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  • Yoga joins UNESCO's list of world treasures Yoga is practiced by young and old alike throughout the world, UNESCO noted. ZHU XINGXIN/CHINA DAILYYoga, the mind-body discipline based on ancient Indian philosophy that is now practiced the world over, has joined UNESCO's list of intangible world heritage treasures.The discipline was added on Thursday to the prestigious list in recognition of its influence on Indian society, "from health and medicine to education and the arts", the World Heritage Committee said in a statement."Designed to help individuals build self-realization, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation, (yoga) is practiced by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion," UNESCO added in a tweet.The list of intangible cultural treasures was created 10 years ago, mainly to increase awareness about them, while UNESCO also sometimes offers financial or technical support to countries struggling to protect them.On Wednesday, the Paris-based UN body meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa added Cuba's rumba dance and Belgium's beer culture to the list, which also includes the Mediterranean diet, Peking opera and the Peruvian scissors dance.On Tuesday, the UN body designated Ugandan traditional music, which is dying out partly because it requires materials from endangered species, as an intangible heritage that is "in urgent need of safeguarding".UNESCO began compiling a list of cultural and natural world heritage treasures-physical sites such as Cambodia's Angkor Wat or the Grand Canyon in the United States-in 1972.The list now comprises 814 cultural sites, 203 natural ones and 35 with both natural and cultural qualities.
  • Adolescents in China are getting taller, but weaker People exercise in Olympic Forest Park in Beijing. A JING/CHINA DAILYBeijing's Olympic Forest Park is busiest after sunset, when adults go for an after-dinner stroll or a run.Children are there too, but seldom do teenagers show up. Teens are generally at home, working on math or English grammar. But while they are getting higher scores, they are also getting fat, weak and lazy.Seven national surveys on the health of China's adolescents from 1985 to 2014 show a decline in fitness, despite better nutrition."In 1989, male students would 'fail' physical exams if they took more than three minutes and 55 seconds to run 1,000 meters. That standard was lowered to four minutes and 32 seconds in 2014," said Wang Zongping, a motor development specialist at Nanjing University of Science and Technology.According to the 2014 survey, Chinese students are taller and bigger, but they are also fatter and have worse eyesight. Lack of exercise is seen as the main culprit."Our survey found that more than half of male students with junior middle school education and above can't complete a single pullup," Wang said.Even when they enter college, they maintain their couch potato lifestyle. More than 84 percent of college students exercise less than one hour every day, with 27 percent reluctant to go for a run. Instead, they spent most their time doing homework and playing games online.Back in the 1980s, students enjoyed a variety of athletic and gymnastic activities, but much of the equipment was removed from campuses in the 1990s due to parental complaints."If a student gets injured in class, the school is blamed," said Shi Fei, a PE teacher.With only one child in most families, they are pampered and over-protected.Injuries are normal during exercise, and are helpful for a person to better understand their own bodies, Wang said."We care too much about developing children's IQ, and too little about their motor skills, team spirit and resilience. These 'invisible' capabilities can only be obtained through outdoor activities," Wang said.Government supportAccording to the Healthy China 2030 plan issued in October, healthier kids require better sports facilities.Total "exercise space" will be increased to at least 2.3 square meters per capita by 2030, in contrast to only 1.5 square meters today. That means more running and cycling tracks, more gymnasiums and more school fields. The plan also calls for at least one hour of strenuous physical activity three times a week for all students."Healthy China should begin with Sporting China," Wang said. "Schools should encourage students to step out of the classroom and onto the playing field. We should restore the health and happiness of our young people."


  • CITIC-Carlyle near deal for McDonald's China Chinese employees of McDonald's take a selfie at a promotion event in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. An Xin / For China DailyA consortium led by private-equity firm Carlyle Group and Chinese conglomerate CITIC Group Corp has neared a deal to buy McDonald's Corp's stores in the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong for up to $3 billion, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.The deal is likely to be signed before Christmas, the source said.Reuters reported in October that US buyout firms Carlyle and Bain Capital LLC had been the front runners among the bidders for the fast-food giant's China assets.McDonald's in March said it was reorganizing operations in Asia, bringing in partners as it switches to a less capital-intensive franchise model.The company hired Morgan Stanley to run the sale of about 2,400 restaurants in the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.Financial Times reported earlier on Wednesday that Bain Capital had dropped out of the race, and that a group led by CITIC Group and Carlyle were the front runners to the deal.Carlyle declined to comment, while McDonald's was not immediately available for a comment.
  • Disabilities bring legal difficulties Limited knowledge, costs and low accessibility make justice system hard for the handicapped A new China report by the United Nations dove into an area rarely discussed in the life of the nation's 85 million persons with disabilities: How freely can they navigate the country's judicial system?The research, conducted by the United Nations Development Programme and Wuhan University's Public Interest and Development Law Institute, was released on Friday, one day ahead of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which promotes dignity, rights and well-being for the group.It addressed a long list of existing challenges, including limited legal knowledge that hinders them from using legal services when their rights are infringed, the high expenses of current legal services, the lack of information about free legal aid services, and not enough accessibility and accommodation throughout the judicial process.The researchers found that though lawyers and legal service workers play a key role in providing legal aid services to people with disabilities, their knowledge and awareness about disability and equality should be improved.They also saw the "great potential" of local staff at disabled persons' federations becoming grassroots legal advocates, a group they believe could directly improve the quality of legal services that people with disabilities can enjoy.Wu Di, the project's leader from the UNDP, said working on the program has changed her way of understanding persons with disabilities. By presenting the report to the public, she hoped to raise awareness and eventually bring some changes to better everyone's life.Yet the lack of access to legal services may be a problem that puzzles many, with or without disabilities."Around 6 million cases are reported to the police every year, but only 1 million proceed to the next step. The legal resources are far from enough," said Wang Minyuan, a legal researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.In September, the Chinese government released an action plan to improve the living conditions of persons with disabilities, with a particular focus on individuals in poor rural areas.China's new guideline on accelerating the process toward modest prosperity in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) has outlined action to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same livelihood and public services.For instance, by 2020, all registered persons with disabilities from poor families in rural areas must be lifted out of poverty. The proportion of children with disabilities receiving compulsory education must reach 95 percent by 2020.Nicholas Rosellini, the UN resident coordinator in China, said the Chinese government's recent actions are "welcome steps toward mainstreaming disability in development and society". He proposed that the UN, the China Disabled Persons' Federation and individuals should play an important role in promoting the rights of persons with disabilities and ensuring accountability.Today, more than 1 billion people, or approximately 15 percent of the world's population, live with some form of disability. More than 100 million of them are children, who are almost four times more likely to experience violence than non-disabled children, according to Marielza Oliveira, director and representative of the UNESCO Beijing office.UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said in Beijing in July that "persons with disabilities must become an integral part of national, regional and global thinking and planning, not only in areas that specifically concern them, but in decisions that affect everyone".


  • Chinese buys of European firms up 40 percent

    Tourists are seen with their luggage at Beijing International Airport on November 24, 2016. China's largest online travel agency Ctrip will buy British flight search app Skyscanner for $1.75 billion, the companies said, as it steps up its overseas ambitions. [Photo/VCG]Germany leads with 34 deals; e-commerce, financial services, high-tech companies attract investorsChinese dealmakers have completed 170 European acquisitions worth $90 billion so far this year, according to analysis by UK business advisory firm Deloitte.That is 40 percent up on 2015 when 122 deals were finalized. Deloitte's analysis, which covers the period to Nov 22, did not include last month's announcement that Chinese online travel company Ctrip is buying UK-based travel search company Skyscanner for $1.75 billion.Including the Skyscanner deal, acquisitions in 2016 were worth $90.35 billion."I think there's a strong view from Chinese business that they need to internationalize, with less reliance purely on domestic markets," said Angus Knowles-Cutler, China Services Group chairman for Deloitte."Skyscanner is the classic kind of deal that ticks most of the boxes," he told China Daily. "It's the Chinese buying an e-commerce business in the UK, with strong management that it will leave in place and that serves a Chinese middle class that spends money on travel."Deloitte found that Germany attracted the biggest number of acquisitions by Chinese companies, with 34 deals. The UK was second with 32, then France with 21.The average disclosed deal value was $900 million, or $350 million if the mega-deal involving ChemChina's $43 billion takeover of Swiss pesticides and seeds group Syngenta, which is still subject to regulatory approval, is excluded.Chinese companies looked mainly to the UK to acquire stakes in financial services and the leisure industry, in particular hotels and football clubs, while they looked to Germany to invest in high-tech manufacturing.Knowles-Cutler predicted a strong 2017 in terms of investment, with increased emphasis on e-commerce. He said that the UK referendum vote to leave the European Union has not acted as a deterrent among Chinese investors."I've spoken to about 25 major Chinese businesses over the last couple of months since Brexit," he said. "I would say overall there's a net positive among Chinese businesses about Brexit. Sterling has depreciated in value, assets and investment opportunities are cheaper for investors."Knowles-Cutler said that Chinese investors will be looking for reassurances from the UK government that the "Golden Era" of relations with China, inaugurated by former Prime Minister David Cameron and President Xi Jinping, will move forward."I think they are positive about the new government's attitudes toward China," he said. "They took great heart from the last prime minister's agreement on the Golden Era and they'll be looking to see if that attitude is going to continue."The number of Chinese deals in Europe this year massively outdoes the 52 deals with disclosed deal value of $8.2 billion which were achieved by European acquirers in China.
  • China's cabinet issues five-year plan for poverty alleviation

    BEIJING - China's cabinet, the State Council, has released a poverty alleviation plan for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020).Poverty alleviation is the most difficult task for China to realize the goal of building an all-round moderately prosperous society, of which rural poverty is the weakest link, said the document released Friday.The plan maintains the nation's precision-poverty relief measures while implementing regional development strategies, with a focus on old revolutionary bases, as well as ethnic minority and border areas.The plan featured a number of poverty-relief projects under the coordination of the government, the market and society, which aim to break the development bottlenecks of poverty-stricken areas and help the poor boost their abilities to achieve self-sustained development.China plans to lift all of its poor out of poverty by 2020, especially those who live in the nation's 128,000 poor villages and 832 poor counties, where poverty has become a regional issue, according to the document.Major tasks for the next five years include ensuring people have enough to eat and wear, and that they have adequate education, health services and housing, it said.The plan is critical to achieving the country's ambitious goal of stamping out poverty by 2020.Poverty relief is high on China's agenda. Since the start of reform and opening-up in 1978, an economic boom has helped lift more than 700 million people out of poverty.By the end of 2015, China still had 55.75 million people below the national poverty line of 2,800 yuan per year.The document said China will take precise, targeted and differentiated measures to ensure effective poverty relief.Poor areas will be encouraged to develop competitive industries, such as agriculture, tourism and e-commerce, said the document.Some people living in impoverished regions will be relocated, with a variety of support measures to increase their incomes.A series of special programs will be launched to create more jobs for the poor, and improve education, health care and ecological environment in poverty-stricken areas, said the document.Besides, the government will guarantee basic living standard for people unable to work, it added.
  • Ties at key point, Xi tells Kissinger

    President Xi Jinping meets with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday. Xi called Kissinger's visit timely, as bilateral relations face a period of transition. XU JINGXING / CHINA DAILYChina hopes its relations with the United States will "move ahead in a sustainable and stable manner", President Xi Jinping said on Friday while meeting with Henry Kissinger.The former US secretary of state came to Beijing amid uncertainties over US president-elect Donald Trump's China policy.Kissinger, 93, who helped arrange the groundbreaking visit to China in 1972 by then-president Richard Nixon, is believed to be playing a key role in mapping out Trump's foreign policy.Trump will take office on Jan 20."Dr Kissinger, your visit is very timely, and we look forward to hearing your views on China-US relations going forward," Xi said.Noting that he had met with US President Barack Obama in Lima, Peru, and talked with Trump by phone last month, Xi said that the two countries now face a key moment."We are watching the situation very closely. Now is a period of transition," he told Kissinger.Xi said that the common interests of China and the US far outweigh their disagreements, and the two countries should handle their disputes properly in a constructive way.Calling himself "an old friend of the Chinese people", Kissinger said that the US-China relationship is important for both countries as well as for the rest of the world.The incoming US administration also expects to push forward sustainable and steady bilateral relations, he said.Kissinger said he would like to play a positive role in enhancing communications between the two countries.On Nov 17, Trump met with Kissinger in New York to discuss "China, Russia, Iran, the EU and other events and issues around the world", according to a statement from Trump's team, and they "had a great meeting"."I have tremendous respect for Dr Kissinger and appreciate him sharing his thoughts with me," the statement quoted Trump as saying.Before meeting with Xi, Kissinger met with Wang Qishan, China's top anti-corruption official, on Thursday. He told Wang that he would like to contribute to the healthy development of US-China ties, according to Xinhua News Agency.Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said Kissinger can serve as a communicator and bridge between top decision-makers of the two countries."He can convey to Chinese leaders Trump's views on bilateral relations and vice versa," Li said, adding that Trump, a political novice, needs seasoned diplomats like Kissinger to help him form an objective and balanced relationship with China.Chinese leaders attach great importance to Kissinger's visit, respect him for his role in promoting Sino-US relations and hope he can further elevate bilateral relations, Li added.Tao Wenzhao, a researcher of Sino-US relations at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the US is undergoing a transition period, which creates diplomatic uncertainty.As a pioneer who opened the door for Sino-US relations, Kissinger played such an important role that all the previous US presidents consulted him on foreign policies, Tao said.

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