China plans to expand volume of high-end, smart remanufacturing industry to $30B by 2020

China will expand the volume of its high-end and smart remanufacturing industry to 200 billion RMB ($30.3 billion) by 2020, according to a plan issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

The plan gives priority to the remanufacturing of key equipment, including medical imaging equipment, heavy machine tools, and oil and gas field equipment, as well as the application of common types of green technologies, including additive manufacturing, special materials, intelligent processing, and non-destructive testing in remanufacturing.

The plan has set ambitious goals. By 2020, China will make a series of breakthroughs in key generic technologies of disassembly, testing, and contour machining, set 50 standards on management, technologies, equipment, and evaluation of high-end smart remanufacturing, and preliminarily establish a replicable market-based mechanism for remanufactured products.

In addition, the country will establish 100 model enterprises, research centers, service providers, information platforms, and industrial hubs to further expand the volume of remanufacturing.

China’s 5th Antarctic expedition station indicates its growing research capability

Chinese scientists for the 34th expedition in Antarctica form the number 34 onboard Xuelong icebreaking research vessel.

China will be a great power of polar research as it prepares to build its 5th expedition station at the South Pole, People’s Daily Overseas Edition commented on Nov. 22.

Since 1984, when China first set up Changcheng Station in Antarctica, three more stations have followed. Hoping to strengthen its study of the approximately 14 million-square kilometers of complicated landform and climate, China is preparing to establish more expedition stations for richer research data.

In the next five months, Chinese scientists will carry out their 34th expedition in Antarctica. A series of surveys, including preliminary work for the construction of China’s fifth station in the Antarctic, will be conducted on west coast of the Ross Sea.

The Ross Sea is the southernmost water that current ships can reach. It is home to a series of famous volcanoes and the largest ice shelf in Antarctica, and is hailed as a natural laboratory for studies on energy exchange, substance exchange, and interaction of multi-spheres.

The establishment of the new expedition station along the Ross Sea will not only offer China a new probe into the South Pole, but also fill the research gap on key subjects, promoting international cooperation on Antarctic expedition.

The new station will be a perennial one that accommodates 80 people in summer and 30 in winter. With a construction area of 5,500 square meters, its radiant scope could reach 300 to 500 kilometers. The station is expected to be completed around 2022, said Zhang Tijun, assistant to the team leader of the 34th expedition team.

The new station to be built has also attracted worldwide attention. Singaporean newspaper Lianhe Zaobao noted that China is quickly becoming a polar research power, despite its short history of Antarctic expedition.

Quoting a Zelanian scholar, AFP said that China is already a major research force in Antarctica, as one of the few countries that have multiple research stations at the South Pole.

New high-speed railway keeps pandas, rare birds safe

A bullet train conducts a trial run between Xi’an and Chengdu. Once put to use later this year, it will be China’s first high-speed railway across the Qinling mountain range. Photo: Xinhua

A new high-speed railway linking Xi’an, capital of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province with Chengdu, capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan Province started its full-course test run Wednesday, making it China’s first high-speed railway in the geologically sensitive Qinling mountain range, which is home to hundreds of rare animal species, including giant pandas.

The 643-kilometer line, with a top speed of 250 kilometers per hour, will slash railway travel times between the two cities from the previous 16 hours to three hours.

Due to the mountainous terrain, the Xi’an-Chengdu high-speed railway posed challenges during construction. It is scheduled to become fully operational within the year.

The Qinling mountain range includes precipitous mountains and many rivers and canyons. Since ancient times it has been legendary as extremely difficult to traverse. The area is considered the natural boundary between north and south China.

The railway passes through two national-level natural reserves, one for pandas and the other for the crested ibis. To make way for endangered wild life, animal protection experts were invited to design protective measures during construction and operation.

As of September, there were 345 wild pandas living in the Qinling mountain area. China currently has 1,864 wild pandas.

Long lengths of protective nets for crested ibis were a major breakthrough of the railway, as previous highways and railways in China have not adopted such measures for birds, according to Wu Xiaomin, a research fellow at the Shaanxi Institute of Zoology, who is in charge of the research team for the Xi’an-Chengdu high-speed railway.

Wu’s team has monitored the impact of the construction on local animals since 2015, and trained construction workers to better protect animals. The protective measures greatly increased the cost and difficulty of the railway’s construction.

The new high-speed railway adopted a number of protective measures for both beasts and birds, the first to do so in China, and has set a fine example for the construction of future railways and highways, Wu said.

“What’s more, the innovative technology used in the animal protection measures in the railway could become supporting technology for China to export its high-speed railway technology,” he said.

Construction challenges

Zhao Jian, a professor at Beijing Jiaotong University, told the Global Times that the construction of the railway was complex and difficult due to the complicated terrain of Qinling, where a large number of bridges and tunnels had to be built.

About 135 kilometers of the 643-kilometer railway is within the Qinling area.

Bridges and tunnels were used in over 90 percent of the journey across the Qinling, Zhang Hongfeng, an associate fellow of the Shaanxi Institute of Zoology and a member of Wu’s team, told the Global Times. Wu’s team has been involved in the construction of the railway since 2009.

Trains running on bridges and in tunnels create much less noise, light and vibrations, Zhang added, which also lessens the influence on animals.

The construction of a 13-kilometer-long tunnel took three years, and gas and mud outbursts frequently occurred, Zeng Cheng, a senior engineer at the China Railway Eryuan Engineering Group, the construction company for the railway, told news site scol.com.cn.

In all, the railway took five years to build and involved more than 80,000 construction workers.

The railway employed many new technologies during construction, such as an unstable rock monitoring system in a bid to tackle the complicated terrain and ensure the safety of workers digging tunnels.

Source: Global Times

A close look at China’s most beautiful expressway

A section of the Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway in Inner Mongolia

The Beijing-Xinjiang Expressway, known as the most beautiful expressway in China, which stretches 2,768 km, is an example of the country’s strategic engineering. Along the expressway, there are some 10 natural sceneries, including grassland, forest, desert, and glacier.

A delegation of influential social media users was recently invited by the News Center of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, China Communications Construction Company Ltd., and Huanqiu.com to visit the project.

Construction of the expressway was completed in July, cutting more than 1,300 km off the journey from Beijing to Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in northwestern China.

The expressway, situated in the hinterland of Eurasia, not only shortens the distance from Beijing to Xinjiang, but also connects China with other countries, said Sun Zhang, a professor at the Institute of Rail Transit, Tongji University.

Construction of the expressway was initially hindered by conditions that made it difficult to receive signals, water, and power, and the workers were isolated from the outside world for almost two years in the uninhabited area.

In addition, its construction was obstructed by locals who thought it would affect their normal life, but their attitude changed once they learned how it would benefit them.

After the expressway opened to traffic this July, the number of tourists to Ejin Banner, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, rose to 4.8 million from 1.8 million last year, doubling tourism revenue.

In July, British website Mirror reported on construction of the expressway, saying that it is even longer than the distance from London to Marbella of Spain.

Some British internet users were amazed that it took only about 2 billion British pounds for China to build such a long expressway, given that the UK spent some 692 million pounds on the 8-kilomter-long extension of the M74 motorway in Glasgow in 2011.

The value of highways in China’s economic and social development lies not only in the contemporary era, but also in the years to come, noted Xu Chengguang at China’s Ministry of Transport, adding that although construction of expressways in China started late, the development momentum is sound.

Currently, China’s has 131,000 kilometers of expressways in use, topping the world.

Captive-bred panda pair to be released into wild after ‘survival training’

Two giant pandas, a male and a female, will be released into the wild later this month.

The pair, Ba Xi and Ying Xue, received two years of “survival training” at the Wolong Nature Reserve in southwest China’s Sichuan province.

It took three days to send the vigilant pair to a base of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda in Sichuan.

The pair will receive thorough health examinations before they are released into the wild later this month under a program aimed at helping rebuild the wild panda population.

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

Chinese robot becomes world’s first machine to pass medical exam

A Chinese AI medical robot named “Xiaoyi” became the world’s first to pass the written test of China’s National Medical Licensing Examination, who will now work to improve clinical diagnosis, Beijing News reported.

The robot scored 456 points in the exam, well above the national average, according to its research team at the Tsinghua-iFlyTek Joint Lab of Tsinghua University and China’s leading AI enterprise iFlyTek Co., Ltd.

Xiaoyi studied nearly one million medical images, 53 medical books, two million medical records, and 400,000 medical literatures and medical reports before sitting for the test, said Wu Ji, director of the joint lab.

For the critics who say that the robot only works by relying on its formidable memory ability, Wu explained that it does not make sense, because medical examination questions vary every year.

Wu said its study, reasoning, and judgment abilities also played a part in Xiaoyi’s success.

However, the robot is not likely to replace human doctors, noted Tao Xiaodong, a project manager at iFlyTek, adding that the robot is not able to flexibly use the knowledge it possesses, as there are often unforeseen circumstances during actual diagnosis and treatment.

The robot will be applied nationwide from March next year in medical education and training, and will be used to assist doctors in clinical diagnosis and treatment to improve diagnosis accuracy and shorten treatment time.

At present, the research team has established cooperative relationship with the National Medical Examination Center to jointly explore further applications of AI in medical examinations.

Chinese surgeon defends ‘world’s first’ head transplant

A Chinese surgeon leading the world’s first human head transplant carried out on a corpse in China has defended the controversial operation.

The procedure was carried out by a team led by Dr. Xiaoping Ren from Harbin Medical University in northeastern China, according to Italian professor Sergio Canavero.

“During the 18-hour operation, experts successfully reconnected the spine, nerves, and blood vessels of a severed head,” Ren said, adding that a full report about his team’s procedure and a timeframe for the live transplant are expected within the next few days.

“There has never been such a procedure in surgery. We completed the design of the operation, including how to cut and how to deal with the nerves, blood vessels, and muscles. Those are our achievements,” Ren said.

The test run helped the doctors explore various technical options with the surgery and ways to repair tissue, the doctor added.

But critics in the medical community say it is premature to perform such a transplant on humans and a test run on cadavers is no guarantee of success.

Hu Yongsheng, a professor at Xuanwu Hospital Capital Medical University in Beijing, said the operation cannot be technically called surgery, because Ren’s operation on a corpse was about gaining an understanding of anatomy.

Hu suggests that scientists fully test the procedure on animals before carrying out such a surgery on a living human. “Head transplants might eventually become a reality, but not right now.”

The operation can be regarded as an early-stage practice of a real experimental head transplant, Hu said. “It is the first step forward toward a very long distance.”

Ren defended the surgery by saying that all medical progress is achieved amid debates, citing that similar attacks had been leveled against pioneering kidney transplants more than 60 years ago.

“When something new emerges, we should regulate and discuss it, but not to stop it, because history has proven that new things are unstoppable,” Ren said.

China’s largest automatic parcel distribution system comes into service in Wuhan

China’s largest automatic parcel distribution system recently started service at a logistics center in Wuhan, Hubei province, Wuhan Evening news reported.

In addition to the optimized dispatching ability, the automatic distribution of robots system also contributed to the high efficiency of the logistics industry during China’s online shopping festival on Nov. 11.

The robots are able to sort more than 20,000 parcels each hour, saving 50% to 70% of human resources.

The robots use high-speed cameras to scan the codes of parcels on a conveyor belt and then automatically plan the optimal routes. In addition, the robots can return to a charging dock and recharge automatically.

The system, developed by China Post, includes 80 robots for sorting large parcels and 240 for small ones. These intelligent machines can help the logistics center handle 300,000 parcels each day.

Hangzhou kindergarten plans to offer philosophy courses

(File photo)

A kindergarten in Hangzhou, eastern China’s Zhejiang province, is planning to open philosophy courses for its students in the next year, Qianjiang Evening News reported on Nov. 16.

“Philosophy is not as profound as some people think, and children love raising lots of questions on their daily experiences,” said Gao Zhenyu, the teacher of the course, and also the director of a children philosophy research institute under Hangzhou Normal University.

For example, they asked whether ants are beneficial insects and wondered if a mother ant would be sad when another ant is stepped on after reading a story about ants, Gao noted.

Behind these questions is children’s thinking on their relations with nature, Gao said, adding that this process is what makes the philosophy course.

Experts on children philosophy believe that the courses can promote the development of children’s core competence, as well as improve their curiosity and exploring spirit.

In addition, it could also alter traditional views that children do not have the ability to think in a wise manner.

An employee of the kindergarten told Qianjiang Evening News that three different courses will be provided respectively for parents, teachers, and children.

In addition to the kindergarten, more and more schools in Hangzhou have started offering philosophy courses.

“Philosophy is the most interesting course, because I will be praised no matter how I answer the questions,” a student said.

Packaging waste from China’s annual shopping spree increases burden on environment

Huge environmental pressure has been placed on China as its online shoppers enjoyed the happiness of unpacking parcels purchased during the annual online shopping festival, Xinhua News agency reported Tuesday.

Given an approximate weight of 0.2 kilograms per package, at least 300,000 tons of garbage has been generated from the 1.5 billion parcels delivered on Nov. 11, an insider told Xinhua News Agency.

According to a department manager surnamed Wang from an incineration center in Beijing, over 2,000 tons of garbage has been sent to the center each day after the shopping festival, mostly boxes, plastic bags, bubble wraps, and woven bags. However, the incineration center was designed to handle only 1,800 tons, Wang added.

In addition to the surging loads of garbage, garbage sorting still remains an issue and causes obstacles for treatment. “The packaging tape and foam are bad for the incinerators,” said Guo Tuanhui, party secretary of the Circular Economy Industrial Park in Chaoyang District, Beijing.

A single package generates at least 3 or 4 kinds of garbage, Guo noted, adding that paper packaging accounts for 15% of the total domestic waste in Chaoyang.

Approximately 1 million tons of garbage is generated from express delivery companies each year, causing huge resource waste and environmental pressure, said Yang Jun, deputy secretary general of the China Express Association.

Though environmentally-friendly packaging promotions have been carried out by Tmall, Suning, and other e-commerce platforms, green packaging only makes up a very small percentage of the total volume.

China’s State Post Bureau recently announced specific goals for a green courier sector. By 2020, half of all external packaging should be degradable, 90 percent of waybills should be electronic, and the packing material consumed for each parcel should be cut by 10 percent.

However, Researcher Yang Daqing from China Society of Logistics believes that in addition to greening the logistics sector, the country should also phase out over-packaging and improve consumer awareness in relations to environmental protection and garbage sorting.