Under the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, investment

from China has improved local infrastructure, resolved the country’s chronic energy crisis, a

nd made Pakistan a more attractive destination for foreign investment. We cannot give up halfway. Th

e question now is how to maximize the efficiency of Chinese loans to benefit the local people and Chinese investors.

Although Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has reportedly postponed his trip to Pakistan amid heightened t

ensions between India and Pakistan, Pakistan is still likely to get an economic package from Saudi Arabia to support its economy.

China will be pleased to see the CPEC become leverage for increased economic cooperation betw

een Pakistan and the international community. Closer economic interaction will help maximize th

e efficiency of Chinese investment and promote regional economic integration. As Pakistan further integrates itself into the

global economy, foreign investment is likely to yield more employment benefits and help the country fight poverty. Prob

lems such as security concerns have also posed challenges to the CPEC. If foreign investment can help reduce p

overty and fight terrorism in the South Asian country, it will create a virtuous circle for the development of CPEC.

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Leveling the playing fields for domestic and overseas compa

The world has been closely watching the latest round of high-level trade

negotiations between the US and China, which took p

lace in Beijing on Thursday and Friday, for clues as to whether a trade resolution

will be reached before the March 1 deadline.

With the slowdown seen in the economies of both countries and the

world in general, the US and China have a sober under

standing of the importance of reaching a trade deal, which is reflected by the

increasing flexibility shown by both parties. Last week, US Pre

sident Donald Trump even suggested that he could extend the deadline if both

parties are making good progress and are nearing a formal agreement.

As the US and China both have the need to reach a deal, it is generally expected

that both parties will make some compromises to avoid an escalation of tra

de disputes. In this situation, China will most likely significantly increase its

imports from the US in the short term, while at the same time making s

ubstantial changes with regards to issues like market opening and technology transfer.

At present, there is much speculation about what compromises China may

make or which industries the nation will open to more for

eign investment. Last year, against the background of the unprecedented trade war, the National D

evelopment and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, published

a new version of the negative list for foreign investment. The negative list, w

hich took effect on July 28, removed foreign ownership limits for special vehicles and new energy vehicle m

anufacturing, with the ownership cap for passenger car manufacturing scheduled

to be lifted by 2022. Moreover, th

e latest list also eased or scrapped foreign investment curbs on sectors like

banking, insurance, ship and aircraft manufacturing, and power grids.

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Nevertheless, it should be made clear that despite the external

 pressures, it is actually a need for China’s economic development, at the current stage, to further open up markets. Thus, the c

ountry’s accelerated opening-up is not only the response to the external risks, but also a key step in transforming pressures into new growth momentum.

So far, the openness of China’s manufacturing sector is relatively high, especially compared to the degree of ope

nness in the service industry, with foreign ownership limits and license restrictions set in such sectors like m

edical care, education, express delivery and others. Since the overall manufacturing sector is now basically opening up,

there is a high possibility that China will expand the opening of the service industry in the near future. Specifically, finance, medical care, education

and elderly care are all potential sectors that could see greater market access, as the current Chinese society is also in need of these services.

In other words, China has already got the basic conditions for further opening up of its service industry. With the country’s

per capita GDP exceeding $9,000, the proportion of residents’ basic living consumption has declined, while the co

nsumption demand for information, culture, medical care, education, elderly care, entertainment and other services has increased.

Some observers, however, have been concerned about the impact of increased opening-up on the domestic services industry. It is

undeniable that such an impact is inevitable, but it should be viewed as the pressure to stimulate the innovation and

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competitiveness of domestic industries. Widened market access

and lowered entry thresholds don’t necessarily mean foreign investment will be subject to no, or even relaxed rules and regulation

s. Like in other developed markets, a proper review and supervision will still be in place to monitor the development of the relevant industries.

For instance, in the US, while there is no such limit on foreign equity ownership, the government can

still conduct a review of major foreign transactions and investments in such industries as power generation, telecommunications, shi

pping, banking and media through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), in the name of national security.

Of course, China will be unlikely to set up such a review body like the CFIUS, but

in the context of its accelerated opening-up, it is making its own preparations.

In January, a draft foreign investment law was submitted to the Standing Committee of the N

ational People’s Congress, China’s legislature, for its second review. The fast-tracked review n

ot only reflects China’s eagerness to make legislative preparation for the increased opening-up, but also indicates its

strong determination to open further up to the world and to level the ‘playing fields’ for foreign and domestic companies.

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Germany claims the crown for record gathering of smurfs

group of German friends claimed a world record on Saturday for the highest

number of smurfs gathered in one place.

Fans of the blue elf-like creatures created in a Belgian comic strip during

the 1950s, managed to gather

2,762 people dressed and painted blue in regulation smurf attire – curly hats and all.

The gathering took place at the town of Lauchringen, near the German border

with Switzerland, the organizers reported on Facebook.

Their record came three years after their first attempt failed to beat the record

held by Welsh students who managed to unite 2,510 regulation smurfs in Swansea back in 2009.

The German‘s first effort failed, with only 2,149 turning up.

The rules of the game are strict: The only people counted as the genuine article are

those with any bare skin painted blue and the rest of the body clothed in smurf attire.

The group of friends made their second, victorious attempt on Saturday with the

backing of the mayor of Lauchringen, they said.

The smurfs, small, impish creatures who live in a village, were created by the

Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford, known as Peyo.

They became so popular that the stories eventually spilled over into cartoons and

even live-action films.

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Japan’s ambition is to become a global political power.

and diplomatic means alone cannot support Japan’s global ambitions. A military presence at the global level is needed if Japan is to expand its political clout.

Compared with old European powers like the UK and France, Japan’s military influence in Europe is jerkwater. But it is different after Japan signed military pac

ts with these countries – Japan’s political influence is increasing because of the support of military powers.

With the influence of the UK and France declining in the Asia-Pacific region, their military activities can get the support from Japan via the A

CSA, which will immensely boost Japan’s military clout. These European countries will not look at J

apan through the military lens, which will effectively strengthen Japan’s political might.

Meanwhile, exchange of military provisions will help enhance pe

ople-to-people exchanges between Japan and these countries, exerting Japan’s cultural influe

nce in these countries and beyond. Even if Japan fails to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council, it can still play a major role in th

e world. This has been part of the global strategies of the Abe administration.

We can see that Japan signing ACSAs with six countries is not just for d

efense and military purposes, it’s part of an overall plan to influence economics, pol

itics, military and culture, which is a long-term strategic mind-set of the Japanese government.

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With many Chinese not having traveled abroad yet, raising

According to the latest data released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, China’s tourism trade deficit reached $237.4 billion in 2018, an increase of $21.4 billion over the prev

ious year. While the record high figure reflects the growing scale of outbound tourism consumption by domestic residents, it remains qu

estionable whether the domestic demand is so strong that it even caused the record outbound tourism consumption.

However, by analyzing relevant reports and statistics, I believe some of the figures about China’s tourism industry may

be dodgy, which could therefore be misleading for investment decision-making and should be clarified.

According to the preliminary statistics of the China Tourism Academy, Chinese travelers made 140 million outbound trips in 2018, up 1

1 million from 129 million in 2017. To a certain extent, the steady increase in the number of Chinese o

utbound trips indicates that the consumption is still growing and not falling.

But the important question is how many people actually traveled abroad

out of the 140 million outbound trips. According to the Annual Report of China Outbound Tou

rism Development 2018, Chinese trips to foreign countries and regions accounted for about 33.3 percent of total out

bound trips in 2017. Assuming that the ratio remained unchanged in 2018, then the number of trips to foreign c

ountries and regions came to about 46.67 million. Again assuming that half of the people who went abroad on av

erage twice last year, then the number of Chinese who went to foreign countries and regions was approximately 31 million.

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PLA Rocket Force Weibo accounts take off in popularity

Hundreds of thousands of users on Sina Weibo, the Chinese Twitter-like social media platform, have flocked to and followed the tw

o official Weibo accounts newly created on Thursday afternoon by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force.

PLA Rocket Force, formerly the Second Artillery Corps, was established on Dec 31, 2015, and serves as the strategic and tactical missile force of China.

It marks the first time for the PLA Rocket Force to open up official Weibo accounts, making the emergence of

two at once even more remarkable. One account shared the same name with the force, wh

ile another chose the funnier and more down-to-earth name Dongfeng Kuaidi, which means “Eastwind Delivery”.

Some netizens made a guess that the former one would be used for releasing official and formal news and the latter for communicating with the sea of Weibo users.

At the time of writing, the account PLA Rocket Force had over 82,000 follo

wers and Dongfeng Kuaidi had 180,000 fans, despite the fact that neither of the a

ccounts had posted any content yet. Meanwhile, the number of followers continues to surge wildly.

Most fans are surprised by the PLA Rocket Force’s move to “land” on a social m

edia platform with hundreds of millions of users, due to its air of mystery.

Many of them have said “welcome” to the PLA Rocket Force and could not to wait to le

arn more about and interact with it on the social media platform they often use in daily life.

The PLA is comprised of the Ground Force, Air Force, Navy, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force.

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ina’s icebreaker Xuelong leaves research base in Antar

China’s research icebreaker Xuelong, with 126 crew members aboard on the 35th Antarc

tic research mission, on Thursday local time left the Zhongshan Station on its way back to China.

Snow Eagle 601, China’s first fixed-wing aircraft for polar flight, on Th

ursday night also departed from the Antarctic after completing all assignments.

Xuelong arrived near Zhongshan on Feb 9. It supplied the station with fuel oil, then picked up summer exped

ition team members at the Kunlun, Taishan and Zhongshan stations, as well as members of the fixed-wing aircraft project.

Sixteen members of the Kunlun team previously completed all scientific expeditions at Dome Argus (Dome A), the So

uth Pole’s highest icecap. They, together with 21 members of the Taishan team, returned to Zhongshan on Feb. 8.

The Zhongshan team completed tasks including installation of and tests for LiDAR, drilling of ice bedrock, aa

tmospheric sounding observation, surveys of birds and aerial exploration carried out by the fixed-wing aircraft.

As the summer expedition team at Zhongshan left, 19 members stay for winter expeditions.

Also known as the Snow Dragon, the icebreaker carrying a research team set sail from Shanghai on Nov 2 last year, beg

inning the country’s 35th Antarctic expedition. It is expected to arrive in Shanghai in mid-March.

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llegedly maltreated boy appears before court in Guangdong

teenager rescued from seven years of alleged maltreatment at the hands of his aunt and uncle

has appeared before the court in Pingyuan county, Meizhou city, Guangdong province.

The news came from a statement released by Guangdong High People’s Procuratorate on Friday.

Xiao Ming‘s aunt was suspected to have maltreated him for more than seven years, starting

when he was seven years old, resulting in severe physical and psychological damage, the statement said.

Xiao, born in 2004, lived with his father after his parents divorced in May 2008. After his father

died in a mining accident in October the same year however, Xiao was sent to live with his grandparents.

It was in May 2011 when his uncle (his father’s older brother) an

d aunt forced Xiao to live with them that the alleged maltreatment began.

It is claimed that the family treated him so poorly that he had insuf

ficient food and clothes, and that he dropped out of school to do farm work for his aunt.

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