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A Close Look into China’s Engineering Feats

China-constructed infrastructures have been expanding in unprecedented speed in recent years and their quality and efficiency have earned worldwide respect.

Four of the country’s modern engineering endeavors, the Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze Road Bridge, Shanghai-Nantong Yangtze River Bridge, Yangshan Port project phase IV and Changxing Island Production Base of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd, all serve as foothold of how the country now leads in the field.

A delegation composed of influential users on social media platforms was recently invited by the News Center of State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) of the State Council, China Communications Construction Company Ltd.(CCCC) and to visit the four projects.

These examples of heavy-duty construction have amazed the world by displaying the vitality of Chinese workers and redefining the term “Made in China”.

Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze Road Bridge, awarded the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2010, is the bridge with the world’s longest span, highest pylons, longest stay cables and the largest group-pile foundation.

By outdoing themselves and achieving what was previously unheard of, Chinese constructors managed to stretch to a span of 1,088 meters the Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze Road Bridge, surpassing the previous 900 meters regarded as limit by international bridge experts.

While such an immense project does not get completed without its shortcomings and failures, such as small incidents which happened during the 2003-2008 period, builders finally placed 131 piles, with a length of 120 meters and diameter of 2.5 to 2.8 meters under the water. These piles are like chopsticks sticking into a tofu, but holding a giant pier base the size of a soccer field and height of a 6-storey building.

The piles are also of world-class quality. According to the constructor of the bridge Second Harbour Engineering Company of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), it would have meant nothing if one of the 131 piles failed to meet the quality standards. Ultimately, the pile foundation achieved zero-defect quality under the joint efforts of each constructor.

The construction of the pylons was another challenge. With a height of 300.4 meters, the piles have been divided into 68 sections for pouring. The perpendicularity error from the top to the bottom of the pylons was required to be of less than 10 centimeters. However, a 5-centimeter displacement could happen under wind and temperature differences between the two sides of the bridge. Finally, the constructors applied a new method, calculating the perpendicularity by over 200 prisms installed on the bridge, and finally kept the error margin within 1 centimeter.

“The Suzhou-Nantong Yangtze Road Bridge is a reflection of China’s construction marvels,” said Jiao Xianmo, an employee of Second Harbour Engineering Company of CCCC.

Next in line was the Shanghai-Nantong Yangtze River Bridge, whose steel consumption was equal to 68 Eiffel Towers or 12 Bird Nests.

Although the center span of the bridge is a dozen meters shorter than that of the Russky Island Bridge, the world’s longest cable-suspended bridge, the load capacity of the bridge is much larger since it is a road-rail bridge.

“The Shanghai-Nantong Yangtze River Bridge is a representative of quality, and we will show China’s ability to build such bridges to the world,” said Yang Zhide, project manager from the Second Harbour Engineering Company of CCCC.

The full length of the bridge is 11,072 meters, and its main span 1,092 meters. Consuming 480,000 tons of steel and 2.3 million cubic meters of concrete, the bridge is able to resist scale 14 typhoons, magnitude 8 earthquakes and the impacts of 100,000 DWT vessels.

Upon arriving at the phase-IV Yangshan Port, the delegation was taken aback by the giant machines working on the harbor. According to Liu Guanghong, chief designer of the project, the quayside container bridge crane is worth 100 million RMB, and the automated guided carrier vehicles surpass the price of Lamborghinis. Liu noted that ingenuity is what sets phase-IV apart from phase-III.

“Though it is still in the debugging process, the new project is expected to reduce manual labor by 70% and increase efficiency by 30%,” Liu said, adding also that 400 containers can be transported per hour.

It is estimated that the handling capacity of the Yangshan deepwater port has maintained a 20% annual growth, making Shanghai Port the world’s largest container port since 2010.

Changxing Island Production Base of Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries was the last site arranged for the delegation. The production base resembles an exhibition of cranes, and many foreign orders have been placed for the machines. A container bridge crane has more than 3,000 spare parts, all of them produced in China.

For 18 consecutive years, Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries has been the bidding champion on the global port machinery market. Its market share has increased to 82% in 2016 from the previous 70%. More than 2/3 of the orders come from overseas customers, and more than 90% of the ports in western countries are using Zhenhua machines.

The company’s executive director, Liu Qizhong, told Huanqiu that their technological innovation over the past years has catapulted them way ahead of competitors. He said every machine made by the company is customized for the clients, and more than 2,000 engineers are devoted to accomplishing perfection, a cost that many western companies simply are not willing to pay for.

Liu stressed that responsibility for the customers is the core of their success. He hopes his machines can one day be present on every port in the world.

Internet celebrities shared their experience on social media, and the hashtags #’A trip of wonders to China’s new state-owned enterprises’# and #’Contemporary miracles in China’# topped on microblogging website Sina Weibo, arousing heated discussion and high appreciation among netizens.

Thousands May Have Died Due to Bogus Statin Risks, Says Big Pharma Funded Study

Bogus claims about the risk of statins – the group of medicines that are said to fight cholesterol – may have resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, researchers have said, after a study found the drugs do not cause the claimed side effects that have deterred many from using them.

The research, conducted by a team of Imperial College London scientists on 10,000 subjects, found if individuals did not know what drugs they were given, they were no more likely than recipients of sugar pills to report symptoms such as muscle pain, sleep disturbance and cognitive impairment. When participants in the second trial phase were told the drugs were statins, rates of reported side effects shot up, with claimed muscle pain being 41 percent more common.

UK National Health Service guidance recommends using cholesterol-busting drugs for around 40 percent of adults, although research suggests more than half of statin patients abandon them within a year, due to side effects.

Patients unaware they’re taking statins report fewer side effects, study finds
— DoM Imperial College (@DoM_Imperial) May 3, 2017

“The enormous amount of publicity related to the side effects of these drugs could be dangerous. It’s a huge problem affecting tens if not hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide… once people know they are taking the drug, things that commonly occur on their own might be attributed to that drug,” the team said in a statement.

The researchers note statins induced a “nocebo effect” in subjects, the opposite phenomenon to the well-known placebo effect, wherein beneficial responses are felt by subjects who take “dummy” drugs as part of a trial.

By knowing what drug they were taking, subjects in the study “developed” side effects associated with the drug, which were not in fact related to the actual chemistry of the drug. This is not to say symptoms were purely psychological, or invented — patients can experience very real pain as a result of the nocebo effect, and the expectation the drug will cause harm.

The team said the mislabeling of statins as dangerous was a “tragedy” akin to the MMR scandal, which saw erroneous fears of vaccinations lead to a decline in childhood vaccinations against measles, mumps and rubella, and a corresponding spike in incidences of each disease thereafter. Fears of statin side effects may well have heightened the incidence of heart attacks and strokes, the team believe, and they call for the removal of warnings from the drug’s packaging in future.

Warnings were added in 2009 by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, following a series of observational studies that suggested such links. The researchers said the regulator did not make a “profound value judgement” based on available evidence, and should never have taken such action.

Nonetheless, the study did not conclude statins were without any side effects — the drugs does increase the risk of contracting diabetes by 9 percent, and its use may be connected to uncommon side effects such as myopathy, resulting in muscle weakness — although the benefit of reducing risk of heart attacks and strokes “overwhelms” the risk of side effects.

However, some expressed skepticism at the findings. London cardiologist Dr. Aseem Malhotra, who has previously argued against mass prescribing statins on the basis they have at best marginal benefits, noted the study was funded by drug company Pfizer, a producer of statins, implying the study was not independent.

@djsox13 @ProfTimNoakes @MarikaSboros @DrAseemMalhotra Crazy isn’t it. Sponsored by Pfizer but not influenced by them.
— Linda Hickey (@LindaHickey2012) May 3, 2017​

He said the misrepresentation of the benefits of statins would unfold to become “one of the biggest scandals in the history of medicine.”

The #BadPharma empire is strong but the truth is even stronger.. #transparency #statins #NHS
— Dr Aseem Malhotra (@DrAseemMalhotra) May 3, 2017

Some Twitter users defended his position.

Insulting to say people’s genuine concerns & symptoms are imaginary. Standard practice for #BigPharma! #FollowTheMoney. via @DrAseemMalhotra
— Nicky Kyle Gardening (@nickykylegarden) May 3, 2017

@djsox13 @DrAseemMalhotra @ProfTimNoakes @MarikaSboros Shill — @nntaleb “His trial was funded by drugs firm Pfizer which makes statins. Prof Sever said Pfizer had not influenced the study.”
— Joseph Mencigar (@jpmenc) May 3, 2017

(Source: sputniknews)

Remote Chongqing villagers build road on cliff to end isolation

Residents of the village of Shuangping in Chongqing municipality built a road on a 1,500-meter-high cliff, connecting their village with the outside world.

Before the construction of the road, villagers had to spend four hours climbing an 800-meter ladder hung on the cliff’s face if they wanted to enter or depart from Shuangping. The extremely dangerous journey caused many accidental deaths and property losses. A lack of traffic also impeded the village’s economic and trade development. Many of the villagers were barely able to support themselves.

In order to shake off the shackles of poverty, the villagers independently began raising money in 1997 to build a road on the cliff. After a year of hard work, a preliminary road was finally completed. Later, it was further developed using government funds and social capital in 2011.

The road has lifted hundreds of people out of extreme poverty since its installation. In addition, the road has become a tourist site in its own right thanks to its beautiful views.


Chinese amphibious aircraft AG600 completes first taxiing test

China’s domestically developed amphibious aircraft AG600 completed its first ground test on April 29 in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. Experts believe that the aircraft’s maiden flight is not far off.

During the test, the aircraft made a 180-degree turn on the runway, and its braking system was closely evaluated. In addition, the aircraft was tested on its ability to move in a straight line. All the systems were reported to be running properly.

The first ground test of the AG600 is not only a proud moment for the Chinese people, but also a noteworthy event around the world. Taiwan’s United Daily News said that the AG600 is the largest amphibious aircraft in the world. In addition to marine rescues and forest fire-fighting operations, the aircraft can also carry out marine monitoring and protection.

The plane has a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons, and is able to drop 12 tons of water in 20 seconds. It can fly over 4,000 kilometers without stopping.

A source told the Global Times that the first ground test was successful, and the plane’s first test flight is quickly approaching, though the latter milestone will be determined by the results of taxiing tests.

Meanwhile, according to information from the Shanghai Airport Authority, China-made jet airliner C919 has made the final preparations for its maiden flight, and is scheduled to perform a test takeoff in early May.

Responsible actions needed to ensure peace of Korean Peninsula: People’s Daily

Given the continued escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the past months, all concerned parties should implement the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council in a more strict manner and return to peaceful negotiations, the People’s Daily said in an editorial published on Sunday.

The commentary came after Friday’s ministerial meeting on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula hosted by the UN Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York.

The latest developments on the peninsula highlighted an imperative need for all parties to intensify their efforts to bring stakeholders to dialogue table, added the commentary published under the pen name Zhong Sheng, which is often used to express the paper’s views on foreign policy.

It is reasonable for the DPRK to pursue its own security, but its nuclear and missile ambitions have put itself and the whole region into dire peril, stressed the article titled “Responsible actions are needed to ensure peace of Korean Peninsula”.

The country has been immersed itself into a strong sense of insecurity given historic reasons and reality, the paper added.

The DPRK must not be obsessed in a wrong path of repeated nuclear tests and missile launches that resulted in rounds of sanctions, the commentary said, calling on the country to respect and comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions.

The article pointed out that the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the US also added fuel to the escalated tensions since the two allies, who have been maintaining a high-handed pressure on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, revealed a strategic intention to crush the DPRK.

It is almost impossible to ease the crisis on the peninsula if the ROK and the US continue their fantasy to settle the problem with more military actions but turn a blind eye to reasonable appeals of the DPRK, the paper stressed.

China is not a directly-concerned party of the peninsula crisis, and it does not hold the key to solving the nuclear issue on the peninsula, the commentary admitted.

But it emphasized that no matter what happens, China will never waiver in its clear-cut position regarding the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, which means it will stay committed to the goal of denuclearization as well as the path of dialogue and negotiation.

In the next step, the DPRK should refrain from further nuclear test or missile launches, the article urged, adding that the ROK and the US, for their part, also need to stop launching or expanding their military drills or deployment against the DPRK.

All stakeholders need to comprehensively understand and fully implement the DPRK-related resolutions adopted by the Security Council, the paper said. The international community needs to step up their anti-proliferation efforts against the DPRK action. Meanwhile, all parties also need to do more to persuade stakeholders back to peaceful dialogues, it added.

China will, with its utmost sincerity and efforts, safeguard the peace and stability of Northeast Asia and realize the goal to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula along with relevant parties, the paper vowed, stressing that though a peace lover, the country is fearless of any provocations or tests.

China has proposed the “dual-track approach” and “suspension for suspension” plan for peaceful settlement of the issue, in an attempt to help the parties break out of the security dilemma and return to the negotiating table.

The objective, reasonable and feasible proposals, according to the editorial, not only conform to the requirements of the UN resolutions, but also meet the fundamental interest of all parties including the US and the DPRK.

South Korea Gives Green Light to Samsung Self-Driving Car Highway Tests

In a first for South Korea, Samsung has received governmental permission to test its autonomous vehicles on public roadways.

South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure announced Monday that it had approved a request by the consumer electronics giant to test a self-driving car on Korean highways.

Equipped with several layers of “deep-learning” technology, “Samsung Electronics’ self-driving car is a renovated domestic vehicle that is equipped with diverse sensors including Lidar,” according to a Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure press release, cited by Korea JoongAng Daily.

The statement added that the Samsung-modified vehicle would use “artificial intelligence, or deep learning algorithms, [to] make inferences of its own about road situations and obstacles.”

The Samsung autonomous car program was initiated in 2015, primarily to develop replacement and add-on parts for electric vehicles. The company also creates infrastructure around the implementation of onboard vehicle infotainment resources and other online technologies, including GPS and roadside assistance services.

Samsung has stated that it does not intend to actually build and market an autonomous vehicle, focusing instead on system solutions and parts for cars to stay connected online.

“Samsung Electronics plans to develop algorithm, sensors and computer modules that will make a self-driving car that is reliable even in the worst weather conditions,” the company announced on Monday.

South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure has eased regulations in the country for self-driving cars recently. Autonomous cars without steering wheels or pedals are now allowed on roads and the number of people required inside test cars has been reduced from two to one.

(Source: sputniknews )

Computer Scientists Create Most Accurate Digital Human Face Models Yet

Many smartphone apps allow users to transform into animals, swap faces with other people, and much more. Now, such technological distractions look set to become even more dazzling, as Imperial College researchers have created the most advanced technique yet for building digitized 3D facial models – and it has a vast array of other potential uses.

When computers process faces, they typically rely on a 3D morphable model (3DMM), which represents an average face, but also contains information on common patterns of deviation from that average — such as length of face — and how they impact other facial features. Based on these common correlations, a computer then characterizes faces — not based on every point in a 3D scan, but by mere consideration of the basic ways in which an individual’s face deviates from the average.

However, to account for all the ways faces can vary, 3DMMs must integrate information on a large number of faces, which necessitates scanning lots of people and then labeling all their features. By definition, this is an extremely time consuming process, and consequently even the current best models are based on only a few hundred individuals, and have limited ability to model people of different ages and races — as FaceApp users found in April, 3DMMs often have a bias towards white people.

Now, a team of researchers at Imperial College London, led by computer scientist James Booth, have developed a new method, capable of automating 3DMM construction and incorporating a wider spectrum of humanity into its memory bank.

The method depends on three major steps — first an algorithm automatically landmarks facial scans, labeling the tip of the nose and other points, then another algorithm lines up all scans according to their landmarks and combines them into a model, and finally an algorithm identifies and removes any poor scans.

Booth and colleagues also applied their method to a set of almost 10,000 demographically diverse facial scans, conducted at London’s renowned Science Museum by plastic surgeons who endeavor to improve reconstructive surgery. Applying the algorithm to those scans created a “large scale facial model” (LSFM).

Paper The LSMM of The pdf
– 3DBrainz #VR #AR #AI (@ 3dbrainz) May 1, 2017

Tests demonstrated the team’s LSFM much more accurately represented faces when pitted against other applications. In one comparison, models of a child’s face were created using a photograph — every other popular morphable provision struggled to emulate a child’s looks, while the LSFM almost perfectly recreated them.

Booth’s application was also able to create specific morphable models for different races and ages, and to intuitively classify individuals into particular demographic groups. Booth’s team has already put the new model to work.

In another paper, the researchers document using 100,000 faces synthesized by the LSFM to transform 2-dimensional snapshots into accurate 3D models. This technology would be hugely beneficial for identification purposes, whether by law enforcement or other interested parties — for instance, creating a detailed picture of an individual based on photographs or CCTV footage. Alternatively, individuals in portraits and photographs could be effectively brought to 3D life.

The LSFM could even have medical applications, such as helping optimize the design of bespoke prosthetic organs, limbs and appendages. Moreover, as facial scans often assist in the diagnosis of particular diseases and syndromes, enhanced modeling could augment such tests. They could even assist in machine learning, allowing artificial intelligence applications to identify emotions via monitoring facial expressions and movements.

(Source: sputniknews)

China-Europe freight train brings UK-made products to China

The first freight train from the UK to China which filled with UK-made products will arrive in Yiwu, East China’s Zhejiang Province on Saturday, after finishing its 12,000-kilometer journey. Analysts said that the train has not only injected vitality into China’s trade with the UK and Europe, but also revealed the glimmer of the“Belt and Road” initiative.

The train, filled with 32 containers of products, left theLondon Gateway terminal of Dubai Ports World (DP World) on April 10. The London-Yiwu line recreates the ancient “Silk Road” trade route that once connected Europe to China.

“People came all the way to the gateway to witness the historic moment. The cold weather and strong wind did little to dampen the enthusiasm of the public,” Nelson, a security guard at the port, described the moment when the train set off from London.

He added that it was touching to see the crowds waving Chinese national flags and good luck banners.

In the two weeks since the train’s departure, many more customers showed interest in the train and consulted about the details, said Oliver Treneman, manager of the gateway’s logistics park.

Treneman said that thetrain has a significant meaning for them as a new way of transportation for manufacturers and retailers based in London.

It is faster than sea transportation and cheaper than air freight, he explained, adding that the freight train has offered a new approach for the transnational transportation of British commodities.

“We believe it’s just a start and there will be plenty such trains in the future. It trades British goods for firm hard currencies,” said an employee of the London gateway who hailed China as the country on which the UKhas placed high expectations after its exit from the EU.

The UK, as an island country surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, heavily relies on exports because of its limited domestic market. The country is expected to have to find new business chances post-Brexit, as the European market currently accounts for over half of British exports.

Against this backdrop, the UK political circle reached a consensus to seek benefits from China’s Belt and Road initiative.

“China-Europe freight trains are the best opportunity for the UK to strengthen its trade with its global partners especially after its exit of the EU,”the BBC said in a report.

“The UK’s commodities will reach out to the world along the ancient Silk Road,” said Greg Hands, UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment, adding that the freight train commuting between China and the UK will inspire and acceleratethe latter’s globalization process.

The Belt and Road initiative will bring Scotch whisky, a symbol of national pride, to the vast Chinese market, and as a result generate tangible benefits, said Shane, an employee with the Scotch Whisky Experience, a whisky visitor attraction based in the UK.

“You can image how exciting that will be,” he said, saying that many Chinese residentslike the liquor as well.

According to Shane, the Scotch Whisky Experience has made a plan to keep a 5 percent growth for whisky exports from now until 2020. He believes the plan will be realized under the assistance of the Belt and Road initiative.

When the outbound freight train that departed from Yiwu finally arrived at Barking Station in Londonin January, the BBC said that it was amazing for China to reopen the ancient Silk Road with modern technology.

Less than three months later, the fully loaded freight train departed London for Yiwu. It has been compared to an unusual Silk Road train by some British media outlets.

The Belt and Road initiative is a cure to the consequences of Brexit, and the country will enjoy development, an owner of a pharmacy located in Beak Street of downtown London, told the People’s Daily.

“The arrival of the first China-Europe freight train in London marked the reach of the Belt and Road route to the westernmost tip of Europe, and now it has returned,” remarked a British scholar in an interview with the People’s Daily.

The expertadded that the train has injected new energy into China-UK and China-Europe trade, and also reflects the great attraction of the Belt and Road initiative.

China’s newly developed cancer drug offers hope for domestic patients

A new cancer treatment drug has been developed by China, and recently began clinical trials, bringing enormous hope for cancer patients in China, reported on April 28.

Cancer has become the most common cause of death for Chinese people in recent years, and many people have lost their lives due to the high prices and inaccessibility of treatment.

According to China’s National Cancer Center, the number of new cancer cases reached 4.29 million in 2015, with a death toll of 2.81 million. Since 2006, China has been working to introduce a series of supportive policies for the research and development of new cancer drugs, which, being more economical and effective, are expected to replace the extremely expensive imported ones that are currently the only option for countless patients and families.

Innovent Biologics, a leading bio-pharmaceutical company in China, has developed the PD-1 monoclonal antibody-based drug, which has both proven effective in treating cancer and maintained a relatively low price point. The drug is currently undergoing clinical trials.

In 2015, Innovent Biologics also forged a comprehensive strategic cooperation with Eli Lilly and Company, an American drug company with more than 140 years of history in pharmaceutical production. This cooperative agreement indicates that China’s research and development of cancer drugs has earned recognition from U.S. industry experts.

“It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to use the drug in the U.S., which is unaffordable for most Chinese people. So we have to change it. The annual expense of the domestically developed drug is estimated not to surpass 100,000 RMB [$14,500],” noted Yu Dechao, chairman of the board of Innovent Biologics.

Entrepreneur builds ‘rural Disneyworld’ in Hubei, benefiting children from countryside

A man from Yingshan County, Hubei province has built an amusement park in his rural hometown, providing a unique experience to children in the nearby countryside who could otherwise see nothing like it.

The man, Yu Xing, previously worked in a Shenzhen factory beginning in 2007. His smooth career path elevated him to general manager in only five years. However, his salary was not proportional to his workload, and this problem motivated him to start his own business. He quit his job in 2012, and began looking for opportunities with several of his peers.

Yu soon found that there were many agricultural parks along the coastal areas; one county was home to 40 such parks. However, his own hometown lacked a real amusement park. Together with his fellow investors, he decided to build a park in their hometown of Yingshan.

After a year of operation, the group had made a small profit. However, Yu’s ambitions were much bigger. In addition to expanding the park’s influence, he began holding go-kart races as well as peacock exhibitions to attract more tourists. Currently, a total of 70 employees work in the park, some of who are also local farmers. Yu pays a great deal of attention to the training of his employees, as he hopes to improve their performances as much as possible.

“Though urban-dwellers may not understand the novelty of the park, its facilities are something that children from rural areas have never seen before,” Yu explained.

In addition to rural visitors, Yu is also planning to attract tourists from cities. He predicted that agricultural experiences such as rice-planting, fishing, fruit-picking and home-style cooking demos will gradually become available to guests in the future.

Yu hopes that everyone, no matter from the countryside or the city, can be relaxed and happy in his amusement park.