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  • Metro's extra length aims to satisfy
    The Metro gets supersized today as the first eight-carriage train rolls into service.
    The train can hold 800 more passengers than current six-car trains, and will initially be used to relieve congestion on Metro Line 1, the city's busiest, Metro managers said yesterday.
    Over the next three days, the train will operate in the afternoons outside rush hours before going into full operation. This buffering procedure is common for newly rolled out stock.
    The second eight-car train is scheduled to come into service on Metro Line 1 before the Spring Festival next month, according to managers.
    Another 14 trains will be phased in over the next few years, said Metro officials.
    The extra length of the trains will make full use of Metro platforms, which were built to cater to eight carriages.
    In September, Metro officials said the extra trains would cut the longest interval between Metro Line 1 trains from the current nine minutes to six.
    The new trains are also equipped with a more powerful air-conditioning system and each carriage has a device that allows passengers to talk with the driver in the event of an emergency.
    The trains were built by a consortium of France's Alstom SA, Shanghai Alstom Transport Co and Nanjing Puzhen Vehicle Factory.
    The city signed a deal for the trains with French President Jacques Chirac during his visit to the city in August 2004.
    The eight-car trains are the latest effort by the city's Metro operators to ease heavy traffic flow on Metro lines.
    Daily passenger turnover on Metro Line 1, which runs north and south across downtown, stands at 1.1 million. The line opened in 1995.
    Trains on Metro Line 1 are up to 25 percent overloaded during rush hours, according to Metro managers. --(1/31)

  • Local banking institutions hit 3,108
    The number of local banking institutions has hit 3,108, making Shanghai the city with the most integrated banking sectors in China, the local banking regulatory commission said yesterday.
    Major domestic bank organization and operation centers have been flocking to the city, improving the management and operation capability of the city's banking sector. Currently, 36 banking corporations and 27 operation centers are operating in Shanghai.
    Meanwhile, bad loan ratios at banks in Shanghai have dropped to a record low of 2.51 percent at the end of last year amid improving credit.
    It is the first time the non-performing loan ratio, which dipped 0.55 percentage point a year ago, has fallen below three percent in Shanghai.
    The outstanding value of bad loans sat at 46.21 billion yuan (US$5.92 billion) in the city at the end of 2006, down 4.31 billion yuan from the beginning of 2006, the Shanghai Bureau of the China Banking Regulatory Commission said yesterday in a statement.
    "Local banks are showing better credit, with more profits channels," Wang Huaqing, head of the local banking watchdog, said in the statement.
    Better risk management against bad loans sits at 91 percent at domestic banks, up 21 percentage points from a year ago, the regulator said.
    Pre-tax profits at banks in Shanghai gained 14.4 percent to 40.3 billion yuan last year. Fee-based income from domestic and overseas banks increased 39 percent to 8.9 billion yuan.
    China fully opened its banking sector in December under its World Trade Organization commitment. The arrival of overseas banks pushed domestic lenders into seeking more income vehicles. Individual investment products also grew amid the trend.
    Foreign-exchange investment products gained 21 percent to 32.1 billion yuan. --(1/30)

  • Pork wholesalers face compensation
    Shanghai authorities are encouraging local pork wholesalers to reach more specific compensation agreements with live pig suppliers as part of efforts to improve food safety.
    The pork market is the first to test a food quality program proposed by local authorities, Wang Longxing, director of the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, said yesterday during the annual session of the city's People's Congress.
    Local companies can require live pig suppliers from other provinces to pass a quality examination before sending their products to the city, Wang said.
    In the event substandard pork is found on the wholesale market, local wholesalers can ask for compensation from the suppliers, he said.
    The system can help the retail market avoid unsafe pork. Wang promises the city will improve spot-checks on food markets to ensure quality and safety. Nearly 70 percent of the city's food consumption depends on supply from other provinces and regions.
    Shanghai on average consumes 1,000 tons of pork, 800 tons of milk, 800 tons of seafood and more than 6,000 tons of vegetables a day.
    The city was hit by a series of food safety crises last year. In May, the city's food authority warned clenbuterol, an illegal chemical used to feed pigs, was found in pork from other provinces. --(1/29)

  • Taxi lights to indicate star rating
    Taxis in the city will again begin using red lights to indicate high service quality, the Shanghai Urban Transport Management Bureau said on Thursday.
    The red lights, or hongdingdeng in Chinese, were used until 2004, when they were replaced by white lights that are tougher to see and don't indicate service level.
    With the bottom border and the name of the taxi company on the lamp changing to red from white, taxis will be easier to see especially when it is dark out, the bureau said.
    Taxis in the city began using red lights on the roof in the 1980s.
    When the lights were changed to white, passengers said they were tougher to see and didn't indicate service quality. Taxis will only be allowed to have red lights on top if both drivers meet minimum service levels - three out of a possible five stars. Currently, the service level of each driver is marked in stars on the license on the taxi's dashboard. --(1/28)

  • A 2007 blueprint - 11 good deeds
    1. Creation of 500,000 job opportunities, including 100,000 for the unemployed and surplus farmers.
    2. Upgrading of the city's 240 recovery and activity centers for the mentally retarded.
    3. Installing household emergency call devices for 20,000 senior residents who live alone.
    4. Upgrading of 400 rural clinics.
    5. Upgrading of communication equipment (telephone and Internet access) for 400 rural primary and middle schools.
    6. Providing training lessons for 500,000 farmers and workers.
    7. Fare discounts for bus passengers who transfer between two buses; and air-conditioning on many of the 300 routes around the Inner Ring Road.
    8. Standardization of 200 wet markets.
    9. Pasting electric-recognition bars on one million tanks of liquefied cooking gas or other hazardous chemicals.
    10.Ensuring the traffic safety of 370 school shuttle buses.
    11.Setting up 20 new community-activity centers; and promotion of moral standards. --(1/26)

  • Plates up for grabs
    The city will put up 3,500 car license plates in its last auction before the Spring Festival. It's the smallest quota in the past three years, which may boost the price of winning bids.
    The auction will be held on February 3. During the latest auction on January 13, the average winning bid for individuals and private companies reached 40,974 yuan (US$5,122). --(1/25)

  • Bullet trains to make debut this Sunday
    China's new bullet trains will make their debut runs between Shanghai and two nearby cities on Sunday, the Shanghai Railway Administration confirmed yesterday.
    The trains won't begin traveling at top speeds until April, however.
    Six new express trains recently pulled into Shanghai South Railway Station, rising questions about when they would make their debut.
    After revealing that the new trains would be used during the busy Spring Festival period, the Shanghai Railway Administration finally confirmed yesterday that it has decided to start using the trains on Sunday.
    They will travel on tracks between Shanghai and Nanjing in Jiangsu Province as well as Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.
    Two of the eight-carriage trains will be linked together, creating trains capable of carrying 1,220 people at a time.
    The carriages are divided into first and second class. The railway authority promised the air-conditioned trains have much nicer decorations and facilities than ordinary passenger trains.
    The new bullet trains, called Dong He Du in Chinese, use multiple engine-powered carriages alongside non-power units in order to raise travel speeds.
    Though the trains are able to travel between 200kph and 250kph, they will be restricted to 160kph, the speed limit for ordinary express trains, at present.
    They will begin running at full speed after April 18 when the national rail network fulfills its sixth speed improvement.
    The railway authority didn't elaborate on the ticket prices for the new trains yesterday, but said they would not be considerably higher than that for high-class express trains. --(1/24)

  • Student startups
    The Shanghai Education Commission said yesterday that local university graduates had set up 132 companies, with a total registered capital of 71.85 million yuan (US$8.98 million) by the end of last year.
    The student companies had provided 809 jobs. Meanwhile, nearly 1,277 new graduates volunteered to work in the country's underdeveloped western regions last year, with another 1,200 responding to the city's need to work as teachers in local rural areas. --(1/23)

  • Beware of infectious diseases, health authorities warned
    Shanghai Health Bureau has urged local residents to take preventive measures to avoid diseases in response to media reports of infectious disease outbreaks in other regions.
    The bureau warned that the current cold, wet and unpredictable weather and outdoor celebratory activities for the coming Spring Festival will probably reduce human resistance to diseases. Besides, it urged residents to promptly report acute cases such as fever and diarrhea to local disease control and prevention centers so as to prevent them from spreading.
    Epidemics of infectious diseases such as the flu, chicken pox and diarrhea were reported recently in some areas of China. --(1/22)

  • Command center built for public health emergencies
    The city government is building a command center for public health emergencies. It is expected to be put into operation this year. Officials from the Shanghai Public Health Bureau said the center would coordinate government departments in the event of a gas leak, disease epidemic or other large-scale accidents. --(1/21)

  • Wet weekend in forecast
    It looks like another good weekend for umbrella vendors.
    Drizzle that is expected to hit the city tonight will last through Sunday, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said yesterday.
    The wet weather won't have much effect of temperatures, with highs over the next several days expected to hover around 10 degrees Celsius, and lows around four degrees.
    The city will be covered in fog this morning again, after several highways were temporarily shut yesterday due to poor visibility.
    Visibility dropped below 500 meters in downtown yesterday, and 120 meters on Chongming Island. The bureau issued a yellow fog alert at 8:27am, meaning drivers should be ware and certain expressways were closed. The alert was canceled at 12:21pm, when the fog dispersed.
    Traffic authorities said sections of the Huhang Highway, which links the city to Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, and the Huning Highway, which connects the city to Nanjing in Jiangsu Province, were closed outside the city from 5:30am to 10am.
    The A4 Highway from Xinzhuang to Jinshan District, the A9 Highway which runs from the city to Pingwang, Zhejiang Province and sections of the A30 Highway were also closed from 8am to 10:45am.
    The Wusong, Baoyang and Shidongkou ferry stations all suspended services during the morning due to the heavy fog.
    The city's air quality dropped to level three yesterday, indicating small levels of pollution.
    The situation is expected to remain the same today, environmental officials said. --(1/19)

  • Charity foundation plans sale, shows ahead of holiday
    The Shanghai Charity Foundation will carry out a series of activities around-the-clock on February 4 to mark the coming Spring Festival.
    The foundation will host an auction, performances by local stars, a charity sale and donation drive, mainly in Zhongshan Park in Changning District.
    Doctors from Huashan Hospital and volunteers from East China University of Politics and Law, will also provide free medical and legal consultations in the park.
    Contestants from the hit TV show "My Hero" will be among the stars performing in the park that day, although details of the shows remain sketchy.
    "We'd like to get more common people participating in charity affairs," said Ma Zhongqi, an official with the foundation.
    A charity auction will include oil paintings, calligraphy, and antique furniture. Proceeds from the auction will be used to sponsor the treatment of needy cataract suffers, children with congenital heart problems as well as deaf and mute children.
    The foundation will also carry out other activities around the festival, to help more people in the new year.
    The Jade Buddha Temple in Putuo District has promised to donate all the offering it collects from pilgrims on the Chinese New Year's Day to the foundation, which is expected to reach one million yuan (US$125,000), said Ma.
    The foundation is also going to hold a charity table tennis tournament in the city on February 24, the last day of the Spring Festival holiday. The registration fee for the event is 10 yuan a play, and will be donated to the foundation. --(1/18)

  • Readers on cue for giveaway
    Four Chinese musical lovers have won two free tickets each to the premier of Broadway musical "Mama Mia," and the show's organizer is looking to give away more to Shanghai Daily readers.
    Shanghai Grand Theater is offering five sets of tickets to the show, scheduled in July, to people with ticket stubs for all five of the Broadway musicals staged by the theater since 2002 - "Les Miserables," "Cats," "The Sound of Music," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Lion King."
    Only one out of the five sets is left, but the theater said yesterday Shanghai Daily readers could claim a sixth if they present the stubs. --(1/17)

  • City to boost environmental protection
    Shanghai needs to accelerate the implementation of the third phase of its three-year environmental action plan in a bid to accomplish the goals of the eleventh five-year plan period, Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng said at a conference yesterday.
    Shanghai will focus on the objectives of the new round in its three-year environmental action plan and the task to reduce pollutant emissions.
    Last year, the city's pollutant emission amount had been controlled, but this year's aim is 2 percent lower than that of 2005. Up to 2010, the city's emission amount of sulfur dioxide and chemical oxygen should be limited to 380,000 tons and 259,000 tons per year respectively, a decrease of 26 percent and 15 percent on the basis of 2005.
    Mayor Han pointed out that Shanghai's environmental protection and construction depend on legal administration, high-tech support and relevant reduction measures. Therefore, perfected regulations and rules on environmental protection and transparent means of law enforcement are in demand. He ordered all the departments to shoulder the responsibility of building an environmentally friendly city and a harmonious society. --(1/16)

  • Park earns honor
    Xujiahui Park in Xuhui District has been declared a five-star park, according to the Shanghai Greenery Administrative Bureau.
    The park features bamboo, palm and pine trees. The city started rating its parks and gardens in 2001. It has 13 five-star parks and gardens, including Yuyuan Garden and Century Park. --(1/15)

  • China cuts refined oil prices
    China has decided to cut the price of gasoline by 220 yuan (US$28) per ton starting today, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced in Beijing yesterday.
    The factory price of kerosene for aviation will also drop by 90yuan, the NDRC said in a circular released Saturday night.
    The national development planner asked the two oil suppliers, China National Petroleum Corporation and China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) to lower prices under the decision and guarantee supply of processed oil to meet market demands.
    This is the second time in recent five years for China to lower the prices of refined oil. The last price cut was in May 2005 when international price declined.
    China has raised the price for refined oil products 12 times since 2003, including twice in 2006.
    The international crude oil price has been declining since last September after the price hit record high of over 77 U.S. dollars per barrel in last July.
    New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) prices for February delivery of light, sweet crude oil stood at 51.88 U.S. dollars per barrel on Thursday, the lowest since May 2005.
    The decline of international price has prompted complaints of domestic refined oil consumers, who have been calling for price cuts, as well as proposals of experts who are expecting the launch of a pricing mechanism linking domestic refined oil prices more closely to its international counterparts.
    As the domestic price regulator, however, the NDRC has kept refined oil prices relatively low compared with the international level, even when the prices on the international market were soaring.
    The Chinese government has endeavored to map out a pricing system for refined oil in line with China's own conditions. However, the fluctuation of international oil price, which usually sees jump rather than decline, leaves little room for the government.
    In March of 2006, China launched a preliminary move to lift refined oil prices, while setting up a mechanism to offer subsidies to disadvantaged communities and public service sectors and collect special fees from oil producers who sell domestically produced crude oil.
    Experts said cutting domestic refined oil prices may offer opportunities to levy fuel oil tax, which was first proposed in 1994 and has been delayed for concerns that it would impose a burden on those who consumed more oil, such as bus and taxi drivers. --(1/14)

  • New telecom giant to settle in Shanghai
    Alcatel-lucent, the result of a recent merger between the two telecom giants, said yesterday it would open its Asia Pacific headquarters in Shanghai.
    Frederic Rose, former Alcatel Asia Pacific's president, has been appointed Alcatel-Lucent Asia Pacific president. Gerald Dega, Alcatel Shanghai Bell's (ASB) president, is in charge of the new company's business in China.
    "We choose Shanghai because of the investment-friendly environment in Pudong and we will expand business in China through the platform ASB," Rose said in a Chinese-language statement.
    In 2000, Alcatel was the first multinational company to set up an Asia Pacific headquarters in Shanghai. Before the merger, Lucent's Asia Pacific headquarters was in Singapore.
    The two companies completed their merger in December. Their combined revenue was 18.6 billion euros (US$23.9 billion) in 2005, the latest figures available.
    "More Asia Pacific headquarters and innovation centers have moved into Shanghai and that shows the city's strong positions in the investment environment and other conditions," said Zhou Yupeng, Shanghai's vice mayor, who also attended the opening ceremony.
    More than 500 regional headquarters, investment firms and research centers have moved into Shanghai, according to Zhou without providing comparative figures.
    In the global telecom industry, several huge-scale mergers have happened, such as Alcatel and Lucent, Nokia and Siemens' networks division and BenQ and Siemens' mobile phone units.
    China, with 455 million mobile phone users, is expected to launch 3G licenses this year and telecom equipment makers, including Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia-Siemens and Huawei, all hope to grab more market share in the multi-billion-dollar market. --(1/12)

  • Fudan scientists turn fish into estrogen alerts
    Researchers at Fudan University have successfully raised genetically modified fish that can detect estrogen pollution in lakes and rivers, showing environmental officials what waterways need to be treated for the substance, which is linked to infertility.
    Song Houyan and Zhong Tao, two professors at Fudan's molecular medicine lab, spent three years cloning estrogen-sensitive genes and injecting them into the fertile eggs of zebrafish. --(1/11)

  • Emergency help
    The Shanghai 110 Foreign Language Police Call Translation Talent Database was set up yesterday with 33 city officers taking the first calls. Police said members of the database could provide services in eight languages - English, Japanese, Russian, German, French, Spanish, Korean and Arabic.
    When a foreign-language speaker dials the police number 110, operators will transfer the call to a volunteer's cell phone. --(1/10)

  • Words of wisdom
    A new Oxford English-Chinese dictionary, which claims to be the world's largest, has been published in the city, according to the Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press.
    The dictionary collected definitions of more than 355,000 words and expressions. --(1/9)

  • US food aims at city market
    Lianhua Supermarket held a week-long promotion for American food, including 100 varieties of high-quality goods from western America. More than 30 percent of the goods were brought to the city market for the first time.
    With the appreciation of yuan against the US dollar, American enterprises of food and agricultural products are becoming more interested in the Chinese market.
    Since China entered the World Trade Organization, the overall custom of import foods has dropped 10 percent over the past five years. Thus, local residents can enjoy a favorable price for American imported goods, 15 to 20 percent lower than those in Europe.
    Meanwhile, it is a major step to improve the residents' consumption level and a means to boost the gross profit rate. --(1/8)

  • Chilly weekend
    The temperature dropped to a minimum of zero degree Celsius early this morning, as an icy front from the north has arrived the city from yesterday. The high is forecast to be five degrees. --(1/7)

  • Year of Pig stamps go on sale
    The Shanghai Post Bureau will begin selling "Year of the Pig" stamps early this morning at 98 post offices around the city.
    The red and white stamps, which were designed by Chen Shaohu, depict five piglets playing around an adult pig.
    The stamp is being issued by China Post in celebration of the Year of the Pig according to the Chinese lunar calendar, which begins on February 18. China Post began issuing stamps based on Chinese zodiac signs in 1980, the Year of the Monkey.
    This is the third time it has released a Year of the Pig stamp.
    The stamps have a face value of 1.2 yuan (15 US cents) and come with a special souvenir certificate.
    Stamp lovers line up to buy animal stamps at the Shanghai Post Museum every year. Post officials said they will offer snacks and tea for those in line. --(1/5)

  • Back wages paid
    Altogether 518 companies in the city have been ordered to pay off delayed wages, totaling 18 million yuan (US$2.25 million), to more than 30,000 employees during a recent labor inspection, the Shanghai Labor and Social Security Bureau said yesterday. --(1/4)

  • Getting high on a new year
    Fitness buffs run up the stairs of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai's Pudong to celebrate the arrival of the new year. More than 1,000 people took part in the 350-meter climb. --(1/2)

  • Music, temple bells ring in the new year
    Thousands of revelers flood the Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall early this morning to celebrate the new year. The city has organized a variety of activities for residents and tourists during the threeday New Year holiday.
    Shanghai welcomed the new year with a boisterous mix of the modern and classical - from pop music and fireworks at the Xintiandi entertainment complex to candlelight and bells at the 1,790-year-old Longhua Temple.
    Some 60,000 city residents and tourists gathered at Xintiandi last night for the annual countdown party along Taiping Lake, featuring Chinese-American singer Wang Lee-hom and other performers. --(1/1)



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