Refined digital mapping employed to preserve Potala Palace

(CNS/Li Lin)

The use of refined digital mapping to protect Potala Palace was recently exhibited at the Heritage Preservation International-Shanghai 2017, China News reported on August 17.

Potala Palace management said the mapping project was launched in June 2016 and it is about to be completed in three months. They stressed the urgency of the project to protect cultural heritage, given that the palace is built on a mountain with a complicated structure. So far, 90 percent of the project has been completed.

Many advanced technologies, including three-dimensional laser scanning and UAV aerial photography, were used to collect precise information on the architectural complex and surrounding areas. The information will help in monitoring and controlling the palace’s networks, the Beijing Digsur Science and Technology Company Ltd in charge of the project, disclosed.

Potala Palace, built 1,300 years ago in Lhasa, capital of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, is one of the world cultural heritage sites in the region.

Chinese institute granted International Seabed Authority observer status


The first ever Chinese institute has been granted observer status with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a move analysts say will help safeguard the country’s deep sea interests, Science and Technology Daily reported on August 18.

ISA granted the status to the Centre for Polar and Deep Ocean Development, Shanghai Jiao Tong University of China at its 23rd session in Kingston from August 8-18, 2017.

The center, established in 2013, is a key unit in drafting China’s law on exploration and exploitation of deep seabed resources.

ISA was established in 1994 as an autonomous international organization through which state parties organize and control activities and administer resources of international seabed areas. ISA observers play a key part in formulating deep sea rules.

Seafood ban on North Korea hits China’s border town

The recent Chinese ban on North Korean seafood imports has had a severe impact on the seafood business in Donggang, a Chinese border port city with North Korea.

Donggang, which is administered by Dandong, northeastern China’s Liaoning Province, serves as a national hub for the seafood trade between China and North Korea, with Chinese merchants sailing to North Korean waters to source products, especially during China’s summer fishing ban.

During the ban, which usually starts from June 1, but began on May 1 this year, until September 1, China relied heavily on seafood from North Korea.

For example, about 80 percent of the swimming crabs in China are from waters east of North Korea, according to a local seafood merchant named Zhao on Monday.

The price of North Korean swimming crab, which was 10 to 30 yuan ($4.5) every 500 grams, has skyrocketed to 100 yuan every 500 grams, as the legal supply is virtually nil, Zhao added.

On August 14, China’s Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs jointly released a notice declaring that China would impose an import ban on coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood from North Korea as stated in UN Resolution 2371 unanimously adopted by the UN Security Council on August 5.

The new rule took effect at midnight of August 15, leaving no grace period for the merchants, which caused losses in the hundreds of millions of yuan for seafood merchants of border cities, including those from Hunchun of Northeast Jilin Province and Donggang.

“We never expected it to be implemented that soon, at least not before September, so we placed even bigger import orders in August in a bid to reduce the losses. However, it turned out to work against us,” Zhao explained.

Chinese companies have to pay for almost everything, including the fishing and food processing facilities as a condition to conduct trade with North Koreans, and the North Korea will never give their money back, whether the business is thriving or not, according to a number of seafood vendors the Global Times reporter spoke to on Monday.

Under the seafood import ban, Chinese merchants are forbidden from getting their supply from North Korea, having made no revenue since a week ago, and also have to shoulder the expenses of the ships and crew members who are grounded, said Zhang, who invested several thousands of US dollars for his seafood supply from North Korea.

Zhang said he has kept almost all of his ships, which used to carry seafood back and forth daily, docked in the Dataizi port of Donggang for six days due to the ban.

“As part of our strategy, we still have a few ships out there in the sea, hoping tensions on the Korean Peninsula would calm down and the ban would be eased, but it seems impossible anytime soon,” Zhang added.

Zhao said he predicts Donggang investors beyond the seafood business will also suffer from the seafood ban, since seafood products used to serve as a “hard currency” alternative to make up for the losses of Chinese companies engaged in the coal business from previous UN sanctions.

Few stores at the Donggang Yellow Sea Seafood Products Wholesale Market, the biggest local such market that dispachees goods to across the country, remained operating on Monday. Photo: Deng Xiaoci/GT

No clearance

When asked how strict the ban is, Xu, one of the biggest seafood business operators in Donggang, told the Global Times that custom authorities do not provide services for clearance of these imports.

“And if they find a cargo of smuggled goods worth more than 200,000 yuan, the business owner would be jailed, and each of our foreign trade boats can easily carry products worth more than a million yuan. The jail term would rise depending on the amount involved,” Xu added. UN Resolution 2371 is expected to reduce North Korean revenue by approximately $1 billion, the UN website said.

According to an anonymous insider, the seafood export business used to account for about one-third of North Korea’s foreign currency earnings.

Source: Global Times

Bullet trains remain safe, reliable after speed increase: industry insiders

China’s latest generation bullet train, the Fuxing, will run on the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway starting from Sept. 21 at 350 km/h, China Railway Corporation (CRC) announced on Aug. 20.

The high-speed railway connecting Beijing and Shanghai is built to the world’s highest standards, while the Fuxing is designed to run at a top speed of 350 km/h safely, reliably, and comfortably, said Lu Dongfu, general manager of CRC.

In 6 years of operation, the Beijing-Shanghai high-speed railway has carried over 630 million passengers. Currently, an average of 400-plus trains run on the rail each day.

The speed increase will better meet transportation demand by cutting travel time between the two cities by half an hour from five to four and a half hours, said an official with CRC. The speed increase is also expected to boost efficiency for enterprises.

The Fuxing was designed and manufactured in China. The new bullet train model of China’s Electric Multiple Units (EMU) has completed 600,000 kilometers of tests before it was approved to run on the Beijing-Guangzhou and Beijing-Shanghai railways in February 2017.

China has the largest high-speed rail network in the world, with a total track length of 22,000 kilometers and one third of that distance was designed and constructed for bullet trains with a top speed of 350 km/h, said He Huawu of the China Academy of Engineering.

He said there is a process for China to consider whether to speed up its whole high-speed network, though such a move could pose a challenge to railway management, noting that financial and social aspects must be considered.

The Fuxing, for example, would see energy consumption increase 20 to 30 percent if the train increased its speed from 300 km/h to 350 km/h. But whether other railways are suitable for the speed increase depends on infrastructure, demand, and economic factors, He said.

Chinese man regains sight after pig cornea transplant

A 27-year-old man from central China’s Hubei province has regained sight after a pig cornea transplant. His visual acuity has picked up to 0.3 after the surgery, but it still needs observation in case there is rejection.

The man, Zhang Hua, was almost blind in his right eye before the surgery because of necrotic stromal keratitis. After discussions, the Third Xiangya Hospital of Central South University decided to carry out a pig cornea transplant on him.

According to Tang Renhong, director of the hospital’s cornea transplant center, pig cornea was the only choice for Zhang since cornea donations are in short supply in the country.

“The surgery was not carried out by merely transplanting a pig cornea on the patient,” said a doctor of the hospital surnamed Cao. He explained that they also transplanted a specifically processed structure on Zhang for a new corneal tissue to form.

Tang noted that it was not the first time the hospital carried out the surgery, adding that the process is similar to human cornea transplant.

According to him, about 90 per cent of surgeries have been successful. However, rejection might happen after transplant, and so anti-rejection measures must be taken.

Tang disclosed that pig corneas match those of humans the most amongst all animals, but they still need thorough checks and verifications before use.

Many foreign teachers in China don’t have teaching certificates: industry insiders

A new market for preschool English instruction is emerging in China and showing great growth potential, but many foreign teachers recruited by the training schools are unqualified.

Guo Xiaolin, a young girl less than three years old in Beijing, signed up for two English classes per week, with one of the classes lasting eight hours. The girl’s mother said she wants to foster her interest in learning English at an early age.

About 70 percent of Chinese children start to learn English before age five, according to a report about English learning among Chinese youths.

More and more Chinese parents, like Guo’s mother, are looking for ways to give their kids a head start in school.

However, a major problem for training schools is that many of their foreign teachers are not qualified. They are not certified in an internationally recognized English teaching and testing program, but still get jobs due to the sheer demand for native-English speakers.

An industry insider who preferred not to disclose his name said many foreign teachers at English training schools are not professional teachers. Many of them came to China to travel and then decided to stay as a part-time teacher.

The phenomenon results in high turnover rates for foreign teachers and influences the quality of the education. “It’s not rare to see students attend a class and one or two months later discover their teacher is gone and another foreigner has taken over the job,” an insider pointed out.

Bai Chen, a middle-level manager at a training school in Beijing, said over 20 foreign teachers he had worked with applied for the job merely to get a competitive salary. “Their resumes showed they were experienced, but it turned out they weren’t when asked to give a class,” Bai said.

“The fact is that some foreign teachers are not well-educated and a lot of them didn’t receive higher education in their home countries. Under such circumstances, it’s hard to imagine how well they could teach the students,” Bai added.

Another person in charge of teaching at a training school in Beijing expressed similar concerns. He said some foreign teachers speak with strong accents and some lack teaching skills.

The person suggests that Chinese parents become less obsessed with foreign teachers and focus more on the learning abilities of their children. Some foreign teachers have high teaching skills, because they have passed rigorous hiring standards and attained teaching certificates, he also admitted.

Smart! Pet duck can clean its own face

It’s common for people to keep dogs and cats, but pet ducks are rarely seen. A couple in Harbin, northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province was seen walking their pet duck at the city square on August 15. The scene attracted a number of passers-by.

According to the 70-year-old man surnamed Shan, the duck is named Yaya. It seems the smart bird understands his instructions. When Shan said “hug”, it stopped walking and waited for him. It was even more amazing that the duck dipped its head into water when Shan told it to clean its face.

Shan explained that the duck was bought 9 years ago by his grandson and they have since kept it as companion. Most of the time it remains in the cage at home. It is a “vegetarian” that eats whatever Shan and his wife offer.

The couple used to travel to warmer southern China in winter, but they have stayed home for most of the last 9 years because of Yaya. Every time they take a walk with the duck, many people gather to greet them. As a result, they have made many friends because of the bird.

“Yaya has brought joy not only to us, but also to people who see it; and that makes us happy,” Shan said.

Postpartum care centers emerge after two-child policy

Postpartum care centers, an emerging industry in China, are now experiencing rapid expansion thanks to the country’s comprehensive implementation of the universal two-child policy as well as a the current baby boom among couples born during 1980s and 1990s.

The services of these postpartum care centers are generally divided into two – one for mothers and the other for babies. Prices normally range from approximately 20,000 to hundreds of thousands of RMB. However, the big price gap does not suggest a sharp difference in service content.

These postpartum care centers, though charging high prices, are still in great demand in many Chinese cities. However, as an emerging industry, they have not yet been systematically regulated and monitored by the authorities.

A large proportion of postpartum care centers are registered as household management companies, an investigation by found. But the operations of business places where food and accommodation are provided for puerperae do not obviously fall into the category of household management.

An insider said related departments should establish monitoring systems for the industry.

“As an emerging market, it has bright prospects,” said obstetrician, Liu Yanpin, from a hospital in Dongguan, southern China’s Guangdong province. But she added that related departments must enhance supervision of the industry, especially fire safety and sanitation.

Many postpartum care center owners have been bragging about their medical background, food served, postnatal recovery or baby care services. A postpartum care center in Shenzhen claimed all of its employees once worked in medical institutions. “Our staff have all been certificated as nurses,” it said.

However, Shenzhen Municipality Health and Family Planning Commission responded by stating that postpartum care centers are not medical establishments, and are not under the commission’s supervision.

According to a postpartum care center in Zhuhai, the emergence of the industry in fact originated from social demand. With the implementation of the two-child policy, many couples have decided to have a second child.

Now supply on the market is falling short of demand, and over 60 percent of customers are planning to have their second child. Some customers have to make appointment at least half a year in advance of their due date of delivery.

China should prepare counteractions against US 301 investigation: expert

China should prepare counter actions against the U.S. initiation of “Section 301” investigation, said a Chinese expert. The country could also resort to WTO dispute settlement mechanisms, since the section is still subject to the law, the expert added.

On Aug. 18 local time, the U.S. officially started an investigation of China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, seeking to determine whether acts, policies, and practices of China related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce.

It is the first time for the U.S. to announce such investigation against China on its intellectual property practices, and also the first time for U.S. President Donald Trump to officially adopt a tough trade policy against China.

The investigation could negatively impact Chinese technology industries, such as those involved in communication equipment and integrated circuits. Experts believe that the rarely used Section is nothing but the first shot of a trade war meant to increase America’s bargaining power in future economic and political negotiations.

According to Yang Chen, senior partner of the Beijing-based law firm JT&N, the investigation is unlikely to see any immediate results. The investigation will take up to a year and involve negotiations with Beijing and public hearings.

“There won’t be a big impact on Chinese enterprises during the investigation phase, since the investigation focuses more on China’s macro policies and intellectual property laws,” Yang said, adding that the future influence is hard to tell, because the U.S. government has not yet taken clear action.

To reach agreement through negotiations or imposing sanctions on China are two possible outcomes of the investigation, said Liang Guoyong, Economic Affairs Officer at the Investment and Enterprise Division of the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

He said the sanctions might be implemented under the framework of WTO rules, so the investigation is indeed a competition between the two countries under the WTO dispute settlement mechanism.

It is noteworthy that the investigation, nominally carried out to probe China’s intellectual property practices, does not focus too much on the protection of intellectual property rights. Instead, it focuses on technology transfer, unfair restriction of imports, and the theft of U.S. business secrets.

In Yang’s opinion, the main objective is to protect American business secrets for national security reasons and to prevent China from gaining technology dominance.

Many Chinese experts have urged the Chinese government to respond to the investigation. In addition, China should rely on the WTO dispute settlement mechanism to seek an appropriate solution under the multilateral framework if the U.S. side imposes sanctions that violate WTO rules.