power and hefty costs like electricity who could use the contracts this way, but that’s about it. And with Bitcoin soaring more than 15-fold in 2017 to well over $16,000 early on Monday, selling Bitcoin futures short is likely to be prohibitively expensive.

Most market players will be cautious until the contracts settle down. There are, though, other reasons for concern. Bitcoin futures aren’t perfect proxies for the real thing, partly because they will be settled in dollars not the crypto-currency, which trades at different dollar prices in different places. CBOE settlements, for example, will be based on Bitcoin’s value on the Gemini Exchange, established by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss of Facebook fame.

CME’s futures, launching next weekend, will settle at a reference price drawn from multiple exchanges. One opportunity could be arbitrage, exploiting the pricing discrepancies. But it will take time for any patterns to emerge.

Proponents reckon the entry of two big, regulated US exchanges bolsters the legitimacy of Bitcoin. It certainly broadens the universe of possible investors, and it invites the creation of new exchange-traded funds, which need a liquid benchmark to track. That would bring Bitcoin exposure to retail investors. Yet the Futures Industry Association, which represents clearing houses and big banks, is apprehensive about the light regulatory scrutiny so far. And making the contracts cash-settled means the exchanges – and their customers – can now ride the Bitcoin bandwagon without touching the crypto-currency at all.

Source: Global Times

 

Innovative rest stop on China’s expressway goes viral

Recently, a newly renovated rest stop on the Beijing-Taipei Expressway went viral, because of its comfortable environment and smart services.

The service area, located in Tai’an, Shandong province, triggered huge discussion across the country. “It isn’t a rest stop, but a luxury mall,” a Chinese citizen named Su Yong joked after having a stop there.

Unlike traditional rest stops, which are built to meet basic demands of the passengers, the one in Tai’an is a mini-sized mall that is super clean.

Since it started trial operations a month ago, the number of people stopping there has increased. Per customer transaction surged to 27 from 20 RMB. In addition, the service station saw a drop in the frequency of uncivilized behaviors, such as spitting, littering, and indoor smoking.

The guidance system that shows the vacancies in the restroom.

Smart restrooms are a major highlight of the service station. It features a smart guidance system that shows the vacancies on a TV screen. It also has family rooms, nursing rooms, and all-gender restrooms in addition to traditional men’s/women’s restrooms.

The rest stop has a self-service supermarket made from containers. Apart from retailing, it can be turned into a vehicle that transports emergency supplies in the event of an emergency.

According to an employee surnamed Sun from Soooner, the company that turned the rest stop into an intelligent one, the station features various smart devices that can monitor traffic flow and realize traffic diversion based on actual conditions.

Chinese train maker successfully tests homemade rail transportation control chip

China Railway Rolling Corporation (CRRC)’s Dalian R&D Co. Ltd. confirmed that it has successfully developed and tested a control chip, making the country independent from foreign products, China National Radio reported.

The chip has proved capable of controlling trains during the test at a company lab. It will be used to power the country’s bullet train control systems in the future.

The chip meets the demand for higher speeds and smoother operation of high-speed trains, which current foreign technologies can hardly satisfy.

Chips play an important role in the control network of trains, said Chen Yufei, director of the company’s network technology department.

The domestic chip manufacturing industry, especially the intelligent manufacturing, has been growing rapidly with strong government support in the second half of the year.

The intelligent chip system “Xinyun,” developed by Shanghai-based Fudan University, helped the Long March 4C rocket to send the Fengyun-3D satellite into orbit in November.

China builds hydraulic engineering project in Nepal to help utilize local water resources

A local worker workers in the tunnel.

Effectively utilizing local water resources has long been a dream for Nepalese and now Chinese construction workers are helping them realize it by building a spectacular hydraulic engineering project.

The Babai River located in the Bardiyā, Surkhet, is one of Nepal’s most important water resources, and hailed as “the river of life” by locals. However, the seasonal changes in stream discharge are a headache for local residents: draughts in dry seasons and floods in rainy seasons.

Bheri River is another river in the region with 10 times the flow of the Babai. Diverting water from Bheri to Babai in dry seasons has always been a dream for local residents.

According to an official with Nepal’s Ministry of Irrigation, the country is currently trying to solve the issue with an inter-basin water transfer project called the Bheri-Babai Diversion Multipurpose Project.

The project, contracted by China Overseas Engineering Group (COVEC), started in June 2015, with a total value of $107 million and a construction period of 58 months.

The official said that the project is designed to divert the water through a 12.2-kilometer tunnel at a velocity of 40 cubic meters per second. The diverted water will be used to irrigate about 51,000 hectares of farmland.

Thanks to the 152-meter difference in water levels between the two rivers, a 48 MW hydraulic power plant will also be constructed.

For the first time in Nepal’s history, a tunnel boring machine is being used to excavate the tunnel through fragile rocks. Normally, it would take three months to drill 500 meters, but the Chinese company shortened the period by one month.

The official from Irrigation Ministry told People’s Daily that such engineering equipment would enjoy a broad application in mountainous countries like Nepal.

The project director of the Nepalese side, surnamed Cerf, said that Nepal, as an agricultural country, is highly dependent on water resources.

The country will enjoy an extra income of $29 million from irrigation and $42 million from power generation annually upon the completion of the project, he added.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to bring major changes to Pakistan: Pakistani scholar

Pakistani workers work at the Peshawar-Karachi highway, the largest infrastructure project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. (Xinhua photo)

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will bring major changes to Pakistan, said Muhammad Iqbal Chawla, Dean of Faculty of Arts & Humanities at the University of Punjab, Pakistan, on the 7th World Forum on China Studies held in Shanghai from Dec. 10 to 11.

Chawla said the corridor will not only improve local infrastructure, but also create abundant jobs. In addition, it will expand power supply and promote the development of local agriculture, industry, and services.

Security has been a major concern during the construction of the economic corridor. For instance, as a vital province along the CPEC, Baluchistan has long been suffering from separatism and extremism.

Chawla admitted the existence of unstable political and economic factors in the country, adding that external factors also pose a threat, because some countries in the Indian Ocean and Middle East worry that the economic corridor might infringe upon their interests.

However, he believes that solutions to security issues will be found after the completion of the corridor, since it will boost the local economy and create lots of jobs.

As a result, Pakistan will develop into a completely different country that is free from the threat of terrorism and extremism.

According to Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, more than 30,000 Chinese are working in the country. He said security issues threaten the whole region are not exclusive to Pakistan, adding that both governments are closely working together to tackle the problem.

In response to Western criticism on the CPEC, Yao said in an interview with Pakistani media that the project has no hidden agenda and there is nothing to hide.

He explained that the corridor is a bilateral project between Beijing and Islamabad that aims to benefit South Asia and whole world.

Chawla noted at a forum roundtable on Monday that some neighboring countries of Pakistan have been fanning that China will colonize the country, but he believes that China’s investment will not only benefit Pakistan, but also the whole region.

“I believe the whole region would be glad to see India and the US not interfering with our internal affairs and making troubles for the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” Chawla told ThePaper.cn.

China’s R&D investment hits historical high in 2016: statistics authority

China has hit a historical high in research and development (R&D) investment over the last year, with a total amount of 1.57 trillion RMB, said a statement recently issued by the country’s statistics authority.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the figure was up 10.6% compared with that a year ago, growing 1.7% faster.

China’s innovation index of 2016 stood at 181.2, increasing 5.7% year on year. And the transaction volume of the technology market has exceeded 1 trillion RMB for the first time.

Guan Xiaojing, a senior NBS statistician, said that it is the first pickup in the R&D investment growth since 2012, and also the first double-digit growth since 2014.

China has been enhancing R&D investment in recent years and gradually narrowing its gap with developed countries.

In addition, the country has seen an optimized structure of its R&D investment. According to research, 5.2% of the total investment went to fundamental research, the highest in the past decade. Investment in high-tech manufacturing has also increased by 11% to 291.57 billion RMB, 1.4% higher than that in the general manufacturing sector.

The increased R&D investment is partly a result of optimized government guidance and the policy environment. In 2016, the country spent 776.1 billion RMB on technology development, growing 10.8% year on year, the highest in the past four years.

World’s biggest floating solar power plant comes into use in China

The floating solar power plant in the city of Huainan in Anhui province.

The world’s largest floating photovoltaic power station has been put into use in eastern China’s Anhui province on Dec. 10, thepaper.cn reported.

The innovative project was constructed by China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) with a total investment of 1 billion RMB. Built on unused water in a mining area, the power station has an installed capacity of 150 MW.

This project commenced in July 2017 and is expected to be fully connected to the national grid in May 2018. By then, a total of 150 million kWh of clean electricity will be generated each year. The project will help cut 53,000 tons of coal consumption and 199,500 tons of carbon dioxide emission annually.

Compared with traditional solar power plants on land, the floating station will help save land resources, reduce water evaporation, and prevent algae from growing. In addition, the water is also able to cool down the cables and modules, thus improving efficiency.

However, present land systems are not compatible with floating ones. China is now focused on establishing a practical system for the maintenance of the new solar power plant.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor to bring major changes to Pakistan: Pakistani scholar

Pakistani workers work at the Peshawar-Karachi highway, the largest infrastructure project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. (Xinhua photo)

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will bring major changes to Pakistan, said Muhammad Iqbal Chawla, Dean of Faculty of Arts & Humanities at the University of Punjab, Pakistan, on the 7th World Forum on China Studies held in Shanghai from Dec. 10 to 11.

Chawla said the corridor will not only improve local infrastructure, but also create abundant jobs. In addition, it will expand power supply and promote the development of local agriculture, industry, and services.

Security has been a major concern during the construction of the economic corridor. For instance, as a vital province along the CPEC, Baluchistan has long been suffering from separatism and extremism.

Chawla admitted the existence of unstable political and economic factors in the country, adding that external factors also pose a threat, because some countries in the Indian Ocean and Middle East worry that the economic corridor might infringe upon their interests.

However, he believes that solutions to security issues will be found after the completion of the corridor, since it will boost the local economy and create lots of jobs.

As a result, Pakistan will develop into a completely different country that is free from the threat of terrorism and extremism.

According to Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing, more than 30,000 Chinese are working in the country. He said security issues threaten the whole region are not exclusive to Pakistan, adding that both governments are closely working together to tackle the problem.

In response to Western criticism on the CPEC, Yao said in an interview with Pakistani media that the project has no hidden agenda and there is nothing to hide.

He explained that the corridor is a bilateral project between Beijing and Islamabad that aims to benefit South Asia and whole world.

Chawla noted at a forum roundtable on Monday that some neighboring countries of Pakistan have been fanning that China will colonize the country, but he believes that China’s investment will not only benefit Pakistan, but also the whole region.

“I believe the whole region would be glad to see India and the US not interfering with our internal affairs and making troubles for the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” Chawla told ThePaper.cn.

TCM doctor from Mali promotes health care development in rural China for 17 years

A traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) doctor from Mali has been practicing medicine in rural China for 17 years, Chinese newspaper Guangzhou Daily reported. According to the newspaper, the man surnamed Diarra has trained more than 5,000 village doctors in southwest China.

“To save people is the responsibility of every doctor, and it has nothing to do with nationality, ethnicity, or status,” Diarra said, adding that doctors should go to the places where people need them.

The 53-year-old doctor works as a TCM specialist at a hospital in Chengdu, Sichuan province, and he also uses half of his time doing public service in Yunnan.

Born in a family of medicine tradition, Diarra came to China for study in 1984 after graduating from a medical college in his motherland.

Hoping to learn stuff with Chinese characteristics, Diarra chose TCM as his major, saying it is a broad and profound discipline with unique charm.

After learning Chinese in Beijing for one and a half years, Diarra entered Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine for systematic study. He spent almost all of his time on the study of Chinese culture, in a bid to have a better understanding of TCM.

Diarra became the first foreigner in China to acquire doctoral degree of TCM in 1994 and the first foreign post-doctor of TCM in 2015.

Apart from being a qualified student, Diarra has made his own contribution to the promotion of rural medical services.

In 2001, he visited Yunnan’s Honghe prefecture as a volunteer, a place in extreme lack of medical resources. It was this experience that inspired him to push for the development of rural medical care in China.

Over the past 17 years, Diarra has visited numerous villages and trained more than 5,000 village doctors. To improve his public services, he has settled down in Yunnan. Under his effort, 90% of the six poverty-stricken counties in Honghe prefecture now have their own doctors.

According to Diarra, he will try to promote TCM in Africa. He plans to establish a comprehensive medical center that integrates research, education, and medical services, together with local TCM doctors.

AIIB approves $250 million loan for natural gas pipelines project in Beijing

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Dec. 11 announced the approval of a $250-million loan for a natural gas pipelines project in Beijing, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The project will serve 216,750 households in 510 villages. As the first investment by AIIB in China, it is estimated to reduce Beijing’s coal consumption by 650,000 tons.

In addition, it will cut emissions of carbon dioxide, particulate matters, sulfur dioxide, and nitric oxide by 595,700 tons, 3,700 tons, 1,488 tons, and 4,442 tons, respectively. The project is expected to be finished in 2021.

According to AIIB President Jin Liqun, the bank is committed to helping its members achieve their environment and development goals, especially those promised in the Paris Agreement.

“It is only fitting that our first investment in China will introduce sustainable infrastructure that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help invigorate one of the most important economic hubs in Asia,” Jin said.