Xie Xiaoyan, who has been involved in talks over the Iran nuclear situation and South Sudan, has just embarked on a demanding new mission - as China's first special envoy on the Syrian issue. The 62-year-old, whose appointment was confirmed on March 29, said the post is a sign of China's greater involvement in resolving the issue and its willingness to contribute "wisdom and solutions". Veteran diplomats said the increasing number of envoys comes from China's expanding involvement in global issues - including Syria - and its increasing national interests. Beijing has had a constant role in global efforts to tackle the Syria issue, communicating with both the Syrian government and the opposition to boost peace talks. Xie takes his new title at a time when "special envoy diplomacy" is playing an increasing role in China's foreign affairs. The United Nations and the United States have also appointed envoys - Staffan de Mistura and Michael Ratney respectively - to tackle the Syria issue, which has flared for five years.
Gong Xiaosheng, special envoy on the Middle East issue, said there are five hot spots in the region and that the Syria issue is "of great complexity". Liu Guijin, a former special representative on African affairs, said, "The number of China's special envoys will continue to rise.
Bill Jones with Executive Intelligence Review, a weekly US magazine, said US special envoys are often appointed "only for the duration of the 'crisis' or 'situation' for which he or she has been assigned".
Jonathan Cristol, a fellow at the World Policy Institute, said special envoys "can be a very useful tool" for China to safeguard its global interests, and it is hoped that such envoys will "have wide-ranging personal relationships with multiple actors". 1956: China's "special envoy diplomacy" initiated as Vice-Premier He Long attends Iskander Mirza's inauguration as Pakistani president. 1984: Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Qian Qichen participates in the fourth round of governmental consultations between China and the Soviet Union as a special envoy. 1991: Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Fuchang, as special envoy, visits several countries in the Middle East and expresses China's basic position on the Gulf War. September 2002: Government appoints Wang Shijie as its first special envoy on the Middle East issue.
March 2016: Government appoints Xie Xiaoyan as special envoy on the Syrian issue, marking greater significance for the role. Most Chinese diplomats assigned as envoys on a specific issue or region have a wealth of experience and knowledge.
Wu Dawei, 70, the country's special representative on Korean Peninsula affairs, was appointed in 2010, shortly after finishing his previous job as vice-minister of foreign affairs. Hemay be one of China's busiest envoys, especially since February when nuclear tests by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea led to an escalation of tensions.
He has embarked on at least three overseas trips since February, to Pyongyang, Seoul and Japan, according to the Foreign Ministry. Liu Guijin, a former special representative on African affairs, said unlike Foreign Ministry spokesmen and women, who usually state positions concisely, envoys are expected to "elaborate and explain China's stance in their own words".
Another 50 interns are to join China's top court and spend six months helping judges there, increasing their understanding of the rule of law and building on the success of the first class of interns. The project to educate judicial talent and provide a bridge between legal studies and practice - much like the role of a law clerk in the United States - was written in to a work report for the Supreme People's Court this year. Xu Jiaxin, a court administrator who heads the project, said the first class of interns ended their service on March 29. The second group, which was selected last week, will work at the court from May to October. Yuan Gang, an associate law professor at China University of Political Science and Law, praised the project as a key step in innovating legal education. However, unlike the Chinese interns, the US clerks attend face-to-face interviews with the judges they will assist and are paid for their work. Yuan Ningning, a legal researcher at Beijing Normal University, said China's efforts to educate law students should be highlighted, as the country "is on the road to operating with a strong rule of law".
Niu Yang, an intern in the first group, said he was excited to earn a place at the top court in a competitive process.
About 60 percent of applicants were eliminated during a review process, and about 50 students were granted interviews with the university principal, said Niu, who was selected as an intern at the top court's civil tribunal.
Ran Rong, a court official who mentors the interns, said they worked as clerks initially, recording case hearings and learning how the court works. Xia Junli, another intern mentor at the top court's civil tribunal, said the second group of law students should be educated in line with what they are learning in college. Yu, the deputy chief of the seven-person station, has worked as a forest ranger for 22 years after inheriting the job from his father. Workers at the Chongqing Yunyang Yangtze River Shelter-Forest Farm, established in 1964, have planted more than 6,000 hectares of trees along 42 kilometers of riverbank to restore the ecological system on the Yangtze's upper reaches. The farm, which has 33 rangers at seven stations - each in charge of 200 hectares of forest - is the largest of its kind along the river. The world's third-longest river, the Yangtze runs for 6,300 kilometers from the glaciers of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau eastward through Chongqing, Wuhan and Nanjing before reaching the East China Sea at Shanghai. The farm is known as the Leader Farm by the area's residents, as the late Chairman Mao Zedong gave the order to plant more trees there in 1958.
More than 400 million people get their drinking water from the Yangtze, and water security has become a major issue in China's development.
Excessive deforestation means the foliage coverage rate on the river's upper reaches dropped from 30 percent in the 1950s to only 20 percent in the 1990s, according to the Chongqing Bureau of Forestry. With the river's ecosystem on the verge of collapse, a campaign was launched to protect it.
Yunyang county, 310 km east of Chongqing, has been a vital ecological barrier on the upper reaches of the Yangtze, especially in the Three Gorges Reservoir area. In 1959, soon after Mao's order to plant more trees, thousands of farmers joined a voluntary tree-planting project. In 1964, the Chongqing forest farm was created to carry out professional forestry work, but funding was insufficient and the rangers were seldom paid.
In 2009, Chongqing launched the Yangtze River Ecological Barrier Construction Project, with Yunyang county one of four pilot areas. During Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe's visit to Beijing, the Sri Lankan government sought more investment despite a compensation claim from a Chinese company involved in a major port project remaining unresolved. Wickremesinghe, who wrapped up his first visit to China over the weekend, said on Saturday that his government is giving special status to the Colombo Port City project and that the port's profitable future has attracted many Chinese investors. The Port City project, contracted to State-owned China Communications Construction Co in 2013 with investment of $1.4 billion, is Sri Lanka's biggest single foreign investment.
The Chinese company, which has estimated that the suspension will cause losses of more than $380,000 a day, has sought compensation of $125 million, according to the Sri Lankan government, which has said it cannot pay and wants to negotiate.
On Thursday, Premier Li Keqiang told Wickremesinghe that China will work with Sri Lanka to push for a resumption of the project. Wickremesinghe said on Saturday that he did not discuss the compensation issue with Chinese leaders during his visit, as he did not think it was a major problem. He said the port city is a joint venture involving Chinese and Sri Lankan companies, but Indian companies would be welcome to join it. The port city is part of a plan for a "megalopolis" with a population of 8 million, and there will be more opportunities for infrastructure development by Chinese and other companies, Wickremesinghe said. Describing Sri Lanka as the most important country in the Indian Ocean for China's Belt and Road Initiative, Wickremesinghe said his nation is reviving its position as an Indian Oceanhub, which is connected to the China-proposed 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Although his first book (a novella) took shape more than six decades ago, he had to wait about a dozen years before seeing his literary fortunes finally smile. More than a decade after his path-breaking novel, he was honored with the highest literary prize in the world.
He began his acceptance speech by citing Florentine navigator Antonio Pigafetta, "who went with Magellan on his first voyage around the world" and wrote a "strictly accurate account" of his "passage through our southern lands of America" that "nonetheless resembles a venture into fantasy". The ignorance of the elites of the enlightened world, which is no longer limited to Europe and ironically also includes the northern part of the New World, seems to persist. But today, when no land is left uncharted, how can anyone, European and American leaders included, plead ignorance?
The refugees in Europe, as the wizard of magic realism said, are seeking a "new utopia of life, where no one will be able to decide for others how they die, where love will prove true and happiness be possible, and where races condemned to one hundred years of solitude will have, at last and forever, a second opportunity on earth". When will the cries of children, wails of helpless women and silent pains of desperate men be heard? Beijing plans to build thousands of charging stations this year to promote the use of electric vehicles, amid the city's efforts to curb air pollution, according to Beijing Electric Power Co. More than 10 major charging facilities are set to roll out in expressway service stations, with nearly 6,000 smaller units in urban areas, the company said.
Roads across the country are expected to cater more to electric and green cars, which emit significantly less pollutants than gasoline-powered vehicles. In February, the State Council released new guidelines to spur the development of the new-energy vehicle industry. Today, the National Bureau of Statistics is scheduled to release the latest economic figures, including those related to the consumer price index and the producer price index for March.
The China World E-commerce Conference is set to be held in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, today and tomorrow.
More senior citizens are learning how to use smartphones to connect to the internet, according to the latest industry reports. Beijing authorities are set to roll out the latest round of vehicle restrictions, which ban car owners from driving one day of the week based on the last digit of their license plates. China's special envoy on the Middle East issue took up his post in September 2014 and said he is much busier now than when he was an ambassador.
The 63-year-old served as director of the Chinese Office in Palestine from 2003 to 2005, as well as ambassador to Jordan from 2006 to 2008 and ambassador to Turkey from 2008 to 2014. What makes his work extremely hard, he said, is trying to settle disputes by taking a balanced stance, "as all parties in a dispute usually want China to support them against the other". The diplomat said he also has trouble finding time for his family, even for the most important festivals for Chinese. The practice of deploying special envoys has a long history and is now widely seen as an effective approach to diplomacy. US President Barack Obama appointed Todd Stern as a special envoy for climate change, while Rachel Kyte, vice-president of the World Bank Group, is also the organization's special envoy for climate change.
Experts have applauded the introduction of a blacklist for unruly air passengers, but caution has been urged in specifying targeted offenders. Three people have been fined and placed on a no-fly list since the China Air Transport Association introduced the national system in February. The punishment means the trio cannot book flights on five major airlines, including Air China, China Southern and China Eastern, which together operate about 80 percent of routes in and out of China, for one to two years, depending on the severity of their offense. The Civil Aviation Administration of China last year laid out 11 kinds of behavior strictly prohibited on flights and at terminals, including creating disturbances at check-in counters, damaging airport security facilities, and intimidating or assaulting crew members.
Li Xiaojin, a researcher at the Civil Aviation University of China, said a blacklist system is necessary, as conflicts over delays and disputes among passengers over trivial matters increasingly pose safety risks. In December 2014, a Chinese woman poured boiling water over a female flight attendant and punched the cabin windows on an AirAsia flight from Bangkok to Nanjing, Jiangsu province, due to a dispute over seating arrangements.
On Jan 10 last year, police removed 25 passengers from a plane in Kunming, Yunnan province, after they quarreled with flight crew and opened emergency exits after growing angry over delays caused by bad weather. However, Qiu Baochang, a legal consultant for the China Consumer Association, said specifications of the blacklist system should be detailed to avoid infringements of consumer rights. The new tax on imported goods purchased from e-commerce sites will not affect Chinese travelers who buy abroad, the Ministry of Finance said on Saturday. Shoppers had expressed concern that a new tax on foreign products, which went into effect on Friday, would spell trouble for outbound tourists. According to the authority, the rules for tourists returning from abroad remain unchanged, with purchases up to the value of 5,000 yuan ($770) exempt from duties.
The policy is aimed at creating a "level playing field" for cross-border e-commerce sites and brick-and-mortar stores that sell imported goods. Cross-border e-commerce has boomed with the surge in demand for higher-quality products among China's middle class.
Operators of bonded areas, part of the e-commerce chain, also expressed concern about the tax change - as it came into effect only about two weeks after it was announced, some areas said they did not have enough time to clear inventories.
Shoppers also have complained they must now pay higher taxes on low-priced overseas products. However, analysts noted that some luxury items, such as cosmetics priced up to 2,000 yuan, now have a lower tax, as the previous parcel tax was 50 percent. Fitch Ratings said in its latest report that China's restrictions on overseas purchases may narrow the price differential of luxury goods between China and the rest of the world, potentially boosting domestic consumption.
When Chinese President Xi Jinping dropped in for a pint at an English country pub with British Prime Minister David Cameron in October, few could have predicted it would start yet another Chinese consumer craze. Within a few weeks, monthly China sales of the particular beer - Greene King IPA - soared from 6,000 bottles to 80,000 bottles a month.
The Chinese, who normally drink domestic lagers such as Tsingtao and Yanjing, had suddenly developed a taste for English bitter ale.
The brewer that makes the beer based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk was the latest to benefit from the desire of Chinese consumers to have the latest thing. This often emotional and sometimes erratic behavior is "shaking the world", according to a recent article by Jeffrey Towson, professor of investment at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management, that went viral. Chinese consumers are a vital market for virtually all leading global consumer brands, yet their behavior is so volatile that trends are becoming increasingly difficult to forecast. They do not often behave according to the more established and standard patterns of behavior they see in Western markets, according to experts. So foreign multinationals - like Chinese companies that are just as desperate to capture their own domestic market - are having to adjust their business models so they can align them with the latest trends and fashions in the world's second-largest economy. There was much interest last month therefore in the publication of the 2016 China Consumer Report, The Modernization of the Chinese Consumer, by McKinsey & Co. It was the 11th such report produced by the international management consultants since 2005, and this year included interviews with 10,000 consumers. Daniel Zipser, partner at McKinsey's Shanghai office and the leader of its consumer and retail practice in Greater China, who was co-author of the report, says it is the speed of the consumer trends that presents the biggest challenge to companies.
Despite the recent slowdown in the economy, Chinese consumers remain among the most confident in the world.

Those expecting their household income to increase significantly over the next five years was 55 percent in 2015, barely unchanged from the 57 percent in 2012. This contrasts with only 30 percent of British consumers and 32 percent US consumers, believing the same when they were last polled in 2011. With this level of buoyancy, China - and not the United States or Europe - has become the place for companies to launch new products and services.
In February, Apple chose China to be the first country outside of the US to launch its Apple Pay mobile payments system, linking with Union Pay and Chinese banks.
Many leading automotive manufacturers now launch their new models first in China, the world's largest car market.
Wang Qing, professor of marketing and innovation at Warwick Business School in the UK, says this is because Chinese consumers are always clamoring for something new. Wang says that companies are being forced to respond to this and cannot take the Chinese market for granted like they may have done in the past. The McKinsey report highlighted just how much consumerism has become a fundamental part of the fabric of life. Those selling to China now also have to take into consideration that there is a move toward healthy living.
This could be bad news for international brands such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi with the percentage of those consuming carbonated soft drinks falling from 84 percent in 2012 to 63 percent in 2015. One of the major trends, however, is that Chinese consumers now want to trade up to premium brands over mass market brands. With cosmetics, 44 percent want to trade up, spirits 36 percent, milk 29 percent, hair care 26 percent and even rice 25 percent. Zipser says this can be far too easily dismissed as the sort of nouveau riche behavior seen in other fast-developing societies, but he believes it is a far more subtle than that.
Where Chinese consumers, particularly younger ones, often differ from Western consumers is being heavily influenced by fashion trends in their Asian neighbor, South Korea.
Although the chart-topping Gangnam Style from the South Korean musician Psy may have permeated Western culture, everything to do with South Korea, from movies and soap operas to lipstick, is seen as cool in China. Eden Yin, senior lecturer at Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge, says what is seen as erratic behavior among Chinese consumers is often the result of a herd mentality. Yin, who will be teaching a program, Strategies for Winning in China, at Cambridge next month, argues that this does not mean they are emotional. Mike Bastin, course leader of the MA in fashion marketing at the University of Southampton and a contributor to China Daily, says his recent research findings suggest Chinese consumers are driven less by a herd mentality. Bastin, currently on a nine-city guest lecture tour across China, says where Chinese are making more individual choices in fashion they are moving toward upmarket Chinese brands like Shanghai Tang, the brand that has tried to capture the city's 1920s and 1930s chic.
Whatever the idiosyncrasies of the Chinese market, attracting the attention of the Chinese middle class consumer is the holy grail in boardrooms across the world. China and the UK will honor their most famous playwrights, Tang Xianzu and William Shakespeare, with a series of events this year.
The dramatists were contemporaries who lived thousands of miles apart, and both died in 1616. Professor Zou Yuanjiang gives a talk on Tang's masterpiece The Peony Pavilion at University of Leeds. Shakespeare's plays are a mainstay of the British school curriculum, while Tang's best-known opera, The Peony Pavilion, continues to be performed worldwide.
Both were "great men in the circle of world drama", according to Aoki Masaru, the Japanese scholar and Sinologist, who many credit as being the first to link the Bard with Tang in his 1943 book A History of Chinese Literary Thought.
To mark the 400th anniversary of the writers' deaths, plays, seminars, book fairs and lectures will be held to celebrate their legacies in China and the United Kingdom.
He added that they will play an essential role in promoting mutual understanding and trust between the two countries by deepening exchanges and cooperation in literature and drama.
The celebrations will include a special stage production, A Midsummer Night's Dream Under the Southern Bough, which has been billed as "when Shakespeare met Tang". Aimed primarily at student audiences, the show is a mash-up of A Midsummer Night's Dream, the Bard's comedy of magic and mismatched love, and Tang's A Dream Under the Southern Bough, an opera about a soldier's fantastical journey through a kingdom of ants. The play will be staged in Leeds, Edinburgh, and three cities in China from July to September, and is organized by the University of Leeds Staging China, its Business Confucius Institute, and the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing. As the cast will mostly be made up of Western actors, the show will be a spoken word performance with musical accompaniment. This year's London Book Fair will also feature a discussion on Shakespeare and Tang and their impact on drama, to be staged at Olympia London on April 12, organized by China Universal Press and Publication Co. In March, Zou Yuanjiang, a philosophy professor at the University of Wuhan and vice-president of the Tang Xianzu Research Society, was invited to talk on The Peony Pavilion at several British universities. Such tours "not only illuminate the work of a legendary Chinese writer to audiences in the UK, but also have a great impact" among young Chinese people, according to Li Ruru, a professor of Chinese theater studies at the University of Leeds, who helped organize Zou's visit. By comparing the literary greats, "we're raising awareness among UK scholars and readers, so that they look more carefully at what is out there in terms of Chinese classics", adds Tian Yuan Tan with the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies, who coauthored the book 1616: Shakespeare and Tang Xianzu's China. Adam Strickson, a fellow in theater and writing at the University of Leeds, who studied the works of Tang and Shakespeare, says both "shared a love for mixing low life or the bawdy with the sense of a tortuous moral journey of self-discovery". They also use dense and layered poetry to go beyond the surface, he says, while the metaphor of the dream as a journey of confusion and enlightenment is central.
The difference, he adds, is that the Bard's work represents people of all backgrounds and classes, whereas Tang's works seem to come from a more aristocratic and esoteric background. Laura Lian says Chinese consumers often display erratic consumer behavior because they are only just coming to terms with the concept of brands. The 25-year-old entrepreneur, who blogs on modern Chinese culture, insists there has been something of a revolution in a relatively short time.
Lian, who was out shopping at The Place shopping center in Beijing's Central Business District, which boasts the city's only Marks and Spencer, says that even she, despite her relatively young age, was not aware of brands until she moved from her home area near Songyuan in Jilin province in the northeast of China, to Beijing, where she started university in 2008. She believes many consumers are experimenting with living a modern lifestyle for the first time, and that is why many of their choices might be seen as less rational than the more conventional and established behavior of Western consumers. Feng Shuxia, 61, who was out browsing with her husband, Tian Shunsheng, also 61, agrees it is the younger generation that is driving consumer behavior.
The couple's 35-year-old daughter, who works for a bank, has bought Feng a Louis Vuitton and two Gucci handbags in recent years. Yu Zhipeng, a salesman for an IT company in Beijing originally from Shandong province, believes the Chinese buying behavior that is being picked up in research is deep seated in culture and what might be seen as erratic purchasing is just experimentation.
Zhao Na, 22, a part-time office worker who is studying horticulture at college, is typical of many young Chinese who are particularly attracted to South Korean products.
Zhao admits to being something of a follower of fashion, picking up ideas from various media.
Her partner, Rao Xin, also 22 and a horticulture student, believes it is women and not men who are behind some of the volatile consumer behavior in China.
He says his recent major purchases such as the latest Nintendo 3DS games console was just a straightforward choice that a Western consumer of his age and demographic would make.
Feng and Tian, the retired couple, like many Chinese now often make expensive purchases while holidaying abroad, particularly in Europe. Tian has a Loewe jacket that was bought in Spain in 2013 for the equivalent of 25,000 yuan, which he says would have been 35,000 yuan in China. Jeffrey Towson says one of the major challenges for businesses around the world is to understand Chinese consumers.
Even the Guanghua School of Management professor was taken aback by the response to an article, How China's Increasingly Emotional Consumers Are Shaking the World, that he posted on his LinkedIn profile last month.
Within 24 hours it had some 50,000 hits as those who responded were seeking some insight into the Chinese buying public. Towson, coauthor with Jonathan Woetzel, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co in Shanghai, of the One Hour China Consumer Book, believes the response was just symptomatic of the global interest in the behavior of the middle class Chinese consumer, seen by many as a business mega trend. He says the increasingly emotional behavior of Chinese consumers has got everybody in the commercial world - from Chinese companies to foreign multinationals - guessing as to what their right strategy needs to be in order to reach them. In his LinkedIn article, Towson cites two examples of Chinese consumers' emotional behavior. The second is how Bobbie Bear, a purple bear stuffed with lavender, made by Robert Ravenus on his farm in Tasmania as a retirement business, became a must-have product in China overnight.
Towson, 45, believes the only option for businesses wanting to target the Chinese market and understand consumer trends is to get up close to Chinese consumers.
Towson, who was born in Walnut Creek in northern California, has been professor of investment at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management for the past six years.
Apart from the book on Chinese consumers, he has also written the One Hour China Book, itself an instant hit, which came about after a US congressman asked him what he needed to know about China.
Towson originally studied sciences and was a Fulbright scholar at the Karolinska Institute of Biotechnology in Sweden, before studying medicine at Stanford.
From there he worked for Prince Al-Walid, then the fourth richest man in the world, and conducted business deals across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, from where he first developed a China connection. He believes that some of the "emotional" behavior of Chinese consumers is a result of them now being able to make choices.
He says the urban middle class are no longer "value hunters" as they are expected to have a disposable income of $8,000 a year by 2020, about the current level of South Korea.
He believes the Chinese consumer market is proving to be even more dynamic than that of South Korea.
He says one of the complexities of the market also is the huge differences in life experiences between the generations. People who are now middle-aged have known real poverty and many lived through the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), which saw huge turmoil in the country. Because 70 percent of the population is now networked on the Chinese instant messaging service WeChat, which has far greater take up in China than Facebook's WhatsApp in the West, trends can take off very rapidly. He cites Meitu Xiu Xiu, a Chinese mobile app aimed at women which allows them to take selfies of themselves and also edit and improve the image, making them look perhaps slimmer or different in some other aspect.
Towson says the challenge for any corporation is to reach people in China through social media, where a lot of consumer behavior is now determined.
With the country's e-commerce increasing rapidly, its online retail and related delivery services are producing a virtual mountain of waste that adds to the country's environmental woes.
China doesn't have a national system to regulate the packaging of goods purchased online - from freshly cooked soup and congee to frozen seafood. Zhu and his team cooperated with the State Post Bureau in 2014 to get a thorough picture of the garbage situation from courier services, and they continued research last year to estimate the amount of trash generated by the industry. In 2014, the booming service industry generated about 14 billion parcels, the bureau's data showed. Chen Jian, who has worked in recycling services for 20 years in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, voiced similar concerns over the growing pollution from the booming courier services. Every year, at least 15,000 metric tons of paper boxes are used in Xi'an, of which only 60 percent are recycled, he told a local newspaper in the city of more than 8 million people.
The burning or dumping of such non-biodegradable plastic material could cause pollution to the surroundings, said Wei Maoquan, head of the Resource Recycling Association of Linyi, Shandong province. Wei said that plastic tape, for example, contains the chemical polyvinyl chloride, which could take at least 100 years to decompose in the soil.
However, few delivery service providers have begun to use recyclable plastic and paper packaging materials. Xiang Feng, CEO of Shanghai YTO Express Co, conceded that most plastic materials now used are not biodegradable.
The company began pilot projects in 2014 in some areas to recycle paper and plastic materials, "but we have many difficulties in expanding the recycling system", Xiang said. Nonetheless, he said, it is necessary to improve the recycling system, reduce excessive packaging and promote environmentally friendly packaging materials. Sarah Wolfgang, founder of The Dog Cafe, had considered opening such a place in Los Angeles since 2014. Wolfgang checked with the Los Angeles Health Department, which told her such a cafe would be legal as long as the areas where patrons buy coffee and pet the dogs were kept separate. In Shanghai, a dog-themed cafe was opened in 2014 and has since been frequented by dog lovers. However, cats seem to be more popular than dogs among those wanting to open a pet cafe in China. Tian Xiaofei, an office worker in Beijing who has two dogs, said she loves the idea of a dog-themed cafe and hopes that one might open in Beijing.
Mansai Conner, 21, connects with a dog on the opening day of Dog Cafe, a coffee shop in Los Angeles, California, where people can adopt shelter dogs. Homebuying regulations that took effect on March 25 in Shanghai and Shenzhen turned out to be quick fixes for the overheated residential markets, as trade volume shrank sharply in both cities, according to data from property agencies.
Daily trade volume of new homes in Shanghai fell from 103,000 square meters in the week ending on March 27 to 45,000 sq m in the week ending on April 3 - a 56 percent week-on-week drop, according to property research agency China Real Estate Information Corp.
In Shenzhen, deals were reached on 652 units of new homes in the week between March 28 and April 3, dropping 29.67 percent from a week earlier, data collected by SouFun Holdings Ltd showed. Housing prices surged in Beijing this year, but not by as much as in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Wang Fei, director of Shenzhen's Centaline Property Research Center, said Shenzhen's property market had been cooling down before the new policy was introduced. During the week after the new measures were announced on March 25, Shanghai's market for previously owned homes saw a drop of up to 40 percent in the number of deals and a huge decrease in the number of visits to available homes by interested parties, according to Shanghai Secondhand Housing Index Office, a consultancy that tracks the used-home market in Shanghai. Additionally, it said in a report, more than 30 percent of deals that already had been reached ended up with refunds due to the new restrictions on homebuying qualifications and tightened credit lines. Wang Huiyao and her husband are among the families who were disqualified in Shanghai after the new rules were enforced. Under the new policy, would-be buyers without Shanghai permanent residency have to pay taxes in the city for at least five years in a row, compared with the previous requirement of two years in total. Wang, who arrived in Shanghai in 2012, must wait another year before her family will be allowed to buy a home in the city, but she knows well what a year's wait in the ever-inflating property market means.
Hu Jun, a property agent in the Bagualing area of Shenzhen's Futian district, said he makes dozens of phone calls every day, but is still unable to find a buyer. The new policies will help rein in home price growth in gateway cities like Shanghai in the short term, but prices might not drop since demand is great, said Zhou Jing, head of the residential division of consultancy JLL Shanghai. Policymakers should not interfere too much, since price growth in these cities' property markets is mostly propelled by demand rather than speculative forces, Zhou added.

China's sports establishment must learn the lessons from a corruption scandal involving a former deputy sports minister, continue to root out graft and curb a win-at-all costs mentality, the country's top graft-buster said on Friday. Corruption in international athletics has been in the spotlight due to US and Swiss probes into the soccer's world governing body, FIFA, as well as doping scandals that have rocked tennis and other sports. China, which is aggressively seeking to stamp out graft in the Party and government ranks, has also sought to eject corrupt elements from its sports establishment, particularly within soccer, which has been hit by match-fixing scandals. China was hit by two new sports graft scandals last year, with a probe of deputy sports minister Xiao Tian, who sat on China's Olympic Committee, and another into the country's then-volleyball chief.
In a statement released following a meeting on learning the lessons from Xiao's case, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said the sports sector needed to do more to tackle graft and not rest on its laurels. Liu Peng, head of the sports administration, warned last year that China had to abandon its obsession with gold medals if it wanted to weed out corruption. Chinese athletes bagged the most gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, a feat accompanied by a wave of national pride and the culmination of China's "100 year dream" to host the world's most prestigious sporting event.
At the London Olympics four years later, China came in second to the United States in the medals table.
Beijing, along with the neighboring city of Zhangjiakou, will host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Last month, President Xi Jinping said China must hold a Winter Olympics that is "clean as the snow", in an indirect reference to the scandals with Xiao and another former top official linked to the Olympics bid.
If there isn't enough time to complete preparations by the school term that starts in September, the program will begin enrolling students next year, said Lu Chusheng, deputy dean of Guangzhou Electromechanical Technician College.
The drone specialty is expected to become a signature subject at the college and attract a large number of high school graduates in the years ahead, since it should be easy for students to find jobs upon graduation, Lu said. Drones are being used in an increasing range of industries in the Pearl River Delta cities and the entire Guangdong province.
Liang Rui'er, deputy director of the college's mechanical and electrical equipment industry division, said the new drone specialty is being established in cooperation with Beijing's Beihang University, which will send professors and instructors to give lectures. About 3,000 drone operators were trained on the mainland last year, compared with between 30,000 and 40,000 in the United States, he added. According to Yang, operating a drone that weighs less than 7 kilograms and flies at an altitude of no more than 120 meters at a distance of less than 500 meters doesn't require a license. Guangzhou Electromechanical Technician College is expected to become the first to establish a drone specialty on the mainland, though many drone training centers have been set up across the country, Yang said.
The prices are a clear sign of encouragement to the market that has seen a cooling since 2012. Peach Blossom Spring, an ink-and-color painting by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) fetched HK$270 million ($34.7 million), an auction record for the artist, at international auctioneer Sotheby's major spring auction on Tuesday. At the same sale, six other ink paintings - four by Zhang and two by modern masters Lin Fengmian and Wu Guanzhong - each sold above the threshold of $1 million to private Asian buyers.
On Monday, Wu Guanzhong's (1919-2010) oil canvas Zhouzhuang fetched HK$236 million in a sale by Poly Auction Hong Kong, setting an auction record for the modern pioneer of Chinese art. Zhao Xu, CEO of Poly Auction Hong Kong, said 10 bidders were competing for the painting when the bids surpassed HK$150 million. Zhao added that what lies behind the latest record-breaking spree is a stable group of collectors with deep pockets and a love of Chinese art. The Chinese fine-art market suffered a downturn last year as it was also affected by a sour global economy and a slowdown in the domestic economy.
With last year's figure for Chinese art showing a decrease from $6.6 billion in 2014, China lost its top slot to the United States in the fine-arts market for the first time in six years. Auctioneers sold fewer classic paintings and works of calligraphy, which typically account for a major slice of the Chinese art market, partly due to fewer works from important collections at home and abroad being put on sale, the report says. Meanwhile, Xu Cuiyun, senior analyst at the Art Market Monitor of Artron, said that when the Chinese art market first took off before 2009, salesrooms used to be packed with buyers who sought instant profits from reselling, thus pushing up bids to unsustainable levels. Zhang's painting, for instance, came from the collection of Sandy Mactaggart, a Canadian philanthropist famed for his Asian art collection. Wu Guanzhong's work also boasts a sound provenance: He created the piece on a commission from Kwee Swie Teng, an Indonesian entrepreneur and collector, who had displayed the work at his private Art Retreat Museum in Singapore since the late 1990s.
The May 2013 photo (below) shows passengers lining up at a taxi stand outside the Beijing Railway Station. In today's China, where mobile Internet is a big part of life, taxi-hailing applications have taken commuter convenience to a new level. We supply the following items: Industrial Compressor & Accessories Industrial Fuel FilterCaterpillars Trucks Parts Generators PartsIndustrial tyres Power steering hose Tools (Screw driver, flat blade, Spanners, etc) Radiator Assembly, Impeller Water Pump Electrical Equipment Billow, Gasket, Jointing Metals, Pipes and Tubes Cars Trucks part Production of Vibrated blocks (4", 6'', 9'') and also Fancy blocks. This heralds a new era for the position of envoy, from one of largely ceremonial activities, to one of enhanced responsibilities involving bilateral negotiations. So you have no choice but to learn more and make full preparations if you are to answer their questions smoothly," he said. The 50, who were chosen from 32 universities nationwide, took part in a wide variety of court activities. They will work on every aspect of a lawsuit, from drafting documents, to collecting evidence and case materials, to offering their opinions on proposed verdicts. When spring comes and the air dries, the rangers are on high alert for any signs of wildfire.
At a meeting earlier this year in Chongqing, he urged officials from provinces along the river to concentrate on ecological restoration and protection, and to avoid large-scale development.
However, between 30 billion and 40 billion metric tons of sewage annually is discharged from petrochemical plants on the Yangtze, accounting for more than one-third of the nation's annual discharge. The area of soil erosion increased from 360,0000 square km in the 1950s to 560,0000 square km in the 1980s. Beijing also drafted a landmark program, to be launched this year, to restore the river's ecosystem. In Yunyang county, the forest coverage rate on the river's banks has reached 70 percent, according to Peng Ming, deputy director of the Yunyang Bureau of Forestry.
However, the project was suspended in January last year after the new Sri Lankan government ordered a review. His administration has had discussions on the issue with the Chinese government and Chinese banks. Along with the literary giant Jorge Luis Borges and the Mexican magician Juan Rulfo, he changed the landscape of Latin American, nay world, literature.
And by the time he walked up to receive it, he was prepared to tell his and Latin America's story in yet another novel way.
He said Pigafetta had recorded seeing "hogs with navels on their haunches, clawless birds whose hens laid eggs on the backs of their mates, and others still, resembling tongueless pelicans, with beaks like spoons". Pigafetta, to be honest, cannot be faulted for not recognizing the "strange, exotic, misbegotten" animals and birds he saw in Latin America, for he had not even heard about, let alone seen, any of them before setting foot in the New World.
The sector is set to receive incentives, and the government is encouraging enterprises, universities and research institutions to cooperate in traction battery research and development. The CPI is the main gauge of inflation, while the PPI indicates changes in wholesale prices and a decline can reflect deflation in the industrial sector.
Officials, entrepreneurs and researchers from home and abroad are expected to discuss the latest trends in the sector, including a tax related to cross-border e-commerce. Many of these "silver surfers" are aiming to build online communities that offer mutual help in various areas. Vehicles with the last digits of 2 and 7 are banned on Monday, 3 and 8 banned Tuesday, 4 and 9 on Wednesday, 5 and 0 on Thursday, and 6 and 1 on Friday.
The region is changing rapidly, but traditional issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict still exist, while hot spots like Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen also need to be addressed.
In addition, the Chinese mission must change its working pattern according to who it is talking with and what the latest changes to a situation may be, he added.
It takes on average nine hours to fly from Beijing to the Middle East, but things can take much longer, Gong said.
Former prime minister Tony Blair was the United Nation's Middle East peace envoy for several years, while former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown served as high representative for the UN in Bosnia and Herzogovena from 2002 to 2005. However, the authority said on Friday that the bans were handed out for reckless behavior on board a flight or at an airport - namely, refusing to switch off a tablet PC while landing, hitting a checkpoint security officer with a milk can, and attacking airline personnel over a flight delay.
The new tax relates only to e-commerce platforms that allow consumers to order imported goods online to be delivered through postal services.
It means overseas retail goods bought online are no longer treated as personal postal articles but as imported goods. For a time, websites have enjoyed an edge over other channels, such as onshore duty-free shops, as they did not need to pay tariffs, import value-added tax or consumption tax.
Tariffs are currently all set at zero, with a 30 percent discount on import VAT and consumption tax for purchases up to 2,000 yuan, and only if a consumer's annual gross transactions are under 20,000 yuan. Apart from the well-documented obsession with online shopping, some 64 percent of those asked said going shopping was now one of the best ways to spend time with their families, up from just 43 percent in 2012.
Perhaps reinforced by recent food scandals, some 50 percent of Chinese consumers are now focused on healthy eating. Consumption of Western fast foods is also down from 67 to 51 percent over the same period, and ice cream was down from 65 to 58 percent.
It is something that has been talked about in our previous surveys going back more than a decade, but now it has actually happened," adds Zipser at McKinsey. Conspicuous consumption and 'gaining face', for so long key drivers of Chinese consumer behavior, appear to be less common. This has led numerous scholars to conduct comparative studies on their works, which remain hugely influential to this day. When Tian, who later also worked for a bank before his retirement, left the army in 1979 he was given 400 yuan in compensation and bought Feng a 270 yuan watch.
He also spent 50,000 on an Omega watch (75,000 yuan in China) and two Louis Vuitton belts for 2,500 yuan each, which would cost double at home.
She had just spent 500 yuan on some Uniqlo jeans and underwear as she found herself with some time on her hands.
One is their response to the 2012 Chinese box office comedy hit Lost In Thailand, directed by and starring Xu Cheng. Chinese model Zhang Xinyu posted a photo of the bear online and orders surged to more than 45,000. It doesn't tend to imply a big behavioral trend or change but Lost in Thailand was of a different order.
You have to find out what people are saying around the dinner table, in their offices and online.
He switched to become a management consultant for what was then Booz, Allen & Hamilton in New York. But as the nation of more than 1.3 billion people increasingly shops online, casting off a huge amount of plastic bags and paper boxes, "garbage mountain, garbage sea" comes to mind.
But the idea first occurred to her while volunteering at a shelter in South Korea when she was 14.
We want to provide you with the opportunity to see these highly adoptable pooches in their true light," Wolfgang told LAist, a Los Angeles-area news and information website.
Additionally, its data showed that the average price softened by 4.17 percent week-on-week to 49,621 yuan ($7,670) per square meter.
Average asking prices for previously owned properties have dropped by 16 to 20 percent over the past five weeks. Otherwise, operators need a license granted by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of China. The winner was Liu Yiqian, a billionaire collector from Shanghai, who bought the painting on behalf of Long Museum, which he founded with his wife Wang Wei.
Cheung, the head of Sotheby's Chinese paintings department, said that it is not a bad thing that the art market is experiencing a reshuffling and that buyers are becoming more cautious in bidding. The minivan taxi was popular because of its low price but was discontinued toward the end of the decade owing to emission issues and poor service. The country's taxi service has become efficient over time, and new types of vehicles are regularly introduced, including those that use alternative fuels. True, he hadn't written anything in the last 10 years of his life, but so long as he was alive we could expect another masterpiece at any time.
He added that Pigafetta "wrote of having seen a misbegotten creature with the head and ears of a mule, a camel's body, the legs of a deer and the whinny of a horse". Or how can we pretend to be ignorant of the reality that is the Middle East, especially because the region that as we see it now is the making of the West?
China Daily will track the latest developments in the field with in-depth stories in the days ahead. I got home just a day before Spring Festival, but I had to go on a trip right after," he said.
The number of urban consumers participating in sporting activities, 73 percent, is now higher than the 70 percent in the US. We don't like that', 'Oh, this is really cool, let's do that' or 'You know I feel really cool when I buy this'. I was in Chiang Mai last year and it felt like 50 percent of the people were Chinese," he says. Unmanned aircraft are widely used in fighting crime, fire control, rescues and agricultural industries. He said the current market transformation will bring in more collectors with a discerning eye, which demands that auction houses be more professional, making it a win-win situation for all sides. As sellers become increasingly anxious, buyers are expected to gain more bargaining power," he said.
They are basically bored, and that is why they get excited by these fads and trends that suddenly sees everyone rushing to buy the same product," he says.

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