Thai ambassador to China, Piriya Khempon, said that his country’s food has absorbed many Chinese traditions.

“Food makes people understand each other, understand the way of life of different people. Because the way they cook dishes reflects how they live, how they make use of the environment,” said the ambassador.

He said due to different local cultures, different regions have different food, which enriches our lives.

“The Chinese chef is number one in the way they cook and decorate the food”, he said.

The ambassador also emphasized the importance of promoting people-to-people exchange between China and Thailand. Last year 10.5 million Chinese tourists visited Thailand. “We always welcome Chinese tourists”, the ambassador said.

Luo Shugang, minister of culture and tourism, took questions from the media on China’s tourism industry.[Photo/Xinhua]

Last Friday, Luo Shugang, minister of culture and tourism, said with the number of overseas trips made by the Chinese last year reaching 150 million, China has become the largest source of tourists in the world.

In an interview on March 8, the third ministers’ “passage interviews” of this year’s two sessions, Luo took questions from the media on China’s tourism industry.

He told the press that last year Chinese made more than 5.5 billion domestic trips, with an average of four trips per person, which suggests that China has entered the era of mass tourism.

The minister also stressed the importance of civilized tourism: “On one hand, measures need to be taken to ensure the safety of tourists; On the other hand, we have to advocate civilized behaviors among outbound visitors, making Chinese tourists representatives of China’s image, tellers of China stories and ambassadors of the Chinese civilization,” said Luo.

Statistics showed that in 2018, a total of 620,000 Chinese tourists visited the Czech Republic, an increase of 26.5 percent over the previous year.With the number of overseas trips made by the Chinese last year reaching 150 million, China has become the largest source of tourists in the world.[Photo/Xinhua]

The minister also said that infrastructure at tourist sites should be further upgraded and reception and service quality improved, so that the travel environment can be more comfortable and convenient.

Speaking of “toilet revolution”, a campaign launched in 2015 that aims to increase the number and sanitation of toilets at tourist sites, Luo said that more moves will be made to increase the number of restrooms and improve sanitary conditions at major tourist attractions.

He said that while it will take two more years to solve the restroom shortage, the country’s “toilet revolution” has made steady progress in the past four years, with 35,000 tourist restrooms built or renovated by the end of 2018.

With the number of overseas trips made by the Chinese last year reaching 150 million, China has become the largest source of tourists in the world.[Photo/Xinhua]

Nearly 300 passengers on the UA 86 flight enroute from New Jersey to Shanghai had a terrible experience on board on June 8, 2017 – they stranded on the plane for 11 hours.

Due to a mechanical issue, the flight was at first delayed for about 4 hours. After boarding, the passengers had waited for another 7 hours since more than 10 pilot crews had been replaced continuously according to the requirements of Flight Time Limitations (FTL) to avoid pilot fatigue.

Most passengers understood the importance of the mental status of pilots. However, UA unexpectedly took a total of 7 hours to manage the replacement of pilots crew 3 times, making hundreds of people wait in an airtight cabin for such a long time. And during this horrible idle time, UA did not even offer water and food. “No lunch, no dinner. If you want some water, you have to ask the crew yourself, while they were not seen in the cabin most of the time,” a passenger said.

Even worse, the cabin crew didn’t care about the feelings of passengers at all. Some of the passengers were old people and children while nobody was allowed to leave the cabin to get some fresh air, except for two people who chose to give up the flight without any compensation. According to a passenger Surname Zhan, her father, also a passenger on the UA 86 flight, had shown signs and symptoms of anxiety after arrival.

Afterwards, UA apologized for the mechanical issue and frequent replacement of pilot crews, and claimed that it would provide either $1,000 worth of air ticket voucher or 50,000 miles for the passengers, while it still didn’t mention the terrible and inappropriate service of its staff.

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A girl plays with her newborn brother at a hospital in Nanjing, Jiangsu province,on Oct 24. 2014. [Photo/VCG]

Three departments responsible for implementing family planning policies have been removed from the new structure of the National Health Commission, the commission has announced on its website.

The departments have been replaced with a new one that will focus on population monitoring and family development, and will be responsible for putting forward advice related to birth policies.

Three new departments have also been set up to take charge of work related to family health, eldercare and occupational health, according to the announcement, released on Monday.

It detailed 14 specific responsibilities of the commission after the organizational restructuring, including formulating national health policy, coordinating and deepening medical and healthcare system reforms, disease prevention and control, and formulating pharmaceutical policies.

After restructuring, the commission now has 21 departments, with 525 administrative staff members. It emphasized the importance of building a comprehensive system for disease prevention and tackling challenges arising from an aging population.

In March, “family planning” was dropped from the commission’s name as part of a sweeping government overhaul to reform official departments and reduce red tape.

The removal of the three departments that used to enforce family planning policies triggered public conjecture that the government may be planning to scrap long-standing limits on the number of children its citizens can have.

“The restructuring doesn’t mean that family planning will no longer exist,” said Yuan Xin, a population studies expert at Tianjin’s Nankai University.

“But in the new era, the major tasks have shifted from birth control to providing comprehensive reproductive services in support of the development of families.”

As of 2017, people age 60 and older accounted for about 16.2 percent of China’s population.

About a third of the country’s population will be over 60 by 2050, according to the China National Working Committee on Aging.

By comparison, the number of working-age people is set to fall to 700 million-a decline of nearly a quarter.

Alarmed by the rapidly aging population and shrinking workforce, the government relaxed the family planning policy, which was introduced in 1979, and implemented a two-child policy in 2016.

“The establishment of the new department to serve the aging population shows the government’s attention to the elderly. But issues related to an aging population cannot simply be solved by boosting the birthrate. Instead, enhancing our competitiveness in the global market and maintaining stable economic growth is the solution,” Yuan said.

Apart from the commission, several other ministerial departments recently released restructuring plans, such as the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

[Photo/VCG]

A new draft law that aims to intensify management of vaccines to ensure their safety and quality, approved by China’s State Council, will be submitted to the top legislature for approval.

The draft of the Vaccine Management Law, released by the State Administration for Market Regulation in November, was approved by the Education, Science, Culture and Public Health Committee of the National People’s Congress on Sunday, the committee said in a statement on Sunday.

The draft will be submitted to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for review, the statement said.

Jiao Hong, chief of the National Medical Products Administration, which is under the State Administration for Market Regulation, while elaborating the draft to members of the NPC Standing Committee on Sunday, said the draft imposes the strictest supervision system on vaccines, including research and development, production, circulation and use.

Producers must use digital means to record data concerning production and inspection of vaccines, and ensure authenticity, integrity and tractability of these data, according to the draft.

Approval procedures and inspections must cover every batch of vaccines before they enter the market, it said.

Health and drug authorities should supervise the whole chain of vaccines, covering their research and development, production, circulation and use, and drug authorities should intensify site inspection of vaccine production and dispatch inspectors to vaccine producers, the draft said.

Serious law violators, such as those producing fake or substandard vaccines, will receive harsher penalties, according to the draft of the law. In such cases, senior executives and others involved will have all their pay related to the violations confiscated and pay fines, and they may be banned for life from engaging in the pharmaceutical business.

“Our 40 Years,” a grand gala in celebration of the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, is held in Beijing, capital of China, Dec 14, 2018. Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Han Zheng and Wang Qishan were among the Communist Party of China (CPC) and state leaders who joined more than 3,000 people to watch the gala at the Great Hall of the People. [Photo/Xinhua]

President Xi Jinping and other Party and State leaders attended a grand gala marking the 40th anniversary of the country’s historic journey of reform and opening-up on Friday night.

The gala, held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, showcased China’s great achievements since reform and opening-up was initiated by late leader Deng Xiaoping in 1978.

Over the past 40 years, China has recorded an average annual GDP growth rate of around 9.5 percent, fostered a middle-income population of 400 million and lifted more than 700 million Chinese people out of poverty, accounting for more than 70 percent of the global total.

The gala was among a series of recent high-profile official activities commemorating reform and opening-up.

On Nov 13, Xi visited a major exhibition at the National Museum of China to commemorate the 40th anniversary.

Friday also saw the global release of a cross-border, coproduced documentary to review the achievements of reform and opening-up in the National Museum of China. The three-episode production How China Made It is being aired on online streaming platform Youku.com and broadcast worldwide through the US-based Discovery Channel starting Saturday.

The coproduction, filmed using ultra-high-definition technology, is a joint production of the China Intercontinental Communication Center, a State-owned media group in China; the Discovery Channel; Youku; and Meridian Line Films, an independent production company based in Yorkshire, England.

The voice-over is in English, with English-Chinese bilingual subtitles.

In the documentary, many ordinary Chinese people from different fields are invited to share their personal experiences in recent decades to reflect the huge development of society and the economy of the country.

“Our 40 Years,” a grand gala in celebration of the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, is held in Beijing, capital of China, Dec 14, 2018. Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Han Zheng and Wang Qishan were among the Communist Party of China (CPC) and state leaders who joined more than 3,000 people to watch the gala at the Great Hall of the People. [Photo/Xinhua]

“This production chooses individual touches to better tell Chinese stories because each one of us is a witness to this great process,” Chen Lujun, director of CICC, said.

“China, on one hand, preserves the traditional colors of Eastern culture,” he said. “But it unrolls a dazzling modern picture as well. It’s our responsibility to help the rest of the world better understand this country.”

“Reform and opening-up not only changes China,” said Tony Qiu, general manager of the Discovery Channel in China. “This unique path to success also has a lasting influence in other countries.

“This project combines local elements with a cross-cultural mindset and viewing habits,” he said. “That way, it can vividly show that China has developed together with the whole world.”

Contact the writers at anbaijie@chinadaily.com.cn

President Xi Jinping straightens the red ribbons on baskets as he pays tribute to national heroes at the Monument to the People’s Heroes in Tian’anmen Square on Sunday. Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, joined representatives from all walks of life to mark the country’s Martyrs’ Day on the eve of National Day. XIE HUANCHI / XINHUA

Country marks fifth Martyrs’ Day; Premier Li pledges continued reforms

President Xi Jinping and other senior leaders of the Communist Party of China participated in a number of events on Sunday in Beijing, including a ceremony commemorating the country’s martyrs and a grand reception to celebrate National Day.

Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission and other leaders paid tribute and laid floral baskets at the Monument to the People’s Heroes in Tian’anmen Square to honor national heroes on the annual Martyrs’ Day. They were joined by veterans, family members of martyrs and several others.

Martyrs’ Day was approved by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress in 2014 to honor those who sacrificed their lives for national independence and prosperity.

The reception was held late on Sunday in the Great Hall of the People. Before that, Xi met with nine Sichuan Airlines crew members of flight 3U8633, who were invited to join the event.

They were named as a “China Aviation Hero Crew” in June for a successful emergency landing that saved the lives of 119 passengers following a broken cockpit window in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on May 14.

The president said safety is the lifeline of the civil aviation industry and should be given great attention at all times. Civil aviation authorities and service providers should correctly handle the dynamic between safety and profit, he said.

Premier Li Keqiang noted in a speech at the reception that this year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening-up. Reform is the fundamental driving force for China’s development, and the country’s determination to advance reform and opening-up will remain as strong as ever, he said.

China will firmly uphold the rules-based multilateral system, open up at a higher level, and share development opportunities and outcomes with other countries while upholding its own interests, Li said. Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative will be boosted to ensure win-win progress, and new areas will be explored through complementarity and mutual opening-up, he said.

The country will continue putting people first in its development endeavors and address their concerns with effective measures, Li said. China will seek to better deliver targeted poverty relief, employment, education, medical care and eldercare by increasing inputs, rationalizing relevant institutions, boosting supplies and providing better services, he said.

Li said China will continue its major policies on Taiwan, uphold the one-China principle and adhere to the 1992 Consensus. The country will firmly safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and never allow any separatist attempt or activity for “Taiwan independence” in any form, he said. A broader market and more diverse development opportunities for Taiwan compatriots and enterprises by expanding cross-Straits economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation will be promoted, he said.

On Sunday afternoon, the premier met with a number of new foreign ambassadors and winners of this year’s Chinese Government Friendship Award in the Great Hall of the People.

The high-speed train D8501 enters the Mudanjiang railway station, Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, on Nov 29, 2018. [Photo/IC]

Nine government agencies have issued a notice calling for punishment of people who misbehave on transportation during the Spring Festival travel rush.

The notice, issued by agencies including the National Development and Reform Commission and Ministry of Transport, said bad behavior includes a range of actions on roads, railways, urban transportation, passenger vessels and in civil aviation-from interfering with safe driving on buses to taking others’ seats on high-speed trains or disrupting social order on an aircraft.

Offenders will be banned from rail or air travel for a period of time. According to the national credit information sharing platform, creditchina.gov.cn, 5,099 people have been banned from purchasing air tickets since June, with 1,604 banned from buying train tickets.

The notice said all misbehavior should be included in offenders’ credit records. For example, violations on trains, which include smoking, traveling without tickets, failing to pay surcharges upon arrival, reselling tickets, using a fake ID or disrupting public order or railway safety, should all be recorded.

It said transport authorities should strengthen education and training of personnel to better deal with misbehavior, encourage passengers to participate in stopping criminal behavior that interferes with safe driving and cooperate with public security departments to punish bad behavior.

The campaign focusing on the transport sector is part of a broader move to improve behavior, toughen sanctions on wrongdoers and enhance public security and order amid an ongoing national campaign promoting Chinese credibility.

“A social credit system is indispensable for any modern government,” said Zhu Lijia, professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance. “Instead of giving fines or other light penalties, putting severe offenders on a public blacklist will be more effective in constraining their behavior.”

This year’s seven-day Spring Festival holiday runs from Feb 4 to 10, starting with Lunar New Year’s Eve. More than 2.99 billion trips are expected to be made during the 40-day Spring Festival travel rush beginning on Jan 21, including 2.46 billion by car, 413 million by rail, 73 million by plane and 43 million by ship.

President Xi Jinping talks with workers at a State-owned farm in Jiansanjiang, Heilongjiang province, on Tuesday, the first day of his inspection visit to the province. He had detailed talks with farmworkers and managers on production and management. [Photo/Xinhua]

Food security, manufacturing called key areas

President Xi Jinping underlined the importance of self-reliance in food security, the real economy and manufacturing on Wednesday as the country faces rising unilateralism and trade protectionism internationally.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said during a field inspection to Heilongjiang province that unilateralism and trade protectionism are forcing China to take a path of self-reliance, which, he said, “is not a bad thing”.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to gain access to leading technologies and key technologies internationally, and China will ultimately rely on itself, Xi said.

As a major country of close to 1.4 billion people and with an area of 9.6 million square kilometers, China should rely on itself in key areas, he said.