China’s train ticket competition intensifies ahead of Spring Festival

 

 

Photo – Internet

 

China’s train ticket competition

intensifies ahead of Spring Festival

 

By Zhong Qun, Cao Ting, Liu Jingyang, Xiong Lin, Qi Zhongxi and Chen Guozhou

 

The Chinese Lunar New Year is almost two months away, but Mr Ji and his wife, who live in Shanghai, have already bought 21 train tickets to their hometown Harbin in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province.

They don’t plan on making 21 journeys to home and back. Rather, the couple have been hoarding train tickets, which went on sale on December 7, in order to choose the most ideal time for their journey home during the travel rush, or “chunyun”.

“We have no choice, because we do not know which day we could go home,” said the husband surnamed Ji. With all the tickets in store, Mr Ji said he could choose the best and return the rest “without any charges”.

“Chunyun”, often referred to as the world’s largest human migration, is the hectic travel period surrounding Chinese New Year. Last year, the period saw about 266 million rail trips made, up 12 percent from the previous year. This year, the annual 40-day travel period will begin on February 4 and last until March 16.

With the Spring Festival approaching, the train ticket rush is already heating up, with the public frantically purchasing tickets in the lead-up to the hectic travel period.

On Friday, China sold more than 9.56 million train tickets, a new high for daily sales, as tickets became available for Feb. 16, 2015, three days ahead of the Spring Festival.

A total of 5.64 million tickets, or 59 percent of the total, were sold online on the same day, also hitting a historic high. The official ticket-selling website, 12306.cn, saw a record high of 29.7 billion page views on Friday, the Institute of Computing Technology under the China Academy of Railway Sciences said Sunday.

In an effort to facilitate a smooth travel peak, railway authorities made train tickets available 60 days in advance this year instead of 30 days as in previous years. Tickets can also be refunded 15 days before the train departs without any service charges.

The extension of the purchasing period and the refund policy have led to “ticket hoarding”, with some residents like Mr Ji trying to snap up as many tickets as possible because they are unsure of their returning dates .

At Beijing South Railway Station, one of Beijing’s busiest, dozens of passengers can be seen queuing outside the refund office to return purchased tickets.

One of the travellers told Xinhua that she came early to get refunds for the tickets she had hoarded, but many came even earlier.

Hoarders are not only the ones stirring up the ticket battle. Scalpers are making the situation even more difficult, according 12306.cn.

“Scalpers now use high-end software to snap up tickets, burdening 12306.cn,” a representative of the website told Xinhua.

Chinese rail police have launched a campaign targeting train ticket scalping by pledging to crack down on online scalping with a special squad of investigators.

Police have also increased patrols around railway stations. Meanwhile, they encourage the public to report scalpers to them.

But still, the problem remains rampant, as scalpers resort to new methods to reap huge benefits.

According to China’s state-broadcaster CCTV, some scalpers use software that can buy tickets within seconds of being posted on 12306.cn. Software that can automatically produce ID numbers and fake names such as the Chinese translation of “Kobe Bryant” are also applied.

“Because the website is not connected with the country’s public security system, scalpers can easily get the tickets,” an engineer told CCTV.

Scalpers then sell the tickets to those in dire need at much higher prices, and put the rest back into the ticket system. After that, they repeat the whole process.

With more people choosing to buy tickets on the Internet or via mobile applications, obtaining a ticket is increasingly difficult for Chinese migrant workers, who make up the bulk of the Chunyun travellers but do not have proper resources to purchase tickets with computers or cellulars.

To ease the problem, volunteers in a number of localities have gone out of their way to help migrant workers purchase tickets online.

Li Long, a senior student with City College of Science and Technology under Chongqing University, recently started a campaign, calling on his fellow students to help migrant workers buy tickets online.

“My parents are migrant workers, so I know how difficult it is to buy a ticket to go home,” Li told Xinhua.

On microblog Sina Weibo, Li’s campaign has drawn much attention, with many students voicing support.

But such help is only a drop in a bucket, said Huang Shaohua, a professor with Philosophy and Sociology School of Lanzhou University.

Huang suggested railway authorities reserve a certain number of tickets for migrant workers to ease the problem.

“The government should also restrict the IDs that frequently purchase train tickets online to eradicate ticket hoarding and scalping,” Huang added.

 

 

 

 

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High schools to introduce selective-class teaching

 

 

 

SHANGHAI

High schools to introduce

selective-class teaching

 

By Fang Ning, Wu Zhendong and Gao Nan

 

A number of high schools in east China’s Zhejiang Province and Shanghai will introduce a new program that allows students to have more choice in education as the country pilots reforms aimed at changing exam-centered education.

Last week, China’s Ministry of Education announced a slew of reform measures on the National College Entrance Exam, or the Gaokao, asking universities not to base their judgement of applicants solely on Gaokao scores on three major subjects — math, Chinese and English — but taking consideration of comprehensive assessments on selective classes as well as evaluations on morality standards, physical health, art cultivation and social practices.

Zhejiang and Shanghai were designated as testing grounds for the reforms, which will allow students to select their own courses based on their interests. Starting next year, the first selective classes will begin at several high schools in the two provinces.

Chen Weixin, enrollment administration office teacher of Shanghai Fudan Secondary School, said the school will open six selective classes including politics, history, geography, physics, chemistry and life sciences for senior one students.

The students can make the decision on which three classes they want to choose to have the final scores included in their Gaokao scores at the end of the second senior one semester.

Chen said the new systems also allows academically gifted students to advance to a higher-level class according to their performance.

Shanghai Shibei Secondary School also confirmed they will change their curriculum to align with the Gaokao reform beginning next year.

The school’s principal Chen Jun said they have already opened opportunity classes for gifted students. Next year, the school will further specify curriculum changes involving the new selective classes.

Based on Shanghai’s education reform plan, in 2017 higher learning institutions will have the freedom to enroll students with special academic gifts rather than simply considering the unified exam scores.

Under the new enrollment scheme, colleges may favor a student by taking into consideration the score of one of the student’s three selective classes.

Ye Zhiming, principal of Shanghai University, said the reform gives universities more autonomy in choosing gifted students to study their specialized subjects.

China’s national college entrance exam, though offering fairness in selecting high-score students for the country’s limited higher education resources, has long been scolded for suffocating creativity. With the exam a major part of college enrollment, China’s secondary education has become focused on training students to obtain high scores on the Gaokao.

The selective-class teaching method breaks the traditional fixed class arrangement in Chinese high schools, and encourage students to plan for their academic future from the secondary school education, said Chi Xuewei, principal of the Changchun Experimental Secondary School in Changchun, capital of Jilin Province.

Chi has been closely following the education experiments in Zhejiang and Shanghai.

“Under the current system, students bury themselves in study for 12 years of primary and secondary education, and only start to think what they would do in the future after the Gaokao,” said Chi.

He said the reform will help inspire student potential and encourage in-depth pursuit of their gifted subjects.

China’s first high school student occupational planning center was inaugurated in Changchun earlier this month. The center provides consultation for students, their parents and schools to map out an academic pass for a high school student.

Zhang Yuying, a student with the Changchun Experimental Secondary School, said after the center’s consultation has helped her pinpoint a university based on her dream and academic merits.

 

 

 

 

China regulator approves operation of private Webank

 

 

 

BEIJING

New high-speed rail to launch in central China

By Zhang Xu and Fan Xi

A new high-speed rail section in central China will begin operations on Dec. 16, according to the China Railway Corporation (CRC) on

Saturday of December 13.

The section, 420 kilometers long, will shorten the travel time between the cities of Changsha and Huaihua in central China’s Hunan

Province from over nine hours to an hour and a half, the CRC said.

The section is part of the high-speed rail connecting Shanghai and southwest China’s Kunming, according to the corporation.

With nine stations and a speed of 300 kilometers per hour, construction on the section was launched about four years ago and a test run

kicked off last month.

The CRC said that the section, along with another one between Changsha and Nanchang City in Jiangxi Province, will help improve passenger

railway transport and boost regional economic growth.

 

 

 

HOHHOT

 Retrial verdict for China’s controversial

1996 murder case to be announced

By Han Xiaojiing and Jia Lijun

The higher court in north China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region said on Saturday of December 13 that a retrial verdict in a

controversial 1996 rape and murder case will be announced Monday.

The court released the statement through its Sina Weibo account.

The presiding judge with the Inner Mongolia Higher People’s Court, Bobatu, issued a retrial on Nov. 20 in absentia notice to the parents

of Huugjilt, who had been found guilty of raping and murdering a woman in a public toilet in Hohhot on April 9, 1996.

Huugjilt, who was 18 at the time, was sentenced to death and executed in June 1996.

However, since his execution, another alleged serial rapist and killer, Zhao Zhihong, confessed to the murder after he was arrested in

2005.

The court will hold a press conference Monday to announce the verdict, the statement said.

 

 

 

BEIJING

 China regulator approves operation of private Webank

By Jiang Xufeng

China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), the country’s top industry watchdog, has given its greenlight to the actual operation of

private bank Webank, a major step in deepening the financial reform.

Webank has a registered capital of 3 billion yuan (490 million U.S. dollars) and its business scope includes personal banking, corporate

banking and international banking, said the CBRC on Friday of December 12.

In the third quarter of this year, the CBRC gave the go-ahead on the establishment of five private banks including Shenzhen-based Webank

and Hangzhou-based MYbank in a bid to better support the country’s small and micro-businesses.

Webank, partly funded by Chinese Internet giant Tencent, is the first among them to open its doors to clients.

Previously, China had only one private bank in service, China Minsheng Bank, which was founded in 1996 in Beijing. Listed in both

Shanghai and Hong Kong, Minsheng is the country’s first national bank founded by private capital.

 

 

 

BEIJING

 Boeing’s delivery in China to set record in 2014

By Qian Chunxian and Jiang Xufeng

Boeing was endeavoring to expand its investment and sales in China, a fast-growing market for the commercial jetliner manufacturer, with

its delivery in China expected to set a record this year.

“Boeing’s strategy in China will serve China’s national strategy as well as the demand from Chinese customers. We not only sell aircraft

in China, but we also support the future development of safety and efficiency in China’s aviation industry,” said Ian Thomas, president

of Boeing China.

The U.S. company’s investment in China includes technology, research, training, manufacturing and after-sale services, and its total

investment surpassed 800 million U.S. dollars so far this year, Thomas told reporters during a recent briefing.

Boeing’s delivery in China is forecast to set a record high this year, with the total number reaching 150 to 160. Major Chinese carriers

including Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines received their newly-ordered Boeing aircraft earlier this year,

he said.

Boeing delivered 143 aircraft to Chinese carriers in 2013, a robust growth of 60 percent year on year.

 

 

 

BEIJING

 China sees parcels spike amid online shopping

craze

By Jiang Xufeng

The total number of express parcels processed in China surged to more than 70 million on Friday of December 12, as Chinese customers

scrambled for online bargains.

Branches of China Post and various express parcel firms in China have processed a combined 70.51 million express packages, an increase of

more than 40 percent from the same day the previous year, Saturday figures from the State Post Bureau revealed.

The figure is also more than twice the daily average of 33.09 million registered so far this year, said the bureau.

Chinese e-commerce firms in recent years have promoted December 12, or “double 12,” as an online shopping event, much like Cyber Monday,

the Monday after Thanksgiving in the United States. November 11, or “Singles’ Day,” has become China’s busiest online shopping day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Student says poisoning of roommate an “April fool’s joke”

 

 

The suspect, Lin Senhao, accused of dropping a deadly chemical into a water dispenser

which caused the death of his roommate Huang Yang, stands second trial at Shanghai

Higher People’s Court, on December 8, 2014.   Photo by Chen Fei

 

 

SHANGHAI

Student says poisoning

of roommate an “April fool’s joke”

 

By Zhou Yan, Lü Dong and Huang Anqi

 

A Chinese medical student has told an appeals court his poisoning of a roommate last year was intended as an “April fool’s joke,” rather than murder.

Lin Senhao, a former medical student at Shanghai’s Fudan University, appealed on Monday of December 8 against the intentional homicide charge and death penalty handed down at a local court in February.

He was convicted of using N-Nitrosodimethylamine, a deadly chemical compound from the university’s lab, to contaminate a water dispenser in the dorm he shared with Huang Yang.

Huang drank from the dispenser on April 1 last year and died of organ failure two weeks later.

Monday’s debate, which lasted more than 13 hours at Shanghai Higher People’s Court, centered on the immediate cause of the victim’s death, as noted coroner Hu Zhiqiang suggested Huang had died of Hepatitis B and subsequent organ failure.

Hu, who was present at the appeals court at the request of Lin’s defense attorney, cited clinical records indicating Huang had tested positive for the Hepatitis B antibody, which “could not have been directly related to poisoning,” he argued.

The prosecutor, however, disputed Hu’s claim, whose assertions derived only from past literature and clinical records, rather than autopsy findings.

At the appeals court, the previously taciturn Lin spoke out. He insisted he had not intended to kill Huang. “It was just a prank for April Fool’s Day, and I watered down the chemical,” he told the Shanghai Higher People’s Court.

The court had evidence that Lin searched for information online about the chemical several times before adding it to the water dispenser on March 31, 2013, including information about its smell and taste, as well as symptoms and poisoning diagnosis.

Lin did not confess to contaminating the water dispenser until he was interrogated by police on April 12.

According to the court verdict handed down in February, the poisoning was motivated by Lin’s growing discontent with Huang over trivial matters after Huang moved into the same dorm in August 2011.

“I am rather hollow, with no ethics or value,” said the 28-year-old Lin when he was asked to say something to Huang’s parents. “If I’m lucky enough to survive (the death penalty), I will do everything I can to compensate you. If not, I hope you will shake off the shadow and carry on.”

Huang’s father, Huang Guoqiang, from Sichuan Province, insisted Lin deserved the death penalty. But Lin’s father, Lin Zunyao from Guangdong Province, feared his son might have been wronged. “I know him well. He’s such a good boy. He couldn’t have meant to kill.”

The court said it will announce the verdict soon.

The public was also divided over whether Lin deserves death. While many demanded “life for a life,” some also said Chinese courts should use the death penalty more sparingly and cautiously.

The poisoning made headlines, prompting national outcry and soul-searching on the moral education of Chinese youth. It also brought to the spotlight again the long-forgotten case of Zhu Ling, a chemical major at Beijing’s Tsinghua University who suffered severe brain damage after being poisoned with thallium in 1994.

Zhu’s roommate was suspected to be responsible, but charges were never pressed and the case remains unsolved.

Huang’s case led to discussions surrounding the tragedy of Zhu, forcing Beijing police to deny widespread speculation that her roommate’s family used their influence to hinder the investigation.

 

 

 

 

New foreign policy address features Chinese vision

 

 

 

CHINAVOICE

New foreign policy address features

Chinese vision

 

By Guo Likun

 

How can China, the world’s second largest economy, ensure it will not follow in the footsteps of those big powers that sought hegemony once they grew strong?

One may find the answer in a new foreign policy address as the Chinese leadership vowed to develop a distinctive diplomatic approach befitting its role as a major country and imprint it with salient Chinese features and an overarching Chinese manner.

Instead of seeking hegemony like some big powers, President Xi Jinping said in a major foreign policy address during the weekend that China would follow the independent foreign policy of peace and pursue peaceful development and win-win cooperation.

China’s interactions with the international community have become closer than ever before. Its dependence on the world and its involvement in international affairs are deepening, as is the world’s dependence on China and its impact on China.

China should not only take into consideration its own development demands on the international environment, but also the demands and aspirations of the international community on China when handling international relations.

Boosting common interests continues to be a key part of China’s diplomacy.

Xi has publicized the building of “a community of common destiny” in multiple international events since he took office.

The notion underlines the importance of pursuing win-win cooperation, promoting a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation, and seeking common development with an opening up and win-win approach.

By abiding by this win-win approach, China will engage in cooperation with other countries in every aspect of its external relations.

China will not only ensure its own interests and space for development, but also leave space for others to develop, it wants to ensure its own security and it also wants others to feel safe.

The new foreign policy address underlines the importance of promoting “democracy in international relations”, stressing all countries, regardless of their size, strength and level of development, are equal members of the international community.

While China remains on its path to peaceful development, it will also help other countries to develop peacefully.

Under the leadership of Xi, a foreign policy rich in Chinese features is gradually taking shape.

Over the past two years, China has taken steps to advocate the building of a new type of international relations, underpinned by win-win cooperation and the championing of a new vision featuring common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security.

China has also made efforts to build a new model of major-country relations; put forward a neighborhood policy featuring amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness; as well as guidelines on relations with Africa featuring sincerity.

The moves have shown the world China’s sincerity and enabled other countries to take advantage of the achievements and opportunities brought about by its reform and development measures.

As an important force to safeguard world peace and promote common development, China will remain committed to the path of peaceful development, undertake more international obligations, and prove itself to a reliable partner and friend in the international community.

 

 

 

 

Smuggled beef scandal reveals supervision loophole

 

 

NANJING

Smuggled beef scandal reveals

supervision loophole

 

By Cheng Lu, Zhong Qun, Zhu Guoliang and Qin Huajiang

 

Hundreds of tonnes of beef from a mad cow disease-hit area of Brazil were found on the Chinese market before the country lifted its import ban in July.

After an 11-month investigation and manhunt, police in east China’s Jiangsu Province nabbed 27 people for their involvement in the sale of beef smuggled from Brazil, with some 300 tonnes of the beef confiscated, the provincial public security bureau told Xinhua on Tuesday of December 2.

According to the bureau, police clamped down on eight illegal beef-trafficking chains and caught four beef suppliers allegedly engaged in illegal deals, thanks to a tip-off earlier this year in Guanyun County of Lianyungang City.

Dai Leyu, deputy head of the county’s public security bureau, said the beef suppliers adopted a secret sales mechanism: selling local beef in markets while hiding most of the cheap meat from Brazil in remote frozen warehouses. If any butcher needed smuggled meat, the deals were done via bank cards, with the vendors offering home delivery services.

Police are continuing to investigate other sales networks in the case, Dai said.

One of the biggest meat-consuming countries in the world, China placed a ban on beef from Brazil due to an outbreak of mad cow disease in late 2012.

“Although tests show the smuggled beef is not contaminated with foot-and-mouth disease or mad cow disease, and China lifted the ban in July, consumers wonder, how can the risky beef be smuggled into the market?” Jiuduanqiao asked on China’s Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

The smuggled beef attracted many Chinese consumers because of its low price. Local raw beef costs 60 yuan (9.8 U.S. dollars) to 80 yuan per kilogram, while Brazilian beef only costs half of the price of local beef.

“So many butchers began purchasing the cheap beef to make more money,” said Zhou Tongbin, a police officer from Guanyuan County.

The beef was labeled with the English words “Manufactured in Brazil” and “Produced in 2013” to show its origin and production date. Some consumers bought the beef because of its price and did not notice the country of origin, and others may not have understood the English.

Police said some of the meat was smuggled into the Chinese mainland via Hong Kong and distributed to various provinces and regions in the country, highlighting loopholes within China’s supervision system, the anonymous official told Xinhua.

“Whether the meat can enter farm produce markets or supermarkets depends on how much kickback you want to pay rather than the meat’s quality,” said a meat producer who declined to be named, adding that nobody cares where it comes from.

“During the investigation, we were surprised that no department wanted to help confiscate this beef in the county. Neither the health department nor the food and drug regulatory agency thought it was their responsibly,” an anonymous investigator said.

Most suppliers and dealers are uneducated, police said. They knew the beef wasn’t declared at customs, without knowing the potential risks and the penalties they would face.

China’s current leadership made a promise at the third plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of the China Central Committee in November to establish a mechanism to trace the origins of food and safeguard food safety.

But several shocking scandals, including injecting clenbuterol into pork, recycling cooking oil from restaurant kitchen leftovers, and selling pork from sick pigs, have made headline news in China.

In the latest stomach-churning food scandal, police in east China’s Zhejiang Province reported in August that 30,000 tonnes of chicken feet contaminated with hydrogen peroxide had been seized after police busted nine factories in the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, Henan and Guangdong.

“The general public are the people who most care about the food safety issue, since it is related to their health. Fortunately, that beef is safe, but we hope someone can really help ensure the safety of the food on our table,” Olive Li, a Chinese citizen, wrote on Sina Weibo.

 

 

 

 

 

China considers punishment for falsifying ethnic identity

 

 

 

China considers punishment

for falsifying ethnic identity

 

By Yu Junjie

 

The State Council, China’s cabinet, is soliciting opinions on a draft law on regulating Chinese ethnic identities, according to a statement from the State Council on Tuesday of December 2.

The draft was jointly written by the State Ethnic Affairs Commission and Ministry of Public Security and stipulates that falsifying the ethnic identity of Chinese citizens shall be subject to punishment, in some cases even criminal penalties.

Falsified ethnic identity through forgery, tampering or false testimonial documents must be revoked by the ethnic affairs department and re-registered at the police department, the draft says.

Any privileges or legal advantages enjoyed because of the fake ethnic identity should also be eliminated, according to the draft.

If the violations are so serious as to constitute a crime, criminal responsibilities shall be assigned by judicial organs according to the law, the draft says.

The draft stipulates that Chinese citizens’ ethnic identities must be based either on the father’s or mother’s ethnic identity, which includes natural parents, foster parents and step-parents.

The draft says statutory guardians can change their children’s ethnic identities once under the following two conditions: a change of marital status of the parents, or adoption. Under these circumstances, the ethnic identity of the child can be altered in line with the parent who raises him or her.

The draft also clearly defines the identity of children of transnational marriages. If the child is to have Chinese nationality, then the ethnic identity will be based on his or her Chinese parent.

These policies are designed to achieve balanced development between different ethnic groups. For example, under the Chinese university enrollment system, applicants may gain additional credit if they belong to ethnic minority groups. Some families have attempted to gain these privileges by creating false materials to attain an ethnic minority identity.

The exposure draft is open to the public for review and comment. The public can log onto the official website “www.chinalaw.gov.cn” or use e-mail, fax or the postal service to submit opinions and suggestions until January 1, 2015.

 

 

 

 

China’s State Council appoints senior Macao officials

 

 

China’s State Council

appoints senior Macao officials

 

By Hu Longjiang

 

The State Council, China’s Cabinet, has appointed senior officials in the government of the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR).

The appointments were made in accordance with the Basic Law of the Macao SAR and based on nominations by Chui Sai On, chief executive of Macao SAR, said the statement by the State Council.

Chan Hoi Fan was appointed secretary of administration and justice; Leong Vai Tac was appointed secretary of economy and finance; Wong Sio Chak was appointed secretary of security.

Tam Chon Weng was appointed secretary of social affairs and culture; Raimundo Arrais do Rosario was appointed to transport and public works; Cheong Weng Chon became commissioner against corruption; Ho Veng On was appointed commissioner of audits.

Ma Io Kun became commissioner-general of the Unitary Police Service; Lai Man Wa, director-general of the customs service; Ip Son Sang was appointed public prosecutor-general.

All will take office on December 20, according to the statement.

 

 

 

 

Palace Museum to go “adorkable”: curator

 

 

The Palace Museum, known as the Forbidden City, unveils its latest mascots — a joyful

male dragon named “Zhuangzhuang” and a proud female phoenix named “Meimei” 

at the 2014 Museum Products and Technology Expo held in Xiamen, southeast China’s

Fujian Province on Sunday of November 23.   Photo – Xinhua

 

 

Palace Museum

to goadorkable”

 

By Wang Bowen, Cao Peixian, Chen Hongyi and Yi Ling

 

The Palace Museum, home of 24 ancient Chinese emperors over the course of 600 years, opened its doors to two new residents this week.

In its latest effort to attract younger crowds, the museum, less formally known as the Forbidden City, unveiled its two latest mascots – a joyful male dragon named “Zhuangzhuang” and a proud female phoenix named “Meimei”.

They debuted at the 2014 Museum Products and Technology Expo held in Xiamen, southeast China Fujian Province on Sunday of November 23 and have since been well-received.

“We are very delighted to see that many people find the dragon-phoenix mascots ‘adorkable’,” said Shan Jixiang, curator of the Beijing-based Palace Museum, using a trendy Chinese phrase to describe the mascot’s dorky but adorable appearance.

“We are excited to promote our museum in the way that the general public find easier to accept.”

The unveiling of the mascots are a bit step in a new effort by the old landmark to develop creative industry based around traditional culture.

The museum was built out of the Forbidden City in 1925. It was home to the country’s royal families from 1420 to 1911, when the Qing Dynasty was overthrown by the revolution led by Sun Yat-Sen. It is also the largest ancient royal residence under protection in China.

By the end of August this year, the museum had unveiled 6,754 new products with modern, creative designs.

Prior to the latest effort “replicas of valuable collections and books are basically all you could find,” Shan said.

Donning Qing Dynasty imperial costumes and wearing cute and fun facial expressions, the mascots quickly went viral on the Internet.

Other popular products include stereo earphones made of beads and jewels resembling the jeweled chains around the neck of the Empress Dowager Cixi and hoodies typical of the imperial family.

The ‘adorkable’ gadgets helped the 600-year-old Forbidden City, with a reputation of being conservative and remote, project a more friendly approachable appeal.

“We tried to popularize the history around the Forbidden City by way of learning the interests of the audience and creating interesting products with cultural meaning,” said Shan.

At the expo in Xiamen,  Patricia Rodewald, former director of Education at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta in the United States, applauded the efforts.

“Great collections won’t have the best effect unless the stories and history behind them are told in a way visitors enjoy,”  Rodewald said.

Rodewald suggested her Chinese counterparts focus on visitors instead of trying to attract crowds based solely on large collections.

For its next step, the Palace Museum plans to bring two new Apps online next year, trying to give people access to the treasures of the Forbidden City on their mobile phones, according to Shan.

“We want everyone to access our digital museum,” he said.

 

 

 

Photo taken on November 24, 2014 shows a vistor being attracted to the two mascots 

“Zhuangzhuang” and “Meimei”, presented at the 2014 Museum Products and Technology

Expo held in Xiamen.   Photo by Wu Xiaoping