Meanwhile, Japan continued signing agreements with

one with the UK in 2017 and another with India the following year. By exploiting the power of these regional countries, Japan aims to secure military provisions for

its SDF in the Indo-Pacific region from the US, Canada, Australia and India and in the North Atlantic region from the US, the UK, France and Canada.

This has laid the foundation for Japan to broaden its SDF activities and ensure military provision with its partners. It is a sm

all-scale bilateral military alliance system centered on Japan. This shows Japan’s long-term strategic plan.

Since the 21st century, Japan has clearly labeled China as its biggest real and potential rival. Esp

ecially since Shinzo Abe took office, he spared no efforts at containing China. During Abe’s first te

rm, the Japanese government raised the idea of the “arc of freedom and prosperity.” When he became prime mini

ster for a second time, the policies advocated by his cabinet, including the values-based alliance, the alliance of m

aritime democracies, the democratic security diamond and the freedom corridor, have all kept China in focus.

Because of the ACSAs with Australia and India, Japan can militarily c

onstrain China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions. In the At

lantic, it can also exert forceful intervention in China’s policy in Europe, North Africa and West Africa.

In some areas where China’s military strength has not reached, Japan has crafted its military plan in advance by ut

ilizing its bilateral alliance system, trap-falling China’s military strategy into a passive position.

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PLA Rocket Force Weibo accounts take off in popularity

Hundreds of thousands of users on Sina Weibo, the Chinese Twitter-like social media platform, have flocked to and followed the tw

o official Weibo accounts newly created on Thursday afternoon by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force.

PLA Rocket Force, formerly the Second Artillery Corps, was established on Dec 31, 2015, and serves as the strategic and tactical missile force of China.

It marks the first time for the PLA Rocket Force to open up official Weibo accounts, making the emergence of

two at once even more remarkable. One account shared the same name with the force, wh

ile another chose the funnier and more down-to-earth name Dongfeng Kuaidi, which means “Eastwind Delivery”.

Some netizens made a guess that the former one would be used for releasing official and formal news and the latter for communicating with the sea of Weibo users.

At the time of writing, the account PLA Rocket Force had over 82,000 follo

wers and Dongfeng Kuaidi had 180,000 fans, despite the fact that neither of the a

ccounts had posted any content yet. Meanwhile, the number of followers continues to surge wildly.

Most fans are surprised by the PLA Rocket Force’s move to “land” on a social m

edia platform with hundreds of millions of users, due to its air of mystery.

Many of them have said “welcome” to the PLA Rocket Force and could not to wait to le

arn more about and interact with it on the social media platform they often use in daily life.

The PLA is comprised of the Ground Force, Air Force, Navy, Rocket Force and Strategic Support Force.

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Regulator issues guidelines to make loan renewal easier

he China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission Beijing Office announced on Thursday it has issued guidelines for banking institutions on re

newing micro and small business loans to shorten the financing chain and reduce financing costs.

The guidelines aim to cut unnecessary so-called “passageway business” a

nd bridging finance that “bridges” the gap between the time when a company’s m

oney is set to run out and when it can expect to receive an infusion of funds later on, under the premise that banking in

stitutions will meet the requirements on internal control and risk management.

“The loan renewal policy is actually a credit policy to incentivize lending to high-quality enterpri

ses,” said Jiang Ping, a senior official at the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission Beijing Office.

“For companies that have run into temporary operational difficulties but still have enormous potential for development, banks should help them get th

rough the tough times by renewing their loans. However, banks are forbidden from covering or delaying risk ex

posure associated with lending to ‘zombie firms’, which cannot repay loans, in the name of loan renewal,” she said.

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In the guidelines, the regulator set detailed rules on

the basic prerequisites that micro and small enterprises should meet to renew their loans and on the regulatory

requirements for banking institutions to do this type of business.

The loan renewal policy does not apply to real estate companies or enterprise group head office that are not engaged in production

and business operation. Besides, qualified companies should not have delinquent loans and interests with malice, according to Jiang.

In terms of pricing, the regulator said commercial banks should adhere to market principl

es and encouraged banks to renew micro and small business loans at a lending rate no higher than the previous rate.

As of the end of 2018, the balance of micro and small business loans of the banking sector in Beijing

increased by 15.23 percent year-on-year to 1.2 trillion yuan ($176.95 billion). During the same pe

riod, the number of micro and small enterprises that received loans grew by 59,500 to 257,200.

A recent survey on 617 micro and small businesses in 200 villages in Beijing’s peripheral areas found that at the start-up phase, 13 perc

ent of the businesses obtained bank loans, 13 percent borrowed from friends and relatives, 8 percent secured funding from

microcredit companies, nearly 8 percent received loans from small lending services offered by Alibaba Group Ho

lding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd, while the majority of business owners used their own money or borrowed from individual creditors, said Mo Xiugen, di

rector of research at the Chinese Academy of Financial Inclusion at Renmin University of China.

He advised policymakers to encourage joint-stock commercial banks and microcredit com

panies to play a bigger part in providing financing to micro and small companies, as these financial institu

tions are more flexible and experienced in serving small business clients than large State-owned commercial banks.

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aidu signs comprehensive deal with Ctrip-depth partnersh

hinese internet search giant Baidu Inc inked an in-depth partnership with China’s largest online travel agency Ctrip, in its latest efforts to drive the development of intelligent tourism in China.

Under the agreement, Baidu will deploy its cloud services and artificial intelligence capabilities to provide Ctrip with solutions tailor

ed to tourism scenarios and businesses. Baidu Cloud, the cloud unit of Baidu will help Ctrip impr

ove operational efficiency and customer experience and reduce costs in marketing and sales, customer acquisition and online traffic conversion.

The two companies will also continue to explore a variety of smart services in more scenarios

based on Baidu’s AI capabilities, such as speech technology and autonomous driving.

“The tourism industry is growing rapidly and Ctrip is the industry leader. Baidu looks forward to working wi

th Ctrip to upgrade tourism services with ‘cloud plus AI’, enhance customer experience, and ex

plore a viable path to intelligent tourism for the entire industry,” said Zhang Dongchen, vice-president of Baidu.

“With the vigorous development of tourism, consumer needs are more and more diversified. To better serve our customers, Ctrip

needs to be enabled by advanced cloud computing and AI technologies,” said Xiong Xing, executive vi

ce-president of Ctrip and CEO of air ticketing business unit and international business unit of the company.

Xiong said they hoped to collaborate with Baidu to create smarter customer service and more value for users.

This partnership is not limited to IT infrastructure. With Baidu Cloud’s capabilities, big data

analytics can be conducted on users’ interests, habits and preferences. Different tourism products can

be packaged by Baidu’s AI and machine learning technologies to offer every user customized solutions.

Over the past three years, Baidu Cloud has collaborated with more than 2,000 partners in

over 30 industries, such as finance, security, transportation and education, and created over 100 solutions.

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nside the workshop of Jilin province’s ‘last blacks

Tian Hongming, 67, has been dubbed the “last blacksmith by the fire” by the people of Changchun, capital of northeast China’s Jilin province.

Having picked up the skill of forging iron at the age of seven from his grandfather, Tian has made a living from the skill for more than half a century.

In the 1990s his business reached its peak, selling more than 80,000 iron products a year, Tian said.

With increaed industsrialization and the cheaper and more intricate iron products it brought however, Tian and his workshop went into decline.

Although fewer customers now choose handmade iron products, Tian sticks to the traditional craft and takes every order seriously.

In 2015 his skill was listed among the city’s intangible cultural heritages.

“Sometimes, the flow-line productions can’t meet the special needs of custo

mers, so the craft will never be replaced,” he said. “And I will continue my business as long as the market and customers need me.”

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New regulations will target abnormal trademark filings

In a bid to improve the nation’s business environment, the China National Intellectual Property Administration will roll

out a new set of regulations on trademark filings to curb the “applications out of malice”.

The regulations draft has been publicized on the CNIPA website, soliciting suggestions and opinions from the public until March 14.

The move reflects a shift in policymakers’ focus from intellectual property quantity to quality, s

aid Li Shunde, a senior IP researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Comprised of eight articles, the new regulations target “abnormal applications”, such as trademark sq

uatting, imitating established brands and filings with no intentions for actual use in industry or business.

The regulations, once they take effect, will also come as a severe blow to tradema

rk speculators, who apply for and stock trademarks for trade rather than industrial or business use.

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Nation’s property sector remains robustperty models in Donggu

Experts said the Spring Festival holiday was the major factor behind the significant drop in property sales perfor

mance nationwide in the first month of 2019 and did not necessarily represent a negative market trend for the industry.

According to Centaline Property Agency’s research, in January property sales declined by 38 p

ercent year-on-year in the first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Among the four cities, Guangzhou saw the most dramatic decrease of 65 percent year-on-year, followed by Beijing, where home sales dropped by over 40 percent.

Country Garden, one of the country’s biggest developers, sold 33 billion yuan ($4.88 billion) of prop

erty in January, a 52.2 percent yearly decline. Vanke, whose monthly sales were 48.8 billion yu

an, saw a 28.1 percent drop year-on-year, while Evergrande Group’s sales performance shrank by 32.9 percent.

Third and fourth-tier cities accounted for most of the sales, but these had also slowed down com

pared to the same period in 2018. Zhang Dawei, chief analyst at Centaline, said the lack of e

nthusiasm from buyers was caused by the overheated market during last year’s Spring Festival.

“During the Spring Festival in 2018, housing prices in first and second-tier cities suddenly increased, triggering price

rises in lower-tier ones too,” said Zhang. “Back then, buying properties in one’s lower-tier hometown became a trend.”

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more C919 jets to make maiden test flights this yearakes its mai

Another three prototypes for China’s first homegrown large passenger jet, the C919, will conduct their maiden flights this year, follow

ing the success of a third one on Dec 28, 2018, according to the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC), the maker of the jet.

The 104 prototype test aircraft of the China-made C919 has entered its final assembly stage, the 10

5 is undergoing the assembly of major components, and the main components of the 106 are in pro

duction. The maiden test flights for all three new prototype jets are expected to take place before the end of 2019.

The addition of these three would bring the total number of C919 prototype test aircraft to six.

To date, domestic and overseas buyers have placed orders for 815 of the China-m

ade C919 aircraft.Chinese communities around the world welcomed the Year of th

e Pig on Feb 5, ushering in Lunar New Year with prayers, family feasts and shopping sprees.

Celebrations took place across the globe, ranging from Southeast Asia’s centuries-old Chi

nese communities to the more recently established Chinatowns of Sydney, London, Vancouver, Los Angeles and beyond.

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Shanghai unveils measures to optimize business environment

Shanghai has announced a series of reform measures aimed at improving its business environment to maintain stable economic growth.

The measures cover 25 main areas such as business startups, applications for construction permits and electricity serv

ice, according to a working conference held by the municipal government on Feb 11.

Shanghai cannot simply rely on favorable policies to achieve development, let alone low-cost compe

tition, said Li Qiang, Party chief of Shanghai, adding that a better business environment is the strong impetus.

This year, Shanghai will promote collecting and sharing of public data as well as easy

access to governmental services for enterprises and citizens, according to local government authorities.

According to a World Bank report on the ease of doing business released in October last

year, China advanced to a global ranking of 46 among 190 economies in 2018, up from 78 in the previous year.

Shanghai recorded an overall economic growth of 6.6 percent last year, with its GDP per capit

a exceeding $20,000. The city expects to attain a growth rate of 6 percent to 6.5 percent this year.

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