CHINA DAILY

Guizhou:Western province looks to the future of big data

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 02:22

While located in the remote southwestern part of China, Guizhou leads the development of Big Data technology in recent years.

What makes Guizhou a leading role in Big Data industry?

On June 17, 2015, General Secretary Xi Jinping inspected the Guiyang Big Data Applied Exhibition Center, pointing out, 'The development of Big Data in Guizhou is a successful inevitability.' With investments in policy and technology, Guizhou will undoubtedly create more miracles in the future.

Dec 8 2017

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 02:00

We should target cutting-edge technology and mobilize prime resources to make breakthroughs in developing core big data technology."

Baby sitter held for abuse

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 01:58

A baby sitter who allegedly struck a baby multiple times in an elevator in Zhengzhou, Henan province, has been detained after a video of the assault aroused public outrage during the past week, local police said over the weekend.

The public security bureau on the city's Dongfeng Road posted a statement on Saturday evening verifying the suspect as a 42-year-old baby sitter surnamed Li. It said the woman is under administrative detention for assault.

"We received a report saying the woman hit the baby while taking an elevator in her community at around 6 pm on Tuesday," the police said in the statement. "We quickly came to the scene and controlled the baby sitter. Surveillance camera footage we obtained clearly showed her offense in the elevator."

Further investigation is underway, it added.

Information about the baby, including the age, gender and the health condition, were not disclosed.

Beijing News quoted a community management officer as saying on Sunday that the child is doing well. A neighbor of the family told the paper that the child is currently being cared for by a relative.

The case aroused intense public attention as the video, which showed the woman in the act of assault, spread online over the past week.

In the video, the woman, wearing a black down jacket, red pants and glasses, picked up the baby from another person on the 29th floor of the building. After the elevator's door closed, she first struck the crying baby's belly, followed by its head and back. Within one-minute in the elevator, she struck the baby 14 times, the video showed.

Many netizens, together with members of the Chinese media, expressed anger and forwarded the video to police, hoping the authorities would investigate the case and identify the woman.

Cases of baby sitters abusing infants have come to light more than once this year.

Last month, an official website in Shandong province reported that a baby sitter was given 14 days of administrative detention after she slapped a 1-year-old child. The baby sitter's company also paid 3,000 yuan ($453) in compensation to the child's family.

Chutian Metropolis Daily, a newspaper based in Hubei province, also reported in April that parents of a 2-year-old girl called police after they found that their baby sitter had assaulted the child-kicking her and pushing her down-when they were not home.

Hong Daode, a professor of criminal law at China University of Political Science and Law, said the punishment for such baby sitters depends on how seriously they hurt the child. "If the damage is severe, the offender may face criminal liability for intentional injury," he said.

If the harm is not great, administrative detention and compensation are the more common means of punishment, he said.

New era to bring chances, official says

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 01:54

The country is more open to the world and, as a result, more opportunities are expected to be created in this new era, a senior Chinese official said on Sunday at the seventh World Forum on China Studies.

More than 180 scholars from 34 countries and regions convened in Shanghai for the opening of the forum, which is themed "China in a New Era". The two-day forum brought voices of Chinese experts from across the globe on what the term "new era" means to the world and to China studies.

"There will be more opportunities created by China for the world development, and China's open door to the world will be wider," Jiang Jianguo, minister of the State Council Information Office, said in the forum's opening speech.

"The exchanges between China and other civilizations will be deepened, and China will make a bigger contribution to the building of a community of shared future."

The term "new era" was first brought up by General Secretary Xi Jinping during the 19th CPC National Congress, which concluded in October.

Xi said the country has ushered in a new era in building socialism with Chinese characteristics. He also pointed out that by the mid-21st century, China will develop into a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful.

In his keynote speech, Kevin Rudd, former prime minister of Australia and president of the Asia Society Policy Institute, recalled his first time to China 35 years ago. He said that few scholars and diplomats paid attention to the CPC's National Congress then.

"But now, almost everyone kept a close eye on it, and the reason is simple-China has risen," Rudd said.

"So the international community will want to know more and more about China's plans for the future."

Rudd further spoke about a long list of concepts ranging from ancient Chinese classics to modern Chinese political terms, and called on Sinologists to conduct research that can link ancient Chinese tradition to the modern mindset.

"I'm asked by international and political leaders around the world about what the rise of China means for them," he said.

"They are not just interested in a list of facts and figures, they want to understand the broader picture. And for that reason, Sinologists around the world have a responsibility to help paint that picture."

Do Tien Sam, former director of the Institute of China Studies at Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, said he had studied Xi's report to the 19th CPC National Congress several times and found he used the term "new era" 36 times.

"From my understanding, entering a new era means Chinese people will become better off and stronger," Do said. "Placing people at the center and serving the people will still be the main work of the CPC in the new era."
"I have studied China for more than 30 years, and I think the CPC's experience in running the country offers many lessons for Vietnam," Do said.

Wang Wen, executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, noted that current China studies in many ways lag behind practices in China.

China remains a safe place to visit for foreigners

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 01:50

With low rates of crime, civil unrest and racial violence, country is not a risky tourist destination, international report says

Foreigners celebrate at the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall in Huairou, Beijing, this summer. [Photo by BU XIANGDONG/FOR CHINA DAILY]


China is seen as one of the safest places in the world for foreign visitors, according to an international security report and anecdotal evidence from tourists, expatriates and overseas students.

In the new Travel Risk Map 2018, the country is listed as having a "low" travel risk, which means "violent crime rates are low, and racial, sectarian or political violence or civil unrest is uncommon".

The report, now in its eighth year, is compiled and released annually in a joint venture by International SOS, the medical and travel security services company, and global risk and strategic consulting firm Control Risks.

Since the safety situation in China has remained stable, its risk rating has not changed for many years, according to Tony Ma, client liaison director in China for the joint venture.

"We haven't noticed any dramatic, massive threats at present in China; terrorism or mass shootings or killings are generally absent," he said. "Kidnappings for ransom and extreme violent scenarios are also very rare."

China has become the fourth most popular destination for tourists worldwide, with more than 60 million trips made by people from other countries last year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization.

Maria Plaza Pelayo, 24, of Madrid, who arrived in Beijing a few weeks ago, said she was impressed by China's order and safety, which has made her feel much safer than in the United States or Turkey, where she also has visited.

She said she didn't feel like she was in any danger in Beijing, as she saw efforts from professionals, including volunteers on streets, police officers on patrol and security staff in the subways, to keep order.

Liu Hongbin, a professor of public order studies at People's Public Security University of China, said continuous joint efforts on fighting crime, the deployment of technological tools to track crimes and the inclusiveness of the Chinese culture, are all reasons for China's high safety level.

"The Chinese culture has been an integration of cultures of different ethnic groups in the long history of the country. People raised in such a diverse cultural environment do not hold discrimination or hostility toward people from other cultures, making people from other countries feel secure and comfortable," he said.

Armando Raphael Lydon Busquets, 20, of California, US, said he constantly heard gunshots, police sirens and similar noises back home.

"You'd see a lot of shady people, and it would always be in the local news about something bad happening with someone," said Lydon Busquets, a student at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Data from the Ministry of Public Security show that China has seen a stable number of gun-related crimes in recent years and the number of gun-related violent crimes, such as murder, robbery and kidnapping, has dropped sharply.

Between August 2016 and July, police cracked about 3,800 illegal weapons cases and firearms purchases and detained 25,000 suspects, the ministry said.

The ministry launched a campaign targeting gun-related crime in July, which will run through the end of the year.

Apart from gun-related crime, the number of other violent cases in 2016, such as homicide, arson and robbery, also declined 43 percent since 2012, the ministry said.

Cao Yin and Zheng Yumeng contributed to this story.

Coal to help relieve gas shortage

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 01:23
A man loads coal briquettes onto his tricycle cart at a coal process station in Tangxian in North China's Hebei province. [Photo/IC]

The Beijing city government has ordered an immediate restart to coal-fueled generators to ease the shortage of liquefied natural gas in northern China.

In a notice released on Thursday but only widely publicized on Saturday, the capital's City Management Commission confirmed that the National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planner, had ordered a restart of coal-fueled generators to reduce LNG consumption, Caixin magazine reported.

Three major power plants in Beijing confirmed that they had received the notice, Caixin reported.

To cut concentrations of PM2.5-hazardous fine particulate matter with a diameter of 2.5 microns or less-28 cities including Beijing, Tianjin and cities in Hebei, Shanxi, Shandong and Henan provinces were to use electricity or gas for heating this winter, instead of coal, which is considered the main cause of the lingering winter smog.

However, as the heating season began, some people in these areas found their homes and schools freezing, mainly due to LNG shortages.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection has told authorities to "ensure a warm winter" for the public rather than delay heating supplies in some northern areas due to natural gas shortages or unfinished projects.

Areas that have not yet completed conversion projects to replace coal with gas or electric heating can use coal or any other available measures, the ministry said in a circular released on Thursday.

The China Huaneng power plant in eastern Beijing had restarted one of its coal-fueled generators as of Friday night, with another ready for restart at any time.

Another two plants could also go into service if necessary, the source said.

In 2013, the capital began a gradual process to replace coal-fueled generators with equipment powered by natural gas. The city achieved its coal-free target in March this year.

The old generators at the Huaneng plant were held in reserve in case they were needed.

According to the commission's website, one of the coal-fired generators was used over the summer to cope with a spike in electricity usage for air conditioners during a heat wave.

Chengdu tops list as China's happiest city

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 01:15
Tourists visit Jinli, a traditional lane, in Chengdu, Sichuan province. [Photo/VCG]

Chengdu, in Sichuan province, came top this year in Oriental Outlook magazine's annual ranking of the 10 happiest cities in China.

Beijing and Shanghai, which both made it into the 2015 and 2016 lists, were pushed out by second-and third-tier cities.

Oriental Outlook works with the Liaowang Think Tank to do research for the ranking. This is the 11th consecutive year it has been published. More than 13.95 million people nationwide answered questionnaires evaluating 194 cities. There were 10 categories, including education, living quality, employment, environment and public security.

Wang Qiguang, deputy editor-in-chief of Oriental Outlook, said the list shows that urbanization in China has brought about significant improvements in small cities over the past five years, in areas including education, employment and medical services.

"The happiness of a city's residents depends on their living conditions, environment, and public services, and their perceptions of how they stand to benefit from the city's future opportunities," he said.

"In Chengdu, the high-tech industry has been a big provider of employment for the young, while in Hangzhou, the elderly have benefited from the growth of high quality medical services. People feel happy if they can see themselves as being valued and having a promising future," he said.

After Chengdu, the happiest cities in order were Hangzhou, Ningbo, Nanjing, Changchun, Xi'an, Changsha, Taizhou, Tongchuan and Xuzhou.

Tongchuan, Shaanxi province, appeared for the first time. The city used to depend on coal mining but has now remodeled itself as an eco-city promoting environmentally friendly industries such as village tourism.

Foreign minister: Diplomacy will focus on shared future

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 01:13

China's endeavor to foster a new form of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind will be the overarching goals of China's foreign policy in the years ahead, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

Wang stated the goals in his keynote speech at a symposium on Saturday in Beijing about the global situation and China's diplomacy. The symposium, attended by diplomats and researchers, was themed on international developments and China's diplomacy in 2017.

Noting that the 19th CPC National Congress had charted the course for China's external relations, Wang said that China needs to create a more favorable external environment and stronger external impetus to create a moderately prosperous society in all respects.

"For China's diplomacy in the new era, we will take a longer and broader perspective and be even more open-minded and resourceful," he said.

The foreign minister reiterated that "war is by no means acceptable" in dealing with the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, stressing that the possibility of negotiation remains.

"China has put in more efforts and borne a greater cost than any other party in addressing the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue," he said, adding that China has implemented UN Security Council resolutions.

While talking about the Middle East, Wang said that China has always firmly supported the Palestinian people's efforts to restore their lawful rights.

"We support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that enjoys full sovereignty, with East Jerusalem as its capital and based on the 1967 border," he said, adding that the status of Jerusalem must be determined through dialogue and negotiation on the basis of UN resolutions.

Mentioning that President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump have had three meetings and many letters and phone calls this year, Wang said that the two leaders' sound interactions have provided "a strategic anchor to what is the most complicated and consequential relationship in the world".

"China is willing, on the basis of mutual respect, to live peacefully with the American superpower. The US needs to understand and accept a China that is following its own path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, one suited to its own conditions," he said.

Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have met five times throughout the year, and the China-Russia relationship has become a major cornerstone for world peace and stability, fairness and justice, and win-win cooperation, Wang said.

Noting that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has become "the most popular international public goods program", Wang said that Chinese businesses have invested over $50 billion and created nearly 200,000 local jobs in countries that are participating.

China will prepare for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit to be held in Qingdao, Shandong province, in June and the first China International Import Expo in November in Shanghai, Wang said.

Sun Zhuangzhi, secretary-general of the SCO Research Center affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily that the selection of Qingdao as the host city reflects China's advocacy of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Qingdao has both land connections with Europe via railways and maritime connections with other countries, he said, adding that the city plays an important role in developing the initiative.

Zhou Shijian, a senior researcher on China-US trade relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said that the Belt and Road Initiative will promote global economic development and balance the north-south gap, which also will contribute to building a community of shared future for mankind.

The International Import Expo will be a good move for the country's diplomacy in 2018 because expanding imports will promote the economic development of China as well as improve relations with other countries, he said.

Zhou Jin contributed to this story.

Ontario marks Nanjing Massacre

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 01:00
A man leaves a flower at the Commemorative Day Ceremony for the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre held on Saturday in Toronto. [Zou Zheng/China Daily]

Ontarians from all walks of life marked the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre at a gathering in Toronto with a call for measures to prevent so atrocious a human tragedy from ever happening again.

Leading the call was Ontario provincial parliament member Soo Wong, who had proposed last month the motion to designate Dec 13 as Nanjing Massacre Commemorative Day in the province.

Wong said as Ontarians remembered the victims of invading Japanese troops on Dec 13, 1937, she wanted to thank the 80th anniversary Nanjing Massacre Commemoration Preparation Committee for its unwavering efforts to remind the world of the atrocities.

The Japanese army bombed Nanjing and went on a murderous rampage through the city, then China's capital, killing Chinese residents and disarming soldiers in the following six weeks.

Lin Xingyong, one of the organizers and president of the Confederation of Toronto Chinese Canadian Organizations, said, "The Nanjing Massacre is a great sorrow and shame not only to Chinese people but also to all humanity".

Provincial parliament member Raymond Cho recalled that World War II had affected him as a child in South Korea.

"The Nanjing Massacre was a mass murder of Nanjing civilians and unarmed soldiers that happened in late 1937 to early 1938. And this fact, unfortunately, hasn't been told to the young generation; it's very dangerous," Cho said.

MP Shaun Chen said younger generations must learn about the massacre.

"It's our duty to teach our future generations the actual facts of this important history. We all need to work very hard so that there is never again another Holocaust and massacre on this planet," Chen said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said, "We grieved for those who suffered and lost their lives and their families and think about the things we have to do to ensure an event like this never happens again."

"The Nanjing Massacre has a profound impact on later generations, even 80 years later," he said.

Chinese Consul General He Wei said society's moral obligation doesn't stop at having the commemorative day.

"Remembrance is our duty out of a mission to protect each and every human life and to protect everyone's freedom and equal rights. Today we gathered together to commemorate this history, and I believe it will create new views and enhancement to promote mutual understanding and respect between different ethnic, religious and cultural communities."

The commemoration was not meant to prolong hatred, He said, but to help people draw lessons from history and consolidate their commitment to peace and a solid foundation for lasting peace in the world.

China well on track with air quality goals

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 00:48
People stroll in Beihai Park on a clear day in Beijing. [Photo/VCG] 

China has confidence in reaching its ambitious air pollution reduction goals as scheduled, based on data for the first 11 months, the environmental protection minister said on Sunday, crediting the scientific and comprehensive efforts taken in the past years.

The five major goals set by the national Action Plan Against Air Pollution in 2013 are likely to be achieved by the end of 2017, with a huge improvement in air quality in China, said Environmental Protection Minister Li Ganjie at the annual meeting of the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development on Sunday in Beijing.

The council is a high-level international advisory body to gather foreign experts to promote China's sustainable development.

In the first 11 months, Beijing has seen the average PM2.5 concentration lowered to 58 micrograms per cubic meter, reduced by 35.6 percent from the same period in 2013, according to the Beijing Environmental Bureau.

Beijing has seen many blue days in December, with air quality staying at the good level, "and based on the data, we may see the annual average level of PM2.5 in Beijing lowering to around 60, maybe at 61 or 62," the minister said, adding that it's better than forecast.

He added that the reduction goal for Beijing-lowering PM2.5 level to 60-was considered more difficult compared with other goals, which worried him before.

Beijing is likely to attain its goal, so China has confidence it will reach the five major goals as scheduled, Li said.

The other four goals would be easily in reach if the good air quality level continues for the remaining days of the year.

In the first 11 months, the average concentration of PM10 in 338 cities nationwide was 20.4 percent less than the same period of 2013, and the goal in the action plan was 10 percent, Li said.

In addition, the average PM2.5 concentration in the first 11 months in three major industrial zones-the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, the Yangtze River and the Pearl River Delta-has been at least 25.6 percent lower, easily exceeding the goal of at least 15 percent, the minister said.

The huge improvement in air quality was achieved based on the multiple measures including strengthened enforcement, scientific efforts, effective measures to reduce industrial emissions, vehicle exhausts, coal consumption, and other efforts in improving the economy, the minister said.

"The effective practices adopted in the past five years will continue to guide the air pollution control efforts in future," Li added.

China's effective environmental protection efforts, particularly in air pollution control, received praise from many foreign experts in environment from governments and international organizations who participated in the annual meeting.

Diane Regas, executive director of Environmental Defense Fund, a US non-profit organization, was amazed to see China fulfilling its commitment and was confident about further improvements based on the measures.

UN Environment said China has set an example for the rest of the world of sustainable development through green industrial policies, especially in areas of electric transportation, solar energy and the "sharing economy".

Artist couple build bridges between China and Russia

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 00:38

 

 

Anna Ganina gives a violin class to a student at the Hunan Institute of Science and Technology in Yueyang, Hunan province. [Cheng Si/China Daily]

 

Vladimir Ganin paints in his studio at the Hunan Institute of Science and Technology.

Vladimir Ganin, a 49-year-old Russian oil painter, and his violinist wife, Anna, have dedicated 15 years to teaching art education at the Hunan Institute of Science and Technology in Yueyang, Hunan province, witnessing China's development in the arts.

The couple came to the institute in 2002 at the invitation of the local government, after spending over a year at Jilin College of the Arts in Changchun, Jilin province.

"Changchun is too cold, even colder than Vladivostok, where the temperature can be -20 C in winter," said Ganin, laughing.

Anna added: "We made the decision together. Yueyang has a fantastic history and natural environment. It's a good city to live in."

The couple have been highlighted as a prime example of the foreign talent China is eager to attract-experts who can make an important contribution to the country's development.

In 2004, Ganin received the Friendship Award from the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, the highest honor given to expats in China.

Vladimir Ganin paints in his studio at the Hunan Institute of Science and Technology. [Cheng Si/China Daily]

In 2010, the Hunan government gave Anna the Xiaoxiang Friendship Award for her contribution to art education, as well as for promoting artistic exchange between China and his home country.

Traditional Chinese culture has become an important influence in Ganin's art. "China has many art styles, some of which can be used in modern arts, for example, clothes design," he said. "I also like Chinese characters. These pictographic words are really interesting."

In May 2015, Ganin was invited to a ceremony in Moscow to mark the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II, where he met with President Xi Jinping.

"I was impressed. Xi made speeches without any notes, and he remembered everybody present. Some Russian experts there had once worked with him, and he still remembered them," Ganin said. "He is modest, and I think he sets a very good example."

Ganin also paid close attention to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in Beijing in October.

"It was really impressive. President Xi said that the living standards of all Chinese people will be much better in 2025. It is the program for the future and for the next generation of Chinese. It's a great program."

Yueyang today is like a second hometown for the couple. Their 9-year-old son was born in the city.

"They can bargain at the market in quite fluent Chinese," said Chen Yu, director of the Hunan institute's International Exchange Office. "They are like locals."

Efforts continue to save endangered Chinese alligators

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 00:21

 

Workers carry an adult alligator from a feeding pool. [Wu Fang/China Daily]

 

On November 27, about 10,000 Chinese alligators were moved from outdoor feeding pools to their winter home at the National Chinese Alligator Natural Reserve in Xuancheng, a city in the eastern province of Anhui.

The reptiles, a Class I protected species that is endemic to East China, are coldblooded, so their metabolism and activity slow during winter, making them easier to handle. The animals, which are also known as Yangtze alligators, will eventually hibernate until spring, when they will be taken back to the outdoor pools.

The reserve, which has been based in the suburbs of Xuancheng since the 1980s, is home to more than 15,000 Chinese alligators, including newly hatched reptiles. It is the world's largest breeding center for the species.

"There are many human-bred Chinese alligators, but in the wild they are on the verge of extinction. There are barely 300 individuals, including some that were born in captivity, but later released into natural surroundings," said Wang Renping, head of the center's information department.

Though the center has made a great contribution to preserving the species from extinction, challenges remain, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has classified Chinese alligators as "critically endangered".

International attention

In November, four alligators bred at the center in Xuancheng were taken to Shizuoka, a city on Japan's Pacific coast.

They were the first to be sent overseas since 2006, when the practice was suspended because the center was in the process of changing its name and was therefore unable to obtain export certificates.

"To the best of our knowledge, the first Chinese alligators to be exported were sent to the United States in the 1950s," Wang said, adding that the reptiles were sent by the former Soviet Union because China and the US had not yet established diplomatic relations.

Sun Siqing, director of the industrialization office at the breeding research center, which is based in the national reserve, said: "Many zoos around the world are waiting for alligators bred at the center. Though the export of wild Chinese alligators is absolutely prohibited, exports of human-bred ones have been allowed since the 1980s."

Sun's department is responsible for large-scale breeding programs, the administration of tourism at the center, and exports, which are considered vital to helping the outside world learn more about the species.

In 1973, the International Union for Conservation of Nature added Chinese alligators to its Red List of Threatened Species. The animal's status as "critically endangered" means it faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild.

As the most comprehensive inventory of conservation status, the list provides scientific information about species and subspecies at a global level. It is also aimed at drawing attention to the magnitude and importance of threatened biodiversity, influencing national and international policies and decision-making, and providing information to guide actions to conserve biological diversity, according to the organization's website.

A breeder at the natural reserve displays a newly hatched alligator, on November 15. [Zhu Lixin/China Daily]

The breeding program in Anhui began in 1979, when the province's wildlife protection authorities captured 212 wild alligators and placed them under human supervision.

"The work was anything but easy; we had to learn how to feed them, to incubate the eggs, to feed the fragile newborn reptiles, help them live through the winter and assist them to produce offspring", said Wang, listing the difficulties the center had to overcome in the first 10 years.

The team's efforts didn't bear fruit until 1988, when human-bred alligators laid the first hatchable eggs, according to the 55-year-old, who has worked at the reserve since 1986 and was an alligator breeder until 2007.

In 2001, when an international seminar on alligator protection was held in Hefei, the capital of Anhui, it was decided that the reserve should release a number of alligators that had been bred in captivity to raise the number in the wild and provide better protection for the species.

So, in 2003, three alligators were released into the wild, quickly producing offspring.

Efforts and challenges

"Although the trial was successful, the practice was opposed by some rural residents, who believed the animals would threaten their safety and that of their livestock," Wang said.

Usually, Chinese alligators, which are mild-mannered and rarely attack humans, attain an adult length of just 1.5 meters and weigh 30 to 40 kilograms. They are fully armored, even across the belly which has more bones and is harder than other crocodile species, making the animal less valuable to poachers.

In 1981, the forestry authorities in Anhui established a team of experts from China and the US to conduct a three-month investigation into the alligators' living conditions.

After the survey, the team estimated there could be as many as 300 to 500 alligators in the wild, and though they were mainly found in Anhui, small numbers were also located in the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

"Nowadays, more than half of the human-bred alligators in China are in the reserve in Anhui, and most of the wild ones also live in the province. Only a few are found in neighboring Zhejiang," Wang said. In 1982, a 43,300-hectare provincial-level reserve was established to better protect the species, and was upgraded to national level the following year. A second study, conducted in 1985, showed that more than 400 wild reptiles lived in the reserve.

However, an inquiry launched by the reserve and the Wildlife Conservation Society in 1999 found that there were fewer than 145 alligators in the wild. In 2004, an investigation concluded that there were about 120 adult wild alligators in Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu-although it proved impossible to determine the number of newly hatched reptiles-with the majority located in Anhui. Meanwhile, a 2005 investigation in Anhui estimated there were 92 to 114 adult wild alligators in the province, along with 66 immature individuals.

Workers move Chinese alligators from outdoor feeding pools to their winter home at the National Chinese Alligator Natural Reserve in Xuancheng, Anhui province. [Wu Fang/China Daily]

"We estimate that there are now about 300 in the wild, including some that were bred in captivity and later released," Wang said, adding that the reserve has freed more than 100 reptiles since 2003.

In some years, the reserve released about 10 alligators, but this year the number is just six. "It depends on our ability to adapt certain areas and make them suitable so the alligators can live free from human disruption," Wang said.

"If we free more than the areas can sustain, given factors including sources of food, such as fish in natural water, the alligators' situation could get worse."

In 2009, Anhui's economic development resulted in the reserve being reduced to 18,565 hectares, and it now mainly covers Xuancheng and the neighboring city of Wuhu.

Practical problems

"Theoretically, a larger area would mean more alligators could find space in the wild, but on a practical level, it's very difficult. With a human population of 2.8 million in Xuancheng, it would be difficult to remove the residents and give the area over to the alligators," Wang said.

"There are still areas in the reserve that can be transformed to make room for wild alligators, but we need more time to make the adjustments."

According to the standard set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Chinese alligator will be classified as a critically endangered species until the number in the wild reaches 2,500.

"That means we still have a long way to go. However, if the reserve didn't exist, the alligators could have already disappeared from the face of the Earth," Wang said.

Contact the writer at zhulixin@chinadaily.com.cn

Water quality improvements visible with river chief system

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 00:10
Left: The Gujiadu River in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, was nearly blocked by mud during dredging in August last year. Right: The river in October after the dredging. It has become a place of leisure for nearby residents. SHEN BOHAN / XINHUA

China’s river chief system — in which government officials are assigned to take charge of protecting waterways in their area — is steadily being rolled out nationwide as part of a broad effort to prevent pollution.

The central government pledged in December last year that the system would cover the entire country within two years.

Now at the halfway point, river chiefs have been installed in the key Taihu Lake Basin, covering Shanghai and parts of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui and Fujian provinces.

More than 34,000 river chiefs have been appointed in the area at each level of government, according to the Ministry of Water Resources’ Taihu Basin Authority.

“We are assisting in the evaluation of the system by those provinces,” said Wu Wenqing, director of the authority. “The ministry will organize a third-party evaluation whose results will be submitted to the provincial river chief offices in January.”

The system had its beginnings at Taihu Lake, answering a crisis a decade ago in Wuxi, Jiangsu province.

Liu Xia, the vice-mayor of Wuxi, remembers it clearly.

Wuxi, on the northern shore, depends on the lake for its water supply. In the summer of 2007, large quantities of foul-smelling blue-green algae contaminated the local water supply for several days, affecting more than 1.5 million residents and sparking panic buying of bottled water.

“Wuxi officials and residents developed strong environmental awareness from that incident,” Liu said.

In response, the Wuxi government released water quality targets and assessment measures and appointed top city and district officials to be responsible for the water quality of 79 sections of waterways under city jurisdiction.

Those officials got the informal title “river chief”, and the system spread in Jiangsu and later to nearby provinces.

Because the river chiefs are usually highly placed in the local government or Party committee structure, they have an advantage in coordinating interdepartmental efforts to solve water problems.

Liu is river chief of the 9-square-kilometer Lihu Lake, which links to Taihu Lake. Her name and contact information are posted on a sign at the lake listing her as responsible for preventing water pollution.

“I come to inspect the lake every week,” Liu said. “The water quality has become so good that I’ve recently had to deal with many cases of illegal fishing reported by local residents.”

Wang Suxiang, deputy director of the Houqiao subdistrict, is river chief of three rivers in the area. He said he knew little about water pollution when he was appointed in 2009 but has since learned a lot. He summarized 10 common causes of declining water quality, including overuse of fertilizers and factory waste disposal.

Wuxi resident Ji Beilei, 33, said she could tell the water was getting better by sight and by the improved smell over the past decade.

“After the 2007 water incident, we installed a water purifier at home. At first, we had to replace the filter seven times a year, but now we only replace it twice,” she said.

Since 2007, the average water quality in Taihu Lake has risen from below Grade V, the lowest level of China’s water grading system, to Grade IV. More than half the lake’s 22 major feeder streams have reached Grade III, according to the Taihu Basin Authority.

Xi wants big data to make lives better

Mon, 12/11/2017 - 00:01

President also calls for tech firms to aid manufacturing, governments, security

Implementing a big data strategy to better serve the country’s development and improve people’s lives should be accelerated, President Xi Jinping said at a key meeting.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remark at a collective study session of the CPC Central Committee’s Political Bureau on Friday.

“We should target cutting-edge technology and mobilize prime resources to make breakthroughs in developing core big data technology, and accelerate building an independent and controllable industrial chain, value chain and ecosystem of big data,” Xi said.

The president called for efforts to advance national big data strategy, improve digital infrastructure, promote integration and sharing of digital resources and safeguard data security.

The market should play a key role in the mission, and data must work as a bridge to integrate production, study and research, he said.

A group of pioneering companies and a varied and diverse talent workforce also should be established, he said.

Xi underscored the importance of building a digital economy with data as a key factor, highlighting the fact that research on and use of big data is indispensable in building a modern economy.

The internet, big data and artificial intelligence and the real economy all should be interconnected, the president said, adding that industrialization and the use of information should be integrated deeper.

Xi also emphasized the necessity of using big data to improve governance. A nationwide information-sharing platform should be set up with the use of e-government and smart city systems.

He also ordered efforts to improve internet governance and clean up cyberspace.

Xi urged a better use of big data in improving people’s well-being, calling for the advancement of “internet plus education”, “internet plus medical treatment” and “internet plus culture” to further ensure citizens’ equitable access to public services.

He called for solving problems, especially prominent problems that relate to people’s well-being, urging the widespread use of big data in areas such as education, employment, social security, medicine and the healthcare system, housing and transportation.

Big data also should be used extensively in implementing targeted poverty reduction and environmental protection, he said.

Efforts also should be made to safeguard and secure the nation’s data, Xi said, urging strengthened ability to protect crucial data resources, speed up relevant legislation and improve protection of data property rights.

Protection of technical patents, digital copyrights and individual privacy should be enhanced to safeguard people’s interests, social stability and national security, the president said.

He pressed for increasing research on international data governance rules and urged leading officials at all levels to intensively study big data and improve their ability to use big data in their work.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Creative washrooms leading ‘toilet revolution’

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 08:23
A ladybug-like toilet in Xiangyang, Hubei province, on July 16, 2017. The ‘toilet revolution’, a national campaign to improve both the appearance and facilities in washrooms at tourist attractions, will boost new creative toilets in China. [Photo/Xinhua] A Qingdao public washroom looks like a ‘magic cube’ from the outside in this Nov 30 ,2017 photo. [Photo/Xinhua]  A tourist washes their hands in a “magic cube” public washroom at the Landing Stage in Qingdao, on Nov 30 ,2017. [Photo/Xinhua] A public washroom with Miao ethnic-style appearance in Xijiang Miao Village on Dec 5, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua] A tourist charges her phone at a public washroom in Xijiang Miao Village, Guizhou province, on Dec 5, 2017.  [Photo/Xinhua] A public washroom in Zhouji Green Expo Garden, Nantong, Jiangsu province, on Dec 4, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua] A newly finished water-saving washroom, which saves 1.5 tons of water per month on average in Hefei, Anhui province, on Nov 24, 2017. About 60 tons of water can be saved by 39 water-saving washrooms in this area.  [Photo/Xinhua] A ‘washroom temporary parking space’ lets passing drivers stop their cars to use the toilet in Weifang, Shandong province, Sept 15, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Official: Beijing sign regulations won't cause 'monotony'

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 08:13

New regulations of name boards in Beijing will not lead to "monotony" or affect the signage of time-honored brands, a city official has said.

The rule change in late September and subsequent enforcement campaign, which has seen many signboards removed from buildings, is not aimed at stifling character but to encourage property owners to design their signage within a "prescribed frame", according to an unnamed official from the Beijing Commission of City Management quoted by Qianlong, a website operated by the city government.

"Signage of time-honored brands would not disappear, and the signage across Beijing would not become monotonous," the official said.

The commission launched a citywide signage management campaign in December, which limits the number and placement of signs on buildings in order to "create an urban skyline that is visually clear and bright".

The campaign was launched as part of the capital's urban plan for 2016 through 2035.

According to a notice from the commission, all signs and billboards attached to roofs must be removed. In addition, there can be only one sign with a building's name on the third story or higher, and the name should be the same as the one registered with planning authorities.

Each of the capital's 16 districts will launch an enforcement campaign, the notification said, and any failure by institutions and individuals to remove noncompliant signs will be noted on their credit record.

Signage must be removed by the end of December and the commission will inspect the capital "road by road" in January, the notice said.

The campaign has provoked heated discussion online. While some Beijing residents applauded the campaign, some were worried it will be difficult for them to find their destinations.

A netizen named Cycy Lee didn't like the feeling of walking near buildings with signs over the roofs. "Some of the signs or billboards have been there for years and they may fall down," the netizen commented on Weibo.

Others are concerned about losing their way after losing sight of signage.

"Without signage, I experienced much difficulty in finding the destination in places I am not familiar with," said Shi Shunji, a resident of Haidian district.

In response to these concerns, the official said the commission would work along with property owners to reinstall new signage "as soon as possible".

"In future enforcement, we would have the new signage designed first and then replace the old, so we can shorten the void period and do not influence people's lives," the official said.

Over 1.1 mln sit China's civil servant exam

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 08:05

BEIJING - More than 1.1 million people took the National Public Servant Exam in China Sunday, a leap from last year's 984,000, marking the second time the number has hit the one million mark.

 

Candidates review materials before China's national civil servant exam in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province, on Dec 10, 2017. Approximately 1.6 million applicants qualified to take this year's exam, competing for around 28,500 available government posts. [Photo/VCG]

 

 

Over 28,000 positions are expected to be filled by the examinees, increasing by 1,472 from the previous year. Only one out of every 39 candidates is expected to get a government job this year.

This year's exam saw an increase of 76,000 compared to last year in the number of applicants for grassroots positions in difficult and remote areas, perhaps the result of the lower application thresholds for such posts, according to an inspector at the State Administration of Civil Service.

In contrast, the most popular position had more than 2,000 candidates this year, much lower than the number for the hottest position last year, which was pursued by 9,837 applicants.

The written exam is being held Sunday, and the results will be announced in January 2018, along with a list of candidates to advance to interviews in March.

Civil servant jobs are sought after by many Chinese as they offer a relatively stable career, making the exam one of the most competitive tests in the country.

Peng receives honorary Juilliard doctorate

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 08:05
Peng poses for a picture after obtaining the honorary degree. [Photo/ ccmusic.edu.cn]

Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping and a well-known soprano, received an honorary doctorate from New York's Juilliard School at the China Conservatory of Music in Beijing on Dec 6, according to the official website of the conservatory.

Juilliard President Joseph W. Polisi, who conferred the honorary degree to Peng, delivered a speech at the ceremony, saying that it is not only a recognition of Peng's accomplishment as an outstanding artist but also for her contribution to cultural exchanges between China and the United States.

Peng, an alumna of the Chinese conservatory, said at the ceremony:
"This is an honor not only for myself, but also for Chinese folk music. It exemplifies the increasingly closer cultural exchanges between China and the United States. I hope the cooperation between art schools and organizations of the two countries will be deepened in the future."

A traditional Chinese music orchestra from the conservatory and a string quartet from the Juilliard School performed during the ceremony.

China's first lady Peng Liyuan is welcomed by Juilliard School President Joseph W. Polisi as she arrives at the famous conservatory in New York City in September 2015. HEZI JIANG/CHINA DAILY

Peng's efforts of promoting communication between the Juilliard School and China date back two years, when she visited the school on Sept 28, 2015 while accompanying President Xi on his state visit to the US.

"Peng worked with one of our students who sang a Chinese folk song in Chinese. She is a musician and a music educator. It was a magical and unique moment to have the first lady with us," Polisi said in an earlier interview with China Daily.

During Peng's visit, Polisi announced the school will launch its first overseas campus in China, the Tianjin Juilliard School, scheduled to open September 2019.

The Tianjin Juilliard School will offer US-accredited full-time master's degrees in orchestral performance, chamber music performance and collaborative piano. It will also offer part-time programs for pre-college students, adult education and public performances.

In June, Polisi was in Tianjin for the school’s groundbreaking ceremony in the Tianjin Binhai New Area.

The Juilliard School, founded in New York in 1905, has trained some of the world's most well-renowned performing artists, including Van Cliburn, Renee Fleming and Yo-Yo Ma.

The Juilliard School has enrolled students from China since the 1920s. Now, 30 percent of the students at the Juilliard School in New York are from outside the US and students from China form the largest single group of overseas students in the school. There are about 70 students from China at present, most in the music division.

Beijing's senior service centers reach 380

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 07:42

BEIJING - Beijing has opened 380 senior service centers as of November, including 230 built this year, the Beijing municipal government announced.

The senior service centers provide seniors with daytime care, emergency calls, cultural entertainment and psychological services. They also serve meals and help seniors keep healthy.

"As the aging population trend becomes more serious, elder care services are increasingly important for the government," said Wang Ning, deputy mayor of Beijing.

"Beijing should make great efforts to solve existing problems such as an inadequate amount and low level of service and imbalance between urban and rural areas," Wang said.

The aging population is becoming a social issue in China. According to a report released by the Beijing municipal government, by the end of 2016, the number of Beijing citizens above the age of 60 had reached 3.92 million, accounting for almost a quarter of the population, compared to 17 percent in 2006.

Applicants line up for China's civil servant exam

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 07:22
Candidates review materials before China's national civil servant exam in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province, on Dec 10, 2017. Approximately 1.6 million applicants qualified to take this year's exam, competing for around 28,500 available government posts. [Photo/VCG]

 

Examinees walk toward an exam site to attend China's national civil servant examination in Nanjing, East China's Jiangsu province. [Photo/VCG]

 

Candidates walk toward an exam site to attend China's national civil servant examination in Nanjing. [Photo/VCG]

 

Examinees line up to enter an exam site for China's national civil servant examination in Hefei, East China's Anhui province, on Dec 10, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

 

A candidate studies before China's national civil servant exam in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province. [Photo/VCG]

 

Examinees line up to enter a civil servant exam site in Wuhan. [Photo/VCG]

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