Shanghai purrs over new Hello Kitty theme park

The world’s only Hello Kitty-themed pavilion brings a fantasy world with a retro decor for fans in Shanghai.

Hello Kitty Shanghai Times was launched by propert

y developer Shimao Group and Japanese animation powerhouse Sanrio on March 29.

By creating an immersive experience of Shanghai during three symbolic periods of the city’s history – the 1930s, 1980s and today – the

indoor theme park provides a unique experience for visitors with Sanrio’s best-known characters, incl

uding Hello Kitty, My Melody, Badtz-Maru, Pompompurin, Keroppi and Cinnamoroll.

The time travel-themed attraction is located at Shimao Festiva

l City on bustling East Nanjing Road, and is expected to attract 2 million visitors a year. S

preading across three floors, the play area takes up a total gross floor area of about 6,000 square meters.

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As a prominent expert on China-US studies for decade

 Zhu also was twice denied single-entry visas to the US.

“This shows how the US is trying to block normal social exchanges bet

ween the two countries, an important channel for mutual understanding and trust,” Zhu said.

Besides scholars in social sciences, the US also began last year to make it harder for Chinese graduate students to get visas if they stud

y in “sensitive research fields”. It warned biomedical researchers at US universities to beware of “Chinese spies

trying to steal information from their laboratories”, according to The New York Times report.

Jon Taylor, a professor of political science of the University o

f St. Thomas in Houston, said the decision is “both absurd and exceedingly shortsighted”.

“These scholars and researchers are social scientists with a long history of interactin

g with their American counterparts as well policymakers in both countries,” he said.

“They are scholars teaching and researching what I teach and research. What are they going to steal?”

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Top economic planner bullish on reaching annual growth

China’s economy, despite headwinds, has enjoyed a good start in the first quarter of 2019, and the country has the confide

nce to achieve the annual projected growth goal, said the country’s top economic planner.

“The first quarter’s stable economic development has laid a solid foundation for the an

nual growth,” said Yuan Da, spokesperson with the National Development and Reform Commission.

“The economy has stayed on the track of steady growth. We have the confidence, conditio

ns and capability to meet the projected targets for economic and social development this year.”

Yuan made the remarks at the NDRC press conference on Thursday in Beijing.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s economy expanded at a faster-than-expected 6.4 perce

nt year-on-year in the first quarter. The growth was unchanged from that in the fourth quarter in 2018.

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China’s foreign direct investment up 6.5% in Q1

China’s foreign direct investment (FDI) totaled 242.28 billion yuan in the first quarter of t

his year, up 6.5 percent year-on-year, the Ministry of Commerce said Thursday.

FDI in China from non-financial sectors reached $35.8 billio

n in the first three months, up 3.7 percent year-on-year.

Investment from South Korea, the United States and Germany in China m

eanwhile increased 79.6 percent, 71.3 percent and 86.1 percent year-on-year, respectively.

Foreign capital flowing to the country’s high-tech manufacturing s

ector surged 14.8 percent year-on-year to 25.97 billion yuan during the same period.

March’s FDI amounted to 95.17 billion yuan, up eight percent year-on-year.

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The bond pricing mechanism will be further improv

Under a pilot scheme, the first group of six provinces and cities sold 6.8 billion yuan in bonds

at commercial bank counters to individual buyers between March 22 and early April.

The coupon rates are between 3.01 percent and 3.33 percent, higher than treasury b

onds issued by the central government as well as bank deposits with the same maturity.

Gross local bond issuances hit 1.18 trillion yuan in the first qua

rter, compared with only 219.5 billion yuan in the same period last year.

The total quota for 2019 local government bond issuances is 3.08 trillion yuan, according to the Ministry of Finance.

“About 60 percent of the bonds were issued for ongoing construction, especially

for shantytown renovation projects, railways and roads,” said Hao Lei, head of the ministry’s Budget Department.

While debt financing continues to grow, the government is experiencing sharp declin

es in fiscal revenue growth, especially from tax and land sales, official data showed.

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Military drill near Taiwan ‘necessary’sman for the State Coun

Mainland slams response by island’s leader, who called exercise ‘a threat’

A spokesman for the Chinese mainland said a military drill by Chinese bombers and warships around Taiwan on Monday was routin

e and slammed the island’s administration for misleading the Taiwan people and hyping tensions.

On Monday, various warships, bombers and reconnaissance aircr

aft of the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command conducted “necessary train

ing” around Taiwan as a means to test the joint assault capability between different branches of the military, Senior Colone

l Zhang Chunhui, the theater command’s spokesman, said in a statement on Monday.

The exercise took place in waters east of Taiwan and was part of a scheduled PLA exercise, he said.

“It is completely within the normal legal rights of a sovereign cou

ntry, and it’s beneficial for maintaining peace and security in the Taiwan Straits,” Zhang said.

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In early April, the US increased military interactions

with the island by officially acknowledging that military personnel have been posted in the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan since 2005.

US weapons manufacturer Raytheon was also granted a $9 million contract to upgrade Taiwan’s Patriot missile defense system.

Senior Colonel Liang Fang, a professor at PLA National Defense Universit

y, said the recent drill will test and enhance the PLA’s joint operating capabilities.

“It will increase the PLA’s ability to protect national sovereignty, and warn thos

e who are trying to undermine it to abandon their illusions,” she said. “Similar drills

will be more common in the future, with increasingly sophisticated equipment and training methods.”

Xiu Chunping, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social

Sciences’ Institute of Taiwan Studies, said the recent drill serves to warn the US and separati

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Customs makes its biggest tusk bustuangpu Customs Distri

China’s customs officers have seized 2,748 ivory tusks weighing a combined 7.48 metric tons after cracking a major smuggling case.

It was the biggest haul of tusks ever recorded in an anti-smuggling bust conducted in

dependently by customs officers, the General Administration of Customs said on Monday.

The case was solved in March after a combined operation of differ

ent customs offices lasting three months. A total of 238 custo

ms officers took part from cities around the country, including Hefei, Nanjing, Beijing, Fuzhou and Qingdao.

Twenty suspects were detained for further investigation, accor

ding to Sun Zhijie, director of the administration’s anti-smuggling bureau.

Sun said the tusks, illegally shipped from African countries, were imported into China labeled as wood.

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Most of the ivory was hidden in an abandoned factory

by the smugglers, Sun said. Busts were made in several locations, which were not disclosed. The case is still under investigation.

Since early this year, 182 smuggling cases involving endangered species have been investigated, the administration said on Monday.

More than 500 tons of endangered animals and animal products were seized, 8.48 t

ons of which was ivory tusks or products made of ivory. In those cases, 171 suspects were detained.

The Chinese government suspended imports of ivory and all ivor

y products in 2015 and ended commercial processing and sale of ivory at the end of 2017.

The ban has had significant positive effects, with fewer people purchasing ivory, according to a report j

ointly released last year by the World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC, an NGO that tracks the global trade in wild animals.

“We will strengthen our anti-smuggling efforts, continuing to work with international organizations and depart

ments and allowing no tolerance of those illegal activities,” said Hu Wei, deputy director of the administration.

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Innovation links with Japan encouragedForeign Minis

Premier Li Keqiang called on China and Japan to boost cooperation in innovation to see more pra

gmatic outcomes, and to further work together in areas including finance, third-party markets and tourism.

The two countries should also create a fair and unbiased business environment for each other’s en

terprises, Li said in a meeting with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Beijing on Monday.

The meeting came after a China-Japan high-level economic dialogue,

co-chaired on Sunday by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Kono. The dia

logue, also attended by ministers of agriculture, industry, commerce and environ

mental protection from both countries, was also the first to be held in China between the two nations since 2010.

Li congratulated attendees on the successful hosting of the dialogue in his opening remarks, noting that bilateral relation

s are back on the right track and have seen new progress thanks to joint efforts of the two sides starting last year.

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