Airline's profit soars
A merger with smaller rival Shanghai Airlines and the World Expo 2010 Shanghai boosted China Eastern Airlines' net profit 135 folds to 3.15 billion yuan (US$472 million) in the third quarter of this year.
Revenue for the Shanghai-based airline soared 91 percent on an annual basis to 21.8 billion yuan in the period.
The carrier carried 18.4 million people, up 52 percent, as it benefitted from the more than 70 million visitors to the six-month Expo.
"China Eastern's (ticket) prices will remain rather high in the fourth quarter as it has a fairly large market share in Shanghai, which will benefit the company's earnings in the next few months," China Jianyin Investment Securities' Li Fan wrote in a note. --(10/30)
Social insurance law passed
A long-awaited social insurance law aimed at preventing the improper use of social security funds was adopted by China's top legislature yesterday.
This legislation, which had been reviewed by lawmakers four times in almost three years, was among a series of bills adopted at the end of a bimonthly session.
The bill was first submitted to the legislature in December, 2007, following a scandal in Shanghai involving 3.7 billion yuan (US$502.3 million) of social security funds.
The law is to take effect on July 1, 2011.
In a proposal made by the Communist Party of China Central Committee on formulating the country's 12th Five-Year Program (2011-2015) on National Economic and Social Development issued on Wednesday, the social security system is set to be improved.
The National People's Congress Standing Committee also voted to adopt the revised Organic Law of Villagers' Committees, regarding rural people having greater powers to remove villagers' committee members and to convene meetings to decide village affairs.
Also adopted were amendments to the Law on Deputies to the NPC and Local People's Congresses at Various Levels, which further specify the rights and duties of lawmakers.
Lawmakers also adopted a decision to appoint Vice President Xi Jinping as vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China.
The lawmakers expelled Li Qihong, former deputy secretary of Zhongshan Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China in southern Guangdong Province and former mayor of Zhongshan City, from the top legislature on suspicion of "seriously violating disciplines" concerning economic activities. --(10/29)
Smoking an issue at city hospitals
Although hospitals are listed as a non-smoking area under the Shanghai's smoke control laws, they appear to be one of the hardest places to enforce the ban, especially at night.
The biggest challenge hospitals face is not how to control night-shift doctors and staff members, but how to prevent patients and their family members from smoking. Persuasion is the only solution - this is because doctors have no way to impose penalties on people who flout the ban.
To control smoking more strictly in local hospitals, health authorities yesterday asked hospitals to make at least 10 percent of staff, including guards and cleaners, wear "no-smoking" badges.
According to the city's smoking-control law, enacted on March 1, both indoor and outdoor areas of maternity and children's hospitals and the indoor areas of other hospitals must be smoke-free zones from now on.
Xia Lin, an official at the Shanghai Children's Medical Center, said hospitals have taken action since the law came into effect.
The store at the hospital has stopped selling cigarettes and lighters, for example.
"Medical staff are also required to promote knowledge of the dangers of smoking to people and their children while serving patients. No-smoking signs can also be seen everywhere," she said.
Hospital officials said they can stop medical staff from smoking while at work, but have no rights to punish patient's families - persuasion doesn't always work.
"We understand some people smoke because they are anxious about their children," Xia said. "We will put free chewing gum and samples of smoking-control medicines around the hospital to help ease their anxiety."--(10/28)
Show for Titanic
An exhibition about RMS Titanic is being held at the Ireland Pavilion. Visitors are able to watch a video detailing the ship's design, construction, maiden voyage and its sinking.
RMS Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world when it set off from Southampton, England, to New York City on April 10, 1912. After striking an iceberg, the ship sank resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people. Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland and the site of the ship's original construction, will build a tourist center to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Titanic's maiden voyage.--(10/27)
Housing prices still high
The average price of new homes remained above 20,000 yuan (US$3,000) per square meter in Shanghai for the fifth consecutive week even though transactions declined.
A total of 319,000 square meters of new homes were sold across the city during the week ended yesterday, up 8 percent from a week earlier, Shanghai Uwin Real Estate Information Services Co said yesterday. Uwin said the average price decreased 3 percent in the week to 23,086 yuan per square meter.
The figures exclude homes built for relocated residents under urban redevelopment plans.
"The weekly average price soared above 23,000 yuan per square meter for the second time in a month as a result of strong sales at some luxury developments," said Lu Qilin, a researcher at Uwin. "While the transaction volume decreased in the city over the past two weeks, sales at projects with a selling price of more than 40,000 yuan per square meter increased in the period."
Star River in Minhang District, for example, became the best-seller by area last week after 78 units, totaling 23,609 square meters, were sold for an average 47,347 yuan per square meter. Yanlord Townhouse, a luxury development in New Jiangwan Town of Yangpu District in the city's northeast, sold 64 units, totaling 13,738 square meters, with an average selling price of 58,945 yuan per square meter.
For the week, sales of new homes priced above 40,000 yuan per square meter continued to rise, up 19 percent from a week earlier, Uwin said.--(10/26)
See the Expo in 3D
Two 3D movies recording the World Expo are in post production now and will be screened after the six-month event ends on October 31. In the films some pavilions are described by the directors. It's the first time that the process of an Expo event has been recorded in 3D. People can also watch the 3D movies at home if they have the right equipment.--(10/25)
New metro regulations introduced
The modified version of the regulations metro passengers in Shanghai must abide by will be put into effect from Friday.
According to the new rules, passengers cannot take bicycles into a metro station, including folding bicycles.
Passengers cannot stay in the metro system for more than three hours, failure to leave will incur extra charges.
The new regulations also forbid passengers from carrying articles with severe strong smells in the metro system, but metro assistants and security guards said this rule is hard to define.--(10/13)
Baoshan holds cultural heritage expo
The Shanghai Baoshan International Folk Art Expo will open in Baoshan District on Saturday.
The exhibition building inside Gucun Park covers an area of 13,860 square meters and will be the largest intangible cultural heritage facility in China.
Exhibiting folk artworks from all over the world, it aims to become the research and preservation centre for intangible cultural heritages in Shanghai.
Among the events taking place between October 16 and 21 are World Expo architecture photography, Baoshan cultural relic, Nepal Culture and Chinese porcelain collection shows, as well as an ancient Chinese tea set exhibition, a lecture by Japanese handicraft artists and seminars. --(10/12)
Shanghai industries see value rise
The Shanghai Municipal Government yesterday released a white paper on quality issues in Shanghai in 2009, highlighting that the value of service industries account for nearly sixty percent of the total value in the city.
The level of service industries closely related to the Shanghai World Expo, including telecommunications, public transport and high-end hotels, were satisfactory, the report said.
The service industries had a value of 884.7 billion yuan (US$132.5 billion), which accounts for 59.4 percent of the total value in Shanghai and is 3.4 percent higher than in 2008. The value of the real estate industry increased by 30 percent while that of finance rose by 25.6 percent, making them the top two industries.
The manufacturing industry had a value of 537.5 billion yuan, 2.9 percent higher than last year. --(10/11)
Tickets win prizes
An Expo commemorative lottery ticket, which also functions as stamp, is available now at post offices inside and outside the Expo site. The tickets have four designs, depicting the China Pavilion, the Expo Culture Center, the Expo Center and the Theme Pavilion. Each ticket costs 2 yuan (30 US cents), and the highest prize is 100,000 yuan.
People can also buy a limited edition envelope which contains one ticket. Only 300,000 envelopes are on offer.--(10/10)
Love of the outdoors
Outdoor sports-loving visitors can try climbing a mini rock wall outside the Rhone-Aples Pavilion at the Urban Best Practices Area till October 16. They can also try their hand at a special ball game which originated in Lyon in France. People are able to try stationary cycles inside the pavilion and they can get gifts related to the Tour de France cycle race, such as helmets and yellow jerseys which the winner of the race wears. Next Friday there will be a table tennis game between Christophe Durand, the Paralympic Games champion, and his coach at the pavilion.--(10/9)
National Day holiday proves golden for sales
Shanghai retailers have had reason to be in a festive mood over the week-long National Day holiday.
Their sales rose faster than at any similar time since 2003, thanks to the throngs attracted by the World Expo and a variety of other crowd-building events.
More than 5,000 outlets of the city's 470 major retailers saw sales rise 24 percent year on year to 7 billion yuan (US$1 billion) since October 1, the Shanghai Commission of Commerce said yesterday.
This year's turnover was more than five times the sales volume of 2000. China began the seven-day holiday arrangement in October 1999.
In 2003, sales jumped 25 percent in the first week of October.
The National Day holiday's sales growth outdid two other major holidays this year. The week-long Spring Festival holiday logged sales growth of 15 percent; the three-day May Day holiday, 22 percent.
"The World Expo, good weather and various activities during the Shanghai shopping and tourism festivals helped boost sales," said Chen Yuxian, a commission official.
The annual Shanghai Shopping Festival dropped its curtain yesterday, helping local merchants chalk up sales of 18 billion yuan in a 27-day period, up 24 percent year on year. The growth pace was 2 percentage points higher than the same period a year ago.
Some 2,000 businesses with more than 20,000 venues took part in this year's shopping carnival, which sponsored more than 500 events. The Shanghai Tourism Festival, which wrapped up on Wednesday, also attracted a record 9 million tourists.
During the National Day holiday, the city's 120 major department stores and shopping centers realized sales of 3.2 billion yuan, up 24 percent year on year and accounting for 46 percent of the total sales.
One hundred local supermarkets and convenience operators posted sales of 2.4 billion yuan during the seven-day period, up 12 percent. TV and online shopping posted growth of 36 percent, to 108 million yuan, during the past week. The catering industry charted sales of 118 million yuan, up 12 percent. --(10/8)
City makes after-fair plans
After the World Expo ends, the site will become a new sub-center of Shanghai, a mixture of exhibition space, parks, businesses and residences, a senior urban planning expert and consultant to the Expo 2010 told a forum in Hangzhou yesterday.
The 5.28-square-kilometer site along the Huangpu River will also spur development of the 10 square kilometers surrounding it, said Zheng Shiling, director of Institute of Architecture and Urban Space of Shanghai Tongji University and a consultant to the World Expo.
Zheng made the remarks at an Expo theme forum on Harmonious Cities and Livable Life in Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province. More than 60 government officials and urban planners from 10 countries and regions shared policies and strategies for improving people's lives.
The Expo site will be one of the sub-centers of the city, joining such others as Huamu Township in Pudong New Area, Wujiaochang area in Yangpu District, Zhenru area in Putuo and the Xujiahui in Xuhui District, he said.
"Pre- and Post-Expo is becoming a dividing crest of Shanghai history, which will promote the city towards a sustainable and livable metropolis," Zheng added.
The two-day forum along the West Lake discussed harmony between urban and rural areas, urban infrastructure and the role of women in urban development. A panel discussion focused on housing.
Future metropolises will be multi-centered, an arrangement that will help diffuse the urban population, British town planner and geographer Peter Hall said at the forum. As he envisioned it, the sub-centers would support one other for various functions.
Zhejiang Province will use the Expo as an opportunity to make people wealthier, the environment better and society more harmonious, Lu Zushan, governor of the province, said in the opening speech of the forum.
Previous Expo-related forums have been held in Ningbo and Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province; and in Wuxi, Nanjing and Suzhou, Jiangsu Province.
A forum on urban innovation and sustainable development will be held at the end of the Expo.
The leaders of various nations and the secretary-general of the United Nations will be invited to attend and sign a declaration on urban development.--(10/7)
Shanghai attracts 51% more holiday visitors
Shanghai saw tourist numbers for the first three days of October increase by more than 50 percent year on year, the local tourism authority has said.
Good weather and the World Expo will sustain the increase throughout the holiday, the Shanghai Tourism Administration added.
A record 4.07 million tourists visited the city between October 1 and 3, a rise of 51 percent, the administration officials said.
If the trend continues, visitor numbers are set to surpass an earlier estimate by the city's travel-market watchdog.
Last week the administration predicted that more than 8 million tourists would visit Shanghai during the National Day holiday, up 40 percent on the same period last year.
"We expect the visitor number to keep this growth trend for the rest of the holiday week as various tourism activities are to be carried out and the good weather is set to stay," the administration said.
The city's major parks and botanical gardens, including Chenshan Botanical Garden in Songjiang District and the Gongqing Forest Park in Yangpu District, are holding festivals for the holiday.
Meanwhile, more than 50 local department stores and 20 hypermarkets are taking part in the Shanghai Shopping Festival, offering customers discounts and coupons.
Between October 1 and 3, around 329,000 people in 12,142 organized tour groups visited the Expo site, accounting for about 30 percent of total visitors to the Expo, the administration said.
During the three-day period, tourism venues around the Expo site also proved popular. The Shanghai World Financial Center received 62,000 visitors, up 80.8 percent year on year.
The Bund Sightseeing Tunnel attracted 52,000 people, up 44.6 percent from a year before, while the Oriental Pearl TV Tower had 85,000 visitors, up 10.4 percent.
The city's weather is expected to be mainly cool and cloudy over the next three days with the maximum temperature of 26 degrees Celsius, according to the Shanghai Metrological Bureau.--(10/5)
Taipei's flower stamp
Taipei is to issue a new stamp at the Urban Best Practices Area today to promote the 2010 International Flora Exposition, which will be held in Taipei from November 6 to April 25 next year.
Tourists can get the stamp from 9:30am to 11:30am at the pavilion entrance after finishing their visit.
A dance performance and a prize game in the square in front of the pavilion will also promote the event.--(10/4)
3D postcards on sale
A set of 3D postcards are now available. The postcards can be purchased at post offices across the site with each set costing 248 yuan (US$38). Only 50,000 sets will be available.
Each set includes 42 postcards featuring national and corporate pavilions. All the postcards are based on photographs taken at the World Expo site.
The postcards will be at post offices around Shanghai later this month.--(10/1)