Archive for ‘Economics’

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

26/05/2017

India opens longest bridge on China border – BBC News

India has inaugurated a 9.15km (5.68-mile) bridge over the Lohit river, easily its longest ever, which connects the disputed state of Arunachal Pradesh with the north-eastern state of Assam.China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own, and refers to it as “southern Tibet”.

Beijing recently strongly objected to India’s decision to allow Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to visit the state and has also protested against the development of military infrastructure there.

But India has defended its right to do so.”With China getting more and more aggressive, it is time we strengthened our physical infrastructure to defend our territory,” India’s junior Home Minister Khiren Rijiju, a native of Arunachal Pradesh, told journalists.China renames places disputed with India

Why India is planning a new road near the China border

China accused of Indian incursion

Mr Rijiju had earlier said that “Arunachal Pradesh is part of India and that reality will not change, regardless of who likes it or not”.

Construction of the Dhola Sadiya bridge began in 2011.

“It was real tough work, a major engineering challenge, and the speed was slightly affected by some compensation issues,” said an official from Navayuga Engineering, the company which constructed the bridge.

India has defended its right to upgrade its military defences along the border with China

However, it was completed on schedule.

Apart from the bridge, India is constructing a two-lane trans-Arunachal highway, upgrading a World War Two vintage road and undertaking a further four projects to widen roads.

Another project, to upgrade a chain of advance landing grounds for heavy lift transport aircraft, has also moved at some speed. This is expected to improve India’s strategic airlift capabilities.”We need infrastructure to move up troops and supplies if we have to fight the Chinese and this bridge is a great thing,” retired Major General Gaganjit Singh, who has commanded a division in the state, told the BBC.”India did not develop physical infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh for two decades after the 1962 war as many stupidly believed the Chinese would use the roads if they attacked again. But now we are on the right track.

“India’s Home Minister Rajnath Singh has also stressed the importance of developing physical infrastructure in the state, as part of efforts to defend a long border with China.”We want peace, but peace with honour. We need to be capable of deterring anyone who may think we are weak,” Mr Singh told members of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police force that guards parts of the frontier with China.

His remarks followed Beijing’s strident protests against the “development of military infrastructure in a disputed province”.

Officials hope the bridge will also facilitate development and increase tourism

India has already raised two mountain divisions and is going ahead with raising a strike corps to beef up its defences against China.

“But troop strength is useless if we don’t have the roads and bridges to move them fast when we are threatened. Moving them with heavy equipment quickly to the battlefront holds the key to victory,” Major General Singh said.

A military engineer told the BBC that the Dhola-Sadiya bridge was capable of supporting 60-ton battle tanks.

Locals are also excited about the opening.

“It was unimaginable that this crossing could be bridged at a point where six rivers meet, all flowing into the mighty Brahmaputra,” Gunjan Saharia, a resident, told the BBC.

“I promise this will not just be a military thing, it will help develop the economy of remote regions of Assam and Arunachal, and it will attract tourists in large numbers,” Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said.

The bridge will also reduce travel time by as much as eight hours for communities on either side of the river.

“It will be great for us, as much as it will be great for the army,” Dimbeswar Gogoi of Sadiya told the BBC.

Source: India opens longest bridge on China border – BBC News

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

India announces policy for strategic partnerships in defence | Reuters

India on Saturday finalised a policy that would allow local private companies to work with foreign players to make high-tech defence equipment, in a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s bid to cut reliance on imports.

The policy, whose finer details are still to be formalised, will initially allow the entry of private companies into the manufacture of submarines, fighter aircrafts and armoured vehicles through foreign partnerships, a statement issued by the Defence Ministry said.”In future, additional segments will be added,” the statement said.

Industry experts have said that delays in finalising procurement policies have undermined India’s efforts to get local, largely inexperienced, companies to tie up with foreign manufacturers, a necessary step if domestic firms are to utilise the latest technology.

Prime Minister Modi has vowed to reverse India’s dependence on imports by building a local manufacturing industry. The government is forecast to spend $250 billion on modernisation of its armed forces over the next decade.The policy, announced on Saturday, would allow Indian companies to partner with global defence majors “to seek technology transfers and manufacturing know-how to set up domestic manufacturing infrastructure and supply chains,” the statement said.

Foreign manufacturers such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, BAE Systems and Saab are looking to India as one of the biggest sources of future growth.

Source: India announces policy for strategic partnerships in defence | 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

Why are millions of Indian women dropping out of work? – BBC News

Why are millions of women dropping out of work in India?

The numbers are stark – for the first time in India’s recent history, not only was there a decline in the female labour participation rate, but also a shrinking of the total number of women in the workforce.

Nearly 20 million Indian women quit work between 2004-05 to 2011-12

The labour force participation rate for women of working age declined from 42% in 1993-94 to 31% in 2011-12

Some 53% of the total drop – the largest chunk – happened among women aged 15-24 and living in villages

In rural areas, the female labour force participation rate dropped from 49% to 37.8% between 2004-05 and 2009-10

While more than 24 million men joined the work force between 2004-5 to 2009-10, the number of women in the the work force dropped by 21.7 million

Using data gleaned from successive rounds of National Sample Survey Organisation and census data, a team of researchers from World Bank have attempted to find out why this is happening.

“These are significant matters of concern. As India poises itself to increase economic growth and foster development, it is necessary to ensure that its labour force becomes fully inclusive of women,” says the study, authored by Luis A Andres, Basab Dasgupta, George Joseph, Vinoj Abraham and Maria Correia.

So what accounts for the unprecedented and puzzling drop in women’s participation in the workforce – at a time when India’s economy has grown at a steady pace?

Women need better and more suitable job opportunities outside farming, the authors say

Predictable social norms are attributed to women quitting work in India: marriage, motherhood, vexed gender relations and biases, and patriarchy.

But they may not be the only reasons. Marriage, for example, does affect the rate of participation of women in the workforce. But in villages, the workforce participation rate of married women has been found to be higher than that of unmarried women – whereas in the cities, the situation is reversed.

Significantly, rising aspirations and relative prosperity may be actually responsible for putting a large cohort of women out of work in India.

Remember, the largest drop has been in the villages.

After calculating the labour force participation rates and educational participation rates (young women in schools) the researchers believe that one plausible explanation for the drop in the participation rate among rural girls and women aged 15-24 is the recent expansion of secondary education and rapidly changing social norms leading to “more working age young females opting to continue their education rather than join the labour force early”.

The study says there has been a “larger response to income changes among the poor, rather than the wealthy, by sending children to school”.

Also, casual workers – mainly women – drop out of the workforce when wages increased for regular earners – mainly men – leading to the stabilisation of family incomes.

“Improved stability in family income can be understood as a disincentive for female household members to join the labour force,” says the study.

Many women work outside the home, and on their farms

“This largely resonates with the existing literature, which suggests that with rising household income levels, women in rural India withdraw from paid labour and engage in status production at home.

“But dropping or opting out of the workforce to go to school and get an education may not ensure that these women will eventually go to work.

After studying the relationship with the female labour participation rate and levels of educational achievements, the researchers found that having a high school-level education was “not found to be an incentive for women” to work.

The lowest rate of participation is among those who had secured school and high school education in the cities and villages. And the rate is actually highest among illiterates and college graduates.

But there has been a general drop in the rate in recent years, indicating that irrespective of educational attainments, “the incentive for women to participate in the workforce has declined over this period”.

Will new maternity law help keep Indian women in work?

The Indian women who took on a multinational and won

To be sure, India has a poor record of female participation in the workforce: the International Labour Organisation ranked it 121 out of 131 countries in 2013, one of the lowest in the world.

Also, India is not an outlier when it comes to women dropping out of the workforce.

Between 2004 and 2012, the female labour force participation rate in China dropped from 68% to 64%, but the participation rate remains very high compared with India. In neighbouring Sri Lanka, for example, the participation rate has dropped, but only by 2%.

“India stands out because of a such a sharp decline within such a short period. In levels, it is very low in international rankings now,” the researchers told me.

Indian woman auto rickshaw driver Rajani Jadhav pose for photographs during her training session of rickshaw driving in Mumbai, India, 14 April 2017.India needs to offer more opportunities to women, the researchers say

Clearly women need better and more suitable job opportunities, outside agriculture. Rural labour markets need to offer jobs that are acceptable and attractive to women and their families.

The World Bank study suggests that gains will not be realised unless social norms around women’s – and men’s – work also change:

“Strategies to communicate the importance of women’s work should take into account the roles of women, husbands and in-laws.”

Also, as another study says, the “ongoing decrease in the availability of farm-based work, has led to women focusing on economic activities within their households”. Should home-based workers then be counted as members of the labour force?

Source: Why are millions of Indian women dropping out of work? – BBC News

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

18/05/2017

Indian cabinet approves plans to build 10 nuclear reactors | Reuters

India’s cabinet approved plans on Wednesday to build 10 nuclear reactors with a combined capacity of 7,000 megawatts (MW), more than the country’s entire current capacity, to try fast-track its domestic nuclear power programme.

The decision by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government marks the first strategic response to the near collapse of Westinghouse, the U.S. reactor maker that had been in talks to build six of its AP1000 reactors in India.Westinghouse, owned by Japan’s Toshiba, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March after revealing billions of dollars in cost overruns at its U.S. projects, raising doubts about whether it can complete the India deal.

India has installed nuclear capacity of 6,780 MW from 22 plants and plans to add another 6,700 MW by 2021-22 through projects currently under construction. The 10 additional reactors would be the latest design of India’s Pressurised Heavy Water Reactor.

“This project will bring about substantial economies of scale and maximise cost and time efficiencies by adopting fleet mode for execution,” the government said in a statement.

“It is expected to generate more than 33,400 jobs in direct and indirect employment. With manufacturing orders to domestic industry, it will be a major step towards strengthening India’s credentials as a major nuclear manufacturing powerhouse.”

Westinghouse has said it plans to continue construction of its AP1000 plants in China and expects to bid for new plants in India and elsewhere, without elaborating on how it plans to do so.

Indian companies such as Larsen and Toubro, Kirloskar Brothers Limited and Godrej & Boyce welcomed the government’s move.

Sanjay Kirloskar, chairman of Kirloskar Brothers Limited, said: “nuclear power plants will go a long way in reducing the perennial energy deficit,” while Larsen and Toubro’s director S.N. Roy called the move “bold and historic.”

Source: Indian cabinet approves plans to build 10 nuclear reactors | Reuters

05/05/2017

China’s first big passenger plane takes off for maiden flight – BBC News

After about 90 minutes in the air the plane landed safely back at Pudong airport in Shanghai.

China’s first large domestically made passenger aircraft has completed its maiden flight, mounting a major challenge to Boeing and Airbus.

After about 90 minutes in the air the plane landed safely back at Pudong airport in Shanghai.

The plane is a key symbol of Beijing’s soaring ambitions to enter the global aviation market.

The jet by state-owned firm Comac has been planned since 2008 but the flight was repeatedly pushed back.For Friday’s maiden flight, the plane carried only its skeleton crew of five pilots and engineers and took off in front of a crown of thousands of dignitaries, aviation workers and enthusiasts.

Ahead of the flight, state television said the plane would fly at an altitude of only 3,000 metres (9,800 feet), some 7,000 metres lower than a regular trip, and reach a speed of around 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour.

The C919 is designed to be a direct competitor to Boeing’s 737 and the Airbus A320.

It’s estimated that the global aviation market will be worth $2tn (£1.55tn) over the next 20 years.

China’s new pride of the skies

Robin Brant tours the C919

  • The C919 is a single-aisle twin-engine plane with a capacity to seat up to 168 passengers.
  • It will have a range of between 4,075 and 5,555km (2,532 – 3,452 miles).
  • According to Chinese media, it will cost around $50m, less than half of a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320.

The plane still relies on a wide array of imported technology though, it is for instance powered by engines from French-US supplier CFM International.

Orders have already been placed for more than 500 of the planes, with commitments from 23 customers, say officials, mainly Chinese airlines. The main customer is China Eastern Airlines.

Europe’s aviation safety regulator has started the certification process for the C919 – a crucial step for the aircraft to be successful on the international market.

China has had ambitions to build its own civil aircraft industry since the 1970s, when leader Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing, personally backed a project.

But the Y-10, built in the late 1970s, was impractical due to its heavy weight and only three of the aircraft were ever made.

Source: China’s first big passenger plane takes off for maiden flight – BBC News

03/05/2017

China Focus: Key component of world’s longest cross-sea bridge installed – Xinhua | English.news.cn

Chinese engineers installed a 6,000-tonne key part of the world’s longest cross-sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao.

A gigantic crane, which was transformed from a tanker, hoists a 6,000-ton key structure of the world’s longest cross-sea bridge linking Hong Kong, Zhuhai and Macao, May 2, 2017. The wedge, 12-meter-long and weighing more than 25 Airbus A380 jets, was lowered to connect the immersed tubes of the underground tunnel of the bridge. The 55-kilometer bridge connects Zhuhai in Guangdong Province with Hong Kong and Macao. It includes a 22.9-km bridge and 6.7-km underground tunnel. (Xinhua/Liu Dawei)

The wedge, 12 meters long, and weighing more than 25 Airbus A380 jets, was lowered to connect the tubes which will form the tunnel section of the bridge, said Lin Ming, chief engineer of the island and tunnel section of the bridge.

The 55-kilometer bridge connects Zhuhai in Guangdong Province with Hong Kong and Macao. It includes a 22.9-km bridge and 6.7-km tunnel.

Before the wedge was installed on Tuesday, 33 immersed tubes, each 180 meters long and weighing 80,000 tonnes, had been installed.

“There is only one wedge for a tunnel, and we cannot afford to fail in its installation. It took two years to prepare for today,” said Chen Yue, director of the chief engineer’s office of the bridge’s island and tunnel section. The installation procedure took more than 10 hours.

“The margin of error for the wedge is 1.5 centimeters. We have to measure precisely the influence of wind, current and buoyancy force,” said Lin.

“It is like putting a needle through a hole in the sea — a truly unprecedented event in the history of transportation,” Lin said.

A gigantic crane, which was transformed from a tanker, was used to hoist the wedge, lowering it to the desired destination between the tubes.The wedge will be welded and finished by June, Lin said.

By the end of the year, the bridge will be open to traffic, said Zhu Yongling, director of the bridge management bureau.

Construction began in December of 2009 at Zhuhai. The Y-shaped bridge connects Lantau Island in Hong Kong with Zhuhai and Macao.

Tan Guoshun, an expert in bridge construction who has participated in many big projects, told Xinhua that breakthroughs were made in construction management, technique, safety and environmental protection.

For instance, the bridge is designed to be used for 120 years. “Anticorrosion and quake-proof measures were improved so as to make the goal possible,” he said.

The bridge was pieced together with different parts built in different locations like building blocks. “The progress of China’s equipment manufacturing industry made this construction method possible,” said Zhong Huihong, deputy chief engineer of the bridge management bureau.

Take the floating crane as an example. In the 1990s, China’s floating cranes could only handle about one hundred tonnes. “Now their capacity has reached 10,000 tonnes,” Zhong said.

“Some foreigners believe that completion of the bridge marks a leap forward of China’s construction industry,” said Su Quanke, chief engineer of the bridge management bureau.

The bridge will cut land travel time between Hong Kong and Zhuhai from three hours on the road to a 30-minute drive.

“As economic exchanges between Hong Kong, Macao and Zhuhai deepen, an urban agglomeration has formed. The bridge will further boost the interconnection,” said Zheng Tianxiang, vice president of the Asia-Pacific Innovation Economic Research Institute.

Guo Wanda, executive vice president of the Shenzhen-based China Development Institute, believes that the bridge could also help boost the industrial gradient transfer of inland provinces like Guizhou, Yunnan, Hunan and Jiangxi.

“The area will become an important hub of the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.

Source: China Focus: Key component of world’s longest cross-sea bridge installed – Xinhua | English.news.cn

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