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  May



  • Local Mandarin to be preserved
    Mandarin spoken with a Shanghai accent - which confuses many non-locals and is mocked by some standard speakers - is to be recorded for posterity by language experts.
    This is part of an initiative to record and protect local dialects, the Shanghai Language Committee Office said yesterday.
    Among characteristics of city residents' distinctive take on Putonghua is that an 'h' paired with another consonant is sometimes omitted.
    Cabbies are sometimes baffled when a passenger asks to go to "Hengshan Road" in downtown, as they know it as "Hensan Road.'
    Further scope for confusion arises as "chi fan" - to eat a meal - is pronounced "ci fan" in Shanghai Mandarin, which means sticky rice in standard Mandarin. Other traits see "shi" pronounced as "si" and "ling" as "lin."
    "Shanghai-accented Putonghua has been influential in the city," said Zhang Ripei, an official with the office.
    Mandarin with a Shanghai accent is different to Shanghaihua - the city's own dialect. --(5/30)

  • China Pavilion to reopen this year
    The China Pavilion, scheduled to close its doors to visitors on Tuesday, will reopen by the end of the year in Shanghai with the same exhibits following a spell of maintenance, a senior Expo official said yesterday.
    "Many facilities in the pavilion need short-term adjustments after being open almost continuously since last May," said Huang Jianzhi, deputy director-general of the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination, adding that the exact reopening date had not yet been decided.
    The pavilion, one of the most popular at the World Expo 2010 Shanghai received more than 9 million visitors during the May 1-October 31 event, and has received another 6 million visitors since it reopened on December 1.
    Visitors had to wait for two hours to enter the pavilion yesterday, the last Saturday during its first phase of reopening, according to the hotline of the pavilion.
    The animated "Along the Riverside During the Qingming Festival" - one of the outstanding exhibits at the pavilion - will be displayed in Taipei, Taiwan, from July 1 to September 4.
    The 110-meter-long and 6-meter-tall exhibition will be displayed at the former Taipei Flora Expo site with tickets priced at 220 Taiwan dollars (US$7.63).
    Meanwhile, some sculptures at the Expo site would be displayed permanently in the United States and Mexico, according to Huang.
    A sculpture of the Expo mascot Haibao would be displayed in Mexico while another sculpture, Shiyu, or the language of stone, would be dispatched to Chicago, Illinois, for exhibition in the US, Huang revealed. --(5/29)

  • Banned In The US But Used In Chinese Toys
    Chemicals that may harm children's health and which are banned overseas are being used legally by Chinese toy makers, according to yesterday's Nanfang Daily.
    A Chinese industry insider said phthalate, which is banned or restricted in children-related articles in the United States and the European Union, is widely used by Chinese manufacturers.
    The chemical is used as a cheap softener in the manufacture of plastic products. Some researchers said it may cause hormonal malfunction, sexual precocity, aThe US banned its use in products for children under 12 in 2009. The European Union limits its use.
    In China, there is no regulatory requirement governing its use in children's products.
    This has led to rampant use by some profit-driven makers. According to recent findings by Greenpeace, phthalate was found in 21 out of 30 randomly selected items of children's toys and clothing sold in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong. --(5/28)

  • China's auto sales may fall 10%
    China's auto sales may fall 10 percent this year with the end of government stimulus policies and restrictions on car licenses, according to the China Automotive Technology and Research Center.
    Industry-wide vehicle deliveries fell for the first time in 27 months in April, as the government raised fuel prices, cities implemented traffic curbs and Japan's earthquake slowed deliveries. Total auto sales dipped 0.25 percent to 1.55 million units, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.
    "The exit of government stimulus policies was abrupt, judging from the current effects," said Zhao Hang, president of the center. "The slowdown of auto sales in the first four months was due to the phase-out of government stimulus policies and measures to tackle traffic jams," he said in Beijing yesterday.
    Zhao's forecast for industry sales to decline contrasts with a growth outlook to trail the nation's gross domestic product by the association. The target is for 8 percent economic growth this year.
    Domestic auto makers will be more affected by the slowdown as their products are aimed at the mid- to low-end market, Zhao said. --(5/27)

  • City pledge on salty tap water
    Local water authority will send fresh water to communities where tap water is found to be undrinkable due to pollution caused by the ongoing salt tide, officials announced yesterday.
    As most of the city's reservoirs have been affected by the salt tide, emergency plans and solutions are being prepared to counter the water pollution and likely shortage.
    Meng Mingqun, an official with the Shanghai Water Authority, said if residents found their tap water too salty or faced a shortage, they could dial a hotline, 962740, for help. The water company will then send sprinklers and fire engines to deliver drinking water to their neighborhoods.
    "Although an extreme situation is very unlikely, we have urged reservoirs and tap companies to be alert," Meng said.
    The water supply in most downtown areas is expected to stay clear of the ongoing salt tide, which has been triggered by the severe drought along the Yangtze River, though residents in some areas like Putuo District are likely to find their tap water salty.
    Experts, however, pointed out that the slightly salty water poses no harm to human health.
    Meanwhile, Zhao Pingwei, a senior engineer with the Shanghai Municipal Control and Monitor Center of Water Supply, said the new Qingcaosha Reservoir on the Yangtze River, built between downtown Shanghai and Chongming Island, is now able to prolong water storage for up to 68 days since its completion last year.
    "The current tap water supply is sufficient," Zhao revealed.
    The city's tap water system is able to provide 10.48 million cubic meters of water a day, and the daily maximum water usage in 2010 was 9.88 million cubic meters.
    While the salt tide is unlikely to last more than the earlier estimated nine days, the drought in central China, which has seriously affected Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, shows no signs of abating. --(5/26)

  • Umbrella weather returns
    Rain is expected to return today following yesterday's sunshine, the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau said.
    After recent colder weather, the city enjoyed a pleasant sunny day with the high temperature reaching 24 degrees Celsius.
    But gray skies and showers are expected today, while the mercury should remain stable, the bureau said.
    It should be a mix of sunshine and cloud for the rest of the week with temperatures slowly climbing.
    The high should be around 27 degrees, with a low of around 19 degrees.
    Meanwhile, after showers dispersed pollution, Shanghai's air quality reached a high level in recent days. According to the Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center, air quality was excellent across the city yesterday. --(5/25)

  • Price cuts lift sales of new homes in city
    Discounts offered by some property developers lifted buying sentiment for new homes in Shanghai last week to the highest since April.
    Sales of new residential properties, excluding those built under the city's affordable housing programs, rose 13.6 percent to 183,000 square meters last week, according to a research released yesterday by Shanghai Deovolente Realty. The new homes were sold for an average of 22,485 yuan (US$3,459) per square meter, a weekly drop of 4.2 percent.
    "Robust transactions at a few developments where certain discounts had been offered contributed to the double-digit gain in volume from a week earlier," said Lu Qilin, research head at Deovolente. "However, the weekly performance was still far from good, and the overall buying momentum seems rather weak in the city."
    For instance, some 123 units at a project in Songjiang District were sold last week for an average price of 12,856 yuan per square meter, data released by Shanghai Uwin Real Estate Information Services Co showed. The best selling units of the week had earlier registered with the local industry watchdog with an asking price of between 13,500 yuan and 15,000 yuan.
    Another project in Jiading District, where 70 apartments were sold during the same period for an average price of 23,652 yuan per square meter, had earlier asked for between 28,000 yuan and 35,000 yuan per square meter.
    Comparatively weak sales of luxury units during the week led to the drop in average price. --(5/24)

  • Sluggish week for key index
    There may be opportunities for a technical rebound in the Shanghai stock market in the short term but transactions this week are likely to be sluggish as investors adopt a wait-and-see stance, according to analysts.
    The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.4 percent to close last week at 2,858.46 points, with turnover shrinking to the lowest in four months last Friday at 84 billion yuan (US$12.9 billion), as investors were extremely cautious.
    "There are opportunities for a technical rebound in the short term as the market is seen to stabilize because investors are not expecting negative news," said Qian Qimin, an analyst at Shenyin & Wanguo Securities Co. "However, it could probably be a rather weak gain as transactions will likely remain slack in the short term due to a prevalent 'wait-and-see' stance."
    Qian estimated the gauge at between 2,840 and 2,940 points this week.
    Southwest Securities Co suggested in a note that the market may improve gradually from now onwards after investor sentiment for trading hit a four-month low. It forecast the index may climb up to 2,900 points this week. --(5/23)

  • Tourism Day sees big rush at local scenic spots
    The first "China Tourism Day" yesterday saw a rush of visitors to local scenic spots, 35 of which were offering a 50 percent discount on entry fee.
    Scenic spots said they had received two to three times the number of normal visitors yesterday. In the morning, people lined up at the gate of Oriental Pearl TV Tower and Shanghai Ocean Aquarium in the Pudong New Area, and the queue, comprising mostly of senior citizens and children, was nearly 100 meters' long.
    Some tourists arrived as early as 6am, fearing a heavy rush at almost all scenic spots in the city. "Just in the morning we received more than 6,000 visitors," said Wang Jieying, an official with the Shanghai Ocean Aquarium.
    The TV tower welcomed more than 25,000 guests, nearly three times the usual number, officials said.
    The Shanghai Sightseeing Bus Center said that despite yesterday being a working day, its business was as good as during the Golden Week.
    The Chenshan Botanical Garden in suburban Songjiang District said most of the visitors were seniors, so they had prepared more wheel chairs and set up emergency medical care units in the garden.
    "This can be a rehearsal for the coming summer," said Huang Weichang, deputy director of the garden.
    Tourists were happy with the discount. "We hope that the admission discount can last for more days," said Wang Yuding, 63. "There are still many places we want to go."
    On first "China Tourism Day," a number of tourist spots around the country offered discounts on entry fee. --(5/20)

  • Japan tour sells out fast despite radiation fears
    It seems as though radiation is no match for low prices.
    Despite the fear of radiation, a cheap package tour to Japan sold out in just one day.
    The four-day trip was priced at about 3,000 yuan (US$428) and included a stop in Osaka, which is about 600 kilometers from the area hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. A nuclear plant was damaged in the disaster, leading to radiation contamination in parts of northeastern Japan.
    The first group of travelers will set out from Shanghai tomorrow.
    Another group of 180 Chinese tourists will take a chartered plane from Shanghai to Japan on June 2. They will stop in Osaka, Kobe and Kagawa, according to a spokesperson with the Spring and Autumn International Travel Agency.
    The package prices were about 30 to 50 percent lower than that before the disaster. Travel agencies said their Japanese counterparts as well as air companies offered favorable prices.
    He Zhaolai, a retiree from Shanghai's Yangpu District, plans to take a trip to Japan with his wife in late June.
    "I've learned that areas around Osaka were scarcely affected by the quake. It's worth going in June, when the weather is nicer. The price for the trip is also quite good," he said.
    Most Japan tours generally cover places not damaged by the tsunami, earthquake or nuclear crisis. These areas include Hokkaido, Okinawa and Osaka. But travel agencies plan to expand the destinations this summer, adding Tokyo, Kobe and Kyushu packages.
    Insiders said Tokyo is the key to fully restoring Japan-bound tourism.
    "Tokyo is relatively close to Fukushima (where the damaged nuclear plant it), thus people may have more fears about going there," said Sun Biao, manager of the Japan and South Korea department at Shanghai Airlines International Travel Service Co Ltd. --(5/19)

  • China flags new import list
    China published a new list of imports that it is targeting at, such as much-needed technology, equipment, key parts, rare natural resources and environmentally friendly products.
    The import list covers 209 types of high technology, including design and production of high-performance computers.
    The National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Commerce jointly issued the new list yesterday.
    China has been beefing up efforts on growing imports to balance its trade. In the first four months, its imports rose 29.6 percent annually to US$545 billion, and this helped cut its trade surplus by an annual 32.8 percent.
    China will continue to bolster imports through signing more free trade agreements and offering streamlined government services, Yao Jian, a commerce ministry spokesman, said yesterday.
    "For example, we have made it possible for exporters to declare their goods at customs seven days a week. The same should be done for importers," Yao said.
    He urged the West to relax their export barriers on China. --(5/18)

  • China's Internet user number reaches 477m
    The number of Internet users in China reached 477 million at the end of March, while websites registered with the authorities climbed to 3.82 million, a senior telecommunication official said on Monday.
    Wang Jianwen, deputy head of the Telecommunications Administration Bureau under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, announced the figures while addressing a meeting on creating a healthy online environment.
    Noting that the rapid development of the Internet has been shaping social relations, the economy, and culture, Wang warned that surging online fraud, pornography and illegal publicity is disrupting online communications and the market economy in China.
    According to officials, illegal publicity is when companies or individuals recruit "Internet mercenaries" to engage in improper competition against rivals.
    This can take the form of fabricating or distorting facts that can lead to blackmail, and seeking to reap profits by sensationalizing issues.
    Representatives from 140 major Chinese websites signed a self-discipline pact at the meeting, in which they pledged never to organize or take part in any form of illegal publicity on the Internet.
    Websites that signed the pact included web portals Sohu.com, Netease.com, Sina.com and qq.com, leading Chinese language search engine Baidu.com, and video-sharing Youku.com.
    China launched a two-month campaign in April to crack down on illegal publicity activities on the Internet. --(5/17)

  • Wet and dry trash separation trial gets under way
    One hundred local communities yesterday began a trial program separating dry and wet waste into color-coded trash bags and bins.
    The program, which aims to reduce the amount of garbage the city produces, will be extended to 1,009 communities by the end of the year and all communities with property management by 2015, according to the city government.
    Officials say dividing dry and wet waste is vital for trash sorting as 60 percent of local household garbage is fruit and vegetable peelings and other kitchen waste.
    Wet garbage can leak during transportation and slows trash burning.
    Shanghai plans to reduce the amount of rubbish that needs to be processed by 5 percent annually from this year and realize at least a 20 percent reduction by 2015 and a 50 percent decrease by 2020.
    Dry and wet trash sorting is an essential step for the city to achieve these goals, officials said.
    To ensure the trial runs smoothly, the government is distributing leaflets and recruiting volunteers in participating communities to promote and explain trash sorting.
    Brown bags are designated for wet trash and black ones for dry trash. Each community will have brown and black trash bins for the appropriate bags.
    Officials said trash sorting is still a voluntary practice, as the government doesn't have punishments for households that fail to do so.
    The city is discussing a charging scheme for household trash under a national plan issued by the State Council to reduce the quantity of domestic trash and promote environmentally friendly processing. Plans are to be presented by August. --(5/16)

  • China to halt export of diesel
    China will suspend diesel exports during the peak summer months to avoid domestic shortages as the nation faces its biggest power shortfall since 2004.
    The National Development and Reform Commission, the main planning body, has also asked oil companies to increase refinery output, accelerate project construction and increase imports of petrochemical feedstock.
    The diesel export suspension will not apply to Hong Kong and Macau, the NDRC said. Sinopec, Asia's biggest refiner, last month said it had halted export of oil products and reduced supplies to Hong Kong and Macau.
    "The current supply tightness for gasoline/diesel could lead to widespread shortages following the shutdowns of the private refineries," Mirae Asset Securities Gordon Kwan said in a statement.
    Private refiners, which account for 10 percent of China's capacity, are typically vulnerable to high crude prices and capped fuel prices. State-owned Sinopec and PetroChina are required to run at full throttle to ensure supply and maintain social stability.
    Power shortages have hurt parts of China well before summer sets in largely due to high coal prices and regulated electricity prices, reinforcing fears that further regional power rationing could badly affect manufacturing hubs in Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces.
    This could potentially add up to 300,000 barrels per day of diesel demand in China, according to the International Energy Agency, as factories turn to diesel-powered generators. China's diesel output grew 9.8 percent from a year earlier to 13.95 million tons in April, or 3.44 million barrels per day. --(5/14)

  • Rainfor south, more sandstorms in north
    Heavy rain is expected in southern China, while sandstorms will linger in the north over the coming two days, weather forecasters said yesterday. The south will also experience thunder and hailstorms, the forecast from the China Meteorological Administration said.
    Sandstorms will hit the southern part of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, central and western areas of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, western Gansu Province and northern Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. --(5/3)

  • Latest ban on smoking contains 'imperfections'
    China's latest push to ban smoking in indoor public venues came into effect yesterday, but the vaguely defined expanded rules, said to contain "imperfections," were not expected to dramatically reduce the country's heavy tobacco addiction.
    The Health Ministry in late March released amended guidelines on the management of public places that now ban smoking in more venues such as hotels and restaurants, though still excluding workplaces.
    Dr Yang Gonghuan, director of China's National Office of Tobacco Control, said despite problems with the new rules, she remained hopeful they could raise awareness of tobacco control efforts. She said her office was not responsible for implementing the rules.
    "I also acknowledge that there are imperfections in the Health Ministry's current guidelines, and that preparations for carrying it out have also been insufficient," Yang said. "But I think we should all come together to help push forward the regulation's implementation."
    The rules are part of the Health Ministry's regulations on health management in public places.
    The revised regulations call for no-smoking signs to be put up in public places and require owners or managers to allocate staff who would stop patrons from smoking.
    China has already missed a January 9 deadline to ban smoking in public indoor venues, in accordance with a World Health Organization-backed global anti-tobacco treaty. Experts say huge revenues from the state-owned tobacco monopoly hinders anti-smoking measures.
    Smoking, linked to the deaths of at least 1 million people in China every year, is one of the greatest health threats the country faces, government statistics show. Nearly 30 percent of adults in China smoke, about 300 million people roughly equal to the entire United States population. --(5/2)

  • Taiwan electronic show
    More than 30 Taiwan-based electronic device manufacturers have teamed up to launch their biggest ever mainland trade show in Shanghai today, as part of an effort by the island's entrepreneurs to tap into the world's largest market.
    The show, started in Shanghai, will cover Beijing, Chengdu and Guangzhou till October where leading Taiwan electronic device producers, including Acer, Asus and Compal Communications Inc, will display their latest products to attract mainland customers.
    The Shanghai segment is being held at Buynow's outlet in Xujiahui until tomorrow.
    Sales of Taiwan-made electronic products in the mainland are expected to rise 35 percent this year, according to Ye Mingshui, vice secretary-general of Taipei World Trade Center.
    As the home of many leading electronic device makers, Taiwan is soon to unveil its annual Computex Taipei, the largest computer exhibition in Asia and the second largest in the world, next to Germany's CeBIT, at the end of this month.
    More than 120,000 people are expected to visit the event that features industry giants such as Google, AMD, Intel, Siemens and Lenovo from May 31 to June 4. --(5/1)

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