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EXTRAVEHICULAR ACTIVITY

2021-07-19

Beijing Review 2021年28期

Screen image taken at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center on July 4 shows Chinese astronaut Liu Boming slipping out of the space station core module Tianhe.

According to the China Manned Space Agency on July 4, the first extravehicular activities (EVAs) during the construction of the countrys space station were a complete success. The Shenzhou-12 spaceship crew, after approximately seven hours of EVAs, concluded all scheduled tasks.

The EVAs tested the performance and function of the new-generation homemade extravehicular mobility units and the coordination between the astronauts and the mechanical arm, as well as the reliability and safety of related EVA supporting equipment.

Protecting the Environment

Volunteers clean up the river waters in Linan in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, on July 6. The district has stepped up its protection of local rivers in recent years by strengthening water quality monitoring and dispatching regular patrols and cleaning missions.

Heritage Conference

The 44th session of the World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will take place between July 16 and July 31 in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian Province, according to a press conference on July 5.

The session will see a total of 45 candidate entries to the UNESCO World Heritage List, Vice Minister of Education Tian Xuejun said.

Tian, also Director of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, added that the session will move online after its opening ceremony.

China currently boasts 14 listed natural heritage sites and four mixed ones, both cultural and natural, said Yan Chenggao, an official with the National Forestry and Grassland Administration at the press conference.

Rare Whale

A whale that has recently appeared in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, has been preliminarily identified as a Brydes whale, reported Xinhua News Agency on July 3.

Experts came to the conclusion after analyzing photos and videos captured by witnesses since the mammal was first spotted in the Dapeng Bay on June 29.

The Shenzhen municipal fishery department, along with other research institutions in China, has been tracking the whale and recorded the creature feeding on more than 100 occasions, which suggests it is healthy and active, Chen Binyao, a scientist of the whales tracking team from Nanjing Normal University, said.

Brydes whales, mainly found in tropical and subtropical waters, are marked by three ridges in front of their blowhole, a dark grey back and a white or pink abdomen.

According to Chen, the whale spotted in Shenzhen is a subadult with a length of around 8 meters. It is currently unclear why it appeared in the area. Whales are under state protection in China. The local government and environmental organizations in Shenzhen have strengthened the management of the local sea area, and a task force was set up on July 2 by the Dapeng New District to monitor and protect whales and dolphins.

New Planetarium

The Shanghai Astronomy Museum, the worlds largest planetarium in terms of scale, will open on July 17, the planetarium announced on July 5.

Covering an area of approximately 58,600 square meters, the museum is located in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Lingang Special Area. It is a branch of the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum.

Tests were carried out on July 5, while the official website and WeChat account of the museum have already been launched.

The museum features an 8K ultra-high definition dome theater and exhibition areas covering various themes. Collections include some 70 meteorites such as those from Moon, Mars and Vesta, as well as over 120 artifacts. Original works of Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler will also be on display.

Technologies such as data visualization, augmented reality, virtual reality and biometrics have been introduced to help visitors gain a deeper knowledge of astronomy and science.

Meteorological Satellite

China sent a new meteorological satellite into planned orbit on July 5.

Equipped with 11 remote payloads, the satellite, Fengyun-3E (FY-3E), will be the worlds first meteorological satellite in early morning orbit for civil service.

It is designed with a lifespan of eight years and will mainly obtain the atmospheric temperature, humidity, and other meteorological parameters for numerical prediction applications, improving Chinas weather forecast capacity.

It will also monitor global snow and ice coverage, sea surface temperature, natural disasters, and ecology to better respond to climate change and prevent and mitigate meteorological disasters.

In addition, the satellite will monitor the solar and space environments and their effects, as well as ionospheric data to meet the needs of space weather forecasts and supporting services.

National Celebration

People take selfies at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing on July 3, against the background of the decorations set up for the ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. The ceremony was held here on July 1.

Tougher Sentencing

Chinas top court and procuratorate have asked judicial agencies to adhere to strict standards when applying lenient penalties to severe crimes such as rape and serious physical violence.

The Supreme Peoples Court and the Supreme Peoples Procuratorate have jointly issued a document containing their guiding opinions on sentencing for 23 different crime types.

In cases involving severe crimes, including organized crime, serious physical violence, drug-related crime and sexual assault against minors, judicial personnel are asked to adhere to the strictest of standards in their consideration of whether leniency can be granted or to what extent, according to the document released on July 7.

The document also called for the tightened allowance of probation for convicts found guilty of rape, noting that aspects of a crime such as means, consequences and criminal intent, as well as the threat posed to society by a criminal and their demonstration of repentance, must all be taken into consideration.

Having Fun

Children take an after-school class in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, on July 5. The after-school program was opened to solve the difficulties for many parents in terms of looking after their children during the summer vacation.

Social Security

China will steadily improve its social security benefits and other social safety-net programs during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), according to a plan released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security on June 30.

By 2025, the countrys basic old-age insurance coverage will reach 95 percent, the plan said.

In the next five years, China plans to establish a basic pension scheme for enterprise employees under unified national management and boost the supplementary pension fund to over 4 trillion yuan ($619 billion).

Efforts would be made to gradually raise the retirement age, and to increase unemployment insurance and work-related injury insurance coverage to 230 million and 280 million, respectively.

From 2021 to 2025, China aims to create more than 50 million new urban jobs, and keep its surveyed urban unemployment rate within 5.5 percent.

The country will also move faster to train technicians and skilled workers, improve the income distribution system, create harmonious and stable labor relations, and enhance public services regarding human resources and social security.

Circular Economy

A resource recycling system will see its basic establishment in China by 2025, according to a five-year plan released by the National Development and Reform Commission on July 7.

The plan specified that the countrys energy and water consumption per 10,000 yuan($1,540) of GDP will be lowered by about 13.5 percent and 16 percent, respectively, by the year from the 2020 levels.

Efficiency of resource utilization will be greatly improved throughout the five-year period, with the circular economy playing a bigger role in ensuring resource security, read the document.

The amount of waste paper and scrap steel utilized is expected to reach 60 million tons and 320 million tons, respectively, by the end of the timeframe, while the industrial output value of the resource recycling industry will stand at 5 trillion yuan ($771.6 billion). The plan also outlined major projects in the following five years, including the recycling of traction batteries.

Freight Trains

Alataw Pass, a major rail port in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, handled a record 3,033 China-Europe freight train trips in the first half of this year, up 41.07 percent year on year, local customs said.

The trains transported 2.28 million tons of cargo, up 56.08 percent from the same period a year earlier.

Goods from Central Asia and Europe on inbound trains included automobiles and wood materials, and outbound cargo included liquid crystal displays, laptop computers and auto parts.

Customs authorities have facilitated procedures to allow the trains to pass through 24 hours a day. Trains departing from the Alataw Pass can reach 13 countries.

Culture Businesses

For-profit businesses in the culture industry created jobs for more than 1.6 million people in 2020, statistics from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed.

The 208,900 companies engaging in the industry logged annual earnings of 996.7 billion yuan ($154 billion). Their profits amounted to 170 billion yuan($26 billion), the ministry said in a report.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a year-on-year plummet of 52.1 percent in domestic tourist visits and 61.1 percent in revenues from domestic tourism, the report said.

The number of top-level tourist spots increased by 930 from the figure in late 2019 to 13,332 by the end of 2020, it added.

Financial Support

The Peoples Bank of China(PBC), the central bank, has called on banking and financial institutions to increase financial services to micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, optimize credit products and services to individual businesses, and expand service coverage in inclusive financing, Xinhua News Agency reported on July 5.

Banking and financial institutions should also develop and continue fine-tuning loan products to facilitate the use of funds and reduce the overall financing costs for those enterprises, read a PBC circular.

The PBC also stressed that all banking and financial institutions should enhance their pricing capabilities by providing differentiated loans.

Courier Market

The postal and courier sector handled over 50 billion parcels in the first half of the year, according to the State Post Bureau.

As of July 4, the sectors business volume had neared the level for the whole of 2018, the bureau said, attributing the fast expansion to the continuous growth of the economy, increased consumption promotion and the improvement of services in the countryside. About 30 percent of the parcels handled this year were sent to rural areas as service accessibility continued to expand at the village level.

In the second quarter, the sectors monthly business volume was around 10 billion parcels, demonstrating the resilience, vitality and growth potential of the express delivery market, according to the bureau.

At present, around 300 million parcels are delivered daily on average, serving around 600 million customers.

Fast Expansion

The added value of electronic information manufacturers with annual operating revenues of at least 20 million yuan ($3.1 million) jumped 21.5 percent year on year, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.2 percent over the past two years, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology(MIIT).

The export delivery value of major enterprises in the sector rose 21.3 percent year on year in the January-May period, while fixed assets investment in the sector went up 27.6 percent from a year earlier.

MIIT data also showed that the operating revenue of major electronic information manufacturers soared 31.2 percent year on year to 4.06 trillion yuan ($628 billion) in the first four months, while their combined profits in the period totaled 193.5 billion yuan ($29.9 billion), surging 86.2 percent year on year.

In May alone, Chinas smartphone output climbed 9.6 percent year on year to 100 million units, while the output of personal computers rose 10.8 percent to 36.14 million units.

New Drivers

The added value of new industries, new business formats and new business models, dubbed the “three new” economy, contributed 17.08 percent of Chinas GDP last year, up 0.7 percentage point from the previous year, the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS) said on July 6.

A new industry emerges on the basis of the application of new scientific and technological achievements and new technologies to forge a certain scale of new economic activities. A new business format involves new links, new chains and new activity forms derived from existing industries and fields. A new business model is created through the integration and reorganization of various elements of enterprise operation to achieve the goal of customer value and sustainable profit, forging an efficient and competitive business operation mode.

Calculated at current prices, the new drivers climbed 4.5 percent in 2020 from the previous year, outpacing GDP growth by 1.5 percentage points, the NBS said.

Digital Ambition

Zhejiang Province has set a goal of bringing the value added of its digital economy to about 60 percent of its GDP by 2025.

According to its 14th FiveYear Plan on the development of the sector, industrial chains and clusters of digital security, integrated circuits, and high-end software will be constructed by 2025, with the number of patents in the digital economy reaching 80,000.

Zhejiang also aims to increase its total volume of imports and exports in digital trade to 1 trillion yuan ($154.5 billion).

In 2020, the value added of the digital economy of the province reached 3.02 trillion yuan ($467.2 billion), accounting for 46.8 percent of its GDP.

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