Archive for ‘Economics’


A pollution crackdown compounds slowdown woes in China’s heartland

ANYANG/SANGPO, China (Reuters) – For years, China’s industrial heartland has been cloaked in smog, its waterways choked with pollution pumped from enormous clusters of factories churning out the mountains of cement and steel needed to build the Chinese economy.

Aiming to tackle what has become a huge public health problem, the authorities have cracked down on polluting industries, targeting provinces like Henan, which has a population of 100 million people and hundreds of factory towns.
According to interviews with factory and business owners, and consumers and workers across Henan, that crackdown – conducted with often heavy-handed local enforcement – is crippling the economies of towns and cities that depend on polluting industries.
Manufacturers across Henan have been particularly hard hit by the new environmental regulations, compounding the pressures the province faces from China’s slowing economy and a grinding trade war with the United States.
It also highlights the trade-off China faces between providing a healthier environment for its citizens and maintaining economic growth in a province whose climb from poverty has lagged that of coastal regions.
China does not provide statistics on the costs of the environmental crackdown, but it has said that short-term pain will lead to long-term growth through an economic “upgrade”.
The information office of the State Council, China’s cabinet, did not respond to a faxed request for comment on the economic effects of the new restrictions.
It’s difficult to get a full picture of Henan’s economy from unreliable official figures, as it is for the whole country. Henan’s official growth rate was 7.6% in 2018, higher than the national rate and down 0.2 of a percentage point from 2017.

But the interviews conducted by Reuters across Henan suggest consumers are spending less, cities are struggling to retool their economies and the pollution crackdown is hurting businesses and employment.


The steel-producing centre of Anyang, which has long had some of the worst air in China, is one place that has been hit hard by the anti-pollution campaign.

The city of more than 5 million people, dominated by the infrastructure and insignia of the state-owned Anyang Iron and Steel Group, has forced local industry to upgrade equipment and curb pollution, and shut down companies that were unwilling or unable to comply.

Li Huifeng, president of Baoshun High-Tech Corporation, a coking coal company founded by his parents in 1983, said the cost of compliance had been painful.

Baoshun’s huge plant, built in the hills in the west of Anyang, was forced to implement production cuts last winter even though it had installed low-emissions equipment that exceeded required standards.

“Last year, business was really good but this year it is full of uncertainties,” said Li. He added that new efficiency guidelines were likely to result in the closure of many producers of coking coal, which is used in steel production.

Li Xianzhong, the owner of the Xinyuan Steel Mill in Anyang’s western outskirts, said he was facing curbs on production as well as spiralling costs because of the new environmental regulations.

According to industry estimates, environmental costs per tonne of steel produced have risen to around 150 yuan per tonne, up from less than 50 yuan per tonne when the war on pollution was launched in 2014.

“All this equipment needs a lot of capital, and after you’ve invested, the operation costs are also higher,” said Li. “If you don’t meet the standards, you aren’t allowed to operate.”

Near the sprawling Anyang steel plant in the city centre, residents and workers complained that the new environmental inspection rules had made it harder to make a living.

Many small workshops, which often use small metalworking furnaces, have also been targeted.

“Before we would just give them a pack of cigarettes or treat them to a meal and you’d then be fine for a year, but now it’s no use,” said a bicycle repairman, identifying himself by his surname Zhang, whose workshop near the plant was shut by inspectors.

Over the past years, Anyang has tried encouraging new and cleaner forms of economic growth. It has shut hundreds of small polluters in sectors like ceramics and cement, and tried to attract industries like solar panels and electric vehicles by offering incentives and building sprawling new industrial parks.

However, it has struggled to compete with numerous Chinese cities making similar bets, especially as China’s economy slows.

And the results of the anti-pollution efforts have been mixed.

Steel still accounts for more than half of Anyang’s economy – unchanged from a decade ago – and the environment is still bad. The taste of brimstone hangs in the air, and the fairy lights festooned on hundreds of cranes on the city’s skyline could only be dimly seen during a recent visit.
Part of the problem, according to Liu Bingjiang, who heads the Ministry of Ecology and Environment’s air pollution office, is that smog is also blowing in from neighbouring industrial regions, undermining local cleanup efforts.
“All these measures, all these plans are in place, but it still can’t solve the smog,” said Li, the steel mill owner.


The anti-pollution campaign is also hitting much smaller industrial centres.

Sangpo, a dusty two-street village in northeast Henan, used to live off scores of sheepskin processing factories cranking out winter boots modelled on UGG, the American brand with Australian roots.

While the industry was the main employer in the village, that came with a heavy environmental cost: treating the raw sheepskin consumed copious amounts of water and contaminated the local water supply.

Last July, the government moved to close most of the factories, sending dozens of police cars into Sangpo with sirens wailing to enforce the shutdown.

Government inspectors were installed to keep watch at each factory to ensure compliance with the order. Three factory owners were arrested for violating environmental regulations.

During a visit to Sangpo by Reuters, most factories were idle during what should have been peak production season. Hundreds of workers had left town in search of work elsewhere, leaving behind shuttered shopfronts and deserted roads.

“The village is at a tipping point,” said a former factory owner who only wanted to be identified by his surname, Ding. Most businesses were mostly “more dead than alive,” he added.

Before the factories were shut, the village of 6,500 people, mainly from the Hui Muslim minority, had been punching well above its weight.

It achieved national recognition as a thriving model of e-commerce, winning glowing write-ups in national newspapers after it was named in 2015 by the tech giant Alibaba as central China’s very first “Taobao village” – a designation for top rural sellers on the company’s internet retailing platform.

But that all changed last year as China’s pollution crackdown intensified. The top county-level official, factory owners said, held a town hall meeting and threatened to shut everyone down permanently. A deal was made for 19 of the 135 factories to remain.

Those wanting to stay open agreed to upgrade their businesses and invest in equipment to ensure they met water treatment standards. Factories that opted out were shut, their boilers and processing equipment destroyed.

The government of Mengzhou, which oversees Sangpo, declined to comment when reached by phone. But Mengzhou’s mayor said last year that the crackdown was necessary and in accordance with the popular will, according to a statement on the Mengzhou government website.

Sangpo village’s party chief declined to comment when reached via the Chinese messaging app WeChat. Calls to his cellphone went unanswered.

The county government’s plan is to corral remaining factories into a new industrial zone by the end of the year. But remaining business owners are worried about the slow pace of construction and fear they will be forced to shut.

Ding, the former factory owner, said business owners didn’t expect the crackdown – which has also discouraged lending from banks – to be so harsh.

“Everyone in the village was moaning and sighing but no one thought it would be this extreme,” Ding said.  “We are at our wits’ end.”

Source: Reuters


Ozone layer: Banned CFCs traced to China say scientists

home insulationImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image caption Much of the CFC-11 gas has been used in home insulation

Researchers say that they have pinpointed the major sources of a mysterious recent rise in a dangerous, ozone-destroying chemical.

CFC-11 was primarily used for home insulation but global production was due to be phased out in 2010.

But scientists have seen a big slowdown in the rate of depletion over the past six years.

This new study says this is mostly being caused by new gas production in eastern provinces of China.

CFC-11 is also known as trichlorofluoromethane, and is one of a number of chloroflurocarbon (CFC) chemicals that were initially developed as refrigerants during the 1930s.

However, it took many decades for scientists to discover that when CFCs break down in the atmosphere, they release chlorine atoms that are able to rapidly destroy the ozone layer which protects us from ultraviolet light. A gaping hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica was discovered in the mid 1980s.

Media caption Twenty-five years of ice loss in the Antarctic

The international community agreed the Montreal Protocol in 1987, which banned most of the offending chemicals. Recent research suggests that the hole in the Northern Hemisphere could be fully fixed by the 2030s and Antarctica by the 2060s.

When was the CFC problem discovered?

CFC-11 was the second most abundant CFCs and was initially seen to be declining as expected.

However in 2018 a team of researchers monitoring the atmosphere found that the rate of decline had slowed by about 50% after 2012.

Image caption Monitoring stations in Korea and Japan were key to detecting the mystery sources of CFC-11

That team reasoned that they were seeing new production of the gas, coming from East Asia. The authors of that paper argued that if the sources of new production weren’t shut down, it could delay the healing of the ozone layer by a decade.

What did investigators find on the ground?

Further detective work in China by the Environmental Investigation Agency in 2018 seemed to indicate that the country was indeed the source. They found that the illegal chemical was used in the majority of the polyurethane insulation produced by firms they contacted.

One seller of CFC-11 estimated that 70% of China’s domestic sales used the illegal gas. The reason was quite simple – CFC-11 is better quality and much cheaper than the alternatives.

So what does this latest study show?

This new paper seems to confirm beyond any reasonable doubt that some 40-60% of the increase in emissions is coming from provinces in eastern China.

Using what are termed “top-down” measurements from air monitoring stations in South Korea and Japan, the researchers were able to show that since 2012 CFC-11 has increased from production sites in eastern China.

home insulationImage copyright GETTY IMAGES

They calculated that there was a 110% rise in emissions from these parts of China for the years 2014-2017 compared to the period between 2008-2012.

“This new study is based on spikes in the data on air that comes from China,” lead author Dr Matt Rigby, a reader at the University of Bristol, told BBC Inside Science.

“Using computer simulations of the transport of these gases through the atmosphere we can start to put numbers on emissions from different regions and that’s where we come up with this number of around 7,000 tonnes of extra CFC-11 emissions coming out of China compared to before 2012.

“But from the data, all we just see are the ultimate releases to the atmosphere, we don’t have any information on how that CFC-11 was used or where it was produced, it is entirely possible that it was manufactured in some other region, some other part of China or even some other country and was transported to the place where they are making insulating foams at which point some of it could have been emitted to the atmosphere.”

Where are the rest of the emissions coming from?

The researchers are not sure. It’s possible that the missing emissions are coming from other parts of China, as the monitoring stations just can’t see them. They could also be coming from India, Africa or South America as again there is very little monitoring in these regions.

Does this have implications for climate change?

Yes – the authors say that these CFCs are also very potent greenhouse gases. One tonne of CFC-11 is equivalent to around 5,000 tonnes of CO2.

“If we look at these extra emissions that we’ve identified from eastern China, it equates to about 35 million tonnes of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere every year, that’s equivalent to about 10% of UK emissions, or similar to the whole of London.”

Will China clampdown on the production?

The Chinese say they have already started to clamp down on production by what they term “rogue manufacturers”. Last November, several suspects were arrested in Henan province, in possession of 30 tonnes of CFC-11.

Clare Perry from the Environmental Investigations Agency (EIA) said that the new findings re-affirmed the need to stamp out production.

“I think with this study, it is beyond doubt that China is the source of these unexpected emissions, and we would hope that China is leaving no stone unturned to discover the source of the CFC-11 production.

“Unless the production of the chemical is shut down it will be near impossible to end the use and emissions in the foam companies.”

The study has been published in the journal Nature.

Source: The BBC


Beyond the Yellow River: DNA tells new story of the origins of Han Chinese

  • Researchers say history of China’s biggest ethnic group is more complex than many believe
  • DNA study involving 20,000 unrelated people points to three river origins
The study of Han DNA by the team from the Kunming institute challenges a long-held view of the early origins of Chinese civilisation. Photo: Xinhua
The study of Han DNA by the team from the Kunming institute challenges a long-held view of the early origins of Chinese civilisation. Photo: Xinhua
The origins of China’s biggest ethnic group can be traced back to three river valleys, deposing the Yellow River as the sole cradle of Chinese civilisation, according to a new study.
The Yellow has long been hailed as the mother river of Han Chinese, who make up nearly 92 per cent of the country’s population today.
But research published in the online journal Molecular Biology and Evolution on Wednesday said the Yangtze and Pearl rivers – as well as the Yellow – gave rise to genetically separate groups about 10,000 years ago. Those ancestors then mingled to become the largest ethnic group in the world today, it said.
“The history of Han Chinese is more sophisticated than thought,” said Professor Kong Qingdong, a researcher with the Kunming Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and lead scientist in the study. “Many details need investigation.”
A DNA study suggests the Yellow River (above) may have to share its place as a cradle for Han Chinese with the Yangtze and the Pearl. Photo: Xinhua
A DNA study suggests the Yellow River (above) may have to share its place as a cradle for Han Chinese with the Yangtze and the Pearl. Photo: Xinhua

After analysing DNA samples from more than 20,000 unrelated Han Chinese, examining their dialects and family geography and comparing those to archaeological DNA records, scientists concluded that the Yangtze and Pearl had equal claim with the Yellow to Han origins.

Progenitors from the three river valleys evolved independently, the Kunming team said, and distinctions found in the mitochondrial DNA (the mother’s line) of study volunteers added weight to their assertion.

Who are you? DNA tests help Chinese retrace ancient steps

About 0.07 per cent of the DNA examined in the Han Chinese study differed according to river valley origin. By comparison, the difference was much lower – 0.02 per cent – when the study volunteer data was assessed by dialect, the researchers said.

Earlier studies of genetic markers and microsatellite data that mapped the prevalence of DNA revealed that Han Chinese can be generally divided into two groups: North and South. The latest study found that the genetic variation between North and South Han Chinese is 0.03 per cent, considerably less significant than the distinction by rivers.

Dr Li Yuchun, lead author of the paper, said the findings helped trace the history of Han to the dawn of civilisation, the emergence of agriculture and the sustainable growth of population.

The earliest migrants from Africa to China arrived in what is now the southwest between 60,000 and 100,000 years ago, studies said. The genes of this group of hunter-gatherers were largely unchanged for tens of thousands years.

About 10,000 years ago, agricultural practices began to emerge in the valleys of the three rivers. Archaeologists found evidence of millet cultivation around the Yellow River, rice in the Yangtze, and roots and tubers in the Pearl.

The busy Yangtze River flows through Chongqing in southwest China. Photo: Xinhua
The busy Yangtze River flows through Chongqing in southwest China. Photo: Xinhua

“Increasing food led to a population boom in these areas. We can see it in the separate path of gene evolution,” Li said.

The research also found that women were able to preserve their genetic story better than men as they stayed at home to tend the fields, while men went to explore, trade or wage war.

“Females are resilient to invasion,” she said.

The cultural significance of knowing one’s ancestry

The research team planned to examine the Y-chromosome, which passed from father to son, to study the expansion of the Han civilisation, Li said.

“It will be interesting to hear the story from a male perspective,” she said.

As the Han empires expanded, many ancient ethnic groups such as Huns, Siberians, Khitan in northern China and the Thai-Khadai speaking peoples in the south, passed from the record.

Some researchers think these minorities become extinct, but others believe they were absorbed into the Han Chinese population.

Source: SCMP


China’s top legislator visits Norway to promote bilateral ties


Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), meets with Norwegian King Harald V in Oslo, Norway, May 16, 2019. China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu paid an official friendly visit to Norway from May 15 to 18, expecting to promote the development of Sino-Norwegian ties to score more progress. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

OSLO, May 18 (Xinhua) — China’s top legislator Li Zhanshu paid an official friendly visit to Norway from May 15 to 18, expecting to promote the development of Sino-Norwegian ties to score more progress.

During the stay in Norway, Li, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), met with Norwegian King Harald V, Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and President of the Norwegian parliament Storting Tone Wilhelmsen Troen.

When meeting with Norwegian King Harald V, Li conveyed the greetings of Chinese President Xi Jinping to the King, and expressed congratulations on the Norwegian National Day, which falls on May 17.

Li said during the King’s successful visit to China last year, the two heads of state made strategic plans for the development of bilateral relations in the new era. As this year marks the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Norway, the two sides are expected to seize the opportunity to cement friendship and expand cooperation on the basis of mutual respect and treating each other equally, so as to realize better development of bilateral relations.

Harald V expressed gratitude to China’s friendliness to the Norwegian side, saying Norway admires China’s tremendous development achievements. He said Norway is ready to strengthen cooperation with China in such fields as winter sports, and will make efforts to help China successfully host the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

When meeting with Solberg, Li said although Sino-Norwegian relations have experienced ups and downs, friendship and cooperation has always been the main theme of the ties. As both countries share common interests on safeguarding current global mechanism, building an open world economy, the two sides should jointly support multilateralism and free trade. Moreover, the two countries have similar development concepts and share strong economic complementarities, so the outlook of bilateral cooperation is very broad.

Norway is welcome to actively participate in the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative. And bilateral cooperation on economy, trade, environmental protection, science and technology, people-to-people exchanges and tourism is expected to be forged ahead, said China’s top legislator.

“China hopes the Norwegian side provides a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises’ investment and operation in Norway,” said Li.

Solberg said bilateral cooperation has maintained sound momentum since the normalization of bilateral ties, expecting the two sides to push forward talks on inking a free trade deal and deepen cooperation in such areas as maritime affairs, shipping, fishery and environmental protection. She also voiced the will to advance communication and collaboration with China on issues concerning the United Nations, coping with the climate change and Arctic affairs.

When respectively meeting with Troen and members of the parliament’s standing committee on foreign affairs and defense, Li introduced China’s development path and political system.

“The reasons why China continues to make new development achievements are that we have embarked on a development path that suits our national conditions. This is the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” said Li, stressing that the Chinese people will unswervingly follow this path.

He said that the NPC of China is willing to work with the Norwegian parliament to implement the important consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries, strengthen friendly exchanges at all levels, enhance understanding and trust through frank dialogues, and create a favorable environment for pragmatic cooperation.

Troen said that this visit is of great significance as Li’s tour marks the first visit of a Chinese leader since the normalization of bilateral relations in 2016. The Norwegian parliament is willing to carry out all-round exchanges and cooperation with the NPC of China, and make positive contributions to the development of state-to-state ties.

The two legislators also exchanged views on jointly safeguarding multilateral trade system, sustainable development and other issues of common concerns.

On May 16, Li attended the economic and trade conference in commemoration of the 65th anniversary of Norway-China diplomatic relations. He said in a speech that President Xi’s proposal of the high-quality development of jointly building the Belt and Road and the policy of China’s further expansion of opening up have provided new opportunities for the common development of all countries. The two countries’ enterprises are expected to seize the opportunity, tap cooperation potentials, so as to translate the desire for strong cooperation into more practical results.

During the tour, Li visited the Chinese skiers who were training in Norway and encouraged them to train hard and carry out bilateral friendship.

He also visited a local ecological agriculture project, an oil gas processing plant, and met with local officials in Norway’s southwestern county of Rogaland and its southern city of Stavanger.

Norway is the first lag of Li’s ten-day tour in Europe, which will also take him to Austria and Hungary.

Source: Xinhua


Shanghai Bund’s historic buildings saved from demolition … for now

  • Experts win reprieve for two out of three heritage houses but fear their success is only temporary
  • Authorities plan public cultural facilities for the site
The historic buildings on Shanghai’s Bund in the 1930s. One of the three structures has already been demolished but authorities have temporarily suspended plans to knock down the other two. Photo: Handout
The historic buildings on Shanghai’s Bund in the 1930s. One of the three structures has already been demolished but authorities have temporarily suspended plans to knock down the other two. Photo: Handout
Two historic buildings on Shanghai’s famous Bund have temporarily escaped demolition after a group of experts appealed to the government to conserve the heritage sites, but the intervention was too late to save a third.
About 15 architecture, history and culture experts based in Shanghai banded together to write an article on social media app WeChat last month, calling on the city’s government to “protect the city’s memories” by preserving three houses on Huangpu Road.
A few days after the article was published one of the buildings was demolished as part of a plan to build public cultural facilities on the site. But authorities suspended work on the other two and are considering removing only the interior structure while preserving the external walls, according to the group.
The houses, which date back to 1902, witnessed the city’s boom in the first half of the 20th century when it became one of the world’s most important, and famous, ports, the experts said.
The demolition project on The Bund, Shanghai has been suspended, but not before one of the three historic buildings was demolished. Photo: Urban China magazine
The demolition project on The Bund, Shanghai has been suspended, but not before one of the three historic buildings was demolished. Photo: Urban China magazine

All three of the properties originally belonged to Japanese shipping company Nippon Yusen Kaisha Group and were later used as storage facilities for Japan’s military forces during the second world war, according to Yu Hai, a sociologist from Shanghai’s Fudan University.

“These buildings, along with the nearby Yangzijiang port on the Huangpu River, represented Shanghai’s wharf culture and port culture,” Yu said. “They are historically significant as they witnessed Shanghai grow prosperous through shipping and trade industries about a century ago.”

Although the two remaining buildings are safe for now, the experts argue their interiors are also worth preserving.

Liu Gang, an architecture professor at Shanghai’s Tongji University, said the properties featured big wooden beams supported by black iron pillars, which were prominent architectural features of industrial buildings dating back to the 19th century.

“We guess it was hard to move these giant beams with vehicles at the beginning of the 20th century. Quite possibly they were transported on the river. We guess that the wood was chopped down and processed in places across the Pacific [from North America] and shipped to Shanghai.”

In the WeChat article, Liu called for the protection of the interior structure of the buildings. “Without solid research, we cannot simply take them down to be replaced by new ones.”

Yu agreed, saying: “The building with a new inside structure would be a fake and this plan will destroy historical heritage.”

Experts say the interiors of the historic buildings are also worth preserving. Photo: Urban China magazine
Experts say the interiors of the historic buildings are also worth preserving. Photo: Urban China magazine

Huangpu Road, where these houses sit, is rich with history. It features the Garden Bridge of Shanghai – the city’s first steel bridge, built in 1907 – and was once home to the consulates of the United States, Russia, Japan, Germany, Denmark and the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Other notable landmarks on the road include the Astor House Hotel, built in 1846, where Charlie Chaplin, Albert Einstein and George Bernard Shaw stayed in the 1920s and 1930s. The hotel is still there.

“History happened here,” Yu said. “But it’s a pity that most of the old buildings in this area no longer exist.”

Despite their success in winning a stay of execution for the two buildings, the experts are cautious in their expectations.

“The demolition work was suspended, but that does not mean they have accepted our proposals. We are not optimistic,” Yu said.

About two weeks ago as part of their effort to save the buildings, Yu and three other scholars approached officials from Shanghai’s Planning and Natural Resources Bureau, the government body behind the demolition project.

“Officials emphasised the difficulties of keeping the completeness of the old buildings and we just pointed out the damage to their historical values,” Yu said.

The Shanghai bureau did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Shanghai nightclub king opens new art space – in disused oil tanks
Appeals by the public to conserve historical buildings have generally not been successful. Shenyuli, a typical Shanghai residential community built in the 1930s, was included in the city’s protected list of historical buildings in 2004.
The listing was not enough to prevent its demolition eight years later to make way for a public green land space.
Three years ago, the Shanghai government announced it was suspending the planned demolition of a former sex slavery station used by Japanese soldiers during the second world war, following media reports and a public outcry.
However, the building was later demolished, according to Su Zhiliang, history professor from Shanghai Normal University and a researcher on sex slavery, who predicts a similar outcome for this latest conservation effort.
“I think the government is just using the same tactic to postpone their plan. After the public’s attention is over, they will continue demolishing,” Su said.
Source: SCMP

Premier Li urges more efforts to advance medical reforms

BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) — Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has urged intensified efforts and more effective measures to advance the country’s medical reforms.

Li, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks in a written instruction to a video and telephone conference on medical reforms held in Beijing Friday.

Hailing the achievements made in major tasks of medical reforms last year, including centralized medicine procurement and lower prices of anticancer drugs, Li extended sincere greetings to participants in medical reforms and medical workers.

Li called for the in-depth implementation of the Healthy China initiative, and more health promotion activities with extensive coverage.

Li urged strengthened screening tests of major diseases and improved prevention of commonly-seen chronic diseases.

He also stressed the role of basic medical insurance and called for increased reimbursement rate of serious disease insurance.

Source: Xinhua


IMF’s Lagarde says U.S.-China trade war could be risk for world economic outlook

TASHKENT (Reuters) – The trade war between the United States and China could be a risk to the world economic outlook if it is not resolved, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde told Reuters on Friday during a visit to Uzbekistan.

“Obviously, the downside risk that we have is continued trade tensions between the United States and China,” Lagarde said, referring to the IMF’s world economic outlook.

“And if these tensions are not resolved, that clearly is a risk going forward.”

The IMF last month cut its growth forecast for 2019 to 3.3%, down from the 3.5% it had previously predicted.

It warned at the time that growth could slow further due to trade tensions and a potentially disorderly British exit from the European Union.

“But we expect that at the end of 2019 and in 2020 it will bounce back,” Lagarde said of the world economic outlook on Friday.

The United States infuriated China this week when it announced it was putting Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker, on a blacklist that could make it hard to do business with U.S. companies.

On Friday Beijing suggested a resumption of talks between the world’s two largest economies would be meaningless unless Washington changes course.

Source: Reuters


Chinese police detain driver after three pedestrians are mowed down at roadside

  • Police in Shenzhen look for clues to accident in driver’s medical records
  • Motorist complains of ‘sudden attack’ at time of accident
Police in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, are investigating a driver’s medical history after a fatal accident on Thursday. Photo: Weibo
Police in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, are investigating a driver’s medical history after a fatal accident on Thursday. Photo: Weibo
Police in southern China have detained a motorist after three people were killed and seven injured in a car accident on Thursday night.
Officers said a car went out of control and struck pedestrians on a road in Nanshan district in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, at about 7.20pm. The 23-year-old driver, surnamed Liu, was taken into custody.
In a statement online, the Shenzhen public security bureau said blood and urine tests showed the driver was sober and drug-free. They said medicine for epilepsy was found in the vehicle.
Two dead, six injured in Japan after bus drives through pedestrians in Kobe

During questioning, Liu told officers he lost control of car because he had had “a sudden attack”, but did not elaborate.

Police said they were examining Liu’s medical records.

In China, people with epilepsy are not allowed to apply for a driving licence, according to regulations from the Ministry of Public Security.

Source: SCMP


4th Silk Road int’l expo concludes in Xi’an

XI’AN, May 16 (Xinhua) — The fourth Silk Road International Exposition concluded Wednesday in Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

During the five-day expo, 65 contracts in various fields including education, medical care, modern agriculture and intelligent manufacturing were signed with a total investment of 115.1 billion yuan (about 16.7 billion U.S. dollars).

Themed “New Era, New Pattern, and New Development,” the fourth Silk Road International Exposition attracted more than 2,000 Chinese enterprises and more than 200 overseas enterprises from 25 countries and regions, including Russia, the United States and Cambodia.

More than 30 activities and exhibitions were staged during the five-day event, including forums, conferences and investment and trade activities. An international forum on poverty relief was first held during the expo to contribute China’s experience and efforts to the global poverty reduction.

Known in ancient times as Chang’an, Xi’an was the starting point of the ancient Silk Road and plays a key role in the Belt and Road Initiative.

Source: Xinhua


Chinese opera on legendary monk to debut in New York City

NEW YORK, May 11 (Xinhua) — An opera featuring the famous monk Jianzhen of China’s Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.) will be presented at New York City’s Lincoln Center next month, according to local theatrical sources.

Based on true history, “Voyage To The East – A Fearless Buddhist Master’s Mission To Japan” told the story of monk Jianzhen, who started sailing to Japan in 742 A.D., but only succeeded in 754 A.D. after five failed attempts. Apart from spreading Buddhism, he also introduced Chinese art, medicine and craftsmanship to Japan, thus becoming a highly respected figure in both nations.

Famous Chinese-American opera singer Tian Haojiang plays Jianzhen in the opera. Tian reportedly has had over 1,400 performances of some 50 roles in all major opera houses worldwide. In order to better depict the role, Tian lived with real monks for some time in Daming Temple of east China’s Yangzhou city, where Jianzhen had stayed before embarking on his journey to Japan.

Produced by China’s Jiangsu Performing Arts Group, the opera’s score is a fusion of modern opera with the original sound of the Japanese koto, the zither, the Chinese guzheng, temple blocks and Buddhist chants.

The opera will be staged on June 22 to 23 at the David H. Koch Theatre of the Lincoln Center.

Source: Xinhua

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