China’s high speed rail mileage expected to hit 30,000 kilometers in 2020

Total mileage of China’s high speed rail is expected to reach 30,000 kilometers by 2020, covering 80% of major cities, according to a development plan for railway construction released by the country’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Nov. 24.

China will have 150,000 kilometers of rail tracks in operation in 2020, 60% of which are double-track railways and 70% electrified lines.

In addition, a 2,000-kilometer network of intercity railway will be formed in economically developed and densely populated areas. A total of 3,000 kilometers of branch lines will be expanded, offering a “seamless” transfer experience.

The plan says that high speed trains will carry 65% of the total passengers by 2020, and the travelling between adjacent major cities will be shortened to 1-4 hours.

According to requirements, 80% of the train tickets should be available on online platforms.

Transaction of China’s trans-border e-commerce to reach 12 trillion RMB in 2020

Workers sort out items in a bonded warehouse in Guangzhou.

Transaction of China’s trans-border e-commerce is expected to reach 12 trillion RMB ($1.82 trillion) by 2020, according to the evaluation of third-party organizations iResearch and China Investment Consulting.

Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative, the annual growth of the country’s cross-border e-commerce will be maintained at around 20% in the next few years. The sector is expected to account for 37.6% of the total volume of China’s import and export business.

On Nov. 24, China’s Ministry of Finance said in a statement that the country will further reduce tariffs on consumer goods including food, healthcare products, medicine, daily chemicals, clothing, home appliances, entertainment, and groceries. The taxes will be slashed to an average of 7.7% from 17.3%.

This favorable policy will further boost the development of China’s cross-border e-commerce.

AI changes traditional driving behaviors

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing traditional driving behaviors, and its deep integration with urban transport has also attracted broad attention.

AI is ushering in a more effective and safer era for urban transport, said Peng Jinzhan, chief architect of Beijing-based self-driving car start-up UISEE Technology.

At the 19th China High-Tech Fair, Chinese facial recognition technology developer SenseTime unveiled its latest driver fatigue monitoring system. The system is able to read and analyze drivers’ facial expressions and will issue precautions and alerts if fatigue is detected.

In addition, a complete smart system for urban transit using AI technology will be established. AI has already been applied to traffic control in eastern China’s city of Hangzhou.

In October 2016, Chinese tech giant Alibaba launched a pilot program called “City Brain” in Hangzhou. The internet-connected program conducts real-time analysis for the city’s transport resources in a bid to more effectively allocate public resources and promote sustainable urban development.

Statistics show that average driving speed in pilot areas increased 15% after the launch of the program, and the average time of congestion is down 9.2%.

In the city’s Xiaoshan District, ambulances are given a green light at all intersections through smart dispatching, which has cut the average arrival time for ambulances by half.

In addition, the system reports more than 500 traffic accidents in the downtown area daily, with an accuracy of 92%.

However, more work is needed before AI and traffic control are deeply integrated. According to Peng, self-driving is a core scenario of AI application in transport, but there’s still a long way to go in terms of environmental perception, intelligent decision and planning, and smart control.

China sees 4.17 trillion RMB of environmental investment from 2011 to 2015

A sewage treatment plant in Nanjing

China has invested 4.17 trillion RMB in environmental protection from 2011 to 2015, up 92.8% compared to the period between 2006 and 2010, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said at a press conference held Thursday.

According to You Yanxin, director of the MEP’s Department of Planning and Finance, the country will further expand enterprises’ input on pollution control and attract more social capital in a bid to improve the environment and build a beautiful China.

Migrant workers not target of safety campaign: Beijing govt

Beijing authorities on Sunday denied there is a systematic campaign to evict migrant workers from the metropolis, after an ongoing city-wide campaign against unsafe buildings sparked huge criticism.

The Beijing Administration of Work Safety responded to their critics by denying there is any targeting of the “low-end population,” in reference to migrant workers, media reported Sunday.

“It is irresponsible and groundless to say the campaign is to evict the ‘low-end population.’ There is no such phrase,” an official from the administration, who refused to give his name, told the Beijing Youth Daily.

Beijing launched a 40-day safety inspection campaign after a deadly fire on November 18 that killed 19 people, including 8 minors, in an apartment block in Xinjian village, Daxing district. The campaign will last until the end of December.

Xinjian was all but deserted when the Global Times arrived Friday morning, as residents hurried to leave before a local government deadline to vacate illegal buildings by Friday night.

Illegal buildings, as well as places that are simultaneously used for housing, storage and production are among the places with a high frequency of safety violations, according to a document from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development. The inspection covers all districts in Beijing, with the focus on the rural-urban fringes, it said.

Timely help

Like migrant workers from other places affected by the safety inspections, the residents of Xinjian told the Global Times they were either returning to their hometowns, or trying to find a new home in the capital or other nearby places, such as Langfang in Hebei Province.

Individuals and organizations, including hostels, real-estate companies, NGOs, churches and restaurants have reached out by offering free accommodation, transportation or work opportunities to people who lost their homes and jobs.

Wang, an employee from a real-estate company in Gu’an county, Hebei Province, which is close to Beijing’s Daxing disctrict, told the Global Times that his company offered more than 20 apartments for the homeless free of charge for up to three months.

“Before those spare houses are sold, they are available for the people in need. Bunk beds and toilets have been arranged,” Wang said Sunday.

Some organizations arranged free minivans for migrants to help them move or send them to train stations. A platform called Caibang technology dispatched about 10 vans to help people in need on Saturday.

However, a man surnamed Yang who posted information and volunteered to offer places for migrants in Tongzhou district on Saturday, was told by local police to stop providing services and shut his house down.

“Police told me I need to be certified to house migrants and offer services for them,” Yang told the Global Times on Sunday.

More than 8 million of Beijing’s population are migrants, Caijing magazine reported.

Source: Global Times

China to test 5G in cities in 2018

China is set to conduct tests of fifth generation mobile networks, or 5G, in selected cities, as the country races to the finishing line for adoption of the ultra-high-speed wireless system that is set to be the next big thing to drive Internet and beyond.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) recently released a note asking industry research institutions and companies to start the third stage of 5G research and development (R&D) and relevant tests, the ministry said on Thursday.

“To promote the innovative development of 5G, improve the level of technological research and development and speed up the maturity of the industry… the third phase of 5G technology research and development and testing has started,” said the note, which was published on the MIIT’s website.

The third phase will focus on tests of connections among various forms of infrastructure and devices to “fully push ahead key aspects of the industry chain to basically reach a level of commercial use,” the note continued, adding that third-phase tests should be completed by the end of 2018.

“What that tells us is that 5G technology is ready for real life tests and we are at the final stage before the actual launch of 5G,” Xiang Ligang, chief executive of domestic telecom industry portal, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Xiang said the first phase of 5G focused on indoor tests, the second phase focused on outdoor simulated tests, and the third phase will involve tests in real life.

“So what will happen is that companies and research institutions will pick certain areas in 20 or 30 cities across the country to conduct tests on the 5G network,” he said. “It will be a huge-scale and much broader test of the network’s stability and quality.”

Final stage

Wang Yanhui, head of the Shanghai-based Mobile China Alliance, also said that China has been pushing hard in terms of 5G development.

“I think it’s pretty clear that China is fully prepared to be first across the finish line,” Wang told the Global Times on Sunday, adding that China’s aim to fully commercialize 5G technology by 2020 is on track, despite the extremely complex nature of the new generation networks.

“Unlike 4G or previous generations of wireless connection, 5G is not just about faster speed. It’s also about the Internet of Things and autonomous driving,” Wang said.

It is a much broader concept that will impact areas beyond mobile wireless connection and the Internet and affect many other industries, according to Wang.

Experts said that Chinese telecommunication companies such as Huawei Technologies Co and ZTE Corp are the main drivers of China’s 5G technology push.

“I think technology-wise, Huawei and ZTE have made great progress and are ready to conduct real life tests. They just need the government to coordinate various aspects of the test,” Xiang said.

Huawei and ZTE have been conducting tests and establishing infrastructure both domestically and abroad.

Huawei announced on Thursday that – along with the research arm of Chinese telecom provider China Mobile – it had completed a test run on the world’s first 5G customer premises equipment using the 3.5GHz bandwidth, which reached a speed of above 1.3Gbps, according to a press release.

ZTE and US-based Qualcomm Technologies Inc announced in a joint statement on November 17 that they had successfully achieved the world’s first end-to-end 5G New Radio (NR) Interoperability Data Testing (IoDT) system.

“The successful interoperable connection of the end-to-end 5G NR IoDT system serves as a significant industry milestone toward pre-commercialization of 5G NR technologies at scale,” the statement said.

Xiang said that all of these developments are what led the MIIT to call for the third phase of 5G development. “I think we are ready for real life 5G tests,” he said.

Source: Global Times

Stellar Road Runner: Fastest-Orbiting ‘Super-Earth’ Planet Ever Discovered

NASA’s Kepler space telescope team has identified 219 new planet candidates, 10 of which are near-Earth size and in the habitable zone of their star

The Kepler telescope, which has already helped discover some 2,300 exoplanets during its K2 planet-hunting mission, has been instrumental in identifying arguably the fastest-orbiting planet ever discovered.

A day on Earth, the time it takes for an Earth to conduct a full revolution, lasts 24 hours, roughly speaking, and a year on Earth takes 365 days, during which our planet makes a full circle around the sun. During the year we have winter, spring, Women’s Day, summer, September 1, winter, Christmas and many other wonderful moments. The year is a wonderful thing, right?

Not on planet EPIC 246393474 b, though. There, a year lasts only seven hours.

That’s right, this planet, also known as C12_3474 b (according to different star catalogues), is the fastest ever discovered. Its orbital period is only about 6.7 hours, according to a report by

Remarkably, the newly discovered speedy planet is actually pretty large, being three times as big as Earth and 5.3 more massive. This suggests a solid, heavy rocky body with lots of iron, with the iron content reaching up to 70 percent, scientists say.

It orbits its host at only 0.007 astronomical units (1 AU equals the average distance from Earth to our sun) or 650,690 miles, or only three times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.

Besides, its atmosphere has probably been completely blown off by stellar radiation, the scientists say. That close to the star, the planet is lucky it hasn’t been vaporized entirely.

So yes, living there would really suck, even without that seven-hour year. What makes us wonder, though, is how long a day there is? While the scientists currently have no way to tell, we can only compare it to the Earth day-to-year ratio. And that comparison would make living on EPIC 246393474 b a constant strobe show, probably. Or perhaps it is tidally locked, like many other close-in planets?

(Source: sputniknews)

Russian Scientists Create Tool to Spot Tiniest Concentration of Toxins in Water

Water splashes

Scientists from the Far Eastern Federal University and the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have created a prototype sensor system which can record even the tiniest concentration of toxic hydrogen sulfide in water. According to the university, the system may prove highly useful for environmental monitoring and medical research.

The new device, which makes use of biosensors, picks up on concentrations of hydrogen sulfide as small as 100 microliters (1,000,000 microliters is the equivalent of 1 liter). This is several orders of magnitude below a concentration of hydrogen sulfide that would prove dangerous for a healthy adult.

The prototype tool uses biopolymer film equipped with ultrasensitive receptors. If it begins to glow, this signals the presence of hydrogen sulfide, a university press release explained.

“In the course of experiments, we created a luminescent sensor system based on protein complexes formed by the introduction of chemically bound CY3 fluorescent dye and myoglobin protein into a biopolymer matrix,” Alexander Sergeev, a researcher at the university’s School of Natural Sciences, explained.

“The ability to find small concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in water has immense practical importance, since this gas is of a byproduct of the metabolisms of living organisms and the decomposition of organic matter,” the scientist added.

Sergeev also emphasized the practical importance of the new device. “With the help of this new technology, it’s possible to carry out ecological monitoring of marine environments, and to conduct a broad range of biomedical research.”

Hydrogen sulfide is a gas present in some water, giving off a characteristic ‘rotten egg’ odor at high concentrations. Often found in well water in rural environments, its presence has been known to cause nausea, illness, and in extreme instances, even death. Exposure in developed areas is often caused by nearby industrial and agricultural production, wastewater treatment plants, and things like oil and gas development. It also occurs naturally in some groundwater.

Research into the new technology has been made possible thanks to grants from the Russian Science Foundation and the Russian Presidential Fund for Young Scientists.

In recent years, researchers from the Far Eastern Federal University and the Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences have created several pioneering technologies allowing for the detection of hazardous chemicals. Among their creations is an optical sensor enabling the highly accurate measure of relative humidity, luminescent chemosensors which pick up amines and ammonia, and new tools for detecting metal ions in liquids, among others.

(Source: sputniknews)

Russian experts developed an impenetrable smartphone security system

A research team from the Institute of Cyber Intelligence Systems at the National Research Nuclear University (MEPhI) has developed a new system of continuous authentication for smartphones based on behavioral biometrics. The results of the new research were presented at several international conferences, the university’s press service told a RIA Novosti representative.

Password-based authentication is the most popular mobile device security system today. This system, however, is rather inconvenient for users, since they constantly have to re-enter their digital number or unlock patterns.

An alternative system, based on fingerprint authentication, is also significantly flawed: using malicious apps, hackers can replicate the owner’s fingerprints and even add their own, thus blocking the device from its owner.

The biggest advantage of the new system developed by NRNU MEPhI is the continuous protection of the device from hacking, which requires no actions from the owner.

The behavioral biometrics system monitors the unique parameters of the user’s device handling, which allows it to determine who is using the smartphone: its owner or someone else. In fact, everyone has a unique manner of handling their phones – the way we hold them, interact with the touch screen with our fingers, the way we use apps. These are the parameters that should be subject to constant monitoring, MEPhI experts suggested.

This authentication system is more convenient, since, apart from passwords and fingerprints, behavioral biometric characteristics cannot be lost, copied, stolen or imitated, which keeps the device well protected from hacking.

“Our scientific innovation is that for the first time ever, we used data analysis and machine learning technologies, as well as artificial neural networks, to monitor behavioral biometric characteristics in order to ensure the continuous authentication of the smartphone user. The sensitivity of sensors in today’s smartphones allows them to recognize the unique behavioral characteristics of each user and, based on the set of data collected from the touch screen and other sensors, to conduct high-accuracy authentication,” said Konstantin Kogos, head of the project and associate professor at MEPhI’s Cryptology and Cybersecurity Department.

This new technology might be interesting for smartphone and app developers that require continuous authentication, such as banking apps, corporate apps and messengers.

(Source: sputniknews)

China to launch 5G commercial services next year

China is expected to launch commercial operations of 5G communication in 2018, according to the 19th China High-Tech Fair that concluded Tuesday.

With the development of the latest communication technology, China’s three major telecom companies are striving to realize large-scale application of the service in 2020.

The previous four generations of telecom technologies focused on people-to-people communication, while the latest generation will connect humans to things.

“4G changed your life, 5G will change society,” noted Ding Haiyu, director of China Mobile Research Institute’s wireless division.

In addition, 5G technology is almost 100% reliable and consumes little power at low cost. This means almost anything can be equipped with wireless communication technology in the future, enabling wireless communication to develop into a general technology just like electricity.

China started technical tests of 5G communication in January last year and has completed the planning of a 30-site 5G test field in Huairou District, Beijing. The next phase of testing will begin later this year or early 2018.

The initial 5G network should be achieved in June 2018 and the complete version in September 2019. Large-scale commercial operation is expected to be realized in 2020.

Responding to some concern about the new communication technology, an insider explained that the cost will decrease as techniques and services improve. Overall, a household’s communication expense is expected to go down.