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2017-05-08 NEWS Plus Special English
   2017-05-05 10:19:39    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Du Lijun









This is Special English. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing. Here is the news.
Tianzhou 1, China's first cargo spacecraft, has completed the country's first in-orbit refueling test with the unmanned Tiangong II space laboratory.
The China Manned Space Agency has called the mission a success.
The space agency said the refueling test was a major technology breakthrough and has paved the way for China to assemble and operate a space station.
The agency said China has become the third nation to complete in-orbit refueling technology, following Russia and the United States.
As the first of the planned three such tests for the cargo spacecraft, the in-orbit refueling took five days. Making sure there is no leakage of fuel is crucial.
The agency said that after the first test, the two spacecraft will stay connected as they orbit Earth for around two months. The second in-orbit refueling test will be conducted in June.
After that, the two spacecraft will undock. The cargo vessel will make sophisticated, automated maneuvers to circle the space lab, and docking with the lab at a different site.
This is Special English.
China is to extend the current nine-year compulsory education to encompass high school students nationwide by 2020.
A Guideline for Popularizing High School Education has been released by the Ministry of Education and another three ministries.
The guideline aims to raise the gross enrolment ratio for high schools to above 90 percent on average nationwide. The rates in central and western China will be substantially improved.
Last year, China's overall gross enrollment ratio was 87 percent for high schools, representing a tendency of a rise of 3 percent in the next four years.
The ratio is a statistical measurement to show the number of enrolled students to those who qualify for certain grades, ranging from primary school to middle and high school periods. Over the past few decades, China required children to attend primary and middle schools, while high school was not obligatory.
The new document is also to bridge the gap for regional disparity of high school education, as the central and western regions lag far behind eastern China.
For example, the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in southwest China still has an insufficient number of high school teachers, demanding 13,000 more to reach the national average ratio of teachers to students. What's worse is that the region's high schools have debts worth 2 billion yuan, roughly 290 million US dollars.
You're listening to Special English. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing.
Police have opened a new front in the war on drugs by targeting traffickers who recruit disabled people as couriers.
Drug gangs target people with disabilities or chronic illnesses, as well as pregnant or lactating women, because Chinese laws contain a number of clauses allowing these "vulnerable people" to avoid prison. That, plus the offer of "easy money", is often enough for those from the poorest sections of society to run the risks associated with the trade.
Last year, more than 5,300 such people were detained while transporting narcotics. Among them, 780 were foreign nationals, and a large number were from Myanmar. That's according to a report released recently by China's top anti-drug authority, the Office of National Narcotics Control Commission.
In August, an 18-year-old pregnant woman from Myanmar was caught with almost 3 kilograms of methamphetamine stashed in 80 moon-cakes, a traditional Chinese delicacy.
The couriers had been hired to carry the narcotics from Myanmar to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province. The woman was caught as she was about to deliver the food to the buyer. In her confession, she said she was due to receive 5,000 yuan, roughly 730 US dollars, when the deal was closed.
This is Special English.
China's health authorities are installing vendor machines selling home HIV test kits on university campuses. The move aims to help raise awareness and fight HIV/AIDS, as the epidemic begins to hit more young people in China.
To date, 10 universities across China have joined the initiative, which many call "progressive". Sex remains largely a taboo subject in many parts of the country, and systematic sex education is still lacking.
The initiative is led by the Chinese Association of STD and AIDS Prevention and Control. The association says it cannot wait to take action, but it's hard to do so, especially on university campuses.
An official from the association says more universities are planning to join the move to install such machines on campus as an alternative option for students seeking HIV testing.
The official says many students are reluctant to visit HIV testing clinics run by health authorities, even though the visit is free of charge. Privacy concerns and fear of being discriminated against are largely the seasons they stay away.
China has seen a rapid increase in HIV cases in recent years, particularly among young students aged between 15 and 24.
You're listening to Special English. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing.
Construction has begun on China's first commercial space industry center in Wuhan, the capital of central China's Hubei province.
The Wuhan National Space Industry Base aims to attract at least 100 enterprises involved in the space industry before 2020. It plans to generate 30 billion yuan, roughly 4 billion US dollars, in annual gross product by then.
The main investor is the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation. The center will occupy 70 square kilometers of land area.
"Expace Technology" is a subsidiary of the corporation. It will invest 1.7 billion yuan to build production and assembly plants for solid-fuel carrier rockets for commercial launches. The company plans to produce 20 rockets at the center each year.
In China, a commercial launch usually means a space launch financed by an entity other than a Chinese government or military agency.
The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation will invest 300 million yuan to construct a research, development and manufacturing complex at the center to make small satellites. The corporation will launch 156 small communications satellites into low Earth orbit, at an altitude of 160 to 2,000 kilometers, before the end of 2025. They would form a network capable of global coverage.
This is Special English.
A specialized Chinese university has launched a nationwide search for students with the passion and talent to study the languages used in countries along the Belt and Road Initiative.
Beijing Foreign Studies University has kicked off an independent recruitment program to find candidates for 22 language majors that will be offered in the next academic year.
The languages are Portuguese, Hungarian, Czech, Swedish, Dutch, Finnish, Lao, Thai, Indonesian and Hausa. They are found along the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which make up the Chinese initiative aimed at boosting connectivity between Asia, Europe and Africa.
Applicants must have an outstanding high school record in Chinese and foreign language studies and will need to pass several rounds of interviews to test their commitment and potential.
The university says it hopes to ensure students recruited through the program have a strong interest in studying Belt and Road languages and have the ability to study well.
The program was launched last year to nurture talent in linguistics and regional research, and to provide intellectual support for the initiative.
The standards are strict. Of more than 2,700 applicants for 15 majors, only 270 students were admitted. The number of students admitted this year will not increase much, as the university wants to guarantee quality.
You're listening to Special English. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing. You can access the program by logging on to crienglish.com. You can also find us on our Apple Podcast. Now the news continues.
The National Copyright Administration of China has launched its English website to enhance international communication on copyright protection.
The website has been launched to mark the 2017 World Intellectual Property Day. The website is en.ncac.gov.cn.  It features news, law and regulation, as well as other subjects.
Officials say the next step is to provide more information at the website. China's intellectual property rights have made great progress in the past decade.
An annual crackdown campaign initiated by the National Copyright Administration has focused on pirated music, videos, games, animation and software for 12 consecutive years to create a good online copyright system.
This is Special English.
The face-lift of a section of the Sanlitun area of Beijing is underway. Demolitions raised mixed feelings among foreigners and locals as the decades-old bar street will likely disappear.
Heavy equipment was used to knock down dozens of illegal building additions that stretched from residential buildings to shopping malls.
Beijing has been targeting illegal constructions since the beginning of the year. Illegally constructed extensions associated with several thousand units in the city will be removed. Missing walls, windows and other elements will be restored according to their original designs.
The bar street is home to a variety of nail salons, foot massage parlors and restaurants. It has become increasingly popular in recent decades because of an influx of foreigners and diplomatic personnel.
Frank Hansen from Denmark said the special charm of the street will be gone when all the extended rooms have been removed. He used to have weekend gatherings with friends on the street. He said they will probably not go back to the new bars after the demolition.
You're listening to Special English. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing.
Bike-sharing fever has spread to Tibet, with 500 shared two-wheelers appearing on the plateau.
Bright yellow Ofo bikes have been placed in over 20 spots in Xigaze, the second largest city in Tibet.
A local sponsor of the project says it hopes to make shared bikes a major means of transport for the local people in Tibet and tourists alike. The company's next target is Lhasa, the capital of the Autonomous Region.
The bike-sharing business took off in big cities in China last year. It allows riders to hire bikes for as little as one yuan, roughly 15 U.S. cents, per hour via a mobile app. Riders can drop the bikes off anywhere for the next user.
The bikes on the busy streets of Xigaze have attracted curious users. A local resident in the city, Cering says it's cheap for a short ride. He and his friends rented bikes just for fun.
Backed by two-digit economic growth for over 20 years, car sales in Tibet have been booming. The under-populated region now has 300,000 vehicles, with half of them in Lhasa. The four-wheelers have led to traffic congestion and parking problems in downtown Lhasa.
This is Special English.
The water levels of the Pacific Ocean off California may rise more than previously thought. Storms and high tides may hit harder than previously estimated.
California's Ocean Protection Council revised upward its predictions for how much water off California will rise as a result of globing warming. The forecast helps agencies in the nation's most populous state plan for climate change. Rising water is seeping toward low-lying airports, highways and communities, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Discoveries that ice sheets are melting increasingly fast in Antarctica largely spurred the change. Antarctica holds almost 90 percent of the world's ice.
Fossil-fuel emissions warm the Earth's atmosphere. The melting ice is expected to raise the water off California's 1,770 kilometers of coastline even more than for the world as a whole.
Officials say state agencies take climate change into account in planning and budgeting. The Ocean Protection Council's projections will guide everything from local decisions on zoning to state action on whether to elevate or abandon buildings near the coast and bays.
Scientists say rising water from climate change is already playing a role in extreme winters including this past one in California, contributing to flooding of some highways and helping crumble cliffs beneath some oceanfront homes.
That is the end of this edition of Special English. To freshen up your memory, I'm going to read one of the news items again at normal speed. Please listen carefully.
That is the end of today's program. I'm Mark Griffiths in Beijing, and I hope you will join us every day, to learn English and learn about the world.

 
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