2018 set to bring more opening

2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up policy, and the year will see more specific measures to promote the new pattern of all-round opening-up, experts said.

“It is clear that industries such as high-end manufacturing and modern services are the sectors where the opening-up is directed, and the services industry will be a key area,” Huo Jianguo, senior CCG research fellow and former director of the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), told the Global Times on Tuesday.

According to the Central Economic Work Conference held in December 2017, the services trade is set to be greatly promoted in the future.

Data from MOFCOM showed that in the first 11 months of 2017, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the services sector climbed to 582.75 billion yuan ($88.08 billion), up 13.5 percent year-on-year and accounting for 72.5 percent of the total FDI. And the high-tech services industry attracted 177.1 billion yuan in FDI, more than double the amount in the same period of 2016.

China will increase the opening-up in services industries including education, culture, healthcare and finance in 2018, Tang Wenhong, head of MOFCOM’s Department of Foreign Investment Administration, told a meeting on December 25 in Beijing.

“Against the backdrop of China’s supply-side reform and the aim of fostering high-quality development, more high-end services need to be introduced in the future,” Chen

Fengying, an expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

Huo noted that developing the services sector will be significant for sustaining economic growth and encouraging foreign capital flows into China, while also increasing competition and thereby encouraging domestic firms to become stronger.

In the financial services sector, the process of opening-up is progressing gradually. On December 13, 2017, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said it would relax restrictions on foreign shareholding ratios in Chinese banks (apart from private banks), which limited a single overseas investor’s stake to no more than 20 percent.

The CBRC also said it would continue to open up the banking sector by such means as expanding the scale of overseas banks.

This has offered encouragement for foreign-funded banks in China, including Standard Chartered Bank. In an email sent to the Global Times on Tuesday, the UK-based bank said the policy would enable it to “capture opportunities brought by the reform and opening-up.”

Specifics coming

According to the Central Economic Work Conference, China will push for nationwide implementation of a pre-establishment national treatment system as well as a negative list that determines where foreign participation is prohibited or limited.

The central government strengthened efforts to expand the investment scope for foreign capital in 2017, said Tang of MOFCOM.

For example, in a revised industrial guidance catalogue for foreign investment released in June, China cut 30 restrictions, he noted.

Chen said that the negative list is certain to become shorter as the country opens wider to investment from abroad.

Addressing the Fortune Global Forum held in Guangzhou, capital of South China’s Guangdong Province in December 2017, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said China was working on a timetable to further open up key industries, including financial services and electric cars.

He also noted that qualified foreign companies registered in China will receive equal treatment in government procurement, setting of standards and projects related to “Made in China 2025,” the government’s blueprint to upgrade the manufacturing sector.

“The timetable is vital for maintaining a good business environment. Besides, with the tone set clearly, workable specifics now need to be rolled out,” Huo said, noting the plans for the high-end manufacturing sector should be further clarified.

Also, opening-up in such services segments as e-commerce, construction design, education and accounting should to be accelerated, as this has already been promised, Huo said.

Related departments are currently working hard on the specifics while implementation is expected to come in the first half of 2018, Huo forecast.

Source: Global Times

China has become world’s fastest growing tobacco consumer market: report

A report has found that China has become the fastest growing tobacco consumption market in the world, though industry authorities have taken measures, such as raising tax on tobacco, to control the trend, Worker’s Daily reported on Jan. 2.

The country substantially lifted tax on cigarettes in 2009 and 2015, respectively, but the high prices were far from enough to cool the demand.

According to statistics, tax on cigarettes in China accounts for 59 percent of the sales price, but it is still less than the global average of 75 percent.

The payment capability of Chinese smokers grew by 85 percent from 2001 to 2016, and even doubled among low-end consumers, according to Zheng Rong, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics.

In addition, the smoking incidence of low-income groups is higher than high-income ones, and rural residents smoke more than urban people, according to Zheng’s report.

The smoking rate of the country’s 200-million-plus floating population is higher than other people.

Hu Angang, a professor with Tsinghua University, said higher incidence of smoking in poverty-stricken areas and poor families is the main cause of poverty reoccurrence due to the treatment of tobacco-related diseases.

Global experience has indicated that raising tax on tobacco can effectively reduce the use of tobacco and cut public health expenditures, Zheng said, calling for higher cigarette prices to reduce smoking among low-income smokers.

With 316 million smokers, China has grown to become the largest tobacco market in the world. Data provided by Hu found that 6.4 million deaths could be attributed to smoking in 2015.

Treatment of tobacco-related diseases caused 53 billion yuan of direct losses and 297 billion yuan of indirect losses for China in 2014, according to statistics. The total of the two accounted for 10.59 percent of that year’s national health expenditures.

In recent years, China has rolled out a strict ban on smoking in more than 20 cities, but the campaign covers less than 10 percent of the whole country, which is far from being effective.

Jiang Yuan, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Tobacco Control Office, said raising the price and tax on tobacco is one way to control smoking.

10 major events in China to watch out for in 2018

1. Celebrating the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up

President Xi Jinping placed emphasis on his speech on next year’s 40th anniversary of reform and opening on September 3, 2017, at the opening ceremony of the BRICS Business Forum.

The 3rd Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC) was held on December 18, 1978. The meeting decided to shift the country’s focus to economic construction and to implement the historic policy of reform and opening up. It was a profound and significant transition in the history of the CPC since the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

2. “Two Sessions”

The 13th CPC National People’s Congress is scheduled for this March, at which time the country will elect a new leadership.

The 13th National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) will also be held in Beijing this March.

3. 2nd Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee

The meeting is scheduled to be held this month. At the meeting, the Party will discuss a proposal about amending part of China’s Constitution.

4. Rural vitalization strategy

The strategy was first put forward in the report to the 19th CPC National Congress. It has been marked as one of the eight key working plans spelled out during the Central Economic Work Conference held in December 2017.

5. China’s diplomatic agenda

Boao Forum for Asia will be held in Boao, Hainan, from Apr. 8 to 11.

The 18th Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit will kick off in Qingdao, Shandong, in June this year.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is currently under preparation.

The China International Import Expo 2018 will be held in Shanghai from Nov. 5 to 10.

6. National supervision law to be passed

The 31st session of the 12th NPC Standing Committee submitted the draft national supervision law to the upcoming 13th NPC Standing Committee.

The strategy will ensure full and strict governance over the Party, and is a critical measure for the country’s anti-corruption campaign.

7. Implementation of Environmental Protection Tax Law and eco-compensation system

China’s Environment Protection Tax Law went into full force on the first day of 2018, replacing the existing pollution discharge fee system with a new environmental protection tax.

In addition, China’s damage compensation pilot reform has been expanded nationwide to protect and improve its ecosystem.

8. Launching of the Chang’e 4 lunar probe

The probe is scheduled to be launched in 2018. It will explore the far side of the moon, a mysterious world that always faces away from Earth.

9. Command of Armed Police Force to be unified

The Armed Police Force was placed under the unified control of the CPC Central Committee and Central Military Commission starting on the first day of 2018, according to the CPC Central Committee.

10. 60th anniversary of the establishment of Guangxi and Ningxia autonomous regions

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Guangxi Zhuang and Ningxia Hui Autonomous regions. A series of projects, including livelihood and industrial projects, will be implemented in the two autonomous regions.

18,519 domestically-produced industrial robots sold in China in first half of 2017

China has sold 18,519 domestically-produced industrial robots in the first half of 2017, a 22.9% increase over last year, according to the China Robot Industry Conference recently held in Chongqing municipality.

“Homemade industrial robots have been applied in 37 industrial divisions and 102 sub-divisions,” said Qu Daokui, president of the China Robot Industry Alliance.

Industrial robots have been mostly applied to tasks involving lifting, loading, and unloading. A total of 11,879 robots have been introduced to this area, accounting for 64.1% of the total sales.

A total of 3,033 robots have been sold to the welding and brazing industries, the second largest domain of robots application in China.

Automobile manufacturing, computers, communications, and other electronic products manufacturing, general equipment manufacturing, and electric apparatus manufacturing are the major industries of robot application, according to statistics released by the conference.

Challenges set to hamper growth as govt focuses on curbing risks

China will face a series of economic challenges in 2018, such as a more volatile financial market, increasing local government debt and a slump in the real estate sector, experts said.

These challenges will put downward pressure on the country’s economic growth, and most experts the Global Times talked to on Monday predicted that China’s GDP growth would edge down in 2018 compared with 2017, though not by too much.

Signs of a slowdown emerged toward the end of 2017. China’s manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 51.6 in December, compared with 51.8 in November, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Sunday.

The industrial sector also slowed around the end of 2017. The NBS data showed that in the first 11 months of 2017, major industrial enterprises achieved year-on-year growth of 21.9 percent, down 1.4 percentage points compared with the growth in the first 10 months.

Volatile financing

Experts said that challenges will occur in the domestic financial sector in 2018, resulting from both external and internal factors.

Liu Xuezhi, a senior macroeconomic expert at Bank of Communications, said that interest rate hikes in the US will not only drive up market interest rates in China, adding to the costs of financing, but will also increase the risk of capital outflows from China to the US.

Another potential spillover impact in the financial sector is the rising appetite around the world for speculative financial trading, such as virtual currency trading, which is increasing the risk of new financial crises, Cheng Shi, head of International Research at ICBC, told the Global Times Monday.

This could in turn trigger a plunge in some countries’ stock markets, especially in developing countries, Cheng said, adding that China’s A-share market could also be affected.

Apart from overseas influences, domestic factors are also a concern. Shao Yu, chief economist at Shanghai-based Oriental Securities, said the government’s continuous deleveraging efforts might cause liquidity supply to become too tight, which would cause losses in financial areas like bond investment.

Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, said Sunday that the government will stick to a bottom line of preventing systemic financial risks, according to a statement on the central bank’s website.

Rising government debt

According to Liu, the government has made a lot of efforts to tackle debt, especially at large domestic companies, but as company debts decrease, these efforts might shift to government and individual debt, in order to safeguard economic growth.

Rising debts among individuals would hurt overall consumption, Liu noted.

But Shao said that in general, the risks relating to government debt are controllable and the government is aware of the problem. “Some local infrastructure projects have been halted [to prevent debt risks],” he said.

Domestic local governments issued bonds worth 4.35 trillion yuan ($669 billion) by December 25, 2017, down from 6.05 trillion yuan in 2016, the 21st Century Business Herald reported on December 26, 2017.

The Ministry of Finance also said on December 23, 2017 that local governments must take responsibility for their own debts.

Apart from leveraging risks, the real estate sector will continue to edge down amid tightened regulations, Liu predicted, adding that this will have a negative impact on related industries like cement and steel.

High-quality GDP

However, Shao said that some of these challenges have been anticipated, and will be tolerated by the government.

“The government will sacrifice a certain level of economic growth for a more sustainable and high-quality economy,” he told the Global Times.

Liu also said that it is almost impossible to avoid an economic slowdown in 2018, but said the government can still take measures to improve economic quality, such as encouraging development of emerging industries such as high-end equipment manufacturing, increasing capital usage efficiency in fiscal policies and stimulating further reforms at State-owned enterprises.

Source: Global Times

 

Top 10 Global Tourism News of 2017

1.China and Other Countries Co-Launch Bilateral Tourism Year Programs, with Tourism Playing a Big Part in Public Diplomacy

On January 17, Chinese President Xi Jinping and President of the Swiss Confederation Doris Leuthard co-launched the China-Switzerland Tourism Year at Davos, followed by tourism year programs respectively between China and Australia, Denmark, ASEAN and Kazakhstan. Tourism has become a major part of public diplomacy.

(Source: global mainstream media)

2.Travel Continues Despite Terrorist Threats

On March 22, a terrorist attack near the Palace of Westminster in the UK resulted in five deaths and over 40 injuries. After that, the IPK International conducted a survey on “terrorist threats and tourism” in more than 20 tourist source markets across the world and found that the travel might be postponed, confined within one’s national borders, or rescheduled from “unsafe” destinations to “safe” ones, but would continue anyway.

(Source: Travel Daily UK, Strait Times in Singapore)

3.Russia Allows E-Visa Holders to Enter Far East

As an effort to simplify the visa policy, the Russian government allows foreign visitors holding an electronic visa to travel to the Far East from August on. From January 1, 2018, the e-visa holders will be allowed to travel to not just the Free Port of Vladivostok, but also the Kamchatka Peninsula and Sakhalin Oblast.

(Source: Rossiiskaya Gazeta)

4.Caribbean Tourism Battered by Typhoon

On September 6, the typhoon Irma landed on Caribbean Islands, sweeping across many local tourist attractions and wreaking damages that were hard to recover in a short time. It also brings immeasurable loss to nearby tourist destinations such as Punta Cana, Cancun, Miami and Havana.

(Source: global mainstream media)

5.Zurab Pololikashvili Elected Secretary-General at the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly

From September 11 to 16, the 22nd General Assembly of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) was convened in Chengdu, China. It was the biggest general assembly in the UNWTO’s history in terms of the number of delegates present. It elected Zurab Pololikashvili, former Georgian Ambassador to Spain, as its new Secretary-General.

(Source: www.eturbonews.com)

6.The World Tourism Alliance Established

On September 12, the World Tourism Alliance (WTA), initiated by China, was established. It is the world’s first global, non-governmental and non–profit tourism organization. Following the vision that “Better Tourism, Better World”, it aims at promoting economic development, poverty reduction and peace through tourism development, strengthening international tourism exchange, expanding consensus, sharing experience, deepening cooperation and facilitating sustainable, inclusive global tourism development.

(Source: http://www2.unwto.org/)

7.Chengdu Convenes B&R Tourism Ministerial Meeting

On September 13, the Tourism Ministers’ Meeting of Countries along the Belt and Road (B&R) was convened in Chengdu, China. It attracted the participation of tourism ministers from over 100 countries and regions, the heads of 41 international organizations and more than 1,000 delegates. It then issued the Chengdu Initiative on Tourism Cooperation along the Belt and Road. The number of Chinese tourists visiting other B&R countries and regions in 2017 is expected to exceed 25 million.

(Source: Jing Daily, etc.)

8.Chinese President Xi Calls for More Efforts to Promote the Toilet Revolution, Receiving Extensive World Attention

On November 21, Chinese President Xi Jinping called for the nation to promote the Toilet Revolution nationwide, attracting extensive international attention. The move was reported and commented by global mainstream media including BBC, RFI, CNBC, Japanese Sankei, Zaobao, and The Economic Times of India. China’s Toilet Revolution has been a media sensation across the globe.

(Source: global mainstream media)

9.Tourism Contributes to over 10% of Global GDP and Employment

At the Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism on November 27 in Jamaca, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced that: in 2016, the tourism revenue amounted to USD 7.6 trillion, accounting for 10.2% of the global GDP and the tourism industry hired 292 million people, accounting for 10% of the global workforce. It shows that tourism is playing a growing role in global economic development.

(Source: http://www2.unwto.org/)

10.The U.S. Bans Travelers from Six Muslim-majority Countries

On December 4, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to enforce the travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries, prohibiting the entry of travelers from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad into the U.S. On December 6, U.S. President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel, provoking widespread protests. The regional situation is still complex, casting shadow over global tourism development.

Source: China Tourism News

Top 10 China Tourism News of 2017

1. Chinese President Xi Jinping Gives Instructions on the Toilet Revolution and Tourism Development

On November 21, Chinese President Xi Jinping again gave instructions on how to promote the Toilet Revolution in the tourism industry: In the past couple of years, while advancing the Toilet Revolution, the Chinese tourism industry has demonstrated the down-to-earth attitude towards addressing practical issues. The tourism industry is a sunrise industry. We should keep improving the soft and hard environment for tourism development as we are doing with the Toilet Revolution. Toilet improvement is not a triviality, but key to the improvement of urban and rural environment. It should not be limited to scenic zones or urban areas, but should also be extended to rural areas as part of the efforts to revitalize the rural economy and improve rural living conditions. President Xi also stressed the need to produce substantial benefits and avoid formalism and luxury projects as well as the importance of post-construction management. Since 2015, the tourism industry has been advancing the Toilet Revolution in earnest accordance with the above instructions. So far, a total of 68,000 tourist toilets have been built or renovated, beating the three-year goal (57,000) by 19.3%.

2. China Initiates the World Tourism Alliance

The World Tourism Alliance (WTA) was founded on September 12, whose opening received a congratulatory message from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and was witnessed by 137 tourism ministers and their deputies as well as the heads of 41 international organizations. The WTA, initiated by the Chinese government, is the world’s first global, non-governmental and non-profit tourism organization. On December 17, the WTA signed a strategic cooperation agreement with the Provincial People’s Government of Zhejiang, declaring to base its headquarters in Xiaoshan, Hangzhou.

3. Integrated Tourism in Full Swing

Chinese President Xi Jinping once remarked, “We are right in the direction of integrated tourism development and let’s keep going.” In the government work report delivered on March 5, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang proposed to “improve tourism facilities and services and vigorously develop rural tours, leisure tours and integrated tourism.” So far, China has more than 500 demonstration units in integrated tourism development, distributed across 31 Chinese provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the central government and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. Hainan, Ningxia, Shandong, Guizhou, Shaanxi, Hebei and Zhejiang have been successively recognized as provincial-level demonstration units in integrated tourism development.

4. With 25 Provincial Commissions on Tourism Development Established, the Institutional Reform Kicks off in the Tourism Industry

Active efforts have been made across China to reform the tourism administration and governance mechanisms in order to adapt to the latest changes in the integrated development and governance of tourism. On December 15, Chongqing established the municipal commission on tourism development. By then, a total of 25 Chinese provinces/autonomous regions/municipalities directly under the central government had had their own commissions on tourism development. In particular in Jiangxi, a three-tiered tourism governance system has been established, comprising provincial, municipal and county-level commissions on tourism development. Besides, a large number of cities and counties have set up their own tourist police, circuit courts for tourists and tourism branches of industry & commerce bureaus, making breakthroughs in the integrated institutional reform of the tourism industry.

5. As the Supply-side Structural Reform Advances, “Tourism +” Rises as the New Mode for Inter-Sector Development

On May 19, China announced her top 10 bases for technology tourism. Meanwhile, wetland tourism, TCM tourism, sports tourism, ice & snow tourism, industrial tourism, forest tourism and study tours have all been flourishing.

6. Poverty Alleviation through Tourism Development Further Promoted

On November 1 and 9, CNTA hosted a work conference on poverty alleviation through tourism development targeting at destitute areas in Southwest and Northwest China respectively, laying down action plans and launching projects of product development, training, communication, and the construction of demonstration areas. In 2017, more than 1,500 pioneers in rural tourism development, village officials and community-level tourism officials received training on poverty reduction through tourism development, and the Agricultural Development Bank of China and CITIC increased financial support in this regard.

7. Regulatory Trade Operations Keep the Tourism Market in Good Order

On February 23, CNTA co-launched the “Spring Operation” with the Ministry of Public Security and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce to administer the order of the tourism market. It was followed by the “Summer Vocation Operation” and the “Fall-and-Winter Operation” aimed at cracking down on “unreasonably low priced tours” and “the operation of unlicensed travel business.” Throughout the year, a total of 48,658 tourism companies were inspected, 2,595 cases were filed and penalties and forfeiture worth over RMB30 million issued.

8. Inbound Tourism Rebounds

On September 28, China Tourism Academy released the Annual Report on Inbound Tourism in China 2017. According to the report, China’s inbound tourism experienced comprehensive recovery in 2016, with the number of inbound tourists and the consumption expenditure both continuing to grow. In particular, the number of inbound tourists grew up by 8.3% from the previous year, the highest since the outbreak of the last international financial crisis. The number of inbound tourists is expected to hit 139 million in 2017, keeping the growth momentum.

9. The Tourism Industry Promotes Green Development and Environmental Protection in China

On April 24, CNTA and the Ministry of Environmental Protection co-launched the annual campaign of nominating national eco-tour demonstration zones. Since the nomination was initiated in 2013, the two have co-announced 110 national eco-tour demonstration zones. The tourism industry has played a big role in China’s environmental improvement.

10. Red Tourism Gains Popularity, Benefiting Local Residents

On November 10, China Red Tourism Promotion Alliance was established, serving as a platform for deepening the exchange and cooperation between red tourism zones. The year of 2017 marked the 96th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army and witnessed the 19th CPC National Congress. These historic events have fueled up the popularity of red tourism. For the 109 classic red tourism zones and 18 key cities for red tourism covered in the statistical survey, the number of visitors is expected to hit 750 million. Red tours allow people to reminisce the revolutionary years and remember revolutionary martyrs.

Source: China Tourism News

Top 10 national news of year selected by People’s Daily

1. Successful 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China

The 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) was held in Beijing from October 18 to 24. It was a meeting of great importance during a decisive stage in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and at a critical moment as socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era.

The meeting approved the report to the 19th CPC National Congress delivered by Secretary General Xi Jinping of the CPC Central Committee on behalf of the 18th CPC Central Committee, approved the Report on the Work of the 18th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), reviewed and approved the Revised Constitution of the Communist Party of China, and elected members for the new CPC Central Committee and CCDI.

“Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” has been enshrined in the Revised CPC Constitution as part of the Party’s guide to action.

On Oct. 25, Xi Jinping was elected as the General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee at the first plenary session of the 19th CPC National Congress.

2. Establishment of Xiongan New Area

Xiongan New Area, a state-level new area in the Baoding area of Hebei province, was established in March. The area covers the counties of Xiong, Rongcheng, and Anxin.

The establishment of the new area was a major decision made by the CPC Central Committee to promote the synergetic development of Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei, and its construction is part of the country’s “millennium strategy.”

3. Passing and implementation of General Provisions of the Civil Law

China’s national legislature passed the General Provisions of the Civil Law at the 5th session of the 12th National People’s Congress on March 15. The provisions took effect on October 1.

Comprising 206 articles, the provision will play a significant role in the protection of the legitimate interests of civil entities, adjustment of civil relations, and preserving social and economic order.

4. Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation

The Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation was held from May 14 to 15 in Beijing. The forum is the highest level and largest meeting under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, participated by more than 1,500 delegates, including 29 heads of states and governments, from 130 countries and 70 international organizations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed in his keynote speech that with a spirit of peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, and mutual learning and mutual benefit, each country should build on the sound momentum generated to steer the Belt and Road Initiative toward greater success, and build it into a path for peace, prosperity, openness, and innovation, one that connects different civilizations.

5. China’s first domestic-made aircraft carrier hits water

China’s first home-built aircraft carrier was transferred from the dry dock to the water on April 26. The independent design and construction of the aircraft carrier marked a major achievement for the country, and it revealed China’s improved overall national strength.

6. Grand military parade celebrating the 90th anniversary of the PLA

A grand military parade celebrating the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was held at Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia on July 30. General Secretary Xi Jinping inspected the troops and delivered an important speech. It was the first grand military parade for celebrating the founding of PLA. A total of 12,000 soldiers, 600 vehicles, and 100 aircraft were inspected.

7. Maiden flight of Chinese-built airliner the C919

The C919, China’s first domestically-made large passenger aircraft, completed its maiden flight on May 5. The success marked a significant breakthrough for the country’s civil aircraft technology. China is one of the few countries in the world with the ability to develop large passenger aircraft.

8. National pilot project for supervision system

The 30th session of the 12th National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee adopted a decision to promote a nationwide pilot project to reform the supervision system on November 4. The move is considered a major political reform to improving the supervision system with Chinese characteristics and strengthening the self-supervision of the Party and the country.

9. CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting

Themed “Working Together toward a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity and a Better World: Responsibilities of Political Parties,” the CPC in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting was held in Beijing from November 30 to December 3. General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping delivered a speech at the opening ceremony. It was a historical meeting for the CPC and a groundbreaking one for the world’s political parties.

10. Completion of the main structure of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge

Upon the completion of its undersea tunnel, the main structure of world’s longest cross-sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai, and Macao was finished on July 7. The 55-kilometer-long bridge is the world’s most complicated and difficult bridge, with the world’s longest span in the history of highway construction.

China to green its construction to cope with climate challenge: State Council Counselor

China will green its construction to cope with climate challenge, said Qiu Baoxing, counselor of the State Council and former vice minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. Green construction will become a new name card for China, one with global impact, he added.

Qiu made the remarks following a press conference on the 14th International Conference on Green and Energy-Efficient Building held in Beijing.

The counselor believes that the green construction industry will embrace a critical period of development as China enters the 40th year of the reform and opening up in 2018.

The long-term goal of green development, the establishment of the carbon market, and Chinese government’s determination to make the skies blue again will all serve as significant opportunities for the industry, Qiu noted.

Qiu suggested constructors pre-fabricate each building part and assemble them on site, so that the process of house making will be more environmentally friendly.

In addition, the method could also serve as strategic supply for the country in times of emergency, as the construction parts are recyclable.

According to Qiu, green construction should be done in accordance with local environments in a bid to better adapt to local climate and reduce energy consumption.

He predicted that smart facilities would become a trend for green construction. These smart facilities can informationize the functions of buildings through artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and big data, and reduce the energy consumption to the minimum.

Moreover he said that the construction should take dwellers’ health into consideration by upgrading the construction materials and optimizing the design of patterns and public spaces.

Norman Bethune’s grandnephew comes to China to study Chinese

Grandnephew of noted Canadian communist Norman Bethune who offered remarkable medical assistance to China during the War of Resistance against Japan has come to China to learn Chinese, Chinese newspaper Shenghuo reported Thursday.

Now the descendant of the heroic anti-Fascist fighter, Mark Bethune, is studying at Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang province.

Mark hopes the language will serve as a bridge so he can start a new journey in China in tribute to his granduncle.

Mark was granted a souvenir medal commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the defeat of fascist forces on behalf of Norman in Beijing in September 2015.

During his stay in Beijing, a simple conversation with a local taxi driver who mentioned Norman inspired him to study Chinese. “I was deeply moved by the Chinese who are in deep remembrance of Norman,” Mark said.

So far, Mark has been studying at HIT for eight months. “I like Harbin very much, and I enjoy my life here,” he said.

When speaking of the worldwide frenzy of Chinese learning, Mark noted that China, with a rapid development, is becoming more and more influential in the world. According to him, it is a common aspiration for many foreign students to speak fluent Chinese.

Mark said that China has 300 million young people, which is equal to the total population of the United States. How to pass on the spirit of Norman Bethune to the young generation of this country has long been a major concern for him. “I think it will be better for me to tell his stories in Chinese,” he said.

Mark hopes to enlarge his social circle at HIT so that he can have a better understanding of China in the new era. Currently, he is working on a screenplay about his granduncle, hoping to introduce Norman’s spirit to the world.