China builds world’s largest EV charging network with 167,000 stations

A total of 167,000 charging piles have now been connected to the telematics platform of the State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC), making it the world’s largest electric vehicle (EV) charging network.

By cooperating with 17 charging station operators, the SGCC now offers more than 1 million kilowatt-hours of power each day. In addition, users can complete their payment for the service within the system.

China has built the largest EV charging network in the world to date, with the highest number of facilities, the broadest coverage, and the most advanced technology.

Statistics show that SGCC has built 5,526 charging and battery swap stations and more than 40,000 charging piles since 2006, with a fast-charging motorway network that covers 121 cities in 16 provinces. The average distance between two stations is less than 50 kilometers.

SGCC plans to expand its own charging pile count to 120,000 by 2020, and the inter-city fast charging network will cover Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, all cities in the Yangtze River Delta, and 202 major cities in other regions.

According to SGCC Spokesperson Wang Yanfang, the company will reduce the maximum distance between charging stations to less than 5 kilometers in suburban areas, less than 3 kilometers in inner suburbs, and less than 1 kilometer in urban areas.

China protests full THAAD deployment

China lodged a strong protest with South Korea Thursday for installing the remaining launchers of the US anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which analysts say drives the Korean Peninsula closer to war.

The four remaining launchers and other elements of THAAD were transported Thursday morning to a former golf course amid clashes between anti-THAAD civilians and 8,000 riot policemen that injured 30.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang reiterated China’s firm opposition to the THAAD deployment on Thursday.

“I strongly urge the US and South Korea to value the security interests of China and other regional countries and immediately halt the deployment and remove the relevant equipment. China has lodged serious representations with South Korea,” he said.

South Korea’s defense ministry said the further deployment was aimed at dealing with rising nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

The deployment of the remaining elements indicated that THAAD is now in full operation, but it does nothing to protect South Korea because the system cannot intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and long-range missiles launched by North Korea, Li Jie, a Beijing-based military expert, told the Global Times.

The system only serves as the US’ comprehensive anti-missile system, he said.

“More importantly, the US could use its THAAD to eavesdrop on China and Russia, monitor their bombers and missiles, and to intercept and even strike them,” Xu Guangyu, a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times.

China is able to destroy the THAAD system using its Dongfeng-21 mid-range missile and jam its radar system by using electromagnetic pulse (EMP) signals, Li said.

South Korea’s deployment of the remaining THAAD launchers comes after reports that North Korea is preparing to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) this week, following its sixth and largest nuclear test on Sunday.

“The deployment, which is similar in nature to North Korea’s missile tests, cannot solve the Korean Peninsula issue, but would merely exacerbate the already chaotic situation and drive the Peninsula closer to war,” Zheng Jiyong, director of Shanghai-based Fudan University’s Center for Korean Studies, told the Global Times.

He warned that South Korea will be the worst affected, because the THAAD’s deployment has made it the frontline of the US in the Korean Peninsula conflict.

Backlash

Aside from China, Russia has also repeatedly stated its opposition to the THAAD deployment in South Korea.

The deployment has strained South Korea’s ties with China and Russia, and would easily become the target of the two countries’ response through diplomatic and military channels, Xu said.

China and Russia will take necessary measures, jointly or individually, to safeguard their national security interests and the regional strategic balance, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in July.

Xi told his US counterpart Donald Trump in a telephone conversation late Wednesday that China remains committed to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Trump said Washington has been deeply concerned over the ongoing situation on the Korean Peninsula, and attaches importance to China’s essential role in resolving the issue.

Xi reiterated China’s stance during a phone conversation with german chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday, saying China has been adamant in preserving international nuclear non-proliferation, maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, and resolving the nuclear issue through talks.

“China has done a lot to denuclearize the peninsula, and it’s the US who does not want to see a peaceful peninsula, because a chaotic situation gives it an excuse to deploy strategic weapons in the region,” Zheng said.

Source: Global Times

African traders feel the pinch as China produces fewer cheap products

It was another slow day in one of the Tianxiu Building’s malls, located on Xiaobei Road in Guangzhou’s “Little Africa.” Many shops have folded in the past year, and the mall is now in a state of disrepair and looks gloomy. The remaining shops are struggling with high rents, declining profits and a lack of customers. Sid, a trader from Mali, is worried about his business prospects.

When he arrived in Guangzhou, South China’s Guangdong Province in 2005, Sid witnessed the heyday of the Tianxiu Building and the neighborhood in which it sits, the largest African enclave in China which has been called a hub of “low-end globalization.” Back then, hundreds of African traders from dozens of countries flocked to the malls located on the first few floors of the building every day to purchase everything from garments to key rings, from batteries to mobile phones. They would then ship them back to their homelands for sale.

But that is now distant memory. As commodity and labor prices have surged in China in recent years, the Tianxiu Building has lost its luster among African traders. Business in the building is in sharp decline, and more and more African traders have opted to move to cheaper countries in Southeast Asia.

Heyday

Adams Bodomo, professor of African Studies at the University of Vienna, wrote in his 2012 book Africans in China that 96 percent of Africans in Guangzhou back then were engaged in business or trade.

For many Africans, the Tianxiu Building, less than three kilometers from Guangzhou’s train station, was their starting point. Completed in 1997, the Tianxiu Building consists of three blocks and is home to several shopping malls, low-budget hotels and hundreds of small trading companies. Just a few years ago, it buzzed with hundreds of traders from dozens of African countries who bargained with their calculators and pushed carts loaded high with goods.

It was a gold mine. Research by Michal Lyons, professor of urban studies at London South Bank University, recorded the account of a Nigerian trader who visited Guangzhou once every two months. On each visit, he would buy 25,000 shirts, ship them back to his hometown and sell them for $1.50 each. Each trip to Guangzhou meant an income of $37,500.

Felly, a 38-year-old trader from Congo who started doing business in Guangzhou in 2004, said he first spent $3,000 on television sets and air conditioners, and sold them back home for more than double what he paid for them. “You can earn $50,000 in a month,” he told the Time Finance magazine.

Stories like this attracted more and more Africans and soon the area surrounding the Tianxiu Building became known as “Little Africa.” Many African traders to China know the saying that “If you haven’t been to Tianxiu, you haven’t been to China.”

As the population of Africans in Guangzhou grew and as most of them lived in the same district, they soon became a conspicuous presence. Many said they suffered discrimination, and rumors spread among Guangzhou residents, some going as far as alleging that there were 500,000 Africans in Guangzhou who “grab resources and commit crimes.”

But actually, Africans are far from the biggest foreign community in Guangzhou. According to Guangzhou’s Exit and Entry Administration, by October 2014, among the 118,000 foreigners in Guangzhou, only around 30,000 were from Africa. They are outnumbered by foreigners from other Asian countries and Europe.

Relocation

Recent years, however, have seen the African community in Guangzhou shrink as the growing cost of products cuts into their profits.

“African traders had a very high profit margin more than a decade ago as consumers had no idea about prices in China. Even though they charged high prices, African consumers would accept them. But now consumers can find out the prices on the Internet, so it’s hard for them to follow the old path,” said Liu Yanmei, director of Guangdong Chamber of Commerce in Kenya.

Liu has lived in Kenya for more than ten years. According to Liu, in most African countries, consumers prefer cheap products to more expensive good-quality ones.

Due to market preferences, African traders liked to resell low-end non-branded products they purchased in China. But as China is shifting its focus from quantity to quality, the country is trying to produce better products and develop the reputation of its brands.

Traders like Sid now find it’s harder to purchase products that used to be their mainstays, especially as the country steps up its efforts to fight copycats. Meanwhile, with soaring labor costs, made-in-China products no longer have the price edge they once had. Sid said making money has become harder and harder in recent years.

A lamp that cost 10 yuan ($1.53) in 2005, for example, now costs as much as 18 yuan. But its retail price in Africa has largely remained unchanged.

Many of Sid’s African friends have now relocated to neighboring Asian countries including Vietnam and India. “The quality of the products in those countries is just acceptable, but the prices there are cheaper than in China,” he said.

The trajectory of the traders’ migration shows the shifting role of low-end manufacturing. Felly is considering a move to another Asian country. He once did research on Vietnam. There, it only costs 800 to 1000 yuan a month to hire a clothing worker.

According to New Fortune magazine, hourly pay for Chinese workers has generally increased by about 12 percent annually for a few years. In China, factory workers usually make around $27.50 a day, while in Indonesia they only make $8.60 and $6.70 in Vietnam. Therefore, African traders are able to purchase cheaper products there.

Also, the article said another reason for their relocation to Southeast Asian countries is that the visa policies in these countries are more relaxed than they are in China.

In recent years, police in Guangzhou have strengthened their efforts to ensure that all African migrants in Guangzhou are on legitimate visas.

But it’s still hard to tell whether relocation can solve the problems facing African traders. Along with their relocation, Chinese companies are “going out” to explore the African continent, as production costs are very low there. In 2014, China’s total overseas investment was greater than the foreign investment into China. Amid this wave, opening factories in Africa has become an appealing option for many Chinese companies.

Ethiopia, Zambia, Kenya and Djibouti are the top investment destinations. More than 100 Chinese companies are now applying to open factories in Kenya, according to Liu.

Kenyan trader Feiyi said that during the best years he was able to send out 3,000 to 4,000 containers to his hometown but from April to June this year, he only dispatched 15 containers of products.

Sid said big Chinese factories have been erected in his hometown, manufacturing products which are no different from what he buys in China. His business is bleak. “The quantity of goods I sell is just about 20 percent of what I sold in 2008 … I don’t know how long I can stay in Guangzhou” he said.

Transformation

The departure of the African traders has also led to the decline of local businesses. From 2006 to 2010, every container that headed for Africa was fully loaded with goods. But since 2010, Chinese suppliers’ business has declined by almost a third.

As business continues to worsen in the Tianxiu Building, some have tried to turn things around. Xie Guoping, head of the Tianxiu Building’s property management office, said he has considered helping improve the image of the building by redesigning its interior, raising the quality of the products sold in the building, and even creating a few brands.

But this would, inevitably, mean even higher prices. “It will be even more difficult for the African traders to bear,” he said.

Liang Yucheng, professor of social sciences and humanities at Guangzhou’s Sun Yat-sen University, said the globalization aspect of the Tianxiu Building will eventually disappear, as it transforms into a normal commercial and residential building.

And as the neighborhood was designated as a school district in 2016, a lot of homeowners who had previously rented out their properties to trading companies have returned. “With its golden location, the price for each square meter in the building may soon rise to 50,000 yuan,” Xie said.

And it won’t be long before the building itself is swallowed by China’s real estate boom.

Source: Global Times

Govt more likely to use open market tools to boost liquidity

Market speculations are on the rise that the central government might soon lower the reserve requirement ratio (RRR), the level of cash banks are required to hold as reserves, as an appreciating yuan has given space for such policy adjustment.

But the analysts the Global Times talked to on Wednesday insisted that it’s unlikely that the government would change the tone of the monetary policies in 2017, which is keeping it stable and neutral.

The 21st Century Business Herald on Wednesday cited Guan Tao, a former official at the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, as saying that an RRR cut might be possible as the appreciation of the yuan has broadened the room for policy intervention.

Domestic news site wallstreetcn.com also cited a financial management expert, Sun Haibo, as saying that the government might cut RRR before the end of September, as the domestic liquidity level has reached a level of “extreme inadequacy” judging by excess reserves, which refers to bank reserves in excess of a reserve requirement set by a central bank.

The excess reserve rate at domestic financial institutions slumped to about 1 percent around mid-August, compared with 1.4 percent by the end of June, the China Securities Journal reported on August 23. The decline in the excess reserve shows that banks are short of liquidity.

Tight liquidity

Xi Junyang, a finance professor at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said that it’s unlikely that the government would lower the RRR because the reference for such policy arrangement is not banks’ liquidity level, but the country’s economic status.

“Judging from the excess reserve ratio, Chinese banks are indeed faced with tight liquidity, but that’s a short-term phenomenon and the government is more likely to use open market tools, such as reverse repos, to cope with the situation, rather than launch RRRs,” he said.

The People’s Bank of China (PBC), China’s central bank, conducted reverse repos amounting to 40 billion yuan ($6.13 billion) on Wednesday, data from the PBC showed. The PBC has conducted reverse repos for three trading days in a row.

Xi said that domestic banks’ tightening liquidity results from their fast expansion. “They can’t rely on government monetary policies to help them solve the problem,” he told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Xi noted that the government would consider RRRs cuts only when the domestic economy slows down to a great extent. “But currently the domestic economy is showing signs of improvement, therefore the government has no need to roll out stimulus policies,” he said.

Liu Xuezhi, a senior analyst at Bank of Communications, agreed, arguing that the market is not short of capital, as loans to real economy enterprises have increased recently.

Yuan-denominated loans issued by banks reached 115.4 trillion yuan by the end of July, up 13.2 percent year-on-year, data from the PBC showed.

“Besides, the government has made a lot of deleveraging efforts this year, but an RRR cut increases leveraging risks as it pumps liquidity into the markets. I don’t think the government wants to bear those risks,” Liu said.

Appreciation to halt

According to Liu, although an appreciating yuan does provide room for monetary policy stimulus, the yuan is unlikely to maintain the appreciating trend for a very long time.

“The yuan’s recent appreciation is a correction from a long-term depreciation trend since mid-2015,” Liu told the Global Times on Wednesday.

The yuan’s central parity exchange rate against the US dollar reached 6.5311 on Wednesday, up 59 basis points compared with the previous trading day. The yuan’s reference rate has been rising for eight days in a row.

Xi said the yuan’s continued appreciation in recent days is connected to speculation on further rise of the yuan.

But Xi predicted that the government wouldn’t let the yuan appreciate beyond 6.5 against the US dollar, as a bigger appreciation would hurt the domestic economy.

Source: Global Times

China developing sea launch system to boost space commerce

Long March 7 rocket

State-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC) said it is developing sea launch systems for commercial payloads to be carried by Long March rockets in 2018.

The group disclosed its plan for the sea launches. A launch platform will be built based on refitted 10,000-tonne freighters, allowing Long March rockets to send satellites weighing as much as 500 kilograms into orbit with an inclination of zero to ten degrees.

Long March carrier rockets have provided 60 commercial launches for domestic and international users and enjoy high reputation in global space launch market.

The Long March 6 and 11 carrier rockets are the main commercial launch vehicles in China. The Long March 11, a solid fuel rocket featuring fast speed and high flexibility, has secured commercial launch orders with a total value of over one billion yuan.

Countries in the equator region have growing needs for launching near-equatorial and low-inclination satellites. The closer to the equator a satellite is launched, the less it will lose carrying capacity and the lower the cost will be.

Blue economy now new growth engine of BRICS cooperation

By Zou Zhipeng (People’s Daily)

A closer cooperation on blue economy will generate new impetus for economic growth in BRICS members, experts agreed at a panel discussion during the BRICS Business Forum in Xiamen, southeast China’s Fujian Province on Monday.

During the discussion, experts exchanged ideas and experience over blue economy. Their discussion came as the blue economy is now embracing a leapfrog growth driven by a spurt of technological progress.

With a long coastline, BRICS members enjoy rich natural resources as well as great economic potential provided by the vast ocean.

“I am optimistic over the BRICS cooperation on offshore oil and gas, port construction, and logistics on the sea as all its members have a long coastline,” said Marcelo Veloso, commercial director of Brazil-based Port of Acu.

He suggested the members to expand the space of blue economy by increasing efforts to boost maritime economy and construct quality port facilities, so that they could seek a parallel land and sea development and exploit the maritime resources in a scientific manner.

The BRICS bloc is betting more on “blue ocean” for development, given their abundant resources and strong growth momentum.

“All of the BRICS countries bear an aspiration for intensified cooperation on development of blue economy,” George Sebulela, founder and president of African Entrepreneurs Council, told the People’s Daily.

The blue economy is also one of key areas that South Africa and China cooperate on, he pointed out, adding that South Africa and Chinese enterprises have inked over 20 cooperation agreements involving blue economy.

He believed that more capital would flow into port infrastructure and other blue industries in the future as the New Development Bank (NDB), a multilateral financial institution set up by BRICS, has launched its Africa Regional Center in South Africa.

The “Belt and Road” initiative put forward by China is now stretching its reaches to the African continent, which endows South Africa more capacity to develop blue economy, Sebulela said.

The blue economy is expected to be a new highlight in BRICS economic cooperation, predicted Shiv Khemka, Vice Chairman of India-headquartered Sun Group Enterprises Pvt Limited.

India and China have begun to explore maritime resources thousands of years ago, while Russia is a maritime power with the third longest coastline in the world, he elaborated, adding that the Brazilian government is also devoted to growing blue economy.

The BRICS countries could make blue economy a new economic engine, he concluded.

Given the increasing pressure carried by the maritime ecology posed by pollution and other challenges, Khemka also called on the business representatives at the meeting to tap the potential of blue economy, so as to ensure an innovation-driven and green development of blue economy.

Chinese scientists artificially breed rare snake species

A research team in China has artificially bred a rare snake species, elaphe perlacea, for the first time, thepaper.cn reported.

(Photo/Sichuan Daily)

Elaphe perlacea, hailed as the most beautiful snake in the world, is a mild and non venomous snake species.

It was first spotted by the U.S. scholar Leonhard Stejneger in southwestern China’s Sichuan province 98 years ago. It remained undiscovered for the next couple of decades. Some people even doubted its existence.

The snake was later spotted in 1980, 1987, and 1988. Ding Li, the leader of the Chinese research team, who is also a researcher with the Chengdu Institute of Biology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, confirmed the snake as a unique species in 2017.

According to Ding, less than 30 elaphe perlacea have been found in the recent century. Even pictures of the mysterious snake are very precious, let alone artificial breeding, Ding added.

Ding captured the snake three years ago, and he finally made a breakthrough in the artificial breeding of the species after three years of hard work. The first batch of snake eggs was hatched recently.

Ding believes the snakes could make good pets for reptile lovers, but people should not capture them from the wild, since they might face extinction once their habitats are destroyed.

Scientists usually omit the location of such discoveries in media reports and scientific literature, because poachers can trace the rare animals through such documents. The practice has become an unwritten norm in academia.

Currently, elaphe perlacea is not a protected species in China. But fortunately, it has been locally protected by Sichuan province. Ding hopes the country will make further efforts in this regard and add this species of snake to the list of animals protected by the nationwide Wildlife Protection Law this year.

(The story is also published on People’s Daily Online)

Ancient rice variety helps villagers shake off poverty

Rice fields in Yuanyang

Yuanyang red rice, a rice variety with a long history in Yuanyang County, southwestern China’s Yunnan province, has contributed a lot to local poverty relief, as it sells well on the Taobao platform launched by Internet giant Alibaba, China News reported on Sept. 5.

The 1,300-year-old Honghe Hani Terrace fields occupy more than 28,000 acres of land, yielding nutritious-rich red rice due to favorable water quality and natural environment.

A total of 7,500 kilograms of the rice was sold out in 12 hours on the online shopping platform, creating considerable income for the local villagers.

The county has 92 poor villages involving 40,000 registered poverty-stricken families and 150,000 people, was even included in the national plan for poverty alleviation through development.

However, the county’s cooperation with the Taobao platform altered the situation by selling local high-quality agricultural products online.

An employee from the local food bureau noted that the e-commerce platform not only provides a way for the local villagers to sell red rice, but new ideas to overcome poverty.

World’s first secure quantum communication line in China gets green light

The world’s first secure quantum communication line in China has passed technical inspection and is able to operate, according to the University of Science and Technology of China on Sept. 4.

The secure quantum communication line spans more than 2,000 kilometers, linking the four cities of Beijing, Jinan, Hefei, and Shanghai.

Construction of the line, approved by China’s National Development and Reform Commission in July 2013, was completed late last year after 42 months of effort in overcoming technical difficulties to achieve quantum key distribution, technology of single photon detection, and reliable data transmission.

Quantum communication is ultra-secure, as a quantum photon can neither be separated nor duplicated. Accordingly, it is impossible to wiretap, intercept, or crack the information it transmits.

China has achieved many “firsts” in the field of quantum communication, such as the world’s first secure quantum communication line connecting Beijing and Shanghai, and the first quantum communication satellite nicknamed “Micius.”

The success in building the line shows that China continues to lead the world in practical application and industrialization of quantum technology.

Chinese railcar maker to invest 9 billion yuan to develop 600 km/h high-speed maglev train

A meglev train undergoes test run in the city of Tangshan in 2009. (file photo)

China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) has started a special project to research high-speed railcars that can reach speeds up to 600 km/h, Sun Bangcheng, deputy director of CRRC Industrial Research Institute, said on Aug. 31.

The project is one of 18 national key research and development plans started by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2016. It will research both high-speed passenger and freight trains, Sun said. With a total investment of over 9 billion yuan, the project will be completed by 2021.

The project includes 3 kinds of freight trains, a high-speed train, and 2 maglev trains, according to CRRC. “Freight trains with speeds of 250 km/h can transport seafood from Haikou in China’s southern province of Hainan to Beijing in less than one day,” a project officer of CRRC said.

The two maglev trains can reach 600 and 200 km/h, respectively. The cost of a 600 km/h maglev train is almost the same as a 400 km/h high-speed train, according to the research. The first domestically made high-speed maglev train will roll off the production line in east China’s Shandong province next year, according to report.