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Tesla China is mulling local factory

A Tesla electric charger is displayed next to a Telsa model S car during an auto show in Paris, France. [Photo provided to CHINA DAILY]

Electric carmaker says it is in talks with Shanghai, but no clarity yet on deal

Elon Musk's Tesla Inc-the highest valued car producer in the United States with a market capitalization of over $60 billion-never fails to surprise people, and this time it is the electric carmaker's localization plans for China.

A Tesla China senior spokeswoman said late Thursday night that events were moving into high gear.

"We expect to more clearly define our plans for production in China by the end of the year," she said.

Before that, Tesla had been silent for days about media reports that it would sign a deal on Thursday to build a plant in Shanghai's Lingang development zone.

Tesla China's senior public relations manager Duan Zhengzheng said the company was working with the Shanghai municipal government to explore the possibility of establishing a manufacturing facility, but did not comment on whether a deal had been signed.

Tesla's comments came after Shanghai Lingang Holdings Co Ltd, in the wake of a surge in its share price over the last few days, denied any negotiations of a possible partnership with the US electric carmaker after the stock market closed on Thursday.

Shanghai Electric Group Co Ltd, another rumored partner, also denied negotiations over a possible partnership with Tesla on Friday. Lingang's shares plummeted to their daily limit on Friday and Shanghai Electric shares halted trading.

The 21st Century Business Herald newspaper reported on Thursday, without providing details, that Tesla has been in talks with the Shanghai authorities for two years, but Tesla has been demanding too much.

John Zeng, managing director of LMC Automotive Consulting Shanghai, said the extended talks might have something to do with Tesla's intentions to partner with a non-auto company to protect its car-building technologies.

If Tesla wants to produce cars in China, it would need to set up a joint venture with at least one local partner, under existing rules.

Yale Zhang, managing director of Automotive Foresight, said the government may not give its approval if Tesla insists on a joint venture with a partner that is not a carmaker.

"Electric cars are not rocket science and there is no need for the government to make an exception," he said.

Zeng said Tesla may win approval with the help of local authorities, but added there was no need for them to give too much away in the negotiations.

"The fact is that Tesla needs China, not China needs Tesla," Zeng added.

Tesla sold 10,399 cars in China in 2016, up 181.7 percent year-on-year, LMC statistics show.

Zheng said, however, that BMW Brilliance's Zinoro and Daimler and BYD's Denza were not inferior to Tesla models in terms of quality and driving ranges.

He said localized Tesla models would not have a big impact on China's new energy vehicle sector.

LMC statistics show that 95 percent of new energy cars sold in China are priced under 100,000 yuan ($14,624), while a Tesla S sedan is priced at more than 700,000 yuan.

Internet majors, banks edge closer to fintech success

China's internet giants that forayed into online finance are now joining hands with banks, their perceived competitors, to succeed together in the booming financial technology or fintech sector.

The latest such partnership is between Tencent Holdings Ltd and Huaxia Bank Co Ltd, which was announced on Thursday.

The duo plan to co-develop an anti-fraud lab, a financial services cloud, and an artificial intelligence-backed customer service platform, based on their existing collaboration in data security, credit card services and online payments.

Tencent already works with over 200 banks and financial institutions by sharing its big data and cloud computing capabilities, Tencent said in a text message to China Daily.

Tencent's peers, Baidu Inc and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which together comprise China's "Tech Trinity", are jostling for supremacy in the internet finance segment. The two already have partnerships or collaborations with the nation's top lenders.

For instance, Alibaba inked a deal in March with China Construction Bank Corp that allows sales of the latter's wealth management products through Alipay, the mobile payment tool of Alibaba.

CCBC also has a similar arrangement with Alibaba's Ant Fortune platforms.

Earlier this week, Baidu pledged to build an intelligent bank with Agricultural Bank of China Ltd that would employ technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

JD.com Inc, another e-commerce major, has also joined the fintech partnerships fray. It is working with ICBC, China's largest bank by assets, on fintech, retail banking, loans for small and medium-sized enterprises, and consumer finance.

Li Chao, a senior analyst at consultancy iResearch, said: "All these fintech deals suggest the players concerned are playing to their respective strengths or trying to dominate a particular niche."

"For instance, Alibaba and JD tend to leverage retail-related scenarios, so they've exhibited a peculiar interest in retail banking and consumer finance. Meanwhile, Baidu and Tencent are doubling down on artificial intelligence and cloud computing, something that they've heavily invested in," Li said.

Wheels come off bike-sharing firm

CHONGQING-A bike-sharing startup has gone bust after less than five months, despite being named after Wukong, the omnipotent Monkey King, in the Chinese classic Journey to the West.

Last week, Chongqing Zhanguo Technology Ltd, Wukong Bicycle's operator, announced on the company's Sina Weibo account that it had retrieved its bikes from the streets.

It will now refund cash advances to users within the next 30 days.

Wukong Bicycle is thought to be the first bike-sharing operation to go bankrupt in China.

Calls to founder Lei Houyi went unanswered, but he was quoted in the media as saying he had lost more than 1 million yuan ($146,000).

One of the reasons his firm failed was because it was unable to secure a quality bike supplier.

Lei, 26, once worked as security guard in Peking University. The native of Chongqing was inspired by Mobike and Ofo Inc's business model to establish his own bike-sharing firm.

Wukong rolled out its services on Jan 7, putting around 1,200 bikes across Chongqing, half of which were in college campuses.

Around 90 percent of their bikes are now nowhere to be found because they are only fitted with mechanical locks and are easily stolen.

Chongqing is a hilly city, and colleges are the major market for bike-sharing companies.

A large number of orange Mobikes and yellow Ofos, the two companies which dominate the Chinese market, could be seen there.

"Mobikes have better quality but Ofo is cheaper," said He Xia, a student at the Chongqing University.

Wukong Bicycle's collapse occurred just days before Mobike announced it had raised more than $600 million to finance overseas expansion.

As people seek to make their lives easier and save resources, sharing has become popular in China.

Global mission set for deep-diving sub

Year of exploration to take Jiaolong to the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans

China will begin a global deep-sea scientific exploration mission with its Jiaolong manned deep-sea submersible starting in 2020, an official from the State Oceanic Administration said as the sub returned home on Friday.

Sun Shuxian, deputy director of the administration, told reporters at a news conference on Friday that the mission will begin around June 2020 and last about one year. It will cover the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans, he said.

The grand mission is intended to strengthen China's capability in surveying and researching the deep-sea environment and resources and will earn the nation a bigger say in this field, Sun said. The administration also regards it a gift for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China in July 2021, he said.

No country has carried out such an extensive exploration mission, Sun said.

The mission will use a new mother ship for the submersible. Construction will begin soon on the ship and it will be put into use in 2019, he said. The new vessel's displacement will be around 4,000 metric tons and it will be able to travel at least 11,000 kilometers during each journey, giving it greater capabilities than Jiaolong's current mother ship, Xiangyanghong 09.

The Xiangyanghong 09 returned to its home port, the National Deep-Sea Base in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Friday morning, concluding the nation's 38th oceanic expedition and the sub's five-year trial run.

During the 138-day expedition that began on Feb 6, the mother ship sailed nearly 34,000 kilometers to the South China Sea and the northwestern Indian and northwestern Pacific oceans, while Jiaolong conducted 30 dives, according to a news release from the administration.

Researchers from the State Oceanic Administration, Ministry of Education, Chinese Academy of Sciences and China Geological Survey had the Jiaolong collect 624.6 kilograms of seabed rocks, 5,968 liters of seawater as well as 2,115 marine creatures.

It made five dives each in the Mariana Trench, the world's deepest known trench, and Yap Trench, both in the western Pacific Ocean. These operations have enabled scientists to better understand the trenches' geochemical and biological conditions, according to the news release.

Yu Hongjun, head of the National Deep-Sea Base Management Center, said the recent expedition boosted China's efforts in exploring and developing seafloor mineral resources and its research in oceanography and marine biology.

Now, Jiaolong will receive a yearlong overhaul and technical upgrade before starting its formal operating period, which will involve travel farther from China and deeper in the ocean and include more dives each year, he said.

Liu Feng, an official from the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association, under Sun's administration, said the country is also doing preliminary research on the construction of a manned deep-sea station that, initially, would be able to remain up to 15 days at a depth of 1,000 meters with 12 crew members.

Named after a mythical dragon, Jiaolong is China's first manned deep-sea research submersible. It was developed by Chinese designers starting 2002 and entered service in 2010, making China the fifth country with deep-sea exploration technology, after the United States, France, Russia and Japan.

During a test dive in June 2012, Jiaolong made its deepest dive - to 7,062 meters - in the Mariana Trench. During its trial run, the submersible made 152 dives.

Panda pair heading to Zoo Berlin in 15-year agreement on conservation

Meng Meng, 5, a female panda, plays at the Chengdu Panda Research Base on May 3, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

On Saturday morning, a pair of giant pandas will leave Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, to make a 12-hour journey across the globe.

The destination: Berlin, Germany, where they will reside at Zoo Berlin for 15 years, a time that will include joint scientific research between the zoo and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, according to Chen Cheng, an information officer with the base.

Jiao Qing, 7, a male panda, and Meng Meng, 5, a female, will depart from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport at 8:40 am on Saturday.

During their flight, they will be accompanied by two keepers from the Chengdu base and Andreas Ochs, a senior veterinarian from Zoo Berlin.

The flight's "meal service" will include ample bamboo and water, Ochs said, adding that he and the two Chinese keepers will keep close tabs on the two pandas during the flight.

A send-off ceremony for the pandas was held at the Chengdu base on Friday afternoon. In attendance were Ochs and representatives of the China Wildlife Conservation Association and the Sichuan provincial forestry department.

The pandas' trip was made possible by a cooperation agreement on panda conservation signed on April 28 between the conservation association and Zoo Berlin, marking the beginning of a 15-year relationship.

China's fourth panda census showed 1,864 wild pandas and 375 captive pandas worldwide as of the end of 2013, according to results released in 2015. Most of the pandas are in Sichuan.

Jiao Qing, 7, a male panda, eats bamboos at the Chengdu Panda Research Base on May 3, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

Sichuan has worked with over 10 countries in panda conservation, said Liu Bing, deputy chief of the provincial forestry department.

Zhang Zhihe, head of the Chengdu base, said that his facility alone has collaborated with 13 foreign zoos in scientific research into pandas, including zoos in the United States, Japan and Canada.

The base was set up in 1987 with six ill, hungry pandas rescued from the wild when bamboo, the pandas' staple food, bloomed in the 1980s.

Bamboo dies after it flowers. It is now home to 176 captive pandas, thanks to Chinese researchers having solved the primary obstacles hindering the mating of pandas and the survival of their cubs in captivity.

The pandas' home in Germany will cover about 5,500 square meters and Zoo Berlin will do its utmost to make the pandas feel at home, according to its head, Andreas Knieriem.

It is the third time that Zoo Berlin has hosted giant pandas.

In 1980, after West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt visited, China sent Bao Bao and Tian Tian as a state gift to the country.

Tian Tian died in 1984, but Bao Bao lived to the ripe old age of 34, the equivalent of 102 in human terms, dying in 2012.

In 1995, China loaned Yan Yan, a female panda, to Zoo Berlin. In 2007, she died at the age of 22.

Use of antibiotics in poultry and livestock to be reduced

Irregularities in the use of antibiotics in poultry and livestock in China will be strictly monitored to reduce drug resistance, according to a national plan released by the Ministry of Agriculture on Friday.

Authorities will push for a reduction in the use of antibiotics for poultry and livestock by 2020. Antibiotics for both human and animal use, and antibiotics that can easily cause cross-drug resistance will be gradually banned in China, according to the plan on controlling animal-sourced drug resistance.

Authorities will also take measures to research, develop and promote more than 100 kinds of new drugs for animal use that are safe and highly effective, and more than 100 kinds of high-risk drugs for animal use will be banned, the plan said.

By 2020, more than 97 percent of poultry, livestock and aquatic products in the domestic markets are expected to pass tests for antibiotics residue, the plan said.

Authorities will intensify supervision in the inspection and approval of new antibiotics for animal use, and further regulate drug application by veterinarians. Authorities will also establish eight national labs across China to improve the monitoring of drug resistance caused by the use of animal antibiotics, the plan said.

Agricultural authorities will also intensify communications and cooperation with international organizations such as the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to control the spread of drug-resistant bacteria among countries, it said.

China is a major producer and user of antibiotics for animals. Bacteria drug-resistance is becoming increasingly serious in China, forcing the use of more drugs in the poultry and livestock industry, which brings serious threats to public health, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Film festival cuts across cultures

China, the world's second-largest movie market, now has more than 45,000 cinema screens, surpassing the total in the United States and Canada, an official said during the 2nd BRICS Film Festival in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Friday.

Zhang Hongsen, deputy director of the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, said China has seen a cinematic building spree in recent years.

The country, which releases an average 700 features a year, is now one of the largest movie producers in the world.

China has signed coproduction agreements with 18 countries, and a State-backed distribution program to release Chinese-language movies abroad - which took off earlier last year - has reached mainstream cinemas in North America, Europe, Oceania and Asia, according to Zhang.

He said that enhancing international exchanges and collaboration will be pivotal to boost the Chinese movie industry.

The Chengdu festival, which runs from June 23 to 27, screens around 30 movies from the five BRICS countries and highlights some coproductions.

Where Has Time Gone, the first movie coproduced by the five BRICS nations, was released as the festival's premiere on June 23.

The film ponders the eternal question of time through five short stories by Chinese director Jia Zhangke, Russian Alexey Fedorchenko, Indian Madhur Bhandarkar, South African Jahmil X.T. Qubeka and Brazilian Walter Moreira Salles, Jr.

Jia said the five countries share some similarities in their social situations and the lives of their citizens, which lays the groundwork for the filmmakers to explore a theme that they are all interested in.

"My first invitation email received dozens of quick replies. The theme of time resonates with filmmakers beyond language barriers," says Jia, one of the most recognized Chinese directors in the West.

A Sino-US nature film directed by Lu Chuan, Born in China, is also being highlighted during the festival as "it exemplifies a successful way to tell the world about China", says Zhang Pimin, deputy head of China's official movie delegation.

Lu, who said he had been influenced by some Indian classics in his early years, said China's movie industry needs the spirit of craftsmanship to polish appealing stories.

Skies start to clear after recent heavy rainfall

A snapshot of Tian'anmen Square, based in Beijing, after an episode of heavy rainfall on June 23, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

Gardens, located at Tian'anmen Square, benefit from an episode of heavy rainfall in Beijing on June 23, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

A group of tourists gather at Tian'anmen Square, based in Beijing, after an episode of heavy rainfall on June 23, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

A group of tourists enjoy walking around Tian'anmen Square, based in Beijing, as skies start to clear after a heavy rain on June 23, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

Skies start to clear near Tian'anmen Square, Beijing, after a heavy rain on June 23, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

Skies start to clear near Tian'anmen Square, Beijing, after a heavy rain on June 23, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

Skies start to clear near Tian'anmen Square, Beijing, after a heavy rain on June 23, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

Guangzhou plans women-only subway cars at rush hour

GUANGZHOU - Metro officials said that starting on Wednesday, the city will provide women-only subway cars.

There will be one such subway car for every train on Line 1, and it will be reserved for women during the rush hour, from 7:30 am to 9:30 am and from 5 pm to 7 pm on workdays, the subway operator said on Friday. During nonpeak times, men can also ride in those subway cars.

"We want to raise awareness about caring for and respecting women," Metro officials said in a statement. The company will seek public opinion after the trial period begins and make improvements as needed.

The women-only restriction is, however, not legally binding, the statement acknowledges, since there is no legal basis for differential treatment on the public transit system.

"Couples, friends and families may want to stay together, so in those cases, it is not suitable to force male passengers out of the carriages," an official with Guangzhou Metro said.

The city's subway operator made the decision following suggestions from political advisers. One of the advisers, Su Zhongyang, pointed out that many women complain about rush-hour traffic and say that women's generally smaller stature makes it all the more uncomfortable.

"Also, we want to stop any chance of women falling victim to harassment while riding the subway," Su said.

According to Guangzhou police, 74 sexual harassment cases have been filed involving the Guangzhou Metro since 2015.

"I support having a women-only car. At least there won't be any uncomfortable stares when I wear shorts," said a woman who gave her name as Liang.

Guangzhou has around 14 million people.

Xinhua

 

Special funding undergoes audit

Money designated to improve people's livelihoods are common graft targets

Social sectors that are closely related with people's livelihoods have become a major target of this year's annual audit report as the country is progressing toward a moderately prosperous society by 2020.

The central government invested a total of 60 billion yuan ($8.78 billion) in special funds for poverty relief in 2016. The National Audit Office had visited 16,600 poverty-stricken families from 158 counties and audited the use of about 33.6 billion yuan of the funds, said Hu Zejun, auditor general of the National Audit Office.

While most of the funds were used efficiently and 12.4 million people were pulled out of poverty last year, auditors have also found some problems, he said.

"The information of 113,400 registered poverty-stricken people was found to be inaccurate or not updated. Some who have bought high-end vehicles or apartments were still registered as poverty-stricken," Hu said.

He said that auditors had found 141 million yuan of poverty relief funds were improperly spent, as some projects were used for other purposes after completion or abandoned, and 1.95 billion yuan of funds in 84 counties were idle.

Hu made the remarks while delivering an annual audit report to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. The legislature is holding its bimonthly session, which will last until Tuesday.

The report also revealed that 474 medical institutes had sold medicine or medical materials worth of 537 million yuan at inflated prices.

More than 1 billion yuan in special funds for affordable housing projects were embezzled for commercial real estate development or office expenditures, the report found, while 54,900 families that were not qualified for affordable houses passed local government verification.

"The corruption of low-level officials is a problem in areas closely related to people's livelihoods," said Hu, adding that auditors had found 450 corrupt grassroots officials involved in more than 300 cases connected with poverty relief, social security and ecology protection in the past year.

The National Audit Office has transferred evidence to judicial departments on more than 600 disciplinary or legal violations, involving about 1,100 officials, in the past year, Hu said.

Jiang Jianghua, director of the audit science research institute under the National Audit Office, said that the shift of attention in this year's "audit storm", which put more importance on people's livelihoods, would bring the public practical benefits.

Wang Dehua, director of the audit research office at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the audit work is consistent with the emphasis of the central leadership.

"As China is strengthening efforts in building a moderately prosperous society, the government has attached more attention to people's livelihoods. Stricter scrutiny over such areas can help the government better achieve the target," he said.

Wang also said that the central government not only audits the use of the funds but also pays attention to the qualification of those who benefit, which is also key to ensuring the funds are used properly.

Highlights

The National Audit Office audited the debt of 16 provincial governments, 16 prefecture-level city governments and 14 county governments and found that the debt these governments had promised to repay with their fiscal revenues at the end of March 2017 had increased 87 percent from the end of June 2013.

Under the promise to repay in such manner, a total of 53.7 billion yuan ($7.9 billion) was borrowed from banks and trust financing by some of those governments, which is deemed to have violated relative rules.

The audit of 842 domestic projects of 20 enterprises found 60.6 billion yuan at risk due to bad decisions or poor management in major investments, share acquisitions and project construction; 61 of these companies' 155 overseas projects were also found to be at risk.

Three of the 20 central State-owned companies that were audited failed to weed out outdated capacity as required by the central government. Three of the 18 provinces that were audited were found to have 67 coal mines with total capacity of 12.6 million metric tons that should have been closed or were given production permits not in accordance with regulations. These governments were also found to be violating the regulations and gave permits to iron mills with output capacity of 1.33 million tons.

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