China's express delivery sector is growing six times as fast as GDP, according to an industrial index released by the State Post Bureau (SPB) on Thursday.
In terms of industrial expansion, the sector recorded an average 50.3-percent annual growth during the 2010-2014 period, eclipsing annual economic growth, which came in at 7.4 percent for 2014.
Meanwhile, an index assessing delivery firms' development from four perspectives -- scale of industrial development, service quality, coverage, and development trends -- stood at 282.4 in 2014, up 70.8 on 2013.
SPB chief Ma Junsheng said the express delivery sector has maintained robust and healthy development, with services and coverage both improving.
The number of parcels received by express delivery in China last year reached 14 billion, the biggest volume around the world. The sector's market value hit 204 billion yuan (33 billion U.S. dollars) last year, up 42 percent year on year.
Ma promised earlier that China will help domestic express delivery firms expand overseas this year to support booming cross-border online shopping.
Beijing will invite more private funds to invest in major projects in seven fields including metro construction, shanty town reconstruction and environmental protection projects, said a key document released by the municipal government on Tuesday.
The capital government released guidelines to attract private funds to invest in the major fields and listed 136 projects in seven public fields on Tuesday. It is the first time that private funds have been solicited for shanty town reconstruction.
The total investment in these projects is expected to exceed 260 billion yuan, reported Beijing Evening News on Tuesday.
Furthermore, a third company may be set up to manage new metro construction. Currently, the metro system is under the management of two companies. With the quick growth of the metro lines in Beijing, the total mileage is expected to exceed 1,000 kilometers by 2020, one of the longest in the world.
On the condition that the metro system be guaranteed safe and efficient, the municipal government will open the metro system to invite more private parties to invest.
But the opening up to private funds does not mean the government will shoulder fewer responsibilities in supervising these fields, said an anonymous official from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform.
The government will play a bigger role in managing the growing funds and facilitate the development of the city, the official said.
U.S. high-tech firm Dow Chemical's CEO on Tuesday advised China to further encourage entrepreneurship and innovation to climb up the global value chain.
Andrew Liveris told Xinhua that China's transition from low-end to medium and high manufacturing was the right strategy, but to this end, China needed to make more efforts.
He said the government should put in place the right policies, regulations and standards to encourage entrepreneurial innovation to invest in technology that will allow China to move up the value chain.
"You can't go from driving a slow car in a slow lane to a fast car in a fast lane without changing lanes," said Liveris, adding that China should go "crawl, walk, run."
Although the transition is a gradual process, the senior executive said China must move fast as the world was changing so rapidly.
In his view, China has plenty of "brains" and it should organize the "ecosystem" to encourage them to be entrepreneurial. He said: "this is China's opportunity."
"To be entrepreneurial, you have to be taught that there is no boundary to taking a risk as long as you are safe and ethical," said Liveris.
Dow Chemical expressed willingness to assist China's transition to an advanced manufacturing economy as it would help its business.
"We are very suited to providing technology answers to environmental protection, food safety, clean water, sustainable urbanization and green technology," said Liveris.
Amid the current economic slowdown, China is turning to mass entrepreneurship and innovation to boost market vitality.
Premier Li Keqiang said earlier this month that the government will continue to "remove roadblocks and pave the way" for entrepreneurship.
The 66-year-old thermal power plant of Guohua Electric Power Co in Beijing was shut down over the weekend.
Beijing has stepped up its efforts to switch to clean energy after it shut two of the large coal-fired power plants that supply power to the city during the weekend.
Prominent among them is the 66-year-old thermal power plant operated by the State-owned Guohua Electric Power Co, which will be replaced by a gas-fired plant, according to a statement by the Beijing Commission of Development and Reform, the city's economic planner.
The 400-megawatt plant has been running since 1949 in the east of the capital's financial district, along Chang'an Avenue, which passes Tian'anmen Square in the heart of the city.
The closure, which will cut coal consumption by at least 1.3 million tons a year, came a day after a 93-year-old thermal power plant run by Beijing Energy Investment Group closed its doors in western Beijing.
There were four major coal-fired power plants in Beijing to provide electricity as well as heating during cold winter. But the capital has charted plans to shut them down completely by 2016 as the city has been frequently clouded by dirty smog. The first plant that was shut was the 50-year-old Gaojing Thermal Power Plant operated by the State-owned China Datang Corp, which was closed in July. The fourth plant - the Huaneng Thermal Power Plant - is expected to be shuttered next year.
By replacing the coal-fired power plants with gas-fired ones, the capital hopes to cut emissions of 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, 19,000 tons of nitric oxide and 3,000 tons of dust every year.
He Jiankun, director of the institute of low carbon economy at Tsinghua University, said that the initiative to use more clean energy is a reflection of the government's resolution to combat air pollution.
"Gradually, all the coal-fired power plants will be phased out in Beijing and replaced by either gas-fired or other clean energy-powered plants," said He, who is also the vice-chairman of the national experts' panel on climate change.
"This is a good thing for the development of clean energy, industrial upgrading and innovation on clean technologies in the field of energy," he said.
In a clean air action plan (2013-2017), the government plans to reduce 13 million tons of coal consumption within five years. By 2014, consumption had been cut by 4.5 million tons. In 2015, the city plans to reduce coal consumption by another 4 million tons and limit the annual coal consumption to 15 million tons.
But He also cautioned that closures of large-scale coal-fired plants may lead to huge overcapacity in coal, steel and cement industries, which have already witnessed heavy losses in recent years.
Coal consumption fell last year for the first time in 14 years, sliding 2.9 percent year-on-year to 3.51 billion tons, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Taiwan's unemployment dipped to 3.69 percent in February, marking the lowest level for the month in almost 15 years, the island's statistics authority said Monday.
The rate was 0.02 percentage points lower than that seen in January, according to the statistics agency.
The unemployment rate for the January-February period also hit its lowest level for the same period in almost 14 years.
New jobs for February were mainly created by the service and industry sectors, which added 94,000 and 41,000 new jobs, respectively, for the month.
Tourists select duty-free products in Sanya, South China's Hainan province, Oct 24, 2012.
The range of imported items available at duty-free shops in Hainan was increased on Friday in a bid to promote the island province as an international tourist destination.
An additional 17 types of product, including baby formulas, coffee and air fresheners, have been added to the duty-free program, taking the total to 38.
The revised program announced by the Ministry of Finance also eases restrictions on the amounts of 10 types of imported items that may be bought.
The change applies to popular categories such as cosmetics, perfumes and watches.
Wang Huiping, deputy director of Hainan's Department of Finance, said the changes are in response to complaints from some tourists about the limited choice of goods available.
The initial program was launched in April 2011 on a trial basis.
It allowed individual tourists and Hainan residents age 16 or above to enjoy duty exemptions on certain types of imported goods worth no more than 8,000 yuan ($1,283) in total before flying to other destinations on the Chinese mainland.
Hainan residents can only shop at the duty-free outlets once a year, while others can purchase items twice each year.
Figures from the local customs department show that, between the launch of the program and the end of last year, Hainan's duty-free stores received more than 4.08 million customers who spent a total of 10.9 billion yuan.
The province has two duty-free shops, one in the provincial capital of Haikou and the other in the resort city of Sanya.
A staff member at Sanya said the shop has been stocking up with the new types of goods to ensure there is an adequate supply.
Liu Deqian, a consultant at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' tourism research center, said the changes to the program will make the province more attractive to visitors and help to boost its economy.
"During holidays, many Chinese tourists flock to other countries to go on shopping sprees, and this is mainly because goods sold abroad are much cheaper than the same products sold in China," Liu said.
"The revised program may change this situation, as the items that have been added are mostly daily necessities that Chinese tourists eagerly buy overseas."
He said the program has made such goods available in Hainan at attractive prices.
"Since the program caters to both domestic and foreign tourists, it's possible that someday foreign tourists will flock to Hainan for the shopping," he added.
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