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Chinese state-owned enterprises will be seeing a lot more of the European Commission in the future. The commission has fined companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover for failing to notify or complete preclearance - even where there were ultimately no competition concerns. The technical reason is this: The commission only reviews deals if the parties generate enough turnover in the EU. Take the recently cleared joint venture between China General Nuclear Power Corporation and French energy company EDF.
Second, once the deal fell within the EU jurisdiction, the commission's competition assessment looked not only at CGN's activities in the nuclear and other energy markets, but at those of all Chinese SOEs - in Europe and around the world. The CGN transaction was ultimately cleared, but this took months of detailed information-gathering and submissions to the commission.
Other deals have involved Chinese SOEs with enough EU turnover of their own to trigger an EU filing without the need to aggregate their turnover with other Chinese SOEs.
This was the case for the acquisition of Pirelli by China National Tyre and Rubber Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of China National Chemical Corp. Up to this point, the commission has tended to widen its net to encompass the turnover and activities of SASAC-controlled SOEs. Chinese SOEs would be wrong to consider these consequences as being limited to deals involving activity in the EU. This means that, for example, a joint venture between a Chinese SOE and a Japanese conglomerate that will only produce and sell goods in China could be caught, provided the Japanese conglomerate has enough EU turnover.
As noted, transactions requiring an EU filing must be cleared by the European Commission before they can be implemented or significant fines can be imposed.
This may be as a result of the deal being reported in the media through notification of another competition authority (for example, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce), or because the parties notify the commission of another deal that refers directly or indirectly to the earlier deal that wasn't the sbuject of a notification. The other implication is that Chinese SOEs notifying about transactions will need to provide information not only about their own activities, but also about other Chinese SOEs in the same or related markets. Chinese SOEs will therefore need to consider their future transactions carefully with their advisers before stepping ahead.
The Centre for European Policy Studies, the European Union's leading think tank, released a report recently outlining reasons why Beijing and Brussels should launch free trade agreement talks. The opinion of most experts is in line with that of the team led by Jacques Pelkmans, a senior research fellow at the CEPS.
Their arguments range from giving China market economy status first to the need to deal with terrorism, the migrant crisis and economic challenges. In addition, they say Brussels is busy talking with Beijing about a bilateral investment agreement, and that it is more willing to conclude and ratify this agreement first before entering into free trade talks.
Compared with Brussels' reaction, Beijing has been more proactive in pushing for such discussions. When President Xi Jinping paid his first visit to the European Union's headquarters in Brussels two years ago, he raised the idea that both sides should do a feasibility study on an FTA. China and the United Kingdom also agreed to push such talks at the Beijing-Brussels level during Xi's visit to the country last year. Pelkmans' team says in its report that Brussels has slowly gotten accustomed to China's urgency. Some may say the market economy of China is not sophisticated enough for Brussels to consider a strategy of combined talks similar to those between Brussels and Washington on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. But Brussels and Beijing are already talking about an investment pact, which aims to achieve "deep and comprehensive" goals. In some ways, the ongoing talks basically show Brussels' recognition of the openness and sophistication of China's economy, which has been developing for decades. What's more, China has already entered into FTAs with a number of non-EU countries in Europe, including Switzerland and Iceland. Some may say that it would be encouraging and promising for both sides to start such talks, but that Brussels is preoccupied with other pressing tasks.
With thousands of bureaucrats in Brussels, there is no problem forming a task force to officially launch feasibility studies with the aim of initiating talks with Beijing. From feasibility studies to ratification, being optimistic, Brussels and Beijing will need at least five years to remove barriers and establish an FTA. Then, negotiators from Beijing and Brussels can engage in the give-and-take process to unlock the great potential that is locked behind trade barriers. Not quite sure what my preconceptions were, but one impression has been shattered - favorably, I might add. Preparing for my first trip to Beijing, I was prepared, based on my previous experience of Asian cities, for teeming, jostling hordes, chaotic traffic, and - for a foreign visitor - completely incomprehensible mass transit systems. Well, this past week I have been proved wrong on many counts, above all about the metro system. And provided you have sussed out your journey with the aid of a metro system map, getting the right train is child's play. I walked past my local station at Huixinxijie Nankou on April 24 twice before realizing that the drab, gray building that looked like an electricity substation was in fact the entrance to the metro system. And I can't put my finger on it, but the anonymity of the subway system's logo doesn't help when trying to find your station. I'm not looking at this through rose-tinted spectacles - my first Beijing subway trip was at the height of the rush hour. Beijing is, like Manhattan, laid out in a logical grid pattern, with broad four-lane boulevards, which somehow lessen the impact of the towering steel and glass skyscrapers. I suspect, however, that the broad boulevards may be the city's undoing when it comes to traffic.
As a Chinese friend pointed out not long after my arrival, China's blooming middle class has come late to mass car ownership. Now the object of desire is a locally built Audi, BMW or Honda, or its Chinese designed and built equivalent. Traffic jams seem to occur at every major road junction, where any semblance of order seems to disappear. Provided you can show the driver your destination written in Chinese or point it out on a map, it's fine. I took a taxi from my apartment block to Tian'anmen Square - a must when you are in Beijing - and it cost me an eminently reasonable 20 yuan, no tip needed.
When I came out to head home, I jumped into a taxi - identical in color to others - to find it had no meter, and the driver demanded 100 yuan for the journey back, no haggling. To this day, I can't work out if it was a cowboy cab, or just one I hadn't been told about. Different parts of China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) have been discussed intensively in recent months. This five-year plan is probably one of the most important documents on the planet when it comes to long-term global security and sustainability.
Before discussing the three key sustainability areas of the plan, a historic perspective is needed to fully understand its importance. This leadership when it comes to strategies for implementation is not because China has better experts, but rather because its planning processes are not held back by old vested interests in the same way as in Western countries.
From a global perspective, three areas are especially important to support and ensure positive development in China that will be crucial for global sustainability. Second, open international innovation platforms for global public goods should be established. Third, it is time to ensure that we can turn global catastrophic risks into drivers for innovation. As acknowledged in the five-year plan, the transition from an old industrial economy based on traditional drivers to a new service economy based on new drivers will be difficult and sometimes painful.
Action in the three areas above will not cost very much, but will be crucial to secure a strategic transition to a sustainable economic system globally and establish a new generation of international collaboration. What overall data don't reveal, however, is how much of that corporate debt was incurred by companies siding with local governments' shaky, if not shady, investment plans, which don't easily generate sound returns, and how much of it is owned by companies destroyed or crippled by mismanagement on the policy level.
A not inconsiderable number of small and medium-sized enterprises (mostly privately owned) may have died miserable deaths due to policies inconsistent with market forces. The boss of a meat-processing company in Beijing complained that, in a time of food inflation after the 2008 financial crisis, the government used to forbid companies like hers from raising product prices even when they had to spend a lot more at the slaughterhouse. Her story illustrates the vulnerability of SMEs to not just changes in market conditions, but also government policies that fail to respond to the changes.
Financial conditions can be equally disappointing in some large state-owned companies, especially those no longer competitive because of their outdated technology and the burden of paying for the benefits of their large and aging workforce.
At times, the disease also affects companies with a technological edge that might help them become industry leaders. With many cases like those cited above, one can imagine that even though data showed some new growth in the first quarter of the year, debt has still kept rolling over in many Chinese companies from several years ago.
In the end, Chinese banks will have to face the shadow from all this buildup of corporate debt at a time when companies have difficulty selling all their inventory. The financial map of China shows, as banking specialists report, a more rapid rise in nonperforming loans (loans that may not be repaid) in the country's central and western regions than its city clusters in the Yangtze River Delta, the Pearl River Delta, and Bohai Bay.
The problem of China's mounting corporate debt won't easily go away even when some of the zombie companies among the SOEs get liquidated - if the government musters the political will.
The danger, for which the central government and the central monetary authority must be prepared, is perhaps that at a certain point in the economy's transition, some extraordinary measures will be needed to cut the general debt level of the companies that are still able to generate new income.
The proposed debt-equity swap is the first plan of this kind, as a design for large companies, although economists warn that the swap can't be used as only another round of bailouts for the companies that have practically lost their core competence and won't ever be able to compete in the real market. Only companies that have reformed their management and shed their redundant work force are eligible for the swap, they say. What may be done more easily for the small companies is to have a general tax cut, as the government is apparently doing, even though it still may take some time for the benefit of the tax cut to be borne out.
Having said all this, one can see that, almost inevitably, 2016 will continue to be a difficult year to manage China's debt problem, although it is also pointless to claim that the problem is here to stay.
While China continues to struggle to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, it has set an ambitious goal to become a dominant football nation in Asia by 2030 and a global power by 2050. The National Development and Reform Commission, the top economic planner, announced the long-term goal this month, and although some fans doubt whether it can be realized, the policy to boost Chinese football is a welcome move. Such plans have been implemented in the past by the traditional Asian powers, Japan and South Korea, as well as World Cup winners Brazil and Germany. In 2013, the South Korean football association set a goal of becoming a top-10 side by 2033 and promised 300 billion won ($260 million; 231 million euros) to support the plan, which also includes increase the number of players to 10 million.
The English Football Association started a grassroots program last year and plans to spend 250 million pounds ($361 million; 321 million euros) to build more fields and train more coaches. After being beaten 7-1 by Germany in the semifinals that year, the host Brazil increased its investment in the youth training. Learning from the experiences of these giants, China has chosen to move on reform track, starting with youth.
According to its short-term plan (2016-20), China will establish a three-tier amateur league that will include grassroots clubs in 100 cities and could involve more than 50 million people. With state support, Chinese football can form a virtuous circle like those in Western and South American countries. Today, if a boy in England wants to play the beautiful game, his parents have only to visit the official website of the sports governing body, the Football Association, and type in their address to get detailed information on a center providing free coaching close to their home. To test the effectiveness of China's reform, a good criterion may be to check after a decade or so whether a young Chinese person can find a training academy as easily as an English peer. The manganese steel boiler rumor has been so widespread that people in the southern city of Guangzhou have made a beeline to buy glass boilers to replace them. Even though one scientist after another has explained that WiFi signals have nothing to do with radioactive materials such as those used in nuclear power plants, people still do not believe them, because it requires too much background information to understand how WiFi signals are transmitted.
Had people got the full information on the blasts, the actual damage caused and the chemicals released into the air, such misinformation would not have spread.
Some rumors are targeted at specific groups, such as senior citizens or the parents of students. Even after the World Health Organization issued an official statement saying the biggest risk such vaccines carry is being ineffective, many people kept spreading the rumor; some even refused to get their children vaccinated. This is a typical example of a rumor that takes advantage of people's psychological weakness.
To quash rumors about technologies, it is best to expand popular science education, promote transparency and take strict action against rumormongers, or those who spread lies to make profits.
How to deal with the unprecedented security threats that Asia faces tops the agenda at the two-day Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, which opened in Beijing on Thursday. In particular, the shadows of war looming over the Korean Peninsula, as a result of the repeated nuclear and missile tests by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in defiance of the latest UN Security Council resolution, and the tensions building up in the South China Sea as a result of the frequent "freedom of navigation" operations being conducted by the United States, which challenge China's maritime sovereignty, pose severe and worsening threats to regional peace and stability. They also risk compromising economic prosperity in Asia, which accounts for more than one-third of the world's GDP and is home to 60 percent of the world's population. Failures to solve these and other issues have partly stemmed from a lack of trust among the countries involved, and each pursuing its own national interests. Participants at the conference should make the best use of the platform to try and build up trust and explore ways to set up a new framework that defines regional security cooperation on a larger scale. Addressing the opening ceremony of the fifth CICA foreign ministers' meeting, President Xi Jinping stressed China's resolve to prevent "war or chaos" on the Korean Peninsula and to achieve its denuclearization through dialogue and consultation. And he reiterated that, while China will firmly safeguard its sovereignty, rights and interests, it is willing to engage in friendly consultations and dialogues to make the South China Sea "a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation".
China, the largest country in Asia and a UN Security Council permanent member, now holds the rotating presidency of the CICA, and it is determined to play its due part in safeguarding and promoting security in Asia in a responsible way. As Xi said, China is committed to forging a new kind of international relations featuring cooperation and reciprocity.
Which was reflected in the State Oceanic Administration's news the same day that it is working on a new plan for cooperation in the South and East China seas by focusing on partnerships between China and ASEAN and East Asian countries.
The government's decision to turn to Western public relations companies to tell "China stories" has drawn much attention both at home and abroad.
It is reported that five international PR companies have now offered "China promotion" programs to the Information Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet. While any decision is yet to be made and the actual effects of the new form remain unknown, such an approach should still be applauded.
There do exist complicated factors behind the foreign media's failure to cover China in an objective way, but this is also to a large extent related to the rigid, stereotyped manner officially used by the government. Besides, the promotion of China's image in other countries has been excessively focused on local governments and elite circles in the past, while ignoring ordinary people, causing polarized impressions of China among the official and non-official circles in other countries.
The past publicity approach is far from enough to present foreign audiences with a genuine picture of China today after the rapid economic and social changes that have taken place since the launch of reform and opening-up. While making huge efforts to improve its image to foreign countries at the official level, efforts to open the "last mile" of road to improve its image overseas on the individual level is also necessary. THE STATE COUNCIL held a news conference on food security on Tuesday, in which it explained the recent rapid increase in grain imports despite the huge domestic reserves.
Since the 2008 global financial crisis, the global grain market has changed because the supply has increased greatly while the demand declined.
China currently produces 600 million tons of grain, which barely meet the domestic demand; additionally it must import 60 million tons of beans to support its food processing industries.
Besides market competition, many countries consider grain a strategic material, and they may curb exports when they find China is in huge need of them.
Of course, the grain importing companies can improve on the policy, too, by better storing and selecting grain and negotiating better prices in the global market. PREMIER LI KEQIANG visited a town in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province, on Monday, during which he played badminton with a robot. In order to play badminton, a droid needs high-accuracy vision and image processing, as well as precise motion control.
In this process, the most important technology is high-accuracy vision, because the robot needs it to recognize the shuttlecock and make its move. In industrial automation, the technology can measure as accurately as 0.1 millimeter, and it is necessary for self-driving cars.
Early in 2011, Zhejiang University developed Wu and Kong, two special sporting droids, which could play table tennis with each other and with human players. AFTER DISCOVERING a crack in a road, Li Weiqi, an auxiliary traffic police officer in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang province, East China, promptly directed traffic around it while four of his colleagues placed cones around it. A lot of people remarked when forwarding the video that the officers did their duty with humble hearts, and their actions showed their dedication to their job. While delivering a speech on Sino-Japanese relations on Monday, Kishida mentioned his first visit to Beijing since Shinzo Abe took office as Japanese prime minister in December 2012.
Kishida's proposal is not new, though, because similar attempts have been made in the past to improve relations between the two neighbors. On the one hand, these unsolved problems have dealt a major blow to the political trust between the two countries. That the two governments think and act differently when it comes to defending their national interests is primarily responsible for the vicious diplomatic circle that continues. Although open to bilateral meetings, China believes that both sides should take a step back before the negotiation falls into a game of pointing fingers.
To put an end to the finger-pointing circle, Japan, first of all, must stop encroaching upon China's strategic interests like it did before and during World War II, because China is willing to and well capable of safeguarding its sovereignty. On its part, Beijing should neither shut the door to leadership meetings with Tokyo nor turn a blind eye to the significance of high-level communications, outcomes aside.
That requires Chinese decision-makers to look squarely at the need to hold diplomatic talks with Japan. As head of the Mei Lanfang Peking Opera Troupe, Mei Baojiu trained the next generations of artists and during his 70 years on stage, took 70 disciples.
Mei Baojiu's father, whose parents and even grandparents were actors, too, rose to almost super-human fame in the 1930s and 1940s, in no small parts due to the foreign press, to the point when Mei Lanfang became synonymous with Peking Opera. Mei Baojiu, during his final 10 years, realized two things: First, the grand plays and the history of Peking Opera must be part of the national curriculum (done, since 2008).
Indeed, at no time in its history has Peking Opera enjoyed more prestige: Performances are organized from New York to Tokyo, from Munich to Edinburgh.
Sheng Laiyun, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics, says that judging from the positive changes of these key indicators, we can safely conclude that a good start has been made for China's economic growth for the whole of 2016. But Zhao Xijun, deputy director of the School of Finance, Renmin University of China, says more time is needed to make an accurate judgment about the future trend of China's economy, because non-governmental investment is not so good despite the accelerated growth in investment. Although the Producer Price Index stayed generally above 50 percent, small and medium-sized enterprises still face a hard time, which means the government has to make greater efforts to activate their business activities. Although the 6.7 percent growth is slightly lower than that in previous quarter, China's macroeconomic performance is better than market expectations in terms of composite prices, fixed-asset investment, and total currency and credit volumes. Aside from improving macroeconomic indexes, people have confidence in China's economy also because of the smooth progression of the ongoing economic restructuring, which includes intensive fiscal policies comprising increased infrastructure investment, the recovery of the real estate sector and a loose monetary policy that has reduced enterprises' financing costs. But there is no reason to be over-optimistic about the dynamics of the "economic recovery". Whether or not China works out follow-up financial and tax policies will decide whether its economic recovery will continue. Even before the publication of first-quarter data by the National Bureau of Statistics, a series of positive signals, such as the rise in the official Purchase Managers' Index in the past eight months and a considerable increase in non-manufacturing PMI, suggested a better economic performance. The PMI of 50.2 percent in the manufacturing sector in March was seen by many as a sign of China's economy gaining steam after bottoming out.
In the short term, the stable economic recovery may lower the possibility of further interest rate cuts, thus easing the pressure for the yuan's depreciation. In Shanghai, the subway is an efficient and environmental friendly means of mass transportation for the 24 million residents in a city where streets are increasingly clogged by the growing number of cars and where air is often filled with car exhaust fumes.
The average daily number of rides on the Shanghai Metro has already exceeded 9 million and is on the way to hitting 10 million. Yet while it is a great way to get around the city, the lack of etiquette on the subway has become a major hazard, especially during daily rush hours. The great thing, compared with previous years, is that most people are finally lining up to get on the train, but that does not mean they will let people get off first. Although Chinese rarely hug each other, even family members, that is not the case in the Shanghai Metro. Such intimacy is truly embarrassing and almost never happens in Washington and New York, where the rush-hour subway is also extremely crowded. While "excuse me" is among the very first English phrases learned by those mostly young folks during Shanghai's rush hours, they don't use it at all.
What's worse is that those not getting off will often block the door instead of stepping out first to leave a passage for others. Once out of the car towards the exit escalators, most Shanghai riders do not observe the "stand on the right and walk on the left" rule despite public campaign promoting those rules in the past years. As someone who likes to walk up the escalators as an exercise, I find few Shanghai subway users do, and they will stand on both sides.
And that could also be the case for many other Chinese cities operating and building their subways. As announced by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Wednesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida will finally make a three-day visit to Beijing tomorrow, a visit he and his government have eagerly anticipated.
This is understandable considering the strained bilateral ties and, more recently, the Tokyo-orchestrated G7 declaration on the East and South China seas. Tokyo has appeared anxious for high-level exchanges, but it has a lot to clarify and explain to Beijing.
The Shinzo Abe administration has a serious credibility problem in handling relations with neighboring countries, China in particular, so Beijing's frustration and disappointment is justifiable as well as understandable. As both Beijing and Tokyo have admitted, however, the two countries are inescapable neighbors. Some may resist such a meeting at such a juncture, believing the atmosphere is simply not right. That is exactly why Japan's top diplomatic envoy is arriving in town tomorrow and planning to stay till Sunday. Like his colleagues at home, Kishida may go back on his words soon after he returns from a China visit. After all, he had just talked about establishing a new kind of bilateral relations "commensurate with the new times".


Like it or not, Beijing and Tokyo have to communicate and coordinate on many thorny issues, of which the sanctions on Pyongyang is one.
And it does matter how China and Japan manage their relationship and if they get along well. Since its "return to Asia", the United States is increasingly using the South China Sea as an arena in which to wrestle with China, as indicated by its sending warplanes into the airspace near China's reefs and islands or sailing warships through the 12-nautical-mile waters around the isles in a move to escalate its military deployment in the region. From the "not-by-name" criticism of China by the G7 at a recent meeting in Japan, to a military deal struck with the Philippines aimed at strengthening their joint naval patrols, the sailing of a Japanese quasi-aircraft carrier to the South China Sea, and encouraging more of its allies to join the game, it seems the US is intent on encircling China.
US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, in particular, is doing what he can to peddle a "China containment" scheme. The South China Sea territorial disputes are between China and other claimant countries, but increasingly these are becoming an issue between the US and China. Without the support of the US, such countries as Vietnam and the Philippines would not have been emboldened to openly confront China.
The freedom of navigation in the South China Sea has never been impeded by China, but the US perception that the waters are where its core interest lies has caused Washington to break its promise "not to take sides" in deeds. This self-conceived idea of the South China Sea being a core interest is why Washington is seeking to engage in the area. Despite the seemingly disadvantageous position it is in, China has to be patient and make ceaseless efforts to develop and build up its national strength. A NUMBER OF illegal blood exchanges have been unveiled in an undercover report based in the First Affiliated Hospital of Soochow University, East China's Jiangsu province.
Due to the country's serious shortage of blood resources, hospitals are only allowed to use their blood stocks when a patient is dying, meaning that those in less critical conditions who require blood are supposed to turn to friends or relatives for blood donations. However, many of the donors turn out to be strangers paid by the "blood dealers", who sell their donations for about four to five times higher than the regular price to patients in need.
The blood donor rate in China was about 0.95 percent of its population in 2014, less than the 3 percent needed to meet the basic needs of the country. This means if the off-the-record blood trade is curbed, hospitals will not have enough blood to treat all the patients who need a blood transfusions.
And in the face of stricter restrictions, blood dealers will be more careful, keeping their business under the radar, which may mean patients have to pay more for blood donations. In other words, simply punishing the wrongdoers will not serve as a fundamental cure to the nationwide blood shortage. Also, more efforts have to be made to cut the red tape in both donation and use of blood, especially when the donors and receivers are not in the same city. CHINA'S GRAIN output was 621 million tons last year, the 12th consecutive year the country's grain yield increased. The voices calling for abolishing grain subsidies at home and increasing grain imports are louder than ever before. But policymakers should be clearheaded that farmers may not choose to grow grain anymore if they don't receive subsidies, which means the country would have to rely on imports which poses a risk to the nation's food security. Many developed countries and regions subsidize their farmers to ensure grain self-sufficiency.
A GROUP OF middle-school students in Bozhou, East China's Anhui province, refused to hand in their examination papers to an invigilator and even attacked him. The authorities have ignored the difference between right and wrong and hurt the teacher's professional dignity. The "solution" has also exposed the authorities' ignorance of the basic rules of education.
Based on the understanding of the concept of equal rights, it has become a general consensus to build some kind of teacher-student relationship.
Although teachers and students are equal as human beings, students are under the guardianship of the teachers in schools.
The replacement of business tax with VAT will eliminate multiple taxes on the same products and help the market play a more decisive role in resource distribution.
Propelling the all-round pilot reform is not an easy task, however, because it involves so many industries. VAT collection and management, however, can become easier if local tax officials, who have abundant experiences in the field, closely cooperate with the national tax authority. During the initial stages of the pilot reform, the newly collected VAT revenue was allocated to the local authorities, which won the support of local governments and helped promote the program.
Owing to technological progress and the development of emerging industries, the distinctions among various industries are becoming more and more vague, which means there should be a more appropriate way of dividing the VAT revenue between the central and local governments.
In the short term, it would be more pragmatic to increase the proportion of local authorities' share in the VAT revenue if there is no fundamental reform in fiscal relations between the central and local governments.
The all-round pilot tax reform faces challenges, but it provides a very good opportunity to the authorities to correct the errors in the tax system by, for example, establishing a normative VAT system through legislation as soon as possible. The possible legislation should consider merging (and gradually reducing) the different tax rates into the VAT to simplify the new tax structure.
Besides, the possible VAT legislation should properly deal with tax exemptions for special industries, including finance and agriculture, in order to establish a modern VAT system.
The author is a researcher at the National Academy of Economic Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The US and the Philippines recently conducted their annual joint military exercise, called Balikatan 2016(Shoulder-to-Shoulder 2016). The Philippines has been the main focus of the US since it's the only Washington ally that has a dispute with China in the South China Sea.
For the US, its increased military presence in the South China Sea is essential to fulfill its security commitments to its allies, particularly the Philippines. China and the US have recently intensified their power struggle in the South China Sea because of their competing security interests and strategic outlooks. Manila has a pivotal role to play, in preventing or exacerbating the possibility of an unintended military conflict between the two giants. But if the Philippines fails to improve its relations with China while continuously enhancing its defense alliance with the US, it can become a catalyst for the proverbial "Thucydides trap" in the vast sea where China and the US could collide.
The author teaches international studies at Miriam College in Quezon city of the Philippines, and is director of the Center for Intelligence and National Security Studies. The grand prophecy, however, will not come true unless all countries take immediate action to tread the green path to economic growth.
This is why it was inspiring to see the installation of several recharging stations for electric cars in the parking lot of my residential community at the weekend. Electric car owners in the community had a tough time recharging their vehicles with makeshift equipment. The installation of a couple of new recharging stations has made life much easier for people who own the electric cars in the community. The sales of new-energy vehicles, including all-electric and hybrid cars, in the country more than tripled last year thanks to substantial government subsidies.
The subsidy scandals and the subsequent slowing of sales growth, however, will cast a shadow on the green vehicle sector in China, which is caught between the need to sustain the development of the world's largest auto market and the urgency to cut emissions from cars that have been choking major cities.
As such, Chinese policymakers have to take effective measures to increase the share of new-energy cars in the domestic auto market, which saw 6.53 million vehicles being sold in the first quarter of the year. Therefore, policymakers have no choice but to strengthen supervision on government subsidies for electric cars which will allow dubious claimants to be punished and real pioneers to receive the benefits. Moreover, policymakers should double their efforts to boost something they are good at - infrastructure investment - this time to help dramatically increase the use of electric cars. The sales of green cars have been disproportionately higher than the installation of recharging facilities in recent years and that has dampened consumers' enthusiasm to buy new-energy vehicles. That more recharging stations are being installed in public places as well as residential communities in Beijing is a clear sign that local authorities are determined to see the expansion of the new-energy vehicle sector.
Nevertheless, the very importance of green cars for the city's, the country's and global efforts to combat climate change should make the investment in recharging facilities worthy of the cause that global leaders agreed to fight for on Earth Day. This is the 40-something Yu's first trip to Japan; he speaks not a single word of Japanese. Yu rode a bicycle to Mashiki to help with the rescue and relief work during the day and returned to sleep in one of the evacuation centers in Kumamoto city at night. China-funded companies and organizations based in Japan, too, have opened their wallets and hearts to help the quake survivors by raising 18 million yen ($161,000). After a run of decisions by the EU regulator, such businesses are much more likely to have to file deals in the EU than Chinese private-sector businesses, or indeed SOEs from other countries. Filing deals can be time-consuming and expensive, with large information requests from the regulator. When it comes to a Chinese SOE, the commission takes the view that it is insufficiently autonomous of the Chinese state. When a deal is caught by the EU, the commission then has to decide if it raises any competition concerns.
It also means that much more data needs to be gathered and provided to the commission - not just about the SOE doing the deal, but also about all Chinese SOEs in the sector. The commission only looked at the deal, which involves the construction and operation of three nuclear power plants in the United Kingdom, because CGN is a Chinese SOE. And this was a deal that, according to the commission, ultimately did not raise any competition concerns.
But they have still had to contend with a competitive assessment that has taken into account the activities of other Chinese SOEs. It was also the case in relation to the joint venture between DSM and Sinochem in the chemicals sector.
Indeed, most of the deals it has reviewed have involved SOEs operating in key markets that tend to be the preserve of SASAC SOEs.
Given that there are thousands of such businesses in China, the information-gathering involved may be harder than counting the bricks in the Great Wall. A joint venture between two non-EU businesses may trigger EU jurisdiction, even if the joint venture will not be at all active in the EU, providing the two parent groups have sufficient EU turnover from their other unrelated activities.
Even if the Chinese SOE does not have enough turnover in the EU, the turnover of its sister Chinese SOEs may push the deal over the jurisdictional line.
Not only can they be imposed, but they almost certainly will be imposed if the commission learns of them.
Notified cases involving Chinese SOEs are therefore likely to require longer prenotification discussions with the commission (or, if this is not done, the risk of such cases being referred to a detailed phase 2 investigation will increase).
However, there have been voices saying that, although it would benefit both sides to reach a deep and comprehensive free trade deal, it is too early to take action right now. The country stated in a recent foreign policy update that entering FTAs with its partners is at the top of its agenda.
So it is not reasonable for Brussels to postpone the FTA because of China's lack of market economy status. They treat China as a market economy, and the agreements have already boosted trade flows by big margins.
However, the leadership, especially top European leaders, should keep the big picture in mind even when dealing with the different crises the EU faces.
China is undergoing decisive reforms, so launching free trade talks could also speed up domestic reforms. The most important thing now is for the leaders of both sides to take the first step and agree to launch a feasibility study at their annual summit this year. All the stations are labeled in Chinese and Roman script on maps, and once you've picked which line and boarded your train, a helpful sign above the doors illuminates with a green light for the next station, and a soothing female voice alerts you just before arrival, and again on arrival, to the station in Mandarin and English.
It wasn't unpleasant, and we were all happy in the knowledge that we were dodging the undoubted traffic jams above our heads. Certainly you feel less claustrophobic than in, say, downtown New York City or London's central financial district. I'm told that the route out to the airport is almost permanently backed up because of a series of ill-designed junctions en route. Few, if any, speak any English - fair enough, as London isn't exactly littered with Mandarin-speaking cabbies. Now, after the National People's Congress has approved the plan, it is time to put the full final document in a global context.
There are many aspects that deserve further elaboration, but three parts are of particular importance for governments, companies and NGOs around the world that want to support global sustainability. If implemented successfully, the 13th Five-Year Plan would position China as the global leader when it comes to the next economic revolution.
The result is a strategy in which, instead of setting the old economy against the new, China focuses on how the old industries can help and be helped in the transition to the connected and sustainable service economy.
These new models will be based on concepts such as connectivity, sharing, circular economy, networked solutions, transformative transparency, and global sustainability. Among the actions needed in China and abroad are a review of current incentive structures, new guidance for public procurement, smarter taxation, and a review of old laws that today support old unsustainable companies while holding back new sustainable clusters of companies. Support for the establishment of a permanent international coordinating body for global public goods is one important aspect. There are already a number of challenges, such as climate change, biodiversity loss and nuclear weapons where better collaboration is needed. The international support for global sustainability that the 13th Five-Year Plan can deliver must begin now. He works with companies, governments and NGOs as a strategic economic, technology and innovation adviser.
That is how much debt, or indebtedness, it can manage, now that, according to a recent Bloomberg report, the economy's overall indebtedness was 246.8 percent of its GDP in 2015, higher than 2008 by 80 percentage points. Deteriorating more rapidly than the country's GDP growth was the financial health of many companies. The boss of a privately owned producer of machine parts in Wuxi, an industrial town in southern Jiangsu province, reported that he hasn't seen any return from his new factory to supply quality steel pipes for nuclear power stations for two years because of the government's across-the-board ban on the development of such projects after Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
The weaker and smaller that companies are, the more easily they tend to be dragged down by debt. As a result, the South Korean men's national team now plays more friendlies with top teams, while the country has also won the right to host the 2017 Under-20 World Cup. Thanks to decades of efforts, it now has a multi-tiered league made up of 28,000 teams and 4.8 million players, which is equal to Italy. During 2001 and 2002, clubs nationwide began setting up training schools for children, drawing the young generation back to the game. Last year, the football-crazy nation set up a new national training center for talented youngsters. About 70,000 pitches will be built, while the number of schools specializing in football training is set to increase from 8,000 to 20,000. Unlike ones about social incidents, they have one thing in common: fabricating the negative effects certain modern technological breakthroughs have on human health.
Unless a person majors in natural science or engineering, compulsory education remains his or her main source of knowledge about science. The rumor mills use words that an average person is familiar with but does not fully understand. Fourth on the top-10 list is about the Tianjin blasts on Aug 12, which destroyed chemical tanks. When it comes to their children's safety, many parents choose to believe in rumors to avoid complications rather than taking real preventive measures.
In other words, only when people get enough and proper information will they stop believing in rumors associated with technologies. But efforts must be made right now to establish such partnerships and a rule-based crisis-control mechanism in Asia. The different publicity perspectives used for domestic and foreign readers often leave an overseas impression of "hypocrisy". Any regime changes in foreign countries may also cause inconsistency in those countries' attitudes toward China. Indeed, cooperation with Western public relations companies in itself is a new "China story". Considering the appreciation of the renminbi against the main global currencies, grain importing has become a profit-making business. It has once again emphasized the need to defend food security and decrease the country's reliance on the global market. The supply in the global market is 300 million tons at the most and more than 70 nations are trying to buy them. It has to recognize the shuttlecock in flight and calculate its trajectory and then anticipate where it can hit the shuttlecock. High-accuracy vision means the droid takes photos with two cameras installed in its eyes, and finds the object's exact location by comparing their pictures.
Now it is widely used in robot navigation, 3-dimensional measuring, as well as Virtual Reality, which has suddenly gained popularity. In that sport, the robots need to recognize the ball more precisely than in playing badminton. Although not thrilling, it demonstrated the efficiency of the substitute officers, which is worthy of praise.
Nobody takes responsibility for a damaged pavement or manhole cover; nobody repairs dilapidated pipelines, or sewers that cause accidents, even deaths.
In addition to praising the officers, we should all learn from them and do our jobs with due diligence.
He said, "the only choice" for the two countries is to try to contribute to the world through friendship and cooperation, and urged both sides to expand cooperation and improve understanding and trust between their peoples. But that Beijing-Tokyo ties still worsened has a lot to do with some inescapable yet game-changing disputes over, for example, the territorial status of the Diaoyu Islands, how Japan sees its militarist past, and its increasingly clear military ambitions. On the other hand, the rigidness of the two countries' stances could lead bilateral relationship further astray. Finding it difficult to understand Japan's refusal to compromise, the Chinese government has been questioning whether Tokyo is sincere in pushing for diplomatic dialogues and will fight back when it seeks to infringe on Beijing's legal interests.
Regular high-level exchanges can be a small leap for both countries, too, as long as they are candid and honest. However, only his youngest son from his second marriage, Mei Baojiu, followed into his father's footsteps, at the age of 10.
And second, Peking Opera must be brought, if subsidized (as opera is in Germany, say), to international audiences. In fact, Chinese Opera is technically the biggest in the world: Germany has 80 opera ensembles, China 1,000. Perhaps because of the emerging positive signals, the International Monetary Fund recently raised its forecast for China's growth in the next two years by 0.2 percentage points, compared with its lowered growth forecast for many other economies. In fact, China's industrial production, fixed-asset investment and consumption have seen a steady rise.
Other analysts, too, believe China's economy will stop sliding and, instead, begin to stabilize as more signs point to domestic enterprises facing a better future.
Nevertheless, China should focus not only on the rate of its economic growth but also the quality of growth. Despite the slight decline, the 6.7 percent growth in the face of complicated economic circumstances at home and abroad testifies to the government's admirable macro-regulation capability. The encouraging first-quarter data, to a large extent, should be attributed to the increase in real estate and infrastructure investments, which are closely related to the loose monetary policy.
But in the context of the ongoing economic restructuring, the evidently improved economic situation will give China a bigger space to implement the needed reforms. But from the middle- and long-term perspective, whether China's economic recovery will continue still depends on whether structural reforms are effectively implemented to make economic operations more efficient. Now the network, 617 kilometers in total, is larger than that in London, New York and Moscow, although it will be overtaken in a few years by Beijing which has an ambitious construction plan underway. You will be forced to have free hugs from strangers in a packed car, which are so packed that some say you need to take a run up to get on. Maybe they are just exhausted after the horrible rush hour ride, an exercise itself indeed. And for Shanghai, the route length is expected to reach 800 km by 2020, with a total of 18 lines and some 500 stations, New York City, at 469, has the most subway stations in the world at present.
Not to say they have grown too dependent on each other economically to pretend they can live well without dealing with the other. It will be interesting to hear how he explains Tokyo's recent moves that were provocative to China. That leaves enough room for the blood dealers to rake in huge profits in illegal blood exchanges, as patients have no choice but to pay extra money to save their lives. The priority for the authorities is to establish a transparent donation and compensation mechanism for donors to encourage more people to donate blood.
Yet, 20 percent of the growth is the result of technological progress and the use of chemical fertilizers, and the remainder from the willingness of farmers to grow grain because of the incentive of government subsidies. The school authorities' response has been to ask the two parties to apologize to each other.
Recent years have seen quite a few incidents of students creating brawls in exam halls and invigilators trying to defend themselves.
The teacher-student relationship has been equated with that between consumers and service providers, which is worse than violating the interests of teachers.
However, equality of persons in education does not mean teachers and students have equal powers and rights. The pilot program of replacing business tax with VAT will be extended to the remaining four sectors - property, construction, finance and consumer services - to cover all goods and services. To push forward the reform, therefore, the national tax authority and local tax bureaus have to deepen their cooperation. For tax collection and management, however, local tax bureaus have to employ huge human, physical and financial resources. After all, one of the main reasons for the tax reform is to integrate national and local taxes in order to improve tax services and reduce taxpayers' burden. But with the all-round implementation of tax reform, this arrangement has to be changed, because it is equal to dividing the VAT revenue between the central and local authorities on the basis of classification of industries. If the local government's share of the VAT revenue could increase to 50 percent from the current 25 percent, it may solve the problem of insufficient local fiscal revenue.


In addition, the range of VAT input tax deduction should be further regulated, because neutral VAT requires only levying tax on the added value parts.
This has resulted in disputes because of the US' regular deployment of advanced American aircraft and warships pursuing "freedom of navigation operations" in the region. The primary focus of the drill was to help the Philippine military improve its capability for "territorial defense" against the backdrop of rising tensions in the South China Sea.
The Philippines is also the US' front line state in the pursuit of enacting the US policy in the South China Sea, because it provides the US military effective access to the waters as Washington implements its "rebalance to Asia" strategy. Though Washington publicly declares that its increased naval and air presence in the South China Sea is not aimed at confronting Beijing militarily, China regards the US military presence as a form of strategic encirclement of the country. Though the South China Sea is not yet a military problem, increased military activities by the two major powers have increased the risk of unintended military conflicts in the area.
To repair its damaged ties with Beijing, Manila has to resume direct bilateral talks by reopening channels of communication at the highest levels of decision-making. This shows local authorities in Beijing are doing their bit to help the city embrace electric cars.
Stories about some electric car owners having to wait until midnight for their turn at the recharging stations were not uncommon. The number of electric cars may be small compared with the more than 1,000 gas-engine cars in the community, but it signals a new beginning for these cleaner vehicles in the city. Although scandals involving companies trying to cheat the government out of subsidies earlier this year slowed the sales of new-energy cars, the first quarter saw a 100 percent increase in their sales year-on-year.
Since less than 1 percent of the cars in China are electric, the sales of green cars have to increase dramatically to help build a low-carbon future. They should also welcome competition from Western manufacturers like Tesla if they consider the amazing rise of a number of world-class smartphone makers in China since the introduction of Apple's iPhones as a positive sign.
But the failures of previous infrastructure programs such as installation of electronic information billboards at bus stations and useless parking meters along the roads require the authorities to exercise caution while investing in public infrastructure.
After watching the earthquake jolt Kumamoto on TV, he packed his bags and came to what should be a strange place for him to lend a helping hand. It therefore counts not only the turnover of the Chinese SOE doing the deal, but also the turnover of all other Chinese SOEs (or at least those controlled by China's State Assets Supervision and Administrative Commission).
For example, does the deal involve a significant overlap between the parties in an already concentrated market? If it had been a private company, the deal would not have fallen within the EU jurisdiction, as the company's sales in Europe are far below the threshold. Paris has its instantly recognizable M, usually atop some art deco style ironwork, while Moscow's underground rail system stations sport a huge, distinctive red letter M. One slightly bizarre note - on a patch of real grass near my office someone has carefully filled in a bare patch with plastic AstroTurf. Now, China is moving so fast into uncharted territories that it is hard to use any country as inspiration to any significant degree. On the research side, it is now on the same level as the European Union, Japan and the United States. For new business models to be sustainable they must deliver solutions that are so resource efficient that 10 billion people or more can use the service without destroying the planet. New business models often are much more resource efficient, using information and communication technology together with new materials and robotic solutions, so it is important that the benefits are shared within society. It could also include strategic support for smart city development in China that supports an accelerated uptake of a new generation of sustainable solutions around the world.
But there are also emerging challenges in areas such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology and artificial intelligence.
The old economy is destroying the planet and is not resource efficient enough to allow the approximately 10 billion people that will live on the planet by 2100 to live a good life. Indeed, other than household debt, which had a very low starting point, corporate debt saw the largest increase from 2008 to 2015, by more than 60 percentage points.
But that knowledge may not be enough to understand some technologies we use in daily life, let alone those applied in modern industries.
The rumor is that the blasts caused a cyanide leak that could poison people in Beijing if they get wet in the rain. Soon after the recent scandal over the illegal sales of expired or improperly stored vaccines, a rumor spread that such vaccines could lead to severe health problems, even death.
It is hard to root out such misinformation because people not fully informed tend to flow with the tide.
Instead of a technological breakthrough, the droid that plays badminton in Chengdu can be better called a good, practical model that uses these technologies. Li and his colleagues did their best to fulfill their duties to the best of their abilities. The actions of the Hangzhou officers are in stark contrast with the irresponsibility of others charged with serving the public. Instead, Japan's senior officials keep requesting to meet their foreign counterparts to reiterate Tokyo's claim (and improve their approval ratings in the country), in the hope that the latter offer a compromise and save them from doing so. His older sister, Mei Baoyue, also a gifted opera artist, played mostly Sheng, or male roles. The Mei family had always insisted that it's jing, not yang - from xiyang - meaning Western.
The Mei Pai (Mei School) of Peking Opera, for example, is considered zhongyong, or moderate. The Stiftung Oper in Berlin reports that the average opera-goer in Germany is 51 years old.
The Mei family saga is more fascinating, perhaps, than the fictional Buddenbrooks (by Thomas Mann): add the cross-dressing male divas and the spectacular kitsch and klimbimof reenacting Ming and Qing dynasties' eccentricities. That's why it is puzzling that the Bozhou school authorities asked the teacher to apologize to the students. Teachers and students cannot be equals when it comes to teaching and examinations, especially in schools where minors are students.
Because minors are intellectually and physically immature, they often fail to properly recognize their own interests. VAT will be levied with different tax rates to ensure the implementation of the tax reform and ease the tax burden on various industries. So after the pilot reform of replacing business tax with VAT, the national tax authority's workload will greatly increase, because this round of trial reform will involve more than 11 million enterprises and over 2 trillion yuan in tax revenue. The two major powers have accused each other of "militarizing" the South China Sea disputes. So far, the US has conducted two major "freedom of navigation operations" in the South China Sea using guided-missile destroyers USS Lassen in October 2015 and USS Curtis Wilbur in January 2016. This year's drill was the 32nd Balikatan between the two allies, but it also involved two other US military allies, Japan and Australia. The fear of US encirclement, in turn, has prompted China, too, to increase its presence in the South China Sea by building islands on the seven reefs of Nansha Islands (called Spratlys in the Philippines). Though public opinion in the Philippines continues to reject Chinese buildup in the Nansha Islands, Filipinos continue to admire China's culture, civilization and economic prosperity as evidenced by the growing number of Filipino visits and investments in China.
And of the 58,125 such vehicles sold, 42,131 were electric cars, up 140 percent year-on-year. The commission would normally look at the activities of the parties directly involved in the deal.
It is only because the commission aggregated CGN's sales with those of other SOEs that these thresholds were met. The transition from an old industrial economy to a new and sustainable service economy also requires the kind of systemic overview that the plan provides.
But when it comes to actually ensuring implementation for the transition, the five-year plan is ahead and is a global reference document.
If sharing is not ensured, inequity on the national and international levels is likely to explode, given already unsustainable levels today. An average person may know the two words but may not understand how WiFi works and what radioactivity actually means.
Given the bleakness of bilateral ties in recent years, his visit will be closely watched as it is the first meeting between foreign ministers of the two countries in more than four years. Something so simple would make traveling on the subway easier and more pleasant for everyone. If China increases its grain imports, it will probably stimulate higher global grain prices and make the conditions in these countries even worse. The US Navy has also strengthened its military presence in the region and its warships have made port calls to Asian allies, particularly the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Australia. The US is convinced that China's "artificial" islands in the Nansha Islands can have no other but military purpose.
In fact, most of the presidential candidates for the May 2016 Philippine elections say they would improve Manila's relations with Beijing if elected. He said his experience as a volunteer in Wenchuan, Southwest China's Sichuan province, which was devastated by a powerful quake in 2008, inspired him to lend a helping hand in Mashiki. But when it comes to Chinese SOEs, the commission has been looking at the activities of all other Chinese SOEs in the relevant market, not just the ones doing the deal. The move will reduce the government's tax revenue by more than 500 billion yuan ($76.99 billion), but simultaneously it will ease the tax burden of enterprises. As China's neighbor and the US' long-time ally, the Philippines has been strategic in its unique role.
In this sense, the tax reform shows the government is serious about helping enterprises tide over the tough economic situation and further stabilize the macroeconomy. Nestles is recomended only for advanced surfers.Click the photo below to view Nestles video.
A male enters: 6-inch-high-heels, enormous facial expression, effortless walk, gestures rehearsed a million times. P-Land is recomended for intermediate to advanced surfers.Click the photo below to view P-Lands album. Click the photo below to see The Points album.Fishing Panama, Surfer ParadiseFishing in the Gulf of Chiriqui region is regarded as a world class fishing destination. There have been many write-ups in sport fishing magazines about the marlin, sailfish, Wahoo and tuna that have been caught in this area.We operate primarily as a surf camp. Fishing off the boats is offered at no charge as the boat captains drive around the surf breaks keeping an eye on the surfers.
There is no charge for this type of fishing.We also offer an outer island trip, which requires a payment of $320 for the extra gas used by the panga boat. We should be able to get out to the Coiba Island and Hannibal Bank area where large marlin and tunas can be caught.
It has been described as the perfect wave you draw on your notebook in high school that just keeps going and going. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico).I called the Delta customer service rep to ask if that was a typo (mistake) and she said no. She answered Yes, that is correct.Heres a petition going around: Fight Airline Surfboard Charges Sick of paying airline surcharges for your board? The reason for the new price is because of the increase in fuel costs and other commodities that have steadily increased over the past two years. Improvements have been in the area of another honeymoon suit, new wood decking, new tiled floors, new boat, new motors, new rental surfboards, improved port facilities. However, if you would like to lock in the old rate from 2008, then you will need to make a reservation and pay the deposit by December 31st, 2008. Ive only been here a few days, but have added the best photos that Ive taken yet to my portfolio.
And, yeah, I caught my fair share of these bombs check my personal photo section to see for yourself! Im in the process of adding photos with a slow, third world internet connection, so be patient theyre on their way.This place is so beautiful, and the place Im staying is something else.
These offshore breaks are heavy-duty, deep water reefs with some areas of dry-reef that need to be carefully negotiated. The vibe is so cool, and everyone is surfed out and in a good mood all day.Check the photos and book your tickets.
He escapes the cold of Washington State to visit us in the warm waters of Panama during February and March.
It has taken a little time to get from physically being at home to mentally being back as well. My heart is always surfing around the world even if responsibility is trying to get in the way.
I will get some things done on the farm and then it will be back to the beach in Oregon.The attached picture was taken at Leftovers on the island of Outer Silva about 10 kilometers from Morro Negrito Surf Camp.
There are 4 breaks on the island and various snorkeling opportunities for the non-surfers or people who need a break. I mention this as on the 3rd day I was there, the waves were breaking in the 10 plus range with at least a 6 throw to the lip.
It pitched me over the falls backwards and held me down for a long time in a lot of bubbles. I did not hit anything, although when I saw the magnificent Shuler epoxy surfboard that Lanny made for me to surf in Panama, was in 2 pieces. This meant that I was going to have some short-board experience for the remainder of the stay.
I gave it a try and had my board leash come off my ankle and had to swim into the rocky shore. This picture was taken 2 weeks ago, was voted the wave of the day and is a true Monday Morning Wave.The guests, cooks and staff made this a time to remember, always. I wish this experience to all of you and thank everyone who made this happen.Have a great day,BobP.
As a side note, I was able to come back 1st class on both flights from Panama City, Panama to Seattle, Washington, USA. As good as the airline was the cooks at camp did it better job and their meals tasted superior. Panamanians have a strong sense of pride for their provinces, and the Foundation thought this would be an opportunity for the children to see some important parts of Chiriqui.
Led by camp manager, Jeff Healion, ten children and nine parents enjoyed a two day excursion of learning, fun, and exploration set to the theme of Getting to Know my Province.A Traveling by boat and bus, the trip included visits to the mountain town of Boquete and the provincial capital, David. The first stop was Paradise Gardens, an animal sanctuary and refuge in the cool highlands of Boquete, a thriving hub of coffee production and nationally famous for its coffee and flower fair.
Here, we enjoyed interactive tours of monkeys, exotic birds, endangered mammals, and an enclosed butterfly park. Most all the animals at Paradise Gardens have been rescued and are awaiting release back into the jungle.A After a picnic lunch in Boquetes main plaza, it was down to the warmer climes of David, Panamas thriving western hub of agriculture, business, and tourism. The group visited Culturama, a historical and cultural society located in one of the oldest buildings in Chiriqui. We learned about local history and were treated to entertaining stories by one of the areas best storytellers.A What is a field trip without a little down time, so we headed over to the theater and caught the new Disney holiday movie Enchanted followed by a stop at MacDonalds. After dinner we went to see Davids new million-dollar plaza, probably the nicest plaza in Panama, if not Central America. Just by luck, a local philanthropic organization was presenting a Christmas performance of dance, music, and holiday dramas in the parks amphitheater. It was a lovely tropical evening and we enjoyed the festivities besides being tired from a day of busy events. Finally, we made it to a comfortable nights sleep at Hotel Toledo.A Day two began with a fun breakfast at a popular downtown cafeteria where we were treated to a private reception room. From the restaurant we walked to the Sevillana Bakery where we enjoyed a full tour of the bakerys back kitchens.
In Panama, as in much of Latin America, the bakery still plays a major role in peoples daily lives.
At Sevillan, fresh bread slides out of the ovens nearly all day.A A short walk from the bakery we stopped at citys main fire station.
Here we had a full tour of the facilities and then were treated to a simulated emergency call.
We watched the firemen slide down the poles, put their suits on, and then leave the firehouse. After some fun pictures with the firehouse staff, we were on our way to our final destination.A Davids International Airport is the second largest in Panama and Aeroperlas, the regional carrier, had invited us to board one of their planes as it was being prepared for a flight. Probably not something we could have done in many countries, we all boarded the plane, visited the cockpit, and then relaxed in the cabin seats while the flight attendants answered questions from the children.
Wow, what a thrill for the children.A With just a few hours left before we needed to begin our journey back to camp, we spent a few hours looking around the busy commercial district of David, bustling with holiday activity.
In Latin America, so much of the activity begins out in front of the stores so just walking around the streets is fascinating.A It is hard to imagine how our trip could have been more fun, rewarding, or educational. Sure we arrived back at the island tired, but the children were still buzzing with excitement from the events and what they had experienced.
If you could have seen the smiles and eyes during the two days, you would all know how rewarding it is to share with those that are less fortunate. During the holiday time, it was especially rewarding for us to share a magical treat with the children from our island.
The old price has been $600 per week and the new price will be $650.The reason for the new price is because of the increase in fuel costs and other commodities that have steadily increased over the past two years. Improvements have been in the area of another honeymoon suit, new wood decking, new tiled floors, new boat, new motors, new rental surfboards, improved port facilities.However, if you would like to lock in the old rate from 2007, then you will need to make a reservation and pay the deposit by December 31st, 2007.
The 25 ft deep V hull boat can smoothly cut through big swells and is equipped with new twin 115 hp 4 stroke motors, live bait well, GPS fish finder and an onboard stereo system.
The Gulf of Chiriqui is located south of David and covers an area of 14,740 hectares plus a great number of Islands and Islets. Among them you can find Isla Coiba, Isla Cebaco, Isla Montuosa, Boca Brava, Jicaron and Isla Secas with some of the best big game sport fishing, surfing and sport-diving in Central America.
Hannibal Bank and Coiba Island are both well known sport-diving and salt water sport fishing destinations Panama Central America. This creates currents that are convenient when going on an offshore fishing salt water fishing trip. The Coiba Island is now a patrolled national park and protected from commercial fishing within its boundaries.
The island was first ruled by Coiba Indians and later ruled by Vasco Nues de Balboa who at some point was defeated by pirates. Besides from sport fishing, here you will find great opportunities for adventure travel or eco tourism.
You will find a great variety of monkeys, iguanas, crocodile, snakes and over 133 different species of birds for those birdwatchers.
Cebaco Island is located between Santa Catalina and Mariato West Coast of the Peninsula de Azuero.
This island is home to some of the most beautiful beaches with crystal clear water and scenery for sport-diving, snorkeling or guided fishing trips.
The Cebaco Bay is located south of the island and it is excellent for big game fishing or angling, sport diving and surfing. Its reefs are home of Cubera Snapper, Roosterfish, Dorado, Monster Yellowfin Tuna (100 + pounds) and a variety of billfish such as sail fish Montousa Island is 10 miles off Hannibal Bank and it is also a great sport-diving spot in clear waters of Panamas Pacific Ocean. The bottom floor also rises dramatically from approximate depths of 10,000 ft making it great for deep sea fishing in Panama. Moreover, this island is a boutique resort we operate with which was designed for those who want private, pristine surroundings with excellent service. With a theme of Hacia el Futuro, or Towards the Future, the trip was for many of the participants their first travel outside the province and their first visit to the capital of Panama City.
Over a period of two days, the group of students and parents, led by Morro Negrito Surfguide Jeff Healion, traveled to the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal, the ruins of the first settlement of Panama, the Presidential Palace which included a surprise meeting with President Martin Torrijos, and the new continent-spanning Centenario Bridge. Along the way, the group enjoyed some out-of-the-ordinary treats of pizza, ice cream, and holiday shopping at the new Albrook Mall at the site of the former US Albrook Air Base.The design of the trip was to bring the students in contact with the past, the present, and the future of their country through the ruins, the Canal, and the government buildings.
At the Canal, the group was treated to a private presentation of the Panama Canal movie and then witnessed two giant Panamax ships passing through the locks.
Nothing could have been more surprising though than when Panamas President pulled up just as the group was visiting his palace. As he left for his office, he commanded his staff to give the group a special tour inside the palace.Healion reported the smiles, excitement and gratitude we saw during the trip were heartwarming reasons why we know the Foundation can do good work. If a student wishes to continue, the family must send the child to the high school on the mainland. For most families, the cost of transportation, food, housing, and school supplies is a great burden and many are unable to send their children, especially those with several children.The educational assistance program will provide families with the funds necessary for supporting their children in higher education. In 2007, another two will be eligible to continue at high school if their families so decide. With the new program we hope that money will no longer be a factor whether families send their children.The surf camp enjoys close contact with all the families that will be involved in the program and will be able to monitor the progress of the students. We have seen many of these children grow up and it is especially rewarding to know they will have new choices and opportunities for their futures.
We know their ties to the island will always be strong but we also hope that by continuing their education their new paths will show them what a truly special place their home is. September 2006, a one thousand watt wind turbine was installed that has been doing an excellent job of supplementing the solar system with wind generated power. Previously, the solar batteries would automatically disconnect themselves due to low voltage at about midnight. Hopefully, we can help inspire the camp visitors that come to surf camp to perhaps consider installing their own clean energy systems, wherever they may come from. There are a number of artesian springs pumping a large amount of water out of the ground, so much that it has created several water falls on the island, explains Steve.



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