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Blasts at Sri Lanka hotels and churches kill 156

A string of blasts ripped through high-end hotels and churches holding Easter services in Sri Lanka on Sunday, killing at least 156 people, including 35 foreigners.Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe condemned the attacks as "cowardly" and said the government was working to "contain the situation".Images circulating on social media and local news stations showed extensive damage at one of three churches targeted in the near simultaneous blasts on Sunday morning.Much of the church roof was blown out in the explosion, with roof tiles and splintered wood littering the floor and pools of blood in between wounded worshippers.The injured flooded into local hospitals, where officials reported hundreds of wounded were being admitted.- Police chief warning -AFP / Sébastien CASTERAN Blasts hit Colombo, Negombo and BatticaloaThe nature of the blasts was not immediately clear and there were no immediate claims of responsibility.But documents seen by AFP show that Sri Lanka's police chief Pujuth Jayasundara issued an intelligence alert to top officers 10 days ago, warning that suicide bombers planned to hit "prominent churches"."A foreign intelligence agency has reported that the NTJ (National Thowheeth Jama'ath) is planning to carry out suicide attacks targeting prominent churches as well as the Indian high commission in Colombo," the alert said.The NTJ is a radical Muslim group in Sri Lanka that was linked last year to the vandalisation of Buddhist statues.The first blast was reported at St Anthony's Shrine, a well-known Catholic church in the capital Colombo.AFP / ISHARA S. KODIKARA The first explosions were reported at St Anthony's Shrine (pictured) in Colombo and St Sebastian's Church in the town of Negombo just outside the capitalA second deadly explosion was then confirmed at St Sebastian's, a church in the town of Negombo, north of the capital."A bomb attack to our church, please come and help if your family members are there," read a post in English on the church's Facebook page.Soon after, police confirmed that a third church in the town of Batticaloa had been hit, along with three high-end hotels in the capital.Hospital sources said British, Dutch and American citizens were among the dead, with Britons and Japanese among those injured in the attacks.- 'Cowardly attacks' -President Maithripala Sirisena said in an address that he was shocked by the explosions and appealed for calm, and the prime minister was expected to speak to the media shortly.On Twitter, Wickremesinghe wrote: "I strongly condemn the cowardly attacks on our people today."I call upon all Sri Lankans during this tragic time to remain united and strong. Please avoid propagating unverified reports and speculation. The government is taking immediate steps to contain this situation."AFP / ISHARA S. KODIKARA Police said 42 people were killed in Colombo, where three hotels and a church were hitThe hotels targeted in the attack are all popular destinations for tourists, among them the Cinnamon Grand, which is near the prime minister's official residence in Colombo.An official at the hotel told AFP the blast there had hit the restaurant, and reported at least one person had been killed.At the Shangri-La hotel, an AFP photographer saw extensive damage on the second floor restaurant, with windows blown out and electrical wires hanging from the ceiling.- 'Horrible scenes' -"Emergency meeting called in a few minutes. Rescue operations underway," Sri Lanka's Minister of Economic Reforms and Public Distribution, Harsha de Silva, said in a tweet on his verified account.AFP / ISHARA S. KODIKARA The restaurant area of the luxury Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo was hitHe said he had been to two of the attacked hotels and was at the scene at St Anthony's Shrine, where he described "horrible scenes"."I saw many body parts strewn all over," he tweeted, adding that there were "many casualties including foreigners"."Please stay calm and indoors," he added.Embassies in Colombo warned their citizens to shelter in place, and Sri Lankan Airlines told customers to arrive at the airport four hours ahead of flights because of ramped-up security in the wake of the attacks.Only around six percent of mainly Buddhist Sri Lanka is Catholic, but the religion is seen as a unifying force because it includes people from both the Tamil and majority Sinhalese ethnic groups.There have been no attacks in Sri Lanka linked to foreign Islamist groups, despite local media reports that a 37-year-old Sri Lankan was killed in Syria in 2016 while fighting for the Islamic State group.(AFP)

India’s election brings up key factors for economy

India is currently in its second phase of , which is scheduled to be held in seven phases (votes will be counted on May 23), and the tensions are already rising between incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Bharatiya Janata Party) and challenger Rahul Gandhi (Indian National Congress).The election process in India spans 39 days from April 11 to May 19. There are around 900 million eligible voters in India who will have a say in the direction of the future of the county based on the leader and political party that is elected.A unified country will be needed to achieve India's political and economic goals.India's GDP of 2.6 trillion U.S. dollars has quickly moved up the ranks of the world's largest economies. India is forecasted to surpass the United Kingdom on the fifth rank by the end of 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund.India's GDP for this year is expected to be around 1 trillion U.S. dollars bigger than five years ago. Hence the persuasive rhetoric prevalent in the current election campaign, with the political parties promising to improve the quality of life of Indian citizens and India's global position in the world.But a few critical areas still need to be strengthened to improve India's global position.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his party's election campaign meeting ahead of the General Election of India at Bhawanipatna town, India. /VCG PhotoDigital economyA March 2019 report by the McKinsey Global Institute shows that India is the second fastest-growing market for digital consumers. The headlines usually focus on India's tremendous opportunities in growing mobile phone subscriptions (reaching beyond 1.2 billion people) and tapping in the Indian digital app users (Indians downloaded more than 12 billion apps in 2018).Additionally, the country had 560 million internet subscribers in 2018, trailing only China.The report also highlights newly digitalizing sectors such as agriculture, education, energy, financial services, health care, logistics, and retail, as well as government services and labor markets and their potential in India.These sectors could, on their own, create anywhere from 10 billion U.S. dollars to 150 billion of incremental economic value by 2025. The digital economy could create 60 million to 65 million positions for Indian citizens by 2025. Job creation has been a national hot button in India due to the country's growing population and historic unemployment rate (the latest unemployment data show a rate of 6.1 percent, the highest in the last 45 years).As businesses in India seek to transform at a high rate, the emerging digital economy could provide the means to help put the country at the global forefront.India's growing populationWith the world's second most populous nation after China,major global corporations have taken notice over the past decade of the skilled workforce in India, mostly English-speaking and well-educated. It is well documented that India has become a hub for outsourcing services, from information technology to software development sectors.Supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are seen waving masks and placards of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a mass rally, Kolkata, India, April 4, 2019. /VCG PhotoHowever, India has become more than that due to a diverse economy fueled by the fact that half of India's population are under the age of 25. While many Asian countries are having challenges with workforce planning as their population is aging, it could be the right time for India to mobilize its workforce.Entrepreneurship in all sectors beyond IT is on the rise. In the digital era, the 500 million internet users in India can quickly learn a new skill that is on demand on the job market.Another focus area that needs to be addressed is the income inequality that exists in India. India's success in the future will be tied to its ability to use its high growth potential to provide opportunities for hard-working, diverse citizens to decrease that income gap between those below the international poverty line but also in hopes to reduce the gender gap and be more inclusive of women.Rising citiesThe top 10 fastest-growing cities by GDP between 2019 and 2035 is expected to include the Indian cities of Surat, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad, according to a 2018 Oxford Economics report. The city of Surat will have one of the fastest economic growth rates in the world according to the same report, which specializes in global forecasting and quantitative analysis.Indian laborers stitch apparel in the tailoring section of a textile production unit in the south Indian city of Tiruppur, March 25, 2019. /VCG PhotoSurat is well-known for trading, diamond processing and IT. Bengaluru is often called India's Silicon Valley and Hyderabad, another tech hub, is home to companies like Microsoft, Apple and AmazonA stronger infrastructure could allow more Indian cities to flourish and grow at a similar rate, such as Indore, the largest and most populated city in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh at the country's heart.Being known as an education hub, Indore was not only selected as one of India's cities to be developed as a smart city but has been voted the cleanest city of India three years in a row by the annual Indian survey of cleanliness Swachh Survekshan.Opportunities sometimes seem endless in India, but aunified country is needed for India to be a global economic powerhouse.(CGTN)

Shengsi Islands in eastern China seek to attract more visitors

A promotion event was held in Shanghai on Friday to boost tourism in the Shengsi Islands, located east of Hangzhou Bay, south of the mouth of the Yangtze River in east China's Zhejiang Province.Shengsi will step up integration in the Yangtze River Delta and strengthen cooperation with Shanghai in cultural and tourism industry development, said Shao Lei, the island's governor.The islands may not be familiar to many people, but their subtropical climate, turquoise water, golden sand and peculiar reefs make for a relaxing weekend getaway for many Shanghai and nearby residents.The Shengsi Islands in Zhoushan City, east China's Zhejiang Province. /VCG PhotoComprising 404 small islands, Shengsi boasts amorous scenes of fishing ground and mirage, attracting plenty of fishermen every winter.There are over 50 tourist attractions where you can get access to beautiful natural scenery and traditional fishing customs. Sijiao, the largest island, is the main attraction covering an area of 21.2 square kilometers.The lighthouse on Sijiao Island in east China's Zhejiang Province. /VCG PhotoFrequented by Buddhists, the Dabei Mountain on the island takes you back to ancient China. Also, the top of the mountain is a perfect place for a panoramic view of the beach.The houses along the beach on the Shengsi Islands. /VCG PhotoThe best time to visit is between July and September. You can explore the sumptuous hills, enjoy tons of fresh seafood, and stay a couple of nights at a local BB or minsu.(CGTN)

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)