China’s auto market still full of potential despite first decline in 28 years

A production line in the Chang’an Automobile Group. (Chongqing Daily/Luo Bin)

In 2018, China sold a total of 27.8 million vehicles, 1 million less than the previous year. However, the industry is still full of promise, as the country implements further measures to boost this figure, said Ning Jizhe, deputy chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, in a recent interview.

Although China’s auto market recorded its first slump in 28 years, it still accounted for 30 percent of the global market share.

Ning disclosed that China would implement measures to further facilitate the consumption of hot-spot commodities including cars and home appliances.

He noted that while China’s average annual auto sales figure is now approaching 30 million, the country still holds further market potential.

The previous rapid growth of auto sales, the downfall of macroeconomic growth, the cancellation of preferential purchase tax, as well as the stable housing market in central and western China all bring pressure to the continuous growth of vehicle sales in 2019, said Cui Dongshu, secretary-general of the China Passenger Car Association.

Shi Jianhua, deputy secretary general of the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers, described the recent slump as normal, considering the steady development of the auto market and the average sales growth of automobiles over recent years.

Insiders believe that compared with the slowing growth of the urban auto market, China’s rural regions are gradually emerging as an important arena for the auto industry’s future. Thanks to the growing income of rural residents and the improving infrastructure in rural areas, these regions are expected to see an increasing appetite for auto consumption.

In spite of the general optimism surrounding China’s auto market, the sales volume of vehicles in the country is not likely to return to its former glory in the short-term.

It’s likely that China will maintain a low-speed growth in the auto market, said Song Zifeng, director of the Research Department of Industrial Economy under the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Young Chinese man granted the title of chieftain in Nigeria

Li Manhu (right) receives his sceptre.

A young Chinese man working in Nigeria received a big surprise last year as he was made chieftain of a local tribe by a Nigerian “king”, the top ruler of a local community under Nigeria’s traditional power system.

The 27-year-old, named Li Manhu, who works in the administration and communication department of a bridge project undertaken by Chinese constructor CGCOC Group, told Xinhua News Agency that he received the title thanks to the king’s recognition of his company’s contribution to the local community.

Li is in charge of the salary payment of over 200 local workers, and is also responsible for the communication between the project and local communities. With his new title, he can, on behalf of the king, better manage the relations between the two and guarantee the project will run smoothly.

Ye Shuijin, general manager of CGCOC Group’s Nigerian branch, explained that the company has completed over 500 projects in the country over the past three decades. The company lays great importance not only on project quality and execution, but also on its integration into local communities and its due social responsibility, the general manager said, adding that this is why the company has earned such a good reputation among locals.

Li Manhu and the “king”.

In recent years, many Chinese people in Nigeria have been granted chieftain titles, including overseas Chinese who have been living in the country for years, and also high management officials from Chinese companies. It reflects the fruitful results of the non-governmental exchanges between the two countries, as well as the high recognition among local communities when it comes to China’s assistance in local infrastructure construction.

Li noted that although he was more like an honorary chieftain, who would not directly participate in the daily management of the tribe, this title would still bring him and the local community closer.

“What comes with honor is responsibility,” Li said, adding that he could feel the weight of this responsibility on his shoulders, and that he would serve as a bridge between Chinese and Nigerian people.

China expected to roll out commercial 3D-printed houses in 2019

Chinese citizens should be able to move into 3D-printed houses that conform to national construction regulations and standards in 2019, China News Agency reported Tuesday.

These houses are being developed by Beijing-based tech supplier, Huashangluhai, the only company to use normal-strength reinforced concrete as a printing material, after years of research.

Wu Jiangping, founder of Huashangluhai, explained that the company had adopted a new print-on-site technology that helps improve structural stability. Apart from civil buildings, the company is also able to print commercial complexes.

Compared with traditional methods, 3D printing could not only save 30 to 60 percent of building materials and over half of the associated human cost, but also shorten the construction time. Safety risks and pollution could also be significantly reduced.

For these reasons, China eagerly supports the broad application of such technology. The 2016-2020 outline for informatization development of the construction industry issued by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development noted that China would actively explore this area.

In modern Chinese society, where there is an emphasis on living quality, 3D-printed houses will undoubtedly catch the eyes of both the real estate market and buyers, said an expert.

One billion people visit Chinese museums in 2018

Two children watch exhibits in Henan Museum. (Photo/Xinhua)

Last year, more than 20,000 exhibitions were held at museums across China, attracting nearly one billion visitors, according to statistics released during a meeting attended by cultural heritage administrators on Jan. 8.

China is home to 5,136 museums, it was revealed at the meeting. In 2018, authorities enacted new guidelines to make better use of and protect cultural relics.

Last year, the National Cultural Heritage Administration and the Ministry of Public Security worked together to crack down on cases related to cultural relics. A total of 1,476 people were arrested, and 6,877 cultural relics were retrieved.

Nearly 80 percent of the crimes related to cultural relics in recent years were committed by legal persons. Liu Yuzhu, head of the administration, said lax enforcement is a prominent problem that endangers cultural relics.

Liu said China has now signed bilateral agreements on cultural heritage with France, the UK and Singapore, among other countries, donated to the International Fund for the Protection of Endangered Cultural Heritage and participated in fund management.

The archaeological cooperation between China and foreign countries has gradually grown, with 40 projects already initiated in 24 countries and regions in Asia, Africa, Europe and South America.

China’s digital economy creates new jobs amid challenges

An unmanned supermarket in Tianjin. (Photo/Xinhua)

The digital economy is predicted to become an important channel of employment by 2025, as it reshapes China’s employment landscape and creates new business models including e-commerce, mobile payment and sharing economy.

In 2017, jobs brought by the digital economy in China reached 171 million, accounting for 22.1 percent of the country’s total employment for the same period, among which, more than 120 million workers were employed in the digitized tertiary industry, according to a white paper issued by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

Sun Chengkun, a full-time driver for an online ride-hailing platform, said that the digital economy secured the job for him. Now he can earn an additional 5,000 yuan each month. Ride-hailing platforms attract many full-time drivers like Sun and part-time drivers, helping them find jobs or increase their income.

On the other hand, new businesses such as unmanned stores and shelves are replacing existing ones at a quickening pace, posing challenges to human labor. Application of industrial robots also reduces employment demand. A study by the World Economic Forum shows that 7 million employees, including ordinary white-collar workers and blue-collar workers, will be replaced by 2020.

Wang Fengqin was a spare parts production worker. She lost her job this year due to her employer implementing robots. Recently, she has taken a two-month computer training course to find a new job with a higher salary and adapt to the trend of the digital economy.

By 2025, with the continuous expansion of the digital economy, national digital literacy will have reached the average level of developed countries, the scale of digital talents will have steadily increased, and the digital economy field will have become an important channel to provide employment, stated the Guiding Opinions on Developing the Digital Economy to Stabilize and Increase Employment, issued by China’s 19 ministries including the National Development and Reform Commission.

China gears up to guarantee smooth Spring Festival travel rush

Workers check a CR200J train at the China Railway Shanghai Group Co., ltd. in Shanghai, east China, Jan. 6, 2019. The CR200J train, with a centralized power system that runs 160-km-per-hour, will be put into use before the Spring Festival travel rush in 2019.(Xinhua/Chen Fei)

China’s Spring Festival travel rush will begin on Jan. 21, and the country is already gearing up to guarantee the smooth operation of services during the largest annual human migration on earth.

According to a national television conference on the Spring Festival travel rush this Monday, a total of 406 million rail trips are expected to be made during this period, up 30.89 million, or 8.2 percent from the year before. It will be the first time for passenger volume to exceed 400 million during the Spring Festival travel rush.

Guo Zhuxue, vice president of the China Railway Corporation, noted that the country would further expand the frequency and coverage of its Fuxing bullet trains. The longest Fuxing high-speed train made up of 17 cars, as well as the centrally powered electric Fuxing trains with a maximum speed of 160 kilometers per hour, will both join the travel campaign for the first time this year, Guo disclosed.

China’s railway system will handle over 10 million passengers per day during the travel rush, and over 60 percent of the passengers will take high-speed trains to go home.

Last year, China built 86,000 kilometers of road, including 6,000 kilometers of expressway, bringing the total road mileage to 4.86 million km. With 190 million private cars now running across the country, China is bound to see a higher ratio of people hitting the road during the Spring Festival travel rush. “Expressways will continue to be free for small-sized passenger vehicles during this year’s Spring Festival holiday,” disclosed Vice Minister of Transport Liu Xiaoming.

China’s Chongqing introduces innovative parking method, improves utilization

China’s Chongqing introduces innovative parking method, improves utilization

China’s Chongqing introduces innovative parking method, improves utilization

China’s Chongqing introduces innovative parking method, improves utilization

China’s Chongqing introduces innovative parking method, improves utilization

A new way of parking in southwestern China’s Chongqing municipality might offer an effective solution to insufficient parking spaces in the modern world. When a driver enters a car park, a parking rack will be moved into the lane. All the driver has to do is drive onto the rack, park up and leave. The car will then be raised at an angle and moved back into place so it is out of the way.

Thanks to this innovative method, the 400-square meter garage now has 40 parking spots compared with its previous 24, an increase of 65 percent. (Photo/Chongqing Daily)

China has the potential to develop a robust domestic market: experts

Experts and industry insiders believe that China has the potential to develop a big domestic market, expand consumption, and facilitate effective investment.

The size of the Chinese market has already grown, so much so that it is now one of the big global players. During the “Double 11”shopping spree in 2018, transactions worth more than 10 billion yuan were created through Alibaba’s online marketplace Tmall in just two minutes and five seconds.

A consumer named Fu Ping explained that over the last few years, she has noticed a larger selection of goods to put into her shopping cart, and the quality is also improving.

China has the potential, demand, and conditions to develop a robust domestic market, said Wang Wei, an economist with the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Chinese consumers are now enjoying a higher level of consumption, which indicates excellent potential for consumption upgrade, said Wang Yuanhong, an economist at the State Information Center.

Wang Yuanhong said the divergence between different groups, regions, and industries could be mitigated by the new types of industrialization, informatization, urbanization, and agricultural modernization.

The economist said China should concentrate on its own affairs, believing that fostering a sizeable domestic market will create steady growth and employment, build economic resilience and optimize economic structure.

Jiang Feng, president of the China Household Electrical Appliances Association, said the industry had created a research and development team to improve the quality of home appliances, which in turn generates new consumption demand among consumers.

Wang Wei said, on the one hand, favorable policies such as special individual income tax deductions should be implemented promptly, so that consumers have more disposable income. On the other hand, she said public services should be improved, such as healthcare and elderly care, so that consumers feel more assured.

Wang Wei suggested that new consumption points should be created by elevating the level of consumption, accelerating diversified development of the modern service industry, and fostering new consumption modes.

Additionally, experts have said that the government should place investment in key areas that will create effective supply.

He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), suggested the country reinforce efforts to boost major technical equipment capabilities, renovate traditional industries, foster new growth drivers, promote effective investment in key areas, and provide higher-quality products and services to the customers.

China’s reform and opening-up accords with trend of global development

I served as the Counselor of Malaysian Embassy in China from 1980 to 1985, and the Malaysian Ambassador to China from 1998 to 2005, witnessing first-hand the changes in China.

In the 1970s and 1980s, ration coupons were needed for many necessities and household items in China as the country had a shortage of food and materials. There were still very few international flights in Beijing and few hotels there. When my relatives and friends came to visit me in Beijing, they often felt it was inconvenient to live there.

Cities went rapid changes after China’s reform and opening up. Girls wore fashionable dresses and stylish hats. It became more convenient go shopping as there were a plentiful variety of goods for sale. The Chinese people became more confident than before.

I witnessed China’s rapid development as the Malaysian Ambassador to China. The degree of development in big cities was on a par with that of international metropolises, with high-rise buildings, expressways, airports and stores springing up like mushrooms. Many Chinese brands became renowned internationally. People lived in more spacious homes.

Today, China has made remarkable achievements in scientific and technological innovation. The ubiquitous e-payment has made life more convenient. Every day, I keep in touch with my Chinese friends via WeChat, a popular instant messaging app in China.

China’s development achievements through four decades of reform and opening up are unparalleled in the world. The country has substantially raised people’s incomes, continuously improved consumption level, accelerated industrial upgrading, and promoted a higher level of opening-up. These achievements have brought opportunities for the economic development of other countries, and the sound interaction enables China and the world to seek shared prosperity and development.

The success of China’s reform and opening up is attributed to the correct leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the strong desire of the Chinese people to change, and their sincere support for the policy of reform and opening up.

The founding of People’s Republic of China has changed the fate of the Chinese people mired in poverty and backwardness since modern times. The CPC responded to the wishes of the Chinese people to implement reform and opening up, bringing about profound changes to China. China’s reform and opening up, undoubtedly another revolution, accords with the trend of global development.

Malaysia regards China’s reform and opening up as a great opportunity. In 1985, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad led a delegation to visit China, showing the world by action that Malaysia would seize the opportunity to carry out economic and trade cooperation with China, which had opened itself to the world.

Today, China has become Malaysia’s second largest trading partner. The development of China’s technology and Internet economy is further boosting vigorous development of small and medium-sized enterprises in Malaysia.

Benefiting a lot from globalization, China has become an important force on the international stage as its economy grows, especially since its accession to the World Trade Organization. China has actively participated in the establishment of international economic order and mechanisms, which further enhances its profile.

As the world’s second largest economy, China has also injected strong impetus into economic globalization and global economic development while promoting its economic growth. The Belt and Road Initiative helps China achieve a higher level of opening up, and means that China will share development results and successful experiences with the world, especially with more developing countries. China’s reform and opening up will certainly further benefit neighboring countries and become a driving force for regional and even global economic prosperity.

(The author is former Malaysian Ambassador to China.)

Chang’e-4 lands on dark side of the moon, opening new chapter in lunar exploration

A simulated landing process of Chang’e-4 lunar probe is seen through the monitor at Beijing Aerospace Control Center in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 3, 2019. (Xinhua/Jin Liwang)

China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe has made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon. Experts believe that this successful landing has opened a new chapter in mankind’s lunar exploration.

A lander, rover and relay satellite named Queqiao jointly completed the landing, and now serve to communicate between the moon and Earth, said Sun Zezhou, chief designer of the Chang’e-4 probe, from the China Academy of Space Technology.

The mission has conquered at least three difficulties so far. The first was to position the Queqiao relay satellite at the second Lagrangian (L2) point of the Earth-moon system, about 79,000 km from the moon and 40,000 km from Earth, where it can see both Earth and the moon’s far side.

The second, Sun said, was to guarantee the accuracy and reliability of the relay satellite for moon-Earth communication and to access the probe’s control system.

The third was the safe landing of the probe in the designated area, which has many geological features, said Wu Weiren, the chief designer of China’s lunar probe program. To land safely, the probe had to choose a flat area at a big collision site on the far side of the moon.

The probe descended vertically towards the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken basin, Wu said. When it fell to an altitude of about 2 km, its computer identified and assessed large obstacles such as rocks and craters so that the probe could avoid them.

At 100 meters above the ground, the probe hovered to identify smaller obstacles and measured surface slopes. Its computer recalculated and selected the safest site.

“If the probe couldn’t find a safe landing area, it would have kept adjusting itself until a relatively safe spot was found,” Sun introduced.

The probe landed at the preselected landing area, 177.6 degrees east longitude and 45.5 degrees south latitude, on the far side of the moon. The thermal control system and solar wings of the probe were designed to be in line with these conditions.

The Aitken Basin is the largest, deepest and oldest known crater in the solar system. About 2,500 kilometers in diameter and 12 kilometers in depth, it has a small crater, Von Karman, inside it.

An alternative landing area had also been prepared. If the Chang’e-4 probe failed to touch the surface of Von Karman on the first day, it could have landed at the alternative location on the second day.

Sun said more functions were attached to the design of the Chang’e-4 mission so that the probe would be able to carry out more challenging tasks.

For instance, the sensor capabilities were enhanced for more accurate guidance and navigation while the probe was descending. Scientists also adjusted strategies for the landing process and control targets of each part of the landing mission.

The probe was made to become independent. While the probe works on the moon, it can “sleep” during the lunar night and “wake up” in the day, to begin its work on the moon surface.

The mission is a massive contribution to China’s global strength in the aerospace industry. In the future, the country will carry out a number of these missions.