Tibet region greets Indian pilgrims

This year’s first officially organized group of Indian pilgrims enters China through the Nathu La Pass in the Tibet autonomous region on Wednesday.LIU DONGJUN/XINHUA

The Nathu La Pass in the Tibet autonomous region received this year’s first officially organized group of Indian pilgrims on Wednesday.

The 38 pilgrims will travel to Mansarovar Lake and Mount Kailash in the region’s Ngari prefecture in the following 12 days. Both sites are regarded as sacred by Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Tibetan Bon practitioners.

This year, the pass is expected to see about 500 such pilgrims from India making the 2,874-kilometer pilgrimage, said Yang Zhigang, deputy director of the office of foreign affairs and overseas Chinese affairs in Xigaze, the region’s second-biggest city.

“The pilgrims will be provided with room and board, as well as medicines and other help in their journey,” Yang said.

Hotel rooms are arranged in the region’s counties of Kangmar, Lhaze and Drongba, and the pilgrims need to pay for accommodations, according to the office.

Vegetables, fruit and some basic rescue facilities are also prepared for their needs.

Anuj Gupta made the journey with his 66-year-old mother. “This is her dream, and mine, too. This is a holy pilgrimage. I’m here to find something,” he said.

The Chinese government first allowed Indians to make pilgrimages to Tibet in 1981. China has welcomed almost 80,000 Indian pilgrims in the past decade alone. Since 2015, the Nathu La Pass has been opened to make it more convenient for Indian pilgrims to pay homage to Mount Kailash and Mansarovar Lake in Tibet.

The Nathu La Pass sits over 4,000 meters above sea level and is wedged between Tibet’s Yadong county and India’s Sikkim state. It is the shortest land passage for trade between China and India.

Before that, Indian pilgrims had to climb over the Qang La Pass, which sits 5,200 meters above sea level on the China-India-Nepal border in the region’s Purang county, and the road is steep and usually covered by snow. The new route cuts travel time for pilgrims from more than 20 days to about eight to 12 days.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Shanghai hosts international tourism festival

Shanghai Tourism Festival starts in Shanghai, Sept 15, 2018. [Photo/VCG]

SHANGHAI – Over 1,300 performers from 25 countries and regions celebrated the opening of Shanghai Tourism Festival on Saturday.

A total of 25 floats and 37 teams representing countries including Germany, Spain, Italy, France and Russia displayed their cultures.

Peru and Ecuador sent teams to the festival for the first time. A float representing the European Union debuted in the parade, to celebrate the China-EU Tourism Year.

The festival was established in 1990. Over 12 million visitors celebrated the event in 2017.

This year’s festival will last until Oct 6.

Death toll in accidents involving 23 vehicles rises to eight

A map shows the section of the Erenhot-Guangzhou Highway where a series of accidents caused eight deaths in the city of Yiyang, Hunan province on Dec 8, 2018. [Photo/Weibo]

The death toll from a series of road accidents that happened in Central China’s Hunan province on Saturday has risen to 8, police said on Sunday evening.

The accidents involving 23 vehicles happened around 7:10 pm on the Erenhot-Guangzhou Highway in the city of Yiyang due to slippery road condition caused by rain and low visibility, traffic police in Hunan said.

Seven people were killed in one of the four accidents. All of the 11 people who were injured in the accidents are out of danger, the police added.

The highway in Yiyang was reopened around 10 am on Sunday after the rescue and investigation works were completed and the road was cleared off. Local police warned drivers to slow down and take precautions after entering the highway as rain and snow is expected to continue to hit the area.

Boys urged to show care for opposite sex

A silhouette shows boys and girls playing together. [Photo/IC]

While teaching children-girls in most cases-to better protect themselves against sexual assault, more efforts should be made by society to tell boys to respect and care for the opposite sex, according to experts.

Lin Zi, a psychologist, suggested that “readable” teaching material be introduced for boys to tell them to better respect and protect girls and to understand that there is a “sense of personal space” regarding contact between the two genders.

She said some boys are confused about this situation, as their family members rarely discuss this with them.

Lin, vice-chairwoman of the Shanghai Psychological Counseling Association and founder of a psychological consultancy, is helping with the review of a sex education manual for children ages 10 to 14 launched by the China Children and Teenagers’ Fund.

She said parents are usually aware of the importance of establishing a sense of privacy for their daughters, so they will knock on the door before entering their rooms and leave when their daughters want to get changed. But if they have a son, many do not observe such behavior.

Lin said that when boys enter the school environment, they should be told that a respectable distance should be kept between the two genders, and that some behavior may transgress legal boundaries.

“Actual representative legal cases must be included in related teaching material to remind children that this is a serious issue, and that we need boys and girls to discuss and share their viewpoints in class,” Lin said.

She added that she has seen several adult clients, both men and women, who said they had experienced sexual assault as a juvenile.

Such cases had long-lasting negative impacts, including emotional disorders, constant withdrawal or aggression in interpersonal relationships, difficulty in adapting socially and starting a romantic relationship, and experiencing a strong fear of sex.

Many people said they often found “those around them” told their daughters to protect themselves during intimate bodily contact in a romantic relationship, but they rarely told sons to be “gentlemanly” in such situations.

Wang Shuangcheng, a 22-year-old woman from Shanghai, said, “My cousin was dating a girl recently, and I was astonished to hear his mother saying, ‘I don’t mind him coming home late at night. Boys don’t suffer losses in physical contact between the two genders in a relationship’.”

Sun Xuemei, a founder of the Girls’ Protection Program run by the China Foundation of Culture and Arts for Children, said different concepts of sex between boys and girls “have long existed in our culture, but good education will make a difference”.

“If a boy grows up in a family environment lacking respect for women, he may tend to believe that such a mentality and behavior is not wrong. But if one day he receives education and knows that he should respect and care for women, he will change his outlook,” Sun said, adding that telling boys to show girls respect is part of the education offered by the program.

Lin suggested that sexual desires and coping with them during puberty should be discussed with minors by parents and teachers. Minors should also learn when the opposite gender may develop such impulses and how they could influence or even harm them, she said.

“They can also be taught ways to prevent such impulses when they feel they are on the verge of losing control of their behavior. For example, they can play sports, rather than harm others,” Lin said.

Sun appealed to the public to create a more inclusive and kinder environment for both minors and adult victims of sexual assaults, as pressure arising from gossip can sometimes “deal a heavier blow” than an incident of sexual assault itself.

“One fact that best illustrates this is that everybody can be straightforward about telling others that their wallet has been stolen. However, few people, including men and boys, dare to speak publicly if they have experienced a sexual assault,” she said.

ZHOU WENTING in Shanghai

60 airlines ready for Daxing opening

A bird’s-eye view of Beijing Daxing International Airport. [Photo/Xinhua]

More than 60 domestic and overseas carriers including China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines and Beijing Capital Airlines plan to operate out of Beijing Daxing International Airport, which is preparing to begin operations, according to the airport authority.

The construction of the infrastructure for the new airport, which started in 2014, was completed on Sunday.

It is now getting facilities and equipment ready and is expected to begin operations by the end of September, the airport said in a news release.

China United Airlines, a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Eastern, is expected to become the first airline to transfer its operations to Daxing airport from its current headquarters at Beijing Nanyuan Airport.

“China United will move its 60 airplanes to the new airport … as well as more than 4,000 employees before the airport starts operation,” said Wang Guangbin, deputy commander of China Eastern’s Beijing bureau.

As for China Eastern, it will transfer 10 percent of flights serving Beijing Capital International Airport during the winter and spring and 80 percent of the flights starting from March next year, except for 46 daily flights between Beijing and Shanghai, Wang said.

By then, China Eastern will operate over 334 flights from the new airport on a daily basis, which will serve a network of 150 routes and 115 domestic and foreign destinations, Wang said.

Shanghai Airlines, another wholly-owned subsidiary of China Eastern, is also scheduled to finish transferring all its flights and employees before next summer to the new airport, according to the company.

China Southern, the country’s largest airline in terms of fleet size, has built Asia’s largest hangar, operational control center and aviation food production base at Daxing airport to better facilitate air traffic demands.

Wang Jianjun, head of the airline’s construction work at Daxing airport, said 13 routes and 28 flights will be transferred to the new airport in late October.

The airline will deploy more than 200 aircraft with over 900 flights per day at the airport by 2025, he said.

According to the Civil Aviation Administration of China, China Southern will have 40 percent of total airport slots at Daxing airport, followed by China Eastern with 30 percent and other airlines sharing the remainder.

Among the other airlines, Air China will have routes to domestic cities including Shanghai, Kunming, Chongqing, Shenzhen and Changsha, according to the company.

Helsinki-based Finnair will grow its operations in the country by operating three weekly flights to Daxing airport as of Nov 3, the company announced in a Twitter post.

With four runways, 268 airplane parking bays and a vast terminal building covering 700,000 square meters, the new airport is expected to handle 45 million passengers a year by 2021 and 72 million by 2025.

Gas leak stopped on ROK ship in Bohai Sea

JINAN – Authorities in East China’s Shandong province said a gas leak had been stopped on a Republic of Korea (ROK) liquified petroleum gas carrier Monday morning.

The city government of Dongying said the ROK ship reported a gas leak about 25 kilometers off Dongying Port at 10:30 am Saturday.

The incident prompted the government to sent experts to the ship to find a solution and set up an emergency rescue team. Nearby sea, port and residential areas have also been placed under monitoring.

Sinopec Shengli Oilfield, which operates an oilfield in Dongying, said it had mobilized vessels be vigilant when in proximity of the ROK ship, and drove away over 100 ships for safety concerns.

T-union transport card use to expand to 260 cities

A T-union public transit card issued by Hebei province.LI XIAOGUO/XINHUA

Getting up late in morning, Xu Ge rushed to the bus station. Though she tapped her transit card several times, the display still didn’t show the cash balance as usual.

Just back from her home in Chongqing for the weekend, the 24-year-old accountant suddenly realized she mistook the Chongqing public transport card for her Chengdu one.

Xu moved to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, one year ago after landing her current job after graduation. But thanks to the high-speed railway, she usually returns to Chongqing to spend holidays with her parents.

As a fan of noncash payments, she eventually was forced to borrow money from passengers for the ticket fare.

“I always had to take two transit cards with me,” she said. “But I saw news that the country is promoting a nationwide public transport card. I’m really looking forward to it coming to Chongqing.”

Wu Chungeng, spokesman of the Ministry of Transport, said at a news conference recently that the China T-union transport card-China’s nationwide public transit card, usable on all public transport systems including ferries, taxis, buses, bikes and subways-will cover 260 cities at prefecture level and above at the end of this year.

The integration of the transport card means that a passenger holding one card can ride buses or take subways in any of the designated cities without buying new cards and enjoy local preferential policies as well. Passengers can buy or change their local transport cards to T-union cards in line with local policy.

So far, the T-union card system has been installed in 245 cities with over 31.5 million cards in use, and 15 more will join the network within the year. Some tier-one cities including Shanghai and Chongqing still haven’t joined the system yet, according to the ministry.

Yang Xinzheng, an expert at the China Academy of Transportation, said that transit cards were issued by local authorities who adopted different technical standards, making the integration of the program between cities in the same province difficult, let alone different provinces.

“It’s always an extra expense to purchase a new card for people to take public transportation in different places. With the ministry promoting the T-union card since 2013, it saves time and money for the public,” he said. However, he added that because the public transportation network is extremely massive and complex, it has taken time to reach full integration.

Beijing, for instance, is now upgrading and debugging its T-union card system, with its bus system temporarily only available for T-union transport cards from 50 designated cities, while its urban rail transit system accepts cards from 188 cities.

In promoting the card, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Transport announced on Tuesday that it will waive the fees-typically 20 yuan ($3)-to open a T-union card in mobile devices. Users of android smartphones and smart wristbands with NFC function may swipe their devices to pay for their public transit trips.

China expects to achieve integration of public transport cards in urban and rural areas by 2020 as a part of its nationwide interconnectivity plan.

Liaoning court hears Canadian’s appeal of death sentence

Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg appears in court in January in Dalian, Liaoning province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The appeal case involving the Canadian citizen Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, who was sentenced to death for smuggling more than 222 kilograms of drugs, was publicly heard at the Liaoning Provincial High People’s Court on Thursday.

The court said in a statement that it informed the Canadian embassy in China in accordance with the law and it protected the legitimate rights of Schellenberg during the trial. His two lawyers and interpreters joined the hearing.

More than 50 people, including officials from the Canadian embassy in China and deputies to the National People’s Congress, attended the case hearing, it added.

The court said the ruling would be announced at a later date.

On Jan 14, Schellenberg received the death penalty for trafficking more than 222 kilograms of methamphetamine by Dalian Intermediate People’s Court in Liaoning. His property and assets were seized in line with the judgment.

Schellenberg then appealed to the high people’s court. The appeal case was filed on Feb 12.

Preschool centers easing second-child anxiety

A teacher gives an English class for 1-year-old children at a child care center in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, March 4, 2019. [Photo by LIN ZEJUN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Demand for care facilities is growing as parents look to expand their families, while continuing to work

Until Lyu Jiawei discovered a new child care center in her community in the suburban district of Tongzhou in east Beijing, she was undecided about having a second child.

Though running her own business enabled Lyu to work at home, she still found it difficult to take care of her son while dealing with routine work.

“Our parents cannot come to help like some other families. Besides, my parenting ideas are different to those of the older generation,” she said.

Lyu was spending so much time taking care of her first child that she felt it would be almost impossible to have a second without giving up work.

China’s population is aging so rapidly that in 2016 the government announced that every couple could have two children, which ended the decadeslong policy that prohibited most families from having more than one child.

Since the new policy was implemented, the number of newborns has risen. However, the question of who will take care of the baby has become a major issue for families and is one of the main reasons some couples hesitate to have a second child, said Cui Shuyi, director of the Institute of Demographics at the Shandong Academy of Social Sciences.