Later school hours ease morning rush for pupils
NEARLY 1.6 million elementary school students in the city started their new Spring semester yesterday.
And in a pilot scheme, primary and secondary schools in downtown Luwan and suburban Jiading District introduced later starting times to avoid morning rush hour.
Students there can arrive about 20 minutes later than normal, with school starting at 7:45am. Instead of starting lessons immediately, they can go to the playground for open-air games such as basketball or aerobics.
The morning study sessions were replaced by sports in the hope of improving children's fitness.
Besides the pilot schools, commission officials said that the new schedule will be introduced to all 1,500-plus elementary schools in the city later this year. --(2/27)
City to hold flower show
An exhibition of spring flowers will be held at Shanghai Botanic Garden from April 6 to May 7.
Aiming to prepare for the 2010 World Expo, the exhibition hosted by the Shanghai Landscaping Administration Bureau and the Shanghai Flower Association will feature more than 300 varieties of grass and flowers, covering an area of 65,000 square meters.
During the exhibition, a survey will also be conducted to pick the official flower for the World Expo. --(2/26)
People come back as holiday ends
Commuters jam in Shanghai Railway Station yesterday. A great number of people come back to Shanghai for work after spending the Spring Festival in their hometowns. The seven-day Spring Festival holiday break ends yesterday. --(2/25)
City media group in NY push
A media company with ties to the government-run Xinhua News Agency plans to raise up to US$371.5 million in an initial public offering in New York, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Shanghai-based Xinhua Finance Media plans to sell 23 million American depositary shares on the Nasdaq Global Market at an estimated price of between US$12 to US$14 per ADS, the company said in a prospectus seen yesterday by The Associated Press.
Underwriters have the option to buy up to 3.46 million additional shares from Xinhua Finance Media and existing shareholders, it said.
After the share sale, Xinhua Finance Media's parent company, Xinhua Finance Ltd, will hold a 36.7 percent stake, with Patriarch Partners Media Holdings holding eight percent and American founder, chairman and CEO Fredy Bush holding 5.8 percent, the prospectus said.
Xinhua Finance will still hold effective control of 85.3 percent of Xinhua Finance Media's voting rights, it said.
JPMorgan, UBS Investment Bank, CIBC World Markets, WR Hambrecht & Co and ABN AMRO Rothschild are listed as underwriters for the offering.
Xinhua Finance Media provides business and financial news, wealth management and "affluent lifestyle" programming, the company said.
It said funds raised by the IPO would be used to pay off about US$50 million in debt to Xinhua Finance and other affiliated companies, with the remainder to be used for strategic acquisitions and other purposes.
The company reported a net profit of US$3.3 million in 2006. --(2/24)
The Ministry of Education has promised that every child in China will have access to nine years of compulsory schooling by the end of 2007.
Children in 96 percent of Chinese counties now have access to education, according to the MOE, and 984 counties in western China realized the goal in 2006, covering 96 percent of the western population. --(2/23)
The United States issued more than 350,000 visas to Chinese students, businessmen and tourists in 2006, up 18 percent on the previous year.
Maura Harty, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Consular Affairs, said visas to Chinese citizens accounted for eight percent of the total visas America issued last year. About 75 percent of Chinese citizens succeed in obtaining a visa, and the ratio for students is much higher, Harty said in a visit to Shanghai. --(2/22)
Message is clear-cut: Text rules in new year
People in Shanghai sent more than 574.6 million text messages of greetings on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
Figures released yesterday by Shanghai Mobile and Shanghai Unicom, two major telcos in the city, showed a 40 percent year-on-year increase in the use of text messages on New Year's Eve.
The equivalent of about 32 text messages were sent by each cell phone user on Saturday in Shanghai.
Reuniting with family members, wishing luck for the year and sending greetings are key Spring Festival themes.
Nationwide, China Mobile and China Unicom estimated yesterday that Chinese people will send about 14 billion festival text messages during the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday.
Official statistics indicate that Chinese people sent 429.6 billion text messages through mobile phones last year, a daily average of up to 1.2 billion.
Meanwhile, the number of China's mobile phone users is expected to top 520 million in 2007, against 460 million in 2006, according to figures released by the Ministry of Information Industry yesterday. --(2/21)
Shanghai reports steady growth in trade with Taiwan
Trade between Shanghai and Taiwan reached US$25.8 billion last year, a 20 percent growth year-on-year, according to Shanghai Customs.
Exports to Taiwan amounted to US$7.7 billion, while imports from Taiwan were US$18.1 billion, the Shanghai Customs statistics showed.
As one of the most favored cities on the Chinese mainland for Taiwan businessmen, Shanghai also attracts increasing investment from Taiwan.
The municipal government approved 517 Taiwanese-funded projects in 2006, whose contracted investment was US$2.2 billion.
By the end of 2006, Shanghai's contracted investment from Taiwan had reached US$16.4 billion, involving more than 6,300 projects. --(2/20)
EU becomes Shanghai's biggest export market
The European Union has become the biggest export market and import source of Shanghai, according to the latest statistics from the Shanghai customs.
Bilateral trade between Shanghai and the EU topped US$8.77 billion in January, 48.9 percent up on last year. Exports in that month soared to US$6.19 billion, up 56.8 percent, while imports stood at US$2.58 billion, up 32.7 percent.
The major reason for the growth is believed to be the expansion of the EU, as Bulgaria and Romania both became EU members on January 1, 2007, bringing the number of EU members to 27. Trade between Shanghai and the two countries ranges from textiles to electrical products.
Shanghai also saw a trade growth with other trading partners. Its trade with the United States, Japan and ASEAN countries was US$7.28 billion, US$5.15 billion and US$3.58 billion, up 30.7 percent, 17.8 percent and 6.8 percent respectively.
In 2006, EU topped Shanghai's trading partner list, with bilateral trade standing at US$87.1 billion. But the United States was Shanghai's leading export market and Japan led the way in imports. --(2/19)
Scientific research to focus on three projects
Shanghai will concentrate scientific research on three key projects this year - the development of fourth-generation wireless technology, vaccines for infectious diseases and environmentally efficient products, city officials said yesterday.
The 4G technology will enable cell phone users to watch high-definition TV and hold video conferences more freely, while new vaccines will lift the city's public health level.
So far, the Shanghai Science and Technology Commission has invested some 60 million yuan (US$7.5 million) into the 4G project. It wouldn't say yesterday how much has been spent on the other two projects. "Many people will benefit from our projects," commission director Li Yiping said.
Shanghai has built the country's first outdoor testing facility for 4G wireless technology, including vehicle-mounted radio equipment and several stations in Changning District to conduct two-way signal tests. The local network will become a template for the national 4G project, while the city will build a pilot area on Chongming Island this year to test 4G wireless networks, officials said.
The 4G wireless technology is expected to provide data transfer rates of up to 100 megabytes a second - about 100 times faster than current networks and 50 times faster than a 3G network.
Such fast speeds are essential for constant picture, video and voice data transfer to people on the move, experts said.
For the environmental protection, Shanghai will set up a new "World Expo Science and Technology Testing Area" to try new environmental products, particularly eco-efficient buildings with intelligently designed waste-water recycling, solar power and ventilation systems.
Some model buildings will be raised within the 5.28-square-kilometer World Expo site. They will be put into practical use afterwards, officials said. --(2/17)
City swoops on illegal liquor, water outlets
The city is leaving no stone unturned to ensure food and drink safety for the Spring Festival holidays.
About 1,000 safety officers have been conducting snap inspections and their biggest coup has been a batch of 3,000 bottles of fake liquor with famous brands, valued at one million yuan (US$125,000), officials said yesterday.
Officers from the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision found the fakes with brands such as Maotai, Wuliangye and Jiannanchun in a rented room of a school in Putuo District on Wednesday night.
The bureau reminded restaurants and consumers to buy food and drink with "QS" marks on the package, which means the manufacturer holds the correct certification.
Consumers can report any anomalies to the bureau via its hotline of 12365. --(2/16)
African animals get own display at Shanghai Zoo
The Shanghai Zoo opened an Africa Area yesterday, after a year's renovation. Most Africa-originated animals living in the zoo have been moved to the new area, which occupies 4.5 square kilometers.
The new display area cost five million yuan (US$625,000) to build.
It was built to look like vast African grasslands. About 30 animals from more than 10 breeds, including rhinoceroses, tapirs and hippos, will be set free from their cages and will have a brand-new environment.
Lions, however, haven't been moved to the new area yet, as the zoo has to maintain the tranquility of the Africa Area. --(2/15)
Is this a 'golden' year?
Is this year actually a "Year of the Golden Pig" as some say? That is a hot topic of debate of late, and many suggest this is actually a Year of the Fire Pig or the Earth Pig according to the ancient calculation method.
The idea that the coming lunar year should be a Golden Pig Year can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).
Emperor Gaozu of the Tang Dynasty issued a new coin in 621 called "Kaiyuan Tongbao," which inherited the style of "Zhu" coins created during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC).
Five years later, when Emperor Taizong acceded to the throne, China stepped into a great period of prosperity that lasted for about 200 years. The Tang Dynasty also reached its peak under the rule of Emperor Taizong.
People believed the "Kaiyuan Tongbao," or "Zhu" coins brought about the wealth and peace to the country, thus named the coin "Golden Zhu." It happened that 627, the year Emperor Taizong succeeded to the throne, was a Year of the Pig, so people said it was a Golden Pig year, as "Zhu" is pronounced the same as "pig" in Mandarin.
The Year of the Golden Pig appears every 60 years, thus lunar 2007 is also a Golden Pig Year according to the story. --(2/14)
Fog, drizzle and cold tipped
The city is expected to be covered by drizzle or overcast skies later this week, weathermen said yesterday.
A cold front is due to hit the city tomorrow, causing temperatures to drop to around 10 degrees Celsius with lows ranging from four to six degrees, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said yesterday.
Today's temperature is expected to range from nine to 17 degrees, officials said.
And fog is likely to hit the city because of the frequent alternation of cold fronts from the north and warm and wet air from the southwest, said the bureau.
Drivers are reminded to be careful, especially in the mornings and at night, and to listen for fog alerts over the radio.
High winds are likely to hit the Yangshan port area and neighboring Zhejiang Province over the next two days, which might force ferries to shut down, warned local maritime safety administration officials yesterday.
Ferries bound for Zhoushan in Zhejiang Province from Yangshan Deep-Water Port and Luchao Harbor will be stopped if necessary today and tomorrow if wind hits the area, said Yangshan Deep-Water Port maritime authority.
During the current Spring Festival travel peak, nearly 5,000 passengers leave the two local ports every day, travelling by sea to Zhoushan. That's about 20 percent more traffic than normal.
Maritime officials said passengers buying tickets for ferries in the next two days should be prepared for delays.
Ships will be directed to anchor in port by maritime authorities if the wind is considered too dangerous.
Meanwhile, the city's railway and highway authorities have also made plans to deal with possible bad weather during the busy travel season.
Managers at Shanghai Long-Distance Coach Station said they had 1,000 sacks in stock. These will be laid on pavements in case of heavy rain to protect travelers from skidding.
They also have 100 kilograms of salt in case it snows.
Local taxi firms have promised to supply the city's two main railway stations with nearly 1,300 vehicles to help with transporting crowds in bad weather or other emergencies. --(2/13)
City to promote electronic bus stations for blind
Shanghai will put more electronic bus stations into use in downtown areas this year, which can offer audio aid to blind commuters.
These stations will be initially built on Siping Road, Zhongshan Road E1 to Nanpu Bridge.
Authorities said 34 of these electronic bus stations along Siping Road would be completed by the end of this year.
The service is part of a new traffic authority program that will help the city's blind and visually impaired citizens use public transportation.
The system allows passengers with special controllers to activate audio warnings as buses pull into the stops. The warnings also give the users the location of the stop as well as information on other routes available from the stop and directions.
Other functions tell users waiting at the bus stops how long the bus will take to arrive.
The city is now constructing a blueprint for more projects to serves the disabled, including facilities on buses and taxis.
Besides sign language TV programs, the city is also researching global positioning systems on mobile phones and remote-controlled voice services for the blind. --(2/12)
Railways step up a gear for new year
Rail officials in the city and neighboring provinces have pushed out extra trains to cope with the Spring Festival rush, including 54 trains a day from Shanghai.
The trains will not mean more tickets at ticket booths, however, as the increase was planned before the holiday period and nearly all have already been sold, officials said.
More than 3.35 million passengers have departed from stations in Shanghai and provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui in the first six days of this year's Spring Festival travel peak, which started on Saturday, according to the Shanghai Railway Administration.
Passenger turnover in the same period of last year's travel peak outnumbered this year's by 1,987.
The Shanghai-based administration is in charge of railway traffic in the city, in neighboring Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces. It also operates part of Anhui Province's rail service.
More than 831,000 passengers have left from Shanghai's two railway stations in the six-day period, making the city the busiest in the region.
But the big crush is far from over.
"Starting February 10 (today), people boarding trains leaving Shanghai for Anhui Province and northeastern China will reach a peak," said Tao Liping, an official with the Shanghai Railway Administration.
The extra flow will be carried by 54 more trains leaving Shanghai every day from today until the end of the Spring Festival travel peak.
The railway authority said the rail network in the week before New Year's Day would experience "extensive pressure" as people returned home in time for the traditional family reunion on lunar New Year's Eve. --(2/10)
Thousands of fliers postponed by fog
Thousands of passengers were stranded at the city's two civilian airports yesterday as flights were delayed or canceled due to the thick fog that has gripped the city and nearby areas since Wednesday afternoon.
About 30 incoming flights were shifted to alternate airports near the city before 9am yesterday, said Su Weiwei of the city's civil aviation authority.
Airport operations resumed by 9am as visibility improved, but delayed flights had to line up to land or depart, she said.
About 40 flights were affected on Wednesday, she added.
Seventeen flights headed to Pudong International Airport early yesterday morning were forced to land at alternate airports, and some flights from South Korea and Japan had to return home due to the weather, Su said.
Most of the more than 1,000 flights scheduled to take off or land at the two airports were either delayed or canceled yesterday, she noted.
China Eastern Airlines said more than 30 flights were delayed by 3pm yesterday.
In the morning, incoming flights from Paris, Bangkok and Frankfurt were forced to land in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. --(2/9)
Shanghai's GDP per capita exceeds US$7,000 in 2006
Shanghai's gross domestic product per capita has hit US$7,000 last year, according to a regular government press conference yesterday.
Shanghai Statistics Bureau said the local per-capita GDP reached 57,310 yuan (US$7,189) in 2006 based on the standard set by the National Statistics Bureau.
The per-capita GDP hit 59,710 yuan (US$7,490) according to international criterion.
The National Statistics Bureau calculates the per-capita GDP on the basis of the number of residents who have settled in the city for more than six months, while international practices calculate those who have lived in the city for over a year. --(2/8)
City to complete urban sewage network by 2008
Shanghai will finish its sewage collection network in the downtown area by 2008, as an effort to achieve its goal concerning sewage treatment set by its three-year environmental protection plan.
Based on the plan, Shanghai is expected to build or upgrade 18 sewage treatment plants and expand its treatment capacity to 1.66 million cubic meters per day. It will also construct 42 sewage collection projects, adding 1,800 miles of sewage pipes and raise the sewage treatment rate to 75 percent.
As one of the key projects in the new three year, water environment treatment plan, the construction of No. 2 Zhuyuan Sewage treatment plant is smoothly underway and will be put into use in March 22, according to officials with the Shanghai Water Authority. Meanwhile, the No. 1 Zhuyuan sewage treatment plant will undergo renovation this year, thus raising the city's sewage treatment rate from 41 percent to 71 percent.
With an investment of 600 million yuan, No. 2 Zhuyuan sewage treatment plant is expected to treat 500,000 tons of wastewater per day and benefit nearly 2 million citizens upon completion. --(2/7)
Yuyuan market renovated
The pavement around Yuyuan Tourist Market is undergoing renovations to spruce the area up.
The first phase of the project, which started in the middle of last year, should be finished in time for the Spring Festival, officials said over the weekend.
The entire renovation plan, which is expected to cost up to 100 million yuan (US$12.5 million), should be finished in June, according to the garden's management office.
The pavement around the market will be covered with black stone, while wood lattice in square patterns is being put up in the windows to give the building a more traditionally Chinese look, according to Jiang Qingqing.
The garden's drainage and power systems will also be updated to prepare for the annual lantern show during the Spring Festival, which will start on February 17. --(2/6)
New plan helps prevent bird flu
Shanghai Health Bureau has issued an emergency plan to prevent the outbreak of the bird flu virus in response to the infectious disease outbreaks in neighboring countries.
According to the plan, the city has classified the human bird flu into five degrees. The human bird flu outbreak among local citizens is the most serious stage, while the outbreaks in other provinces or countries fall under the other four categories.
The city's disease control and prevention center has selected 31 medical institutes to monitor patients who have bird-flu-like symptoms, such as fever, flu, unidentified pneumonia and unidentified respiratory illnesses.
The center also urges outpatients to report acute fever cases to prevent it from spreading.
Two medical institutes will receive patients who are suspected or confirmed of having the bird flu in Shanghai, the city's health bureau said.
Shanghai Public Health Center will treat adults and the Children's Hospital of Fudan University will take charge of children's cases, according to the statement. --(2/5)
East China Normal University has set up a youth psychological health education study and training center.
With the help of the Hong Kong Youth Foundation, the center will focus on training psychological counselor teams for elementary schools. The foundation donated HK$750,000 (US$746,548) to the center. --(2/4)
Salvage of capsized ship set for next week
Yinchu, the largest vessel to capsize in the Huangpu River since 1949, will be raised from the water next week, maritime officials said yesterday.
Salvage work has been ongoing since the 15,000-ton ship went down in December.
The operation to finally lift the vessel from the Huangpu River will take about 11 hours and maritime officials expect to put limits on shipping in the area during the salvage work.
The cargo vessel was being refit and was anchored at a dock only a few dozen meters from the Nanpu Bridge when it was suddenly flooded and capsized on December 2.
The inclined wreck was partly exposed above the Huangpu River, imposing as a threat and barrier to shipping traffic on the busy waterway.
The Shanghai Salvage Bureau finally launched operations to raise the wreck on December 25 after the ship owners and the engineering company reached agreement to share the nearly 20 million yuan (US$2.5 million) cost. --(2/2)
Overseas Chinese hold charity event
Overseas Chinese entrepreneurs donated 1,000 international phone cards to elders whose children are working in overseas countries in a charity activity yesterday.
Also during the activity, three vice directors of Shanghai Overseas Chinese Enterprise Federation donated money to a fund that helps overseas Chinese develop careers in Shanghai.
They hope more overseas Chinese entrepreneurs will join in the activity to help each other and contribute to the development of Shanghai.
Yang Xiaodu, head of the Shanghai United Front Work Department, said Shanghai¡¯s development needs joint efforts made by overseas Chinese and compatriots.
Their donations represent their responsibility and care for elders and overseas Chinese. --(2/1)