China to support families in infant care

Children decipher riddles written on lanterns in Fenghuang kindergarten in Anhui province on Feb 18. LI XIN/FOR CHINA DAILY

BEIJING — China will offer families support and guidance on infant care, according to a guideline on the care of infants under three released by the General Office of the State Council.

The country will guarantee maternity leave and encourage employers to enable employees who are parents of infants to work flexible hours, said the guideline.

The government will support stay-at-home parents in finding employment, providing related information, employment guidance and vocational skill training.

The guideline also called for early child development guidance for families as well as healthcare services for infants provided by the government.

The country will support the development of various types of infant care facilities and will encourage employers to offer infant care services in the workplace.

Measures will be taken to promote infant care facilities in communities, especially in crowded neighborhoods, according to the guideline.

The guideline also noted that China will strengthen supervision over infant care service providers and will require professional qualifications for infant care workers.

China to expand healthcare education in poverty-stricken regions

A doctor measures blood pressure for local residents at a village in Wuzhishan, Hainan province. [Photo/Xinhua]

GUIYANG – China aims to strengthen healthcare education in poverty-stricken regions by introducing innovative forms of healthcare knowledge popularization.

At a meeting recently held by the National Health Commission (NHC) in southwest China’s Guizhou province, local health authority officials from across China shared their experience and practice of equipping people with healthcare knowledge in impoverished regions.

Basic knowledge and skills of healthcare were adapted into folk songs in some regions in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, said Huang Song, a health authority official from Guangxi, adding that folk song competitions, performing tours and joint performances with healthcare themes were also held to educate people.

Introduction of healthcare knowledge and promotion of healthy lifestyles are embedded into meetings of local residents, said a health authority official from the city of Zunyi, Guizhou province.

A three-year action plan for health promotion in poverty-stricken regions, jointly issued last year by NHC and the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, calls for strengthened healthcare education in impoverished areas to reduce the chances of falling into or slipping back into poverty due to illness.

Country’s largest, heaviest swivel bridge rotates successfully

A 100-meter-long and 33-meter-wide swivel bridge, the country’s largest and heaviest, which spans a major railway and a highway in South China’s Guangdong province, was turned to its targeted position early Tuesday after rotating for 70 minutes without affecting the traffic.

The swivel bridge, part of the Shantou-Zhanjiang Expressway, rotated perfectly though it towers as high as 25 stories and is as heavy as 10,000 cars, said Yang Weishuang, an engineering chief at the China Railway No 4 Engineering Group Co Ltd-the company that built it.

The expressway is considered a boost to the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, which encompasses nine cities in South China’s Guangdong, in addition to the two special administrative regions, he said.

The T-shaped swivel bridge, as the No 2 pier complex of the super bridge crossing the Beijiang River, connected the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway and the S253 provincial highway perfectly after rotating at an angle of 87 degrees.

After 22 months of construction at a cost of 33 million yuan ($4.9 million), the swivel bridge showed the excellent skills of Chinese builders from China Railway No 4 Engineering Group and is a boost to the full completion of the Huizhou-Qingyuan Section of the Shantou-Zhanjiang Expressway in 2020, Yang said.

China Railway No 4 Engineering Group Information Office director Jiang Longyu said, with a history of 69 years, the group has built 14.6 percent of China’s existing 130,000 kilometers of railway lines.

Taking advantage of a 110-minute “dormant period” in traffic on the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway, an on-site construction commander ordered the bridge to slowly rotate clockwise at a speed of 73 centimeters per minute starting at 1:30 am.

While the swivel beam is installed with speed sensors and cameras to monitor and adjust the swivel speed in real time, on-site staff members also monitored the rotation in real time to ensure the swivel accurately fit into its targeted position.

During the construction process, the Beijing-Guangzhou Railway usually has a train running on average every five minutes while the S253 highway also is busy with traffic as an important transportation artery. To reduce interference on the traffic, the bridge uses a rotating body, which was built in parallel with the railway and the highway at open spaces between them.

Prior to the event, the builders built and prepared every item needed, including the bridge’s box girder, the ball joint installation and the traction system, for the rotation.

“The principle of the swivel beam is like pushing a grinding disc. We put a turntable on the bridge pier and use the jack to push the bridge to rotate,” said Yan Abei, China Railway No 4 Engineering Group’s project manager for the 13th Team at the Huizhou-Qingyuan Section of the Shantou-Zhanjiang Expressway.

The Huizhou-Qingyuan Section of the expressway, with a 20.79 billion yuan investment by Guangdong Provincial Transportation Group, runs for 128.3 kilometers and is a key project in the province.

Upon completion, the journey from Huizhou city, which borders the provincial capital of Guangzhou in the east, to Qingyuan city, bordering Guangzhou in the northwest, will be shortened from three hours to 90 minutes.

The expressway will help boost the coordinated development of Guangdong’s eastern and western regions, and while Huizhou is part of the Greater Bay Area, it will promote the building of the Greater Bay Area, Yang said.

Facilities urged to strengthen welfare programs

Trainers give directions to dolphins during a performance at Hong Kong’s Ocean Park. ZHU WANCHANG/CHINA DAILY

There is a long tradition of aquarium shows, where captive marine mammals are put on display for audiences across the world. However, experts are voicing concerns about the practice of capturing marine mammals and using them for entertainment, claiming that the performances impose great stress on the animals involved.

Commercial motives have seen a rising number of marine mammals being captured or raised in captivity, while some aquariums have established breeding centers to ensure that animals will give birth to the next generation of performers, according to Zheng Yu, a campaign manager with World Animal Protection, an NGO devoted to improving the conditions of captive animals.

A chain has been formed whereby marine mammals are seized, then transported and finally imprisoned in small pools in aquariums. Each step puts the animals in danger, Zheng said.

Most of the aquariums involved are privately owned, but they are overseen by the ministries of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and supervision of animal shows to ensure the animals are adequately protected is fraught with difficulty, she added.

Moreover, breeding and raising the mammals, along with disease prevention and ensuring they are healthy, involves several other national agencies, while some animal entertainment venues are supervised by cultural and tourism authorities.

More than 250 whales had been hunted and sent to marine parks in China by 2015, according to a report by the China Cetacean Alliance, which also estimated that 491 whales from 11 species had been bred in marine parks.

Haichang Ocean Park Holdings Ltd, the first Chinese company in the marine entertainment sector to list on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, owns eight marine parks in China, including the largest, located in Shanghai.

The company has established its own ethical breeding base for marine mammals, said Jia Shuying, Haichang’s marketing manager.

“We always pay particular attention to animal protection, as each marine mammal in our park has been adopted through legitimate channels,” she said, though she declined to disclose further details of the breeding and raising programs.

Zheng, the animal protection campaign manager, said aquariums should encourage a sense of public welfare and protection of marine mammals, rather than simply pursuing profits.

“It is important for advanced marine parks or zoos to make animal welfare their top priority, to offer more care to captive animals and improve their living conditions. That would help to alleviate behavior such as abuse and injury to animals at the same time,” she said.

“Aquariums should take advantage of their unique situations to conduct comprehensive studies of marine mammals, such as captive dolphins, and fully use the results of that research in wildlife rescue and protection programs. That would result in aquariums becoming wildlife protection centers, rather than just animal circuses.”

Tibet banks on tourism to lift its economy

Potala Palace. [Photo provided to China Daily]

LHASA – It was four days away from the opening of the annual peach blossom festival and workers were busy setting up the steel stage structure. Yet hundreds of tourists were already bustling under the wild peach groves in the mountains of Kala village of Nyingchi in the Tibet autonomous region.

Undaunted by the effects of acute mountain sickness, Wang Xiaofang and her husband had driven from Hainan province, at sea level, to the high-altitude village.

“Hainan has all sorts of flowers, but no peach blossoms,” said Wang, who posed for a selfie against the blue sky and distant snow-capped mountains. Tibet’s exotic culture and stunning landscape, at altitudes averaging 4,000 meters, proved too hard to resist, and they planned a two-week holiday in the region.

The couple are part of a tourism boom in Tibet that is expected to register 40 million tourists this year, up from 10 million in 2012.

A key factor accounting for the spike is Tibet’s improved transportation system, including an expanding network of highways and an increase in flight links with other regions. Its hospitality facilities are also improving.

In the village of Zhaxigang, 54 of the 68 households have become inns to cater to the rising number of tourists. Nyingchi boasts of beautiful flowers, mountains, canyons, waterfalls and glaciers and is a top tourist destination, along with Lhasa, the regional capital.

Just 3 kilometers from the village, Lulang International Tourism Town, with an investment of 3.8 billion yuan ($567 million) from Guangdong, received more than a million tourists last year, with sales revenue of 50 million yuan.

The regional government expects to further boost the tourism sector, which accounted for more than one-third of the region’s economy in 2018, up from 29 percent in 2017.

Tibet’s GDP grew by 9.1 percent in 2018, and was among the nation’s fastest.

In a bid to attract more tourists during the winter, the region has rolled out preferential policies, including waiving admission charges for some scenic spots and discounted flight tickets during the cold season.

Tibet received 2.46 million tourists from Nov 1 last year to March 15, up 84.2 percent year-on-year, and the region’s tourism industry brought in around 2.62 billion yuan during the same period, a year-on-year growth of 41.1 percent, according to the regional tourism development department.

Two provinces clamp down on chemical plants

Toxic chemicals in the air dissipating after the massive plant explosion in Yancheng, Jiangsu province. [Photo/IC]

Hundreds of facilities closed; rules laid down on locations, resident proximity

Jiangsu and Shandong provinces, the two regions with the most valuable chemical output, have made stricter environmental protection policies and closed many chemical plants following a blast in Jiangsu’s Xiangshui county that killed 78 people in March.

The provincial government released a plan earlier this week calling for closure or relocation of all chemical plants within 1 kilometer of the Yangtze River and outside a designated chemical industry park by the end of 2020.

No chemical parks or projects will be built or expanded inside the 1 km zone, and factories failing to meet environmental protection standards will be closed.

Qualified factories are being encouraged to move to nearby chemical parks. Those that cannot be closed or relocated must move nearby residents to safer places.

Jiangsu has 53 chemical parks, with seven of those ranking in the country’s top 30 in output – especially pesticides, dyes and petrochemicals. Jiangsu’s chemical industry revenue reached more than 2 trillion yuan ($295 billion) in 2017, ranking second in the country in total output, behind Shandong province.

In 2017, Jiangsu had more than 5,000 chemical factories. Now it has 1,660 chemical enterprises that produce less than 20 million yuan annually, 71 in environmental sensitive areas and 34 outside chemical industrial parks closer than 1 km to the Yangtze.

Shandong province, whose total chemical output value leads the country, has closed more than 400 chemical factories since April 1.

The province has more than 9,000 chemical factories and has closed or relocated 600 of them and suspended 2,000 since the second half of 2017.

Li Chunhua, director-general of Green Stone Environmental Protection Center, an NGO in Nanjing, Jiangsu, said the plan is comprehensive and focuses on solving safety problems.

“More government information disclosure and public supervision should be encouraged,” Li said, adding that public supervision is an effective supplement to government regulation and companies’ self-discipline, but it was not mentioned in the plan.

“Increasing the factory leaders’ consciousness of environmental protection is more important,” he said. “They should pay attention to environmental protection in all aspects of management.”

The blast in Xiangshui on March 21 at the Xiangshui Chemical Industrial Park in Yancheng, Jiangsu, injured hundreds of people and led to the closure of the entire chemical park.

Jinan, Shandong province, and Ulaanqab in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region both reported deadly production accidents in April, with 10 people killed at Qilu Tianhe Pharmaceutical Co in Jinan and four dead and 35 injured at Dongxing Chemical Co in Ulaanqab.

On April 29, the State Council’s Workplace Safety Commission ordered leading officials in the two cities to take effective measures to ensure the safe production of hazardous chemicals, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Survey: Work environment remains difficult for working mothers

Employees work at a office at midnight in Shanghai on April 24, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

Working mothers hold negative attitude toward the possibility of promotion and even toward their jobs, according to a recent report by Zhaopin, an online recruitment platform headquartered in Beijing.

The survey is based on 8,700-plus effective questionnaires collected.

According to the report, the working environment for women remains unfriendly, especially for working mothers and married women without children.

About 39.5 percent of surveyed working mothers did not expect promotion, while the proportion with married women without children reached as high as 40.6 percent.

However, single women were still confident in their future career as only 30.4 percent of surveyed single females said they had no hope of being promoted.

Barriers stopping working mothers from higher positions varied although the biggest reason cited was spending time with family and children, the report said.

According to the report, working mother spent 3.17 hours dealing with family matters, much higher than the single women who spent 1.92 hours and married women without children who spent 2.68 hours. About 43 percent of surveyed working mother said they had to spent time taking care of the family members, thus distracting them from the job.

Moreover, facilities for working mothers, such as baby care rooms, still lag behind, the report said.

Data cited from the report shows that only 8.22 percent of companies surveyed had baby care rooms while 40 percent of working mother complained that they didn’t even have maternity leave.

Guo Sheng, chief executive officer with Zhaopin, said problems such as expensive child-raising costs and lack of facilities for working mothers are exacerbating the problem, requiring both the government and employees to take active measures to help relieve the financial and psychological burdens on working mothers.

Finding the inner peace in festivals

An elderly man offers flowers at the Chongqing Martyrs’ Cemetery in Gele Mountain

on April 6, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

Core values of traditional Chinese festivals like benevolence, harmony and filial piety continue to find a place in festivals like Tomb Sweeping Day, Xu Lin reports.

Zheng Fanying, 46, often sends messages about her recent activities to her late father on popular instant-messaging app WeChat, and also on special occasions such as his birthday and Tomb Sweeping Day.

Also called the Pure Brightness Festival, Tomb Sweeping Day falls on Friday this year, when Chinese will offer sacrifices and pay respects to the deceased at tombs. It is also a tradition when one lets off firecrackers, burns incense and paper money, and make offerings like flowers and fruits to the ancestors.

When Zheng’s father passed away from cancer in 2015, it took her three years to move on from the inner pain. She wrote an article in his memory for an online cancer forum, with details about how he was diagnosed and treated. It became immensely popular and evoked empathy from the family members of cancer patients.

“There are various ways to commemorate the deceased in modern society. You just have to select the way that suits you best, just like my article,” says Zheng, a Beijing-based editor.

“People live on as long as we remember them, which is also the best way to honor them. Just like Pixar’s animation hit Coco, those from the Land of the Dead continue to exist as long as they are still remembered by someone on Earth.”

Besides “chatting” with her late father on WeChat, Zheng has also uploaded a digital photo album of him at her home so that she can see him always.

People make offerings of flowers at a cemetery in the Dongxiang district of Fuzhou, Jiangxi province, on last year’s Tomb Sweeping Day. [HEJIANGHUA/FORCHINADAILY]

“I feel comforted greatly by doing so. It is as if my father is still with me. When I burn paper money for him, it upsets me a bit as it reminds me that he has passed away.”

But that does not stop her from joining the traditional grave-sweeping activity with her family, as it gives her an opportunity to read epitaphs on other gravestones and understand the people who are remembered by their dear ones.

“I cannot but choke back tears when people pass away at young ages. When death comes calling everything is over. It makes me want to live in the present and cherish my life more.”

Some Chinese people have gone one step further by establishing an online memorial site for their deceased relatives, through which they can offer virtual sacrifices like flowers and candles and post articles.

“I think it’s a good alternative. It is convenient to hold memorial ceremonies online and people can express their sorrow and grief when they want,” she says.

While some Chinese people are open to new options, there are still many who prefer the actual on-site tomb-sweeping experiences.

Jiang Yuchun used to visit tombs of famous people and revolutionary martyrs on Tomb Sweeping Festival. This year, he plans to join a traditional temple fair at Yixian county, Hebei province, to understand the local folk culture.

In 2018, he joined a small tomb-sweeping activity of John Rabe and Robert de Besange in Berlin, with over 20 local Chinese people. During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), they offered numerous Chinese refugees food and shelter in Nanjing and Shanghai. Jiang is the initiator of the rebuilding of their tombs and monuments. He believes it’s important to publicize their great contribution to the Chinese people and says it is good to pay homage during the festival.

China has 14m authors of online literature: report

A moviegoer walks past a poster for Mojin: The Lost Legend, an Indiana Jones-style thriller adapted from the online novel Guichuideng, at a cinema in Nantong, Jiangsu province. [Photo/China Daily]

HANGZHOU — China’s registered authors of online literary works totaled more than 14 million as of 2018, according to the latest report issued by the China Writers Association.

Organizations of online literature writers have been established in most of China’s provincial-level regions, said the annual report on China’s internet literature, which was unveiled at a three-day event on online literature co-organized by the CWA.

In 2018, an increasing number of online literary works that were of the realistic fiction genre and the number and quality of historical works written in a way that reflects the times have increased.

“Writing historical novels with a realistic attitude is hard but makes me happier,” said Jiang Shengnan, the author of “The Legend of Mi Yue,” who has recently been focusing on the history of the Song, Liao and Western Xia dynasties. In her opinion, conducting textual research, which is the premise for writing historical fiction, is difficult but enables the author to gain new knowledge and better understand the mood of ancient people.

Li Jingze, deputy head of the CWA, said with readers’ needs constantly improving and scientific and technological further advancing, online literary writers should strive to break new ground and bring about more great works.

Old stone tablet unearthed in Hebei

SHIJIAZHUANG – Archaeologists in North China’s Hebei province unearthed an old stone tablet dating back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), containing information related to environmental protection, local authorities said Monday.

The local culture relic protection department of the city of Wuan said the stone tablet was discovered in Yangyi village. With a height of 0.64 meters and width of 0.5 meters, the well-preserved tablet has characters carved on the front side, depicting villagers keeping their water source clean, protecting wild animals, and strictly banning guns.

The tablet, dating back to 1862, also specified the number of fines for each violation and the law enforcers, according to the inscription.

The inscription showed a relatively complete environmental protection law, which could be the earliest stone tablet with an inscription of ecological protection found in the area. It reflected that residents had a good awareness of environmental protection at that time, said Jia Mingtian, who led the research on the tablet.

The new findings are important for understanding the ecological environment, social order and folk customs in the southern parts of the province in the Qing Dynasty, according to archaeologists.