Outbound tour price rises 10% during Spring Festival


During the week-long holiday in celebration of Lunar New Year, reservations and prices of outbound tours are set to rise, up 32 percent and almost 10 percent respectively since last year, according to a recent report by Beijing Youth Daily, quoting data from several travel agencies.

Booking data shows that Thailand, Japan, China’s Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, Mauritius, the United States, Australia and France are the top ten destinations for Chinese outbound tourists during the Spring Festival. Trips to islands and beaches such as Phuket, Da Nang and Bali account for 60 percent of the total number of reservations during the holiday.

Hot springs and ski trips in Japan are also gaining popularity, with Hokkaido, Mount Fuji, Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka become the popular destinations in Japan for outbound Chinese tourists, according to the data.

China’s floating population starts to shrink

Migrant workers returning home (Photo/Zhang Bin)

While the total number of births in China may have exceeded 15 million in 2018, this figure shows a downward trend from the 17.2 million babies born in 2017. This decline, alongside more migrant workers moving home than ever, means China’s floating population is in sharp decline, said an industry insider, China Business Network reported on Jan. 3.

In recent years, the sharp decrease in birth population has become an irreversible trend, and is expected to continue to drop, stabilizing at about 13 million, the insider said.

In addition to a declining birth rate, floating population groups which bring economic development dividends have also started to move home in higher numbers. However, experts say there is enormous potential for the transfer of this labor force to non-agricultural sectors, with statistics showing that at least 200 million people are involved in this process.

A report by the National Health Commission indicates that every percentage point increase in the proportion of urban floating population will create a 1-2.3 percent growth in GDP in the next 5 to 10 years. Population mobility is therefore connected to capital accumulation in urban areas.

The report also showed that without population fluidity, China’s GDP in 2016 would have only reached 44.8 trillion yuan, whereas it actually reached 74.4 trillion thanks to industrial transfer generated by population fluidity.

However, the floating population is shrinking. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2017, this population had dropped by 820,000 compared with the previous year.

The report showed that the proportion of people aged 45 and above, which accounted for 22.8 percent of the total floating population in 2017, is dropping. More than 70 percent of those who returned to their hometown said they were reluctant to leave again for work.

The longing for a stable life, discouraging salaries, and deteriorating health conditions are the primary reasons that people choose to move back home, said Li Jianmin, a professor at the Institute of Population and Development, Nankai University.

Li said China’s floating population more commonly work in metropolitan areas rather than small and medium-sized cities, resulting in a low rate of contribution from the latter to national economic growth, which in turn affects their salaries and employment opportunities.

Big cities in eastern China create more demographic dividends, but expensive rents, problems purchasing property, education, college entrance exams, and social insurance policies don’t take the concerns of migrant workers into consideration, forcing these people to go back home, which weakens demographic dividends, a scholar said.

Zhai Zhenwu, a demographer and president of the School of Sociology and Population Studies under Renmin University, believes that demographic benefits could be maintained.

Nearly 30 percent of the country’s labor force is employed in the primary industry, which includes agriculture, forestry and fishing, while the figure is only 3.2 percent in high-income countries, he explained, adding that this means there is massive potential for labor force transfer and upgrading of industrial structures.

China takes steps to boost commercial use of remote sensing satellites

Jilin-1 satellite is launched on Oct. 7, 2015.  (Photo/Xinhua)

China is speeding up its commercial use of remote sensing satellites, a key move to boost the industry, said Xu Wen, president of the China Center for Resources Satellite Data and Application, Science and Technology Daily reported on Jan. 2.

The country had already started building a remote sensing satellite industry by the end of last century. However, for many years the data provided by these satellites was not able to satisfy demand.

In 2008, the country built a satellite system focused on providing medium and low-resolution data, which was far from suitable for commercial use. Besides, the number of such satellites was too small for sustainable service, and the resolution was low, Xu said.

In 2010, China launched a special high-resolution Earth observation project, and now there are six high-resolution satellites in orbit for civilian use.

Nowadays, data sent back by remote sensing satellites are gaining customer recognition, and the market share of high-definition data has gradually risen to 85 percent in China, said Xu.

China has taken some steps in the development of commercial remote sensing satellites. In 2015, the first remote sensing satellite of the Jilin-1 satellite series was launched, with a plan to put 138 satellites into service by 2030, thereby increasing temporal resolution to ten-minute revisits.

Globally, remote sensing satellites accounted for less than one percent of the total application scale in 2017, with a net worth of about $260 billion, Xu said.

China contributes an average of 22.5 percent to global import growth over five years: report

China contributed an average of 22.5 percent to global import growth between 2012 and 2017, said a report on the country’s import development, released by a research team led by Professor Wei Hao from Beijing Normal University.

The figure was more than double that of the 2002-2007 period, which stood at 10.7 percent, the report disclosed.

The total value of imports to China increased from $10.9 billion to $1.84 trillion from 1978 to 2017, up by 169 times. The report also noted that China’s share of total global imports also grew from 0.93 percent in 1979 to 11.59 percent in 2017.

During the same period, China jumped up the global leaderboard from 23rd to 2nd place in regards to global import volume, contributing over 10 percent of the world total since 2012.

After China’s accession to the WTO, the country’s import sources also increased from 181 to 218 in 2017, the report said.

China’s role models of 2018

2018 has seen countless role models make significant contributions to Chinese society. Hats off to these unsung heroes!

No. 1 Chinese troops serve for peace

China has deployed a total of 37,000 peacekeepers since it joined UN peacekeeping operations, and 13 have sacrificed their lives on the frontline.

China, for its service and sacrifice, was praised as a “crucial factor and key force of peacekeeping operations” by the international community. The UN has released a video to extend its gratitude to these Chinese peacekeepers.

No. 2 Chinese scientists grow rice in Dubai desert

A team of Chinese scientists led by Yuan Longping, renowned as the “father of hybrid rice,” produced and harvested rice in the Dubai desert, with a top yield of 500 kilograms per mu (666 square meters). This comes as a world first in successfully planting rice in a tropical desert, with China contributing to the environmental improvement of desert regions.

No. 3 Researchers die protecting national experimental platform

Researchers Huang Qun, Song Yuecai, and Jiang Kaibin, who worked for the 760 Research Institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corp, lost their lives protecting a national experimental platform when Typhoon Rumbia hit Dalian, Liaoning province on Aug. 20.

No. 4 Chinese academician wins 2018 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science award

On March 27, 2018, 82-year-old academician Zhang Miman won the 2018 L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science award for her pioneering work on fossils, her insights showing how aquatic vertebrates adapted to living on land.

No. 5 J10-B pilot performs stunning air show

Pilot Li Jikuan of fighter jet J10-B, who previously completed test flights for 13 different aircraft and solved over 10 air emergency cases, performed a series of stunts at the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow.

He also received an award at the 13th Aerospace Laureate Award, the most authoritative and influential prize in China’s aviation and aerospace industry, for his courage and skills.

No. 6 Pilot lands plane with a shattered windscreen

Captain Liu Chuanjian and his crew were hailed as heroes for the safe emergency landing of Sichuan Airlines flight 3U8633 on May 14, 2018.

Liu managed to land even when the windshield panels blew out, and his co-pilot was almost sucked out.

No. 7 Young man saves lives of strangers

A 30-year-old Chinese man named Zhang Haofeng, who was on holiday in Phuket, Thailand with his fiancée, saved four people, risking his own life, in a shipwreck on July 5.

Fortunately, he was saved by local fishermen after floating in the sea for 12 hours.

No. 8 Medical team wins hope for little boy

An 8-year-old boy in Changzhou, Jiangsu province, was given a 5-hour chest compression by over 30 medical members of staff from Changzhou Children’s Hospital after he suffered a cardiac arrest. The enormous efforts made by these medics won valuable time for the boy, as he waiting for an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation team to arrive from Shanghai. The boy survived and went on to make a full recovery.

No. 9 Soldier loses eyes and hands clearing explosives

On Oct. 11, 2018, soldier Du Fuguo lost his hands and eyes during a demining task carried out at the China-Vietnam border after he used his body to cover his comrades.

Now, he is learning how to host, as becoming an announcer has always been his dream. The soldier said that he could still tell demining stories even though he had lost his eyes and hands.

No. 10 Teacher sacrifices herself to save students

On June 11, Li Fang, a primary school teacher from Xinyang, Henan province was sending her students home after class. When a motorcycle lost control and hurtled towards her students, Li used her own body to protect the children. Her heroism was the last lesson she left with her students.

Top 10 Chinese news stories of 2018

2018 marked the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, and with it, the country achieved new progress in regards to opening up, new results thanks to policies and reform, and further improvement to the livelihood of its citizens. At the end of this year, let’s review the top 10 news stories that have defined China in 2018.

1. Constitutional amendment

The first session of the 13th National People’s Congress passed the Amendment to the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China on March 11, 2018.

The Amendment enshrined Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era into the Constitution.

It was the fifth time that China has amended the Constitution since its implementation in 1982.

2. Conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up

A conference marking the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up was held on Dec. 18. It awarded 100 Chinese comrades for their extraordinary performance as well as ten foreigners with the China Reform Friendship Medal.

President Xi Jinping stressed at the conference that the past 40 years eloquently prove that the reform and opening-up is an important way for the Party and the people to stride ahead to catch up with the times, the only path to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, a game-changing move in making China what it is today, and a game-changing move for us to achieve China’s two centenary goals and its great national rejuvenation. He also pointed out that turning China into a great modern socialist country and achieving national rejuvenation is like a relay race, in which the baton is passed down from generation to generation. Every generation must strive for a good score for the sake of future generations.

3. Party and State Council institutional reform

China issued plans for deepening Party and State Council institutional reform in March followed by the establishment of the National Supervision Commission.

It is significant in upholding Party leadership, improving institutional efficiency, and modernizing China’s system and capacity of national governance.

By the end of November, plans for institutional reform of 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities had been approved by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council.

4. First China International Import Expo

The first China International Import Expo with the theme of “New Era, Shared Future” was held from Nov. 5 to 10 in Shanghai.

At the opening ceremony, President Xi Jinping announced that China would expand a new section of Shanghai’s pilot free trade zone, launch a science and technology innovation board at the Shanghai Stock Exchange and experiment with a registration system for listed companies, and make the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta region a national strategy.

Covering an area of 300,000 square meters, the expo attracted over 3,600 companies and 400,000 buyers from 172 countries, regions and international organizations, with the value of agreed deals totaling over $57.83 billion.

5. Symposium on private enterprises

During a symposium on private economy held on Nov. 1, President Xi Jinping said that China would support and guide the non-public sector to develop on a broader stage.

Xi, also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed that the non-public sector’s status and function in the country’s economic and social development have not changed. The principle and policies to unswervingly encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public sector have not changed, and the principles and procedures to provide a sound environment and more opportunities to the sector have not changed either.

He proposed policies and measures in six aspects to inject greater impetus to the development of private enterprises.

6. National Conference on Environmental Protection

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a win in the fight against pollution and pushed ecological civilization to a new level during a conference held from May 18 to 19.

Xi, also General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, put forward fundamental principles that must be followed and demanded joint efforts for the building of a beautiful China.

7. Hainan Free Trade Zone

The CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued guiding opinions on supporting Hainan in comprehensively deepening reform and opening up on April 14, taking further steps in high-level opening up. Hainan was granted more autonomy to build itself into a free trade port carrying Chinese characteristics in line with its own conditions.

8. Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge opens to traffic

The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the world’s longest sea bridge, officially began service on Oct. 24.

The 55 km-long bridge links China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), Zhuhai city of Guangdong Province and Macao SAR. It is the first large-scale infrastructure project jointly developed by Guangdong Province, Hong Kong SAR, and Macao SAR under the principle of “one country, two systems.”

It serves as a strategic transportation hub linking the west and east of Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

9. Chang’e-4 lunar probe launched

China’s Chang’e-4 lunar probe blasted off from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province at 2:23 a.m. on Dec. 8, starting a new journey for China’s lunar exploration. The probe is expected to make the first-ever soft landing on the dark side of the moon. In addition, it will set up a communication link between the earth and the moon’s far side through the relay satellite “Queqiao” that China launched previously.

10. Minimum income tax threshold raised

China’s top legislature adopted an amendment to the Individual Income Tax Law on Aug. 31, raising the minimum threshold for paying personal income tax to 5,000 yuan per month. It was the seventh amendment to the law since it was passed in 1980, with the last revision made seven years ago.

It has reduced tax burden for all taxpayers, especially low- and middle-income earners. The newly amended individual income tax law will increase people’s income and their consumption power.