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Monday, September 10, 2018

Pakistan, China to upgrade strategic ties


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan and China, having enjoyed decades of brotherly relations, have reiterated their resolve to upgrade all-weather strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries and take it to new heights while giving a thrust to key areas of economic, trade and defence. 

The two neighbouring countries have agreed to form a joint mechanism for curbing terrorism and poverty, increasing exports, creating jobs and promoting education.

They have also expressed convergence of opinion that social and economic development would be an important area under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) cooperation between the two countries. 

Addressing a joint press conference, with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, in Islamabad on September 8, after their delegation-level talks, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, remarked both countries were supporting each other on various international fora and shared common principles on different international and regional issues, asserting that enhancing the all-weather strategic partnership with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy. 

“CPEC will remain a priority for the government. It’s a proof of how seamless the Belt and Road initiative can become with the help of all stakeholders. We are proud of Pakistan and China's friendship which has withstood every test," he assured. 

“CPEC has not inflicted a debt burden on Pakistan, rather when these projects get completed and enter into operation, they will unleash huge economic benefit and these will create considerable returns to the Pakistani economy. This has helped increase the economic growth by 1-2 percent and has contributed 70,000 jobs in Pakistan,” the Chinese Foreign Minister stated. 

"China will give a lot of sustenance to encourage imports from Pakistan. We have decided to strive for a greater balance in the two-way trade. China will earmark subsidiaries to encourage imports from Pakistan and will send more coalition teams to Pakistan. We will also broaden the market access to Pakistan's competitive agricultural products," he added. 

The delegation level talks took place at the Foreign Office where the visiting Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, accompanied by three ministerial level representatives, met with Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Imran Khan invited as guest of honour at China International Import Expo


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

China has extended an invitation to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan to be the guest of honour at the China International Import Expo (CIIE) due to be staged in Shanghai from November 5 to 10, 2018. 

The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, met his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, in Islamabad on September 8where he extended invitation to Prime Minister Imran Khan to be the guest of honour at the CIIE. 

China and Pakistan also agreed to strengthen the strategic cooperation in a one-on-one meeting between the two Foreign Ministers.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesman, Dr Muhammad Faisal, informed the delegation-level talks between the two delegations led by the two foreign ministers were also held at the Foreign Office. 

"Chinese State Councillor Yi underscored Beijing’s firm support to Pakistan’s socioeconomic progress and development," the FO spokesperson said. 

"China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), economic cooperation, cultural and educational exchanges and regional situation were discussed during the meeting," the spokesperson added. 

Shah Mahmood Qureshi assured the Chinese minister of his country’s support of CPEC, reassuring that it was important for Pakistan’s socio-economic development. 

China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, is on a three-day visit to Islamabad during which he is scheduled to meet the President, the Prime Minister, the National Assembly Speaker and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS).

Friday, September 7, 2018

Chinese FM Wang Yi arriving Islamabad


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be arriving Pakistan on September 7 to hold talks with the country’s new leadership to consolidate cooperation and elevate the all-weather bilateral strategic partnership.

Announcing Wang’s visit, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told the media that besides holding talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, he would also meet top leaders of the new Pakistan government and exchange views on bilateral ties, regional and international issues of mutual interest. 

“This is the first high-level visit between the two sides after the establishment of the new government in Pakistan. We hope that through the visit the two sides could consolidate our traditional friendship, all-round cooperation and elevate China-Pakistan all-weather strategic and cooperative partnership,” she said when asked about China’s expectations from the visit from September 7 to 9.

“China and Pakistan are all-weather strategic and cooperative partners. We are good neighbours, good friends and good brothers. Our bilateral ties have been developing with sound momentum. We have frequent high-level exchanges, practical cooperation moving forward and rich outcomes from the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC),” Hua observed. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping on September had congratulated Pakistan’s newly-elected President Arif Alvi, saying the strategic significance of the bilateral ties is “more prominent under the current circumstances” and both sides should support each other “more staunchly”.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Pakistan’s foreign missions circulate procedure of internet voting


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Pakistan’s foreign missions abroad have circulated for the benefit of expatriates’ information how to cast their vote in upcoming bye-elections through internet voting.

In this connection, Pakistan’s Embassy in Beijing, in a press release, stated that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is conducting overseas voting through internet voting process in the upcoming bye-polls of 37 constituencies slated for October 14. 

The Pakistanis, living abroad, can cast their vote online in these respective constituencies from anywhere across the world using internet device. 

The non-resident Pakistanis, eligible for voting, are those possessing National Identity Card for Overseas Pakistan (NICOP) and Pakistan‘s Machine Readable Passport (MRP) besides having voter registration in the constituencies in which bye elections are being held. 

The list of the constituencies along with detailed mechanism of Internet voting is also available on the website of the ECP. 

It further advised that all the overseas voters belonging to these constituencies are required to get themselves registered between September 1 and 15 online at https//www.ecp.gov.pk or http//www.overseasvoting.gov.pk to cast their vote.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

China opens military installation for public


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Two military barracks in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, have opened to the public recently, offering displays of their equipment as well as wrestling, rope walking and rock climbing.

More than 3,000 people attended the events on the morning of August 15, part of a national plan aimed at bringing the military and citizens closer together by opening more than 600 barracks to the public. 

The two barracks in Wuhan belonged to the People's Armed Police Force and the PLA Air Force's Airborne Corps. Officers and soldiers performed demonstrations of their combat skills, such as wrestling and bayonet fighting, and displayed weapons and equipment used in training - things rarely seen, let alone touched, by members of the public. 

In the barracks yard of the airborne corps, the main site of the activities, sweating participants gathered around parachute packs, waiting for a chance to wear them, even though the temperature was around 35 C.

Others took the chance to talk with soldiers, asking them how the weapons and equipment on display worked and what they were used for.  
"I'm a military fan and have been considering joining the People's Liberation Army, so I wanted to learn more about their equipment," Liu Zhenhao, a sophomore student, remarked. 

He had learned about the open day from an announcement at his university while he was required to pass a short national defense knowledge test to qualify for the visit. 

Li Qian, a 65-year-old retiree, scored 92 out of 100 points in the test. A fan of both the military and photography, he took photos of the soldiers from different angles throughout their performances.

"I learned more about both the military equipment and their developments by participating in the activity. I will share the photos and what I learned today with my family," he said. 

Zhu Hao, 27, a soldier from the Air Force barracks, was in charge of introducing some of the equipment, which he had been training with for eight years. 

"Many people have seen similar equipment in TV dramas or movies, so they were interested to know more about it. We hope people can get to know us better through activities like this," Zhu stated. 

The plan to open more than 600 barracks to the public, announced last month, covers four of the PLA's five branches - the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force and Rocket Force - and the People's Armed Police Force. 

To help the public better understand the achievements of China's national defense reform and developments in its military, the barracks will be opened during major festivals and on commemoration days. 

"We hope the public will be able to truly see what the military and its soldiers are like," Zhu added.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

China hails Indo-Pak participation in SCO Peace Mission exercises


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

China has hailed the participation of Pakistan and India in the Peace Mission anti-terrorism exercises of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson declared on August 27 that their country welcomed the joint Indo-Pak participation in the SCO Peace Mission. 

The week-long exercises were held in Russia and for the first time two neighbouring countries under the banner of the SCO participated, spokesperson Hua Chunying remarked at a regular media briefing in Beijing. 

The Ministry of Defense officials of both the country said that they believe that the two sides can learn from each other, which is a unique opportunity to exchange experiences.

The Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said that they welcomed the joint participation of India and Pakistan in the anti-terrorism exercise under the SCO framework.

“Pakistan and India are important countries in South Asia. The stability of bilateral relations is of great significance to the peace and development of the region and the world,” she said 

“We sincerely hope that the two countries will strengthen bilateral and dialogue and cooperation within multilateral mechanisms such as the SCO, improve bilateral relations, and jointly safeguard regional peace and stability,” she added.

The six-day SCO drills, which have brought the two countries together for the Exercise Peaceful Mission 2018, will continue till August 29 at Chebarkul town in Chelyabinsk Oblast in Russia. 

The exercise is aimed at enhancing cooperation between member states to deal with the growing threat of terrorism and extremism. 

Around 3,000 soldiers from Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan are taking part in the exercise. 

The Pakistan contingent comprises 110 members, while the strength of the Chinese contingent is of 748 personnel. The 200-member strong Indian contingent has 167 Indian Army personnel including four women officers and 33 personnel from the Indian Air Force.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Pakistan may achieve autarky with China’s hybrid wheat


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

Under the guidance of the Belt and Road Initiative, the research and cooperation between Pakistan and China in research of hybrid wheat has been continuously promoted. The achievements will not only benefit the farmers in Pakistan, but also open up a new path for China's agricultural science and technology to go global. 

Recently, at the Peshawar Agricultural University, a scientist informed media that since last year, he planted hybrid wheat from China in his own home. The effect was unexpectedly good. 

"After starting to grow hybrid wheat, I found that the yield of hybrid wheat was more than doubled, so was his income. I am very happy because I can send the children to school. I will advise my relatives and friends to plant hybrid wheat,” he was quoted as saying. 

At present, 44% of the arable land in Pakistan is used to grow wheat, and the Naan Pakistanis eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, are made of wheat, wheat. Production is related to food security throughout the country.

However, Pakistan's wheat monoculture production is below the world average, and Pakistani agricultural scientists have been trying to introduce higher yield wheat varieties. 

In 2016, the experts from Peshawar Agricultural University learned that the application technology of the hybrid wheat developed by the Beijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences was in the forefront of the world, and actively sought the Beijing Hybrid Wheat Engineering Technology Research Center under the Beijing Academy of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences to request cooperation. 

Muhammad Arif, a professor of agronomy at Peshawar Agricultural University, told reporters that the reason why Beijing hybrid wheat was chosen is because the technology of Beijing hybrid wheat is unique in the world. 

“The world is studying hybrid wheat, but so far no country had achieved such great success as China,” he declared. 

“Beijing Hybrid Wheat is a pioneer in the world of hybrid wheat technology, through which it is easy to mass produce hybrid wheat seeds without much labor. This technology is different from the world. The technology of other countries, this is a set of China's own technology system," he added. 

Since 2010, under the joint support of the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Beijing Municipality, the National Natural Science Foundation of China, and the Pakistan Foundation Committee, the Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry/Beijing Hybrid Wheat Engineering Technology Research Center and the Sinochem Group, in cooperation with Wheat Seeds (Beijing) Company Limited, a hybrid wheat test base was established in Lahore and Peshawar, to create new hybrid wheat varieties suitable for Pakistani applications. 

At the same time, the Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry Sciences also specially built the Yunnan Yuanmou Hybrid Wheat Test Base to conduct simultaneous testing with the Pakistani side. After seven years of hard work, in 2017, the trials at Peshawar Agricultural University achieved remarkable results. 

Professor Arif said that if Beijing hybrid wheat is promoted to the whole of Pakistan, it will save a lot of cultivated land for the country.

“Pakistan planted more than 9 million hectares of wheat nationwide, with a total output of 26 million tons and an average yield of more than 2,700 kilograms per hectare. With the help of the team, Chinese hybrid wheat can easily reach 6,000 kg per hectare, which is more than twice that of our local production. If our target output value is 26 million tons of wheat, then we can save after the introduction of Chinese hybrid wheat. A large amount of land is used to grow other agricultural products,” he remarked. 

At present, Peshawar Agricultural University is conducting further experiments on hybrid wheat in Beijing. At the same time, Pakistan Jiade Agricultural Research and Services Company Limited is also involved in the demonstration and promotion of hybrid wheat in Beijing. 

As early as 1999, the company introduced Chinese hybrid rice and achieved large-scale industrialization in Pakistan. In 2012, Jiade Agricultural Research and Service Company Limited, which tasted the sweetness, signed an agreement with China Hybrid Wheat Seeds (Beijing) Company Limited to introduce Chinese hybrid wheat for market development in Pakistan. 

The company's president, Shahru Malik, said that Pakistan has benefited a lot from China's One Belt, One Road initiative and hopes that China-Pakistan agricultural cooperation can benefit both countries at the same time. 

“The Chinese government under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Belt and Road initiative. Policies have been developed to help and promote seed planting in Pakistan, because in agriculture, the production of hybrid seeds and conventional seeds is the most valuable part of agriculture and the most expensive part because it requires huge imports and huge manpower. And efficient regulation. So I think China's policies are good for Pakistan. At the same time, we have fertile land and a suitable climate and good education level. I think these can help our country and China," he said. 

Zemir Awan, former Science and Technology Counselor of the Pakistani Embassy in China and now the Deputy Director of the China Studies Center of the National University of Science and Technology of Pakistan, is the promoter of the China-Pakistan Hybrid Wheat Cooperation Project and the continuous cooperation between China and Pakistan in the framework of the Belt and Road framework. 

“The One Belt, One Road is a Chinese dream, and it is also the dream of Pakistani people. It is not only beneficial to China, but also beneficial to the whole world. Any country joins the Belt and Road will live with greater prosperity.

China’s hybrid wheat production is high, and Pakistan hopes to increase production, which is beneficial to Pakistani farmers, beneficial to the country, and beneficial to our food security. Therefore, we hope to strengthen cooperation with China in wheat hybridization,”

Saturday, August 18, 2018

China reiterates supporting Pakistan on CPEC, deepening bilateral ties


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, has reiterated his country’s support to Pakistan for accomplishment of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

"China is willing to support Pakistan to uphold its sovereignty and right to development and make joint efforts with Pakistan to boost the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, as well as to deepen the bilateral all-weather strategic cooperative partnership," Wang said while meeting with Chairman, Senate of Pakistan, Sadiq Sanjrani, in Beijing. 

Pakistan has just held a successfully general election, Wang said, adding that he believes Pakistan's national construction would gain new achievements under the new government. 

Reciprocating the sentiments on behalf of government and the people of Pakistan, Chairman Senate, Sadiq Sanjrani, said that his country would always uphold the friendly policy towards China, a consensus that reached between the two sides.


The Chairman Senate, leading a 9-member parliamentary delegation, pointed out that the strengthening of relationship between the two countries is the cornerstone of Pakistan's foreign policy. 

"The new government is ready to work with China to push forward the construction of Belt and Road Initiative and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor," Sanjrani was quoted as saying by the Chinese state media. 

The members of the delegation include Senators Mrs Nuzhat Sadiq, Sitara Ayaz, Muhammad Akram, Dilawar Khan, Kauda Babar, Muhammad Azam Khan Swati, Barrister Muhammad Ali Khan Saif and Mirza Muhammad Afridi. Secretary Senate, Amjed Pervez Malik. 

Earlier, the Chairman Senate and his delegation were accorded a warm welcome upon arrival at the airport. The Vice Chairman, Chinese Foreign Affairs Committee of the CPPCC National Committee, Han Fangming received the chairman and his delegation. 

Pakistan's Ambassador to China, Masood Khalid and other senior officials of Pakistan and China were also present on the occasion.

Special teams study China’s model of poverty reduction


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services) 

The newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, who had cited examples of China's poverty alleviation programme during an interview with the Chinese media, has already moved in this direction by sending a special team to China for in-depth study of its poverty reduction model.

The globally-admired initiative which China had undertaken has enabled millions of people to escape from poverty and Pakistan’s new leadership also considers it a way forward in this regard. 

The representatives of the ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI), have already visited China's Yunnan province where the local government briefed them how they attained the poverty-reduction goals, said a report appeared in China.org.cn, a news web portal. 

Pakistan, one of the forefront countries supporting New China in its initial opening-up years, is today being repaid by assisting it in becoming a trade and economic hub on the Arabian Sea. 

The two countries are natural partners and support each other on matters of international politics and economy. That is why Imran Khan is now banking on the goodwill of the past for a stable and far-reaching cooperation in the future.

The new Pakistani government has a single major agenda of bringing the economy back on track. 

Imran Khan, whose political party emerged victorious in the country's recent election, appears ready for some drastic moves, and building on China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of them. 

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship BRI project, is the largest Chinese investment in Pakistan to date. Often termed a game changer, the US$62 billion mega-project involves a massive financial inflow into Pakistan to promote infrastructure, energy and trade development and create many jobs.

Imran Khan has promised continued support to CPEC involving all sectors of Pakistani society. While he has taken up the challenge of turning State-owned companies into profit-generating machines, his plan also has the potential of engaging private industry to ensure success for the CPEC.
 

The national cricket hero-turned-politician laid out his intentions for engaging with Pakistan's closest ally in an interview with the Chinese newspaper the Guangming Daily last month. 

He considers the CPEC as a medium and long-term project, pledging to guarantee the corridor's construction so that both Pakistan and China benefits. 

Imran Khan’s party has identified several areas where cooperation with China will be expanded. 

Clean energy is one area where his neighbour has achieved monumental success. After the industrial boom, China was faced with heavy pollution which had to be tackled by taking radical measures. 

The new Pakistani government also plans to focus on developing indigenous resources and promoting local value-addition approaches. 

This can be worked out by establishing more vocational training institutes in Pakistan and sending young people to China to acquire higher education and better skills. If this goes as plan, the indigenous resource pool will witness augmented benefits from engagement in CPEC projects.

Pakistan has immense manufacturing potential owing to ample availability of raw materials. As the incoming government looks to revitalize Pakistan's industry on modern lines, companies will eventually be looking for global consumption and should be ready for integration with various global supply chains. 

The CPEC and BRI specifically aim to achieve this. Being trade routes in the classical sense, they will provide transportation facilities that can help remodel local industry centers into globally-competitive economies. 

As proclaimed in Khan's election manifesto, he intends to focus on partnerships in development projects undertaken by Chinese entities. This will increase the transfer of knowledge to local firms, improve the skill level of the workforce and bring about sustained results. 

Joint ventures will be encouraged, which will also help Chinese companies to benefit from the local knowledge of their Pakistani partners.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

China-Pakistan relationship to remain unchanged: Media


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Chinese media has stressed that the change in government in Pakistan, following the results of the recently held general elections, would not affect the bonding between the two friendly countries.

China's top official news portal, china.org.cn, known for its contents reflective of its government policies, has highlighted the portion of the victory speech of the Prime Minister in waiting, Imran Khan, in which he pledged to learn from China to combat corruption and promote economic development. 

In over four-minute English language video commentary, Wang Xiaohui, however, clarified that it’s difficult to judge the policies of Pakistan's new administration, just from the television broadcast. 

Tracing the background of Pakistan’s World Cup winning cricket captain, the Chinese analyst has considered Imran to have risen above the traditional politics in the country. Imran, who transformed into a brilliant cricketer during the tour of Australia in 1976-77, after having made his international debut in England in 1971, though had no political background.

Quitting cricket on a high, soon after bringing home the World Cup in 1992, he had entered politics in 1996 by founding his own party. He became a parliamentarian in 2002 and now he is all set to become the new Prime Minister of Pakistan. 

"In this respect, China as Pakistan's all weather friend for half a century can and should provide help and support within its capacity,” Wang asserted. 

“In the past a number of cooperative projects between Pakistan and China including the most important China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) were initiated that had brought vast opportunities to uplift of Pakistani economy including provision of employment and industrial development,” the Chinese analyst reckoned. 

“There may be some differences between the two countries on individual projects of CPEC, however, these are entirely business like and can only be resolved through friendly consultations and equal consultations,” he added. 

“The CPEC involves the common interests of the two countries over the coming decades and will not be reoriented with the change of government. There is no reason to dub it. But in any case the iron friendship between China and Pakistan will remain unchanged", he concluded.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Hassan Daud appointed CPEC projects spokesperson

By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
 
The Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms, Government of Pakistan, has appointed Hassan Daud as the spokesperson on matters related to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). 

The ministry, through a statement, has announced that Hassan Daud, who is Project Director of the CPEC Support Project, will be authorized to issue statements on status of CPEC projects to all forums if required after due approval. 

“All concerned including center of excellence CPEC (PIDE) are advised to acknowledge this in view of importance and coherence of CPEC arrangements”, the statement said adding that any official participating in CPEC related event should coordinate with CPEC secretariat ministry of planning for updated information on all CPEC related activities. 


When contacted by PNFS, Hassan Daud vowed to keep the media posted of the developments regarding the CPEC projects as and when they happened. 

“Whenever an activity takes place in this regard and we have newsworthy stuff to share we will do it right away,” he stated in a brief chat. 

The CPEC, a framework of regional connectivity, will not only benefit China and Pakistan but will have positive impact on Iran, Afghanistan, India, Central Asian Republic, and the region. 

Having founded peace, development, and win-win model for all of them, it is deemed as a journey towards economic regionalization in the globalized world. The CPEC is considered to be a hope of better region of the future with peace, development and growth of economy.

Overseas students, including Pakistanis, set to take up part-time jobs in China


By Masood Sattar Khan
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The overseas students, including over 20,000 Pakistanis, in China are set to be benefitted from the revamped policy of Beijing allowing international students to take up part-time jobs. 

China will allow international students at Chinese universities nationwide to take part-time jobs during their studies to make the country's higher educational system more attractive, the Ministry of Education said in a statement provided to China Daily on August 7. 

The government of China has been introducing a number of exploratory changes allowing international students in Beijing and Shanghai to take part-time jobs or internships off campus as long as they obtain approval from their academic institutions and the entry and exit administrative authorities. 

In 2016, the Ministry of Public Security had implemented new policies to allow foreign students recommended by their host universities in Beijing to take part-time jobs with companies in the city's Zhongguancun Science Park or become involved in entrepreneurship in the area, where they get an annotation of ‘entrepreneurship’ added to their student visa. 

With around 22,000 Pakistanis studying in Chinese universities, China has now become the largest destination for Pakistani students seeking overseas studies, an official revealed while giving break up including 3,000 students were completing their PhD degrees while others are studying engineering, economics, management, agriculture, medicine, information technology, communication and other majors. 

One of the major reasons for Pakistani students to be attracted to Chinese universities was that they were confident of getting employment after their studies in projects being completed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship initiative of Belt and Road Initiative. 

According to statistics released by the Chinese Ministry of Education, more than 200,000 students from 64 countries along the Belt and Road Initiative were studying in China. 

The number of pupils studying in China from countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road has increased greatly under a series of preferential policies, an education officials said.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Creating waves on Social Media networking sites

By Zena Mason
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The omnipresent "thumbs up" sign has become an integral part of all forms of social media websites, from Facebook itself to Linkedin, Twitter, the fitness tracking site MyFitnessPal and language learning sites. 

Though Facebook has evolved "likes" to include "reactions," there is a consistent theme of judging the content of your posts by how many "likes" you receive. "Likes" can be thought of as a simple barometer of approval. 

You post baby photos on Facebook and 50 of your friends like it. You make a poignant statement on Twitter and someone retweets it. You find a picture and write an article post on Linkedin. Upon seeing the "likes" start to trickle in, you get a buzz of social approval.

Interestingly, the need for social approval, something which before the "like" button, social networking or the internet, used to either occur face-to-face and with other factors in play. 

With the "like" button, there are no nuances of face-to-face interaction. You know they hit "like," but you can't necessarily know why. Maybe people clicked "like" because they were in a good mood. 

Maybe they bumped the thread because they disliked something you said and want to come after you. 

Maybe there is some idea in your post that they wanted to save without caring about other things that you do. Another result of the "like" button is the speed. 

Because you can post things immediately, you can respond immediately trends in your audience, particularly if you use all the free trend analysis software available for virtually all the social networking sites.

On my Quora site, I noticed that after writing several articles, all with varying rates of writing quality and time put into them, it was controversial politics topics where I got the most views. 

Media has changed, but people still love a good old fashioned sensation. But at what cost? Are people's attention spans decreasing because there is less of a need to put thought into what they do, or are their attentions too shallow because they are spread over so many different topics and platforms? 

It is in the interests of many websites to get people "hooked" on their website and pay for yearly subscriptions to use and/or share more specialised content such as language lessons and weight loss regimens. 

Because social networking sites are structured in a certain way, they encourage you to think in a certain way. In facebook, if you want feedback on anything, it's like lowering a bait into the water and waiting for the fishes to bite. 

It's an almost passive manner of expressing yourself. You have some idea of what you think your friends will like and you tentatively prepare the content with certainty about what the result will be. 

This is why, even though it has been done hundreds and thousands of times before with superior lighting, angles and reasons to post it, people keep posting the very same dishes, because there is an illusion of some kind of success.

The illusion of "likes" is that it is actually very easy to get thousands of likes but if they are from the wrong people it means nothing. 

I post things on social media because I want to keep track of things I like and find interesting. 

Because I post unique things, not things that are guaranteed to get plenty of likes, I learn things about my friends. 

I shared an emotional story about a specific aspect of mental health, and I found out who amongst my friends sympathised with that because they also have that issue or support a close friend or family member who have it. 

In today's society, we are so scatterbrained with the myriad of things that we have to think about. I usually find success with Social Media when I focus on a single topic. Topics are great because they are usually tags and can be found in all kinds of search engines. 

For every topic, there are a definite number of users, likes and any other statistic you can think of. Everyone has varying levels of interest with every topic, which is important to consider depending on whether you're trying to sell something, build a network, learn a language, socialise, rally support or crowd fund. 

Some people are more focused than others, but it is the focused people, not the unfocused people, who will pay for memberships, organise activities and do work. So want more positive engagement from your social networking sites? Forget "likes." 

**The writer is based at Acton, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.