Archive for ‘Spring Festival’

19/02/2019

Air rescue relieves China from forest fires during Spring Festival

BEIJING, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — Emergency air rescue has played a key role in relieving southern China from frequent forest fires during the Spring Festival, according to the emergency management authorities Monday.

During the week-long Spring Festival holidays from Feb. 4 to 10, helicopters were dispatched 91 times to fight forest fires in southern China, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.

In a total of 170 flight hours, they carried a 735 tonnes of water with hanging buckets to fight eight forest fires with a total range of 25,000 kilometers.

The Spring Festival has been a key time for forest fire control in southern China due to the warmer weather and more frequent outdoor fire use during the holiday, especially during tomb sweeping and when setting off fireworks.

Emergency air rescue is playing a more important role in fighting forest fires in China, especially in southern regions with high-altitude mountains or rough terrain.

Aerial extinguishing teams take firefighters, equipment and water closer to the sites with fire fighting helicopters, allowing them to control the fire more quickly.

China is making efforts to strengthen emergency air emergency rescue capabilities by introducing new equipment, cultivating professionals and improving infrastructure, according to Ministry of Emergency Management.

Source: Xinhua

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12/02/2019

China’s largest air carrier serves 2.1 mln passengers in Spring Festival holiday

GUANGZHOU, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — China Southern Airlines (China Southern), the country’s largest air carrier, has transported more than 2.1 million passengers during the week-long Spring Festival holiday from Feb. 4 to 10, said the airline Monday.

The airline has provided air services to a total of seven million passengers since the start of this year’s Chinese Lunar New Year travel rush on Jan. 21, according to China Southern.

It represented an eight percent increase comparing with the figure over the same period in 2018. Meanwhile, the airline has also seen ten percent increases of passengers on its regional and international routes.

Guangzhou-based China Southern operates a fleet of about 840 airplanes, ranking the first in Asia and third worldwide. It is China’s largest air carrier with the largest passenger volume and air route network.

Traveling by air has become a major trip mode of Chinese thanks to expanding route networks and continuous rising household income.

A total of 12.59 million air passenger trips were made during the week-long holiday, up 10.6 percent from last year’s holiday, said statistics from Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

China is now the world’s second-largest civil aviation market. It is expected to become the largest by mid-2020s, according to the latest forecasts by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Source: Xinhua

12/02/2019

Chinese shares jump on 1st trading day of Year of Pig

#CHINA-STOCKS (CN)

Investors are seen at a stock exchange in Hangzhou, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Feb. 11, 2019, the first trading day of the Year of the Pig. China’s major stock indices ended notably higher Monday as investors greeted the Year of the Pig in China’s lunar calendar with bullish sentiment. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed 1.36 percent higher at 2,653.9 points while the Shenzhen Component Index surged by 3.06 percent to close at 7,919.05 points. (Xinhua/Long Wei)

BEIJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — China’s major stock indices ended notably higher Monday as investors greeted the Year of the Pig in China’s lunar calendar with bullish sentiment.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed 1.36 percent higher at 2,653.9 points while the Shenzhen Component Index surged by 3.06 percent to close at 7,919.05 points.

Companies in the agricultural sector were among the biggest winners, with Jiangxi Zhengbang Technology, a Shenzhen-listed agro-processing firm, jumping by the daily limit of 10 percent.

Liquor makers saw a strong performance, with the share price of top liquor brand Kweichow Moutai jumping 4.71 percent, bringing the company’s market capitalization to over 911 billion yuan (135 billion U.S. dollars).

Beijing Jingxi Culture & Tourism Co., Ltd, an investor of Chinese sci-fi blockbuster “The Wandering Earth”, surged by the daily limit after the film claimed the winner of the Chinese box office during the week-long Spring Festival holiday.

The film had earned over 1.94 billion yuan (about 288 million U.S. dollars) since its release on Tuesday as of 7:00 p.m. Sunday, according to Maoyan, a professional box office tracker.

The ChiNext Index, China’s NASDAQ-style board of growth enterprises, gained 3.53 percent to close at 1,316.1 points.

Source: Xinhua

11/02/2019

China reports over 60 mln railway trips as holiday ends

CHINA-SPRING FESTIVAL HOLIDAY-RAILWAY TRIPS (CN)

Passengers are seen at the station hall of Nanchangxi Railway Station in east China’s Jiangxi Province, Feb. 10, 2019. Railway trips in China reached 60.3 million during the week-long Spring Festival holiday from Feb. 4 to Feb. 10, data from the national railway operator showed Monday. (Xinhua/Peng Zhaozhi)

BEIJING, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) — Railway trips in China reached 60.3 million during the week-long Spring Festival holiday from Feb. 4 to Feb. 10, data from the national railway operator showed Monday.

On Feb. 10, some 12.6 million passenger trips were made by rail, up 4.4 percent year on year, according to the China Railway Corporation (CRC).

Hundreds of millions of Chinese went back to their hometowns to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year with their families. The annual travel rush around the festival, known as “chunyun,” often puts the country’s transportation system to the test.

This year’s Spring Festival travel rush started from Jan. 21 and will last till March 1, with railway trips expected to hit 413 million in total, up 8.3 percent.

Spurce: Xinhua

06/02/2019

(Spring Festival) Across China: 2 minutes loving on the platform

ZHENGZHOU, Feb. 5 (Xinhua) — As the G402 high-speed train pulls into Xinxiang East station in central China’s Henan Province, Li Xiang, who’s been waiting on the platform, trots down to coach No.13 with a lunch-box.

Li works at the railway station. His wife, Zou Xiaojuan, is on the train at the moment. She is not a passenger but in charge of catering services on board.

During the coming Spring Festival travel rush, an estimated 413.3 million train trips will be made as people head home for the most important family gathering of the year.

The G402 high-speed train from the southwest China city of Guiyang to Beijing stops at Xinxiang every five days, each time for no more than two minutes.

It’s the longest time the young couple spend together at work.

Li hands the lunch-box to his wife after guiding passengers on and off the train. Zou, in return, gives Li a “finger heart” by crossing her thumb and index fingers while no one’s watching. It’s a touching scene.

The two-minutes is bittersweet, the small lunch-box becoming a symbol of their love.

The romance began with an encounter when Zou Xiaojuan wearing her uniform, was commuting by train via Xinxiang East station and drew Li’s attention.

“I’ll never forget the day we met,” Li said. It was Dec. 6, 2014, and he was supposed to get a day off but stood in for a sick colleague. Following standard procedures, Li made inquiries with Zou, who happened to be standing by his side.

“Is everything fine?” he asked.

“Yep, all going well,” she replied.

Just pleasantries perhaps, but Li remembered her name and where she worked. They became friends. Once in a chat, Zou said that she had never tried the spicy noodles, the local cuisine, even after so many stops at Xinxiang.

When Zou stopped at the station next, she found a thermal bag that contained spicy noodles at the door of the train. Li had been listening. She did not open the bag until after work, but the cool noodles warmed her heart.

“Our encounter is full of coincidences, which coincidentally put us together,” Li said. After the two met, Zou worked on many high-speed trains on different routes because of staff transfers, but everyone would make a stop at Xinxiang. Each time when the train stopped at the platform, there was a red thermal bag quietly placed at her door.

To ensure his wife eats well, Li has learned to cook. Spicy noodles have been replaced by fried rice, fried noodles and pumpkin soup.

Due to the increasing density of rail networks, the time for the G402 high-speed train to stop at Xinxiang East station was cut from six minutes in 2016 to two in 2019.

Each one of the couple has responsibilities of his or her own in this two minutes. Zou is required to station at the door while Li has to serve the passengers. No contact is made other than picking up the bag through the door.

Sometimes the two get so busy that they even don’t have time to meet. In such cases, Li leaves the bag by the door, while his wife pulls down the window shade to the upper third — it is their “missing-you” code.

Source: Xinhua

05/02/2019

People from various industries stick to their posts on eve of Spring Festival

#CHINA-SPRING FESTIVAL-EVE-WORK (CN)

Sanitation workers clean a street in Hohhot, capital of north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Feb. 4, 2019. People from various industries stick to their posts on the eve of the Spring Festival which falls on Feb. 5 this year. (Xinhua/Ding Genhou)

Source: Xinhua

05/02/2019

Across China: Migrant workers find easier way home at Spring Festival

GUANGZHOU, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) — Migrant worker Liao Guiren was more than excited to take a bullet train on his Spring Festival journey back home, the first time for the middle-aged man.

Each year during the past two decades, the 45-year-old had to endure an exhausting eight-hour bus ride from his workplace in south China’s Guangdong Province to his hometown in the city of Guigang in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, for a large annual family gathering.

But this year, the bullet train cut his travel time to less than three and a half hours.

“The traffic jams on the roads during the holiday must be worse,” Liao said when having his ticket checked at the railway station in Guangdong’s Zhongshan. “The expressways back home must be more crowded than the railway station.”

Liao said it was no easy job to buy the bus ticket back home during the festival. “I used to line up for hours at the station for tickets, and the prices often ticked up due to high demand.”

However, it took Liao a couple of minutes to buy the train ticket back home on his smartphone this year.

Liao is among a growing number of Chinese travelers who have benefited from a more convenient and efficient way to return home during the Spring Festival travel rush in recent years.

It is estimated that the annual travel rush that lasts 40 days will see 413 million railway trips across the country, up 8.3 percent from the previous year.

To meet the growing demand, China has been expanding its railway network at an unprecedented pace for decades, with the total operational length of high-speed railways reaching 29,000 km by the end of last year.

One of the country’s major newly-built railways is the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, which started service last year and links Hong Kong with more than 40 cities on the Chinese mainland via direct rail services.

“The railway makes it more convenient for those working in Hong Kong to return to the mainland for family gatherings,” said Siu Kin-Po, head of the Guangzhou center of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions.

SMARTER TRAVEL

Liao has taken trains several times, but it was his first time to use a self-service machine to check in at the railway station.

Liao followed the instructions on the machine that explicitly explains what to do.

He put both his ticket and ID card onto the slot of the machine and waited for the facial recognition system to identify his face before the gate opened to let him pass. The whole process took less than 10 seconds.

A total of 595 self-service check-in machines have been deployed at the railway stations in Guangdong, Hunan and Hainan to streamline the check-in process, according to China Railway Guangzhou Group Co. Ltd.

Other smart technologies such as virtual reality and smart navigation machines have also been used in Chinese railway stations to help travelers ease the pressure during the travel rush.

“Smart technologies have made the rail services more fun and convenient,” Liao said. “I want to take bullet train again next year when I go home.”

Source: Xinhua

04/02/2019

Feature: China’s ambassador delivers Spring Festival wishes to Iraqi visa applicants in Baghdad

IRAQ-BAGHDAD-CHINA-EMBASSY-SPRING FESTIVAL

China’s Ambassador to Iraq Chen Weiqing gives visa to an applicant at the Chinese embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Feb. 3, 2019. China’s Ambassador to Iraq Chen Weiqing welcomed on Sunday Iraqi visa applicants at the Chinese embassy in Baghdad, ahead of Chinese Spring Festival, saying that China is keen to strengthen ties with Iraq. (Xinhua/Khalil Dawood)

BAGHDAD, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) — China’s Ambassador to Iraq Chen Weiqing welcomed on Sunday Iraqi visa applicants at the Chinese embassy in Baghdad, ahead of Chinese Spring Festival, saying that China is keen to strengthen ties with Iraq.

“Iraq is at a transition point heading to the rebuilding stage. We are keen to strengthen ties between China and Iraq, and at the Chinese embassy, we will facilitate your visa process,” Chen said.

Annually, as the Chinese New Year approaches, embassies of China around the world hold cultural events and ceremonies, but because of the precarious security situation in Iraq, the ambassador had to make a short speech.

“This is the last workday for the embassy before the Spring Festival. Last year, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations with Iraq,” Chen told Xinhua.

“At present, relations between Iraq and China have developed very well, especially after China proposed the Belt and Road Initiative, in which Iraq was among the first Arab nations to join,” Chen added.

The Chinese embassy lies in Baghdad’s upscale neighborhood of al-Arasat, which is a relatively safe area. But like most foreign embassies in Iraq, high security measures are necessary.

Dozens of Iraqi visa applicants, if not hundreds at peak days, flock into the embassy every day, as China has become a favorable destination to many for business or study.

Inside the embassy, a small room was decorated with traditional Chinese red lanterns and paper cuttings, while Chinese landscapes and images of cultural life in China were hanged on the walls.

Two Chinese diplomats and two local employees handled the visa applications. Applicants described the procedures as smooth.

“This is going to be my first visit to China. I am going to study Chinese language at Shandong University, and then I aspire to be a pilot and work in China,” Zeyad Ismael, 23, told Xinhua as he waited in the queue.

“My expectations are high. I have looked for images of Shandong province on the internet and I like it. I expect good opportunities and a beautiful life,” Ismael added.

Last year, the Chinese embassy received close to 20,000 visa applications, most of which were for business reasons.

In recent years, China has become a source for many goods imported to Iraq such as smartphones, electronics and automobiles.

Iraqi English teacher, Muqdad Salih, 38, speaks fluent Chinese as he studied the language in China in 2007. Now, he is on the way to China to work as an English teacher in China’s Jiangxi province.

“Chinese New Year celebrations were beautiful and I was surprised by the atmosphere and friendliness of the Chinese people,” Salih said.

03/02/2019

Xinhua Headlines: Moving China: The Spring Festival train journey now and then

Xinhua Headlines: Moving China: The Spring Festival train journey now and then

This combo photo shows attendants getting ready to work aboard the train K1/6 during the Spring Festival travel rush in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu Province in January of 1998 (top, photo taken by Gao Meiji); and bullet train stewards taking part in an etiquette training in Nanjing, east China’s Jiangsu Province, Jan. 17, 2019 (bottom, photo taken by Su Yang). (Xinhua)

BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — Veteran train driver Zhou Li, 54, has driven all four generations of Chinese trains — from steam locomotives to high-speed.

Having spent two-thirds of his Spring Festivals driving a train, this year is Zhou’s 31st Spring Festival travel rush.

The Spring Festival holiday is a frenetic travel period in China when hundreds of millions of Chinese return to their hometowns for family gatherings, to visit relatives and friends or just for a break from city life.

Zhou is one of many Chinese train drivers who have witnessed the fast development of the national railway network in connection with the changes of the world’s biggest travel rush.

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China 70 years ago, the speed of trains has increased sixfold while the length of the entire railway system has expanded from only slightly more than 20,000 km in 1949 to some 131,000 km by the end of 2018.

Thanks to this enormous train network, the journey home for 413 million Chinese, the number of people who travel via train during the holiday this year, has become faster, more convenient and more high-tech.

According to calculations based on archived reports by the People’s Daily, some 31 million trips were made via train during Spring Festival 1957, which seems like nothing compared to this year’s number.

However, it still exerted a huge pressure on the country’s transport system. The People’s Daily even carried an editorial in 1959 urging short-distance travelers to walk or use bicycle wherever possible, to ease the burden on the public transport system.

Just 10 years ago, standing in carriages filled with passengers and their luggage for a 58-hour trip was ordinary for many. Today, the constantly improving and expanding railway network and the launch of bullet trains means such journeys are less crowded and more enjoyable.

Yu Maosheng, 38, said that he used to wait for several hours when queuing for train tickets, and it used to take him more than 30 hours to return home to Linyi in eastern China’s Shandong Province from Shenzhen in southern China’s Guangdong Province.

Today, the trip between Shenzhen and Linyi has been shortened to 10 hours thanks to high-speed trains.

In September 2017, Fuxing high-speed trains independently developed by China began to run between Beijing and Shanghai. With a speed of 350 kmh, it is the fastest train in commercial service in the world.

Fuxing trains will be running on the railway between Beijing and Zhangjiakou, in northern China’s Hebei Province, when the two cities host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

“Efforts are also being made to introduce intelligent railways, which will apply cutting-edge technologies including big data and artificial intelligence,” said Wang Junbiao with the China Academy of Railway Sciences.

Meanwhile, China has developed the world’s largest real-time ticket service website, with nearly 3.5 billion tickets sold annually. New technologies including face scan check-in have been applied in many train stations.

This year, Yu bought his tickets online and said he is looking forward to checking in with facial recognition technology.

For veteran driver Zhou, he can still remember the days he would witness travelers carrying multiple bags while rushing to get on the train and secure enough room for their belongings. With neat and more spacious carriages, that chaos is rarely seen nowadays.

“It all improved very quickly, just like the speed of the train,” he said.

Source: Xinhua

03/02/2019

Feature: Bird guardians’ Spring Festival on the Yellow River wetlands

BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) — Unlike the rest of the neighborhood, which is busy decorating their houses with couplets of rhymed wishes for the upcoming Spring Festival, at 11 p.m. Friday, Song Keming, a mild man with a strong build and pleasant features, put on his coat and began his inspection along the vast and extensive wetlands along the Yellow River.

This is his plan for Chinese New Year’s Eve, as it has been for every day and night for the past 20 years.

Enduring temperature below the freezing point, Song tries to curb his coughs caused by chronic bronchitis as he and others patrol along the wetland. It is the winter habitat for tens of thousands of migratory birds, including Asian great bustard (Otis tarda dybowskii, “dabao” in Chinese), a critically endangered species that has been spending winters here for thousands of years.

There are only about 800 specimens of the great bustard’s Asian subspecies left in China, from where it gets the nickname “the giant panda of the birds.” With striped plumage and known to be the heaviest flying terrestrial bird, the Asian subspecies migrates over 10,000 kilometers across Eurasia every year, which is one of the longest migration ranges of any threatened species.

For 20 years, Song has been guarding Changyuan wetland reserve bordering Shandong and Henan provinces in the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River. The wetlands have been an important wintering home for the bustard and many other wildlife species that form the rich biosphere of the “Mother River of China.”

During the day, Song and other members of the “Green Future” environmental protection association – a non-profit volunteer team founded and led by Song Keming – search along hundreds of miles along the riverbanks to remove poisoned bait placed by poachers and to rescue any surviving wildlife from threats such as deadly toxins, nets or gunshots or properly dispose of dead bodies.

At night, from 11 p.m. till dawn, the volunteers drive along the wetland that stretches 3,000 kilometers from Shaanxi, Hebei, Henan to Shandong provinces, to fend off poachers, who usually come with hunting rifles and hounds, with the help of local public security organs.

Song has been hit by poachers’ vehicles, shot by their rifles and beaten with bricks and fists, but none of these had frightened him enough to cause him to step away from the battlefield.

Every autumn and winter, as migratory birds return from the northern Mongolian Plateau or the Siberian Arctic tundra, poaching happens more often, especially around the Spring Festival holidays. While criminals continue to break the law in an effort to make a fortune, Song and his team are actively trying to make it more and more impossible for these poachers to succeed.

Last year, the “Green Future” team caught four suspected poachers and helped the local police open three criminal cases. The volunteers scattered a dozen poachers from the reserve, including some well-equipped poaching gang members.

In recent years, more and more like-minded local residents have gathered around Song. Now the team has more than 300 volunteers. More and more people, as well as public departments, have been joining the cause to fight hard against poaching.

To Song’s joy, Chinese society is growing in awareness of the importance of species and habitat protection, while those who choose to eat wildlife to show off their wealth have become a rare minority.

Song was delighted to find that China’s building of an ecological civilization as a national strategy and the protection of species have been obtaining positive results.

This winter, a record number of migratory birds flew back to the Changyuan Wetland Reserve, including grey cranes, taiga bean geese, greylags, etc.

“About 180 great bustards have been observed wintering at the reserve, and by spring when they are about to head north, we expect the total number to be around 200,” Song confirmed with Xinhua reporter over the phone on Saturday.

The nicknamed “Bustard Guardian” firmly believes that as long as the Yellow River wetlands are attentively protected to preserve the wintering home for the migratory birds, where wildlife can stay safe from poaching and disturbances and live in peace, the vigorous biodiversity of the mother river will recover.

And the great bustards, a symbol of the king’s diligent peasants recorded as early as in the Book of Songs (1100 to 600 B.C.), can continue to coexist harmoniously with the Chinese nation, Song said.

In order to honor the man’s tireless efforts in protecting the wetlands, Song Keming was named “the most beautiful environmentalist in Henan,” winning the “Green Guardian” award of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the “Green Monument” award of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

The work of Green Future has received wide acclaim and support from the country and was highly commended by international experts and scholars at the International Conference on Promoting the Protection of Asian Great Bustard held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in 2017.

However, Song could not let himself rest on the laurels. He told the reporters that there is still a long way to go to protect the great bustard and the Yellow River wetlands. The situation is still urgent and we should not be blindly optimistic, he warned.

The International Committee for the Protection of Birds has included great bustard in the Red Book of Endangered Species. “There are only about 800 left in China. Each one of them that we are losing to poaching is a loss too heavy for the survival of the species!” he said.

The man who humbly refers himself as “just a peasant who doesn’t know how to make great speeches” is determined to continue protecting the wetlands and its biodiversity until he can no longer move.

In the future, Song hopes to help the local villages develop eco-tourism that will not cause harm and disturbance to the wildlife in a way that village folks can benefit from species conservation and ecological restoration. For example, helping poachers become tour guides to show the visitors where to view the most breathtaking landscape or how to identify the most beautiful birds or operate homestays and hostels – anyway that they can make money legitimately, Song suggested.

If wildlife and the health of the wetlands became the attraction for eco-tourism, the local population will voluntarily protect the environment, as proven in precedents worldwide, he said.

“I hope that every ordinary person can start from himself, refuse to eat wildlife, refuse to wear fur, refuse to use drugs containing wild animal components and actively report any suspicious sales of wildlife products to the forest police,” Song said, telling Xinhua that he wishes everyone a happy Chinese New Year.

“Everyone can make his/her share of contribution to protecting endangered species,” Song said.

As for himself, the 54-year-old “bustard guardian” is willing to believe that with the concerted efforts of the entire Chinese society, the future is promising for China’s building of an ecological civilization and the biodiversity conservation and for the Asian great bustard to survive and thrive.

“I look forward to witnessing the Mother River of the Chinese nation regain its vitality as people and nature develop in perfect harmony,” Song said.

Source: Xinhua

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