Friday, September 5, 2008

Different walks of life in Myanmar hold activities in cyclone relief fund raising

Different walks of life in Myanmar have been holding various activities to raise relief funds for cyclone victims as a charity move.

According to this week's issue of the local 7-Day News, vocalists serving in Myanmar's State Radio Broadcasting Station will take part in more live show sponsored by the country's national-level Musicians Association to raise fund for the relief and resettlement of cyclone survivors.

As a follow-up of several other music shows held earlier by the association in Yangon and Mandalay, about 20 noted radio vocalists will participate in the event scheduled for October-November.

As a latest move, Thai entrepreneurs investing in Myanmar will hold market festival in Yangon later this month to raise relief fund for the storm victims.

In cooperation with the Thai Embassy, the activity will take place at the Thai-invested Kandawgyi Hotel on Sept. 21, according to earlier reports.

At special reduced prices, the items to be sold include Thai-manufactured garments, costumes and various kinds of Thai food, the report said, adding that fashion shows will also be attached.

The proceeds from the market festival are set to be donated to storm-hit regions.

Other local reports said German artists will hold auction in Yangon for their paintings on Saturday to help raise fund for storm survivors.

Meanwhile, 12 Myanmar famous artists have been invited to participate in a mobile international painting auction, organized by one of the world's famous auction companies, Sothebys and Christices, touring around four big international cities -- Hong Kong, London, San Fransisco and New York.

The event designates each artist to present two paintings for auction, half of the proceeds are set to be donated to Myanmar's cyclone-hit regions.

Many noted and rich entrepreneurs from these big cities will be invited to bid for the paintings in the auction, it said.

More painting show, aimed at raising relief fund for the cyclone-damaged Mawlamyainggyun township in Ayeyawaddy delta, was held in Myanmar's former capital of Yangon last week, in which 95 artists from Yangon and Mandalay took part.

Meanwhile, amateur artists from the Myanmar-Chinese community also held the first ever live show of its kind in Yangon on Aug. 30, sponsored by the Myanmar-Guangdong Music Band and involved eight other local Chinese cultural associations, to help raise relief funds for cyclone survivors and for reconstruction of the storm-ravaged regions.

The show, also attached with auction of electronic goods for donation to disaster-hit regions, was overwhelmed by cheering audiences.

Deadly cyclone Nargis, which occurred over the Bay of Bengal, hit five divisions and states -- Ayeyawaddy, Yangon, Bago, Mon and Kayin on last May 2 and 3, of which Ayeyawaddy and Yangon suffered the heaviest casualties and massive infrastructure damage.

Official death toll showed the storm has killed 84,537 people and left 53,836 missing and 19,359 injured.


Chinese tourists head to Israel

The first Israel-bound Chinese tour group will depart later this month, opening a channel for tourists to see Jerusalem and the Dead Sea.

The group of 80 tourists will leave in two batches on Sept 25 and 28, Israel's Tourism Minister Ruhama Avraham-Balila said at a press conference yesterday.

Previously, Chinese tourists need invitation letters to get business visas to visit Israel, Wu Jianguo, manager of the Latin America and Africa Division at China Travel Service Head Office, told China Daily.

"This made it extremely difficult for tourists to visit Israel, which boasts rich culture and beautiful natural sceneries they can experience," he said.

The tour group to Israel will visit famous sites such as Jerusalem, the Dead Sea and Eilat in the 10-day trip, which will also include some scenic spots in Jordan, he said.

The price for the trip is 28,000 yuan , higher than the price of most trips to the United States.

"Most people in the group are experienced tourists, who find Israel a mysterious country," Wu said.

The biggest appeal comes from Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world and the spiritual center of the Jewish people, he said.

Believing Israel will be a potential destination for Chinese tourists, he said much work however still needed to be done to persuade people that Israel is safe to visit.

"Our group will not go to Gaza Strip, and all stops on the journey are famous scenic spots flooded with foreign tourists," he said.

Tourists are warned not to go to bar or cafes at night for safety's sake, he said.

China and Israel signed an agreement last year, making Israel an approval destination for Chinese tour groups.

More than 10,000 business tourists visited Israel last year, and the number is expected to rise sharply this year, Avraham-Balila said.

Israel is making preparations for receiving Chinese tourists, including providing brochures printed in the Chinese language, she said.

China is forecast to be the world's leading outbound market by 2020, the United Nations World Tourism Organization said.

Source: China Daily

China's new energy auto perform well

Beijing has realized "zero-emission" in Olympic central districts and fulfilled the promise of "low emission", said Wan Gang, Minister of the Science and Technology at the 2008 summit forum on green energy development of China's auto.

Wan said: "Those energy saving and new energy consuming autos, which are promoted by China independently, did a great job in the Olympic demonstration test, and received praise from representatives of other countries."

During Beijing Olympics, nearly 600 hybrid power vehicles, pure electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles were used, and they became a beautiful scene of the city.

These vehicles were developed by auto manufacturing companies such as Chery, Changan, FAW, Dongfeng, Jinghua and Futian, together with developing institutes like Tsinghua, Tongji, Beijing Institute of Technology and Shanghai Fuel Cell Vehicle Powertrain Company.

It is revealed that Ministry of Science and Technology plans to demonstrate hybrid power vehicles, pure electric vehicles and fuel cell vehicles and infrastructure of energy supply in more than 10 large and medium size cities in China in the next three years. Through this movement, China's energy saving and new energy autos will reach 10,000 by 2010.

By People's Daily Online

Mexican short film wins Golden Lion award in Venice film festival

The Mexican short film "Tierra y Pan" won the Golden Lion award Thursday at the 65th Venice International Film Festival, according to news reports reaching here.

The jury said within a few minutes and a single space, the author has managed to tell a dramatic story of misery and loneliness.

The jury formed by Amos Poe, the president, along with Italian movie historian Gianni Rondolino and China's Macao filmmaker Joana Vicente, voted unanimously to award the prize to the Mexican director, Carlos Armella.

Venice Biennale President Paolo Baratta poses on the eve the 65th Venice Film Festival at the Venice Lido in August 2008. The Mexican short film "Tierra y Pan" won the Golden Lion award Thursday at the 65th Venice International Film Festival.
Mexican Director Eugenio Polgovsky received the prize on behalf of Armella, saying that "we feel extremely happy, and he wants to dedicate this award to everyone who has worked in the film and the festival."

In Mexico, Armella said he was surprised and happy when hearing of the news.

Armella said the short film was shot in the Mexican state of Puebla with a budget of 20,000 U.S. dollars, adding that "it's a movie without dialogues so it helped make it more universal."

The festival also gave a special mention to film "Vacsora" by Hungarian director Karichi Perlmann. And the best European short film was awarded to "De onbaatzuchtigen" by Belgian Dejaegher Koen.

Source: Xinhua

AIDS rampant among Beijing gays

The transmission of HIV/AIDS among gays in the Chinese capital was even worse than through sex workers, the city's disease control center said on Friday.

Up to 5 percent of homosexuals in the city were infected, compared with 0.5 percent of women sex workers, said He Xiong, the Beijing Centers of Diseases Control and Prevention deputy director.

He attributed the HIV/AIDS increase among gays to the lack of protection measures during sex.

Some gays don't have due knowledge on HIV/AIDS, while condoms were used in less than half their sex acts, he added.

Despite society's increasing tolerance to homosexuals in recent years, discrimination against them still exists. Gays usually kept their sexual orientation secret, making it difficult to improve awareness of the disease among them.

Beijing authorities examined 1 million blood samples between January and July and found 563 people infected. Among them, 118 were permanent residents of the city, according to He.

The percentage of infections from mother to baby, from blood products and needle sharing among drug addicts had dropped, a sign of the city's prevention efforts.

While the prevalence of AIDS in China remains low compared with the total population, the situation is very serious in several provinces affected by drug trafficking and illegal blood donation.

China had registered about 214,000 HIV cases by July 30 last year, but many HIV-positive people were still not registered as having the disease, officials said.

According to the last major survey in 2005 by the Ministry of Health, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and World Health Organization , the number of people suffering from HIV in China was estimated at 650,000.

Source: Xinhua

Beijing primary, middle school students to get free health checkup

Beijing Municipal Commission of Education announced on Thursday that students at the city's primary and middle schools and vocational schools will enjoy free physical checkup once a year.

Education departments at district and county level will ask health organizations and hospitals to establish health records for each student, while informing their schools and parents about the results of physical checkups, Beijing Morning News reports on Friday.

Those departments will cover the fees with their public education funding. The physical examination will include measurement of height and weight, urine and blood tests, dental and other checkups. First year middle school students will also receive blood-pressure and color blindness tests. Boarding school students will take hepatitis tests, the newspaper said.

The data of their health results will be kept by education departments.

Source: Xinhua

British icon on wheels made in China

FENGJING, Shanghai: London Taxis are as British as bowler hats and the Big Ben. But the latest models coming off the new assembly line are unlikely to ever touch an English road.

At a sprawling factory in the lush green suburbs of Shanghai, young workers are gearing up for full-scale production of black cabs, one of Britain's most iconic vehicles. It's part of an alliance that aims to give the distinctive black cab a greater presence outside its namesake city.

London Taxi International , which will continue to build nine out of 10 cabs used in Britain at a factory in Coventry, couldn't increase production at its small-scale, high-cost plant. So it turned to a partner - and to China - as a way to drive overseas expansion.

"To say the writing was on the wall would be pushing it a bit too far. But you do need to make progress within the automotive industry," says Paul Stowe.

Stowe is a British auto executive overseeing the joint venture between Britain's Manganese Bronze Holdings PLC, owner of LTI, and Geely Group Holdings, one of China's biggest independent automakers.

The venture is bearing fruit already, Stowe says, with agreements signed to sell 6,000 London Taxis from the Chinese factory, more than double the Coventry plant's annual output.

Most will go to cities outside China - places like Singapore, Dubai, Moscow - that covet the image associated with the London Taxis' tradition of good service and durability.

Since the black cabs demand a higher price, they are unlikely to displace other vehicles used as taxis in China.

The LTI expects to sell them mostly to hotels, limousine services, airports and individuals who might want to collect one, Stowe says.

Manganese Bronze Holdings hunted for nearly a decade for a suitable Chinese partner. Geely likewise was looking for a chance to bring onboard the new technology and quality upgrades it needs to get ahead in China's brutally competitive market, without risking being swallowed by a huge international rival.

"We were the right size and available at the right time. It works well for both companies," Stowe says.

Trial production of the London Taxi's TX4, equipped with 2.4-liter Mitsubishi engines, began last week in Geely's sprawling Shanghai Maple factory in the scenic canal town of Fengjing. The plant will start mass production by mid-December.

By increasing production, the LTI expects to reduce costs by up to 60 percent, with most of the savings coming not from cheaper labor but from less costly parts, Stowe says.

The price for the vehicles has not been disclosed, but it will be significantly cheaper than the British-made models that sell for about 30,000 pounds , says Stowe who, as deputy general manager of Shanghai LTI Automobile, is busy plotting the venture's brand strategy.

"Classical British Icon with Traditional Chinese Spirit," reads one of the many slogans in the factory.

Unlike most highly automated modern auto plants, there are few robots because the London Taxi is hand-built and hand-welded. The result is a heavy-duty, durable vehicle that can be driven 1.6 million km and last several decades.

But it's the vehicle's traditional idiosyncrasies, such as its famed ability to make extremely tight turns, and the storage space next to the driver's seat that originally held hay bales in the days of horse and carriage, that give the black cab its appeal as "not just another car", Stowe says.

Black cabs - which these days often come in other colors and are festooned with advertising - are seen strictly as a commercial vehicle in Britain. But in China, the vehicle's novelty, and notoriety from appearances in dozens of films, lends it a certain cachet.

Source: China Daily/Agencies