Shanghai will boost Expo tourism
Shanghai will boost Expo tours, an Expo tourism promotion meeting agreed yesterday.
Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng told the meeting that Expo 2010 will depend on the Yangtze Delta Region to boost friendliness, scientific innovation and cultural diversity. He said that this is a good opportunity to promote international exchanges and cooperation. He also said that Expo 2010 is also a chance to better integrate the Yangtze Delta Region economy and upgrade the construction and operation level of the municipality.
Shao Qiwei, the head of the National Tourism Administration, said that agencies and departments should help build it into a successful, outstand and unforgettable event.
The city will add to the 22 existing tourist information centers in main streets, scenic areas, airports, bus stations, docks and the Expo site. The city will add more accommodation for the event and may use school dorms and housing for temporary housing. The extra accommodation available in neighboring Jiangsu and Zhejiang will also help. --(6/30)
The Thailand tourism market was reopened over the weekend, according to the National Tourism Administration, but local tour agencies said the market will not recover quickly because of the swine flu.
The price of tour packages will drop to the lowest ever in July. --(6/29)
Real ban on virtual cash
China has banned the use of virtual currency in the trade of real goods and services to limit its impact on the financial system.
"Virtual currency, which is converted into real money, will only be allowed to trade in virtual goods and services provided by its issuer, not real goods and services," according to a joint circular from the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Commerce on Friday.
The government also defined virtual currency for the first time and said it includes prepaid cards for cyber-games.
China has the world's largest population of Internet users, with 298 million people online as of the end of last year.
According to reports, virtual money trades topped several billion yuan last year after rising about 20 percent annually.
Under the new rules, people will be punished for gambling with virtual cash, and minors can not buy virtual money. --(6/28)
Metro work to go faster
Building work on the Metro is being speeded up downtown to make sure four busy roads will be free of construction noise, dust and traffic problems before the end of the year.
The faster construction will be achieved by better coordination with engineering teams so that power lines and pipes are laid at the same time and a smaller area of the road is dug up at any one time.
Shanghai Shentong Metro Group, the local Metro manager, said yesterday that it would speed up construction of downtown stations on lines 7, 10 and the second phase of Line 9.
The company hopes to finish ground-level work on the 39 Metro stations being built on Huaihai Road, Hongqiao Road, Zhaojiabang Road and Siping Road before the end of the year. Some roads around the affected areas will be widened and more greenery and better bus facilities installed.
Up to 380,000 square meters of road previously occupied by Metro construction will be cleared of digging machines and obstructions in the months to come.
"We are opening extra car lanes on some of the previously affected roads wherever possible," said an official with the Shentong Group yesterday. "In some of the bus bays near future Metro stations, we will also set up taxi stands and bike-parking areas."
Most of the Metro construction sites will be removed from Huaihai Road in September and the rest in December. --(6/27)
Shipping center plan displays new features
The construction of the international shipping center in Shanghai will incorporate resources from other ports in the Yangtze Delta, according to a new working guideline released by Shanghai Municipal Transport and Port Authority yesterday.
Echoing the Yangtze Delta transport complex program recently advanced, the guideline seeks to optimize the distribution of resources in the Yangtze Delta¡¯s 16 port cities, provide a synthesized development plan for these ports and improve cooperation in port management.
The guideline also highlights several goals after construction is completed, including encouraging international passenger liners and container ships to use Shanghai as an interchange port and the development of a supply market for international merchant shipping.
Priority projects in the guideline include the expansion of Waigaoqiao Port and the Yangshan Deep-Water Port and the construction of the Wusong International Cruise Port. The latter, together with accompanying facilities, will be finished next year. --(6/26)
Regulator warns banks over surges in loans
China's banking regulator has demanded banks avoid sudden loan surges at the end of each month and each quarter and to make sure the money is channeled to sectors that help boost the economy.
It also reinforced an earlier decision that banks can't lend for investment in stock and property.
Banks should strengthen control over lending, especially at the month-end and quarter-end, which usually sees a rise to meet internal targets, the China Banking Regulatory Commission was quoted by the Shanghai Securities News yesterday as saying.
New yuan loans in China rose last month to 664.5 billion yuan (US$97.3 billion), up from 591.8 billion yuan in April.
Banks in China extended a new yuan credit of 5.84 trillion yuan in the first five months this year, more than last year's total and more than the minimum target of 5 trillion yuan for this year.
The regulator said the loans had to cater for demand in the real economy, instead of investing in stock and property markets.
It also discouraged banks from lending to companies that simply keep the money in higher-yielding certificates of deposit. --(6/25)
Free tour packages outlawed
Shanghai has banned travel agencies from offering free tour packages to protect tourists from forced shopping trips and sub-standard service, Shanghai Tourism Administration said yesterday.
Dao Shuming, director of the local tourism administration, said yesterday that those arranging "zero-price" tours now face a penalty of 50,000 yuan (US$7,315) to 200,000 yuan.
"Zero-price" tours, in which tourists pay nothing to the travel agency for the trip, are not as attractive as they appear. Tourists on such tours are always taken to stores that have made commission deals with tour guides.
Sometimes the guide makes it clear at the start of the trip that the tour members have to buy a certain amount of souvenirs. If they don't, they often get bad service from their tour guides. In some cases, tourists are taken to a store and forced to shop, Dao said.
Forced shopping is one of the major complaints received by the administration. --(6/24)
The Shanghai Health Bureau honored 18 local experts as this year's winners of the Silver Snake Award for medical professionals. Dr Dai Shengming from Changhai Hospital and Dr Jiang Xinquan from Shanghai No. 9 People's Hospital won first prize. Dai specializes in diagnosis and treatment of rheumatism, while Jiang is a dental restoration expert. --(6/23)
The Shanghai Charity Foundation selected 24 members of its new managing committee over the weekend. Its revised charter now states that all income and investments will be used to support non-profit projects. --(6/22)
Car plate prices climb
Car plate prices in Shanghai continued to climb this month even though the monthly quota was the highest this year.
The average price for a car licence plate rose to 30,363 yuan (US$4,446), up 1,263 yuan from May, the bid's organizer said yesterday.
The lowest successful price also rose to 30,000 yuan, up 1,500 yuan from last month.
A total of 8,000 car plates were auctioned yesterday, the most this year and 800 more than last month. There were 17,433 bidders, 6 percent more than last month.
In May, 1.12 million vehicles were sold in China, 34 percent more than the same period last year. A total of 829,100 passenger cars were sold in the period, a 46.8 percent jump from the year earlier.
The Shanghai Development and Reform Commission has said it will not cancel plate auctions before World Expo 2010, but is considering providing discounts on plates for small-engine vehicles. Vice Mayor Tang Dengjie has said the number of car plates issued this year may rise 35 percent. --(6/21)
Happy shopping festival
Shanghai is to enjoy a shopping bonanza this autumn. The third Shanghai Shopping Festival is expected to bring residents and tourists products and food from home and abroad, the events' organizing committee said yesterday.
The festival will run from September 12 to October 8. During the "Golden Week" from October 1 to 7, all big malls in the city will stay open to 12am, organizers said.
Several shopping carnivals will be held during the festival all over the city. At these events, visitors will not only be able to shop, but can also enjoy street shows, body painting performances and snacks from different countries.
"The festival aims not only to promote consumption, but also tourism," said Zhang Xinsheng, an official with the committee.
The city needed the festival to stimulate consumption because of the global economic downturn.
"Consumers will tend to buy something if they are in a happy, entertaining shopping environment," said Zhang. "We want the city to become the world's shopping paradise." --(6/20)
Japan-bound trips for individuals will open to Chinese tourists from July. The detailed visa policy that was announced yesterday didn't include the item that every traveler from China to Japan has to have an annual income of 250,000 yuan (US$36,578). Chinese travelers not on group tours can stay at most for 15 days in Japan. --(6/19)
The Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration reminded foreigners to pay attention to how many entries their visas allow, especially if they prolong their stay in China or apply for a visa extension. A Swiss native was turned away from Shanghai on June 10 after trying to come back into China on a zero-entry visa. --(6/18)
Services at Caoyang Road Metro station, shared by Lines 3 and 4, will be restricted for three months from today to allow construction of the future Line 11 station facilities. Part of the platform will be blocked off. --(6/17)
Plum rain season delay
This year's plum rain season will arrive later than previously predicted.
Cloudy weather will sit over the city for the next few days, and the plum rain season will not arrive before Friday, weathermen said yesterday.
Maximum temperatures will not exceed 32 degrees Celsius this week and the sunshine will not be strong.
However, the muggy weather may make people feel uncomfortable because of the high humidity.
The week's lows will be around 22 degrees, said the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau.
A thunderstorm is expected over the weekend, but it's hard to predict whether the plum rain season will start then, forecasters said.
The city's rainy season was initially predicted to begin yesterday.
Forecasters said this year's rainfall during the season, which will last for about 20 days, will be less than the annual average, which is about 244 millimeters. --(6/16)
Blood donors receive Expo tickets
Platelet blood donors who donated more than 50 times received Expo 2010 tickets from the Shanghai (Red Cross) Blood Center yesterday. The ceremony marked the sixth World Blood Donor Day.
The ceremony was organized by the Spiritual Civilization Office of the CCP Shanghai Committee, the Red Cross Society of China Shanghai Branch, the Shanghai Municipal Health Bureau, Shanghai's volunteer society and the Shanghai (Red Cross) Blood Center. --(6/15)
Stars shine as film festival opens
The Shanghai Grand Theater last night for the opening of the Shanghai International Film Festival. Sixteen films will compete for the Golden Goblet, top prize at the festival which runs till June 21. A series of events to be held during the festival includes the Asian New Talent Award, film forums on the domestic movie industry, an international film panorama with screenings of hundreds of films from more than 70 countries and regions as well as a film market which will serve as a bridge for buyers, producers and distributors from both home and abroad. --(6/14)
Free toll tags
The local transport planner will give away electronic tolling equipment to some drivers. Drivers can get the ETC equipment free if they pre-pay 1,500 yuan (US$220) on a new account while those who buy it can get a refund if they regularly use the toll roads - 15 times in any month in the first three months of installation. --(6/13)
Bus equipment good to go
The bus company workers at a transport hub, check the condition of an extinguisher on a bus yesterday, when the city traffic authority kicked off a citywide two-week checkup on fire extinguishers, safety hammers and other emergency rescue facilities on buses. --(6/12)
Expo coin issued
A gold and two silver Shanghai World Expo coins was issued by the People¡¯s Bank of China yesterday. The face value of the gold coins is 150 yuan (US$22) and the silver coins are 10 yuan each, but the three coins will sell together for 4,343 yuan. --(6/11)
Record company vows drug action
Just a day after singer Man Wenjun apologized publicly for taking drugs, his record company, Taihe Rye, vowed yesterday to address the issue of drug abuse by musicians.
"We will definitely warn our artists against taking drugs, and will take concrete measures to stop it from happening," Song Ke, director of Taihe Rye, told Xinhua yesterday. He did not elaborate on possible measures.
Song said Man's arrest was the first time in his 10-plus year entertainment career that he has had to deal with a singer's drug problem. He said he will show tolerance and support him.
On May 19, Man was caught taking drugs in a club and tested positive for ecstasy following a drug test. He was put under detention and was released on June 3. --(6/10)
Tap water project half competed
Shanghai water authority said yesterday that more than 50 percent of the tap water project has been completed with more than 25 million square meters of water pipes, tanks and meters renovated.
Water quality has been considerably improved with more clarity and less iron.
The project has been carried out in 13 districts including Yangpu, Minhang, Jiading, Jing'an and Changning, and may cost more than 1 billion yuan (US$146million). --(6/9)
Food, drink, bikes may be banned from the Metro
The local government is considering banning all food, drinks and bicycles, including folding bikes, from the Metro.
Authorities are calling for locals to discuss the new safety law at a hearing next month.
The draft of the law says people who take bikes, food and drink on a Metro, or use skateboards or roller skates in a station, will be fined up to 500 yuan (US$73).
Metro operator officials said the safety rule would impose stricter penalties on dangerous practices such as running onto trains while doors are closing, holding doors open, jumping onto the tracks and entering tunnels.
"A ban on food and drink would be hard to enforce," said Yin Wei, an official from Shanghai Shentong Metro Co Ltd, the Metro operator. "Many office workers and students have their breakfast on the Metro. However, beverages can be problematic sometimes because they can spill on the train or destroy facilities if they are poured into turnstile gates or other machines."
The plan has sparked debate online. "A journey can takes over an hour," a Netizen said on the Website Shanghai Metrofans Club. "Passengers can feel hungry if it's dinner time. Banning food can be risky for people with diabetes or other diseases."
Metro officials usually required people with folding bikes to put them into a bag or case to avoid hurting other passengers or damaging their clothes.
"We warn riders if they don't fold their bikes or ride them inside the station," said Yin from Shentong. "We can't fine them under the current rules. But it is really dangerous for the rider and other passengers, who could fall on to the tracks if a cyclist accidentally runs into them."
But cyclists who use the Metro as part of their commute are frustrated by the draft law.
"The authorities could just ban bikes during rush hours or designate special carriages with bike racks," Alin said on the Website Ditiezu.
The hearing will also discuss in-station advertising, measures to prevent overcrowding and dangers to passengers.
People who are interested in participating in the hearing can send a request to the Shanghai Legislative Affairs Office at 200 People Avenue or e-mail email@example.com before June 20. --(6/8)
China's US$50b for IMF bonds
China will invest up to US$50 billion in new International Monetary Fund bonds, the IMF's first deputy director general John Lipsky said yesterday.
"The Chinese authorities have indicated that ... (they) would be interested in investing up to US$50 billion in these bonds when they are ready, and we hope that other countries will follow suit," Lipsky said on the sidelines of the St Petersburg Economic Forum.
Russia has already said it is interested in buying up to US$10 billion of the bonds, which will form part of the extra US$500 billion in capital the IMF is seeking to raise to help it support countries through the worst global economic slowdown since the great depression.
China is the world's biggest holder of gold and foreign exchange reserves, followed by Japan and Russia.
Lipsky said proposals for the bond issuance will soon be submitted to the IMF's executive board, which should also receive the proposals for the issue of new Special Drawing Rights next month.
Lipsky also said the worst of the global economic slowdown had passed and that major currencies were "reasonably well balanced" at present exchange rates.
"In general, the first quarter results globally were weaker than anticipated," he said, not ruling out that the IMF will follow its downward revision of the 2009 Russian GDP forecast with similar moves on other countries.
"The global economy has not hit bottom yet, but the worst of the slowdown is over," he added, noting that in the future economic performance could well surprise on the upside.
The IMF expects that emerging market countries will return to growth in the second half of this year, followed by their developed counterparts in the first half of next year.
On oil, he is doubtful that the recent rise in crude prices would be sustained but added that "we certainly don't look for a return to the very low levels." --(6/7)
The number of citizens applying for passports dropped sharply last month, with only 270,000 people applying, 21.2 percent less than in April, because of swine flu fears, the Shanghai Exit-Entry Administration said yesterday. Up to 58,000 people went to Hong Kong and Macau, 25.4 percent less than in April. Number heading to the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Macau had the biggest drops. --(6/6)
Mayor: Interest strong for Expo 2010
The ongoing economic crisis continues to rattle the world but the troubles haven't dampened the world's interest in the 2010 World Expo, Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng said on Tuesday.
Mayor Han Zheng told a meeting of the International Exhibition Bureau in Pairs that a record number of countries and international organizations have expressed growing enthusiasm for the Expo, which is expected to be the world's largest with up to 70 million visitors.
The mayor said China will put on a memorable Expo for the entire world to enjoy.
Hua Junduo, China's commissioner general for World Expo 2010, said 238 countries and organizations so far are confirmed exhibitors.
Jean-Pierre Lafon, president of the BIE, noted that the theme "Better City, Better Life" for the Shanghai Expo is appropriate as cities' population keep growing today. --(6/5)
Economic woes = lower carbon emissions
The growth of Shanghai's carbon emissions has slowed due to the fallout from the global financial downturn on the local economy, according to a report released yesterday by Tongji University.
Experts said they were worried, however, that businesses and industries may be blinded by the temporary decline and neglect emission controls, resulting in a pollution bounce when the economy recovers.
Coal burning and oil consumption are the largest contributors to carbon emissions, accounting for about 70 percent of the total, experts said.
The annual growth rate in Shanghai's carbon emissions fell to 4.6 percent last year from an average annual increase of 10 percent during the previous three years and an annual rise of 6 percent from 1995 through 2004, the researchers found. The decline in the emissions growth rate was also tied to a drop in Shanghai's energy consumption per unit of gross domestic production. --(6/4)
Expo snack bars will open late
Snack bars can remain open until midnight during Expo next year.
Officials from the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce said that the city will trial letting major snack shops in commercial zones stay until 11pm or 12pm.
For the Expo, districts in the city will create more commercial zones. The new zones will include Guizhou Road, Shanxi Road, Ninghai Road, Tongren Road and Shaanxi Road N. Ninghai Road will open before the Expo. The commercial zone in Tongren Road will open before October. --(6/3)
Shanghai embraces 3G production
Shanghai companies are heavily involved in 3G research and production.
The city is going to develop nine sectors - new energy, civil aviation manufacturing, advanced equipment making, biological medicine, IT manufacturing, clean-energy automotives, ocean engineering equipment, new materials and software and IT services. The IT manufacturing and software and IT services are expected to reach an output worth of about 510 billion yuan (US$74.67bilion). The 3G technology will affect both of the sectors and will boost both of them. The IT manufacturing sector was worth more than 85 billion yuan and had a year on year increase by 72 percent with the boost of the 3G market despite the backdrop of global economic crisis.
Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell, the company's joint venture in China, will offer 3G network equipment and related services for China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom. It has become the largest equipment provider for China Mobile's Time Division-Synchronous Code Division Multiple Access or TD-SCDMA mode of 3G technology. For chip making, the Leadcore Technology Co Ltd generated from the Datang Telecom Technology & Industry Group, focused on 3G terminal chip research especially TD-SCDMA chips. The chip producer has been providing chips for 3G terminal producers such as ZTE, Huawei, LG, Hisense, TCL and Lenovo. Most of TD-SCDMA chips will be produced by Leadcore Technology Co Ltd.
The president of the chip producer, Sun Yuwang said that the company¡¯s production levels could reach four times that of last year, and this must be a boost for the downstream industries of 3G.
Companies in Shanghai have also started research in TD-LTE, 3G's next generation technology. Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell and Leadcore Technology Co Ltd are involved in this. --(6/2)
Green algae bloom to hit the Huangpu River
The Huangpu River will be hit by an outbreak of green algae in the annual plum rain season this month, with algae already appearing in Jinshan District last week, the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau said yesterday.
There's a bloom of nearly 1,170 tons of green algae, covering an area of about 39 square kilometers, in the river's tributaries and upper reaches and it had reached the Huangpu's Maogang section west of the Songpu Bridge by last week, said Yu Hai, from the bureau's water management department.
Boat crews have been mobilized to clean up the algae in tributaries to stop it invading the Huangpu River, Yu said. But about 540 tons of algae were in waters in Jinshan District yesterday, he added.
"The green algae pollution is milder than last year, but we'll have to wait until the peak to see the total," Yu said.
Algae outbreaks used to threaten only the upper reaches of Suzhou Creek, but last June for the first time a bloom broke out at Maogang and reached the Xupu Bridge, threatening the waters by the Bund. --(6/1)