More people like to travel during off-peak season

A tourist takes photos of the sea of clouds on Mount Emei in Sichuan province. (Photo courtesy of Mount Emei Scenic Area)

Traditionally, winter is a low season for the travel industry, but that situation is gradually changing.

During the Spring Festival holiday 2019, which fell between Feb. 4 and Feb. 10 this year, about 400 million Chinese people traveled in or out of the country. After the holiday, the prices of tourist products dropped sharply.

Statistics showed that the price of independent tours in February and March fell by 30 to 40 percent, and outbound travel products dropped by more than 60 percent on average.

Chinese travel services and social networking platform, Mafengwo, said it received 49 percent more bookings in the week following the holiday compared with the same period a year ago.

A person who spent 5,000 yuan on a group tour to Beijing during the Spring Festival holiday would pay only half the price for the same service this week.

It’s an excellent time to travel because the prices are low and the temperatures are climbing, said a manager of online travel service provider Tuniu.com, adding that the number of people traveling during non-holiday periods continues to rise.

Additionally, the number of seniors and students making a trip after the Spring Festival holiday has risen significantly, choosing a travel experience which is both cheaper and more enjoyable.

Xu Xiaolei, manager of marketing at China’s CYTS Tours Holding Co., Ltd, said as a rising number of Chinese tourists are avoiding peak season travel, the gap between peak and off-peak seasons in terms of tourist numbers is narrowing.

A sound interaction between tourists and service providers has been established, and travel safety and quality supervision is guaranteed, which also makes people more willing to travel during the off-peak season, said Li Zhongguang, Vice President of the China Tourism Academy.

Chinese classics spark global discussions

(Photo/People’s Daily Overseas Edition)

The Chinese classic Tao Te Ching was the most popular book among foreign readers in 2018 regarding its readership and the number of book reviews, closely followed by Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.

The Tao Te Ching, which has a history of over 2,500 years, became accessible to foreign readers less than 300 years ago. It was not until the second half of the 20th century that the book gained popularity overseas.

By the end of 2018, there were about 7,100 research papers and articles on the book in languages including English, German, French, and Spanish. Among Chinese classics, The Tao Te Ching is the most internationally researched.

By the end of last year, the book had been translated into more than 50 languages. The most welcomed English version of the book, translated by English translator of Taoist classics, Gia-Fu Feng, and his wife Jane English, received 3,536 comments from readers on Goodreads and Amazon as of 2018, making it the most commented on Chinese book among overseas readers.

Some readers said they gained inner tranquility and experienced the beauty of Chinese thinking; others said the book had changed their view on happiness, the world and how to get along with other people.

The book has even been compared to The Gospel Book, with some readers saying that unlike the latter, The Tao Te Ching reflects religious diversity as it doesn’t make comparisons between religious theories.

(Photo/People’s Daily Overseas Edition)

The Art of War was introduced to the world in 1772 according to historical documents. Lionel Giles translated the most authoritative English version from the Chinese original.

By the end of 2018, the book had been translated into 30 languages including English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Italian.

The military classic, written 2,500 years ago, offers experience and advice in company management, marketing, business negotiations, international trade, stock and investment.

The book enjoys 4,631 positive comments out of around 5,000 comments on Goodreads and Amazon, and teaches people about perseverance, self-discipline, how to handle disputes, and develop their creativity.

Some readers said the book was even better than the Bible in some aspects as it still offers life guidance today.

The readers’ comments have shown that Chinese thinking and wisdom have nurtured not only the Chinese nation, but also become a shared spiritual asset to people around the world.

Border guard in China’s Xinjiang fulfills responsibility with real actions

Lazzini Bayik (left) visits a family in Shanshan county, Xinjiang. (Photo/Xinhua)

“Securing the border is the business of not only the country, but also our herdsmen. We cannot live a happy life without a peaceful border.”This is what Lazzini Bayik, a 40-year-old border guard in western China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, believes.

Lazzini is the third generation in his family to secure the isolated stretch of China’s border in Xinjiang’s Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, the heart of the Pamir Mountains, which is cloaked in snow all year round.

Many roads leading to the national border hide deep in the mountains, which make up the core area that Lazzini and his colleagues patrol.

Lazzini has never slacked off despite the rough terrain and harsh weather conditions. “We are soldiers on the frontier even though we are not in uniform. We protect our national border with real actions,” he said.

The tradition of guarding the national border in Lazzini’s family started with his grandfather, who guided the People’s Liberation Army to build watch houses at the frontier in the 1950s and later stayed to protect the border with them. From that moment on, guarding the border was a family cause, which Lazzini and his father have also dedicated themselves to.

In 2018, Lazzini was elected as a deputy of the National People’s Congress. He investigated many farming and pastoral areas to better fulfill his responsibilities.

“Farmers and herdsmen have already moved into new houses. Every village has a kindergarten. Our kids can now enjoy 15 years of free education from nursery to high school,” he explained.

Lazzini said that just 10 years ago, border guards like him received about 150 yuan per month, but now, they can earn up to 2,600 yuan. All border guards in his county have social security, medical insurance, and other allowances, he added.

The Chinese people are confident of their future as they see more benefits brought by China’s fast development, Lazzini noted. “However, we still need to stay vigilant in protecting the border. We patrol every day to defend our beautiful home”, he added.

China’s Engel coefficient falls to a record low in 2018

(Photo/Chinanews.com)

The Engel coefficient, a measure of food expenditure as a proportion of total household spending, fell to 28.4 percent last year in China, down 0.9 percentage points from the previous year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

China’s Engel coefficient 40 years ago was 57.5 percent in urban areas and 67.7 percent in the countryside, statistics showed.

The fall of the figure by half in four decades is undoubtedly a huge achievement. Zhang Yansheng, chief research fellow with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said it shows that the country’s economic strength has risen significantly and is a result of continuous growth in the past.

Experts said the decline of the Engel coefficient indicates that people earn more than before. In 2018, China’s per capita income increased by 6.5 percent, faster than the growth of GDP per capita of 6.1 percent, according to the NBS.

In 1978, the per capita disposable income was 343 yuan in urban areas and 134 in the countryside. By the end of 2017, the two figures had exceeded 36,396 and 13,432 yuan, respectively. There are forecasts holding that by the end of 2018, the number of China’s middle-income earners had reached 400 million.

Bai Jingming, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences, said China has diversified the sources of income, increased workers’ salaries and non-work income, and raised asset-related income of its residents, since reform and opening-up.

The decline of the Engel coefficient reflects consumption upgrades. Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS, said the drop of the figure shows that consumption on non-food items is rising.

He cited the service sector as an example. Last year, service consumption saw a continuous rise. The number of tourists and tourism revenue both increased by more than 10 percent. Consumption of cultural, information, education, health care products and services all grew rapidly.

The fall of the Engel coefficient reflects change in people’s view on consumption. Ning pointed out that an important trend of consumption is that people are buying high-quality products, though the prices may be higher.

A woman surnamed Jiang said before she lived a frugal life and bought almost nothing but food, she now prefers fine products more though they are expensive.

Experts also said that the Engel coefficient could not reflect the overall picture of the country’s economic status, pointing out that the imbalanced economic development between different regions of the country and people’s different consumption habits should also be taken into consideration while evaluating the Engel coefficient.

More people connect to web through mobile devices: report

A recently released report indicates that Chinese people are now connecting to the internet via mobile phones more than through computers, Chinanews.com reported on Feb. 21.

In 2018, the internet penetration rate in China stood at 57.7 percent, 4 percentage points higher when compared with the previous year, according to the report released by Shanghai Wangsu Science & Technology Co., Ltd. on Feb. 20.

All Chinese provinces reported internet penetration of mobile devices of more than 80 percent. The penetration of mobile devices in 18 provinces was more than 90 percent in 2018, and that figure continues to rise in the new year.

The report also showed that compared with 2017, the number of people surfing the internet between midnight and 8 a.m. rose by an average of 8 percent in 2018.

The report showed that the number of seniors surfing the internet during the day is also rising. It also highlighted that social networking, video, music and news apps were the most popular services.

Delivery woman on the Qinghai-Tibet railway

(Photo/China Railway)

Tenzin Dolker is a delivery woman who works along the Qinghai-Tibet Railway Nagqu section, north of Lhasa, the capital city of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region.

Every day, Dolker and her colleagues cook food and then carry it from their local service center to Nagqu train station, where train drivers and maintenance workers will take a break to enjoy a meal.

All trains running in and out of Tibet stop at Nagqu station. After 10 or more hours driving through the area, which lacks good levels of oxygen and is virtually uninhabited, the drivers need a meal to keep up their strength.

Tenzin Dolker (Photo/China Railway)

Every day, Dolker takes multiple trips between the service center and the train station. The distance between both points is 7 or 8 kilometers, with an average elevation of 4,500 meters above sea level.

When it snows, she has to use both her hands and feet to transport the food up the long slope which lies in front of the train station.

Cargo trains stop for a shorter period, pausing at the station for only a few minutes, usually at night. To make sure the drivers are able to eat, Dolker and her colleagues spend the whole night delivering food. The work is challenging, but she feels it is worthwhile as the drivers are satisfied with her service.

80 percent of China’s government and retail services to go digital in 5 years: report

China will make nearly 80 percent of its government and retail services digital in the next five years, according to a report released by Alibaba Cloud Research Center at Alibaba Group.

The report indicated that China is pushing forward with digital transformation across more sectors. Government services and retail business will be affected most by new technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things.

The report said that government services would be further digitized to serve residents and enterprises better. Supported by Alibaba’s cloud computing technology, more and more central government agencies and local governments accelerate their digital transformation.

China’s investment in government services is expected to hit about 16.3 billion yuan by 2020, a compound annual growth of 21.9 percent.

The report also noted that China would make the whole retail industry digital to further merge online services with offline services.

Now, Alibaba Cloud supports 40 percent of the top 500 Chinese companies, as well as nearly 50 percent of China’s listed companies and 80 percent of the country’s startups.

Chinese students behind photo published in Science

The photo of the Moon and the Earth together in Science. (Photo/CCTV app)

A photo capturing the Moon and the Earth together was published in the journal Science on Feb. 15.

The photo was taken by the microsatellite Longjiang-2, which was developed by a group of Chinese students from Harbin Institute of Technology, in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province. Hailed as the best ever photo taken of the Moon and the Earth, it went viral on mainstream international media before its publication.

Wei Mingchuan (lower right) (Photo/CCTV app)

Wei Mingchuan, born in 1991, is in charge of the load subsystem in the microsatellite Longjiang-2 on the Chang’e 4 mission, there to explore the mysterious far side of Moon. He was also the chief designer of LilacSat-2, the first nanosatellite independently designed, developed and controlled by students in China.

The 28-year-old student earned himself the nickname Boss Wei as he is almost the eldest in the team of Longjiang-2.

Tai Mier (Photo/CCTV app)

Tai Mier, born in 1996, designed the camera of Longjiang-2, which snapped the stunning photo. Tai was 20 years old when he began the design.

Huang Jiahe, born in 1999, designed software for the ground monitoring station of Longjiang-2.

“We are born to dream,” member of the youngest team in the Chang’e 4 mission said proudly.

China, Egypt join hands to convert desert into cooperation zone

China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone (People’s Daily/Zhou Zhou)

China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Cooperation Zone, located along the Suez Canal Corridor of Egypt, has become a flagship project of China-Egypt cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) after 10 years of dedication from Chinese enterprises as well as the efforts from the Egyptian side.

The site of the cooperation zone, which used to be a desert, has turned into a new industrial park with large numbers of factories and clean streets.

Now, new construction materials, high and low-pressure equipment, petroleum devices, and machinery manufacturing are four major industries in the cooperation zone, and some of the enterprises there have become a leading force for Egypt’s industrial development. Apart from bringing huge economic benefits, they are also improving technical levels of related industries for the country.

The cooperation zone, located near the Red Sea, covers 1.34 square kilometers and another 2 square kilometers are under the plan. Now, it has attracted 80 enterprises with an actual investment of over $1 billion. It has also achieved more than $1 billion in sales and paid taxes to the country’s government totaling 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($57 million).

China Jushi Co., Ltd, a giant producer of fiberglass, is one of the earliest enterprises that came to the cooperation zone. As the only production base of fiberglass in Africa, the company has created trade volume of over 100 million Egyptian pounds in both upstream as well as downstream industries Furthermore, they have earned $180 million through export for Egypt during 2017.

Last year, Jushi’s new production base, which is able to produce 200,000 tons of fiberglass per year went into service, making Egypt the world’s third-largest fiberglass producer.

Workers in a workshop of Jushi?Jushi Co., Ltd(People’s Daily/Zhou Zhou)

Zhang Yuqiang, president of the company, attributed the success of their projects in Egypt to the BRI as the strategy has significantly boosted China-Egypt industrial cooperation and development of Chinese enterprises.

Except for promoting regional economic development, the cooperation zone has also created job opportunities and offered vocational training for local people.

Reports confirmed that the cooperation zone has directly created over 3,500 local jobs, and drawn more than 30,000 people to work in related industries.

“We only have 25 Chinese workers, and the remaining 350 staff members are all Egyptian,” said Wang Shaijian, vice president of the Egyptian branch office of China Hengshi Foundation Co., Ltd. specialized in manufacturing fiberglass fabrics.

He introduced that after receiving various kinds of training from the Chinese side, the local workers could not manage production on their own.

A man surnamed Walid, who came to Hengshi after graduating four years ago, has grown into an experienced workshop director. He said that his life has been greatly improved since he started working there and his salary has been raised several times over the years.

“We hope to exchange with our Egyptian friends and help them in aspects of technology and management as much as we can although Chinese culture and Egyptian culture vary from each other,” said a staff member from Jushi.

Mahfouz Taha, former vice chairman of Suez Canal Economic Zone, said that the cooperation zone is important for building the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. It has driven the infrastructure development in Egypt and has become a prime example of Egypt-China economic and trade cooperation.

“The BRI has closely bonded the two peoples as well as economic and cultural development in the two countries. We hope to see China and Egypt conduct more cooperation under this framework moving forward,” he added.

Northwest China’s Gansu Province home to more wild pandas

(Photo/Chinanews.com)

A natural reserve in northwest China’s Gansu Province now sees more wild pandas thanks to its environmental improvement.

Baishuijiang Nature Reserve in south Gansu is home to the most significant number of wild pandas in China, according to He Liwen, director of the giant panda management office under the reserve’s administration.

A recent survey indicated that 110 wild pandas live in the reserve, which is now the second largest habitat for pandas among China’s 65 related reserves.

The administration has implemented a sound system for monitoring wild animals in the reserve in recent years. Video clips showing wild pandas “dating” or even foraging at local villages were also revealed recently. The monitoring indicates that wild pandas in the reserve now enjoy a broader range of activities.

Local people’s active participation in the protection also contributes to the rising population of wild pandas in the reserve.

Giant pandas live mainly in the mountains of Sichuan, Gansu and Shaanxi provinces.

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