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APD | Europe governments warn serious risk of Facebook’s digital currency Libra

By APD writer Aditya NugrahaWASHINGTON, Oct. 19 (APD) - Government of major European economies warned seriously on the serious risk of Facebook-proposed digital currency of Libra, saying that it may pave the way for money laundering, fraud, and other illicit financing practices.French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Friday that major European economies are joining forces to block Facebook's proposed digital currency because of the dangers it poses to national sovereignty."France, Italy, Germany, and France will take steps in the coming weeks to show clearly that Libra is unwelcomed in Europe," Le Maire said on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in Washington."We will not allow a private company to have the same power, the same monetary power as sovereign states. The major difference between Facebook and governments is that we are subject to democratic control, that is the control of the people," Le Marie pointed out.Libra is a permissioned blockchain digital currency proposed by Facebook. The digital currency mechanism has yet to exist, but the rudimentary experimental code has been released. The launch is planned in 2020.The firm opposition from France, Italy and Germany has added to the mounting resistance against Facebook’s Libra digital currency mechanism.  In the United States where Facebook is based, Libra also faced challenges from major financial and commercial players like Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe, PayPal and the online travel firm Bookings Holdings.Libra Association has tried to wipe aside the blockade, saying it will address concerns of governments."Our priority today is to work with regulators to answer their legitimate questions and provide all necessary assurances," Libra Association Managing Director Bertrand Perez said.Libra Association was officially launched Monday in Geneva with 21 founding members, including the telecoms firms Vodafone and Iliad, as well as tech outfits Uber, Spotify and Farfetch, blockchain operations such as Anchorage, Xapo and Coinbase and the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

APD | Japan sees 60% drop in number of South Korean visitors

By APD writer AliceJapan welcomed 201,200 South Korean visitors in September, a sharp decline of 58.1 percent from a year earlier, following a 48 percent tumble in August, according to the Japan Tourism Agency.It represented the sharpest drop since May 2011 when the figure plummeted 58.3 percent after the earthquake and tsunami devastated the country two months earlier.At a recent press conference, Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Hiroshi Tabata said there is "no clear sign" of recovery in the number of South Korean visitors as the row between the two nations has escalated in recent months into a trade dispute.The bilateral ties have worsened sharply since South Korean court rulings ordered Japanese firms late last year to compensate for wartime labor during Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula between 1910 and 1945. Japan maintains its position that the issue of compensation was settled by a 1965 bilateral agreement.However, Japanese travelers to South Korea jumped 1.5 percent to 253,000 in September, according to the South Korean Justice Ministry.Foreign arrivals to Japan surpassed 2.2 million during last month, a rise of 5.2 percent, raising the total international visitors to the country in the first nine months of the year to 24.42 million, up 4 percent year-on-year.In September, Chinese tourists topped the list with 819,100, showing a 25.5 percent increase, followed by those from Taiwan with 376,200, South Korea and then Hong Kong with 155,900.Spending by foreign visitors in the quarter to September hit 1.2 trillion yen ($11 billion), an increase of 9 percent compared to the same period last year. Tourists from South Korea spent 91.5 billion yen in the quarter, down 32.4 percent.The Japanese government set a goal of luring 40 million foreign tourists in 2020 when the country hosts the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. But the goal has been overshadowed by the worsening Tokyo-Seoul relations, which have prompted some airlines to suspend services connecting the two countries.The impact of Typhoon Hagibis, which killed over 70 people after hitting the country last weekend, could also make foreigners hesitant about visiting Japan.Last year, Japan welcomed 31.19 million tourists from abroad.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

China's transformation, from email to QQ, WeChat

In the past two decades, the way Chinese people communicate has been reshaped entirely by the internet. The development of communication tools, such as email, instant messaging software, and apps, has also spurred economic growth. It is now typical to see people texting everywhere, whether on subways and buses, on foot or escalators. In this digital era, we tend to use our fingers much more often than our mouths to communicate with each other. This change can be traced back to 32 years ago.China's first email was sent to Germany. /CGTN PhotoOn September 14, 1987, a researcher in Beijing sent China's first e-mail, to Germany. But the message didn't arrive at the destination until six days later. In April 1994, China was officially connected to the internet, facilitating email communication with North America and Europe. One month later, China's first online forum was born. BBS, a primary form of online forums, quickly attracted tens of thousands of Chinese.China's first BBS, or Bulletin Board System, Shuguang BBS. /CGTN PhotoFive years later, in 1999, Pony Ma developed OICQ, later renamed as QQ, with its penguin icon that almost every Chinese knows.In February, 1999, Tencent launched China's first online chatting software, OICQ. /CGTN PhotoDylan Li, 33, was among the first people in China to use the internet and chat online. He still remembers the crazy time when he first did so. "In 1997 or 1998, it was my first time using an online chatroom. Then half or a year later, I started to use OICQ. You don't know who you were talking to, and actually, there was not too much content in talking, but it was crazy that I could chat for a whole night."For young people at that time, online chatting became a new way to find romantic partners. Guan Quansheng, 34, now an associate professor at the South China University of Technology, said many of his college classmates were crazy about the internet in the early 2000s. "At that time, we were fascinated by the fact that you could talk to different strangers online. Boys and girls found each other in chatrooms or on QQ. And some romance or sparks could even occur," he said. In the first decade of the new century, lots of companies like Microsoft, China Mobile, and Baidu all tried to challenge the dominance of QQ in China's instant messaging market. But they all failed. In 2000, the peak number of concurrent QQ users surpassed 100,000. In 2014, the number surged 2,000 times to 200 million. It's like putting all people in the UK and Mexico online talking to each other.Dylan told CGTN that for the post-80s generation, a QQ account is a significant number like an ID card number and a cellphone number. "It's like our digital ID," he added.WeChat phenomenonBut soon, the era of the mobile internet came. In 2011, WeChat was born. Now nearly 1.1 billion active WeChat users send about 45 billion messages every day. Over the past eight years, WeChat has built an empire, providing services from basic messaging to mobile payment to e-commerce and gaming. Now over one billion transactions are made on WeChat Pay daily. And as adults stay longer and longer on WeChat, the younger generation born after 2000 is gradually returning to QQ. According to Zhang Hao, deputy general manager of the Social Platform Products Department of Tencent, QQ now has about 800 million monthly active users, 700 million of whom are on smartphones. "And many of them are young people under the age of 21. We had a 13 percent year-on-year growth of monthly active users under the age of 21, according to Tencent's 2018 fourth-quarter results."Talking about the future, Zhang believes 5G will be a game-changer. "The arrival of 5G means a rapid decline in telecom price packets and a surge in internet bandwidth. So video chatting or video social platforms will mean big business, and we've put lots of resources in this area."China's post-80s and post-90s youths have been shaped by the explosive internet breakout. Now, it's their turn to shape the future for the next generations.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)

Top Stories

The Belt and Road

2018 Silk Road Business Summit to be held in Zhangjiajie City on October 16, 2018

On September 29, the press conference of 2018 Silk Road Business Summit in Zhangjiajie city was successfully held in Changsha, Hunan Province. Leaders from the China Association for Friendship, Hunan Sub-council of China Council for the Promotion of International Trade, Zhangjiajie Municipal Government, Silk Road Chamber of International Commerce (SRCIC), and more than 30 mainstream media representatives attended the press conference. The announcement was made for the summit to be held in Zhangjiajie city on 16-17 October 2018. The summit is to actively respond to the Belt and Road Initiative, to build a multilateral economic and trade platform, to promote the formulation of international standards and the building-up of the Belt and Road brands, to explore the new mode of cultural exchange, to create the international tourist attractions, to facilitate the synergy of cultural industries, cultural undertakings, and cultural tourism as contribution to the development of a shared future for the world. The abundant resources of SRCIC will uplift Hunan province in its advantages in the Belt and Road construction and in its strategy of “Innovation Leads and Open Policies for Rise” to expedite Hunan province as an important inland hub of the Belt and Road.  The Zhangjiajie Summit is the 3rd silk road business summit organized by SRCIC, following the successful summits in 2016 and 2017. It’s the first summit with its venue in a city away from Xi’an. The summit in Zhangjiajie city will give a full play to the city’s unique natural resources, ecological culture, and its tourist economy.By report, Silk Road Urban Alliance Roundtable: Belt and Road International Cooperation on Tourism is scheduled at the summit. Themed with strengthening the tourist cooperation and facilitating the Belt and Road construction, the participants are expected to share views on setting up mechanisms for the Silk Road Urban Alliance and have in-depth discussion on promoting tourist and economic development. The summit will release consensuses, international standard proposals and tourist destination development strategies.Over the five years, the Belt and Road Initiative has gained strong support from the Belt and Road countries. International commercial associations and enterprises are important participants in the Belt and Road construction. SRCIC, one of the summit organizers, is the first transnational business confederation named after the Belt and Road and mainly composed of national chambers of commerce from the Belt and Road countries. Since its establishment in 2015, SRCIC is devoted to narrating the Belt and Road stories, initiating the Belt and Road voices, and facilitating the cultural exchanges in building up pragmatic platforms for win-win cooperation. Currently SRCIC has 129 organizational members from 79 countries, including state-level business organizations and millions of affiliated enterprises. SRCIC serves as a bridge connecting enterprises and governments, providing a cooperative platform between business associations and SRCIC members. It plays a vital role in advancing economic and social development with an emphasis on international collaboration and global governance.According to the plan, the annual silk road business summits are to be held in different SRCIC member countries for bigger influence and popularity, and for building up more cooperative platforms to benefit SRCIC commercial association members and enterprise members. (ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Belt and Road Initiative paves way for win-win cooperation between China and Czech

By APD Writer He WeiIn July last year, the first China-EU freight train departed from Prague, captial of Czech,to Yiwu, a city in east China’s Zhejang Province. The new cargo train service marked the official launch of “the Belt and Road Initiative” in Czech. Thanks to joint efforts of both sides, the economic and trade ties between China and Czech Republic is heading for a bright future.During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017, two months before the opening, China signed the Memorandum of Understanding to Jointly Coordinate and Promote Cooperation and Project Implementation with Czech. According to the memorandum, more efforts will be made to set up a China-Czech Cooperation Center under the Belt and Road initiative, a key project bank and a cooperation platform, integrate domestic and foreign resources, as well as adjoin and implement projects On the sidelines of the The Working Conference of China-Czech Jointly Coordinating and Monitoring Cooperation Plan and Projects under the Framework of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, Liu Jielei, vice chairman of the Czech-China Friendship Association, told the Asia Pacific Daily (APD) that besides geographic advantage, Czech enjoys a sound investment environment because of its stable domestic policies, friendly policy toward China, lower business taxes and labor cost than that of in other European countries.The "Yixin’ou (Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe) cargo train, which began in Yiwu, was hailed as an important bridge linking Asian and European continents and a signficiant achievement in the early stage of the initative by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xu Jie, general manager of Rongsheng Travelling (Czech) Investment Co., Ltd., said because of its important location, they have launched two projects including the Czech-Chinese Technology Business District (CCTBD) project and the South Moravia Chinese Herbal Spa Project in Prague during the past two years, stressing that initial success has been achieved thanks to the initiative.Transalated by Hu Yahui(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)