World Newsletter

19 January 2020


China and Myanmar exchanged a number of cooperation documents covering such areas as politics, trade, investment and people-to-people communications amid President Xi Jinping's state visit on Saturday.

The exchange ceremony was attended by Xi and Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. The two countries issued a joint statement the same day.

In his talks with Aung San Suu Kyi, Xi said the two countries should speed up connecting development strategies and jointly push the building of the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Hailing the corridor as a flagship project for Belt and Road cooperation between the two countries, Xi said the two sides have initiated construction and the project should bring benefits to the people as soon as possible.

The two countries should focus on the building of major projects and promote connectivity, Xi said, adding the two sides should integrate the building of roads, railways and electricity projects to formulate a network of connectivity.

Xi pointed out China welcomes Myanmar to expand exports to China, and Chinese companies are encouraged to increase investment in Myanmar.

Aung San Suu Kyi welcomed Xi's state visit to Myanmar, saying the visit was a milestone for bilateral relations.

Myanmar would like to promote the building of the Myanmar-China Economic Corridor and enhance cooperation in transport, energy, production capacity, humanitarian and cultural exchanges, border areas and regional affairs, she said.

Some countries intend to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries with such excuses as human rights, ethnicities and religions, and Myanmar will never accept such interference, she said, adding Myanmar hoped China would continue to maintain justice for middle and small countries including Myanmar.

Noting China is a trustworthy friend to Myanmar, Xi said China always respects the development paths of other countries and upholds the principle of non-interference in other countries' affairs.

China will continue to maintain justice for Myanmar on the international stage, and it supports Myanmar in safeguarding its national sovereignty and legitimate interests, Xi added.



Central Chinese city of Wuhan reported 17 new coronavirus-related pneumonia cases Friday, local health authorities said Sunday.

Among the infected patients, 12 are male and five are female. They are aged between 30 and 79, and three of them were in critical condition.

These patients showed symptoms such as fever or cough before Jan 13, according to Wuhan Municipal Health Commission. Most of the patients, except for two with severe symptoms, have been transferred to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital for treatment.

Four patients were cured and discharged from hospitals on Friday.

Epidemiological investigations into the 17 new cases are underway and close contacts are being traced, the authority said, adding that Wuhan will continue to expand the search area, identify suspected cases and conduct sampling tests.

Epidemiological analysis of previously published cases found that some cases had no exposure to Wuhan's Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, which is believed to be related to most of the infected cases. It has been temporarily closed while disinfection is carried out.

As of the end of Friday, a total of 62 cases have been reported in Wuhan, among whom two people were died, eight were in critical condition, and 19 had been discharged from hospitals.

A total of 681 among the 763 close contacts placed under medical observation had been released. No cases were found among the close contacts.



China is stepping up measures to support private companies and small and medium-sized enterprises, including ensuring government departments and State-owned enterprises clear their overdue payments to them.

As of the end of last December, 75 percent of the more than 890 billion yuan ($129.76 billion) in such arrears identified nationwide had been paid up, exceeding the projected target of making no less than half of the payments in 2019, according to Xin Guobin, vice-minister of industry and information technology.

"By the end of this year, all undisputed arrears should be cleared as much as possible, and no new arrears should be incurred," Xin said during a recent State Council Information Office press conference held in Beijing.

"In the next step, we will continue to adopt measures such as consultation, supervision, inspection and follow-up evaluation to facilitate government efforts in classifying and formulate a settlement plan," Xin added. "Meanwhile, we will speed up the legislative process of the regulation to force government departments and SOEs to pay their bills on time."

Statistics from the third-party assessment in December showed 94 percent of the enterprises were satisfied with the overdue payment clearing work, and 96 percent reported that no new arrears were incurred in 2019.

The State Council at its Jan 8 executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang made arrangements for ensuring that government departments and SOEs clear their overdue payments to private firms and SMEs and required that resolute efforts be made to see the work through.

President Xi Jinping said that government departments and SOEs must under no circumstances incur payment arrears to private businesses, and effective measures should be taken to prohibit acts of sidestepping repayments.

Premier Li Keqiang made clear the target and tasks in clearing arrears during the annual session of the National People's Congress last year and stressed the need for resolute efforts to see the work through in this regard.



The first highway bridge connecting China and Russia across the Heilongjiang River has recently passed the final acceptance test, the department of transport of Northeast China's Heilongjiang province said Friday.

Experts with Harbin Institute of Technology and counterparts of the Russian side participated in the test on Tuesday. The maximum load capacity of the bridge reached 318 tonnes during the test.

The bridge is expected to open in April, according to the provincial transport department.

Measuring 1,284 meters long and 14.5 meters wide, the bridge across the Heilongjiang River, known in Russia as the Amur River, stretches from Heihe, a border city in Heilongjiang province, to the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk. Two sides of the bridge were joined together on May 31, 2019.



For a certain number of young Chinese, most of whom are under 30 years old, spending their lives commuting between home and office to work for other people is increasingly being seen as too mundane.

Having grown up during China's economic rise, these youngsters are eager to develop their careers by fully exploring their abilities and creativity – something which they struggle to do in private companies or public institutions.

"Both my husband and I like working creatively without boundaries," explained Huang Yilai, a resident of Shanghai who quit a stable job in 2005 to help her French husband Jonathan Lucy put together magic shows.

"I met Jonathan when he was still a university student in Shanghai. I was amazed by the shows he staged at the homes of French expats as a part-time job to finance himself," Huang recalls.

The couple, who settled down in the city known for its fast pace and bustling economy, gave up their professions having majored in business and international trade, and started to arrange tours for their magic shows.

In the beginning, they called performance companies and offered their services for free.

"We put on shows free of charge so that potential customers could better understand us," Huang remembers. "Had it not been for the uniqueness of our performances, they'd never have realized that their brands could be promoted using magic. To them, it was a completely new concept."

Fifteen years on, they now enjoy a relatively comfortable life in Shanghai. With a flexible work schedule, Huang explained that they have had plenty of time to stay at home with their child and reiterated both how well the lifestyle works for them as well as their hope to continue it.

Huang's experience of working from home epitomizes an emerging trend in today's job market. Young people aged 30 and under are becoming much more interested in working for themselves than being tied to an office chair.

According to Ali Research, a new-business-centered research platform funded by Alibaba Group, there may be as many as 400 million people in China working for themselves by 2036.

Meanwhile, according to the "Population and Labor Green Paper: Chinese Population and Labor Issues Report No 18 – New Employment Styles in the New Economy," about 70% of those working in small offices or home offices (SOHOs) were born between 1985 and 1989.

Another report published last month by the Institute of Population and Labor Economics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) states that those born between 1990 and 1995 prefer free and open corporate cultures, while many born after 1995 are pursuing such lines of work as hosts of live web-streams or are becoming online influencers.

"Compared to sitting in an office, being self-employed makes me feel like I can use all my energies on working for things that I'm really interested in," explained one short video producer who preferred not to be identified.

This producer is 25 and majored in television and broadcasting. He chose to start filming his daily life with his girlfriend and releasing videos on TikTok (known in China as Douyin), an app that allows anyone, professional or otherwise, to upload short videos.

A single video on the platform has the potential to be viewed millions of times – a number that is large enough to attract advertisers.

However, the sheer quantity of short videos on TikTok means that views are unpredictable. As such, this video maker is considering opening a brick-and-mortar store to help cover his daily expenses.

Despite the unpredictability, he still has a strong desire to work for himself since it allows him to follow his passion.

The number of self-employed people surged in China around 2000 as the country embarked on a market-oriented economy, adopting policies centered around reform and opening-up.



Beijing students will take gaokao, or the national college entrance exam, for four days from June 7 to 10 this year, the city's education authority said Sunday.

According to the agenda, students will take exams in Chinese and mathematics on June 7, and the test for English or other foreign languages will be on June 8.

Tests in physics, politics and chemistry will be on June 9, and tests in history, biology and geography are on June 10.

Students can choose to take three of the six subjects offered on June 9 and 10, according to a reform plan that the city started to implement for students enrolled in high schools in 2017.

A total of 14 regions are implementing comprehensive reform since the State Council in 2014 initiated gaokao reform.

The reform allows students to have more choices -- up to 12 combinations of subjects instead of the two choices between arts and science.

Student performance on high school academic tests also will serve as measurable indicators.



Countries around the world are once again hopeful about the sound development of China-US relations in the new year as the two leading economies have made fresh progress in resolving their trade frictions, a Chinese diplomat said here Friday.

In a speech celebrating the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan 25, Chinese Consul General in San Francisco Wang Donghua told an audience of over 700 people that the year 2020 will be a key year in the development of China-US relations.

"Both the Chinese and American people, as well as other countries in the world, are holding new hopes for the China-US relations in the new year," Wang said.

He noted that China is willing to work with the United States to implement the phase-one economic and trade agreement signed this week so that their economic and trade cooperation can return to normal as soon as possible.

"We urge the United States to take a correct, objective approach to China and adopt a rational China policy, and to make joint efforts with China to bring their ties back to the track of a stable, healthy growth," he said.

The year 2019 marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, and achievements in the past decades have "fully" proved that the two countries are not strategic rivals, but cooperative partners, said Wang.

As the world's two largest economies, China and the United States are highly intertwined economically and share a lot of common interests as well as broad prospects for cooperation, Wang noted.

Marilyn Librers, president of China Silicon Valley, an organization that promotes cooperation between China and the US tech hub, said she was excited to attend the Chinese Lunar New Year reception because she is optimistic about the future of the two countries.

"I see the future to be booming for both of our countries, which is very exciting," she told Xinhua, adding that both China and the United States are major countries with significant influence.

"We must trade and we must have commerce together," Librers said.

Geoffrey Wilson, president of the Physicians Organizing Committee, a San Francisco-based non-profit association which has committed itself to fighting for ethics in the health profession, said he was looking forward to "a great prosperous year" ahead for China and the United States.

Wilson said the phase-one deal will help improve the relationship between the United States and China because they can benefit a lot from cooperation that will continue in the new year.

He said China and the United States can benefit from each other in many ways and he expects trade to flow for both countries. "If we can remove the trade barriers, the entire world will benefit," Wilson said.



China is expected to overtake France as the second largest wine market by 2023, according to a report released in London.

The value of the Chinese market would reach nearly $18 billion by 2023, surpassing France's $16 billion, according to the latest Vinexpo/IWSR report. Vinexpo, established in Bordeaux, France in 1981, is a events organizer in the wine and spirits sector while IWSR is a London-based market analysis firm on the alcoholic beverage market.

The United States would remain top of wine markets in both volume and value, which hit $40 billion, the report said, adding that the total world value of still and sparkling wines is estimated to reach over $204 billion by 2023, a rise from $194 billion in 2018.

Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific market, China and Australia will lead a three-year recovery for the growth of still and sparkling wines from 2020 as the momentum in the region slowed in 2018 and 2019, said the report.

The total value of the region will rise to more than $34 billion in 2023, with China leading all markets in the region with compound annual growth rate of nearly 4 percent, it said.



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