• China offers 2 tons of food to Ebola victims in Guinea
China has offered about 2 tons of food aid to Ebola patients and families affected by the disease in Guinea, an official source said on Wednesday of December 17.
The donation which was valued at 2 million U.S. dollars, was comprised of rice, highly nutritive cereal products and high energy biscuits.
The donation was given to the World Food Program (WFP) in Guinea by China’s ambassador to Guinea, Bian Jianqiang, in the presence of Guinea’s International Cooperation Minister Moustapha Koutoubou Sanoh.
The Chinese diplomat said the aid was meant to assist Guinean populations in zones that have been affected by the Ebola epidemic since March.
“All Chinese aid is a demonstration of friendship shared between our people,” the ambassador said, adding that “China will continue to offer its assistance to Guinea as much as possible.”
WFP representative in Guinea Madam Elisabeth Faure appreciated the Chinese aid which will help majority of the people in the southern part of the country that was hard hit by the Ebola.
The Chinese aid will help close to 150,000 people for a period of 45 days, WFP representative said.
Since the outbreak of Ebola epidemic in Guinea, 2,376 cases had been reported by December 13 out of which 1,480 people died.
• China’s Ebola vaccine enters clinical trials
By Hu Longjiang and Shen Jifei
An Ebola vaccine developed by a military research institute has been approved to enter the human test stage, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) General Logistics Department announced on Thursday of December 18.
The restructured vaccine, developed by the Academy of Military Medical Sciences (AMMC), is based on the 2014 mutant gene type and especially targets the strain plaguing west Africa.
The vaccine is currently in the form of freeze-dried powder, which will keep it stable for at least two weeks in temperatures of up to 37 degrees Celsius. This will make it suitable for the tropical west African region and assist with large-scale production, according to a review report by 17 experts in the field.
It makes China the third country to put Ebola vaccine under clinical trials following the United States and Canada.
The Chinese drug has obvious advantages compared with other vaccines in clinical phase, the report said. The foreign vaccines are based on the gene type from 1976 and are in liquid form that have to be stored in temperatures of 80 degrees Celsius below zero.
The deadly virus has claimed more than 6,000 deaths in west African nations, spreading as far as the United States and Europe.
Since the outbreak, China has sent about 750 million yuan (120 million U.S. dollars) and some 500 medical staff and experts to Ebola-hit countries, building laboratories and treatment centers.
• China expresses concerns over Ruble slump
By Fang Dong and Li Yanxia
China’s foreign exchange regulator expressed concerns over the recent devaluation of the Russian ruble on Thursday of December 18, but confirmed it was tracking the situation.
Chinese enterprises and financial institutions should use forward and swap facilities to avoid risks, said a senior official at the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, Wang Yungui, during a press conference in Beijing.
The ruble plummeted to a historic low two days ago before a moderate recovery that saw it stabilize at 100 rubles to 10.27 yuan (1.65 U.S. dollars) on Thursday.
Wang noted that the situation had not affected transnational capital flow in China but the situation would continue to be assessed.
China and Russia, Wang said, were close trade partners and healthy bilateral trade was expected to continue.
China’s exports to Russia increased 10.5 percent year on year and imports 2.9 percent in the first three quarters of the year, with total trade volume valued at 70.78 billion dollars.
• China’s solar giant completes restructuring offshore debts
By Lü Qiuping and Guo qiang
One of China’s leading solar firms, LDK Solar Co., Ltd., has completed restructuring debts in Hong Kong, the United States and the Cayman Islands, the company said on Thursday of December 18.
The debt restructuring transaction between the company, senior bondholders and preferred shareholders was completed Wednesday, with a total value up to 700 million U.S. dollars, said Peng Shaomin, a spokesperson for the photovoltaic (PV) products manufacturer based in Xinyu, east China’s Jiangxi Province.
The company is the first firm in the PV production sector in China to finish its offshore debt restructuring. Affected by the global economic slowdown and the punitive anti-dumping duties levied by the United States and the European Union, the industry has experienced difficulties in recent years.
Figures show LDK Solar suffered a loss of 1.3 billion yuan (211 million U.S. dollars) in 2013, compared with the loss of 4.3 billion yuan in 2012.
According to Peng, the company will put more emphasis on developing Chinese and other emerging markets to mitigate the negative impact from the developed countries, such as the United States and Canada, because of the anti-dumping duties imposed by those countries.
LDK Solar successfully listed in New York in 2007.
• French Open unveils 2015 poster designed by Chinese artist
By Zhang Han
Grand Slam tennis French Open unveiled the Roland-Garros 2015 poster here on Thursday of December 18, while its designer Du Zhenjun has become the first Chinese artist in 35 years to create a work of art for the tournament.
The 2015 French Open poster depicts a player serving to begin a point, the shot so crisp and powerful that the ball almost seems to rip right through the canvas.
Du, inspirited from both his Asian roots and contemporary Western art, explained that he chose to focus on the game itself while designing the poster.
“The speed and the movement of the ball are symbolized by a line which actually forms the main element of the poster,” said the 53-year-old, trained in traditional jade engraving, traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy back in his native Shanghai.
“The painting also expresses something that is quite Asian, since the line traced through the center of the work is part of the Zen aesthetics,” he added.
According to Du, the original of the poster was made on rice paper before being taped onto canvas.
“I used a typically Chinese painting technique with ink,” he continues. “The poster is a mix of Asian and contemporary art, and I hope the public like it.”
The artist, who moved to France 23 years ago,has adventured through multimedia, video, photography, collage and assemblage and installation.
He first came to the public eye in 2003 at the Paris Autumn Festival, where he had a significant exhibition at the Conciergerie entitled “Etre humain trop lourd” (“Too heavy a human “).
China’s ambassador in France Zhai Jun congratulated on Du while attending the poster unveiling ceremony.
“First time in the French Open history, there comes a Chinese artist who designed the poster for the Grand Slam event,” said Zhai. “Congratulations, Mr. Du. I believe his design with Chinese elements is able to share the glamour of the great tennis tournament.”
“We are honored to have invited a well-known Chinese artist to design the 2015 poster,” echoed French Tennis Federation (FFT) president Jean Gachassin. “It’s a work of art coming from collision of two cultures.”
Since 1980, the French Open has been inviting an artist through Galerie Lelong to create a poster each year, which coming out as a Rolland-Garros trademark tradition.
• New flight links Chinese tourist resort with Europe
By Hou Wenkun and Wang Ruoyao
China Eastern Airlines on Thursday of December 18 launched a direct flight between Kunming, a famed tourist city in southwest China’s Yunnan Province, and Paris.
The flight, Yunnan’s first transcontinental air route, will be plied by an Airbus A330. It will depart from Kunming every Monday, Thursday and Saturday, finishing the 9,471-km one-way trip in nearly 13 hours, according to the airline’s Yunnan branch.
Kunming, dubbed the “City of Eternal Spring,” is known for its pleasant climate and picturesque landscape. Air routes connect the city with seven Southeast Asian countries and five South Asian countries.
Yunnan also boasts other popular tourist destinations, such as Dali and Lijiang, cities famed for their architecture and distinct culture.
RIO DE JANEIRO
• Over 240,000 people signed up for Rio 2016 volunteer, China 4th largest registrations
By Ji Ye
A total of 242,757 people signed up for the Volunteer Programme of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games after the registration finished on December 15, while China has provided the fourth largest number of registrations.
Rio 2016 Organizing Committee told Xinhua in a statement on Thursday that the volunteer progamme has attracted applicants from all Brazilian states and 192 countries and regions since it was launched on August 28.
The most volunteer applications came from (in order): Brazil, the US, Russia, China and the UK, many of whom have been inspired by the recent Olympic and Paralympic Games held in their countries.
China is the country with the fourth highest number of applicants: 8,283.
There are 70,000 Rio 2016 volunteer positions available, 45,000 for Olympic Games and 25,000 for Paralympic.This total number means that about 3.5 people have applied for every position available. 50% of applicants are aged 25 or less, while 55% of applicants are female, 45% male. [ Among Brazilians, around 90% of the applicants study or work, and their academic background range from elementary school to doctorate level.
“We are very pleased with the volume and particularly the diversity of applicants in the programme,” said Flavia Fontes, Rio 2016 Volunteer Programme Manager.
Applicants will be asked to participate in a basic language test over the coming months and the selection process will commence in March 2015.
Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by February 2016 and available at least ten days to take part in the events. There is no age limit.
The 70,000 candidates selected will be allocated to nine functional areas: customer care, sports, press and communications, operational support, ceremony production, protocol and languages, healthcare, technology and transport.
• New initiative launched to support Americans to study in China
By Zhou Erjie
China and the United States launched a new fellowship initiative on Wednesday of December 17 to support mid-career American professionals to study in China.
The initiative, known as Zhi-Xing China-Perfect World U.S.-China Young Leaders Fellowships, aims to sponsor 15 to 20 American professionals who are interested in Chinese culture and China-related work to visit and study in China every year through 2024.
During their stay in China, fellows are expected to gain deeper understanding of China and U.S.-China bilateral relations through meetings, visits and cultural activities.
The initiative is one of the latest additions to the programs under the U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE), which aims to strengthen ties between Chinese and U.S. citizens in areas including education, culture and science.
“Under the CPE framework, nearly 200 robust outcomes and deliverbles have been implemented over the past five years,” said Chinese Vice Education Minister Hao Ping, who is also the CPE China Coordinator.
One of the best ways to invest in next generation of leaders is to develop language and cultural skills through study abroad, said Carola McGiffert, President of the 100,000 Strong Foundation, one of the partners of the initiative.
She added that the U.S. could do more to make sure young Americans have the cultural understanding and China skills to compete, collaborate and succeed in a world where China plays a huge and growing role.
Perfect World, a leading Chinese online game developer and operator, has pledged to make a contribution to support the fellowship through the next decade.
Given the importance of the bilateral ties, both public and private sectors of the two countries, the cultural industry in particular, should show greater support to U.S.-China people-to-people exchange, said Robert Xiao, Perfect World CEO.
“I believe such efforts will foster fresh ideas, deeper understanding, and new ways of cooperation between us,” said Xiao, adding that the new initiative is an important extension of exchanges between U.S.-Chinese younger generations.
The initiative is implemented by the China Education Association for International Exchange, in partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Humpty Dumpty Institute, the 100 K Strong Foundation and Perfect World Co., Ltd.
• More Chinese teenagers to study in U.S.
By Li Zhihui, Shi Yucen and Liu Yizhan
Chinese teenagers studying in the United States has increased more than 60 times during the past decade, with experts believing the boom will continue into the future, a new study showed on Thursday of December 18.
Nearly 27,000 Chinese students were studying at U.S. senior schools, public or private, during the school year 2012-2013, compared with 433 in the year of 2003-2004, according to a blue book published by the Social Sciences Academic Press on Thursday.
The book was compiled by the Center for China and Globalization.
China overcame South Korea in 2011 to become the largest source of overseas high school students in the United States, maintaining its position since.
The parents, holding high academic degrees, position or income, hope their children enjoy the style of education in the U.S. and better their ability in foreign languages and independent life, according to the book.
The sharp increase of students receiving education in the U.S. is expected to continue as more Chinese families gain wealth, according to the book.
Prolonged student visas and easier overseas applications are also helping more Chinese study abroad.
But experts warn that Chinese parents should not “blindly” send children overseas because teenagers may not be mature enough to live independently.
Some find it hard to finish school work or integrate into local communities, according to the book.
• Two people missing after Chinese fishing boat grounded near Japan’s Shimane Prefecture
By Yan Lei
A Chinese fishing boat hit rocks and was grounded near Japan’s Shimane Prefecture, with 2 people missing and 23 rescued, according to the Consulate-General of China in Osaka on Thursday of December 18.
The Japan Coast Guard received report at around 4:30 a.m. local time on Thursday that a 255-ton Chinese fishing boat (JINHAI 805) was grounded near Shimane Prefecture.
Twenty three out of a total of 25 crew members aboard the ship have been rescued while two are still missing. Four of the rescued have been sent to hospital for treatment of hypothermia.
The fishing boat sailed to waters near Oki islands of Shimane Prefecture to take refuge from storms in its planned fishing area, according to local media.
The Consulate-General of China in Osaka has sent diplomats to the scene to deal with the incident.
• Prospective Chinese grandparents deported for “smuggling” bird nests into New Zealand
By John Macdonald
A Chinese couple who arrived in New Zealand for the birth of their grandchild were deported after they were caught trying to smuggle edible bird nests into the country, New Zealand border officials said on Thursday of December 18.
The couple, who arrived at Auckland on a flight from Shanghai Tuesday, had denied carrying any items that could have been a biosecurity risk, according to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).
But MPI quarantine officers at Auckland Airport noticed possible organic material in the couple’s luggage during x-ray screening.
The nests were found in “a vacuum-packed blanket” and the couple, who had traveled to New Zealand for the birth of their grandchild, were denied entry and ordered to return home on Tuesday night.
“We believed the action was a deliberate smuggling attempt of an item that could have carried avian diseases with the potential to wipe out New Zealand’s native and commercial bird populations,” MPI Northern Border Clearance Manager Craig Hughes said in a statement.
Bird nest soup is widely believed by the Chinese people to be a precious and nutritious food, which is especially helpful for the recovery of new moms.
• China’s top anti-graft body opens special website for tipoffs during festival
By Ren Ke
China’s top corruption eradication authority opened a new channel on its official website on Wednesday night of December 17 for tipoffs related to lavish behavior at year end.
The Communist Party of China’s (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said the initiative would put the central authority’s frugal policies into practice and curb bad practices such as using public funds for gifts, during the New Year festivities and the traditional Spring Festival.
The CCDI’s website will name and shame all cases involving disciplinary violations on a weekly basis starting from Dec. 29. It also has a forum open to opinions and suggestions from the public on the counter-corruption drive.
Among a series of policies that advocate thrifty life- and workstyles among Party members and government agencies, the championing of intensified supervision aims to ensure the policies are implemented correctly.
China’s Spring Festival, or the lunar new year, falls on Feb. 19 in 2015.
• China experimental fast reactor runs at full capacity
By Liu Tong and Yu Xiaojie
China’s first sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor hit a milestone after operating at full capacity for 72 hours as of Thursday afternoon on December 18, a sign that China has fully mastered core technologies in fast reactor design.
Fast neutron reactors, also called fast reactors, use a closed nuclear fuel cycle to optimize uranium use and reduce waste.
“The achievement has laid a solid foundation for fast reactor technology development, commercialization and nuclear fuel cycle technology development,” said Xu Dazhe, head of China Atomic Energy Authority and State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.
Xu said further demonstrations should be carried out to hasten industrialization and commercialization of the reactors.
The development of fast reactors is the second of China’s three-step nuclear energy program, with the aim of cutting China’s reliance on fossil fuel burning. China also intends to make fast reactors one of the priorities in its nuclear energy development program.
The 65-megawatt experimental fast reactor is one of few fast reactors that has been grid connected. It can achieve 20 megawatt of capacity in electricity generation.
• CXA kicks off overseas promotion campaign of Chinese Chess
By Xu Zheng
The Chinese Xiangqi (Chinese chess) Association has started their overseas promotion campaign of the Chinese traditional intellectual game.
A promotional event themed “Xiangqi-Chinese wisdom at fingertips” was held at the U.N. headquarters in New York on Tuesday, according to CXA on Thursday of December 18.
“This would be the first stop of our international tour promoting the game,” said Guo Liping, deputy general secretary of CXA.
The association also invited U.N. officals to the event, in which Xie Jun, former world champion on chess, gave a lecture comparing Xiangqi to chess.
Guo hoped that their promotional activities can arouse more people’s interest in Xiangqi, which is similar to chess.
“Xiangqi is very popular in China and some Asian countries,” she said, “I hope, through our promotional activities, more people in the world will know the game and learn to enjoy it, which embodies the heritage of Chinese culture and wisdom.”
CXA’s statistics shows that about hundreds of million people are playing Xiangqi in the world and 26 countries and regions have Xiangqi associations.
• China publishes guideline to help philanthropy
By Liu Tong and Huang Xiaoxi
Charitable donations in China will become tax deductible, according to a guideline released by the central government on Thursday of December 18.
The guideline, published by the State Council, said donations from abroad to charities in China could enjoy preferential tariff rates.
Zhu Xiaohong from North China Electric Power University, said enterprises seeking tax deductions for donations often face complicated procedures and a harsh set of terms, which hurts philanthropic activities.
The guideline called for opening more donation channels, emphasizing the development of Internet philanthropy. It also called on social forces such as public institutions and media outlets to provide more support for philanthropy.
It urged charitable organizations to improve management standards and enhance their credibility, vowing to punish those who willfully dishonor charitable organizations and hurt their reputation.
According to the guideline, the central authorities are planning an information-sharing system capable of better coordinating relief efforts for government agencies and non-governmental organizations.
China has 85 million disabled people, 120 million people living under the poverty line and 160 million left-over rural residents, meaning philanthropy needs more participation on all fronts, a statement from the Ministry of Civil Affairs said.
The guideline proposed to keep a record of citizens doing volunteer activities so as to encourage more people to do so and give commendation to people who make extraordinary contributions to philanthropy.
Philanthropy in China witnessed a boom in 2008, after a strong earthquake hit the southwestern province of Sichuan. But a series of scandals in following years have impeded its development.
• Chinese petitioners to evaluate grievances handling
By Liu Lu and Luo Sha
Petitioners in China now have the chance to evaluate how their complaint was handled following the publication of a new guideline on Thursday of December 18.
Aimed at maintaining petitioners’ rights and improving transparency of the petitioning system, the rules will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2015, according to the guideline issued by the the State Bureau for Letters and Calls (SBLC).
Fan Xiaomao, vice head of the SBLC, said that petitioners could choose “satisfied,” “so-so,” and “not satisfied,” and write down comments after they see the results of their petition.
“Authorities receiving a new petition should refer the matter to the government departments concerned or report it to leading officials in charge of the mentioned issues within 15 days,” said Fan.
Petitioners can evaluate the results within 30 days, after they receive responses. Petitioners who do not receive replies can make the evaluation 90 days after they file their petition.
“We suggest petitioners leave real phone numbers so we can make convenient contact,” said Fan.
Those who fail to fulfill their duties in these procedures will be punished, and those who cause severe consequences will be held accountable.
As for the results marked “not satisfied,” departments receiving petitions should investigate the case and deal with officials in a timely manner if misconduct are found, Fan said.
The SBLC will strengthen supervision and continue to publicize typical cases on its official website for greater transparency, Fan added.
• Chinese environmental protection company dumps untreated wastes into river
By Cheng Lu and Fang Lie
Police have arrested 12 suspects and are continuing the search for another after their company was found dumping untreated waste containing heavy metals into a river in east China’s Zhejiang Province.
Zhongjinlingnan Environmental Technology Company, which recycles metals in electroplating sludge and other solid wastes from factories, was found to have dumped nearly 10,000 tons of untreated waste into Oujiang River in Wenzhou City, local police told Xinhua on Thursday of December 18.
Investigations found the company, despite being overcapacity since April, still accepted hazardous waste from nearby plants manufacturing stainless steel tubing.
It costs the company nearly 500 yuan (about 81 U.S. dollars) per tonne to dispose of industrial wastes safely and 100 yuan to dump it directly into the river. Police found that in May of this year, the company’s legal representative, surnamed Jiang, directed workers to dispose of nearly 6,000 tonnes of pollutants sludge into the Oujiang River.
In early June, Jiang and his workers poured another 3,800 tonnes of untreated wastes into the river, police said.
Currently, the local environmental protection department is monitoring the water quality of Oujiang River.
• Beijing’s thirsty neighbor receives water from the south
By Cheng Lu and Guo Yaru
Beijing’s neighboring province of Hebei began receiving water through the south-north water diversion project on Thursday of December 18, local authorities said.
The middle route’s first-stage project supplies more than three billion cubic meters of water annually to the province, said Yuan Fu, chief of Hebei’s office of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project.
It will alleviate water shortage in Hebei and help promote sustainable development in local society and economy, provincial governor Zhang Qingwei said.
The middle route’s first-stage project starts at Danjiangkou reservoir in the central province of Hubei. It was officially put into operation on Dec. 12..
It will supply 9.5 billion cubic meters of water per year to the northern regions, including the cities of Beijing and Tianjin, and provinces of Henan and Hebei.
• China’s smartphone users to top 500 mln by 2014
By Jiang Xufeng and Zhao Xiaohui
China will boast more than half a billion smartphone users by the end of this year, an official with the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) said.
The country has 1.3 billion cellphone users, said Wang Xiangrong, deputy director of the website information broadcasting department under SIIO, China’s Web regulator.
With smartphones becoming more affordable and improved telecommunication services, by the end of 2014 three of every 10 smartphone users in the world will be Chinese, Wang said Thursday at an Internet industry conference held in Beijing.
“More than 40 percent of China’s citizens will access the Internet through their cellphones next year,” he predicted.
“In the last 20 years, the Internet in China has created a fertile market with limitless potential. The Internet has also facilitated new technological advances, products and business models as well as millions of jobs,” Wang added.
• Chinese cities see better air quality in November
By Zuo Yuanfeng
Chinese cities saw 63.6 percent of days with decent air quality in November, up 11.3 percentage points year-on-year, official figures show.
The 25 cities monitored in the Yangtze River Delta saw 68.8 percent of days with sound air quality, a 26.3 percentage point increase from the same period in 2013, according to a statement released Thursday by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Even the notoriously-polluted Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region reported 42 percent of days with “good” or “fine” air quality, up 2.9 percentage points from the same period last year.
The region saw 22.4 percent of days with air quality in the range of “heavy” and “grave.”
The top ten polluted cities included seven in north China’s Hebei Province, along with Shenyang and Harbin, two northeastern cities and Zhengzhou, capital of central China’s Henan Province.
In general, the major air pollutant in the country was PM2.5, followed by PM10, the statement said.
• China busts 27 underground banks in 10 months
By Jiang Xufeng
In the first 10 months of this year, Chinese authorities broke up 27 “underground banks” illegally trading foreign currency and transferring money across borders.
The exchanges amounted to about 65 billion yuan (10.6 billion U.S. dollars), Zhang Shenghui, head of the Supervision and Inspection Department under the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), said on Thursday of December 18.
Joint operations between the administration and police resulted in the arrest of more than 90 suspects, Zhang said at a press conference in Beijing.
Between September and October, the SAFE cooperated with other agencies to uncover more than 62 billion yuan in illegal transactions, Zhang told reporters.
“Several days ago, we busted a huge underground bank and arrested 57 suspects,” said Zhang.
“China will step up efforts on fighting underground banks to safeguard the economic and financial safety,” Zhang added.
• China housing official jailed 25 yrs over corruption
By Li Lijing and Li Baojie
A former housing administration official in central China’s Henan Province was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Wednesday of December 17 for embezzlement, bribery and abuse of power.
Zhai Zhenfeng, former director of the housing bureau in Erqi District in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan, was found guilty of embezzling 37 million yuan (6 million U.S. dollars) of public funds, according to the Zhenzhou Intermediate People’s Court.
He accepted 70,000 yuan in bribes and offered 330,000 yuan to other officials, the court found.
The court ruled that Zhai’s 13 houses and 5.5 million yuan in illegal gains, which included the proceeds of selling other houses, should be seized.
Zhai has not yet revealed if he will file an appeal.
Three others, implicated in Zhai’s corruption, were given prison terms ranging from four to seven years.
Zhai’s case was exposed in December 2012 after a woman on a popular social network boasted that her daughter, who was born in the 1990s, owned 11 apartments in a public housing project in Zhenzhou.
Investigators later uncovered that three members of Zhai’s family owned 29 houses under multiple identities, which sparked fierce public outrage.