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Xi calls for hard work in new era

BEIJING – President Xi Jinping encouraged Chinese people to work hard in the new era during his Spring Festival speech on Wednesday.

“The new era belongs to those who work hard,” and happiness can only be earned by filling one’s life with endeavors, said Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

“There will be difficulties in our endeavor, but battling them will also purify our souls and strengthen our faith,” said Xi.

Xi stressed that the great endeavor of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics will take generations, even dozens of generations, of hard work.

Those fighting in these efforts will be richest in spirit, and will have the most profound understanding of happiness, according to Xi.

Xi called on CPC members to always focus their work on the aspirations of the people to live a better life, and to always fight for the people and with the people.

There should be both competition and solidarity in the endeavor, said Xi.

At the 19th CPC National Congress last October, the Party announced that socialism with Chinese characteristics has crossed the threshold into a new era with decades of hard work.

Premier sends message of condolence after Manchester explosion

Premier Li Keqiang sent a message of condolence to British Prime Minister Theresa May after the deadly explosion in Manchester on Tuesday.

Li expressed his deep remorse at the lives claimed by the blast, and offered sympathy for the relatives and friends of those who were killed or injured, according to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website on Tuesday afternoon.

The explosion, which took place at the Manchester Arena, killed at least 22 people with 59 others injured, BBC reported on Tuesday afternoon Beijing time.

Beijing warns of protectionism, militarization

Growing protectionist sentiment and the fomenting of militarization by outside forces are two major negative factors plaguing East Asia, warned State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Countries from outside the region, particularly the United States, have frequently mobilized massive strategic weapons in the region, especially in the South China Sea, to flex their muscles, Wang told reporters in Singapore on Saturday.

This constitutes a security threat and pressure on the region’s countries, including China, and has become the biggest driving force behind militarization in the region, Wang said on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers’ Meeting.

Earlier on Saturday, the final day of a series of meetings, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a news conference in Singapore that he has recently raised concerns about Chinese militarization of the South China Sea.

However, the ASEAN-China foreign ministers’ meeting welcomed the conduct of the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise in 2018 to enhance confidence and trust among the ASEAN and Chinese navies, said a statement by the Singapore side, host of the event, on Saturday.

Ignoring China and ASEAN’s efforts, and progress made in regional peace and South China Sea stability, is at the very least disrespectful, and irresponsible, to countries in the region, Wang said.

Given the increasing military threats and pressure, China should exercise its rights to self-defense conferred by international law, Wang said.

Labeling self-defense as militarization is a distortion of the truth, Wang added.

In response to Pompeo’s comment that the US seek(s) partnership, not dominance in the region, Wang said it is a rare position made by the US given the country’s record so far, and the US is expected to honor its words through actions.

Speaking on the progress achieved at the annual meetings this year, Wang noted that the foreign ministers of the 10 Southeast Asian countries plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, agreed on speeding up negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal.

The senior diplomats agreed that their countries should jointly champion free trade, oppose protectionism and advance the buildup of the proposed East Asia Economic Community, Wang said.

Xi urges promoting 21st Century Maritime Silk Road

BEIHAI, Guangxi — Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed efforts to promote the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and advance opening up and development under the Belt and Road Initiative.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks during an inspection tour in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region on Wednesday.

The Belt and Road Initiative has been widely recognized in international society since it was put forward, which shows that it accords with the will of the people, Xi said while visiting the Tieshan Port in Guangxi’s Beihai city on a rainy day.

We will promote China’s great opening up and development under the ‘Belt and Road’ framework, and further promote the realization of the ‘two centenary goals,’ and the Chinese dream of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, said Xi.

The president asked local authorities about the future construction of the port and the development plan of the entire Beibu Gulf as well as its opening to and cooperation with the ASEAN countries. He also talked with workers at the port.

Xi told authorities to better construct ports at Beibu Gulf and develop the maritime economy. We often say you’d better build roads first to become rich, but in the coastal areas you have to build ports first, he said.

Xi also inspected a mangrove conservation area in the Beihai Golden Bay, where he walked through a wooden footpath to learn about the growth and protection of the mangrove. He asked authorities to study and protect rare plants and better safeguard the marine wetlands.

The Belt and Road Initiative was first proposed by Xi in 2013 as a trade and infrastructure network to better connect Asia with the rest of the world.

Xi pushes poverty alleviation

ZHANGJIAKOU, Hebei Province — President Xi Jinping Tuesday stressed the importance of precision in the battle against poverty, saying that poverty alleviation should focus on targeted people and industries, and use the right tools to produce results.

Xi made the remarks during an inspection tour of the city of Zhangjiakou in northern China’s Hebei Province.

“Fighting poverty is the fundamental task in building an all-round moderately prosperous society,” Xi said.

He called for more efforts to help the poor develop industries that could grow in a sustainable manner, set up sustainable mechanisms for poverty alleviation, and create driving forces for them to achieve prosperity.

Poverty relief is high on China’s 2016-2020 agenda, and the government has vowed to lift everybody out of poverty by 2020. By the end of 2015, China still had 55.75 million people living in poverty.

Since the start of the reform and opening-up in 1978, China’s economic boom has helped lift more than 700 million people out of poverty.

“Poverty alleviation is getting more and more difficult as it progresses to the end,” Xi said.

He stressed the importance of making sure every poor family had a program for increasing income and every poor person had their way of casting off poverty.

The president pointed to relocation as an important supplementary approach in fighting poverty and highlighted the role of ecological compensation, which would not only help improve the ecological environment but also boost incomes.

“Making sure children of impoverished families enjoy access to high-quality education is a fundamental solution to poverty,” Xi said.

No snow, but there they go

Enthusiasts try out the new snowless ski slopes at the Olympic Forest Park during a recent test run of the facility. WANG JIE/FOR CHINA DAILY

Beijing at the height of summer is not where you would expect to find a bustling ski resort-until now.

A complex of high, dry ski slopes at the south end of Olympic Forest Park was officially unveiled on Tuesday as part of efforts by the city government to promote the winter sport as a year-round activity.

The resort, built by the park’s management company and Beijing Sinolym Co, opened four courses for entry-to medium-level skiers as a trial on Saturday to a select group of enthusiasts. They were given the chance to experience the fun of skiing in light clothing under Beijing’s summer sun.

Policy digest

Medicine procurement program to be launched

A pilot program for the pooled procurement of pharmaceuticals will be launched in 11 cities as part of measures to cut the prices of key medicines, according to a guideline published on Thursday.

The pilot program will operate in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Tianjin and seven other cities, the guideline issued by the General Office of the State Council said.

The pilot pooled procurement mechanism will enable reductions in drug prices, reduce the cost of business transactions and guide the use of drugs by medical institutions, the guideline said. Procurement will be open to all approved enterprises that can produce drugs on the procurement list in the Chinese mainland.

A coalition will be established among public medical institutions to conduct the pooled procurement. The scope of the pilot program will be expanded after a summary of its efforts, the guideline said.

As part of the program, healthcare security authorities will conduct pooled procurement of drugs based on the amount required by public medical institutions in targeted regions. The total procurement amount will be between 60 and 70 percent of the total amount of drugs required at such institutions.

The guideline also called for efforts to ensure the quality and supply of drugs. A whole-chain quality supervision system will be implemented, covering the production, circulation and use of drugs selected in the procurement. Pharmaceutical companies selected in the procurement will have the quality of their products and supply capacities assessed, and emergency reserves of drugs will also be established.

It also called for medical institutions to settle drug payments on time with producers to reduce the cost of transactions.

A working group will be established by the General Office of the State Council, State Medical Insurance Administration, National Health Commission and State Food and Drug Administration to lead the 12-month pilot program.

Regulation on political and legal affairs

The Communist Party of China Central Committee published a new regulation on its work related to political and legal affairs on Friday.

The regulation, which translates the Party’s long-term successful experience in leading the nation’s political and legal work into institutional achievements, stresses the absolute leadership of the CPC Central Committee over political and legal affairs.

Party committees above county level are also responsible for leadership of political and legal affairs in their regions under the regulation.

It also highlighted the need to support Party’s units related to political and legal affairs in assuming their duties in accordance with the law and to ensure the judicial organs assume their duties independently.

It also called for Party units to safeguard national political security, ensure social stability and promote social equality and justice.

The regulation, which took effect on Jan 13, also made clear the duties and work rules of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee.

Xi: Strengthening CPC leadership in military

President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivers an address at a CMC meeting on Party building in Beijing, on Aug 17-19, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

BEIJING — President Xi Jinping has called for efforts to comprehensively strengthen the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Party building in the country’s armed forces to ensure a solid political guarantee for the building of a strong military.

Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), made the remarks at a CMC meeting on Party building, which was held from Friday to Sunday in Beijing.

Noting that strengthening CPC leadership and Party building in the military is a requisite for advancing the “great new project” of Party building and the building of a strong country with a strong military, Xi said the whole military should comprehensively implement the Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress.

No sight, but still on the lookout for love

Editor’s note: This is the second of a series of stories about developments in the lives of China’s blind and visually impaired community.

Teng Weimin, former vice-chairman of the China Blind Person’s Association, reads a book in Braille at Beijing’s China Braille Library.Photo By Li Lei / China Daily

Parental concerns are a hurdle for visually impaired people wanting to form relationships.

While living in perpetual darkness cannot stop visually impaired people from reaching out for love, other people’s opinions can. That’s a lesson Liang Jiangbo learned in adolescence.

In 2002, while studying at a middle school for blind and visually impaired children in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, the then 16-year-old received a letter in his capacity as class monitor. He opened the letter, which was written in Braille, and discovered that it was from a blind girl in his home province of Anhui, asking about the curriculum and life on campus.

Liang replied in detail, and the two quickly became pen pals and later classmates.

Though the pair never knew what the other looked like, the congeniality and companionship they felt quickly turned into something more than friendship. They arranged to apply together for a prestigious blind high school in Qingdao, Shandong province, and hoped to later study at the same college.

Their intimacy quickly spread around campus and became obvious to Liang’s parents, who were more concerned about the inconvenience that could arise from the union of two blind people than fears that the relationship would affect their studies.

Liang’s parents even went so far as to tell him about the difficulties a blind couple would face when their parents were too old to care for them, and how their children might be bullied for having blind parents who could only offer limited assistance.

Gradually, barriers grew between the pair and they broke up before graduation.

“We were both worried by what other people said, and our relationship was affected,” said Liang, who is now a Braille proofreader with the China Braille Press in Beijing. “I went on to high school in Qingdao and later to Beijing for college, whereas she chose not to, as a sign of severing ties with me.”

Liang is one of a large number of visually impaired people who have been encouraged to downplay the importance of true love and marry partners with better vision. Blind and visually impaired people are categorized as the most vulnerable among disabled people, and are told that they will only make it through life if they marry a sighted person.

Influenced by such opinions, visually impaired city dwellers choose to marry sighted rural residents who want urban hukou – household registration – to make their lives easier. Though some relationships turn out to be good matches, large numbers of these utilitarian unions do not last long, according to experts.