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Terracotta theft: Chinese anger over stolen warrior thumb

Chinese authorities have demanded "severe punishment" for a man who allegedly stole the thumb of a terracotta warrior statue on display in the US, Chinese state media report. The 2,000-year-old statue, worth $4.5m (£3.2m), is one of 10 on loan to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. Last week, Michael Rohana was charged with theft and concealment of a major artwork, and later released on bail. The Terracotta Army is one of China's most important archaeological finds. A selfie and a theft According to court documents, Mr Rohana, 24, was attending an Ugly Sweater Party at the Franklin Institute on 21 December when he made his way into the Terracotta Warriors exhibit, which was then closed. Mr Rohana used a mobile phone as a flashlight and took a selfie with one of the warriors, according to Chinese state media Xinhua quoting the FBI. He then put his hand on the left hand of the statue and appeared to break something off from it. He pocketed the item and left. Museum staff noticed the missing thumb on 8 January and the FBI later traced it to Mr Rohana. He later admitted that he had kept the thumb in a desk drawer. On Monday, the director of the Shaanxi Cultural Heritage Promotion Centre, the government-run organisation which loaned the statues out, "strongly condemned" the Franklin Institute for being "careless" with the statues, CCTV reported. "We ask that the US severely punish the perpetrator. We have lodged a serious protest with them," said Wu Haiyun. Mr Wu said the centre would be sending two experts to the US to assess the damage and repair the statue with the recovered thumb. There would be a claim for compensation, he added. The 10 statues currently on display at the Franklin Institute are part of an army of 8,000 life-size clay warriors which make up the Terracotta Army. The statues were built by the Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang, who died in 210 BCE, who believed they would protect him in the afterlife. They were discovered in China's Xi'an province in 1974 by a group of Chinese farmers. (BBC)

Students who escaped Florida shooting voice anger at Trump

Students who escaped the deadly school shooting in Florida have focused their anger at Donald Trump, saying that his response to the attack has been needlessly divisive. “You’re the president. You’re supposed to bring this nation together, not divide us,” said David Hogg, a 17-year-old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school on NBC’s Meet the Press. “How dare you,” he added. Hogg was responding to the president’s tweet on Saturday that Democrats had not passed any gun control measures during the brief time they controlled Congress with a supermajority in the Senate. Trump also alluded to the FBI’s failure to act on tips that the suspect was dangerous, while bemoaning the bureau’s focus on Russia’s role in the 2016 election. After more than a day of criticism from the students, the White House said the president would hold a “listening session” with unspecified students on Wednesday and meet state and local security officials Thursday. Sudents across the country are organising rallies and a national walkout in support of stronger gun laws in a challenge to politicians they say have failed to protect them. On Sunday, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas, where Nikolas Cruz is accused of killing 17 people last week, joined others on social media to plan the events. These will include a “March for Our Lives” protest in Washington on 24 March to call attention to school safety and ask lawmakers to enact gun control. They also plan to rally for gun control, mental health issues and school safety on Wednesday in Tallahassee, Florida’s state capital. The students were expected to meet a lawmaker who is seeking to ban the sale of assault-style weapons such as the AR-15 allegedly used by Cruz. Lane Murdock, 15, of Connecticut, was one of the students joining the campaign for a national walkout. “I felt like it was our time to take a stand,” she said. “We’re the ones in these schools, we’re the ones who are having shooters come into our classrooms and our spaces.” Murdock, who lives 20 miles (32km) from Sandy Hook elementary school where 20 children and six adults were shot to death five years ago, drew more than 50,000 signatures on an online petition on Sunday calling on students to walk out of their high schools on 20 April. Instead of going to classes, she urged her fellow students to stage protests on the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine high school in Colorado in which 15 people died, including the two killers. Florida politicians, meanwhile, scrambled to produce legislation in response to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting. In a TV interview, Republican senator Marco Rubio embraced a Democratic bill in the Florida legislature to allow courts to temporarily prevent people from having guns if they are determined to be a threat to themselves or others. The state’s governor, Rick Scott, also a Republican, attended a prayer vigil at the First Church Coral Springs, a few blocks from the shooting site. He is expected to announce a legislative package with GOP leaders of the legislature this week. Emma Gonzalez, a student who survived the attack, cited Trump, Rubio and Scott by name in a warning to politicians who are supported by the National Rifle Association. “Now is the time to get on the right side of this, because this is not something that we are going to let sweep under the carpet,” she said on Meet the Press. The students’ pointed comments are the latest signs of increased pressure for gun control after the massacre. Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report (GUARDIAN)

China's Zhang qualifies for freestyle skiing women's halfpipe final

China's freestyle skiing hope Zhang Kexin has secured a berth in women's halfpipe final through Monday's qualification at PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games. Fifteen-year-old Zhang posted 80.60 points in her first run, before improving by 0.40 points in the followed-up attempt. She was ranked eighth among 24 skiers, as the top 12 competitors in qualification are entitled a berth in Tuesday's final. Zhang finished third in World Cup series in Copper Mountain, United States, before claiming her first World Cup title in Chongli, China's Hebei province last December. "I felt quite nervous. My coach told me to take a deep breath, relax and concentrate on my run. "Winter Olympic Games and World Cup are totally different, especially on atmosphere and crowds," said Zhang, adding that she has no clear goal in the final. China has sent three young skiers to PyeongChang with a target of gaining experience for the upcoming Winter Olympics on home soil in 2022. China's Chai Hong finished 19th with 63.60 points, followed by teammate Wu Meng, who was born on October 2, 2002, and is the youngest competitor in PyeongChang. Chai injured her right knee last year, but chose to postpone her surgery until the end of Winter Olympics. "For me, the injury is OK. Just two runs in the qualification, if I cannot give it a try, I may feel quite disappointed," said Chai. Looking forward to the 2022 Winter Olympics, Chai said, "I hope to make into the final in 2022. Otherwise, my effort in preparation will not pay off. I don't want to let myself down then." Cassie Sharpe of Canada sat atop qualification with 93.40 points. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

The Belt and Road

China to invest 800 mln USD in Abu Dhabi B&R project

Twelve Chinese companies will invest more than 800 million US dollars in a Belt and Road project in Abu Dhabi, creating more than 2,000 jobs. Agreements have been signed between the companies, 10 of which are from east China's Jiangsu Province, with the Jiangsu Provincial Overseas Cooperation and Investment Company (JOCIC), which is in charge of developing 2.2 square kilometers of land at the Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi (Kizad). China will build the industrial cooperation demonstration park within Kizad to boost practical cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. The provincial government of Jiangsu said it will build the industrial park into a landmark of China's Belt and Road Initiative, attracting companies from both inside and outside the province. Construction of the industrial park started in January. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

2018-02-08

Li praises foreigners for help in opening-up

China will continue with supply-side structural reform and produce more appealing policies to attract foreign professionals to work here in an enhanced effort at opening-up further in 2018, Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday. "With our country's door to the world opening even wider, we will produce more appealing policies to attract foreign talents to work in China and provide more convenience for your lives here," Li told a gathering of outstanding foreign experts working in China. Ten days ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year, Li attended the annual event in the Great Hall of the People to send greetings and collect wisdom from more than 60 scholars and business leaders on achieving high-quality development, smart manufacturing and improving the quality of higher education. Li expressed his gratitude on behalf of the Chinese government to foreign experts in China for their contribution to the country's progress of modernization and reform. Noting that 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up policy, Li said the government will fully implement the five to 10 year visa policy for foreign experts and issue more favorable policies for foreigners working in China, including easing terms of applications for permanent residency. He said that under the Communist Party of China's strong leadership, with General Secretary Xi Jinping as the core, China's economy remained in good health in 2017, with a better than expected annual growth rate of 6.9 percent, the first acceleration in annual growth in seven years, contributing to more than 30 percent of the world's economic growth. "The Chinese economy will not face drastic fluctuation, as its economic structure has been remarkably improved with consumption leading its growth in the past several years," Li said, ruling out the possibility of a hard landing. The government will comprehensively deepen reform while preparing for all kinds of risks this year, he said. He encouraged experts from overseas to continue to actively participate in China's growth in innovation and industrial upgrading, adding that their ideas will be more than welcomed. Edmund S. Phelps, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics and dean of New Huadu Business School in Fujian province, told Li at the meeting that he has just received the new 10-year visa for foreign experts. "It is encouraging to see China creating an increasingly conducive environment for entrepreneurship and innovation," he said. "And I think this open policy will bring more foreign talents to China to showcase their expertise and to join in China's development." John Hopcroft, a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, shared his thoughts with the premier on improving the evaluation system of China's higher education. In January, China's State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs announced easier visa permits for foreign professionals and high-skilled workers who qualified among efforts to bridge the country's gap in foreign experts, with the expiration date of the visa extended to five to 10 years after issuance, with multiple entries and 180-day-stays for a single entry. (CHINA DAILY)

2018-02-06