China's shift away from 5-year targets increases policy flexibility: official
BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s decision not to set an economic growth target for its new five-year plan will give policymakers more room to account for uncertainties and respond to changes, a senior state planner official said on Monday.
In its 2021-2025 economic plan delivered to the nation’s legislature on Friday, China did not include any average annual growth targets, unlike the previous five-year plan issued in 2016.
It did, however, pledge to keep growth in a “reasonable” range over the five-year period and set an annual gross domestic product target of above 6% for the current year, having dropped the 2020 target last year amid global uncertainties caused by the pandemic.
Hu Zucai, vice director of the National Development and Reform Commission, said on Monday predicting growth for an annual period contingent on the circumstances would be easier than setting targets over a five-year period.
“By not setting a specific and quantitative (five-year) growth target, we will be more proactive, active and at e
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'Beached whale': A huge container ship has been blocking the Suez Canal for more than 48 hours, snarling world trade
A map of Ever Given, the large yellow vessel, stuck in the middle of the Suez Canal and surrounded by smaller cargo ships. Vessel Finder Ever Given, one of the largest cargo ships in the Suez Canal, was stil stuck as of Thursday. The ship has caused a massive logjam in one of the world's most important trade routes. Pictures and maps below show the state of the bottleneck. See more stories on Insider's business page . A massive container ship, the Ever Given, has been stuck blocking the Suez Canal for more than 48 hours despite ongoing efforts to free it. The vessel, which got stuck early on Tuesday, was likened to a beached whale by the CEO of a Dutch engineering company drafted in to help tackle the problem Thursday morning. "It is like an enormous beached whale. It's an enormous weight on the sand," Reuters reported , citing Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis. The Suez Canal is of the most important shipping routes in the world, an essential trade route connecting Europe with Asia. The Ever Given, a nearly 200-foot-wide, 1,300-foot-long cargo ship sailing under a Panamanian flag, is pictured here viewed from land as of Thursday morning local time: Stranded container ship Ever Given, one of the world's largest container ships, is seen after it ran aground, in Suez Canal, Egypt March 25, 2021 Ahmed Fahmy/Reuters A crew member in the vessel behind the Ever Given posted this Instagram image on Tuesday: A ship navigates before the stranded Ever Given, on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Suez Canal Authority via AP The ship ran aground at about 7:40 a.m. local time on Tuesday, according to a statement from Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM), the ship's technical manager. BSM said in a statement late Wednesday that dredgers were being used to clear sand and mud from around the vessel, while tugboats. Ever Given was also using its own winches to try to help, the statement said. These have so far failed to free the ship. Berdowski, of the Dutch company, said: "We might have to work with a combination of reducing the weight by removing containers, oil and water from the ship, tug boats and dredging of sand." Part of the vessel embedded itself in the bank of the canal, according to images shared on Twitter by the shipping analyst John Scott-Railton, an analyst based at the University of Toronto: -John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) March 24, 2021 A statement posted Wednesday from the Ever Given's shipping company, GAC Egypt, said that wind conditions had complicated efforts to free the vessel. The ship is headed for Rotterdam, Netherlands, from the Yantian District of China, according to the ship-tracking site Vessel Finder . Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, second right, speaking to other staff onboard a boat near the stuck cargo ship MV Ever Green Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Suez Canal Authority via AP The ship had traveled through Taipei and Malaysia and hoped to arrive in the Netherlands on March 31. Instead, it ended up wedged diagonally in the canal, blocking hundreds of cargo ships from both sides. A smaller second channel of the canal has allowed some smaller ships to move, but it is not large enough for the biggest container ships. The Ever Given is seen with its bow stuck in the canal wall, on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. Suez Canal Authority via AP Container ships in Suez Canal. Gehad Hamdy/picture alliance via Getty Images The Suez Canal was constructed in 1869 to connect the Mediterranean and Red Seas. It allows for the shortest possible trade route by water between Europe and Asia. In 2015, the Egyptian government finished an $8 billion renovation of the canal to attract more business and allow for smoother sailing. Imagery on Vessel Finder showed the Ever Given's slow progress in getting unstuck: A zoomed-in shot in the tweet below shows a tiny excavator used earlier to try to unwedge the ship. -John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) March 23, 2021 At least 150 vessels are being delayed by the blockage, according to the Associated Press (AP) . Experts told Reuters that if the delay persists another 24 to 48 hours, some ships would be forced to detour the whole way around Africa, which is some 15,000 miles further than taking the canal. In recognition of the disruption to global trade, the ship's Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd, issued an apology on Thursday, the AP reported. Read the original article on Business Insider Cargo ShipsWorld TradeChinaGlobal TradeInsiderReutersPanamanianInstagramBSMTwitterThe University Of TorontoThe Ever Given 'sThe Suez Canal AuthorityRed SeasEgyptian
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1 report, 4 theories: Scientists mull clues on virus’ origin
GENEVA (AP) — A team of international and Chinese scientists is poised to report on its joint search for the origins of the coronavirus that sparked a pandemic after it was first detected in China over a year ago — with four theories being considered, and one the clear frontrunner, according to experts. The lengthy report is being published after months of wrangling, notably between U.S. and Chinese governments, over how the outbreak emerged, while scientists try to keep their focus on a so-far fruitless search for the origin of a microbe that has killed over 2.7 million people and stifled economies worldwide.It wasn’t immediately clear when the report will be released after its publication was delayed earlier this month. By many accounts, the report could offer few concrete answers, and may raise further questions. It will offer a first glance in writing from 10 international epidemiologists, data scientists, veterinary, lab and food safety experts who visited China and the city of Wuhan — where a market was seen as the initial epicenter — earlier this year to work with Chinese counterparts who pulled up the bulk of early data.Critics have raised questions about the objectivity of the team, insisting that China’s government had a pivotal say over its composition. Defenders of the World Health Organization, which assembled the team, say it can’t simply parachute in experts to tell a country what to do — let alone one as powerful as China.“I expect that this report will only be a first step into investigating the origins of the virus and that the WHO secretariat will probably say this,” said Matthew Kavanagh, director of Georgetown University’s Global Health Policy and Governance Initiative at the O’Neill Institute. “And I expect some to criticize this as insufficient.”The Wuhan trip is billed as Phase 1 in a vast undertaking to flesh out the origins of the virus. The WHO has bristled at depictions of the mission as an “investigation” — saying that smacks of an invasive forensic probe that wasn’t called for under the resolution adopted unanimously by the agency’s member states in May that paved the way for the collaboration. The WHO and China later ironed out the ground rules.Team member Vladimir Dedkov, an epidemiologist and deputy director of research at the St. Petersburg Pasteur Institute in Russia, summarized the four main leads first laid out at a marathon news conference in China last month about the suspected origins of the first infection in humans. They were, in order of likelihood: from a bat through an intermediary animal; straight from a bat; via contaminated frozen food products; from a leak from a laboratory like the Wuhan Institute of Virology.Officials in China, as well as Chinese team leader Liang Wannian, have promoted the third theory — the cold-chain one — while the U.S. administration under President Donald Trump played up the fourth one, of the lab leak. But Dedkov said those two hypothesis were far down the list of likely sources. He suggested frozen products on which the virus was found were most likely contaminated by infected people. An infected person also likely brought and spread the virus at the Wuhan market associated with the outbreak, where some of the contaminated products were later found.“In general, all the conditions for the spread of infection were present at this market,” Dedkov said in an interview. “Therefore, most likely, there was a mass infection of people who were connected by location.”“At this point, there are no facts suggesting that there was a leak” from a lab, Dedkov said. “If suddenly scientific facts appear from somewhere, then accordingly, the priority of the version will change. But, at this particular moment, no.”Suspicions about political meddling have dogged the mission, and the international team leader — the WHO’s Peter Ben Embarek — acknowledged in interviews last week that unspecified “pressures” might weigh on its members. Liang, in a Chinese newspaper interview, also bemoaned political pressure on the team.Delays in deploying the international team to China, repeated slippage in the timing of publication of the report, and rejiggering of the plans for it — an initial summary of findings was jettisoned as an idea — have only fanned speculation that the scientists have been steered by political authorities or others.“The last understanding we had was that it is expected to come out this week — we’ll have to see if that actually happens,” the U.S. charge d’affaires in Geneva, Mark Cassayre, said on Wednesday. “We have a clear understanding that other studies will be required.”He said the U.S. was hopeful the report would be a “real step forward for the world understanding the origins of the virus, so that we can better prepare for future pandemics. That’s really what this is about.”The WHO leadership, including Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, repeatedly praised the Chinese government’s early response to the outbreak, though recordings of private meetings obtained by The Associated Press exposed how top WHO officials were frustrated at China’s lack of cooperation. The international team was wholly reliant on data collected by Chinese scientists after the outbreak surfaced, and Dedkov called the visit to Wuhan an “analytical trip, mainly for the purpose of retrospective analysis in the sense that we studied only those facts that were obtained earlier.”“We did not collect any samples ourselves, we didn’t carry out any laboratory studies there, we just analyzed what we were being shown,” he said. If some data had not been collected, it wasn’t because the Chinese wanted to conceal something, he added. The team’s visit was politically sensitive for China — which is concerned about any allegations it didn’t handle the initial outbreak properly. Shortly after the outbreak, the Chinese government detained some Chinese doctors who sought to raise the alarm.The report, which Ben Embarek said last week took up about 280 pages, is set to lay out recommendations and lay the groundwork for next steps — such as whether the team, or others, get new access to China for further analysis. Ultimately, the aim is to find clues to help prevent another such pandemic in the future.Georgetown’s Kavanagh said he hasn’t seen the report — but has suspicions about what it will say. “Based on what we have heard so far I expect that the report will likely lend some credence to a link between wildlife farming and COVID-19, but without full evidence about exactly how the move from animals into humans might have occurred,” he said. 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