Rice farmers set new record in high-altitude area

Farmers harvest rice in Yongning township of Yunnan Province. [Photo by Zhao Qingzu for chinadaily.com.cn]

Farmers in Yongning township, Yonglang county of Southeast China’s Yunnan province, have pushed the rice yield in high-altitude areas to new high, according to local agricultural authorities’ recent on-site test results.

The new record hit 621.2 kilograms per mu, which is equivalent to 9,318 kilograms per hectare, in contrast to the previous record of 607.4 kilograms per mu achieved in 2016.

The township, with an altitude of 2,670 meters, is the highest region for rice plantation, according to local authorities.

Waters near Sanchi pass quality testings

The water quality in the East China Sea where an Iranian tanker sank over three weeks ago, causing an oil slick, meets the highest Chinese standards, the maritime authority said on Saturday.

The State Oceanic Administration said in a statement that a 2.4-kilometer-long silver-white oil slick was detected about 1 km southeast of the sunken vessel Sanchi at 8 am on Saturday.

Seawater samples were collected from 17 measuring points around the site from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning as a continuation of the monitoring work of the surrounding seawater quality, the administration said.

The test results showed the seawater conforms to all relevant water quality requirements of the first category, the highest standard in China, including the oil concentration levels of the surrounding seawater.

The seawater quality standard, which has been used by China’s environmental and oceanic administrations since 1998, specifies the water quality requirements grouped into four categories of application functions for Chinese maritime areas.

The first category applies to fishing waters, nature reserves and rare and endangered marine conservation areas, while the second applies to aquaculture zones, popular bathing beaches and industrial water-use areas directly related to human consumption.

The third category applies to general industrial water-use areas and scenic seashore spots, and the fourth applies to marine port and marine development zones.

The Panama-registered oil tanker Sanchi, which was from Iran and had been carrying 111,300 metric tons of highly flammable condensate oil, collided with a Hong Kong cargo ship around 8 pm on Jan 6 some 160 nautical miles east of Shanghai.

Better housing plan to help attract talent

200,000 residential units to be built or converted into rentals in 2018

Shanghai will enhance its effort to foster the residential leasing market this year by accelerating real estate development as well as offering support for professional home leasing companies and institutions, said Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong during the ongoing annual session of the city’s People’s Congress.

The effort is aimed to quell speculation in the housing market and make the city attractive to young talent, who have become the city’s “primary resources”-as Ying put itin building itself into a global city of excellence.

Ying said the city plans to build or convert 200,000 housing units into rentals in 2018 and add another 90,000 housing units managed by professional house rental agencies.

The city’s first professional rental housing brand, Wonder, owned by State-owned Shanghai Land Group, was released on Saturday. It plans to build 20,000 rental houses by 2020 with a total construction area of 1 million square meters. Its first rental housing community in Minhang district started construction this month.

According to the city’s five-year plan from 2016 to 2020, a total of 700,000 rental units are planned to be added in the city, surpassing the 450,000 new commercial housing units.

As Shanghai strives to build itself into a global innovation center of science and technology-a task proposed in its master plan for 2035-the city’s skyrocketing property market, however, has become a deterrent to talent.

Yin Oujie, deputy to Jing’an district and vice-president of Shanghai Oriental Investment Supervision Co, said she felt it was hard to secure young talent in recent years.

“It’s become harder for us to hire good fresh graduates from key universities whose homes are in other provinces as they don’t see the chance of buying an apartment in Shanghai,” Yin said.

In addressing the congress, the mayor said: “Talent is our primary resource that plays a decisive role in global cooperation and competition among cities.”

The mayor pledged to stick to current tightening policies to quell speculation, and vowed to accelerate the pace of establishing a housing system that will ensure supply from multiple sources, provide housing support through multiple channels and encourage both house purchases and rentals.

“Houses are built for living in, not for speculation,” Ying said, quoting President Xi Jinping’s comment on the country’s housing market.

Tang Xiaoling, deputy general manager of Shanghai Land Group and deputy to Fengxian district, said, “The rental housing community aims to provide homes for young professionals who come to the city and will be paired with commercial zones and business incubators. Their locations will be close to transportation hubs.”

Different from subsidized public rental housing, there will be no requirements for tenants’ income but preference will be given to people working in universities and high-tech zones, she said.

“We will likely build a rental platform with universities and high-tech parks and set aside a portion of the rental houses for them,” Tang said, adding that the plan is still in its early stages.

Besides building new rental communities, existing homes from small landlords and idle space held by government-affiliated institutions and State-owned companies is the other source for rental housing.

“Some idle factories or small shabby hotels will be renovated and turned into rental housing under unified management,” said Ru Guoming, director of the Xuhui district housing authority, also the district deputy to the congress. “It can thus better utilize idle resources and clear potential safety hazards.”

Ru also said the rental price will be largely market-driven, but rental policies will be tilted to employees in companies with great demand for talent.

Winter Games high-speed rail network sets new milestone

An aerial view of the entrance of the Zhengpantai tunnel for Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway in Chongli, North China’s Hebei province, on Nov 10, 2018. [Photo/CGTN]

China completed the drilling of nearly 13-kilometer-long tunnel on high-speed railway network for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Zhangjiakou, North China’s Hebei province, on Nov 11.

The construction of the tunnel, the longest on Beijing-Zhangjiakou high-speed railway route, began in September 2016 and was named Zhengpantai tunnel.

Cold front sweeps across North China

Most parts in North China are expected to see temperature drop six to eight Celsius degrees today, and heavy snow is forecast in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang and the northern Inner Mongolia autonomous region. Over the weekend, many parts in the north will see temperature below 15 Celsius degrees.

A pedestrian dressed in a down coat walks past the Tian’anmen square in Beijing on Oct 25, 2018, as temperature plummets and cold wind swirls. [Photo/VCG]

Palace Museum opens pop-up store in Beijing

Souvenirs are for sale at a pop-up store of Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, at the Sanlitun shopping area in Beijing, Feb 2, 2018. [Photo/IC]

A pop-up store opened Friday in Beijing’s Sanlitun neighborhood, creating a shopping boom once again for Palace Museum souvenirs in the capital city.

The store will be open from Feb 2 to Mar 4, while China’s most important holiday, Spring Festival, falls on Feb 16 this year.

The Forbidden City, the world’s biggest palace complex, was China’s royal palace from 1420 to the end of the monarchy in early 1912.

The museum opened a shop on the e-commerce website Taobao in 2008, but its sales remained lukewarm for years until 2014, when myriad eye-catching merchandise caught the public’s attention.

Products like animated emperor figurines and earphones in the shape of pearl necklaces worn by high-ranking officials became best-sellers.

$383m in legal aid paid to litigants over 3 years


China has paid 2.67 billion yuan ($383.9 million) in legal aid to litigants involved in lawsuits over the past three years, an official with the Supreme People’s Court said Tuesday.

The money was given to people who had difficulty paying their legal costs in the hope of solving disputes and upholding justice, according to Zhu Erjun, deputy director of the top court’s Compensation Office.

Litigants involved in about 120,000 cases nationwide applied for legal aid from 2015 to 2017.

State funds covered most of the payouts, Zhu said at a news conference. “It shows the determination of the nation and the top court to resolve the difficulties that litigants meet and to protect litigants’ rights,” he said.

Legal aid is essential to guaranteeing universal access to justice, he said, adding that the top court has issued legal documents to lay out who qualifies for support and what they can receive.

According to the Criminal Procedure Law, legal aid is open to any defendant or plaintiff who does not have an income and cannot afford the cost of a lawyer.

Former insurance regulatory commission head charged with taking bribes

BEIJING – Xiang Junbo, former chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission, has been charged with taking bribes, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) said Monday.

The indictment paperwork has been delivered to the Changzhou Intermediate People’s Court in East China’s Jiangsu province by the Changzhou People’s Procuratorate, said the SPP source.

Xiang is accused of taking advantage of his former positions in the People’s Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, and the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, to seek benefits for others and accept vast sums of money or gifts, according to the SPP.

Under the directive of the SPP, the People’s Procuratorate of Jiangsu province transferred Xiang’s case to the Changzhou People’s Procuratorate after completing the investigation over Xiang.

While interrogating Xiang, the prosecutors informed him of his litigation rights and listened to his lawyer’s opinions, the SPP said.

Apart from serving as chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, Xiang used to work as deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, governor of the Agricultural Bank of China and also chairman of the board of the Agricultural Bank of China Co., Ltd.

The China Insurance Regulatory Commission and the China Banking Regulatory Commission is replaced by a banking and insurance regulatory commission in accordance with the restructuring plan of the State Council announced in March.

Bookstore in glass offers unique reading experience

A glass bookstore in the central park is made of glass walls on three sides so that the place is bright and transparent. [Photo by Huo Yan/chinadaily.com.cn]

Yueji Bookstore, named “a bookstore in glass box” has become a popular place in Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi province.

The bookstore in the central park is made of glass walls on three sides so that the bookstore is bright and transparent. The bookstore provides readers with multi-functional services such as coffee, floriculture, salons, and reading.

On the basis of traditional bookstore, Yueji Bookstore has been upgraded to a “composite cultural aesthetic space”, which owns both the basic functions of a bookstore and the leisure space.

It pays more attention to creating cultural atmosphere and promoting reading temperament. In terms of design philosophy and operation, each Yueji Bookstore is unique.

China’s transport infrastructure investment climbs in Jan-May

The country’s railway infrastructure investment increased 12.6 percent year on year during the period. [Photo/IC]

BEIJING — China’s investment in transport infrastructure climbed 7.3 percent in the first five months of the year to top 1.01 trillion yuan (about $147.8 billion), official data showed Tuesday.

The pace of growth was 6.6 percentage points faster than that for the whole year of 2018, according to the Ministry of Transport.

In breakdown, the country’s investment into the building of roads and waterway infrastructure rose 4.8 percent to 753.7 billion yuan during the January-May period, accounting for 41.9 percent of the annual target set for 2019, Wu Chungeng, the ministry spokesperson, told a press conference.

The country’s railway infrastructure investment increased 12.6 percent year on year during the period, while that of civil aviation infrastructure surged 39.5 percent from one year earlier, Wu said.

The figure came as the country’s fixed-asset investment posted a lower growth, whose increase dipped to 5.6 percent in the first five months from 5.1 percent in the first four months.