Rising value of Chinese paintings
A Chinese painting from 1924 is expected to fetch at least US$45 million in an auction in Hong Kong, as collectors’ appetite for art continues to rise even amid economic uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.The painting by influential Chinese modern artist Xu Beihong depicts a slave hiding in a cave and a lion. It is based thematically from ancient Roman mythology and Aesop’s Fables, according to Christie’s auction house, which unveiled the painting yesterday. Xu frequently uses the lion in his work to exemplify his faith in the rise of the Chinese nation. The lion in the painting is wounded, but remains dignified, righteous and proud — a symbol of the Chinese spirit, the auction house said.The “Slave and Lion” painting is considered a groundbreaking work that inspired Xu’s later paintings and one of the most important oil paintings in Chinese art history.“Xu Beihong himself is one of the most important modern artist in China who has influenced generations of painters and artists,” said Francis Belin, President of Christie’s in Asia Pacific. “That kind of work and that kind of size, and that kind of prestige, does not come to the market very often.”The painting is estimated to fetch between US$45 million to US$58 million in a single-lot auction on May 24.Belin said there is a diverse appetite for modern and contemporary masterpieces and the market is expected to remain strong. Last year, a 700-year-old Chinese painted scroll titled “Five Drunken Princes Returning on Horseback” from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) fetched US$41.8 million at a Sotheby’s auction in Hong Kong.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 19 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

Mars rover name to be announced
China will announce the name of its first Mars rover on the Space Day of China, which falls on April 24, according to the China National Space Administration.Nanjing, capital city of east China’s Jiangsu Province, will host the main events marking this year’s Space Day of China, Lu Bo, a CNSA official, said yesterday.The events include the opening ceremony, bilateral talks on the international lunar research station, and the fourth China Space Conference. China launched Tianwen-1 on July 23, 2020. The spacecraft, consisting of an orbiter, a lander and a rover, entered the parking orbit of Mars after performing an orbital maneuver on February 24.The global campaign of naming the rover kicked off last July. Netizens at home and abroad were invited to vote from 10 choices from January 20 to February 28.Last month, three possible names emerged, with “Zhurong,” a fire god in ancient Chinese mythology, topping the list.In 2016, China set April 24 as the country’s Space Day to mark the launch of its first satellite “Dongfanghong-1” into space on April 24, 1970.The activities on Space Day have become a window for the Chinese public and the world to better understand China’s aerospace progress.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 19 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

Technology deciphers ancient lives of humans
Chinese archeologists are using the latest technology to understand the lives of an ancient ancestor of human beings, based on a jawbone fossil found on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.By studying the fossil and sediments from the Baishiya Karst Cave in which the fossil was discovered, researchers have identified the jawbone as belonging to an extinct species of archaic human named Denisovan hominins that had previously only been found in Siberia.In addition to extending the known range of the Denisovans, the discovery provides evidence of pre-historic human activity on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau at least 160,000 years ago, much earlier than the previous date of 40,000 years ago. The research has also highlighted the valuable role of modern technology in resolving archeological riddles that were previously beyond the scope of science.In 2018, archeologists from Lanzhou University started excavations at the Baishiya Karst Cave, with an altitude of more than 3,200 meters, in the northeastern portion of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.Much of their research focused on a jawbone with human-like characteristics that hinted at pre-historic human activity in the area.World collaborationsCollaborating with multiple institutions around the world, the Lanzhou University team employed a range of technologies, including analysis of proteins from one of the teeth and uranium-thorium decay dating of the carbonate crust on the fossil. They also analyzed mitochondrial DNA found in sedimentary materials excavated from the cave.The findings confirmed a long-term occupation of the Denisovans on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and confirmed their close relationship with the late Denisovans found in Siberia, while shedding light on the physical characteristics and way of life of these ancient humans.“New technologies are now helping us to establish a complete and reliable age framework for this extinct human group,” said Zhang Dongju, an archeologist from the College of Earth and Environmental Sciences of Lanzhou University who led the research.“Beyond that, they help us understand the Denisovans’ stone-tool production technology, plant and animal utilization strategies, as well as their living environment and strategies for adapting,” said Zhang.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 19 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

GBA begins to deliver on promise
It takes just 3 patacas (38 US cents) and half an hour for Macau resident and apprentice lawyer Cheung Sze-yuen to travel to work in Zhuhai, a city in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.His employer, ZLF Law Office, is the first joint venture law firm in the country comprised of law firms from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau. It is situated in an innovation park in the Hengqin New Area.Every workday, Cheung takes a bus from his home in Macau to the park, and walks to his office after passing clearance.“The booming GBA is where I can learn and earn more,” he said. Having passed the national bar exam, known for its extremely low pass rate, he hopes that he can put what he’s learned into practice in the mainland.ZLF has four lawyers registered in the mainland, 11 in Macau and 16 in Hong Kong. According to its website, the company is an innovation in legal services cooperation between the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau under the practice of “one country, two systems.”The company provides one-stop legal services not only for people in the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, but also caters to the diversified legal needs of those facing various legal systems in other countries and regions. The firm’s turnover has continued to grow since its establishment more than four years ago.More and more mainland enterprises are going global under the Belt and Road Initiative, according to Chen Yi, director and a senior partner of ZLF. Mainland lawyers know the laws of the mainland, while Hong Kong and Macau lawyers are more familiar with foreign laws and international rules, which highlights the advantages of ZLF.“We are optimistic about the GBA market and have full confidence in the integration of Hong Kong and Macau into the development of the country,” she said.Just steps away from the law firm sits the country’s first company jointly operated by construction professionals from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macau — Huazhong United Design and Consulting Co Ltd.Its director Yan Shu said that thanks to the integrated development of the GBA, they have successfully implemented Macau and Hong Kong engineering models in the mainland, opening doors to the vast market for construction engineering professionals from the two special administrative regions.In September 2019, Zhuhai passed the country’s first local regulation allowing professional enterprises and professionals in the field of construction engineering from Hong Kong and Macau to provide direct services.Yan was one of the main drafters of the regulation and its chief consultant. “The introduction of this regulation has attracted great attention from the engineering industry in the GBA, especially in Hong Kong and Macau. Within a year, more than 100 professionals and dozens of professional enterprises from Hong Kong and Macau have registered and practiced in Hengqin.”Subsequently, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan and other GBA cities have introduced similar regulations, and more and more Hong Kong and Macau professionals have come to the mainland to provide services and explore the markets.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 19 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

5 boat crew missing
Five people are missing and one was rescued after a cargo vessel sank off the coast of east China’s Zhejiang Province on Saturday night, the provincial maritime department has said. At around 9pm on Saturday, the provincial maritime search and rescue center received a report that a boat registered in central China’s Hunan Province with six crew members aboard had capsized about 3.5 nautical miles east of Donglang Island, Taizhou City in Zhejiang. Eight rescue vessels, a helicopter, and over 10 nearby fishing boats have joined the rescue operation, local authorities have said. Search operation is still underway.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 18 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

Boao Forum predicts 6.5% growth for Asia
THE growth rate of the Asian economy in 2021 is expected to reach at least 6.5 percent and Asia should be a major engine for sustainable global recovery, according to reports released by the Boao Forum for Asia yesterday. The figure of 6.5 percent represents a significant rebound from the 1.7 percent contraction registered last year, said the report titled “Asian Economic Outlook and Integration Progress,” citing data from the International Monetary Fund. South Asia will see its economy grow 9.7 percent this year, the fastest growth in the region, the report said, citing the IMF. East Asia is expected to see its economic growth hit 6.5 percent during the same period, the report showed. It attributed the relatively high growth rate to effective epidemic control and orderly production and work resumption in China and the South Korea, among other factors. The Asian economy has taken up a growing share of the world economy. Measured by purchasing power parity, the region’s economy is expected to account for 47.9 percent of the world’s total in 2021, up from 45.3 percent registered in 2017, according to the IMF data the report cited. Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian economy has presented many highlights and opportunities, according to the report. Asian economies have introduced new measures to promote the digital economy, advancing digital infrastructure construction and international digital cooperation, among other initiatives. The digital economy has helped promote production resumption, stabilized the economic situation, and become a new driving force for Asia’s economic growth. The economic and trade cooperation among Asian countries has continued to deepen. By February 2021, 186 regional trade agreements were in force, accounting for 54.9 percent of the global total, the report said, citing data from the World Trade Organization. In particular, the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in November last year will further accelerate the Asian economic integration, said the report. Going forward in 2021, the pandemic remains the major variable that will have a direct bearing on the performance of Asian economies, the report stressed. Another report, also released yesterday, highlighted health, infrastructure, green, and digital deficits as the main factors restricting the sustainable recovery of Asia.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 18 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

2 firefighters dead
Two firefighters died when they were putting out a fire in an energy storage power station in Fengtai District of Beijing on Friday. The municipal fire and rescue department said on its official website on Saturday morning that it dispatched 235 firefighters with 47 fire engines to put out the fire that broke out at noon time. The northern part of the station exploded in the course of fire-fighting operation, resulting in the death of two firefighters.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 18 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

Digital reading market up 21.8% in 2020
The value of China’s digital reading market reached 35.2 billion yuan (US$5.4 billion) last year, up 21.8 percent year on year, according to an industry report published on Friday.The number of e-readers in China also rose 5.56 percent year on year to 494 million in 2020, according to the report released by China Audio-Video and Digital Publishing Association at the 7th China Digital Reading Conference in Hangzhou.The report polled 20,326 respondents with a habit of reading or listening to audiobooks in 209 cities and found that the average per capita reading of e-books and audiobooks was 9.1 and 6.3 publications, respectively. At the same time, each respondent read an average of 6.2 printed publications in 2020, 2.6 publications less than the previous year.More readers are willing to pay for quality content online. About 26.8 percent of paying e-readers spent an average of 100 yuan or more per month on e-reading.The COVID-19 outbreak and the commercialization of 5G have accelerated the transformation of reading from digitalization to intelligentization.New technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality have expanded the coverage of digital reading in cloud libraries and cloud bookstores.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 18 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

Bred harbor seals released in sea
Five harbor seals born in captivity and three rescued wild seals were released into north China’s Bohai Sea on Friday as part of Dalian city’s efforts to replenish the wild population.The five artificially bred seals are still young and required some preparation for life in the wild. Before their release, they underwent a month of training on hunting live fish, thus increasing their chances of survival, according to Tian Jiashen, of the Liaoning Ocean and Fishery Science Research Institute. “The released area is located near the natural habitat of harbor seals, which will help them to integrate into the population,” Tian said.The released seals are equipped with satellite tracking markers to monitor their migratory routes and preferred resting places, while helping to evaluate the impact of releasing the artificially bred seals into the sea, said Tian.Harbor seals are on the national first-class protection list in China. Every winter and spring, harbor seals migrate from the Pacific Ocean to the Bohai Sea and the northern waters of the Yellow Sea near Dalian in Liaoning Province to give birth on the surface of sea ice and raise their young.The number of harbor seals in the area decreased sharply between the 1980s and the mid-1990s due to pollution and poaching. With tightened efforts, the number of seals in the bay area has reached about 2,000 and is on the rise.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 18 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

Need for tackling climate crisis urgently emphasized
THE United States and China are committed to cooperating with each other and with other countries to tackle the climate crisis with urgency, according to a joint statement issued by the two countries yesterday. The statement was released after talks between Xie Zhenhua, China’s special envoy for climate change affairs, and John Kerry, US special presidential envoy for climate, from Thursday to Friday in Shanghai. The two countries would enhance “their respective actions and cooperating in multilateral processes, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement,” the statement read. “Moving forward, China and the United States are firmly committed to working together and with other parties to strengthen implementation of the Paris Agreement,” it said. The two sides are committed to pursuing efforts to hold the global average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius, limiting it to 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is in accordance with Article 2 of the Agreement, according to the statement. The two sides look forward to the US-hosted virtual summit on climate change on April 22 and 23. The statement added that the two countries will take other actions in the short term to further contribute to addressing the climate crisis and will cooperate to promote a successful COP 26 (26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties) in Glasgow, UK, in November. It said both countries also intend to develop their respective long-term strategies before the Glasgow conference and take “appropriate actions to maximize international investment and finance in support of” the energy transition in developing countries. Longer-term actions that need to be taken to keep the temperature goals of the Paris accord “within reach” include reducing emissions from industry and power generation while stepping up renewable energy, clean transportation and climate-resistant agriculture. Meeting with reporters in Seoul yesterday, Kerry said the language in the statement is “strong” and that the two countries agreed on “critical elements on where we have to go.” Kerry said he and Chinese officials had a lot of discussions on how to accelerate a global energy transition. US President Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, to the April 22-23 summit. The US and other countries are expected to announce more ambitious national targets for cutting carbon emissions ahead of or at the meeting, along with pledging financial help for climate efforts by less wealthy nations.

Source: Shanghai Daily: Nation | 18 Apr 2021 | 12:00 pm

China and US pledge climate change commitment
The US and China announced actions to tackle climate change following meetings in Shanghai last week.

Source: BBC News - China | 18 Apr 2021 | 4:16 am

Hong Kong: Jimmy Lai sentenced to 14 months for pro-democracy protests
Jimmy Lai, the owner of Hong Kong’s last opposition newspaper, is a fierce critic of Beijing.

Source: BBC News - China | 16 Apr 2021 | 1:01 pm

China's economy grows 18.3% in post-Covid comeback
The record figures for the first quarter of the year are skewed due to last year's nationwide lockdown

Source: BBC News - China | 16 Apr 2021 | 6:14 am

Jimmy Lai: The Hong Kong billionaire's last interview as a free man
Beijing critic Jimmy Lai, owner of Hong Kong’s last opposition newspaper Apple Daily, has been jailed.

Source: BBC News - China | 16 Apr 2021 | 4:37 am

China 'can save $1.6 trillion by scrapping coal', report says
Beijing must close 588 coal-fired power plants in a decade to meet climate pledges, experts say.

Source: BBC News - China | 15 Apr 2021 | 10:16 am

Is Alibaba's fate a warning to China’s tech giants?
Alibaba’s run-in with Chinese regulators has made things tense for its other technology giants.

Source: BBC News - China | 14 Apr 2021 | 7:01 pm

Chinese man kidnapped and killed in elaborate body-swap scheme
The scheme was devised to grant a dying man's wish to avoid a ban on traditional burials.

Source: BBC News - China | 14 Apr 2021 | 11:07 am

US envoy John Kerry woos China over climate
US envoy John Kerry will hold talks in Shanghai ahead of a climate summit hosted by President Biden.

Source: BBC News - China | 13 Apr 2021 | 7:41 pm

Rare footage captures fight between two wild pandas
Some rare footage of two wild pandas having a fierce fight has been captured by researchers in China.

Source: BBC News - China | 13 Apr 2021 | 2:28 pm

China forces Jack Ma's Ant Group to restructure
The overhaul will force the Alibaba-backed group to become a financial holding firm.

Source: BBC News - China | 12 Apr 2021 | 10:16 pm