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Hip-hop superstar Drake breaks new streaming record - in video games

Hip-hop superstar Drake has broken a new record in streaming -- this time in video games. The most streamed artist on Spotify, whose latest hit "God's Plan" has spent the last seven weeks at number one on the US singles chart, made waves this week when he joined the streaming video-game platform Twitch. His livestream -- on which he joined the shoot-'em'-up adventure "Fortnite" with players including video-game star Ninja -- drew 628,000 viewers, Twitch said, far outpacing the previous record of 388,000. Twitch, which is owned by retail behemoth Amazon, saw in the success signs for future growth of the platform, in which video-game aficionados watch and interact with players online. "Seeing a top gamer and musician come together on Twitch and unite their large and passionate communities is a cultural moment in terms of building awareness around the appeal of social video and it's only going to grow from here," Kate Jhaveri, Twitch's senior vice president for marketing, said in a statement. Twitch has drawn followers not only for the games, but also for the talk-show-like chatter that accompanies them. Drake, who gives few interviews, spoke at length with Ninja as they played "Fortnite" on Wednesday night, for a time making the episode a trending topic on Twitter. Among tidbits into his life that drew wide notice on social media, Drake revealed that he is a vegetarian and that he is a fan of pineapple on pizza. The Toronto star has seized on streaming as he built his career, including through a marketing deal with Apple. His Jamaican-inspired track "One Dance" remains the second most streamed song ever on Spotify. Drake and Ninja, whose real name is Tyler Blevin, were joined in playing the game by rapper Travis Scott and Pittsburgh Steelers football player JuJu Smith-Schuster. Twitch, launched in 2011 and bought by Amazon three years later for nearly $1 billion, has increasingly put a focus on music, with the DJ Steve Aoki notably contributing to a song library for the gamers. (AFP)

UK's May to address party members amid Russia crisis

British Prime Minister Theresa May will on Saturday address members of her Conservative Party, rejuvenated by the widespread praise for her handling of the Russian spy crisis but still dogged by Brexit. May's last major party conference speech ended in disaster as a cough, a prankster and a collapsing backdrop undermined her address -- intended to restore her authority following last year's disastrous snap general election in which the Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority. A pre-Christmas breakthrough with the European Union in Brexit negotiations gave her a boost, but she was again under pressure after pro-EU rebels within her centre-right party delivered her a stinging parliamentary defeat. However, she comes into the Conservatives' spring forum in London with renewed authority following her firm response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil, which she blames on Moscow. UK Prime Minister Theresa May comes into the Conservatives' spring forum with renewed authority following her firm response to the poisoning of a former Russian double agent on British soil Her decision to expel 23 Russian diplomats and suspend high-level contacts received cross-party and media support, but more importantly rallied the Conservatives, heralding a ceasefire in the bitter internal row over Brexit. Leading pro-EU rebel Anna Soubry praised the "wise words and the leadership of the prime minister but also her firm actions". May, who earned the nickname "Maybot" for her awkward interactions with the public, even "fist-bumped" a well-wisher and had people shout her name in praise as she visited the site of the poisoning in Salisbury, southwest England. But behind the bravado, members will still be scrutinising her every word on leaving the EU. The party's pro-Brexit supporters are ready to jump on any apparent concessions to Brussels, while its pro-EU faction is applying pressure to maintain strong links with the bloc. Poll boost The government's domestic agenda will also be under the spotlight. May, 61, was to insist that the Conservative Party "cares deeply" about public services, and speak about the impact the state has had on her life. She was to tell the party, in office since 2010, that it "must mount a determined effort" to "win and keep" the public's trust in its management of public services. "Some people question our motives. They wonder whether we care enough about our NHS (National Health Service) and schools," she was to say, according to released extracts of her speech. "Whether we truly respect the people who work in them. And understand that people rely on them. "I know what our answer would be. Everyone in this party cares deeply about our public services. We use them. Many of us rely on them." The forum also follows finance minister Philip Hammond's key budget update earlier this week. Hammond heralded the British economy's relative resilience in the face of Brexit, and said May's minority government was making "solid progress towards building an economy that works for everyone". A YouGov poll of 1,986 adults for The Times newspaper out Friday put the Conservatives on 42 percent support and the Labour main opposition on 39 percent. Some 53 percent said May had responded well to the Salisbury attack, while 23 percent thought she had responded badly. Sixty percent supported, and 14 percent opposed, the measures May has taken, such as expelling the Russian diplomats. For Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, 18 percent thought he had responded well and 39 percent said he had responded badly. (AFP)

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)


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)