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News from China
China's pork prices gradually reduce as supply improves
21st November 2019

 Soaring pork prices in China in recent months are seen to gradually soften as the country steps up efforts to boost production and supply through multiple channels.

 
Since the beginning of November, the overall pork price index in 16 provincial-level regions tracked by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs had retreated for two consecutive weeks.
 
From November 11 to 15, the average pork price index in the regions came in at 46.11 yuan (US$6.58) per kg, down 9.6 percent on a weekly basis.
 
The ministry attributed the fall to an increasing willingness among farmers and scale breeding farms to sell hogs, as well as the release of frozen pork products into the market.
 
Meanwhile, the price surge over the past few months, mainly affected by African swine fever and other cyclical factors, have restrained consumption and demand, which also helped to prevent further hikes.
 
China's consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 3.8 percent year on year last month, driven by soaring pork prices, which rose 101.3 percent year on year in October, contributing to nearly two-thirds of the CPI growth.
 
The recent retreat came as the Chinese government has been taking multi-pronged measures to boost supply, including increasing subsidies to restore hog production, releasing frozen pork reserves and expanding pork imports.
 
China has decided to offer subsidies ranging between 500,000 yuan to 5 million yuan from the central budget to large pig farms to support the construction of facilities including epidemic prevention and automatic feed plants.
 
In 2020, China will also select 100 counties with breeding stocks of more than 100,000 pigs to push waste utilization, with subsidies of no more than 30 million yuan.
 
The Agricultural Development Bank of China, the country's rural policy bank, earlier this month said it would allocate a total of 50 billion yuan of credit in the next three years to support the production of hogs.
 
In addition to restoring production, China has expanded imports of pork. In the first three quarters of 2019, the country imported 1.3 million tonnes of pork, up 43.6 percent from a year earlier, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs.
 
Although the combination of policies shows an initial effect, analysts warned that the supply-demand gap is still quite big and with the consumption peak during the holiday season, prices may continue to fluctuate.
 
"The full recovery of production capacity will take a relatively long time, and pork prices are expected to reach a turning point in the second half of 2020 if the swine fever stabilizes," said Wang Zuli, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 21, 2019
Panda Bei Bei says bye bye to US, heads home to China
20th November 2019

 The US-born giant panda Bei Bei on Tuesday left the National Zoo in Washington for a 16-hour flight back to China as part of its research and breeding program.

 
The 4-year-old Bei Bei, whose name means "precious treasure" in Mandarin, will travel on a specially equipped direct flight from Washington to Chengdu inside a steel and plexiglass crate, accompanied by his keeper and a veterinarian, zoo officials said.
 
Once a young panda reaches the age of 4, he or she is repatriated to breed with other animals at sanctuaries in China.
 
"Today is bittersweet," said zoo director Steve Monfort.
 
"We've cared for Bei Bei, and along with millions, watched him grow into a true ambassador for his species," Monfort added.
 
"We look forward to continuing our 47-year giant panda conservation program and collaboration with Chinese colleagues to study, care for and help save the giant panda and its native habitat."
 
FedEx is paying for the flight and the special outfitting of the Boeing 777 — called the "Panda Express" for the occasion.
 
The National Zoo staff have prepared a special stash of treats for him: 30 kilograms of bamboo, 2 pounds of apples and pears, 2 pounds of cooked sweet potatoes, two bags of biscuits and water, officials said.
 
Bei Bei's siblings, brother Tai Shan and sister Bao Bao, have already been returned to China, while his father Tian Tian and mother Mei Xiang will remain at the National Zoo until at least December 2020.
 
Bei Bei was born in August 2015, and his name was announced with great fanfare at an event with then-first lady Michelle Obama and her Chinese counterpart Peng Liyuan.
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 20, 2019
China extends lead in quantity of Top500 supercomputers
19th November 2019

 China extended its dominance in a list of the world's fastest supercomputers by the number of systems, according to a semi-annual ranking of the Top500 published on Monday.

 
The share of installations in China continues to rise strongly with 228 (45.6 percent) of all systems now listed as being installed in China. The share of system listed in the United States remains near its all time low at 23.4 percent.
 
The aggregate performance gap between China and the United States shrunk. The US systems translated to a 37.1 percent share, while China is close behind with a 32.3-percent performance share.
 
The list published in June had the United States with 38.4 percent of the aggregate performance and China with 29.9 percent.
 
The aggregate performance of the 500 systems, based on the High Performance Linpack benchmark, continued to rise, sitting at 1.65 exaflops.
 
Also, as a reflection of China's lead in numbers, the top three system manufacturers with regard to the number of installations are Lenovo, Sugon, and Inspur. But Intel has maintained the dominance at the chip level, with its processors present in about 94 percent of all systems.
 
The top 10 of the list remained unchanged as Summit and Sierra, both IBM-built supercomputers, grabbed the top two spots, followed by two Chinese systems, Sunway TaihuLight and Tianhe-2A.
 
The entry level to the list has risen to 1.14 petaflops, up from 1.02 petaflops in the previous list in June 2019, according to the Top500 list.
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 19, 2019
Shopping records point to shifting economic trends
18th November 2019

 China’s annual shopping spree festival saw a string of records, while behind these numbers underlie the country’s shifting economic trends.

 
E-commerce giant Alibaba said sales on its online shopping platforms reached a record 268.4 billion yuan (US$38.28 billion) on November 11, or Singles Day, marking a year-on-year growth of about 25.7 percent.
 
JD.com hit 204.4 billion yuan from November 1 to 11 and Suning’s order volume increased by 76 percent year on year during that day.
 
The annual shopping spree has seen a growing community of online shoppers, expanding further into different age groups and tiers of cities.
 
Over 500 million consumers shopped on Alibaba’s major e-commerce platforms this year, increasing by some 100 million over one year ago, data from Tmall showed.
 
Among them, consumers born after 1995 accounted for about 30 percent, while those above 50 years old reported the highest growth rate, rising 42 percent year on year.
 
JD.com saw the per customer transaction in third-tier and lower-tier cities grew 130 percent, with their orders making up over 80 percent of the total.
 
“Online shopping is already part of the lifestyle of Chinese people, be them young or old, urban or rural,” Alibaba Executive Chairman and CEO Zhang Yong said at the “Observing China” forum last week, which aimed to analyze new economic trends.
 
Along with the growth of Chinese consumers’ purchase power, consumption demands are diversifying in terms of brand preference and categories.
 
Over 200,000 brands worldwide joined the festival on Tmall. Among the platform’s 299 brands with sales for each brand beating 100 million yuan on Singles Day, tens of them were fresh players, said Zhang.
 
While big foreign brands continued to reap big during the shopping festival, many domestic brands, especially in smartphones and apparel, are winning more consumers.
 
Services consumption is also rising.
 
Door-to-door beauty care, luxury product maintenance and other services were popular on e-commerce platforms during this period.
Source: Shanghai Daily, November 18, 2019

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