Archive for ‘China alert’

05/06/2017

Why China’s wasting huge amounts of cleanly-produced electricity and how to fix it | South China Morning Post

China’s scramble to curb pollution has made it the world leader in renewable energy development, yet increasing amounts of that green electricity have gone unused as the country struggles to integrate wind and solar power into an outdated electricity network dominated by coal.

The problem threatens to slow China’s progress in clearing its air and controlling the greenhouse gas emissions that make it the top contributor to climate change. It also runs counter to a desire by Chinese leaders to fill the leadership gap left by President Donald Trump’s move to withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

As international energy ministers gather in Beijing this week to promote renewables, China’s difficulty in maximising its green resources underscores uncertainty over how best to transition to cleaner electricity.

“They installed too much too fast,” said Qiao Liming, China director for the Global Wind Energy Council. “A real market should allow electricity to flow between two provinces. That is currently lacking” in China, she said.China wasted enough renewable energy to power Beijing for an entire year, says Greenpeace

Thousands of new wind turbines and solar panels were installed in China’s remote provinces over the past several years as the country’s leaders sought to alleviate choking urban smog without slowing economic expansion. China now has more renewable power capacity than any other nation.Two nagging problems have dampened that success, however, according to industry representatives and outside observers: China’s sprawling power grid has been unable to handle the influx of new electricity from wind and solar, while some provincial officials have retained a preference for coal.In western China’s Gansu province, 43 per cent of energy from wind went unused in 2016, a phenomenon known in the energy industry as “curtailment”. In the neighbouring Xinjiang region, the curtailment figure was 38 per cent and in northeast China’s Jilin province it was 30 per cent. The nationwide figure, 17 per cent, was described by Qiao’s organisation as shockingly high after increasing for several years in a row.

The problem has shown some signs of improvement this year, according to the China Electricity Council. Power demand in general increased in the first quarter, giving a boost to renewables after the economy regained momentum from 2016’s slowdown.However, experts say wasted energy will continue to be a drag on Chinese renewable power potential until the country’s electrical grid is modernised and provincial officials end their preference for coal, which provides almost two-thirds of the country’s energy.

The problem is worst in winter when many coal plants provide electricity for the power grid and send out excess heat to keep homes and businesses warm.

That’s led provincial officials to keep coal plants running and to reject available wind-generated electricity despite pressure from the central government to use more renewables, said Lu Xi, a professor at Tsinghua University’s School of Environment in Beijing.

“On paper they express quite clear attitudes to promote renewables, but in reality they promote coal interests,” said Frank Yu, a renewables specialist with the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie.

To help address the issue, China’s National Energy Administration has pushed for more wind turbines to be installed closer to Beijing and coastal cities where demand is highest. That should allow renewable energy to bypass part of the dated transmission system that has been blamed for impeding its use. It also would give more populated provinces a greater stake in making sure renewables get used.China has leadership role in fight against climate change

In a separate effort, at this week’s energy ministers meeting in Beijing, Chinese officials are expected to launch a campaign to make its power supply system more flexible. The goal is to create a power grid that can more easily absorb the highs and lows associated with weather dependent wind and solar electricity, said Christian Zinglersen, the head of the Clean Energy Ministerial, which is hosting the meeting.

Still, the problem of electricity going unused could get worse before it gets better, said Zhang Liutong, a senior manager with the Lantau Group, a Hong Kong-based energy consulting firm. More solar and wind is planned in Chinese provinces that already have more power-generating capacity than they use. Additional coal plants also are slated to come online, Zhang said.

China’s difficulties, while more pronounced than in other countries, are not unique. Western countries have experienced their own renewable struggles as utilities tried to integrate weather dependent wind and solar power into electricity grids built around coal plants, which are more polluting but also more reliable.

But over the next two decades, events in developing nations including China and India are expected to play a magnified role in addressing climate change. The United States, meanwhile, appears headed for a diminished presence as Trump and fellow Republicans back away from the climate policies of former President Barack Obama.

Almost all of the increased electricity demand during that period is expected to come from developing nations, according to projections from the International Energy Administration.

China alone will account for about half the total.

China’s struggles to maximise its use of renewables will not necessarily prevent it from meeting international emissions targets that aim to keep global warming below two degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels. But it will make it much more expensive unless China is able to adapt its power supply system while it is still in development, Zinglersen said.

“This is a case of political leadership catching up with the reality on the ground,” he said. “The more flexible a system you can have the more renewables you can allow for.”

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Source: Why China’s wasting huge amounts of cleanly-produced electricity and how to fix it | South China Morning Post

02/06/2017

Is Trump abandoning US global leadership? – BBC News

What is Donald Trump’s vision of American leadership? His inaugural speech gave us a headline – “from this day forward, it’s going to be only America first” – but four months on, how much more do we know?

Amid a flood of stories about the president’s lack of commitment to cherished post-war alliances, his attitude to trade and his unwillingness to collaborate on issues like climate change, Mr Trump’s critics draw pessimistic conclusions.

“The cumulative effect of Trump policies, capped by his foolish, tragic Paris decision = abdication of America’s global leadership. Shame!” tweeted Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s former national security adviser.”Donald Trump’s every instinct runs counter to the ideas that have underpinned the post-war international system,” writes G John Ikenberry, Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton.

“Across ancient and modern eras, orders built by great powers have come and gone,” he writes in Foreign Affairs. “But they have usually ended in murder not suicide.”

However, in the wake of President Trump’s first, much scrutinised foreign trip, two of his closest aides argued that America’s allies have nothing to fear.”America First does not mean America alone,” wrote White House National Security Adviser HR McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn in the Wall Street Journal.

The president, they insisted, had reconfirmed America’s commitment to the Nato principle of collective defence (there is a debate about this: his endorsement was less than explicit). Using a pejorative phrase often thrown at Barack Obama, the authors said America would not “lead from behind”. They also made it clear that the president’s approach is fundamentally transactional and highly competitive.

Donald Trump found himself out of step with other leaders at the G7 summit in Italy

They hailed Donald Trump’s “clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, non-governmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage”.

Where America’s interests align with those of its friends and partners, they wrote, the administration was open to working together to solve problems.

But the two officials signed off with an unambiguous reminder of their master’s core purpose.

“America First signals the restoration of American leadership and our government’s traditional role overseas – to use the diplomatic, economic and military resources of the US to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.

“No place here, it seems, for Harry Truman’s 1945 declaration that “no matter how great our strength… we must deny ourselves the license to do always as we please”.

For Donald Trump, the exercise of American influence revolves around imposing Washington’s will.

Muscular approach

“We must make America respected again and we must make America great again,” he declared in April 2016.

“If we can do that, perhaps this century can be the most peaceful and prosperous the world has ever known.”

Some of the president’s fiercest critics reacted with horror to the McMaster/Cohn article.The conservative commentator David Frum said the two officials “have re-imagined the United States in the image of their own chief – selfish, isolated, brutish, domineering, and driven by immediate appetites rather than ideals or even longer-term interests.”

There were times, during the European leg of his tour, when the president’s body language and demeanour seemed calculated to confirm his opponents’ worst fears.

Trump pushes past Montenegro’s PM

When he shoved aside the prime minister of Montenegro, Donald Trump seemed to act out an ugly version of America First.

A billionaire who is used to bending friend and foe alike to his will appears to struggle with anything more collaborative.

But there are signs that his muscular approach, while popular among supporters at home, has already caused a shift in the tectonic plates of the global world order.

Germany’s Angela Merkel says the days of depending on others are “to a certain extent” over.”

We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she told supporters last Sunday.

She struck a similar note when welcoming the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to Berlin.

“We are living in times of global uncertainty,” she said, “and see our responsibility to expand our partnership… and push for a world order based on law.”

For his part, Mr Li seemed only too happy to reciprocate.

“We are both ready to contribute to stability in the world,” he said.It’s been clear since Donald Trump’s election that China sees this as a moment of opportunity.

China is not being pushy, foreign ministry official Zhang Jun told reporters in January.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has committed his country to renewable energy

“It’s because the original front-runners suddenly fell back and pushed China to the front,” he said.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos it was left to China’s President Xi Jinping to defend globalisation and free trade, both frequently and colourfully attacked during Donald Trump’s election campaign.

The EU and Nato also came in for scorn, and even though President Trump has subsequently moderated his tone, damage has undoubtedly been done.

David Frum reaches a bleak conclusion. America is no longer the leader its partners once respected “but an unpredictable and dangerous force in world affairs, itself to be contained and deterred by new coalitions of ex-friends”.

Source: Is Trump abandoning US global leadership? – BBC News

02/06/2017

China flips the switch on world’s biggest floating solar farm | South China Morning Post

The world’s biggest floating solar power plant is up and running in China, as the country increasingly looks to renewable sources for its energy.

It comes at a time when Beijing is expected to take a bigger role in global efforts to tackle climate change, after the United States pulled out of the landmark 195-nation Paris deal.

The new solar farm in the city of Huainan, in the central, coal-rich Anhui province, can generate 40 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes. That’s according to Sungrow Power Supply, the Chinese firm that built the plant. It was connected to the city’s power grid in May.

The solar farm occupies an area that for years saw intensive coal mining. Subsidence and heavy rain created the lake where the solar panels have been installed.

Those panels float on the surface of the water, which ranges in depth from four to 10 metres.While Sungrow did not disclose the exact size of the plant, its capacity is double that of the solar farm previously considered the world’s biggest. That plant is also located in Huainan and was built by Xinyi Solar in 2016.

With US out of Paris climate deal, China’s now able to lead … but is it willing?Earlier in 2016, a floating solar farm began operating on the outskirts of London with capacity to generate just over 6 megawatts of electricity – it was considered the biggest at the time, according to a report in The Guardian.

Floating solar farms take advantage of areas that would otherwise go unused and the water helps to cool the surface of the panels, reducing the risk of overheating.

China is now the largest solar energy producer in the world – its capacity reached 77.42 gigawatts at the end of last year, according to the National Energy Administration. Renewables make up 11 per cent of the country’s energy use, but that number could go up to 20 per cent by 2030.

Earlier this year, the world’s biggest solar farm was unveiled in a remote part of the Tibetan plateau, in western Qinghai province. The sprawling Longyangxia Dam Solar Park covers some 27 square kilometres – almost the size of Macau. It can generate enough power to supply 200,000 homes.

Other large-scale solar projects in the country include the installation of 300 panels above a fish farm in Zhejiang province and a 6-million panel solar farm in the Ningxia autonomous region, which will be the biggest when it is completed.

Chinese companies are also involved in solar projects in other countries. State-owned National Complete Engineering Corporation is working with GCL System Integration Technology to build a 1-gigawatt solar plant in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl reactor – the site of the worse nuclear accident in history.

China’s embrace of renewable energy presents a stark contrast to the climate policies of the United States, which has announced it will exit the landmark Paris climate agreement. US President Donald Trump has slammed his predecessor Barack Obama for “wasting” taxpayer money on solar companies, called wind farms both “disgusting looking” and “bad for people’s health”, and proposed an administrative budget that would slash renewable energy spending by 70 per cent.

Source: China flips the switch on world’s biggest floating solar farm | South China Morning Post

26/05/2017

Indian population is bigger than one-child China’s, claims academic | World | The Times & The Sunday Times

India has overtaken China and become the world’s most populous country, according to an academic who believes that Beijing has overestimated the number of its citizens by as much as 90 million.

With none of the infamous birth control policies that China enforced for decades, India had been expected to become No 1 in the next five to ten years.

However, Yi Fuxian, a researcher and critic of China’s one-child policy, says that the Chinese authorities have greatly overstated the country’s real fertility rate since 1990.

At a conference in Beijing, Mr Yi concluded that China was home to 1.29 billion people at the end of last year, not the 1.38 billion that is Beijing’s official estimate.Mr Yi’s calculations would put China’s population lower than that of India, whose government estimates that the Indian population is 1.33 billion. Yesterday China’s “ministry of births”, the national health and family planning commission, rejected his claims.

“Some people ignored the birth population data issued by the state statistics bureau after revision, make no analysis on the raw data of population census and random surveys, directly gathered, and believe 2015’s total fertility rate is 1.05,” the commission said. “This is completely not in accordance with the real situation.” It said the 2016 fertility rate — births per woman — was 1.7.

Mr Yi, a scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose book Big Country with an Empty Nest was published in Hong Kong and banned on the mainland, said that the government’s denial came as no surprise.

“I am confident in my research,” he told The Times. If the public knew the true numbers then they and policymakers would have stopped the policies and the commission would have been closed years ago, he added.

He called on China to abolish all restrictions rather than just allowing two children per family, a reform introduced last year.

Its one-child policy was introduced in 1979 and was phased out gradually. There were many exceptions: ethnic minorities were exempt and some families could have a second child if the first was a girl.

The title of the world’s most populous nation probably remains with China for the time being, according to other experts. He Yafu, an independent demographer in Guangdong province, said China’s official population statistics probably are inflated “but it’s impossible to be that much [90 million]”.“China’s population must have exceeded 1.3 billion but is less than 1.4 billion. Figures from social insurance and other areas can also prove that it’s definitely more than 1.3 billion,” Mr He said.

“It’s already too late to abolish the family planning policy because according to surveys, even if the policy was totally relaxed only 5 per cent of families will have a third child. Therefore policy-loosening won’t have too much effect on China’s birthrate.”On online forums Chinese people debated the news. “We don’t want to wear the hat of world’s No 1 population country,” wrote one poster on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. “Hurry up to give it to India!”

Another sympathised with Mr Yi’s sceptical view of official Chinese statistics, saying: “It’s very normal. The family planning commission made up data for its own long existence, which already wasn’t news a long time ago.”

Source: Indian population is bigger than one-child China’s, claims academic | World | The Times & The Sunday Times

24/05/2017

Chinese Student’s Speech at U.S. College Sparks Uproar Back Home – China Real Time Report – WSJ

A Chinese student in the U.S. apologized for a commencement speech that criticized China’s air pollution and praised American free speech after she faced a storm of online criticism ​back home.

The incident highlighted how nationalist fervor in China can quickly become vitriolic at a time when President Xi Jinping is pushing a narrative of China’s rise on the geopolitical stage that allows little room for​​ ​ideological​ ​​dissent.

In her remarks, Yang Shuping, a psychology and theater graduate at the University of Maryland, cheered American air quality, saying she found it to be “fresh and sweet, and oddly luxurious.” In China, Ms. Yang said, she wore a face mask to protect against the polluted air.

She went on in her speech to compliment another refreshing aspect of American life—free speech.

“I have learned the right to freely express oneself is sacred in America,” she told about 8,000 graduating students in attendance.

Ms. Yang said she was shocked to discover that politically sensitive issues like the 1992 Los Angeles riots can be openly discussed on campus. “Democracy and freedom are the fresh air that is worth fighting for,” she said. “Enjoy the fresh air and never let it go.”

China, in contrast, censors discussion of certain sensitive topics on social media and in public discourse, such as the 1989 killings at Tiananmen Square​ in Beijing.

The video of Ms. Yang’s speech was posted online and went viral in China. It was viewed more than 30 million times on the nationalist tabloid Global Times’ account on Sina Weibo, a Twitter-like service. A hashtag “overseas student said U.S. air is even sweet” was clicked on more than 50 million times, according to Weibo.

Ms. Yang couldn’t be reached for comment.

Some accused her of belittling China and groveling to the U.S. by exaggerating the severity of China’s pollution. Online activists said they discovered Ms. Yang hailed from the southwest city Kunming, known as the City of Eternal Spring for its mild weather and fresh air. The Wall Street Journal couldn’t verify her home city.

Others said she pandered to the audience by implicitly criticizing China on human rights and freedom of speech. Western nations have chastised China on those matters, making it them sensitive issues.

“Some people are not able to stand up once they knelt down for too long,” one viewer posted on social media.Some analysts said ​Ms. Yang’s speech may have offended ordinary Chinese, but the incident ​was magnified by online activists with an agenda of stoking nationalistic sentiment.

“Whether this Chinese student’s speech is accurate or appropriate is something that remains to be discussed,” but online media users amplified the incident with sensationalist headlines, wrote Fang Kecheng, a media researcher, in an article.

Some Chinese students at the University of Maryland also took to Weibo to protest against what they saw as the stereotypical description of China in Ms. Yang’s speech.

“I understand that China is improving and we need to embrace the suggestions from outside world, but I would be so pissed off if anyone disgraced my country with deceptions,” said Xinling Jiang, a communications student at the University of Maryland, in a video she posted online.

In a statement on its website, ​the ​University of Maryland said it supported Ms. Yang and her “right to share her views and her unique perspective, and we commend her on lending her voice on this joyous occasion.”

Still, Ms. Yang felt the need to apologize, saying she loved her homeland and was proud of its prosperity and development.

“The speech is just to share my overseas experience and comes with no intention to negate or belittle my country…I sincerely apologize, hope for forgiveness, and will learn this lesson,” she said on her Weibo account.

Source: Chinese Student’s Speech at U.S. College Sparks Uproar Back Home – China Real Time Report – WSJ

24/05/2017

Kung phooey: A fist-fight in China turns into a clash between tradition and modernity | The Economist

MOST lovers of Chinese martial arts take the magical aspects of kung fu, as demonstrated by the flying fighters of legend and film, with a pinch of salt. But Wei Lei built his career in China on a claim that his mastery of tai chi, a branch of kung fu, had given him supernatural power. In a programme about kung fu that was broadcast on state television in 2015, Mr Wei demonstrated that he could keep a dove standing on his hand with an invisible force-field and smash the inside of a watermelon without damaging its rind.

The broadcaster itself appeared to be among the credulous.There were many sceptics, too. Earlier this year one of them stepped forward to challenge Mr Wei: Xu Xiaodong, a practitioner of mixed martial arts—a fighting form drawing on Eastern and Western traditions that began to take off in America in the 1990s (and is picking up fans in China). Mr Xu mocked tai chi as a slow-motion form of aerobics. Last month the two men decided to settle their argument in hand-to-hand combat. The fight on April 27th was quick and decisive. Just 12 seconds in, Mr Wei ended up on the ground, his nose bleeding.

A fist-fight in China turns into a clash between tradition and modernity

A video of the clash spread rapidly online. Some commentators in China sided with Mr Xu, and urged him to expose other kung fu “masters”. Mr Xu promised to do so. His aim, he said, was not to disparage Chinese martial arts, but to expose deceitful practitioners.

But many netizens accused Mr Xu of trying to besmirch the country’s ancient fighting techniques: how, they asked, could a single fight prove anything? Guancha.cn, a news portal, said Mr Xu’s posts over the years on Weibo, a microblog website, had insulted the Chinese army and Mao Zedong. Ye Yincong of Lingnan University in Hong Kong wrote that the reaction demonstrated a common tendency in China to view the world in terms of a struggle between Chinese tradition and Western influence.

Some kung-fu fighters have expressed willingness to take up Mr Xu’s challenge. But faced with a barrage of hate messages, Mr Xu appears to have lost his zeal. On May 4th he appeared in a live video-stream, looking stressed. “I have lost my career and everything,” he said, implying the pressure had been affecting his work as a mixed-martial-arts coach.

The authorities appear eager to put an end to the debate. China’s president Xi Jinping is a fan of traditional Chinese culture, and says he wants to use it promote the country’s “soft power” abroad. The recent criticism of kung fu may have triggered too much questioning of it for his taste. On May 7th Mr Xu’s Weibo account was deleted, as was some of the online reporting and commentary about his fight with Mr Wei. Mr Xu told the BBC that he would keep quiet from now on, and study traditional Chinese martial arts.

Source: Kung phooey: A fist-fight in China turns into a clash between tradition and modernity | The Economist

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24/05/2017

India’s electric vehicles push likely to benefit Chinese car makers | Reuters

India’s ambitious plan to push electric vehicles at the expense of other technologies could benefit Chinese car makers seeking to enter the market, but is worrying established automakers in the country who have so far focused on making hybrid models.

India’s most influential government think-tank unveiled a policy blueprint this month aimed at electrifying all vehicles in the country by 2032, in a move that is catching the attention of car makers that are already investing in electric technology in China such as BYD and SAIC.

The May 12 report by Niti Aayog, the planning body headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, recommends lower taxes and loan interest rates on electric vehicles while capping sales of petrol and diesel cars, seen as a radical shift in policy.

India also plans to impose higher taxes on hybrid vehicles compared with electric, under a new unified tax regime set to come into effect from July 1, upsetting car makers like Maruti Suzuki and Toyota Motor.

The prospect of India aggressively promoting electric vehicles was a “big opportunity”, a source close to SAIC, China’s biggest automaker, told Reuters.

“For a newcomer, this is a good chance to establish a modern, innovative brand image,” the source said, although they added the company would need more clarity on policy before deciding whether to launch electric vehicles in India.

Earlier this year SAIC set up a local unit called MG Motor which is finalising plans to buy a car manufacturing plant in western India. A spokesman at SAIC did not comment specifically on the company’s India plans.

Warren Buffett-backed BYD already builds electric buses in the country, while rival Chongqing Changan has said it may enter India by 2020.

BYD said in a statement the company would have “a lot more confidence” to engage in the Indian market if the government supported the proposed policy. The company said it would look at increasing its investment in India but did not give details on how it would expand its business and market share.

HIGH COSTS

While the Niti Aayog report has not yet been formally adopted, government sources have said it was likely to form the basis of a new green cars policy.

If so, India would be following similar moves by China, which has been aggressively pushing clean vehicle technologies. But emulating China’s success could be tough.Electric vehicles are expensive due to high battery costs, and car makers say a lack of charging stations in India could make the whole proposition unviable.

The proposed policy focuses on electric vehicles, and is likely to also include plug-in hybrids. But it overlooks conventional hybrid models already sold in India, such as Toyota’s Camry sedan, Honda Motor’s Accord sedan and so-called mild hybrids built by Maruti Suzuki.

Hybrids combine fossil fuel and electric power, with mild hybrids making less use of the latter.

In doubling down on electric power India would be shifting away from its previous policy, announced in 2015, that supported hybrid and electric technology.

That could delay investments in India, expected to be the world’s third-largest passenger car market within the next decade, according to industry executives and analysts.

“All these policy changes will affect future products and investments,” said Puneet Gupta, South Asia manager at consultant IHS Markit, adding that most car makers would need to rethink product launches, especially of hybrids.

ECONOMIC GAP

Mahindra & Mahindra is the only electric car maker in India but has struggled to ramp up sales, blaming low buyer interest and insufficient infrastructure.

Pawan Goenka, managing director at Mahindra said the company was working with the government and other private players to set up charging stations in India. Mahindra was also focusing on developing electric fleet cars and taxis, Goenka said.

The cost of setting up a car charging station in India ranges from $500 to $25,000, depending on the charging speed, according to a 2016 report by online journal IOPscience.

While the proposed policy suggests setting up battery swapping stations and using tax revenues from sales of petrol and diesel vehicles to set up charging stations, it does not specify the investment needed or whether the government would contribute.

“For full electric vehicles, the economic gap remains huge and the charging infrastructure needed does not exist,” said a spokesman at Tata Motors. The company makes electric buses and is working on developing electric and hybrid cars.

DELAYED PLANS

Most automakers have focused on bringing in hybrid models that are seen as a stepping stone to electrification. Toyota recently launched its luxury hybrid brand Prius in India, while Hyundai Motor plans to debut its Ioniq hybrid sedan next year.

Maruti’s parent Suzuki Motor, along with Toshiba and Denso, plans to invest 20 billion yen ($180 million) to set up a lithium ion battery plant in India which would support Maruti’s plan to build more hybrids.

But the apparent sharp shift in policymakers’ thinking in favor of electrification is forcing automakers like Toyota and Nissan Motor to seek more clarity before finalising future products for India, while Hyundai may delay new launches.

Toyota, the world’s No. 2 carmaker by sales, had planned to have a hybrid variant for all its vehicles in India, but the company’s future launches would now depend on the new policy, said Shekar Viswanathan, vice chairman of its Indian subsidiary.

Nissan, which plans to launch a hybrid SUV later this year, said in a statement it was waiting for more clarity before deciding whether to bring electric cars to India.

A plan by Hyundai to launch at least three hybrid cars in India in 2019-2020 would likely to be delayed, said a source.

Hyundai did not comment on queries related to delays.

“If the government will be aggressive on electric vehicles and not support other technologies, companies will need to rethink investments,” said an executive with an Asian carmaker.

Source: India’s electric vehicles push likely to benefit Chinese car makers | Reuters

22/05/2017

China, Russia formalize Shanghai venture to build wide-body jet | Reuters

China and Russia on Monday completed the formal registration of a joint venture to build a proposed wide-body jet, kickstarting the full-scale development of a program that aims to compete with market leaders Boeing (BA.N) and Airbus (AIR.PA).

State planemakers Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) [CMAFC.UL] and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp (UAC) said at a ceremony in Shanghai the joint venture would aim to build a “competitive long range wide-body commercial aircraft”.

COMAC, which is increasingly looking to break the hold Boeing and Airbus have over the global commercial jet market, successfully completed the maiden flight of its home-grown C919 narrow-body passenger jet earlier this month.

“The long-haul, wide-body passenger jet is a strategic project for China and Russia, followed closely by the two governments,” said Guo Bozhi, general manager of COMAC’s wide-body department.

COMAC and UAC first announced the twin-aisle jet program in 2014 but the project has so far been slow to materialize.

In November, the firms said they had set up a joint venture in Shanghai and unveiled a mock-up of the wide-body jet, based around a basic version that would seat 280 and have a range of up to 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles).

UAC president Yuri Slyusar said the firms were aiming to complete the wide-body jet’s maiden flight and first delivery between 2025-2028. He added the plane would look to take 10 percent of the market from the Boeing 787 and Airbus 350.

Previously, the firms had been aiming for a maiden flight of the jet in 2022 and delivery from 2025 or later.

While the target is tough, it is more realistic than recent aircraft programs that have sought results in 5-7 years and then come in late, industry analysts said. COMAC’s first homegrown jet, the ARJ-21, obtained permission to enter domestic service more than 10 years behind its original schedule.

COMAC and UAC hold equal shares in the joint venture.

Last July, Boeing forecast the world’s airlines would need 9,100 wide-body planes over 20 years to 2035, with a wave of replacement demand to come between 2021-2028.China has plowed billions of dollars over the past decade into a domestic jet development program as it looks to raise its profile in the global aviation market and boost high-tech manufacturing at home.

Source: China, Russia formalize Shanghai venture to build wide-body jet | Reuters

18/05/2017

China taps into cool future for global energy | South China Morning Post

China has succeeded in extracting methane gas from solid deposits under the sea in an experiment that could eventually lead to the commercial production of what is being touted as an abundant new source of energy.In a first for the country, engineers extracted the gas from the so-called “flammable ice” – methane hydrate, where the gas is trapped in ice crystals – and converted it to natural gas in a single, continuous operation on a floating production platform in the Shenhu area of the South China Sea, about 300km southeast of Hong Kong, the Ministry of Land and Resources said on Thursday.

Methane hydrate is formed in such abundance that the US Department of Energy has estimated the total amount could exceed the combined energy content of all other fossil fuels, sparking interest in the resource worldwide.

The US, Canada and Japan have been leading research into it, and Japan said earlier this month it had successfully produced natural gas from methane hydrate off its Pacific coast and plans to conduct continuous production for three to four weeks. Japan’s tests are being carried out on a ship, whereas China is using a floating platform.

China was a latecomer to the methane hydrate scene, but has been catching up fast since the discovery of promising reserves in the South China Sea in 2007. Earlier this year scientists built the nation’s first land-based drilling platform on the Tibetan Plateau, where abundant methane is trapped under the permafrost.

In the latest breakthrough, a bore head was lowered to extract the gas and convert it to natural gas, according to video footage shown on China Central Television.

“We brought the gas to the surface and have lit it up since May 10. By now, the drill has been running continually for eight days,” Ye Jianliang, project leader and deputy chief engineer at the China Geological Survey, told the broadcaster.

“The daily output [of gas] exceeds 10,000 cubic metres. The best day recorded 35,000 cubic metres,” Ye said.Chen Yifeng, associate researcher with the Key Laboratory of Marginal Sea Geology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Guangzhou, said the trial run was different from previous operations by other countries because it followed the procedures of commercial production.

“The technology and equipment they use is no longer for experimental purposes. They mean business,” she said.But methane hydrate has its disadvantages, according to Chen. Unlike oil and natural gas reserves which are usually concentrated in confined spaces, the hydrates are often scattered over large areas on the sea floor, and extracting them was like “picking strawberries in a field”.

Also, unlike mineral ores, the “ice” cannot be taken straight out of the water because it would disintegrate with the loss of pressure. Sophisticated machinery and technology was required to depressurize or melt it on the sea bed and channel the gas to the surface.

She also noted that one reason why some countries had put commercial exploitation on hold was because of a fear of a massive escape of methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere, which could occur if drilling machines destroyed the stability of a seabed.

Some researchers have speculated that methane hydrate had caused a rapid buildup of pipeline pressure that led to the deadly explosion and subsequent massive oil spill on BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico seven years ago.

A mainland government energy researcher, who declined to be named, doubted whether commercialisation could begin any time soon.

“The government statement has not disclosed the cost, but at this stage, to produce natural gas from combustible ice is likely to make no economic sense,” the researcher said.

“China became the world’s first because no other country has the motivation to do it while oil prices remain low.”

Source: China taps into cool future for global energy | South China Morning Post

08/05/2017

The bullies of Urumqi: The extraordinary ways in which China humiliates Muslims | The Economist

CHINESE officials describe the far western province of Xinjiang as a “core area” in the vast swathe of territory covered by the country’s grandiose “Belt and Road Initiative” to boost economic ties with Central Asia and regions beyond.

They hope that wealth generated by the scheme will help to make Xinjiang more stable—for years it has been plagued by separatist violence which China says is being fed by global jihadism. But the authorities are not waiting. In recent months they have intensified their efforts to stifle the Islamic identity of Xinjiang’s ethnic Uighurs, fearful that any public display of their religious belief could morph into militancy.Xinjiang’s 10m Uighurs (nearly half of its population) have long been used to heavy-handed curbs: a ban on unauthorised pilgrimages to Mecca, orders to students not to fast during Ramadan, tough restrictions on Islamic garb (women with face-covering veils are sometimes not allowed on buses), no entry to many mosques for people under 18, and so on.

But since he took over last August as Xinjiang’s Communist Party chief, Chen Quanguo has launched even harsher measures—pleased, apparently, by his crushing of dissent in Tibet where he previously served as leader. As in Tibet, many Xinjiang residents have been told to hand their passports to police and seek permission to travel abroad. In one part of Xinjiang all vehicles have been ordered to install satellite tracking-devices. There have been several shows of what officials call “thunderous power”, involving thousands of paramilitary troops parading through streets.

Last month, new rules came into effect that banned “abnormal” beards (such as the one worn by the man pictured in front of the main mosque in Kashgar in south-western Xinjiang). They also called on transport workers to report women wearing face veils or full-body coverings to the police, and prohibited “naming of children to exaggerate religious fervour”. A leaked list of banned names includes Muhammad, Mecca and Saddam. Parents may not be able to obtain vital household-registration papers for children with unapproved names, meaning they could be denied free schooling and health care.

Residents have also been asked to spy on each other. In Urumqi, the region’s capital, locals can report security threats via a new mobile app. People living in Altay in northern Xinjiang have been promised rewards of up to 5m yuan ($720,000) for tip-offs that help capture militants—over 200 times the local income per person.

Across Xinjiang residents have been asked to inform the authorities of any religious activities, including weddings and circumcisions. The government is also testing its own people’s loyalty. In March an official in Hotan in southern Xinjiang was demoted for “timidity” in “fighting against religious extremism” because he chose not to smoke in front of a group of mullahs.

Mr Chen is widely rumoured to be a contender for a seat in the ruling Politburo in a reshuffle due late this year. Displays of toughness may help to ingratiate him with China’s president, Xi Jinping, who has called for “a great wall of iron” to safeguard Xinjiang. Spending on security in Xinjiang was nearly 20% higher in 2016 than the year before. Adverts for security-related jobs there increased more than threefold last year, reckon James Leibold of La Trobe University and Adrian Zenz of the European School of Culture and Theology at Korntal, Germany.

Uighurs have been blamed for several recent attacks in Xinjiang. In one of them in February, in the southern prefecture of Hotan, three knife-wielding men killed five people and injured several others before being shot dead by police (local reports suggested the violence occurred after a Uighur family was punished for holding a prayer session at home). Officials may be congratulating themselves on the success of their tactics; reported large-scale attacks by Uighurs inside and outside Xinjiang have abated in the past 18 months. Yet as in Tibet, intrusive surveillance and curbs on cultural expression have fuelled people’s desperation. “A community is like a fruit,” says a Uighur driver from Kashgar. “Squash it too hard and it will burst.”

Source: The bullies of Urumqi: The extraordinary ways in which China humiliates Muslims | The Economist

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