Giant panda death in Thailand leaves China asking questions
The death of Chuang Chuang, who was famous for efforts to stimulate his sex drive, has caused anger.

Source: BBC News - China | 17 Sep 2019 | 11:24 pm

Promoting Mandarin
A weeklong campaign has been launched in China to promote Mandarin, the China Education Daily reported yesterday.The campaign launched on Monday, the 22nd of its kind, is themed on celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. When specifying requirements for this year’s campaign, the national Minister of Education Chen Baosheng called for efforts to realize the goal of popularizing the use of Mandarin by next year. He also called for giving full play to the role of the language in poverty alleviation.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

New Chinese drug breaks pain barrier
A new Chinese drug to alleviate patients’ neuropathic pain, or nerve pain, has entered clinical trials, according to the Ministry of Science and Technology yesterday.The pain reliever SR419 was developed by scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shanghai SIMR Biotechnology Co Ltd.Neuropathic pain, often described as sharp, stinging or burning, is chronic pain caused by damaged nerves or a problem with the nervous system. It is also the result of or accompanied by viral infection, diabetes, chemotherapy and surgeries.Data shows that the incidence of neuropathic pain among Chinese elderly is 49.8 percent and more than 50 percent in cancer patients. Conventional painkillers are largely ineffective.Zhang Xu, a CAS academic and lead researcher, has studied neuropathic pain for almost 30 years. Based on his research, the Shanghai company established China’s first complete neuropharmaceutical research and development platform.The drug proved effective in relieving chronic pain caused by nerve damage. It reduced potential side effects on central nerves and could replace opioids and their morphine-like effects.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

A hand-carved mountain tunnel replaces ‘Sky Ladder’ to the world
Surrounded by the mist of early morning, a motorized tricycle carrying fresh vegetables runs slowly through a steep and rugged man-made tunnel toward Guoliang, a small Chinese village perched atop a cliff.As the sun begins to peek over the horizon, the view becomes truly breathtaking. And so begins another day for Guoliang. Owners of rural family inns rush to the vegetable peddler, selecting produce to prepare delicacies for upcoming tourists.Attracted by the village’s breathtaking scenery and Guoliang Tunnel, a death-defying road dug through the side of the mountain by hand, around 1.4 million tourists from home and abroad visited the village last year.Guoliang sits on a cliff at an elevation of 1,700 meters in the Taihang Mountains, central China’s Henan Province. For a long while, hardly anyone knew about this small village with 300 and some residents because of its inaccessibility. The only way anyone could reach it then was 720 steep, narrow stairs embedded in the mountainside named the “Sky Ladder,” which was formed in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).“It was a tough life. Commodities from the outside world could not reach the village and our fresh farm products could not be transported to other places,” said 72-year-old villager Song Baoqun.“We had to limit the weight of pigs to 50 or 60 kilograms. Otherwise it would be difficult to carry them down the mountain.”The biggest challenge was posed by medical treatment. If a villager fell ill, eight people were needed to carry a stretcher down the mountain via the “Sky Ladder” over a treacherous four-hour journey to the nearest hospital.Many villagers died en route, while those with connections moved out of the mountains altogether.However, all this changed in 1972 when the village cadres decided to build a tunnel through the mountains to connect Guoliang with the outside world.With little engineering knowledge, 13 of the strongest villagers volunteered to take on the difficult mission. Lacking large machinery, they used hand tools such as hammers and chisels and suspended themselves in the air with ropes to carve the roadway inch by inch.As more villagers joined the team, the 1,250-meter-long Guoliang Tunnel road was completed five years later. The death-defying tunnel, with over 30 rock windows of various sizes and shapes, was honored as the “eighth world wonder.”Isolation, once the very thing that locked people into endless poverty, has turned secluded Guoliang into a tourist attraction since the 1990s. The area, far from the hustle and bustle of modern cities, has also been used as a film location and a site for painting and photography.“We have seen growth in tourists every year. Last year, our entrance ticket sales reached 120 million yuan (US$17 million),” said Li Haiyan, manager with the local tourist resort.Walking through the village, the centuries-old stone walls stand in stark contrast to modern buildings. Li said every household in Guoliang has gotten involved in the tourism industry, running restaurants, hotels and souvenir shops.“Today’s village is quite different from the village of old. Clever minds can put their ideas into practice now,” said 32-year-old Shen Hongqi, who owns a rural family inn in Guoliang.After graduating from university, he returned home and took over the business from his father. Over the past decade, he upgraded his family inn into a modern hotel equipped with meeting rooms and 35 guest rooms, achieving the highest scores among hotels near Guoliang area on Chinese travel services and social networking platform Mafengwo.Shen is among a dozen university graduates who have returned to Guoliang, their hometown, and started their own businesses in recent years.For Shen Heshan, a local village cadre, the biggest change lies in the people. Before the tunnel road was built, villagers could hardly fill their bellies. Now the annual per capita income could surpass 30,000 yuan.“In the past, hungry villagers envied those living on the plains. Now nobody wants to leave this clifftop village. We feel good about our home,” he said.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

New marine surveys
Chinese scientists have developed online monitoring instruments for marine biological surveys and tested them in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The instruments were developed by the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science under the CAS. A series of instruments with different functions have been developed including those used for monitoring seawater chlorophyll, marine primary productivity as well as dissolved oxygen. These instruments were installed in a monitoring ship, which has traveled over 806 nautical miles in the Bohai Sea and Yellow Sea. The instruments have conducted online monitoring for over 130 hours and collected over 9,200 profiles of data related to algae community structure, chlorophyll concentration, dissolved oxygen as well as the distribution characteristics of biological elements in typical sea areas, researchers said.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

Beijing is kicking its coal habit
A total of 2,963 neighborhoods in Beijing had gone coal-free by the end of 2018, with around 1.1 million rural households switching to clean energy for winter heating, said the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Affairs yesterday.Beijing stepped up efforts to make areas coal-free as coal fires in winter challenge the commitment to achieving smog-free days.The metropolis launched a program in 2013 to wean itself off coal use in favor of clean energy, in its drive to improve air quality.As of last year, the move has reduced the amount of coal burned in the city’s heating seasons by nearly 4 million tons.Air quality in Beijing has since improved over the years. The city’s average concentration of PM2.5 (particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter) in the first eight months of this year hit a record low of 42 micrograms per cubic meter.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

Official jailed for graft
Zhou Shu, former director of the transportation department of northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking bribes, according to a local court. Zhou took bribes 65 times with a total of over 17.2 million yuan (US$2.43 million) when he was in the position, the Intermediate People’s Court of Guyuan said. Zhou took advantage of his position and illegally accepted bribes to help these people make profits. All the bribes have been seized and will be confiscated, according to the court. Besides the 13-year jail sentence, Zhou was also fined 4 million yuan, the court said in its judgement.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

Community dialogue to be held next week
CHIEF Executive of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Carrie Lam said yesterday that the HKSAR government will start its first session of the dialogue platform with the community next week amid efforts to stop violence and restore law and order in Hong Kong. Lam stressed the dialogue platform is not a one-off gimmick type of function but intended to be organized on a very sustainable and long-term basis. Before presiding the Executive Council conference at the government headquarters, Lam said the dialogue session with the community will be carried out transparently, and the HKSAR government is open to different topics. She hoped participants from all walks of life, regardless of their background, stance or social stratum, can express and exchange their views in an atmosphere of “letting a hundred flowers blossom.” “This is because of our conviction that communication is far better than confrontation,” she said. Sparked by the now-withdrawn amendments to ordinances concerning fugitive offender transfers, the social unrest, sometimes quite violent and disruptive, now entered the fourth month in Hong Kong, with underlying problems well beyond the bill. It’s important for the HKSAR government to listen and engage the community to have a better understanding of those problems about housing, land shortage, less diversity and less inclusiveness in the economy, Lam said. “Since we are going into a new style of governance that is more open and more people-oriented, I think this sort of dialogue will be very helpful,” she said. When asked about the illegal demonstration, and confrontations and even fighting between groups of people over the weekend, Lam said the HKSAR government condemns all forms of violence and such acts are not acceptable in a place like Hong Kong, where people are so proud of the rule of law. “At the moment, Hong Kong is undergoing a very difficult situation. We need to work as a team not only within the HKSAR government but also with community and society at large to overcome the current difficulties,” she said. Asked about Moody’s downgrade of Hong Kong’s outlook rating from “stable” to “negative,” Lam said she did not agree with the rating and Moody’s decision is disappointing.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

China, Russia cooperate on science, technology
CHINA and Russia yesterday agreed in Moscow to strengthen cooperation in scientific and technological innovation. The agreement was made when Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, co-chaired the 24th regular meeting between Chinese and Russian heads of government. Li called on the two sides to harness their complementary advantages, fully tap cooperation potential in such areas as basic research, applied research as well as the application of scientific and technological achievements in production. For his part, Medvedev also expressed his willingness to reinforce cooperation with China in high-tech fields. In face of increasing instability and rising protectionism, Russia stands ready to deepen strategic communication and practical cooperation with China, and expand cooperation in high-tech fields such as artificial intelligence and robotics while developing cooperation in such traditional sectors as energy, said the Russian prime minister. China and Russia have designated the years of 2020 and 2021 “Year of Scientific and Technological Innovation” in each other’s country. Later in the day, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov said that the two countries are working on a joint project to create a low-orbit satellite constellation for distributing high-speed internet, Sputnik News reported. “We are planning an interesting project on a low-orbit satellite constellation for the distribution of high-speed Internet. We have already begun to work on this project,” Akimov told reporters. Akimov added that Moscow and Beijing will sign a concrete agreement in 2019 on the deployment of ground stations as part of Russia’s Glonass and China’s Baidu satellite navigation networks. Also, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova have agreed to strengthen cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

At least 8 injured as MTR train derails near Kowloon
A TRAIN carrying hundreds of passengers derailed in Hong Kong’s Kowloon during the rush hour yesterday morning, injuring at least eight people onboard. Of those injured, five passengers, including one male and four females, needed to be taken to the hospital for treatment and were “in conscious condition,” said Cheung Kwong-yuen, a senior officer of the Fire Service Department of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government. Their injuries were mostly on the necks and shoulders, according to local firefighters. The accident occurred at around 8:30am local time when the train of the Mass Transit Railway’s East Rail Link pulled in the Hung Hom MTR station. A passenger who gave his surname as Kwok remembered hearing noises shortly before the accident, while the train was swaying before ultimately derailing. He was sitting in the train when the accident happened, and had his head bumped on the handle in the front. Another man who identified himself as Chung said he felt a strong force of braking. “We (passengers) looked at each other, with no idea as what happened,” he said. Images from the scene showed three carriages were off the tracks and zigzagged across the rails near Hung Hom station in Kowloon — a busy interchange that provides services to China’s mainland. Passengers had to leave the train through a broken door and cross tracks on the East Rail Line to make their way to safety. Five hundred passengers had been evacuated from the train. “This is a very grave train accident in Hong Kong,” Alfred Sit Wing Hang, Director of Electrical and Mechanical Services, told a press conference after arriving from the scene of investigation. The area was cordoned off for a thorough investigation. The cause of the accident is still unknown. When asked whether it’s a deliberate sabotage or mechanical problem after previous attacks by radical protesters on the city’s mass transit system, Sit said the authorities aren’t ruling out any possibility. “We would not rule out any possibility but at this stage we won’t speculate on any particular suggestions,” the city’s transport chief Frank Chan also said as he talked to reporters. “We will carry out an independent, thorough and in-depth investigation,” he said, adding it will take about three to six months for the department to complete the investigation and submit a report. Lau Tin-shing, operations director of the city’s only rail company, the MTR Corporation, told media that short section of the track nearby had been replaced on Monday and the condition of the replacement is “not unusual,” according to his visual assessment. Subway services between two stations on the line were suspended and intercity services to mainland cities including Guangzhou, Dongguan and Beijing were canceled for the day, according to MTR. A passenger surnamed Yeung said that the train ran into “something solid,” and he saw smokes from the train. Preliminary investigation showed a crack on the track, according to the fire service department. The MTR Corporation, which operates Hong Kong’s rail networks, apologized for the accident, saying its staff were helping the passengers leave the scene, and the reason for the accident is being investigated. Hong Kong is in its fourth month of unrest, which has seen radical protesters turning increasingly violent with clashes between police and hardcore protesters becoming frequent. MTR has been targeted by protesters, who were vandalizing entrance barriers and ticketing machines and smashing windows in several stations. MTR chief executive Jacob Kam told the Financial Times in an interview published before the derailment that the protests were an “unprecedented” challenge and that the firm has been struggling to cope.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

Honors for 42 Chinese, foreigners
CHINESE President Xi Jinping yesterday signed a presidential decree to award 42 Chinese and foreign individuals national medals and honorary titles, as the People’s Republic of China prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary. The conferring of the Medal of the Republic, the Friendship Medal and national honorary titles, with some to posthumous awardees, was endorsed by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee yesterday. The eight honorees of the Medal of the Republic are deceased nuclear physicist Yu Min, longtime national legislator Shen Jilan, aerospace engineer Sun Jiadong, war veterans Li Yannian and Zhang Fuqing, “father of hybrid rice” Yuan Longping, nuclear submarine designer Huang Xuhua and Nobel Prize winner Tu Youyou who led the discovery of malaria drug artemisinin. Six foreigners were awarded the Friendship Medal for their great contributions to supporting China’s socialist modernization, promoting cooperation between China and foreign countries and safeguarding world peace. They are Cuba’s Raul Castro Ruz, Thai Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Tanzania’s Salim Ahmed Salim, Russia’s Galina Kulikova, France’s Jean-Pierre Raffarin and Canada’s Isabel Crook. The national honorary titles, including “the people’s scientist,” “the people’s artist,” “the people’s hero” and “the people’s role model,” were granted to 28 prominent figures who have made great contributions and enjoy prestige in various fields.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 17 Sep 2019 | 12:05 pm

Shane Gillis: Saturday Night Live's new hire fired for slurs
Gillis apologised for the remarks saying he was a comedian "who pushes boundaries".

Source: BBC News - China | 17 Sep 2019 | 9:29 am

Hong Kong tries and fails to hire PR firms to rebuild image
Amid ongoing protests the government contacted eight PR firms, but all of them turned down the job.

Source: BBC News - China | 17 Sep 2019 | 7:48 am

Hong Kong: Looking back at 100 days of protests
How a controversial extradition bill with China sparked months of violent protest.

Source: BBC News - China | 16 Sep 2019 | 11:02 pm

China gripped after sighting of its own 'Loch Ness Monster'
Is the creature in the Yangtze a monster, a snake - or something less animated altogether?

Source: BBC News - China | 16 Sep 2019 | 8:37 pm

World's biggest amphibian 'discovered' in museum
DNA from historical museum specimens may help save the giant salamander from extinction in the wild.

Source: BBC News - China | 16 Sep 2019 | 8:27 pm

Gladys Liu: The row over a trailblazing Chinese-Australian MP
Gladys Liu faces loyalty questions - but some say she is the victim of "xenophobic paranoia".

Source: BBC News - China | 16 Sep 2019 | 11:34 am

Singing a new protest anthem
Protesters are staging singalongs of a new protest song - and some say it should be the city's anthem.

Source: BBC News - China | 13 Sep 2019 | 7:30 pm

China is rolling back tariffs on US pork and soybeans.
China today announced an easing on some food tariffs but the ongoing dispute is being felt in the US.

Source: BBC News - China | 13 Sep 2019 | 5:05 pm

Hong Kong: What is the Basic Law and how does it work?
From the election of its leader to the extent of China's control, find out how Hong Kong is governed.

Source: BBC News - China | 10 Sep 2019 | 10:55 pm