Recycling the answer to China’s junk dilemma

 

 

 

>>  Recycling the answer to China’s junk dilemma

By Guo Likun, Li Jingya, Qi Jian and Wang Wen

Experts on Friday of July 19 called on the government and public to reduce, reuse and recycle as much waste as possible as official data showed more than one-third of the country’s cities are besieged by garbage.

Only about 5 percent of about 1 billion tonnes of construction waste generated each year in the country is recycled or reused, said Wang Jiwei, Secretary General of the China Association of Resource Comprehensive Utilization, at an ecological forum held in southwest China’s Guizhou Province.

“The public still need to enhance their awareness of the importance of reusing garbage,” he said. “They should realize waste is just misplaced resources.”

Also at the forum, Zheng Kangbin, senior economist at Asian Development Bank, said, “People should take into consideration cost, cash flow, security and technical suitability in ecologically friendly projects, and attract more investment.”

China could also learn from advanced foreign experiences in risk control and policy stipulation, according to Zheng.

Eugene Chien, chairman of the Taiwan Institute for Sustainable Energy, said drawing from the island’s experience, it is important to introduce multiple policies and measures to reduce garbage from the source.

Citizens should be educated and trained on green consumption and garbage treatment, he said.

Household garbage classification for collection has long been a headache for recycling. Many big cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hangzhou, pioneered garbage classification in 2000. Thirteen years later, though, the initiative has yet to get off the ground.

“With no precondition-garbage classification, following disposal methods — landfill, burning and bio-degeneration — will only be empty words,” said Huang Xiaoshan, a grassroots garbage disposal campaigner who built a mini-trash treatment facility dubbed “Green House” in his suburban home community in Beijing.

“We should set up a low-cost garbage classification system, which clarifies the responsibilities of the government, the public and companies,” Huang said.

A China Youth Daily report on Friday cited a government survey showing more than one-third of the country’s cities are besieged by garbage, with dumped rubbish taking up 50,000 hectares of land.

Insufficient recycling has been blamed as a major reason behind the mounting garbage surrounding cities in a rapidly urbanizing China, according to the report.

The World Bank said in a report last year global cities face surging costs for garbage treatment as it predicted a sharp rise in the amount of rubbish generated by urban residents.

The report estimated the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) will rise from the current 1.3 billion tonnes per year to 2.2 billion tonnes annually in 2025, with much of the increase coming in fast growing cities in developing countries.

The report revealed that the amount of MSW is growing fastest in China, other parts of East Asia, parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Growth rates for MSW in these areas are similar to their rates for urbanization and increases in gross domestic product (GDP).

Wang Yi, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said at the forum that China will experience the hardest transitional period for environmental protection in the next ten years with accelerating urbanization and the country’s continuing industrial development.

The interests of all parties — companies, NGOs, individuals — should be taken into consideration to recycle resources, and transitional strategies should be worked out, Wang said.

The Chinese government is intensifying its efforts on city garbage treatment as capacity falls short of demand amid fast urbanization, realizing the surging amount of garbage produced in cities affects the urban environment and social stability.

The country aims to offer non-hazardous treatment on more than 80 percent of household garbage nationwide by 2015.

 

 

 

>>  Lack of recycling blamed for mounting Chinese garbage: report

By Zhu Shaobin

Insufficient recycling has been blamed as a major reason behind increasingly mounting garbage surrounding cities in a rapidly urbanizing China, the China Youth Daily reported on Friday of July 19.

The report cited a government survey showing more than one-third of the nation’s cities are besieged by rubbish, with the dumped garbage taking up 50,000 hectares of land.

Megacities such as Shanghai and Beijing each produce nearly 20,000 metric tons of rubbish daily and output is rising fast yearly, posing great challenges to the environment as recycling capacities fail to keep abreast of the output needing proper treatment, the report said.

The government listed a raft of cities that started piloting recycling programs back in 2000 but those programs have failed to prosper.

A survey by the newspaper showed that more than 60 percent of respondents believed the government’s inadequate emphasis and investment concerning recycling have caused the current conundrum.

The garbage problem is even accused of causing cancer and other health hazards, according to the newspaper.

Chen Changzhi, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said burning rubbish could be the best way to reduce the size of the garbage and the land it occupies. Meanwhile, the process could be harnessed for electric power generation.

However, residents worry this method could pollute local environments even though China already possesses technology to contain such pollution, the report said.

An official with the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning body, revealed late last year that the country will invest more than 50 billion yuan (8.1 billion U.S. dollars) during the 2011-2015 period to promote clean garbage treatment.

 

 

 

>>  Chinese cities promote eco-friendly urbanization

By Fu Shuangqi, Meng Na, Li Fang, Wang Chengcheng and Hu Xing

City mayors across China are struggling to find answers for one problem — how to balance environmental protection and urbanization.

At an international environmental protection forum held in Guiyang, capital of southwest China’s Guizhou Province, mayors and other senior city officials took part in a heated debate about sustainable development in their cities.

“We are not worrying about the expansion and development of our cities, but the speed of expansion, which may be a bit too fast and may not be sustainable ,” said Yao Yingjie, deputy mayor of Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province, which has boomed thanks to economic development in the region.

Yao said the city’s population is expected to grow by 200,000 to 300,000 people annually, which will place great pressure on the city’s facilities and environment.

The Changsha government is trying to improve public services and infrastructure in its suburban townships so that people will be more willing to stay there instead of moving to downtown areas.

The city has also held special training programs for new township officials to raise their awareness of the importance of environmental protection.

For the city of Zaozhuang in east China’s Shandong Province, the government is facing the tough task of transforming the city, which has traditionally been dominated by the coal mining industry.

“Coal mine reserves in Zaozhuang may only last 15 to 20 years. Where the city will go is an urgent question,” said Zhang Shuping, mayor of Zaozhuang.

The city has closed about 30 outdated coal mines last year to improve the efficiency of the industry and protect its resources. Greening programs have also been used to remedy the damage done by the coal industry.

The city is also introducing new industries and encouraging locals to take up jobs in sectors outside of the coal industry.

“These transformation projects have damped our economic growth figures but the city is moving toward a promising future,” Zhang said.

About 52 percent of the Chinese population lived in urban areas last year, up 20 percent from the early 1980s, representing an urbanization growth rate that is much faster than that of developed countries.

Earlier this week, national political advisors held a special meeting to discuss problems and risks related to rapid urbanization.

“Problems that have occurred in different stages of urbanization in developed countries have arrived simultaneously in China due to the speed of growth,” said Wang Guangqian, a member of the Standing Committee of the the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The situation is more complicated and harder for the government to manage, Wang said.

Many political advisors warned of the blind expansion of megacities and called for more attention to protecting air and water quality, managing traffic and processing waste.

Guizhou is known for its relatively pristine natural environment, largely due to its geographic position and relatively sluggish economic development. Cities in the province are hoping to use the region’s good environment into an advantage.

Li Zaiyong, mayor of Guiyang, said the city has attracted industrial and agricultural projects that have higher environmental quality requirements.

“We very much cherish what we have. We will not sacrifice it for projects that are profitable but result in heavy pollution,” he said. “Guiyang is looking to projects that can strike a balance between profitability and environmental merit.”

The city is working to convert its city buses from petroleum-based fuel to natural gas, as well as encourage residents to use public transportation more frequently, in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

 

 

 

>>  Jiaolong begins 2-month exploration in Pacific Ocean

By Wang Xiaopeng

The Jiaolong, China’s manned submersible, departed aboard its support ship, the Xiangyanghong-09, from the port city of Xiamen on Friday of July 19 for two months of exploration in the Pacific Ocean.

During the voyage, the sub will submerge for scientific research focused on polymetallic nodules in the northeast Pacific and cobalt-rich crusts in the northwest Pacific.

The exploration is part of a 103-day experimental application mission that was conducted with the sub’s voyage from June 10 to July 10 in the South China Sea.

The Jiaolong carried out ten dives in the month-long voyage. Its activities included conducting research on cold seeps and the Jiaolong Seamount, which was named after the sub after scientists aboard the vessel discovered it.

With ten scientists aboard this time, the Jiaolong will explore deep sea resources, paving the way for future mining activities.

The Jiaolong set a new dive record after reaching 7,062 meters in the Pacific Ocean’s Mariana Trench in June 2012, Liu Cigui, director of the State Oceanic Administration (SOA), said when seeing the crew members off in Xiamen.

Liu said the achievement has demonstrated China’s ability to conduct deep sea scientific research and resource exploration in 99.8 percent of the world’s seafloor.

The vessel is set to return to Jiangyin City in eastern Jiangsu Province on Sept. 20 after completing its mission.

The 103-day mission marks the start of a five-year trial period for the Jiaolong before it is put into regular operation.

 

 

>>  Wave warning issued for South China Sea

By Zuo Yuanfeng

The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center on Friday afternoon of July 19 issued a blue wave warning for the South China Sea, anticipating the joint impact of a new tropical depression and a southwest monsoon.

According to the center, the tropical depression has moved northwest from the central area of the sea since Thursday and is expected to make landfall near the eastern coast of south China’s Hainan Province between Friday night and Saturday morning in the form of a tropical storm.

From Friday night to Saturday daytime, the center forecast sea waves as high as 4 meters in the South China Sea, as well as waves ranging in height from 1.5 to 2.5 meters on the eastern coast of Hainan.

A blue warning for storm tides was also released for the area.

The center urged coastal units in the region to take precautions against the waves, calling on related maritime departments to strengthen levee patrols for potential safety risks.

China has a four-tier color-coded weather warning system, with red representing the most severe weather, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

 

 

>>  Yangtze River to see largest flood peak this year

By Li Laifang and Li Siyuan

The Yangtze River, China’s longest, will brace for its largest flood peak so far this year due to continuous rainfall upstream, authorities said on Friday of July 19.

Water flow into the reservoir of the Three Gorges Dam will reach 48,000 cubic meters per second on Sunday, the largest since this year’s flood season, said the Yangtze River Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Water flow into the reservoir has increased rapidly in the past two days, by 11,000 cubic meters per second. As of 2 p.m. Friday, the water flow hit 34,500 cubic meters per second. The water level of the reservoir stood at about 147.5 meters.

The weather forecast said in the next one to three days, heavy rain will hit the upstream region.

From 12 a.m. Friday, water flow discharged out of the reservoir will be increased to 35,000 cubic meters per second.

As the world’s largest hydropower project, the Three Gorges Project consists of a dam, five-tier ship docks and a total of 32 hydropower turbo-generators.

 

 

 

>>  Punishment vowed in China Resources corruption case

By Wang Yaguang and He Zongyu

China’s state-owned asset watchdog said on Friday of July 19 that punishments will be imposed if ongoing auditing uncovers any illegal practices at China Resources (Holdings), a Hong Kong-registered conglomerate that has been accused of corruption involving state-owned assets.

China Resources is currently being audited and the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) will act according to the audit results, the commission said.

SASAC vowed to severely punish those responsible if any illegal practices or irregularities are found.

In a statement posted online on Wednesday, a journalist accused Song Lin, chairman of China Resources, and other senior executives of corruption and wrongdoing that led to the loss of billions of yuan in state-owned assets.

Wang Wenzhi, a journalist at the Economic Information Daily, accused Song of intentionally overpaying for three coal mines and other assets that China Resources Power (CR Power), the Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of China Resources, bought in 2010 in north China’s Shanxi Province.

A lawsuit filed this month by six minority shareholders of CR Power in Hong Kong also alleges that the company and its partner overpaid when it purchased the mines. The lawsuit also alleges that none of the mines had exploration licenses when CR Power made the acquisition.

The lawsuit names 20 former and existing CR Power board members, including Song Lin. A court hearing will take place in Hong Kong on August 5.

The company defended itself against the accusations in a statement provided to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Thursday, saying that while two of the three mines did not have licenses, the third received a 20-year mining license in April this year. Efforts to obtain the other two licenses are in progress, it said.

In the statement, CR Power also said the mines had been valued by two independent companies, adding that it paid less than the total appraised value of the mines.

Shares of several China Resources-affiliated Hong Kong-listed companies fell following the news, with CR Power plunging 4.53 percent to 16.86 Hong Kong dollars (2.17 U.S. dollars) per share on Friday after plummeting 10 percent on Wednesday.

CR Power’s share price has tumbled 15.62 percent during the past three days, erasing 14.92 billion Hong Kong dollars from its market capitalization.

 

 

 

>>  Chinese courts to blacklist judgment defaulters

By Liu Lu, Yang Weihan and Hu Longjiang

Chinese courts will create credit blacklists of those who fail to perform judicial judgments and make them available to the public, according to a regulation promulgated by the country’s top court on Friday of July 19.

The regulation, which will take effect from Oct. 1, will help deter defendants from defaulting on a judicial execution as well as promote the establishment of the social credit system, said the Supreme People’s Court (SPC).

According to the regulation, the courts will blacklist people who refuse or fail to enforce judicial execution through false evidence, violence and threats, and those who use fraudulent litigation and arbitration and property transfers to avoid performing their duties.

Local credit blacklists will be submitted to the SPC database, the regulation said.

Detailed information concerning the defendants who fail to perform the court judgments, such as their names, addresses and ID card numbers, will be publicized in newspapers, as well as on television and the Internet.

“Blacklisted people will receive credit punishment as the exposure affects their reputation,” said SPC spokesman Sun Jungong, adding the regulation has lifted the cost of losing credibility.

“I never expected that it is so difficult for courts to implement their decisions,” Shen Qifang, a deputy of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, said when conducting research of courts in southeast China’s Jiangxi Province.

Heads of courts in Jiangxi said the fulfillment rate of judgments in local areas was only 50 percent.

Defendants often fled away and disappeared even when cases were still on the docket, said Yang Gaihua, head of the implementation office of the Ruijin Municipal People’s Court. “It’s hard to find them,” said Yang.

The SPC said it will establish an online database of blacklisted people and the public can inquire about individuals and companies which lose their credibility in performing their legal duties.

 

 

 

>>  Infant’s death sparks controversy, probe in E China

By Fang Ning and Meng Zhaoli

Police and health authorities in east China’s Quanzhou City have started to investigate an infant’s death in a hospital incubator after the infant’s family and the hospital held different counts over the cause.

Photos suggesting skin on the child’s back was scorched went viral online on Thursday after the 11-day-old baby girl died in Quanzhou Children’s Hospital, and sparked a public fury.

The hospital said in the infant’s death verification that the baby died of bacterial infection.

However, Zheng Yuying, grandma of the infant, said that there were obvious “burns” on the baby’s back, buttocks and legs, and the family suspected that she died of scorching in the hospital’s incubator.

According to Zheng’s account, the baby was sent into the hospital’s intensive care unit immediately after being born on July 6. Doctors said she suffered neonatal brain hypoxiaischemia and cardiac damage.

The family was informed by the hospital of the baby’s recovery on July 14. On Tuesday, they was assured by the hospital that the baby could be discharged on Wednesday. However, at around 8 a.m. on Wednesday, the hospital called the baby’s parents and informed them of the baby’s death.

Police and investigators including discipline inspection officials have entered the hospital to probe the death.

The tragedy has triggered off the public distrust of the hospital. Some parents of new-born babies in the hospital have asked for transfers to other hospitals for continued medical treatment.

 

 

 

>>  Human-trafficking gangs cracked in E China

Fang Yibo and Zhang Yi

Two gangs that are suspected of smuggling over 180 citizens of a Southeast Asian country into China have been smashed in east China’s Zhejiang Province, local border control police said on Friday of July 19.

The police have arrested six people so far.

The gangs are thought to have started to smuggle people to Zhejiang, China’s manufacturing powerhouse, in June 2010, border control officers said.

Their activities were exposed after a border control squad found 15 foreigners illegally hired by a lamp factory. They could not produce any legitimate travel documents.

Based on the illegal immigrants’ testimony, border control police arrested their alleged smuggler, a man surnamed Yang.

Yang told police that he himself was smuggled to China from the Southeast Asian country, but after seeing the business was so lucrative, he decided to smuggle his fellow countrymen.

Police later cracked another affiliated gang with information Yang gave.

The deportation process has started with the first batch of 15 sent home on Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

>>  Illegal TCM workshops discovered in N China

By Zhang Chunxiao, Hu Hao and wang Qian

An investigation by food and drug safety regulators has revealed the existence of multiple workshops that illegally store and process traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

In the city of Anguo in north China’s Hebei province, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) found many workshops that are not properly equipped and that do not maintain proper sanitation practices.

One of the workshops, located in the village of Bawu, was found to be forging its own approval certificates, the administration said.

Similar workshops were found in other villages in the city.

Chinese law stipulates that units or individuals who do not have production licenses are not allowed to produce certain types of TCM. Those that do are not allowed to purchase production materials from unlicensed dealers.

The administration’s investigators also found that banned pesticides are widely used to grow medicinal herbs in Anguo.

The administration said it will work with other ministries and administrations to monitor TCM production more closely.

 

 

 

>>  Chrysler to recall 60,720 vehicles in China

By Rong Jiaojiao and Zhu Liyi

U.S. automaker Chrysler will recall 60,720 vehicles exported to China to fix various problems that could pose safety risks, China’s top quality watchdog said on Friday of July 19.

The recall affects 49,754 Chrysler’s Compass and Patriot vehicles manufactured between Oct. 14, 2009 and July 18, 2012, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in a statement.

The company will replace their air bag control modules, which were inadvertently programmed with software that may compromise air bag deployment.

The recall also includes Chrysler’s 300C models manufactured between Aug. 8, 2012 and Nov. 14, 2012, covering 947 vehicles with faulty warning lights in the dashboards, according to the statement.

In addition, Chrysler will also recall 10,019 imported Jeep Wranglers in China manufactured between Aug. 12, 2011 and Feb. 23, 2013.

The vehicles in question have faulty designs that may lead to fuel leakage and increase the risk of fire, the statement said.

Problems with the recalled vehicles will be fixed by Chrysler China free of charge.

 

 

 

>>  China to raise retail fuel prices

By Liu Jie, Jiang Chengguo and An Bei

The retail prices of gasoline and diesel will be raised starting Saturday, the country’s top economic planner said on Friday of July 19.

The benchmark retail price of gasoline will be raised by 0.24 yuan per liter and diesel by 0.26 yuan per liter, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement on its website.

It will be the fourth price hike this year, as well as the biggest increase since September 2012. Gasoline and diesel prices also went down four times this year.

The NDRC last adjusted gasoline and diesel prices on July 6, cutting the benchmark retail prices of gasoline and diesel by 0.06 yuan per liter, to reflect falling international crude oil prices.

The price increase, as well as recent heavy rainfall in many parts of the country, will push up consumer prices, said Han Jingyuan, an analyst at www.315.com.cn, a commodity-related information provider.

China’s consumer inflation rose 2.7 percent year on year in June, up 0.6 percentage points from a month ago.

Despite the hefty fuel price increase, its impact on downstream industries is not expected to last long, analysts said.

Under the country’s new pricing regime, which came into effect in March, domestic fuel prices are adjusted when international crude prices reflect a change of more than 50 yuan per tonne for gasoline and diesel over a period of 10 working days.

Zhang Yonghao, an analyst at www.chem365.net, another commodity information consultancy group, said the price hike will help improve oil refiners’ profits amid lackluster demand.

Han said oil prices are not expected to climb further in the near future, as slowing economies in the European Union and China will sap demand.

 

 

 

>>  Chinese shares slump for third day

By Zhan Yan

Chinese shares closed lower for a third day on Friday of July 19, led by real estate companies.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index decreased 1.52 percent, or 30.75 points, to end at 1,992.65. The Shenzhen Component Index lost 3.04 percent, or 240.28 points, to 7,663.99.

Combined turnover on the two bourses expanded to 209.46 billion yuan (33.89 billion U.S. dollars) from 178.8 billion yuan the previous trading day.

The real estate sector sunk 3.73 percent. Shares of China Vanke Co., the nation’s biggest listed property developer, slumped 5.53 percent to 9.56 yuan per share. Shares of Poly Real Estate Group Co., another major property company, shed 5.57 percent to 10.18 yuan per share.

The market was affected by a report in the China Securities Journal stating that initial public offering approvals may resume by the end of July, which could lead to more fighting over limited liquidity.

 

 

 

>>  China’s crude oil output slightly up

By Liu Xinyong

China’s crude oil output rose slightly year on year in the first half of 2013, according to data released on Friday of July 19 by the country’s top economic planner.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement that crude oil production stood at 103.31 million tonnes in the first six months, up 3.2 percent from the same period last year.

The country refined 217.46 million tonnes of crude oil during the first half, up 6.6 percent year on year, while refined oil products rose by 6 percent to 133.77 million tonnes, the NDRC said.

Apparent consumption of refined oil products rose 4 percent from a year earlier to 126.54 million tonnes.

In the same period, natural gas output rose 9 percent to 58.8 billion cubic meters, while imports climbed 24.6 percent to 24.7 billion cubic meters.

Apparent consumption of natural gas climbed 13.1 percent year on year to 81.5 billion cubic meters, according to the statement.

 

 

 

>>  Large gold deposit discovered in NW China

By Liu Bing, Zhang Yan and Qiang Lijing

A mineral deposit with gold reserves totaling 50 tonnes has been discovered in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, local authorities said Friday of July 19.

The deposit was discovered at the Dunde Iron Mine in Hejing County after six years of exploration, said Zeng Xiaogang, head of the region’s geology and mineral resources bureau.

The deposit is believed to have a potential economic value of 100 billion yuan (16.3 billion U.S. dollars), as its mineral resources include 187 million tonnes of iron and 1.5 million tonnes of zinc, according to Zeng.

Feng Jinxing, leader of a geological exploration team from the bureau, said the team has been exploring the area since 2007.

The exploration is ongoing and a mining plant is being constructed in the area that will provide over 2,000 jobs, Zeng said.

 

 

 

>>  Sichuan reports surging trade with ASEAN

By Hai Mingwei and Qiang Lijing

Southwest China’s Sichuan Province has reported a surge in two-way trade with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in the first half of 2013, indicating the ASEAN has surpassed the United States as the largest trade partner of Sichuan.

Statistics released by the Chengdu Customs District on Friday showed that the bilateral trade volume between Sichuan and the ASEAN reached 5.38 billion U.S. dollars in the first six months of the year, 42.1 percent higher than the same period last year, accounting for 18 percent of the province’s total foreign trade value during the period.

Mechanical and electrical products and high-tech products ranked as the top two trade commodities between the two sides, the customs said.

The foreign trade volume to the United States stood at 5.36 billion U.S. dollars, with a year-on-year drop of 13.6 percent, it added.

The Chengdu Customs District attributed the change to developed Western economies having seen trade volume declines and the province having adopted an open attitude toward the ASEAN countries.

 

 

 

>>  Mainland tourists spend 15.68 bln USD in Taiwan

By Tian Ye

Tourists from the Chinese mainland have spent 15.68 billion U.S. dollars in Taiwan since 2008 when the island opened up its tourism market to mainland travelers.

Over the past five years, people from Taiwan spent about 27.7 billion U.S. dollars on the mainland, according to figures released by tourism authorities from both sides.

At a cross-Strait tourism exchange conference held in Taipei on Friday, Shao Qiwei, head of the Association for Tourism Exchange Across the Taiwan Strait, called on both sides across the Taiwan Strait to further consolidate and deepen tourism exchanges and cooperation.

The Chinese mainland is currently the largest source of tourists to Taiwan, while the island is the third largest source of visitors to the mainland.

During the past five years, about 6.2 million mainland tourists have visited Taiwan. Mainlanders’ daily spending increased from 93.75 U.S. dollars per person in 2008, to 163.91 U.S. dollars in 2011.

At the conference, Shao proposed both sides across the Strait to advance cooperation on tourism investment and insurance, and improve the quality of tourist services.

An overall ban on traveling to the island was lifted by Taiwanese authorities in July 2008. However, mainlanders at that time could only travel there as part of tightly run tour groups, business trips, academic visits and trips related to family affairs.

Taiwan first opened the door to individual tourists from mainland cities on June 28, 2011, but only to residents of three major cities — Beijing, Shanghai and Xiamen.

The list of cities increased to 13 on April 1, 2012. In June, residents in 13 more mainland cities were eligible to visit Taiwan as individual tourists.

 

 

 

>>  Tibet reports strong surge in tourist numbers

By liu Hongming, Dainzain Jiancan, Wang Jun and Li Baojie

The number of tourists traveling to southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region grew strongly in the first half of the year, local authorities said on Friday of July 19.

As many as 3.43 million tourists went to the plateau region from January to June, an increase of 21.8 percent from the same period last year, the regional tourism bureau said in a statement.

Of all, 3.4 million were domestic travelers and 30,306 were from overseas, according to the statement.

Meanwhile, tourism revenue surged 32.1 percent year on year to 3.2 billion yuan (517 million U.S. dollars) in the six-month period, it added.

July is the beginning of a three-month peak travel season for the region, with tourists going to major scenic spots.

Local tourism agencies suggested potential travelers make plans early as forthcoming major festivals, like Lhasa Shoton Festival and Damxung Horse Racing Festival, would attract many visitors.

 

 

 

>>  A peaceful, pious Ramadan observed in Xinjiang

By Fu Xiaobo, Ayinuer and Zhang Yi

As the call to prayer rang out through Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, at 5:30 a.m. on Friday of July 19, tens of thousands of people swarmed into mosques for the first prayer of the day.

Ramadan, which started on July 8 this year, is a month of fasting for Muslims. From sunrise to sunset each day, no adult Muslim is supposed to eat.

This year, Ramadan in Xinjiang is as peaceful and pious as ever.

“Fasting lets us experience the sufferings of hunger and poverty. It strengthens our compassion,” said 73-year-old Dawut Parhat. “I stick to fasting and pray fives times a day.”

Muslims wake up earlier than usual during Ramadan. Ma Xiufen, an Urumqi resident, got out of bed at 3 a.m. and ate around 4:20 a.m.

“During the day, I spend a lot of time talking about Islam with other Muslims on the Internet,” Ma said. “I can learn more about my religion through discussion.”

In Yengisar County, Kashgar, Kasenjan had finished his meal by 5 a.m. and after a short prayer, the farmer started to work.

During Ramadan, almost everyone in his village abstains from food throughout the day.

Batur runs a handicraft art store in Urumqi’s international bazaar. He said Ramadan did not affect his business.

“Visitors flock to Xinjiang in summer. I’m fasting and my store is open, “Batur said.

Many Muslim-owned restaurants don’t open their doors until after 9 p.m. during Ramadan.

“I offer guests bigger portions in Ramadan. I believe Allah will bless my business,” said Kerim Aji, a kebab restaurant owner.

 

 

 

 

>>  Hepatic stem cells to cure terminal liver diseases: study

By Li Huizi

Hepatic stem cells, produced by a patients’ own cells, could possibly help cure end-stage liver diseases, a study led by Chinese scientists has shown.

The four-year study on mice, led by Prof. Hu Yiping of the Department of Cell Biology under the Shanghai-based Second Military Medical University, has been published in the latest online version of the U.S. “Cell Stem Cell” journal, 18 July 2013 issue.

The article, titled “Reprogramming Fibroblasts into Bipotential Hepatic Stem Cells by Defined Factors,” marks a breakthrough in China’s hepatic stem cells study, said a statement from Hu’s team.

Various liver diseases, including those at the terminal stage, would be curable by using the patients’ own cells to produce hepatic stem cells and repopulating them into the patients’ body, if the clinical research makes key progress, according to He Zhiying, an associate professor of the team.

Although the number of original hepatic stem cells in human liver is small, they play an important role in maintaining the organ’s structure and performance.

Funded by the Chinese government, the research team reprogrammed fibroblasts and established a laboratory-based system of producing hepatic stem cells.

The hepatic stem cells produced in this way can be augmented in the lab and then used to repair the injured liver, according to the statement.

It added that the research result lays new foundations for liver disease treatment, development of new drugs and tissue engineering research.

Prof. Hu started research on hepatic stem cells in the early 1990s and focused on the relation between the cells and liver diseases.

He gradually realized that new cell therapy based on hepatic stem cells could be an effective cure for end-stage liver illnesses.

 

 

 

>>  Scientists discover new dragonfly species

By Huang Yan and Zhang Yi

Scientists have discovered three ancient dragonfly species indigenous to China at the Shennongjia Nature Reserve, one of the researchers has announced.

“The three new Cephalaeschna species are found nowhere else in the world but central China,” said Zhang Haomiao, an aquatic animal researcher from the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Zhang said the species can be used to monitor water quality, as they live only in the relatively pristine streams of Shennongjia and cannot tolerate polluted water.

The dragonflies do not like sunshine and only become active after dusk, the researcher said.

The scientists’ findings have been published in the International Journal of Odontology.

 

 

 

>>  Torrential rain triggers urban flooding in SW China city

By Yuan Xuelian, Wang Jiang and Lü Qiuping

The most rainfall of the year has hit Kunming since Thursday of July 18, forcing the so-called “city of eternal spring” to grapple with urban flooding.

Rainfall from 8 p.m. Thursday to 8 a.m. Friday reached up to 190 mm, and rain-triggered floods have seriously disrupted road traffic in the capital of southwest China’s Yunnan Province, said Jiang Kaili, deputy director of the flood control office of Kunming.

Cars and taxis were submerged along streets and more than 200 inundated bridges have been rendered unusable.

Jiang said the city’s drainage system failed, resulting in floods in many areas in the city proper. Water levels of the Panlong River on Friday exceeded the height of the river bank near Shilichangjie Street, according to the city’s drainage company.

Other rivers that traverse the city, such as the Jinzhen and Daguan, also saw drastic increases in water levels.

Meanwhile, rain is continuing to batter the city. According to the provincial weather forecast, it should continue until July 25.

The city government on Friday initiated emergency response for flood control, and more than 300 workers have joined in disaster relief efforts.

 

 

 

>>  Fog strands 10,000 at Dalian airport

By Yan Ping and Zhang Yi

Rain-led fog has left about 10,000 flight passengers stranded in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian on Friday of July 19, according to Dalian airport’s operation center.

More than 70,000 people were expected to depart from or arrive at the airport on Friday with 467 flights on the airport’s schedule, but as of 11 a.m., only two flights have left while 16 have arrived, the operation center said.

The local weather bureau has forecast that downpours will continue, which is likely to further reduce visibility.

 

 

 

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