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Tag Archive : Xinhua news agency

China on yellow alert for smog in many cities

BEIJING: China’s meteorological authorities on Sunday issued a yellow alert for a new bout of smog that is expected to hang heavy in large areas of the country.

Parts of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Hunan and Jiangxi will be covered by smog for two days, starting Sunday, with some regions seeing heavy pollution, the National Meteorological Center said in an online statement.

A cold front is expected to help disperse the smog Monday night, state run Xinhua news agency reported Sunday.

China has a four-tier warning system for severe weather, with red being the most serious, followed by orange, yellow and blue.

Frequent outbreaks of smog have become increasingly common in the winter season in north China, where cold weather conditions and increased burning of the dirty coal for heating combine to exacerbate the situation, even though government has initiated measures to fight pollution.

In a five-year plan on environmental improvements released on December 5, the central cabinet has ordered strict control of the consumption of coal, a major source of pollution in China, for cleaner air.

Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Pearl River Delta and Yangtze River Delta regions, and the 10 cities with the worst air quality should realise negative growth in coal consumption, as per the plan.

Uganda reopens rhino sanctuary to tourists

KAMPALA: Uganda‘s Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary has been reopened to tourists after a management dispute led to its closure weeks ago.

Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), a state-run conservation agency, said in a statement issued on Thursday that tourists can now visit the sanctuary located in the central district of Nakasongola, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The current 33 southern white rhinos received from Rhino Fund Uganda are in good health. We assure the public that the sanctuary will continue to be a center of excellence in rhino breeding,” UWA added.

Rhino Fund Uganda previously used to manage the sanctuary before it was closed in April.

According to UWA, there are ongoing studies about the translocation of the rhinos to national parks where there is more space.

Ziwa is about to reach the maximum carrying capacity. Uganda used to have a big number of rhinos especially the northern white rhino species.

All of these got extinct during the civil wars the country had in the 1970s and early 1980s.

By 1983, rhinos were declared extinct in Uganda. But the establishment of the Ziwa Rhino Sanctuary in 2005 and the re-introduction of the rhinos by Rhino Fund Uganda was good news to the country and conservationists globally.

The sanctuary, which measures 70 square kilometers of savannah and woodlands, is also home to other wildlife like antelopes and the rare shoebill bird.

China’s experimental reusable spacecraft lands successfully: Xinhua News Agency

BEIJING- An experimental reusable spacecraft launched into

orbit

two days ago by China has successfully returned to a designated site on Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The successful experiment marks an important breakthrough in China’s technology to reuse spacecraft, which would provide the country more convenient and cheaper space round-trips for it to use the space in a peaceful way, Xinhua said.

Nepal President appeals to Indian, Chinese counterparts to provide COVID-19 vaccines to her country

Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Wednesday appealed to her Indian and Chinese counterparts to help her country in getting uninterrupted supply of COVID-19 vaccines as it faces a huge shortage of the coronavirus shots, according to media reports.

President Bhandari wrote to her Indian counterpart President Ram Nath Kovind to help Nepal on the matter, The Himalayan Times reported.

She communicated to President Kovind via a diplomatic channel, requesting him to take initiative to provide the vaccines, it said.

President Bhandari also thanked India for providing vaccines under India’s ‘Vaccine Maitri’ initiative and the COVAX facility.

On January 2, Nepal received one million doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII). It has also received a total of 348,000 doses of Covishield vaccine under the COVAX facility on March 7.

Bhandari also held an hour-long telephone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

During their conversation, Bhandari informed President Xi that Nepal is looking forward to purchasing China manufactured vaccines for its people.

She appealed to the Chinese government to make the vaccines available for procurement at the earliest possible.

President Xi assured his Nepalese counterpart that China will continue providing as much support as possible for Nepal’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that he believes the Nepali people will surely win the final victory over the virus.

Since the onset of the pandemic, China and Nepal have firmly supported each other in fighting against the coronavirus disease, and carried out in-depth anti-epidemic cooperation, which has highlighted the spirit of sticking together through thick and thin, Xi was quoted as saying by China’s official Xinhua news agency.

Noting that South Asia is undergoing a new wave of infections and Nepal is facing severe challenges, Xi said the Chinese central and local governments as well as non-governmental organisations were among the first to take actions, offering much-needed medical supplies and equipment as well as vaccines to Nepal, and sharing with the Nepali side experience in epidemic prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment.

Recalling that he and Bhandari jointly announced the new height of Mount Qomolangma (Mount Everest) in December last year, Xi stressed that China attaches great importance to the development of China-Nepal relations, and is willing to share China’s development opportunities with Nepal.

He called for concerted efforts to accelerate Belt and Road cooperation, steadily advance the building of the trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, and continuously lift the two countries’ strategic partnership of cooperation featuring ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity to higher levels, the report said.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations, Xi stressed, adding that China will not forget Nepal’s valuable support.

China will, as always, support Nepal in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, respect the Nepali people’s independent choice of development path, and support Nepal’s economic and social development, Xi said.

So far, China has provided 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines in assistance to Nepal.

China has also committed to provide a million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal under grant assistance.

The Himalayan Times report said that the COVAX facility had suggested Nepal to find an alternative to Covishield vaccines due to the inability expressed by the Serum Institute of India to export vaccines amid a surge in demand for the same in the domestic market.

Earlier, COVAX had committed to providing the country with 1,920,000 doses of Covishield by May.

However, after the SII shared its concerns, COVAX has found it hard to supply Nepal with the remaining committed doses of vaccine, the report said.

Nepal on Wednesday reported 6,714 new cases of COVID-19, taking the country’s total tally to 535,525.

The country has reported 6,700 COVID-19-related deaths so far.

China faces strains as population ages, birth rate falls

Yue Yan is glad to have two daughters but sees why, even with the ruling Communist Party urging them to have more children, fewer Chinese women give birth at all.

Yue, 35, spends days looking after her 2-year-old and evenings helping her 10-year-old with homework. Yue quit a restaurant job to do that, so the family lives on her husband’s salary, which many can’t afford to do.

“If a young couple is busy working and their parents can’t help take care of the children, they will not want kids,” Yue said. “The pressure is just so heavy.”

The ruling party is easing official limits on the number of children each couple can have, hoping to counter the rapid aging of Chinese society. But the number of births is falling. Couples are put off by costs, disruptions to jobs and the need to look after elderly parents.

On Monday, the ruling party announced it would ease birth restrictions to let all couples have three children instead of two. But its track record suggests rule changes on their own do little to change long-term trends.

Rules in force since 1980 that limited most couples to one birth were changed in 2015 to allow two. After a brief uptick the next year, however, the number who had even one child fell, while the share of the population over age 65 is rising.

China‘s population of 1.4 billion already was expected to peak later this decade and start to decline. Census data released May 11 suggest that is happening faster than forecast, adding to pressure to prepare for slower economic growth and do more to help the elderly.

The rise in average age could disrupt official ambitions to turn China into a technology leader and prosperous consumer-driven economy.

“The aging of the Chinese population grows faster than we expected,” said Yi Fuxian, a senior scientist in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

“This will result in a drop in the economic growth rate,” Yi said.

The 12 million births reported last year were down nearly one-fifth from 2019. About 40 per cent were second children, down from 50 per cent in 2017, according to Ning Jizhe, a statistics official who announced the figures on May 11.

The share of working-age people under 60 in China’s population of 1.4 billion fell to 63.3 per cent last year from 70.1 per cent a decade earlier, according to census data. The group aged 65 and older grew to 13.5 per cent from 8.9 per cent.

China and other Asian economies such as Thailand face the challenge of whether they can grow rich before they grow old.

Chinese researchers and the labor ministry say the share of working-age people might fall to half the population by 2050. That increases the “dependency ratio,” or number of retirees who rely on each worker to generate income for pension funds and pay taxes for health and other public services.

A growing number of retirees, even with children, live alone because sons and daughters have left home for work.

In Dingxing County, southwest of Beijing, Kang Yuxia serves a free vegetarian lunch every day to more than 50 people. Most are empty nesters over 60 whose children left their region of drab, low-rise buildings surrounded by farmland to work in the Chinese capital 100 kilometers (60 miles) away.

“The sons and daughters of the elderly have to find work elsewhere,” said Kang. “They look for the warmth from a bowl of rice. They also want to feel cared for.”

Kang’s canteen, the Harmonious and Happy Home, is one of more than 80 operated by a charity for older people who live alone.

“What I’m giving them is what I will need in thirty years,” she said.

The government is debating whether to keep more people in the workforce by raising the official retirement age of 60 for men, 55 for white-collar female workers and 50 for blue-collar female workers.

Ruling party leaders meeting Monday agreed to raise the retirement age, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, without giving details.

The change is politically fraught. Female professionals welcome a chance to stay in satisfying careers, but others whose bodies are worn out from decades of manual labor resent being required to work longer.

The fertility rate, or the average number of births per mother, stood at 1.3 in 2020, well below the 2.1 that would maintain the size of the population.

A population decline might ease strains on resources, but “this is not sustainable,” said Song Jian, a professor at the Center for Population and Development at Renmin University in Beijing.

China needs to “boost the willingness to have children,” Song said. “We need to make people feel that having children or forming a family is attractive.”

Couples who want children face daunting challenges. Apartments are small and often shared with parents. Childcare is expensive and maternity leave short.

A lawyer in Beijing who would give only his surname, Zhang, said he and his wife plan to have only one child due to the cost of education and the need to look after their elderly parents.

“The government should relieve the burden on young parents’ shoulders,” Zhang said. “If the young couple must look after the children and the elderly, no one can handle it.”

Still, Yue says having children is worth it.

“Yes, sometimes I am tired,” she said, “but I also feel more happiness.”

( Originally published on Jun 01, 2021 )

China says one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses administered

China on Sunday said it has administered over one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

China has accelerated its pace of free COVID-19 vaccinations for the whole nation since late March and administered a billion doses by Saturday, the National Health Commission (NHC) said.

The NHC, however, did not say how many people had been vaccinated.

So far, a total of 21 COVID-19 vaccines have entered clinical trials in China since last year and the government has granted conditional approval for four vaccines for emergency use, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has granted emergency approval for two Chinese vaccines, Sinopharm and Sinovac. China has also supplied and exported the two vaccines to several countries.

China’s nationwide vaccination campaign is open to people aged over 18. The country has approved the emergency use of domestic inactivated vaccines on people aged 3 to 17.

Detailed policies will be formulated for the inoculation of this age group based on the specific COVID-19 situation, the Xinhua report said.

At least 70 per cent of the target population in China is expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of this year, Zeng Yixin, deputy head of the NHC said.

China launches first bullet train in Tibet, close to Indian border

China on Friday operationalised its first fully electrified bullet train in the remote Himalayan region of Tibet, connecting the provincial capital Lhasa and Nyingchi, a strategically located Tibetan border town close to Arunachal Pradesh.

The 435.5-km Lhasa-Nyingchi section of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway has been inaugurated ahead of the centenary celebrations of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) on July 1.

The first electrified railway in Tibet Autonomous Region opened Friday morning, linking Lhasa with Nyingchi as “Fuxing” bullet trains enter official operation on the plateau region, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

It has a designed speed of 160 km per hour and operates on a single-line electrified railway. It stops at nine stations, including Lhasa, Shannan and Nyingchi and can handle passenger and freight transportation, the report said.

Compared to roads, the Lhasa-Nyingchi railway reduces the travel time from Lhasa to Nyingchi from 5 hours to approximately 3.5 hours, and cuts the travel time from Shannan to Nyingchi from 6 hours to approximately 2 hours, it said.

The rail line passes through 47 tunnels and 121 bridges and crosses the Brahmaputra river locally called Yarlung Zangbo 16 times. It passes through the Yarlung Zangbo River 16 times and 90 per cent of it are 3,000 metres above sea level.

Tunnels and bridges account for approximately 75 per cent of the total length of the railway track.

Also, it has an annual freight transport capacity of 10 million tonnes which provides strong support for the flow of goods, will promote economic development and improve people’s lives, the report said.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway will be the second railway into Tibet after the Qinghai-Tibet Railway. It will go through the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, one of the world’s most geologically active areas.

The Fuxing train now reaches all 31 mainland provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, the Global Times newspaper reported, noting that the rail line will better connect Tibet to other provinces and regions and will boost the local economy.

Tourism, culture, religion and other natural and cultural resources along the Lhasa-Nyingchi Railway are rich, and they contain huge potential for economic development. But in the past, due to traffic constraints, the development of tourism resources along the line was limited, the report noted.

The Lhasa-Nyingchi railway will help to further narrow the development gap between the east and west of China, unleashing a greater potential for the development of the west, Hong Tao, director of the Institute of Business Economics at the Beijing Technology and Business University, said.

In November, Chinese President Xi Jinping had instructed officials to expedite construction of the new railway project, connecting Sichuan Province and Nyingchi in Tibet, saying the new rail line would play a key role in safeguarding the border stability.

The Sichuan-Tibet Railway starts from Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, and travels through Ya’an and enters Tibet via Qamdo, shortening the journey from Chengdu to Lhasa from 48 hours to 13 hours.

Nyingchi is the prefecture-level city of Medog which is adjacent to the Arunachal Pradesh border.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet, which is firmly rejected by India. The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the official daily Global Times earlier that “If a scenario of a crisis happens at the China-India border, the railway will provide a great convenience for China’s delivery of strategic materials.

China’s Xi affirms control over Tibet with first official visit

Xi Jinping has made his first visit to Tibet as Chinese president, affirming Beijing’s control over a region where its military build-up and ethnic-assimilation polices have drawn international criticism.

Xi arrived in the regional capital Lhasa on Thursday, the official Xinhua News Agency said on social media. He inspected the operations of the Sichuan-Tibet railway during his visit, China Central Television said.

State media showed Xi being greeted by enthusiastic Tibetans and visiting a monastery. He was also shown riding a train with Liu He, China’s economic czar, and Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission.

China has faced criticism for its policies in Tibet, which has been subject to intense social, security and religious controls, much like its northern neighbor Xinjiang. In May, Wu Yingjie, the Communist Party chief of mostly Buddhist Tibet, lauded the progress Beijing has made developing the region, saying that “religion has been increasingly compatible with a socialist society.”

Xi told officials at a meeting on Tibet issues in August last year to “actively guide Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to socialist society, and promote the Sinofication of Tibetan Buddhism.”

“To govern a country, it’s necessary to govern the border,” Xi said at the symposium, where the party discussed policies for developing the region. “To govern the border, it’s required to stabilize Tibet first.”

Xi’s visit comes about two weeks after Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, turned 86. The choice of successor to the spiritual leader of Tibetans, who now lives in exile in India, is shaping up to be a struggle between India and the U.S. on one hand and China on the other.

Senior security officials in India, including in the prime minister’s office, have been involved in discussions about how New Delhi can influence the choice of the next Dalai Lama, Bloomberg News reported in April. China’s Foreign Ministry has said the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is an internal affair that “allows no interference.” Bloomberg

( Originally published on Jul 23, 2021 )