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News In Chinese Media Wednesday, September 1, 1999
Current Events
·Desert Tamed Along China Railway

·Beijing Reins in Pollution for Celebration

·Double-Decker Train Manufactured in East China

·China Issues Regulations Governing Futures Trade

·China's Pro-active Fiscal Policy Effective: Official

·Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Opens Branch in Guangzhou

·Northeast China Becomes Light-Duty Automobile Base

·China Used Nearly 300 Billion US Dollars in Overseas Investment

·ABC Becomes First Agent of Foreign Bank in Renminbi Business

·China To Launch Putonghua Promotion
City News
·Scenic Coastal City Receives Record Number of Tourists

·Chinese Capital Lures Hi-tech Business

·Bonded Zones in Tianjin Report Rising Trade

·Dalian International Automobile & Parts Exhibition Fair ¡¯99 Closed

·Overseas Travel: A New Trend Among Primary and Middle School Students

IT Information
·Internet Links Farmers With Wider Market

·China, UK Develop Software for Maritime Security

·Guoqing: Favorite Name with Chinese

·Workers Pouring Concrete at Three Gorges Dam

·China Forming High-Speed Integrated Communications Network

·China Post Switches to Automation

·Government to Provide Loans for Poor Students
Current Events:
Desert Tamed Along China Railway

YINCHUN August 31 (Xinhua) -- After an ongoing 40-year long struggle between nature and a railway line crossing the fearsome Tengger Desert in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the sand has finally been tamed by Chinese engineers and part of the route transformed into an oasis acclaimed internationally.
The Tengger Desert is the fourth largest in China and when the Baotou-Lanzhou Railway line first opened to traffic in 1958, the Shapotou section was battered by sandstorms, which formed rolling sand dunes overwhelming villages and fields and often preventing the train's passage, making the area a transport bottleneck and affecting safety on the route.
Zhang Kezhi, head of an afforestation unit in Zhongwei County in Ningxia, explained that the railway is now protected by an integrated sand control system formed by a 55-km long and 700- meter wide green corridor along which 55 million shrubs and trees have been planted, creating a shelterbelt against the desert storms covering some 160,000 hectares.
And he added that an area of 550,000 hectares of sand is further contained by special mesh netting, made of woven straw and grass in one meter squares, developed jointly by the Lanzhou Desert Institute under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Lanzhou Railway Bureau.
A vital water diversion project was also introduced bringing much needed water from the Yellow River to irrigate the new desert plants.
Zhang recalled that in the old days when the train passed through the desert section, all the windows had to be closed and passengers were even forced to cover their heads with scarves to escape the sand. Train breakdowns were common occurrences.
Safety became a priority and was the main purpose in the fight to control the desert over the last four decades, according to Zhang. "So we launched a major campaign and introduced drastic measures to tackle the problem," he said. "And after 41 years we are proud to state that we have won the battle."
Today, confirms Liu Xinmin, director of the Lanzhou Institute of Desert, the sand control project along the Baotou-Lanzhou Railway line has succeeded in effectively beating back the desert and as a result the ecological environment has been greatly improved. He estimated that 450 varieties of plants have been successfully planted in the Shapotou area compared to a mere 25 which existed before.
"And more than 140 species of wild animals, which seldom appeared there, can now be spotted in the area along the railway route." he added.
In recent years, hundreds of foreign experts from more than 50 countries have visited Shapotou, which now enjoys a fine reputation as China's first nature reserve based on desert ecology.
In 1994, it was awarded the prestigious title of "Globe 500" by the United Nations Environment Program for having effectively kept the desert under control.

Beijing Reins in Pollution for Celebration

BEIJING, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The Beijing Public Security and Traffic Administration has decided to strengthen control over enterprises and vehicles that discharge serious pollution, in order to ensure a successful celebration of the 50th anniversary of New China on October 1.
According to today's China Daily, about 25 large enterprises in Beijing, including Capital Iron and Steel Corp. have been ordered to reduce production and stop using equipment burning fuel and coal from September 21 to October 1.
Large freight trucks, diesel locomotives, tractors and motorcycles using mixed fuels are prohibited from entering the capital city's Fourth Ring Road, the outermost ring of the traffic structure.
Vehicles such as buses, which are allowed to get into the Fourth Ring Road during this period, must undergo exhaust testing under surveillance by the environment protection department. Only qualified vehicles can receive passes issued by government departments.
It is also forbidden to burn fallen leaves, stalks and other kinds of garbage in the city on those days.
In a bid to guarantee smooth traffic in Beijing during the celebration, the administration will also place strict controls on motor-driven vehicles from outside Beijing.
Vehicles carrying dangerous articles are forbidden to enter Beijing from September 10 to October 5. And freight trucks above five tons are not allowed to drive within the Third Ring Road during the national celebration.
According to official sources, vehicles with special work to accomplish in Beijing must be tested first for safety performance and tail-gas emissions and obtain passes for no more than two days.

Double-Decker Train Manufactured in East China

NANJING, August 31 (Xinhua) -- Production of an air-conditioned double-decker train, the most advanced of its kind in China, was finished today in this capital city of Jiangsu Province.
The train, which was manufactured in Nanjing, will be ready for operation on the rail line between Nanjing, Shanghai and Hangzhou by October 1. Hangzhou is the capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, while Shanghai is China's largest metropolis.
The train has two engines, one at each end, and nine cars. It can carry a total of 1,140 passengers and reach a speed of 180 kilometers per hour.

China Issues Regulations Governing Futures Trade

BEIJING, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the watchdog of the futures market, released four documents governing futures trade today to ensure that the Provisional Regulations on Futures Trade are properly implemented.
According to CSRC officials, the Provisional Regulations on Futures Trade, which were enacted at the 18th executive meeting of the State Council on May 25, go into effect on September 1.
The regulations specify the role of futures regulatory departments, and provide legal aid to government departments that are supervising the country's futures markets.
The four documents released today include the administrative regulations on futures exchanges, the administrative regulations on futures brokerage companies, the administrative regulations on futures traders' qualifications and the administrative regulations on authentication qualification of senior futures management personnel in futures brokerage companies.


China's Pro-active Fiscal Policy Effective: Official

SINGAPORE, August 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Minister of Finance Jin Liqun Monday told a regional finance meeting that the first half of 1999 saw a fairly robust growth in China's economy and this has proved the effectiveness of China's pro-active fiscal policy to stimulate the domestic demand and indicated China's economy is able to withstand external shocks.
Jin made the point while briefing the two-day Fifth Meeting of Finance and Central Bank Deputies under the Manila Framework Group, which ended Monday.
Jin said in the first six months of 1999, China's investment made by the state sector in major infrastructure projects grew 15.1 percent over the same period last year, the GDP expanded by 7.6 percent year-on-year and the growth in value added in the industrial sector was 9.4 percent with encouraging efficiency gains.
This has reflected the effectiveness of the pro-active fiscal policy put in place last year to stimulate the domestic demand and indicated the implementation of the macroeconomic policy of 1999 which is giving priority to the work to maintain a stable growth of the economy, Jin said.
Jin noted the lingering yet still strong contagion effect of the Asian financial crisis on the economy is a cause of concern, which is most acutely felt in the external sector.
He referred to the 2.8 percent drop in China's export in the first seven months of this year compared with the same period last year. But Jin pointed out that China's export in July showed a sharp turnaround, registering an increase of 7.5 percent over the same month of last year.
Jin said, "We need to increase treasury bonds issuance to keep investment going in major infrastructure projects and technical upgrading for promising enterprises which have a good market share for their products."
Affirming that the Chinese government will continue its pro-active fiscal policy, Jin said the Chinese government is dealing with the top priorities on its agenda, namely, state-owned enterprise restructuring, banking sector reform and social security reform.
On China's currency exchange policy, Jin said as a responsible member of the international community as well as the Asian region, the Chinese government remains committed to maintaining the exchange rate stability of RMB.
The first meeting of Finance and Central Bank Deputies under the Manila Frame Group was convened in November 1997 when representatives from 14 Asian economies as well as from the IMF, the World Bank and Asian Development Bank met to discuss ways to deal with the Asian financial crisis. The fifth meeting was held in Singapore from August 29 to 30, 1999, with the participation of representatives from Australia, Brunei, Canada, China, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and the United States. The Bank for International Settlement participated in the Singapore meeting and it was the first time that the institution was represented at the meeting of this catalogue.

Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Opens Branch in Guangzhou

GUNZHOU, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation has been given approval by the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, to open a branch in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.
This will be the bank's ninth branch in mainland China. The bank is extensively engaged in foreign exchange business including deposits, general loans, mortgage loans, settlements of exports and imports, exchange of foreign currencies, and credit card payments.
The bank opened a representative office in Guangzhou in 1981, which will be upgraded to a branch before the end of this year.
The bank also has branches in Beijing, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin, Wuhan, and Xiamen, as well as representative offices in Chengdu and Chongqing.
The bank also has a sub-branch in the Puxi Area of Shanghai, China's largest trade and financial metropolis.

Northeast China Becomes Light-Duty Automobile Base

SHENYANG, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The city of Shenyang in northeast China's Liaoning Province, an old heavy industrial base, has grown into one of the main light-duty automobile production centers in China, according to officials with the State Economic and Trade Commission.
Statistics show that the city now has over 120 automobile- related firms and their automobile output this year is expected at 86,000 units. And their output value together with that of the related industries is some 15 billion yuan (about 180 million US dollars). Light trucks, large and medium-sized passenger automobile, and automobile engines are their main products.
Shenyang has now established cooperation with 20 of the top automobile manufacturers in the world, including General Motors, Mitsubishi, and Toyota, and has been improving product quality with imported technology and machinery.
It has also developed new varieties of automobiles by utilizing the introduced technology. One auto company, Jinke, has now developed a new domestic product by incorporating imported high technology from Toyota of Japan.
The sales volume of the Jinbei Automobile Company attached to the No. 1 Automobile Manufacturing Group now accounts for over 90 percent of the city's total. And its market share for light-duty passenger mini-bus has reached 16.6 percent, ranking the first among all producers.
Statistics from the State Administration of Machinery Industry show that the country's total automobile output last year was around 1.6 million units, about the same in 1997.
Local officials disclosed that they are negotiating with General Motors and the Ford on cooperation for several key projects over the next few years.
"We consider China as the market of the most strategic importance both in Asia and in the world," said John Smith, general manager of General Motors, the largest automobile producer in the world.
Specialists predict that Shenyang's total production capacity will exceed 460,000 cars and 200,000 engines by the year 2002, with total output value of the two combined reaching as much as 60 billion yuan (about 720 million US dollars).
The auto industry has been a main concern of World Trade Organization negotiations, and China plans to restructure its 13 major automobile manufacturers into three or four groups, said officials with the State Administration of Machinery Industry.
China overall has 120 automobile producers, with annual output totaling 1.6 million units, while 18 multinationals can each produce more than one million vehicles a year.

China Used Nearly 300 Billion US Dollars in Overseas Investment

LANZHOU, August 31 (Xinhua) -- China has made actual use of 288. 94 billion US dollars in overseas funds since the reform and opening-up policy was implemented 20 years ago.
"The country had approved a total of 334,000 overseas-invested projects by July this year, involving a combined contractual overseas investment of 594.81 billion US dollars," said Liu Wenjie, vice-president of the China Chamber of International Commerce, at the on-going Lanzhou Economic and Trade Fair.
The investors came from more than 180 countries and regions, Liu said, adding that they include nearly 400 out of the 500 largest transnational companies in the world.
Agriculture, the manufacturing industry and the service sector have all seen the in-flow of overseas funds.
Liu said that the funds and advanced technology, experience and mechanism brought by overseas investors have pushed forward China' s economic and trade development.

ABC Becomes First Agent of Foreign Bank in Renminbi Business

SHANGHAI, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The Agricultural Bank of China ( ABC), one of the country's leading commercial banks, signed a contract with America's Citibank today to become its agent for settling accounts in yuan.
This also made ABC the first Chinese bank to act as an agent for foreign banks in the settlement of accounts in the Chinese currency in China.
Wang Xingyi, vice-president of ABC, said that ABC will serve as the agent of Citibank's Shanghai and Shenzhen branches. Its branches and electronic exchange system are nationwide, he said.
Citibank became ABC's agent bank in foreign exchange business in 1991. The accounts that ABC settled through Citibank reached 966 million US dollars in the first half of this year.
John Beenman, chief representative of Citibank China Area, said that most multinational companies in China hope to speed up the process of settling accounts, possibly to within one or two days.
Citibank plans to expand the banking service to 20 Chinese cities before the end of this year, he said.

China To Launch Putonghua Promotion

BEIJING, August 31 (Xinhua) -- China is to launch its second national Putonghua (standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin) promotion week in mid-September. Putonghua promotion activities will be held at main streets in Chinese major cities.
Zhu Xinjun, a State Language Work Committee official said that China has set a target of making Putonghua popular nationally by the middle of the next century.
From last year the third week of September will be a regular national Putonghua promotion week. This year's Putonghua promotion dates from September 12 to 18, boasting the slogan: "Promoting Putonghua, Welcoming the New Century".
China's linguist Zhou Youguang pointed out that there are two criteria for judging Putonghua promotion: schools use it as campus language, and Putonghua is the communication medium during public activities. Investigations show that the popularity of Putonghua has reached 80 percent in China's large and medium-sized cities.
The State Language Work Committee has recently started a nationwide investigation on the usage of Chinese language to help the country achieve its Putonghua promotion goal.

City News:
Scenic Coastal City Receives Record Number of Tourists

DALIAN, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The scenic coastal city of Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province has received a record number of tourists this summer.
Tourist arrivals by train and ship exceeded 850,000 this season, and overseas tourists also increased steadily. The number of Japanese sightseers, for example, rose by 20 percent over last year.
As a result, about 90 percent of the luxury hotel rooms were occupied, an increase of ten percent over last year, and common guesthouses were in short supply.
Local tourist officials said Dalian also has become the first choice for summer vacations for some multinational corporations, and people on self-financed family trips to Dalian accounted for about 20 percent of all visitors, compared to four percent in previous years.
This thriving tourism is a result of sustained efforts in city construction and beautification. Also, a series of tourism promotion fairs including the international costume festival, fireworks festival, and romantic tours enhanced Dalian's reputation as an ideal tourist destination.
A series of projects for submarine sightseeing, rock climbing, and some adventure games are still in the planning stage to make Dalian even more attractive to potential tourists.

Chinese Capital Lures Hi-tech Business

BEIJING, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The Economic and Technological Development Zone (ETDZ) here in the capital of China has introduced an additional set of ten preferential policies to attract more hi-tech companies.
These incentives include the early adoption of a set of regulations on land leasing, which will approve leasing land-use rights for individuals and reduce land-leasing fees, the setting up of a special service center for hi-tech companies to improve the investment climate, and preferential treatment in utilities charges.
In addition to the general preferential policies for businesses in the ETDZ and State-level new and high technology development zones, large projects with high technologies and good profitability in the development zone will also enjoy preferential treatment in leasing land, procuring factory buildings, and rent exemptions for research development centers.
The management of the development zone is also expected to set up a special investment fund estimated at between 20 million and 30 million yuan to support hi-tech ventures in the zone.
Employees of these ventures, if defined as technicians and managers in urgent need, will be allowed to register for permanent residence along with their family members.
A total of 379 enterprises, including 144 overseas-funded ones, were operating in the development zone by the end of June, involving a total investment of 1.817 billion US dollars.
Hi-tech businesses hold about 50 percent of all investment in the zone, and there are 77 hi-tech overseas-funded ventures, involving an investment of 770 million US dollars.

Bonded Zones in Tianjin Report Rising Trade

TIANJIN, August 31 (Xinhua) -- Latest statistics from north China's Tianjin Customs show that the Tianjin Bonded Zone reported a trade volume of 368 million US dollars during the first six months this year, the third largest trade volume among the nation' s 15 bonded zones.
The total volume represents an increase of 10.9 percent over the same period of last year. Imports were valued at 257 million US dollars, with export volume totaling 111 million US dollars.
Known as the most open regions in China, bonded zones are set up as duty-free trade areas and play an important role in storage, cargo transport, and the processing industry.
Of the 15 bonded zones in China, the two largest are the Waigaoqiao Bonded Zone in Shanghai's Pudong New Area and the Shatoujiao Bonded Zone in Shenzhen, a special economic zone in south China's Guangdong Province.

Dalian International Automobile & Parts Exhibition Fair ¡¯99 Closed

Dalinan, August 31(Dalian Daily)--The curtain of Dalian International Automobile & Parts Exhibition Fair ¡¯99 was closed yesterday afternoon.
Statistics shows that 1333 complete cars were sold at the fair, of them, 808 are imported cars, 118 are China-made passenger cars and 400 are China-made cars.
It is seen from this fair that sales of economical and environmentally-friendly cars promises bright prospect.
Though compared with the 120 thousand person times¡¯ visitors to the fair, the trade volume is much less, car sellers do not have the least disappointment, instead they saw them as potential buyers and have strong belief in a prosperous China car market

Overseas Travel: A New Trend Among Primary and Middle School Students

Shanghai, August 31(Shanghai Daily)--With overseas travel becoming a hot spot for Shanghai people, primary and middle school students also join in the trend. According to some leading travel agencies in Shanghai, the number of them jumped by about 30% during the first half of this year.
A travel agent said one third of their customers in the first half of the year were families with kids between 7-18 years old. Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia are among the most popular destinations for these tourists.
"It was a good opportunity for my son to broaden his scope of knowledge as well as learn about the customs of other countries," said Mr. Huang, who just came back from abroad with his wife and son. Many parents agree with him. They said it worth the money to have their kids travel overseas, as they can learn much that is not available in textbooks. For example, through travel to some Southeast Asian countries, children understood better about the Asian financial crisis; and travel to Hong Kong gave them a vivid lesson on what is "one county, two systems."
This phenomenon also aroused the interest of experts in education. Special grade teacher Zhao Zhongzhong thinks this indicates a new trend in out-of-school education as well as a demand for educational reforms. He hoped schools could cooperate with travel agencies in the future to arrange overseas travel for students, similar to what has been done in France, Japan and Australia.

IT Information
Internet Links Farmers With Wider Market
SHIJIAZHUN, August 31 (Xinhua) -- Chinese farmers used to suffer from a lack of information, and this often led to a terrible waste of farm produce and other agricultural products.
However, this situation has been ameliorated by the Chinese Agriculture Information Network, an Internet website created by the Ministry of Agriculture.
At the address: www.agri.gov.cn, which was registered on the Internet in 1996, surfers can discover an ocean of agricultural information.
The information includes the development of agricultural products and capital goods in the agricultural sector, analyses of the international agricultural market, import and export analysis, as well as new technologies on crops planting, livestock, and aquatic breeding.
An official from the ministry noted that the website has received 214,000 visitors so far and that the information so provided has benefited thousands of people.
"Internet links my piglets with a wider market," said Li Minghui, a farmer in north China's Hebei Province.
"It's the network that gave me valuable information on the market prices of the piglets and brought me a large profit of some 100,000 yuan," Li added.
Like Li, an increasing number of farmers run their businesses by employing the Internet nowadays.
In Lingxian County in east China's Shandong Province, though the farmers there have has access to the Internet for only three months, they already have gained 40 million yuan in profit by selling garlic, garlic bolts and other vegetables through via the network this year.
The Jinfeng pear, a specialty of Zongzhai Town in northwest China's Gansu Province, in the past had trouble finding a market despite its superior quality. This year, the farmers have contacted prospective buyers on-line even before the fruit matured.
At the First On-line Grain Fair of China this January, the turnover reached 3.3 billion yuan.
The agricultural network on the Internet has a promising future, and ministry sources said that access to the website has spread to more than 2,000 counties and villages nationwide.
Approximately one million farmers obtain on-line information nowadays to plant cash crops, and half a million to raise livestock and poultry. And the network has helped spread more than 5,000 new agro-technologies and new varieties so far, sources said.
The increasing popularity of the Internet among Chinese farmers will further facilitate agricultural modernization in China, said Xu Fengxian, researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China, UK Develop Software for Maritime Security
BEIJING, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The China Ocean Shipping Corporation (COSCO) recently developed a multifunctional software for maritime security, cooperating with an institute under the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom.
This application software has been used by the COSCO Container Transport Company, the container shipping arm of COSCO, according to an official.
It is packaged with the most advanced electronic charts, linked with the global positioning system and offering information on global weather, tides, ports and ocean currents.
The system can be run in any ordinary computer, with all necessary data displayed on a screen at the same time, which helps navigation and saves the cost of renewing charts.
COSCO is China's biggest ocean shipping enterprise and inaugurated its first container shipping route in 1978.
With 20 years' rapid development, the COSCO Container Transport Company is now ranked fifth in the world, with total assets reaching 23 billion yuan (2.77 billion US dollars).

Guoqing: Favorite Name with Chinese

SHANGHAI, August 31 (Xinhua) -- Though trouble sometimes arises due to the great numbers of namesakes, Lu Guoqing, a clerk at the Shanghai Municipal Personnel Bureau, has always been proud of his name.
"I was born on the same day as the People's Republic of China, so my parents named me Guoqing, meaning celebrating the birth of the nation," Lu said.
Lu's mother, Xi Shangyi, now 74, still feels the thrilling joy she felt as she gave birth to her son on October 1, 1949, when Mao Zedong declared the founding of the People's Republic in Beijing, marking the end of a century in which colonialists and imperialists collaborated with feudal rulers to enslave the Chinese people, and the end to a time of chaos caused by frequent civil wars and foreign aggression.
"The name Guoqing embodies our great joy and pride in the birth of both our son and of New China and our hope that he would grow up strong and sturdy as the nation would," Xi said.
Lu has since experienced all the major changes that have taken place in China. He went to school until 1966 when the ten-year- long chaotic Cultural Revolution started, became a worker at the Shanghai No.1 Steelworks in 1968, entered a college in 1978 when the country introduced reform and opening up policies, and then became a public servant in China's leading industrial and commercial city of Shanghai.
His experiences reflect the ups and downs of the nation, Lu said, adding that he believes a brighter future is in store for him as China is now well on the way to a socialist market economy.
Guoqing is a favorite name with Chinese. One can easily find a Guoqing among relatives, friends or other acquaintances, and there is even a long list of Guoqings among famous people, including athlete Li Guoqing, model soldier Zhao Guoqing, and pop singers Cai Guoqing and Sun Guoqing.
Official statistics show that Shanghai alone now has more than 6,800 Guoqings who were all born on or around October 1.
Chinese are very particular about choosing names, and a Chinese name usually reflects the features of the times and the hopes the parents place in the child, noted Ding Shuimu, a sociologist and researcher at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.
Guoqings may be of different ages, from different families and different experiences, but all of them bear the same name signifying their parents' rosy hopes for the younger generation and their pride in New China, Ding added, and all Guoqings have witnessed the progress of the country.
Shi Guoqing, about 30, is still luckier than older Guoqings, for when he reached school age, China was about to launch the reform and opening up campaign and enter its fastest-growing period. He continued his education until graduating from Tongji University, one of the country's prestigious institutes of higher learning.
Now marketing manager of the Hong Kong-based China Resources ( Holdings) Co., Ltd., Shi is engaged in real estate development in the Pudong New Area, an emerging financial and trade zone in Shanghai.
"I live at the right time and I'll do my best to be worthy of the name," Shi said.
Chen Guoqing, born on August 25 this year in central China's Hubei Province, more than a month before National Day, is now one of the youngest Guoqings.
"The name implies our full confidence in China turning into a strong and prosperous nation in the coming century," said his father Chen Hong.

Workers Pouring Concrete at Three Gorges Dam 

YICHANG, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The construction of the Three Gorges Project at the middle reaches of the Yangtze River has entered its most critical stage in terms of labor intensity and technical difficulty.
So said He Gong, deputy general manager of the China Yangtze Three Gorges Project Development Corporation, the dam's developer, in a recent interview with Xinhua.
According to He, workers are now engaged in pouring concrete for the dam, as concrete is needed for the permanent ship lock, the riverbed dam, and the power plants on the left bank of the Yangtze.
The total amount of concrete necessary for the main works of the Three Gorges Project is well over 27 million cu m, the largest of its kind in the world.
By late July, workers had poured more than three million cu m of concrete, dug 18 million cu m of earth and stone, and refilled another eight million cu m of earth and stone. In accordance with the construction plan, four million cu m of concrete will have been poured, and 11.3 billion yuan will be spent this year.
"The monthly concrete pouring volume is expected to exceed 500, 000 cu m in August, the highest level in the world, but in June and in July, the monthly volume was below 400,000 cu m because of the hot weather," said He.
The gigantic Three Gorges Project will be built in three stages, will cost well over 203.9 billion yuan, and when completed will be capable of generating 84.7 billion kwh of electricity a year.
Construction of the dam began in 1993, and the second phase of the construction was inaugurated by the successful damming of the main stream of the Yangtze in November 1997. During the second phase, which will end in 2003, the first generating unit will be made ready for power generation and the permanent ship lock will also be ready for traffic.
"The greatest challenge in building the dam is how to ensure the fulfillment of the concrete pouring plan and the quality of the work simultaneously," said the deputy manager, adding that the coming winter will test the quality of the concrete work done this summer.
In the meantime, a total of 240,000 tons of metallic structures will be erected or repaired during the second stage, and a turbo- generator with a generating capacity of 700,000 kw will also be installed during the second stage.
To solve possible technical difficulties in constructing the Three Gorges Dam, the China Yangtze Three Gorges Project Development Corporation has spent about 1.2 billion yuan on scientific research and signed 623 contracts with scientific and technological institutes.
A number of scientific and technological achievements have resulted from this endeavor, greatly aiding the second-stage construction.
According to Yang Pusheng, supervisor-in-chief for construction of the Three Gorges Project, it is still difficult to predict how long the concrete structures will last because concrete appeared just 200 years ago.
However, Chinese scientists and technicians are endeavoring to assure that the Three Gorges Dam may last for ever.
They have carried out long-term comparisons and experiments to learn all they could about the properties of concrete, and have introduced a complete quality control system covering raw materials, mixing, transport, pouring, temperature control and maintenance in a bid to ensure the quality of the concrete for the Three Gorges Dam, especially its durability.
"With the most advanced mixing and pouring equipment, coupled with sound quality control and management efforts, the Three Gorges Project will become another miracle of human civilization, just like the Great Wall and the pyramids of Egypt," Yang added.

China Forming High-Speed Integrated Communications Network

BEIJING, August 30 (Xinhua) -- Editor's note: This year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. Over the past half century, China's achievements have attracted worldwide attention, with comprehensive national strength increasing and earthshaking changes occurring in all sectors.
Xinhua News Agency will release about 20 articles on these developments and provide the latest information on the nation's economy. The first of the series was released on August 17. This is the tenth.
By the end of 1998, the total length of China's various communications means, including airways, railways, highways and river navigation, had hit 2.97 million kilometers, 16.4 times the figure in 1949, when New China was founded.
Data from the National Bureau of Statistics show that the country's railway length currently reaches 57,600 km, an increase of 1.6 times compared to 1949, with that of river navigation, highway and civil aviation standing at 110,000 km, 1.27 million km, and 1.5 million km.
With the competition between them becoming more fierce, they must improve speed and efficiency to hold on to their market share and attract more customers, said Zhao Yongzheng, a professor with the Institute of Comprehensive Transportation of the State Development Planning Commission.
She added that a high-speed integrated communications network not only aids the industry itself, but also the growth of China's economy.
China's first expressway, completed in Shanghai on October 31, 1988, is 18.5 kilometers long.
By the end of 1998, that length reached 8,733 kilometers. The country expects to have 9,000 kilometers of expressways by next year and 21,600 kilometers by 2020.
To meet the challenge of the rapidly-developed expressway, China's railway, which used to be the leader of the communications sector, is taking steps to enhance its service.
Shen Zhijie, former chief engineer of the Ministry of Railways, said the development of a high-speed railway is necessary. The ministry raised railway speeds in 1997 and 1998, Shen said.
The country planned to build its first high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai in 2000, with a designed speed of 300 kilometers per hour. It also succeeded in testing its fastest train, with a high speed of 200 km per hour, on July 8, 1999.
China's civil aviation, another high-speed means of transport, has also enjoyed rapid growth in the past 50 years.
The country had just 29 airplanes and seven air routes in 1949, with a gross turnover standing at 1.57 million ton kilometers. Now it has had 485 airplanes, 851 domestic routes and 109 international routes, with a gross turnover of 9.2 billion kilometers.
From 1949 to 1978, China had 78 airports, most of which were middle-and small-sized. The figure increased to 141 in 1997, 17 of which could handle Boeing 747s.
According to Chen Qihua, an expert from the Water Transportation Institute under the Ministry of Communications, China's high-speed water transportation, which mainly occurs on the Yangtze River and offshore shipping routes, is also playing an important role in the country's communications system.
He named some major routes, such as Dalian-Yantai, Shanghai- Ningbo and Shenzhen-Hong Kong, which mainly use hovercrafts sailing at an average speed of 60 to 70 kilometers per hour.

China Post Switches to Automation

BEIJING, August 31 (Xinhua) -- The modernization level of Beijing's postal services is as high as in any developed countries in the world, Thomas Leavey, secretary-general of the ongoing Universal Postal Congress (UPC), has declared.
He made the remarks after visiting postal facilities in Beijing recently.
He said that though postal infrastructure in some other areas of China may not necessarily as good as in the big cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, China has made remarkable progress in the modernization of its postal services.
He noted that a postal technology and equipment exhibition held during the convocation of the UPC here opened the eyes of Chinese and international postal representatives to the bright future of postal modernization.
China displayed the world's first letter sorting and classifying machine that can handle 32,000 letters per hour at the exhibit, as well as a prize-winning multi-media postal voice system.
The director of the State Postal Administration (SPA), Liu Liqing, said that since a trend of merging information technology with traditional postal services is on the rise in the postal sector, China has been making efforts to combine the electronic communication network closely with its postal goods delivery network.
China is constructing a nationwide network of integrated postal services supported by computers. It is designed to improve the quality and efficiency of service and to open up new services such as call centers and E-commerce.
To be completed in 2000, the computerized postal network will change the face of postal services in the country. By then, people will be able to obtain almost all postal services on-line, including locating a single article of mail as it is being delivered, shopping on the Internet and having the goods delivered promptly by the post office.
In their first trip to China, many of the international deputies to the UPC said that they were surprised by the level of postal modernization in China.
Leavey said that since China will assume the chairmanship of the Council of Administration of the Universal Postal Union (UPU) over the next five years, its experience in modernizing its postal service will be a good example for the developing countries.
Liu said that China places importance on improving management and talent in modernizing its postal services. It has introduced international expertise to conduct a series of regulation reforms, both in financial and employment terms, of the postal sector. He noted that a great number of new staff that the post office has employed in recent years are specialized in computer technology.
He pointed out that China Post has seen business volume grow by over 120 fold and revenues grow by over 460 fold over the past five decades. He said that many new services have emerged to replace traditional ones. For example, the computerized network of savings deposits at post offices has been extended to 527 cities and counties around the country, while express mail services are available in 1,983 cities and towns and have access to 26 countries and regions in the world.
He said that China Post aims to apply advanced information technology in the development of new postal products and services. This year, the SPA will continue to concentrate investment on the construction of a computer network of integrated services and major postal hubs and the expansion of a postal financial services network.

Government to Provide Loans for Poor Students

BEIJING, August 31 (Xinhua) -- An experimental loan system for poorer students is to be introduced in China which allows a 50- percent discount on interest and a four-year repayment period after graduation.
The scheme is jointly arranged by the People's Bank of China ( PBC), the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance, and will be administered by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China ( ICBC). It is launched as the new academic year begins this week.
According to education officials, the "pilot scheme" will mainly benefit poor students attending a number of universities, selected by the Education Ministry in the eight cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Chongqing, Shenyang, Xi'an, Wuhan and Nanjing.
This preferential loan scheme has already won support from a wide range of academic institutions and Min Weifang, vice- president of Beijing University, one of the most prestigious universities in China, said he was very pleased that the government has demonstrated its commitment to the development of education in such a way.
It is estimated that one out of five Chinese college students on campus is reckoned to be below the bottom line for living standards set for local residents, and one out of every 10 is considered to be extremely poor.
Min revealed that among the 26,000-plus students on his campus, more than 2,800 were in a very difficult economic situation. "We have spent over 82 million yuan (about one million US dollars) over the past two years on reducing tuition fees for poor students, offering loans and scholarships.
"The university hoped to provide more help but it was beyond its capability," Min said. He believes that this government-backed student loan scheme will help cultivate the next generation of professionals able to push forward China's economic and social development, while encouraging more young people from less developed areas to receive higher education.
A recent survey shows that a Chinese college student, mostly supported by his or her family, has to pay an average of 48,000 yuan (nearly 5,800 US dollars) for four years of higher education.
The average annual income for a Chinese urban resident last year was 5,425 yuan (about 654 US dollars), and that for a Chinese rural resident was 2,162 yuan (260 US dollars).
Students who need such a bank loan will submit their application to their universities for initial judgment who will then pass them for approval by the Ministry of Education and then to the ICBC for final checks.
A contract will then be drawn up between student and the ICBC for the provision of the loan. There is also an extra special loan facility which can be granted to those students whose families are extremely poor.
Cui Jian, a student from the renowned Qinghua University, was impressed that students will be given four years after graduation to refund the loans and interest. "That eliminates a real dilemma faced by poor students who are afraid of not being able to pay back a loan."
Shang Fulin, vice-governor of the PBC, the central bank of China, stressed that people who receive a college education will have more choices in the employment market and can expect to be better paid.
"Therefore, we believe, they will be fully capable of refunding the loans and we are confident this scheme will be a success," he said.
Traditionally Chinese people have demonstrated a strong desire to save money for their children's schooling and the highest proportion of savings is used this way.
An official from the Ministry of Education explained that when the new system is perfected, the existing, wide variety of loans provided by colleges and universities will be gradually phased out.