'Lion King' musicians selected
Anthony Gabriele, music director/conductor of the upcoming Disney musical "The Lion King," selected 12 local musicians yesterday to take part in the performances after a three-day audition at the Shanghai Grand Theater.
"It's important to involve more local people in this production," Gabriele said.
He said since musicals are a relatively new art form in China, it would be good to involve as many Chinese people in the organization and performance of the show as possible.
More than 30 musicians from the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, Shanghai Opera House and Shanghai Conservatory of Music auditioned.
The 12 who were selected will be divided into two groups. They will play in the 17-piece band with foreign musicians during the 100 performances at the Shanghai Grand Theater between July 18 and late October.
"Skills are very important but I also require musicians to adjust quickly with the characters in the musical," said Gabriele, who has worked as both music director and conductor of "The Lion King" for three years. --(4/28)
Nuptials' busy holiday
About 30,000 couples will get married during the Labor Day holiday, a 35 percent increase over last year, according to the Shanghai Marriage Management Division, which for the first time required all 19 marriage registries to stay open during the holiday.
The rush comes from a traditional belief that the Year of the Dog is auspicious for marriage. In addition, the lunar calendar said last year was a bad time to get hitched as it did not contain the start of lunar "spring," also known as the "widow year."
During last year's Labor Day holiday, only six registries in the city remained open for one day. --(4/27)
Saks Fifth Avenue coming to Shanghai
Roosevelt China Investments Corp (RCIC) and Saks Incorporated, owner of Saks Fifth Avenue, recently signed a contract with Shanghai's Huangpu District for the establishment of a 30,000-square-meter Fifth Avenue store in the Bund area.
The operator of the world's largest luxury department store granted RCIC the right to open Fifth Avenue stores on the Chinese Mainland.
The store, expected to open to the public before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, will be the first US luxury department store to enter China.
Saks Fifth Avenue, a collection of top global brands, plans to open six outlets in China, with its headquarters to be in Shanghai.
The Bund area near Nanjing Road is set to become a center for luxury brands, dining & entertainment venues and hotels. --(4/26)
Central government backs 2010 World Expo
The Chinese government will fully support Shanghai's preparations for the 2010 World Expo, said Gao Yan, member of the Organizing Committee for World Expo 2010 Shanghai China and also Vice Chairwoman of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, at the State Council's press conference yesterday.
China has recently sent out invitations to 166 countries and nearly 50 international organizations to take part in the 2010 Shanghai World Expo, which is eagerly awaited the world. Led by the State Council, all domestic cities, provinces, autonomous regions, companies and non-governmental agencies are required to join the expo activities. National departments are also offering legal guarantees and preferential policies such as tax breaks to support the expo.
The Chinese government has played an active role in promoting the 2010 World Expo, seeing it as a means to enhance the image and profile of China in the world. --(4/25)
Food poisoning cases drop 40%
The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration said there were three big food poisoning cases in the city in the first three months of the year.
The cases affected a total of 76 people including one death. The number of cases decreased 40 percent and the number of people involved dropped 29 percent over the same period last year. Some farmers in Chongming County were poisoned after eating an improperly prepared toxic puffer fish at a self-cooked banquet on February 27. One person died afterwards. --(4/24)
Enter the Bench-Dragon
A special dragon dance, performed by 60 farmers from Dongyang City, Zhejiang Province, kicks off the 17-day folk fair at Shanghai's Longhua Temple on Friday. The 60-meter-long dragon is made of 40 benches. --(4/23)
Tongji inks hybrid deal with Italy
Tongji University will team up with several Italian auto manufacturers to research hybrid motorcycles that are expected to significantly reduce emissions and save energy, Tongji officials revealed yesterday.
Tongji signed an agreement with the Italian Ministry for Environment and Territory yesterday to set up a Sino-Italian Sustainable Urban Mobility Research Center in the city.
Tongji researchers have already done some theoretical work on the hybrid motorcycle, but have yet to build a prototype. The motor will be designed to use multiple fuels - mainly electricity plus gasoline or natural gas.
It will be able to switch between the two power systems depending on the situations. If the motorcycle is waiting at a red light or running at a very low speed, the motor will shut off the gasoline engine and rely simply on electrical power.
That is expected to ease environmental pollution by reducing emissions by about 30 percent, Tongji officials said.
During the acceleration process, the electric engine is also able to help the gasoline engine reach a high speed within a short period. That is expected to reduce power consumption and improve engine efficiency by 30 percent, researchers said.
The Italian government will put up 1 million euros (US$1.23 million) to build 10 prototypes over the next 18 months. --(4/21)
City inflation sees slow growth
Shanghai's inflation grew slower in March, led by smaller increases in food, housing and maintanance costs.
The city's Consumer Price Index rose 0.6 percent from a year earlier, 0.2 percent slower than the growth in February, Shanghai Statistics Bureau said yesterday. Food prices, making up one-third of the total index, jumped 1.4 percent after growing 2 percent in February. Transport and telecommunications costs continued the downtrend, dropping 3.2 percent from a year earlier. --(4/20)
Elevated-road opens to traffic
Shanghai's largest combined road and rail project, with the railway running beneath an elevated road, was opened to traffic yesterday.
The project, at Humin Road (the section from Xinjian Road to Xincheng Road) extends 605.25 meters and forms an important part of the construction of Shanghai South Railway Station. The completion of the project is expected to greatly-ease traffic congestion on Humin Road. --(4/19)
The Vocational Training Center yesterday said that more than 57,800 people have taken the Shanghai government-subsidized training program in the first three months this year.
That is 35 percent higher than during the same period last year. About two-thirds of the trainees are under the age of 35. --(4/18)
Warmer week on horizon, says bureau
It will be much warmer this week, with a weekly high of 26 or 27 degrees Celsius, weathermen forecast yesterday.
Rain is likely tomorrow and Wednesday, but the showers will not last long and will have little influence on temperatures, according to the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
The weekly average temperature will be about 16 degrees, with a low of 10 degrees.
People were cautioned not to shift to summer clothing as the temperature will drop at least 10 degrees between midday and night.
Today will be sunny and the daily high will be 23 degrees, 5 degrees higher than yesterday. The low will be 12 degrees.
Showers are expected tomorrow evening and on Wednesday morning. Both days will be mostly cloudy and temperatures are expected to remain above 20 degrees. Meteorologists also said it will be windy tomorrow and Wednesday, with gusts up to 38 kilometers per hour. --(4/17)
Traffic cops rated on number of tickets
Don't be surprised if you pick up a few extra traffic tickets this month, even if you don't own a car, as traffic police will now be partially evaluated on how many fines they hand out during a week.
The city's General Team of Traffic Police said yesterday it will begin keeping statistics on how many tickets every police unit in the city hands out each week. The numbers will be published internally for police officers, but won't be made available to the public.
Traffic police also announced yesterday they have recently spent 9 million yuan (US$1.11) on 17 police cars with electronic cameras, 200 police motorcycles and 500 digital cameras.
The equipment was dispatched yesterday, the first day of a new crack down on pedestrians and cyclists who break the law, to traffic police in various districts across the city. The cameras will be used to record the scene of car accidents and photograph drivers, cyclists and pedestrians breaking traffic laws.
The city's latest traffic campaign, which will run until the end of this year, will focus on cyclists running red lights and pedestrians who cross the street against a red light.
If you are given a ticket, the best advice is keep your mouth shut. Police said they will hand out the highest fines possible to those who insult or scold police.
More than 10 jaywalkers were fined between 8am and 9am yesterday on Tongchuan Road, which is notoriously busy and chaotic.
Pedestrians and cyclists who run red lights face fines ranging from 5 to 50 yuan. --(4/15)
Six tourism centers planned
The city will develop six areas into tourism centers, complete with conference facilities, exhibition halls, and plenty of hotel rooms in time for the 2010 World Expo.
The city expects to host 1,500 international fairs annually in 2010, but officials say Shanghai's exhibition industry lacks trained professionals and infrastructure, including transportation and accommodation. The six areas are located around Shanghai's five major exhibition centers. New hotels, stores and restaurants will be near to the centers.
The first two tourism areas will be set up near the Shanghai International Convention Center and the Intex Shanghai, in Lujiazui area. The next section will be based on the other side of the Huangpu River, near Shanghai Mart, the Shanghai New International Expo Center, the Shanghai Exhibition Center, and Shanghai Everbright Convention and Exhibition Center.
Smaller tourism basis will be set up on Chongming Island, Hengsha Island, inside the National Tourist Resort near Sheshan Hill, and around Dianshan Lake.
In addition, a training program will soon be launched by the local tourism industry watchdog, as the city is facing a severe shortage of professionals who know how to deal with the business tourism sector. --(4/14)
Walls along Bund set for cleaning
Four kinds of detergent will be used to clean up illegal ads along the Bund before the May Day holiday, officials from the Huangpu District Urban Management Team said yesterday.
Most of the illegal ads are written on walls in paint, printing ink and chalk. Sometimes paper ads are stuck to the walls, officials said. After consulting several chemical factories, officials got four detergents to treat those illegal ads. The team leader said anyone caught putting up new illegal ads will be severely punished. --(4/13)
May Day holiday schedule unveiled
Locals will have seven straight days off during the Labor Day Holiday starting on May 1 but they will have to work during the weekend of April 29-30, the city government announced yesterday.
The Labor Day Holiday officially only has three days off but the government "puts off" the weekend of April 29-30 to May 4-5 in order to make it a week-long holiday. --(4/12)
Seminar on restructuring of banking sector
The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) and Banco de Espana held a high-level seminar in Shanghai yesterday on the sharing of different countries' experience of banking sector restructuring.
More than 160 delegates from 17 countries attended the seminar, including senior managers from major commercial banks in China and Spain, Chinese representatives of foreign banks and delegates from the International Monetary Fund, EU and the Bank for International Settlements. Chinese academics also attended.
"The banking sector plays a key role in national economic development. We will make more efforts to attract strategic investors, improve management systems and enhance the risk management of banks," said Cheng Siwei, Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, adding that companies which qualify will be offered more support to go public.
"A healthy financial system ensures capital is allocated in a highly-efficient way. In the 1970s, the financial sector of Spain was facing many challenges, but we implemented reforms and acquired a great deal of experience along the way. We would like our experience to be of use to the whole world," said Miguel Sebastian, Spanish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy and Finance.
The Chinese banking sector has made great strides in recent years, with bad-loan ratios in state-owned banks slumping, said Liu Mingkang, chairman of the CBRC. The CBRC and Banco de Espana will sign a cooperation agreement during the seminar. To date, the CBRC has signed supervisory and cooperation agreements with banking authorities in 20 countries and areas. --(4/11)
Uni marks its 110th anniversary
Thousands of Jiao Tong University graduates from across the country and overseas gathered at the school's two campuses over the weekend to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the oldest university in the city. --(4/10)
Mickey Mouse promotion
Characters promote Hong Kong Disneyland at Shanghai Super Brand Mall on Friday. The amusement park is holding a promotional tour to attract mainland visitors, which will end on May 3 and cover five cities including Beijing and Guangzhou.--(4/9)
Planners sort out Metro maze
City planners have tweaked their blueprints for a major Metro hub in the Xujiahui commercial zone to avoid construction on major thoroughfares.
Entrances for the two lines that are being added will be moved to side streets, Metro designers said yesterday.
"The new plan will help us enormously in reducing construction disturbance to traffic and the commercial environment," said Liu Weijie, deputy director of the Shanghai Urban Construction Design and Research Institute.
The new Line 9 will go from Songjiang District to Xuhui District, and Line 11 from Jiading District to Lingang New Town in Nanhui District.
Both lines will connect at Xujiahui with the existing Line 1.
Construction of the first phase of Line 9 is under way, but it wasn't clear yesterday when the renovation of the Xujiahui Metro Station will start.
The subway tubes are built using underground construction technology that doesn't disturb the areas above. But station construction does affect street-level traffic.
To cut congestion, designers will divert Line 9 from Hongqiao Road to a new street that will run north of Gateway plaza.
They have also decided to divert Line 11 from Huashan Road to Gongcheng Road. --(4/7)
To strengthen senior officials' sense of responsibility and prevent serious production accidents, the safety production authority signed a duty document with all district governments and major enterprises.
Minhang District, Luwan District, Baosteel Group and Shanghai Petrochemical Company became the first in the city to sign the annual agreement. According to the document, related companies and government departments should hold safety production meetings every three months and conduct security inspections at least twice a year. --(4/6)
MoMA exhibit to open
Seventy-two pieces of artwork on loan from the New York-based Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), including some by Cezanne and Picasso, will be unveiled at the Shanghai Museum on Friday.
"MoMA is widely known for its high-quality collection," said Li Feng, the museum's spokesman. "The 72 items were actually selected from among 6,000 pieces."
The pieces to be displayed vary from sketches and watercolor paintings to gouache and collages.
Titled Master Drawings from the Museum of Modern Art: Cezanne to Pollock, the show reflects the achievements in Western drawings from the late 19th century to early 20th century.
They will be on display for three months.
According to Chen Xiejun, director of Shanghai Museum, this exhibit will echo the Guggenheim Museum's show that was held in 1997.
Founded in 1929, MoMA is an educational institute at the forefront of art museums. --(4/5)
Seafood vendors await market relocation
Forty-six street-front stalls at the aquatic products wholesale market on Tongchuan Road will be moved to make way for construction of a Metro line, officials from the market revealed yesterday.
Officials denied rumors that the stalls would be moved away from the market, saying they will be relocated to another part of the bazaar.
The entire seafood market will have to move to a new place in the future, however, according to a market official surnamed Zhu.
The district government plans to move the seafood market to the suburbs in order to develop Zhenru Town, where the market is currently located.
The market, along with the Sanguantang Poultry and Egg Wholesale Market, the city's largest poultry market, the Cao'an Wholesale Market, a major vegetable and meat market, and the Huazhong Fruit Market will all be moved to Qingpu District, where a big wholesale market focusing on business around Yangtze Delta is waiting for stall owners, Zhang Shuixin, office director of the district revealed yesterday morning.
Zhang said the move hasn't started yet, and won't be complete for two or three years.
Currently, stall owners in the seafood market are a little bit worried about the relocation, Zhang said.
Set up in October 1996, the seafood market now has about 800 regular stalls and is the most famous and biggest seafood market in the city.
It is located at the intersection of Tongchuan Road and Caoyang Road, a 20-minute drive from Hongqiao International Airport. --(4/4)
3 pandas home in Shanghai
Three giant panda cubs from Sichuan Province moved into their new home at the Shanghai Wild Animals Park over the weekend, giving the park the largest panda population of any such facility in China.
The three cubs, all males, have joined three adult pandas, one male and two females, already living in the park.
The two-year-old cubs, raised in the Sichuan Wolong Panda Research Center, started to meet the public at the Nanhui District park yesterday.
It's the first time the Wolong panda center has sent young pandas out as a group to live elsewhere.
Attendant Xu Yalin from the research center accompanied the pandas throughout their journey and will care for them for six months in Shanghai to help them adapt to their new environment.
A panda habitat covering more than 1,500 square meters has been set up in the park at a cost of 500,000 yuan (US$61,000). The habitat has an air-conditioning system that will keep the habitat between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius. --(4/3)
The Shanghai office of Youth Business China said they had subsidized 1.54 million yuan (US$190,123) and helped 31 business-starting plans since the program was launched in the city two years ago.
The start-up businesses have helped more than 200 locals land jobs. The office will also launch a Website, inviting 70 experienced business people to work as volunteer consultants for young business starters. The office is a national program helping young men to start their own business. --(4/2)