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News from China
Strong quake off Japan's Fukushima causes limited damage due to focal depth, seismic-resistant build
15th February 2021

 Over 150 people were injured but no death was reported as of Sunday after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit northeastern Japan Saturday, as experts attributed the limited casualties and damage to the quake's depth of epicenter and the seismic standards of Japanese buildings.

The temblor struck off Fukushima Prefecture at around 11:07 pm local time (1407 GMT) Saturday, with its epicenter at a latitude of 37.7 degrees north and a longitude of 141.8 degrees east, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).
The quake was preliminarily measured at a magnitude of 7.1 and was later revised up to 7.3, while its depth was placed at 55 km, a revise from the initial 60 km, said the JMA.
While the magnitude of an earthquake is measured in one certain figure, the seismic intensity scale varies from place to place, depending on the hypocentral distance and focal depth.
The JMA puts the seismic intensity scale into 10 degrees, namely 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, Lower 5, Upper 5, Lower 6, Upper 6 and 7. Saturday's quake was measured Upper 6 in some parts of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures.
On Sunday morning, some shops and metro stations were closed in Soma, where the earthquake was strongly felt. Some sections of the Joban Expressway were closed due to landslides. Other than that, not much visible damage was seen in the downtown area, with the city mainly operating in an orderly manner.
Wang Yuchen, a researcher at Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo, said that although Saturday's quake fell into the category of a shallow-focus one, its focal depth was relatively deep, which was "close to the range of medium-focus earthquake." Therefore, though the magnitude of the quake was high, it caused few casualties.
In comparison, the focal depth of the devastating earthquake in 2011 that killed more than 15,000 people in the same area was only about 24 km, while about 90 percent of the victims were killed by the following tsunami, a secondary disaster of the powerful 9.0-magnitude quake.
According to Wang, shallow-focus earthquakes occur at depths less than 60 km, medium-focus ones at depths between 60 km and 300 km, while deep-focus earthquakes happen at depths of above 300 km.
As a country with frequent earthquakes, Japan attaches great importance to the seismic resistance of buildings. The 7.3-magnitude quake did not cause a large number of buildings to collapse in places close to the epicenter, including Fukushima Prefecture.
The country has laws that require buildings to be earthquake-resistant, so that buildings that meet seismic standards are less likely to collapse during an earthquake. Meanwhile, most old and run-down houses had already been damaged in previous earthquakes.
In Japan, houses are mostly made of wood to make them anti-seismic, but such houses are poor in terms of fire proof and sound insulation. In the 2011 earthquake, while some 600 people died due to collapsed houses, many more houses were swept away by the ensuing tsunami.
By contrast, Saturday's quake did not trigger a tsunami, so there was little damage to buildings. According to local media, only about 240 people left their homes for shelters after the quake.
The JMA believed the latest quake was an aftershock of the devastating 2011 quake and urged the public to stay alert over the coming week or so, citing the likelihood of more tremors of a 
scale similar to that of Saturday's quake.
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 15, 2021
China pulls BBC World News off the air for serious content violation
12th February 2021

 China's broadcasting regulator on Thursday made an announcement on pulling BBC World News off the air in the country for serious content violation.

The National Radio and Television Administration said BBC World News was found to have seriously violated regulations on radio and television management 
and on overseas satellite television channel management in its China-related reports, which went against the requirements that news reporting must be true and impartial,
 and undermined China's national interests and ethnic solidarity.
"As the channel fails to meet the requirements to broadcast in China as an overseas channel, BBC World News is not allowed to continue its service within Chinese territory. 
The NRTA will not accept the channel's broadcast application for the new year," the regulator said in a statement.
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 12, 2021
Xi extends Spring Festival greetings to all Chinese
11th February 2021

 Chinese President Xi Jinping, on behalf of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, extended Spring Festival greetings to all Chinese Wednesday at a reception in Beijing.

Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, delivered a speech at the gathering at the Great Hall of the People, greeting Chinese people of all ethnic groups, compatriots in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and overseas Chinese.
This year's Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on February 12.
Achieving the first centenary goal of finishing building a moderately prosperous society in all respects is a great feat of milestone significance, Xi noted.
Demanding the virtues of modesty and prudence, Xi called for efforts to achieve the second centenary goal and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and make new and greater contributions to the noble cause of securing peace and development for all mankind.
Party and state leaders Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng and Wang Qishan were present at the reception. Li Keqiang chaired the event.
Xi summarized the nation's major achievements in 2020 under the Party's leadership, including emerging as one of the first countries that brought the COVID-19 epidemic under control, taking the lead among major economies in achieving positive economic growth, making historic progress in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and accomplishing the poverty eradication tasks on time.
The country also saw the success of a number of key science and technology innovation projects, solid progress in pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative and the successful conclusion of implementing the 13th Five-Year Plan, as well as growing global support for building a community with a shared future for humanity, Xi said.
Facts have once again proved that the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics has incomparable vitality and creativity, Xi noted.
As long as the entire Party and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups rally closely around the CPC Central Committee, there is no difficulty that cannot be overcome, he said.
In 2021, efforts should be made to consolidate and expand the results secured in epidemic containment and social and economic development, Xi stressed, demanding a good start in boosting the country's development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-2025) so as to celebrate the Party's centenary with outstanding achievements.
Having completed a glorious journey of 100 years, the CPC has grown into the world's largest Marxist ruling party that has been in power for over 70 years in the world's largest socialist country, Xi said.
The centenary sees the Party, with more than 91 million members, in its prime with the widespread support of 1.4 billion Chinese people, he added.
The Party will remain invincible as long as it stands at the forefront of the times, leads the charge in overcoming difficulties and challenges, and takes root among the people, Xi said.
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 11, 2021
Outcomes of WHO-China joint study in Wuhan released
10th February 2021

 Chinese and World Health Organization experts have completed their work in Wuhan, which is part of global scientific research on the origin of the novel coronavirus, according to a joint WHO-China press conference.

Among the outcomes of the joint study, a coronavirus with high similarity to the novel coronavirus in gene sequences occurs in bats and pangolins. But the similarity is still not enough to make it a direct ancestor of the novel coronavirus. Bats, pangolins, weasels, cats, and other species all could be potential natural hosts, according to experts attending the press conference in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province, on Tuesday. 
The virus was found in environmental tests at the Huanan seafood market after its closure, especially in its aquatic product stalls. The coronavirus at the market might have been introduced through channels such as infected people, contaminated cold chain products, and animal products, but it is still uncertain.
No positive results occurred in large-scale testing of animal products in the market. No novel coronavirus was found either in samples of bats in Hubei Province or large numbers of livestock, poultry, and wild animals across China. 
In December 2019, the novel coronavirus spread among people on a certain scale in Wuhan, with most cases occurring in the second half of the month. A study on the early ones showed that as there were novel coronavirus cases in the market, there were also such cases in other areas of Wuhan at the same time.
The experts identified four hypotheses for the source of the transmission of the novel coronavirus to the human population, including direct zoonotic spillover, the cold-chain food, an intermediary host species, and a laboratory-related incident.
The joint study said that a laboratory incident is "extremely unlikely" as the cause of COVID-19.
It said introduction through an intermediary host species is "the most likely" passway.
Direct transmission or introduction through cold-chain food is also likely.
A sudden outbreak of the novel coronavirus occured in Wuhan at the end of 2019. China took prompt action, actively released epidemic information, and adopted the most comprehensive and strict prevention and control measures, achieving notable results.
According to an agreement between China and the WHO in July 2020, an international expert WHO team arrived in Wuhan on January 14. They formed a joint body with Chinese experts for the Chinese part of the global study on the novel coronavirus origins.
The team studied a massive amount of epidemic-related data and visited nine facilities, including Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, Huanan seafood market, and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, under the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The team conducted extensive exchanges with local medical workers, lab researchers, scientists, and market managers. They also interviewed social workers, community workers, residents, recovered patients, and families of medical workers who lost their lives in the epidemic.
Source: Shanghai Daily, February 10. 2021

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