China’s economy will catch up with US economy in 17 years: Economists

A recent survey found that Chinese economists are optimistic about the country’s economic future. They predict China’s economic growth for this year at 6.6 percent, which would mean China’s economic aggregate needs only until 2034 to catch up with that of the U.S.

The survey was published on June 14 in the bi-monthly journal China Economist. The survey collected 131 questionnaires for analysis. It is conducted every quarter, administered to investment banks, research institutes and respected economists.

Economists from China’s central and western regions predicted the country’s economic growth at 6.63 and 6.6 percent, higher than their peers in the east, the survey showed. Most economists predicted that by 2045, China’s manufacturing will be on the same level as that of the U.S.

The survey also reflects Chinese economists’ optimistic attitude toward the country’s future competitiveness, which derives partly from their confidence in the government. A total of 35.2 percent of economists said China’s debt is more sustainable than that of the U.S., as China’s debt-to-GDP ratio is relatively low, while the country’s GDP growth rate is fairly high.

Chinese government debts are largely used to build real assets, while other world governments use debt for consumptive purposes, Wang Guogang, director of the Institute of Finance and Banking at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was cited as saying.

Meanwhile, 91.2 percent of economists are optimistic about the 100-day action plan proposed by U.S. President Donald Trump, believing that the U.S. economy has a strong capacity to recover, and the country’s manufacturing industry can be revitalized.

(The article is also published on People’s Daily)

Tidy Sum, That: ‘Costume’ Diamond Bought in 1980s for £10 Sold for £650K

a large 26.27 karat diamond ring, thought to be ‘Costume jewelry’ diamond really worth hundreds of thousands

© AP Photo/ Sotheby’s

A diamond sold for £10 in a 1980s junk sale (roughly $34 in 2017 money) has been sold at a London auction for £656,750 ($836,000).

The original buyer purchased the so-called “tenner diamond” at a West London flea market and then wore it as a ring for decades. The buyer thought that gem was a next-to-worthless piece of costume jewelry, not a 26.27-carat white diamond.

At some point, the owner visited a jeweler who thought the ring might be valuable. It was taken to London-based auctioning multinational Sotheby’s, which initially valued it at £350,000 ($446,000).

“The majority of us can’t even begin to dream of owning a diamond that large,” Sotheby’s London jewelry department head Jessica Wyndham told a local news outlet. “The owner would wear it out shopping, wear it day-to-day. It’s a good-looking ring. No one had any idea it had any intrinsic value at all. They enjoyed it all this time.”

“It was a thrill to bring the hammer down on an object which has been the subject of so much interest and attention over the last few weeks and to see that attention translate into such strong bidding competition.”

The ring was confirmed as a genuine diamond by the Gemological Institute of America, which believes it to have been cut in the 19th century. The original cutting was done to preserve size rather than emphasize brilliance, leading to a large but dull stone.
The Superman Diamond, being held by discoverer Kalel Langford.

“I’m convinced the £10 ring was once owned by royalty or a person of great wealth, because it originates from the 1800s – before the discovery of modern diamond mines and a time when very few diamonds were available,” Tobias Kormind, managing director of, told The Sun.

“Several diamond dealers have already inspected this diamond to assess how large a modern cut diamond can be made from it. The new owner is likely to re-cut it into a modern diamond that will emit even more sparkle and potentially be worth a multiple of the Sotheby’s estimate.”

The stone was put up for auction on Wednesday, June 7. Bidding started at 240,000 pounds, passed 500,0000, and the rock finally sold for nearly twice the valuation to an international buyer.

Source: Sputniknews

Russian, Chinese Gold Reserves to Cut Global Economy’s Addiction to Dollar

Russia and China continue to stockpile gold in a bid to cut their economies’ dependency on the US dollar in the future. Experts told Sputnik that if the dollar’s role as a global reserve currency is decreased the world will see radical political and economic transformation.

In recent years, Russia and China have actively been purchasing the yellow metal and have significantly enlarged their national gold reserves.

According to Philip Klinkmüller, a financial expert with Hopf-Klinkmüller Capital Management, there is a visible trend in Russia and China to buy more bullion to end their dependency on the US dollar.

The expert suggested that in the years to come global financial markets will see a significant devaluation of the American currency.

“According to our estimates, there will be a downward trend in the dollar exchange rate in the next 15 years. In the long-run, it cannot be guaranteed that the dollar will remain a global reserve currency,” Klinkmüller told Sputnik Germany.

Bullion was traditionally a major part of the Russia’s and China’s gold and foreign exchange reserves. At the same time, nearly 60 percent of global exchange reserves are denominated in dollars.

On the one hand, gold is a national reserve in the event of a crisis. On the other hand, gold reserves help compensate losses from a fluctuating dollar.

By stockpiling bullion, Russia and China want to get more independent in trading gold and cut their reliance on the US dollar, according to Jochen Stanzl, a market analyst at CMC Markets.

He added that gold purchases also help a country to diversify its national financial resources.

“If the country buys only one currency it gets highly dependent on its exchange rate. By purchasing gold, the central bank diversifies its resources and enhances the soundness of nation’s assets,” Stanzl said.

In turn, Klinkmüller noted that buying gold is “absolutely reasonable” for Russia since the yellow metal is helpful to offset the negative effect from sanctions.

“Russia wants to be more independent from the US dollar and act at global financial markets, using gold as a payment instrument. One of the reasons is sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union over the Ukrainian crisis, including those in trade and investment,” the financial expert explained.

As for China, Beijing is currently the world’s importer of gold, and according to Stanzl’s estimates, will keep this status in the future.

The expert outlined the two most probable reasons behind Beijing’s rush on the global bullion market.

“First, China wants to use gold reserves to boost its national currency [the renminbi] which was added to the International Monetary Fund’s basket of reserve currencies last year. Moreover, China has a large foreign trade deficit with the US. By stockpiling bullion, Beijing wants to decrease its dependency on the US,” Stanzl said.

At the same time, both experts underscored that gold purchases by Russia and China are not contributing to driving up gold prices in the global market.

According to the World Gold Council, China and Russia are ranked sixth and seventh on the list of country with the largest gold reserves, with 1,843 tons and 1,655 tons respectively. The first on the ranking is the US with 8,134 tons. It is followed by Germany (3,380 tons) and the IMF (2,814 tons).

Source: Sputniknews

At Least the Neighbors Won’t Hear: Scientists Start Study of Sex in Space

Since the dawn of man, humans have looked to the stars and been filled with wonder and questions. What’s out there? How can we go there, and when? Does the cosmos hold the answers that we seek about life and meaning? Now, scientists are beginning to seriously consider a new question: mechanically speaking, how do you bone in space?

As far as we can tell, no human has ever had sex outside of the confines of Earth’s gravity (unless some freaky stuff has been going on aboard the ISS). As a result, a lot of questions remain unanswered: what would sex look like in sterile, zero gravity conditions? Or on Mars? How about childbirth, or natal development?

“Not only how our reproductive systems adapt to the space environment, but if we actually want to go places, and we want to stay there – if we’re talking about colonization, there’s a key component to colonization that makes it possible, and that is having babies,” said Kris Lenhardt, assistant professor in the department of emergency medicine at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, during a May panel.

“This is something that we, frankly, have never studied dramatically, because it’s not been relevant to date. But if we want to become a spacefaring species and we want to live in space permanently, this is a crucial issue that we have to address that just has not been fully studied yet.”

Bit by bit, researchers are coming around to what Gene Roddenberry realized half a century ago: space sex is super important, which is why all the ladies on the Starship Enterprise wore go-go boots and miniskirts. A group of Japanese scientists freeze-dried mouse sperm and stored it on the ISS for nine months, and then unfroze it to see if they could use it to artificially inseminate female mice.

The experiment was a success, showing that high levels of space radiation aren’t necessarily a barrier to reproduction. But that was only sperm, and from an exceptionally fecund animal at that. It isn’t clear how a human embryo, created in space or on a distant world, would fare because nobody has ever tried it before.

“We have no idea how they’re going to develop,” said Lenhardt. “Will they develop bones the way that we do? Will they ever be capable of coming to Earth and actually standing up?”

Even after a successful birth, there’s also the concern of what a child reared in micro or lessened gravity will look like. Low gravity and space radiation already pose major threats to adult spacefarers, let alone tender youths.

“So we’re basically, at that point, talking about people who are going to be – if they exist in the future – are going to be vastly different from what we are. And that may be kind of a turning point in human history,” Lenhardt said.

That doesn’t even touch on the physical challenges of sex in space. You may take it for granted, but almost everything fun you can do with another person also involves your good friend gravity.

“The first challenge is simply the result of moving about in near-zero gravity: every push or thrust will propel the astronaut in the opposite direction,” John Millis, chair of the department of physical sciences and engineering at Anderson University, told Gizmodo earlier in June. “Imagine a pair of ice skaters standing on fresh ice: if they were to push their hands against one another, they would each shoot backwards away from each other.

Microgravity interfering with blood flow and pooling might also make it more difficult for male astronauts to induce an erection (as if they needed another excuse, am I right ladies?) Females might have difficulties as well for similar reasons.

“Because of the micro-gravity environment, sweat and tears don’t run down the astronaut’s bodies like it does here on Earth, instead it pools like small ponds of fluid near where it was secreted,” Millis said, disgustingly. “If the motion is vigorous enough it could be ejected from the surface of the body. This means that liquid would both be pooling on the body, especially where there is contact with the other person. Also, the more they moved, pools of liquid would be flying off around the couple.”

Neither Lenhardt nor Miller touched on the ever-popular notion of sex with aliens, which is obviously what everyone cares about. Until we can conduct sexual anthropology on wookies or turians, however, that subject will remain one of popular and not academic interest.

Source: Sputniknews

China to upgrade Panama trade development office to embassy: Top representative

The China-Panama Trade Development Office, currently China’s highest representativeoffice in the country, will be upgraded to a full Chinese embassy.

Wang Weihua, permanent representative of the office, disclosed that the embassy will bebuilt in Panama City. Wang’s remarks came soon after China and Panama signed a jointcommuniqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations on June 13. More staff will berecruited and a new location will be scouted to build a more permanent embassy, Wangsaid. The Office of China-Panama Trade Development is located in an office building.

The resumption of diplomatic ties will bring about positive changes in terms of visaapplications, investment and maritime cooperation, benefiting Chinese people andenterprises, Wang said. Cooperation and exchange under the framework of the UN willflourish as well, he added.

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

China will not build hundreds of new coal plants: former head of Chinese energy authority

(File photo)

“China’s vow that its carbon emissions will peak by 2030 is totally different from building hundreds of additional coal plants,” said Zhang Guobao, former vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, at a June 9 round table on energy and climate in Beijing.

U.S. President Donald Trump referenced China in the statement he gave upon withdrawing from the Paris climate accord, claiming that China is allowed to do whatever it wants for 13 years. Zhang responded that this statement illustrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the Paris agreement.

Zhang, also the former director of China’s National Energy Administration, noted that China would never build hundreds of new coal plants, a point that has already been clearly explained and publicized. In fact, according to the National Energy Administration, the construction of 105 approved coal-fired power plants has already been halted. Zhang suggested that David Sandalow, the host of the round table and also the former acting undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, correct President Trump’s misunderstanding.

The average lifespan of coal plants in the U.S. is 33 years, said Zhang, which means that many American plants are indeed outdated. Zhang cited his experience visiting a coal plant in Indiana, built in 1952 with seven units and a capacity of 400 MW, pointing out that such a plant would be considered very outmoded in China.

“The coal consumption per kilowatt-hour in the U.S. is 400 grams, while the figure is 100 grams lower in China,” Zhang remarked, recommending that the U.S. shut down high-consumption plants and update its technology.

Trump stressed in his statement that the Paris climate accord disadvantaged the U.S. and would have taken away from the country’s wealth, “leaving American workers — who I love — and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories and vastly diminished economic production.”

However, both Zhang and Sandalow emphasized at the round table that the new-energy industry has become an important field for job creation in the U.S., and it should not be neglected by the president. According to Sandalow, a total of 250,000 people in the country are now working in the photovoltaic generation industry.

A report by the U.S. Department of Energy showed that 1.1 million people in the U.S. were engaged in traditional energy industries in 2016, while 0.8 million were in the low-carbon energy sector. Workers in solar energy and wind power respectively increased by 25 and 32 percent over the past year. In addition, wind turbine generation is now the fastest-growing industry in the U.S.

If permitted, Palace Museum could open for free: Museum director

Ticket prices for entry to the Palace Museum will not be raised, and the museum would potentially welcome visitors for free if the government approved and the public were on board, according to Shan Jixiang, the director of the museum.

Shan said in 2016 that the number of visitors to the Palace Museum had hit a record high, totaling 16 million, more than the visitors to the Louvre and the British Museum combined. In 2017, the museum put a cap on its number of visitors–80,000 per day.

More visiting space has been opened in recent years. In 2012, only 48 percent of the museum was open to the public. In 2014, that area was enlarged to 52 percent, and in 2015 it expanded to over 65 percent, Shan said. Last year, visitors could access more than 76 percent of the compound. By 2020, more than 80 percent of the Palace Museum compound will open to the public.

Shan said that the current price of museum tickets is not expensive. Peak season tickets are 60 RMB ($8.80), while off-peak tickets cost 40 RMB. These prices won’t be raised, he emphasized.

In order to better protect and manage cultural relics, Shan has reiterated on many occasions that the museum hopes to be recognized as a world cultural heritage site.

In January 2017, the “antiques hospital,” the museum’s repair and restoration workshop, was opened to the public. The workshop is equipped with 200 trained employees and boasts advanced facilities. Objects there are treated with as much care and respect as actual patients are in a hospital.

The Palace Museum’s Taobao store, home to a number of cultural and creative products, has become a hot topic on the internet. Statistics show that more than 9,170 distinctive cultural creative products and accessories had been launched by the end of 2016.

China’s air quality improved during 12th Five-Year Plan: Report

China’s air quality has improved since the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) was implemented, according to a report on satellite remote monitoring in 2016, which was released by the Chinese Academy of Sciences on June 12, reported.

The report made full use of remote sensing data from China’s independently developed resources satellites, meteorological satellites, sea satellites, high-resolution earth observation as well as international remote sensing satellite data. It discussed issues including land use, atmospheric conditions of city clusters and food production, in addition to Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei coordinated development.

(The images show the concentration of NO2 from 2010 to 2015)

According to the report, the national average atmospheric turbidity showed a downward trend from 2010 to 2015. In addition, the concentration of NO2 in most areas of China was reduced during the five-year period, indicating that air-pollution control policies were effectively implemented.

Seasonal variation of NO2 concentrations reflects the important role of anthropogenic discharge, as increased energy use for heating in the winter leads to annual peak concentrations.

In addition, the PM 2.5 concentration steadied from 2010 to 2013, and the period between 2014 and 2015 saw significant decreases from satellite remote sensing images.

(The images show the PM2.5 concentration in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei from 2010 to 2015)

Apple causes controversy over 30% tax on tips for China’s digital content creators

Apple recently levied a 30 percent tax on tips paid to content creators via social media apps, creating a major controversy among China’s net users and tech community.

WeChat, which has about 889 million active monthly users in China, disabled its tipping function for iPhone users in April after it failed to reach an agreement on the issue with Apple. The U.S. technology company has reportedly negotiated with some Chinese app developers, demanding that they include Apple’s in-app tipping feature.

Some firms, such as the Beijing-based Zhihu, have decided to compromise. The company said in a statement that it will introduce Apple’s in-app tipping service in the latest version of its app. Other companies behind popular apps such as Yingke and YY have also changed the way customers tip in the latest versions of their apps.

The move has provoked a certain amount of outrage from Chinese net users, with many arguing that Apple’s request for a cut is unreasonable, as tipping is voluntary – not a formal exchange. The policy only affects income made by content creators via tips from iPhone users. Tips from Android users are not bound by the rule.

Jilin man modifies old Volkswagen into armored ‘zombie vehicle’

A man in northwestern China’s Jilin province has turned an old Volkswagen Jetta into an armored “zombie vehicle,” equipped with spears on its rims and model machine guns on its hood. Overall, it resembles a car that has just escaped from battle, what with its rusty surface and rough body.

The owner of the vehicle is Zhou Di, a 35-year-old man who runs a workshop that produces industrial-style commodities in Jilin. Inspired by the movies “Mad Max” and “Death Race,” Zhou decided to modify the vehicle himself. He bought the scrapped Jetta about two months ago, and soon removed its engine and gearbox. Later, he installed steel bars above the wind shield, which cover most of the passenger side and leave only a small peep hole.

Zhou has also made defensive body kits and armor for the vehicle. Most of its “weapons” are made from spare parts of old cars and motorcycles. It took Zhou nearly a month to complete the modification, he said.

A fan of machinery from a very young age, Zhou began to repair electric vehicles after his graduation. He later opened a barbershop and restaurant, both decorated in an industrial style. However, the machinery enthusiast eventually changed his profession, opening a workshop that sells handmade industrial-style commodities.

Zhou said he likes his unique car, and he hopes to expand it into a series in the future, creating pick-ups and off-road vehicles.