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Huitao Technology Announces Entering into Cooperation Agreement with Color China Entertainment to Provide Online Music Courses

BEIJING, March 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Huitao Technology Co., Ltd. (Nasdaq CM: HHT) (the "Company", "we" or "HHT"), a company engaged in the businesses of producing advanced ready-mix concrete materials and providing education services, announced today that its wholly owned subsidiary, CACM Group NY, Inc. ("CACM") has entered into a Cooperation Agreement (the "Agreement") with Color China Entertainment Co., Ltd. ("Color China"), who will provide online music courses to the Company's online education platform which is being deployed. Such cooperation will allow the Company's platform to give students all over the world a chance to connect with renowned music artists. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves every day, school education has become an unresolved challenge for worldwide students and educators alike. Our online education platform is expected to offer new learning opportunities where students can have access to high-quality education straight from their homes. Registered in Hong Kong, Color China is an integrated media company operating in multiple segments of the entertainment sector, with massive media assets in music production, songwriting, musical instruments and performing arts. Color China is planning to open a global learning center in New York to launch a virtual entertainment community for online learning and aims to become the world's leading music course provider with a combination of online and offline courses, as well as impact on celebrity-fan dynamic. "We are pleased to partner with Color China to roll out the new online learning initiative as we share the same vision and excitement to move our strategy forward together. With our collective resources, the collaboration will help bring our online course offerings to the next level and benefit our students over the long-term," said Mr. Yang (Sean) Liu, the Chief Executive Officer of HHT. Mr. Xin (Muze) Wu, Chairman of Color China commented, "We are honored to join HHT's efforts to build a powerful online education platform and provide a wide range of online music courses. The signing of the Agreement is a significant milestone in developing a competitive online learning platform for our students. We are confident the partnership will strengthen our capability to grow and expand our market share." About Huitao Technology Co., Ltd. The Company is a holding company whose primary business operations are conducted through its wholly-owned subsidiaries CACM Group NY, Inc., Xin Ao Construction Materials, Inc. ("Xin Ao"), Beijing Ao Hang Construction Materials Technology Co., Ltd., Sunway Kids International Education Group Ltd. ("Sunway Kids"), Brave Millennium Limited, Chengdu Hengshanghui Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd. and its variable interest entities, Beijing Xin Ao Concrete Group and Chengdu Hengshanghui Education Consulting Co., Ltd. Xin Ao engages in the production of advanced construction materials for large scale infrastructure, commercial and residential developments, primarily focused on engineering, producing, servicing, delivering and pumping a comprehensive range of advanced ready-mix concrete materials for highly technical, large scale, and environmental-friendly construction projects. Sunway Kids engages in the early childhood education service business, providing a well-structured system to day cares and preschools in China, including AI and robotic technologies, intellectual campus administration software as a service (SaaS) system and personalized education planning. The Company also anticipates providing an after-school tutoring program in New York via Baytao, a newly formed joint venture and provide online learning via a platform being built by CACM. For more information, please visit Forward-Looking Statements Certain statements made herein are "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as "anticipate", "believe", "expect", "estimate", "plan", "outlook", and "project" and other similar expressions that predict or indicate future events or trends or that are not statements of historical matters. Such forward-looking statements include timing of the proposed transaction; the business plans, objectives, expectations and intentions of the parties once the transaction is complete, and HHT's estimated and future results of operations, business strategies, competitive position, industry environment and potential growth opportunities. These forward-looking statements reflect the current analysis of existing information and are subject to various risks and uncertainties. As a result, caution must be exercised in relying on forward-looking statements. Due to known and unknown risks, our actual results may differ materially from our expectations or projections. All forward-looking statements attributable to the Company or persons acting on its behalf are expressly qualified in their entirety by these factors. Other than as required under the securities laws, the Company does not assume a duty to update these forward-looking statements. The following factors, among others, could cause actual results to differ materially from those described in these forward-looking statements: there is uncertainty about the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the impact it will have on HHT's operations, the demand for the HHT's products and services, global supply chains and economic activity in general. These and other risks and uncertainties are detailed in the other public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the "SEC") by HHT.  Additional information concerning these and other factors that may impact our expectations and projections will be found in our periodic filings with the SEC, including our Annual Report on Form 20-F for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019. HHT's SEC filings are available publicly on the SEC's website at HHT disclaims any obligation to update the forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise. View original content: launches COVID-19 international traveler's guide

SHANGHAI, March 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- In light of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on international travel, today launched the 'COVID-19 International Traveler's Guide', a one-stop information source designed to make planning travel safer and easier in a period of uncertainty.   The all-new COVID-19 International Traveler’s Guide On the upgraded page, users have at their disposal a suite of tools, information and news to make informed decisions about prospective travel plans. The 'Country/Region Entry Restrictions' tool now allows users to input their desired destination and travel history, to see at a glance whether their travel will be restricted by the most up-to-date immigration policies. Users can also find on the page the most recent cancellation provisions from, updates on relief efforts, and statistics on the state of the global pandemic. The new tool is the latest iteration in a series of measures taken by the leading international online travel services provider to deliver on its promise of safe, seamless and pleasant travel experiences for users. From the beginning of the outbreak in late January, has provided daily updates on entry restrictions, documentation requirements and quarantine measures for countries and regions on its website in various languages, including English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese (Traditional), covering more than 15 markets internationally. has also provided constant updates to its cancellation policies, extending cancellation coverage for travelers unable to travel due to diagnosis with the virus, working on the frontlines of the medical effort, or immigration restrictions in their destination. The platform has also streamlined extended cancellation provisions in line with the Safeguard Cancellation Guarantee initiative, led by Group. Through the initiative, Group united industry partners with the initiative to give peace of mind to its 400 million users worldwide in a time of uncertainty. In addition to its efforts to make travel safer and easier for customers, Group also recently announced an initiative that has seen the donation of 1 million surgical masks to countries across the globe. "Our mission is to make travel pleasant," said Group Chairman James Liang. "During this time of uncertainty, we feel it is our responsibility to do our utmost to give travelers peace of mind, and to bring the world together at this crucial moment in the fight against the pandemic." continues to monitor developments to ensure the safety of all travelers. The COVID-19 International Traveler's Guide is available at: About is a leading international online one-stop travel service provider, available in 19 languages across 23 countries and regions. Our platform combines over 1.2 million hotels in 200 countries and regions, 2 million flights connecting more than 5000 cities, and world-class 24/7 English language customer service as well as additional centers in Edinburgh, Tokyo and Seoul, 'making every trip the perfect trip' for our millions of customers worldwide. Logo - -

Meituan Dianping Announces Financial Results for the Year Ended December 31, 2019

HONG KONG, March 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Meituan Dianping (HKG: 3690) (the "Company" or "Meituan"), China's leading e-commerce platform for services, today announced the audited consolidated results of the Company for the year ended December 31, 2019. Company Financial Highlights In the year ended December 31, 2019, we achieved strong revenues growth and profitability improvement across all major business segments. Moreover, we achieved an important milestone of turning both operating profit and operating cash flow positive first time in our history. Total revenues increased by 49.5% year-over-year to RMB97.5 billion from RMB65.2 billion in 2018. Total gross profit increased by 114.0% year-over-year to RMB32.3 billion from RMB15.1 billion in 2018, and operating profit turned to positive RMB2.7 billion from negative RMB11.1 billion in 2018. Adjusted EBITDA and adjusted net profit were RMB7.3 billion and RMB4.7 billion in 2019, respectively. Our operating cash flow turned to positive RMB5.6 billion in 2019 from negative RMB9.2 billion in 2018. We had cash and cash equivalents of RMB13.4 billion and short-term investments of RMB49.4 billion as of December 31, 2019, compared to the balance of RMB17.0 billion and RMB41.8 billion, respectively, as of December 31, 2018. "2019 was a year in which we experienced solid growth in our core business," said Xing Wang, Chairman and CEO of Meituan. "Our 2019 performance demonstrated our strategy of building China's leading e-commerce platform for services. We strengthened our clear leadership in food-related local services, and continued to penetrate both the demand and supply sides of broader local services." "Since the beginning of 2020, the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in tremendous near-term shocks to many industries in China. As an industry leader mindful of the social responsibility that comes with our position, we have proactively provided supply assistance and helped to secure people's livelihoods in pandemic-stricken areas. We have also continued to provide our services to people nationwide to ensure that their lives are not adversely affected during the crisis," Wang said. "Despite the short-term setback, we have strong confidence in our long-term growth. The pandemic has made society more aware of the urgency and importance of digitizing the service industry on both the demand and supply sides, and it has also strengthened our determination to continue upgrading many of the core elements of our business model," he added. Company Business Highlights Food delivery As the world's leading food delivery service provider, we further strengthened our market-leading position in terms of consumer base, merchant base and delivery network during 2019. As we grow our business, we have also improved the unit economics of our food delivery business on a year-over-year basis consecutively over the past four quarters due to increasing economies of scale. In 2019, GTV of our food delivery business increased by 38.9% to RMB392.7 billion. The daily average number of food delivery transactions increased by 36.4% to 23.9 million. The average value per order of our food delivery business increased by 1.8% year-over-year. Monetization Rate[i] of our food delivery business increased to 14.0% from 13.5% in 2018. As a result, revenues increased by 43.8% year-over-year to RMB54.8 billion in 2019. Gross profit from our food delivery business increased by 94.2% to RMB10.2 billion in 2019, while gross margin expanded to 18.7% from 13.8% year-over-year. In the fourth quarter of 2019, total GTV of our food delivery business increased by 39.9% year-over-year to RMB112.1 billion and the daily average number of food delivery transactions increased by 36.7% year-over-year to 27.2 million. The average value per order of our food delivery business increased by 2.3% year-over-year to RMB44.8, and Monetization Rate of our food delivery business increased to 14.0%. As a result, revenues from food delivery increased by 42.8% year-over-year to RMB15.7 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019. Gross profit from our food delivery business increased by 89.4% year-over-year to RMB2.8 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, while gross margin expanded to 17.7% from 13.4% year-over-year. On the consumer front, owing to our early, forceful expansion into lower-tier cities, we currently enjoy a significant first-mover advantage and stand to benefit from the ongoing trend that demand in lower-tier cities continues to grow alongside the rising levels of consumption. Our food delivery business in lower-tier cities made a larger contribution and exhibited higher growth in terms of GTV in full year 2019 as well as the fourth quarter of 2019. Moreover, lower-tier cities continued to be the main driver of our user growth in 2019. Attributable to our improvements to operational teams, delivery network and marketing capabilities as well as positive word-of-mouth, we continued to acquire new users, the majority of which came from third-tier cities and below. Meanwhile, as we continued to expand the quality food supply, delivery categories, available hours and delivery distance to better satisfy consumer demand, purchase frequency of our repeat consumers continued to improve. The successful rollout of our Food Delivery Membership Program in 2019 further enabled us to improve the order frequency and loyalty of these repeat consumers. Moreover, our Food Delivery Membership Program effectively boosted consumer impulse consumptions during off-peak hours. Consumer demand during off-peak hours, including breakfast, afternoon tea and late night snacks, continued to grow rapidly in the fourth quarter of 2019, with increasing needs for more personalized and high-quality online food supplies. In particular, delivery volume of healthy light meals, salad, desserts and beverages all achieved strong growth in the fourth quarter of 2019. On the merchant front, as the leading platform with sufficient user traffic, we helped millions of restaurants maximize their exposure to online channels and increase online sales in 2019. In addition to cost-effective on-demand delivery infrastructure, we continued to optimize our comprehensive set of solutions to empower local merchants in 2019. These include solutions for online marketing, production and operation digitalization, integrated payment, food distribution and financing services. For example, we introduced dish-based recommendation feeds for restaurants in August 2019 and continued to optimize this marketing solution for merchants in the fourth quarter of 2019. This dish-based recommendation feeds provide more opportunities to merchants to showcase their popular local dishes and attract new consumers while increasing their conversion ratios. More notably, because of our continuous efforts in developing innovative online marketing products to help food delivery merchants enhance their exposure to potential consumers and further boost their marketing efficiency, increasingly more food delivery merchants have adopted our online marketing services in 2019. Online marketing revenues of food delivery business grew robustly, increasing by 118.6% year-over-year. Moreover, we continued to improve our marketplace products to provide restaurants with more useful tools for enhancing their operating efficiency. For example, we introduced an intelligent diagnosis tool for restaurant merchants on their product quality and guidance on product mix optimization. Furthermore, in the fourth quarter of 2019, we released four targeted solutions, including digital business solution, specialized production solution, diversified marketing solution, and intelligent service solution. Through these solutions, our goal is to help millions of merchants build next generation stores, identify and resolve online operation pain points, achieve seamless integration between online and offline operations, and enhance service and product quality. On the delivery front, we further solidified our advantages in delivery efficiency attributable to higher order density, refinement of our proprietary dispatching system algorithms, and optimization of our operational capabilities in 2019. In addition, we began to fine-tune our delivery service segmentation and our delivery network mobilization capacity, especially during off-peak hours, extreme weather conditions and holidays in the second half of 2019, which enabled us to further lower our delivery cost per order while ensuring a consistent level of user experience over the past two quarters. At the same time, to maintain the consistency in our delivery service quality, we require our delivery partners to set and continuously refine strict delivery riders recruitment standards and closely monitor their adherence to our service standards. In addition, we helped our partners establish legally compliant management systems to ensure fire safety and driving safety, and required them to provide regular training to delivery riders to promote their awareness of safety compliance. We continued to exert efforts on improving delivery riders' corporate affinity and attaining increasing social respect through the "717 Delivery Riders' Day" celebration, "Delivery Riders Guardian Program," and offering free counseling to delivery riders, among others. In-store, hotel & travel Our in-store, hotel & travel businesses continued to solidify its market leadership and further demonstrated strong monetization capability in 2019. GTV of our in-store, hotel & travel businesses grew by 25.6% year-over-year to RMB222.1 billion in 2019. Revenues from our in-store, hotel & travel businesses increased by 40.6% year-over-year to RMB22.3 billion in 2019. Gross profit of our in-store, hotel & travel businesses increased by 40.1% year-over-year to RMB19.7 billion in 2019, while gross margin remained relatively flat year-over-year. GTV growth of our in-store, hotel & travel businesses continued to accelerate for the fourth quarter of 2019, growing by 35.3% year-over-year to RMB60.4 billion. Revenues from our in-store, hotel & travel businesses increased by 38.4% year-over-year to RMB6.4 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019. Gross profit from our in-store, hotel & travel businesses increased to RMB5.6 billion for the fourth quarter of 2019, while gross margin increased to 88.8% from 86.8% year-over-year. For our in-store business, the year-over-year growth rate of commission revenues from transaction-based products re-accelerated in the beginning of the second half of 2019 and continued to accelerate during the fourth quarter of 2019. Online marketing revenues also maintained strong growth momentum throughout the year, with around 55% increase year-over-year in 2019. The impressive results achieved in 2019 were mainly due to the refinement in our business operations, our strengthened content creation capabilities, expansion in the range of product and service offerings and enhanced location-based algorithms. First, we reorganized our sales team and expanded our coverage for high-quality restaurant merchants in 2019. By dividing restaurant merchants into different categories, our sales team has gained a better understanding of each merchant category and is increasingly capable of providing more personalized product solutions. Second, our continuous enhancement of location-based algorithms was key in helping local service merchants maximize the impact of their online marketing and further refine their marketing precision via user-generated local search queries. We were also able to further leverage the user profiles generated from our database to gauge user demand on our platform across different service categories and promote additional cross-selling opportunities. Third, we continued to diversify our affordable marketing products and tools for merchants. Merchant base penetration rate of our cost-per-click advertising products and subscription-based services increased steadily throughout 2019. Our interest-based feeds, which were rolled out in late 2018 and have barely been monetized at the current stage, also enabled merchants to tailor and promote their content within the editorial feed, display their content to a larger audience, and achieve a higher click-through-rate. Fourth, we continued to advance our operational capabilities through the execution of numerous promotional activities and campaigns in 2019. These promotional activities and campaigns included, to name a few, "Super Brand Food Festival," "2019 Parent-Child Fantasy Day," "Chinese Valentine's Day Special Campaign," "Double 11 Carnival," and "Double 12 Carnival." All of these theme-based promotional campaigns were exceptionally well received by the market. Lastly, we continued to make good progress in the development of our content ecosystem in 2019, which has also helped improve the marketing efficiency of merchants on our platform. As of December 31, 2019, we had accumulated over 7.7 billion user-generated reviews on our platform for millions of merchants in China. Moreover, our refinement of interest-based feeds within the Dianping app has resulted in a more visually appealing user interface, an increasingly personalized content delivery system, and the rapid growth of both DAUs and user time spent on the application for the full year of 2019. Meanwhile, our enhanced Black Pearl Restaurant Guide, Must List Series, and other initiatives have risen in popularity among consumers. Importantly, these features enable consumers to not only discover and explore a broad range of local service categories, but also allow our recommended merchants to generate higher sales, augment their brand influence, streamline their operations, and bolster their product offerings through consumer reviews that are both authentic and dynamic. With respect to our hotel booking business, we further strengthened our leading position in 2019. The number of domestic room nights consumed on our platform in 2019 increased by 38.2% year-over-year to 392.4 million. Average daily rate per room night also experienced a steady year-over-year growth. More notably, the growth of domestic room nights in the fourth quarter of 2019 further accelerated and increased by 47.9% year-over-year, reaching 110 million quarterly room nights for two consecutive quarters. In 2019, we further solidified our leading position in lower-tier cities and low-star hotel segment because of our increased efforts on exploring offline traffic conversion and new traffic channels. Meanwhile, our high-star hotel booking business maintained healthy growth in 2019. Our "Hotel + X" strategy has enabled us to develop deeper relationships with an increasing number of high-star hotel groups by helping them increase their non-lodging revenues streams. Revenues contribution from high-end hotels further increased year-over-year for the fourth quarter of 2019. New initiatives and others Revenues from the new initiatives and others segment increased by 81.5% year-over-year to RMB20.4 billion in 2019. Gross profit of the new initiatives and others segment increased to positive RMB2.3 billion in 2019 from negative RMB4.3 billion in 2018, while gross margin improved to positive 11.5% in 2019 from negative 37.9% in 2018. In the fourth quarter of 2019, revenues in this segment increased by 44.8% year-over-year to RMB6.1 billion in 2019. Gross profit increased to positive RMB1.3 billion in 2019 from negative RMB1.0 billion in 2018, while gross margin further expanded to positive 21.2% in 2019 from negative 23.3% in 2018. For our bike-sharing and car-hailing services, we successfully reduced our losses during 2019 while improving operation efficiencies and developing synergies with other businesses on our platform. With respect to our bike-sharing services, most of our older bikes reached the end of their useful lives in the third quarter of 2019. As such, we have gradually replaced the remaining older bikes with new Meituan Bikes, which are painted in Meituan yellow, have a longer life span, are modified for a better user experience and may only be unlocked through the Meituan app. We believe that the new Meituan Bikes would have better unit economics and could create more synergies with our platform as compared to the old Mobike model. With respect to our car-hailing services, we have improved our control of operating losses after rolling out the "aggregated" model in 2019. We operated our car-hailing services in 54 cities as of the end of 2019. In 2019, we continued to drive supply side digitization by investing in our restaurant management system and B2B food distribution services. With respect to our restaurant management system services, emphasis on merchant quality has become a priority in 2019, and both the number and percentage of high-quality merchants have increased. Continuous investment in R&D, product upgrade, as well as a higher standard of post-sale service quality further strengthened our position in this space. For the B2B food distribution services, we prioritized merchant development, product selection, and core capabilities in 2019. We focused on the development and maintenance of high-quality merchants as well as the growth of average revenue per user through an increase in their wallet share, purchase frequency, and ticket size. In addition, we adjusted our product structure according to the geographic distribution and purchase frequency of merchants. Notably, fresh produce and meat products accounted for a higher proportion of our product selection in 2019. We have also bolstered our quality control and pricing management capabilities for fresh products. With respect to our grocery retail services, we continued to explore both our self-operated model and marketplace model while improving the operational efficiencies of both. With respect to our self-operated Meituan Grocery model, we have increased our warehouse density by setting up 96 warehouses in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, as well as by establishing more than 30 locations for self-pickup in Wuhan as of the end of 2019. With respect to our marketplace model, Meituan Instashopping is positioned to be an online marketplace with tens of thousands of SKUs. These SKUs range from items that meet the daily needs of consumers to specialty items from selected vertical service categories, such as medical products and flowers. Notably, GTV growth of both medical products and flowers on our platform achieved robust growth in 2019. Company Outlook for 2020 and Potential Adverse Impact of the Recent Coronavirus Outbreak Since the beginning of 2020, the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in tremendous near-term shocks to many industries in China. Local services, which are the focus of our e-commerce platform, have been impacted by this pandemic in many ways. Especially, the pandemic has already caused severe disruptions to the daily operations of our merchants, including restaurants, local services merchants and hotels, which in turn resulted in downward pressure on our own operations for the first quarter of 2020. Business segments such as food delivery and in-store, hotel and travel are all facing significant challenges on the demand side and supply side. As a result of the pandemic, we estimate that we would experience negative year-over-year revenues growth and operating loss for the first quarter of 2020. Due to the high uncertainty of the evolving situation, we are unable to fully ascertain the expected impact on full year 2020 at this stage; however, if it takes longer for user demand and merchant operations to recover to normal levels as the pandemic continues, the results of our operations for the following quarters could also be adversely impacted. In face of such a severe pandemic, the first thing that comes across our mind is our position as an industry leader and the social responsibilities attached to our position. Therefore, we have been proactively providing supply assistance and helping to secure people's livelihood in pandemic-stricken areas. Additionally, we have continued to provide our services to people nationwide to ensure that their normal lives are not adversely affected during the pandemic. At the very early stage of the pandemic, we established a special support fund of RMB200 million for medical staff across the country, with a focus on supporting medical staff in key areas of pandemic prevention and control, such as Wuhan, as well as medical teams who have come to Wuhan from other parts of the country to support local medical staff. We were the first to introduce "contact-free" delivery services in Wuhan, which has now been rolled out nationwide. Our Meituan Instashopping business continues to cooperate with supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, fruit and vegetable stores in Wuhan and other regions to provide consumers with on-demand delivery of food, medicines, daily consumer goods and other products. Our grocery shopping business also continues to increase its number of high-quality suppliers, strengthen its food safety management, increase its procurement capabilities, and ensure the supply of groceries during the pandemic. During the pandemic, we extended the emergency service guarantee policy for travel orders to speed up the refund process for hotels, travel as well as train and air tickets. Our B2B food distribution services have also opened green channels for medical institutions in 34 cities while overcoming inventory and capacity challenges to ensure adequate supply of food during the pandemic. We have also suspended fee collection for the use of our bikes in Hubei during the pandemic, while donating more than 2.15 million free ride passes to medical professionals fighting against the coronavirus across the country. Our car-hailing services have rolled out the first real-name public transport system in China to assist the government to track pandemic information. We are also providing job matching services for millions of local service providers and tens of millions of participants. To date, we have released 200,000 delivery riders job openings and thousands of other job openings across campuses and throughout the country. At the same time, we have launched a series of assistance programs to help small and medium-sized merchants in the local service industry overcome the severe difficulties that they are facing during the pandemic. For example, we established a special fund to support the resumption of operations for merchants across the country. Further, we are working with our bank partners to provide RMB20 billion of loans with preferential interest rates to various merchants while providing free online courses to merchants on the best practices in pandemic response, food safety, storefront operations and other topics. With respect to our food delivery business, we have waived commissions for all food delivery restaurant merchants in Wuhan until after the city lockdown is over. Also, we have returned a portion of commissions to high-quality food delivery restaurant merchants nationwide to be used for online promotion and marketing in the future while providing free traffic support and subsidies to these merchants. With respect to our in-store business, we have waived commissions for the months of February and March for in-store dining restaurant merchants and local service merchants in Hubei as well as February commissions for in-store dining restaurant merchants and local service merchants across the country. In addition, we have extended the validity period of subscription-based services for two additional months for recently on-boarded in-store dining restaurant merchants and local service merchants as well as for those who have renewed their contracts with us within a specified period. With respect to our hotel and travel businesses, we provide subsidies to hotels, guesthouses and tourist attractions nationwide that worth a total of RMB1 billion, primarily to be used for online promotion and marketing. We also provide free insurance products to restaurant merchants in Wuhan and their employees, restaurant management systems to eligible restaurant merchants in Hubei, and anti-pandemic supplies and hotel management systems to hotels and guesthouses in Hubei. We also launched a series of campaigns to further promote the gradual recovery of consumption. By establishing "Safe-dining Restaurants," "Safe-stay Hotels," and other services, we utilized our online capabilities to guide merchants in the process of streamlining, standardizing, and digitizing their pandemic and safety measures to help merchants attract customers. In addition, we launched "Safe Consumption Month" to provide consumers with subsidies and other benefits as well as our "Safe Reservation" services in cooperation with more than 50,000 in-store dining restaurants and tens of thousands of hotels and attractions across the country. Meanwhile, we are providing additional support to our delivery riders who remain committed to providing delivery services during the pandemic. For example, we are implementing strict health management systems for our delivery riders, distributing pandemic prevention and control knowledge, upgrade anti-septic and pandemic prevention measures at delivery stations across the country, and provide insurance to our delivery riders. We will continue to implement and refine these measures to support every player in our ecosystem. Although many businesses would be adversely impacted by the pandemic in 2020, we believe that many industries will re-accelerate towards a better direction in the long run. The pandemic has also made the society more aware of the urgency and importance of digitizing the service industry on both the demand and supply sides. As the leading e-commerce platform for services, we will be an important promoter, leader and long-term beneficiary of this long-term trend. In 2020, we will continue to execute our "Food + Platform" strategy and fulfill our mission of "We help people eat better, live better." We will live up to the challenges throughout this pandemic, create more value for consumers and merchants, enhance consumer stickiness and deepen merchant relationship. Meanwhile, we will continue to actively invest in the areas in our ecosystem that we believe will drive the growth of our business, including merchants, consumers, delivery network, and technology. For the full announcement of Meituan 2019 annual results, please visit: About Meituan Dianping Meituan Dianping (HKG: 3690) (the "Company" or "Meituan") is China's leading e-commerce platform for services. With the mission of "We help people eat better, live better," the Company's platform uses technology to connect consumers and merchants. Service offerings on the platform address people's daily needs for food, and extend further to broad lifestyle and travel services. Meituan is the world's leading on-demand food delivery service provider and China's leading e-commerce platform for in-store dining services. Meituan helps consumers discover merchant information, make informed decisions, complete online and offline transactions and enjoy on-demand delivery. The Company currently owns several household brands in China, including Meituan, China's leading online marketplace for services, Dianping, China' s leading online destination for discovering local services, Meituan Waimai for on-demand delivery services, and Meituan Bikes for bike-sharing services. Meituan has 450.5 million Annual Transacting Users and 6.2 million Annual Active Merchants as of December 31, 2019. The Company operates in over 2,800 cities and counties in China. Forward-Looking Statements This press release contains forward-looking statements relating to the business outlook, forecast business plans and growth strategies of the Company. These forward-looking statements are based on information currently available to the Company and are stated herein on the basis of the outlook at the time of this press release. They are based on certain expectations, assumptions and premises, some of which are subjective or beyond our control. These forward-looking statements may prove to be incorrect and may not be realized in future. Underlying the forward-looking statements is a large number of risks and uncertainties. Further information regarding these risks and uncertainties is included in our other public disclosure documents on our corporate website. For media inquiries, please contact: Meituan Edmond LococoICR Inc.Email: Tel: +86 138-1079-1408 [i] Monetization rate equals the revenues for the year/period divided by the Gross Transaction Volume for the year/period. Photo - Related Links :

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The United States reported 82,404 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 6 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time on Thursday (2200 GMT), according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. The United States has surpassed China to become the country with the most COVID-19 cases in the world, according to the CSSE.(CGTN)


Spain extends national lockdown, medical supplies under strain

Spanish parliament on Thursday agreed to extend the national lockdown until April 11, as both deaths and infections of coronavirus continue to rise. Officials warned the situation this week would be particularly bad."It is not easy to extend the state of emergency,"Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament."I am convinced the only efficient option against the virus is social isolation."The coronavirus death toll in Spain surged to 4,089 after 655 people died within 24 hours, the health ministry said on Thursday, a 19 percent increase from Wednesday.Elderly nursing home residents have been particularly hard hit. In Madrid, the region worst affected by the virus, authorities pledged to assess each residence and take urgent action as infections and deaths among their vulnerable population mounted.An ice rink in Madrid has been converted into a morgue and 13-time Champions League winners Real Madrid said their Santiago Bernabeu stadium would be used to store medical supplies.Members of Spanish army bring water bottles to Severo Ochoa Hospital during the coronavirus disease outbreak in Leganes, Spain, March 26, 2020. /ReutersCoronavirus cases rose by 18 percent to 56,188 on Wednesday, a slower rate than in the past few days. Health emergency chief Fernando Simon said the start of mass testing would reveal more infections, even as Health Minister Salvador Illa cautiously told parliament the data "made us think we are starting a stabilization phase."With the world's fourth-highest number of cases, Spain is feeling the pinch of a global shortage of protective equipment."We are in a real war to get hold of ventilators, face masks and quick test kits,"Budget Minister Maria Jesus Montero told reporters."All the countries are fighting to secure domestic production, fighting to get supplies from China,"she said.Spain has ordered 432 million euros (471.4 millionU.S. dollars) of goods from China, asked NATO for help and pledged to support factories adapting their production lines to make more goods at home.Separately, prices of medical supplies had gone up 10-fold in some cases due to surging prices of raw materials. There were queues of aircraft in some Chinese airports just to buy such supplies and middlemen often defrauded buyers. China's Embassy in Madrid warned buyers that some manufacturers did not have a licence to sell.Data show that the price of melt-blown fabric, the middle layer of a face mask, acting as the filter that stops microbes from entering or exiting the mask, increased more than 15 times after the coronavirus outbreak, from 20,000 per ton to about 350,000 per ton. And the cost infrared temp guns, an device to measure body temperature, also increased by 10 times."Many complained that the price rise is too steep, but there is nothing we can do. The price of raw materials like sensors, MCU and plastic cases all increased sharply by 10 to 20 times respectively," the owner of a Hubei-based face mask factory told CGTN.(Cover image: Ambulance workers in full protective gear arrive with a patient at the Severo Ochoa Hospital during the coronavirus disease outbreak in Leganes, Spain, March 26, 2020.)(CGTN)


Insightsmore >>

Petty nationalism or intl. cooperation? SCO may set an example

Editor's note:Djoomart Otorbaev is the former prime minister of the Kyrgyz Republic, a distinguished professor of the Belt and Road School of Beijing Normal University, and a member of Nizami Ganjavi International Center. The article reflects the author's views, and not necessarily those of CGTN.During the last few days, the pandemic situation has become much worse. The total cases and death toll demonstrate the exponential growth. People around the world are deeply concerned and businesses are in panic. A truly horrific scenario might be in front of all humanity.What we observe now are dozens of uncoordinated "national" reactions to the pandemic. Most actions look chaotic and are not functioning as they should. Comparing the early responses of different nations – take China and Italy, for example – to me, it is clear that only coordinated international efforts can prevent the worst-case scenarios.However let's be honest with ourselves. Judging by what we see today, a coordinated global response to the pandemic is highly unlikely. Instead of deciding how to resolutely fight the common enemy, many "policymakers" are wasting their energy in a war of words, blame games, etc. My strong suggestion would be to start to work together on regional levels.As of now, China is the only country in the world which has brought a large-scale COVID-19 pandemicunder control. Now China wants to help other countries stop the virus. But how can they assist 150+ countries at the same time?As the first step toward global coordination, China should start working with its neighbors. Namely, it should start fighting the pandemic along with its partners from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).Constituted byChina, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the SCO possess atotal population of 3.2 billion, accounting for 44percentof the world population. The SCO was originally conceived as a multilateral structure with three levels of cooperation serving as its primary pillars. These include cooperation (a) in politics and security, (b) in trade and economic activity, and (c) in the development of cultural and humanitarian ties.In its statement on February 14, the SCO member states welcomed the resolute measures being undertaken by China's government and people to fight the epidemic. Secretary-General of the SCO Vladimir Norov has praised the measures being taken in China to clamp down on the coronavirus.Days later, President Xi Jinping said that China was prepared to "work with all other countries" to intensify the global fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Ximade his comments in a late-night telephone call with the Russian President Vladimir Putin, expressing China's willingness to make concerted efforts with Russia and other countries to safeguard global public health security.Let me repeat it again – only a multilateral onslaught will be able to defeat the deadly virus. In this critical time for all humanity, there shouldn't be any slight hesitation of choice between petty nationalism and international partnership.Two pillarsmust serve as the foundation of an urgent action plan – fighting health threats and economic challenges. To restore the confidence of the people, the SCO needs to adopt a specific action plan to address joint steps on medical emergencies and support of regional economic activity.As developing countries, all SCO members have significant challenges in terms of access to healthcare facilities. Fundamental elements of cooperation could be sharing general and specific practices, but especially accumulated knowledge.Organizing and structuring a special financial fund to purchase necessary equipment, medicine and consumables should be the first priority.Maria van Kerkhove (R), technical lead for the Health Emergencies Program of the World Health Organization (WHO), speaks with WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at her side, at a daily briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, March 3, 2020. /XinhuaAs a multilateral organization,the SCO could also invite the World Health Organization (WHO) to their first virtual meetings. The SCO could later grant the WHO a temporary seat or special status as a permanent observer.The SCO could also establish coordinated fiscal stimulus to the region to ensure sufficient liquidity in the monetary and financial systems. Thus,a timely establishment of a specific action plan on macroeconomic measures, perhaps with contribution from development institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), would be required.The SCO's first step to tackle the pandemic should involve a teleconference between its leaders as soon as possible.The SCO has a unique chance to show to the world its efficiency during the current crisis, and moreover, to demonstrate the great potential of multilateralism. Here is the chance to start practicing the regional and, after that, the global cooperation of our world of a small community of common destiny.Using efficient steps, the nations must get together and set a straightforward course to defeat the common enemy. Ideally, the nations may even establish the conditions to prevent the next (not necessarily health-related) crises.The lives of the people hang in the balance. The SCO would become even more attractive to other potential members if, again, it will prove its efficiency – this time in its fight with COVID-19.(CGTN)


Cooperation only right choice for humanity in war with virus

As the novel coronavirus epidemic further extends its global reach, a united and coordinated response is in urgent need. The Group of Twenty (G20) has an important role to play in the fight, just as it did in the global financial crisis in 2008. Virus knows no borders and no country could win the battle alone. When millions of lives and the global economy are in peril, not a second should be squandered. The G20, which accounts for two-thirds of the world's population and about 85 percent of the global GDP, should lead the way in addressing medical and economic problems and restoring confidence. A special G20 leaders' video summit on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic will be held on Thursday. Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend in Beijing.Governor of Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority Ahmed al-Kholifey (L) and Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan (Rear) attend the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Virtual Meeting in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on March 23, 2020. (G20 Saudi Arabia/Handout via Xinhua) The world has seen enough blame game and finger-pointing since the outbreak of the pandemic. The pointless bickering comes at the cost of an efficient and effective response to the pandemic. It is high time for the G20 to build consensus to inject positive energy into global cooperation to fight the common enemy of mankind. In the war against the virus, China has firmly upheld the vision of building a community of a shared future for mankind. China has and will continue to share medical supplies, therapeutic and treatment experiences, and solutions with the world. As the epidemic situation in China eases, China will be able to spare more resources to help other countries within its capacity. The G20 should bring the international community together quickly. Member countries should enhance unity and jointly meet challenges and boost the confidence of the international community. G20 members should make every effort to properly handle domestic prevention and control. China will do its best to provide timely help to countries in difficulties. It is hoped that G20 members will help each other and cooperate closely to jointly safeguard international public health safety. The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the global economy. It is critical for G20 members to strengthen macroeconomic policy coordination, adopt necessary fiscal, monetary and structural policies, promote market openness, and ensure the open, stable, safe and smooth operation of global supply chains. An important lesson the world has learned from past crises is that a global crisis should be met with a global response. Uncoordinated or unilateral actions by a single economy will produce limited effects and could lead to a vicious cycle of "beggar-thy-neighbor" policies. The G20 summit is held at a time when the global fight against the COVID-19 has come to a critical moment. The health of millions of people is at stake. We hope and believe the G20 meeting will inject new confidence and energy into the ongoing anti-pandemic efforts.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


World Newsmore >>

Russian government asks for additional powers to deal with COVID-19

The Russian government has submitted to the State Duma, or the lower house of parliament, a bill granting the cabinet additional powers, including declaring a state of emergency for the entire country, to deal with COVID-19. "The adoption of the bill will protect public health and non-proliferation of the new COVID-19 coronavirus infection on the Russian territory, support and ensure legitimate interests of businesses and other economic activities," said an explanatory note to the bill published on the Duma website on Thursday. The bill will give the Russian government additional powers to take relevant decisions during 2020 and to promptly adopt measures to optimize the activities of the federal executive bodies, it said. The Committee on Security and Corruption Control said in a statement on Thursday it will recommend the Duma hold the first reading of the bill on March 31. The bill has to be passed by the Duma in three readings, then be endorsed by the Federation Council, or the upper house of parliament, before being signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Tokyo faces huge delay costs as athletes given qualification assurance

The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee has acknowledged that rescheduling the Olympic Games to 2021 will incur "massive" additional costs, and confirmed that athletes who had already qualified for the event will keep their places when the showpiece takes place next year.Around 57 percent of the 11,000 scheduled participants for Tokyo had already gained spots at the Games when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Tuesday to postpone the Games to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.The IOC and 32 international sports federations held a teleconference on Thursday where it decided to respect the qualification process. "Thomas Bach (the IOC President) first explained the reasons for the postponement of the Games, then said that the athletes qualified for Tokyo 2020 would automatically be qualified for 2021," said one of the participants in the conference."One of the main subjects was to know when and how to organize the qualifications. In some federations, many sportsmen and sportswomen are not qualified and it takes at least three months for the Olympic Games to organize them."IOC President Thomas Bach attends an interview after the decision to postpone the Tokyo 2020, in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 25, 2020. /VCGThere is no definite date yet for the rescheduled Games with Bach saying Tuesday the Tokyo Olympics "must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community."Many Olympic sports, such as boxing, saw the vast majority of their qualifying tournaments either interrupted or cancelled due to the global health situation.Others, such as sailing however, already had 90 percent of their competitors qualified. Some federation chiefs also expressed financial concerns, claiming in advance part of the sums traditionally allocated after the Olympic Games by the IOC to governing bodies.Meanwhile, chief executive of Tokyo 2020's organizing committee Toshiro Muto let it all hang out on Thursday, saying the task of reorganizing the biggest sporting event in the world was going to be a "unprecedented" challenge as a new taskforce was established to deal with a massive logistical headache."One by one, we need to ensure the problems we face can be solved," Muto said in opening remarks at the first meeting of the taskforce. "Additional expenses are going to be quite massive we assume. With regards to our revenues, we need to make a lot of effort there."Muto gave no estimates for how much the process of postponing the Olympic and Paralympic Games could cost.Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshirō Mutō has warned the cost of rescheduling the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be "massive". March 26, 2020. /VCGBut according to Japanese financial newspaper The Nikkei, the organizers estimate it will cost an extra 2.7 billion U.S. dollars, including costs for venue rentals, rebooking hotels and additional payments for staff and security guards, among others. Those costs could still come down depending on the outcome of negotiations.The Olympics have never faced this much disruption in peacetime, and the decision to delay the event has created unprecedented challenges, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said.Tokyo 2020 staff "will experience difficulties they have never experienced before. I am sure they will rise to the occasion. This is going to be a very difficult task that we are facing," he said.No deadlines have yet been set for the rescheduling of the Games, which are now due to take place by summer 2021, but Mori said he would ensure "all the decisions are made as quickly as possible."Muto underscored the scale of the task ahead, saying even he "didn't imagine at all we would be tested to this degree.""We want to make sure we go beyond this test and that next year in Tokyo, the torch is lit for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We believe this is the mission we face."Turkey's boxing federation has criticized the organizers of an Olympic qualifying event in London after fighters tested positive for COVID-19. /VCGOn a separate matter, The IOC has been accused of putting athletes' health in danger after two Turkish boxers and their head coach tested positive for COVID-19 after returning home from an Olympic qualification tournament in London last week.The Boxing Road to Tokyo tournament, featuring competitors from across Europe, started on March 14 but was suspended after just three days.Eyup Gozgec, president of the Turkish Boxing Federation, was scathing about the tournament in the British capital."The International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force and the local committee in London, responsible for the organization, acted as if nothing happened rather than postpone the tournament over coronavirus while every corner of the world has been on fire since December," he said.Gozgec, who is also vice-president of the European Boxing Confederation (EUBC), said his team went to London on March 11 to prepare for the tournament but found no protective measures in place at their hotel or elsewhere."There were no protective measures in the hotels we were staying, whether it be hygienic disinfectants, gloves or a warning sign," he said. "All the coaches and athletes ate in self-service style from the same kitchen. There was neither a warning nor any other measure as if the virus had not visited there."An IOC spokesperson was quoted as saying by the Guardian: "For understandable reasons we will wait to receive the details from those concerned before making an informed comment.”(CGTN)


Breaking Newsmore >>

14 killed in jihadist attack on Nigeria military base

Jihadists killed 14 security personnel and civilians in an attack on a military base in northeast Nigeria's Borno state on Wednesday, security sources told AFP.Suspected Boko Haram fighters in trucks fitted with machine guns launched a dawn raid on the army base in the town of Damboa, sparking intense fighting.Sources said six soldiers, four police officers and two members of a government-backed militia were killed along with two civilians."We lost six soldiers in the attack while six others were injured," a military officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.The officer claimed 13 insurgents were killed by a fighter jet as they fled the area.The leader of an anti-jihadist militia said the civilians who died were among more than 50 local residents hit by shrapnel after rocket-propelled grenades fired by the jihadists hit nearby homes.Nigeria's decade-long jihadist insurgency has killed 36 000 people and displaced two million others inside the country, and spilled into neighbouring Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.The United Nations has complained of a surge in violence in the conflict zone in recent weeks.Anger has been growing among local residents about the army's failure to stem the attacks despite repeated claims from officials that the insurgency has been defeated.(CGTN)


One dead, multiple injured shot near skate park in California

A 23-year-old male was shot dead and five others were injured following a shooting at a party near a skate park in Tulare County, California, late Wednesday night, ABC News reported citing local police.The conditions of the other shooting victims are unclear, including a 7-year-old girl who is suffering from multiple gunshot wounds, police said at a press conference.Police said a "solo suspect shooter" walked up to the party and fired multiple rounds.(CGTN)


Life Stylemore >>

'Ip Man 4' gets extended run as Chinese theaters gradually reopen

Blockbuster martial arts film Ip Man 4 will see a month-long extension for its box run on the Chinese mainland as movie theaters are gradually reopening in some cities following an improvement in local coronavirus epidemic situations.The latest installment in the film franchise Ip Man based on the life of a legendary Wing Chun master will be available in Chinese theaters until April 25, according to the film's co-distributor Huaxia Film Distribution.Premiering on the Chinese mainland on Dec. 20, 2019, Ip Man 4 had already garnered a box office revenue of more than 1 billion yuan (about 140 million U.S. dollars) before the coronavirus outbreak forced the closure of public venues including theaters.The 2016 film Ip Man 3 generated a Chinese mainland box office revenue of more than 770 million yuan.(CHINA.ORG.CN)


Life under coronavirus lockdown in Spain

Waking up from a bad dream, Gonzalo Resa Heras looked at his watch and saw that it was already 11 a.m., but he still felt tired after a very restless sleep once again. As Spain has the second largest caseload of the coronavirus in Europe, Gonzalo and his fellow countrymen have been faced many changes after the country imposed a national lockdown on March 14. Until a few days ago, this 21-year-old Spaniard had been living a normal happy life. He used to wake up at 6:50 a.m. to take the train for a short journey from his hometown of Torrejon de Ardoz to his university in Alcala de Henares. However, everything has changed since the coronavirus outbreak: classes in schools in the Madrid region were suspended indefinitely from March 11, and three days later Spain declared a State of Alarm and was effectively placed under lockdown nationwide. In order to cut down on the risks of contracting the virus, he goes out shopping just once a week. Now, there are no face masks or hand gel available in any shop, and he noticed that there is less bleach and disinfectant on the shelves. He goes back home and tells his mother about the situation, and with nothing else to do, he starts to clean the flat once again. The hospitals are under extreme stress as they can only treat the severest COVID-19 cases. So, his family attempt to keep their home as clean as possible in which they can get some psychological comfort. "It's stressful, worrying and frustrating, and I even feel very sad at times. That's why I find it hard to sleep and to carry on with my obligations," he said. At 8 p.m. every evening Gonzalo and his mother savor their only happy moment when they and their neighbors go to their respective balconies to dedicate a long and heartfelt round of applause to everyone working in the health service. The song "Resistire" (I will resist), originally recorded by famous Spanish musical duo Duo Dinamico in 1988, has become the one that best captures the mood of the nation. Gonzalo said it is important to remain optimistic in the face of the health crisis, expressing confidence that people are showing the responsibility needed at this difficult time. "We are facing a considerable tragedy, but we are not going to let it become total chaos and that is also worthy of applause," he said. A stock manager, whose given name is Yolanda, also has her own problems. Her company -- Madrid's Adolfo-Suarez-Barajas Airport -- has issued a Temporary Regulation of Employment after closing all the shops in the airport amid the worsening pandemic. This means that she only earns 70 percent of her normal salary. "It's the first time in my adult life that I haven't had a job," she said, adding that some companies may face bankruptcy if the crisis drags on for months. Juan Manuel Hidalgo, a member of the Independent Union of Radio Television Espanola (RTVE), used to visit Madrid and other cities on business on a weekly basis. But the travel has suspended and now he works through holding video conferences. For 56-year-old Juan Manuel, though unable to go outside, he is lucky to live with his family in the countryside, and for the moment, his income from the RTVE has not been affected. But he is worried about the medium-term economic effects of the crisis and possible cutbacks. He follows the news about the pandemic and tries to avoid worrying too much about news on shortages of masks, gloves and ventilators. What has most surprised him was the Women's Day march in Madrid on March 8, which was attended by over 100,000 people and led by people who later tested positive for the coronavirus. He recalled that in the week prior to the march, when some Chinese-owned shops in Spain were beginning to close, many people did not seem aware of the seriousness of the pandemic, despite a rapid spread of COVID-19 in neighboring countries such as Italy. "We acted late and badly in Spain. We wasted two weeks for controlling the epidemic," he said. Juan Manuel has friends in Madrid who are suffering from the disease with fever and breathing problems, but they are still at home as the hospitals are only able to treat the most serious cases. What worried him most is that over 10 percent of all the cases are health workers. "If we lose the doctors, we are all lost," he said. Fortunately, he believes the government has now reacted well and is taking all possible measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and he hopes the health crisis will start to slow down in one or two months. Spain should learn from China's successful experience in fighting the coronavirus, and cooperation between the two countries is vital to helping Spain contain the epidemic, he said. "I am very happy that China is getting over the crisis. It is a country that can help us a lot and they are doing that, so I hope that China's help will be vital in combating the virus," he said.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Sportsmore >>

Economic crisis from coronavirus begins to bite in European football

Europe may be the financial powerhouse of global football, but the economic impact from the coronavirus pandemic is already beginning to hit and the consequences could be disastrous for clubs across the continent.When players at Bayern Munich, one of the world's richest clubs, have reportedly agreed to take pay cuts, it is not difficult to imagine the troubles in store for the sport as a whole.Many clubs lack sufficient cash reserves to get them through a sustained period without revenue coming in. For example in Scotland, where clubs rely heavily on gate receipts, the situation is "clearly unsustainable."That is the view of Aberdeen chairman Dave Cormack, who forecasts facing five million pounds (5.9 million U.S. dollars) of costs without any money coming in over the next few months."No club, whatever their size, scale or level of investment, can withstand a total lack of income over a period of anything between three to six months," Cormack said.Even the German league (DFL) –which runs the Bundesliga and has annual turnover of more than four billion euros - fears a catastrophe."If we don't play games behind closed doors as soon as possible, there is no point wondering if we should have a league of 18 or 20 teams," said DFL chief executive Christian Seifert. "We won't even have 20 professional clubs anymore."Eye-watering lossesIt is almost two weeks since leading leagues across Europe stopped. No matches means no money from gate receipts, and before long payments from broadcasters may stop too.The sums set to be lost everywhere are eye-watering. In England, according to reports, the Premier League faces losing 762 million pounds from domestic broadcast deals with Sky Sports and BT Sport.Analysis by accounting firm KPMG suggests cancelling the rest of the season would cost the 'Big Five' leagues of England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France a combined total of over four billion euros.It is therefore not difficult to see why leagues will consider restarting behind closed doors, to at least guarantee revenue from broadcasters.After all, clubs must continue during the pandemic to pay hefty player salaries.In France, several clubs, including Marseille and Lyon, have put their players on partial unemployment to save money.It means clubs pay staff 70 percent of their salaries. The state pays the rest, albeit limited to 4,850 euros per employee, a drop in the ocean for most footballers.In Germany, players at Borussia Moenchengladbach were the first in the Bundesliga to propose pay cuts, followed by others at Werder Bremen, Schalke and Borussia Dortmund. Bild reported that Bayern players accepted a 20 percent pay cut.Collapse of the systemThe Spanish Football Federation has announced plans for a 500 million-euro package allowing clubs in the top two divisions to receive loans of up to 20 million euros "and pay it back in five or six years", according to president Luis Rubiales.Barcelona have the biggest revenue in world football according to the most recent Deloitte Football Money League, but they are reportedly in discussions to bring in pay cuts for all players of up to 70 percent.La Liga is considering reducing players' salaries on the whole by 20 percent if the season is not completed. Similar measures could be taken in Italy.In England, the Premier League is understood to have been in discussions with the Professional Footballers' Association about deferring wage payments.Everywhere authorities are working to stop the whole system from collapsing.In Italy the possibility of taxing betting companies to help subsidize clubs has been considered, while in Germany rules on how licenses are awarded to professional clubs could be relaxed.The biggest uncertainty, though, surrounds when matches might be played again.If a way is found to finish the season before the summer, then the damage will be limited.However, if the shutdown continues until August or later, the financial impact could mean the footballing landscape across the continent is changed forever.(AFP)


Coe warns potential dopers event delays won't shelter them

World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe warned would-be dopers on Tuesday that the coronavirus pandemic and widespread suspension of competition will not shelter them from repercussions.With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021 and several other world championships to be rescheduled, athletes will face much less testing.However, Coe told Reuters in an interview that there was no chance of drug cheats slipping through the net."In reality, of course, there isn't much in the way of competition testing because frankly we've lost most of the competitions," said Coe."The only advice I would give every athlete is don't play roulette with the concept that intelligent testing is going to do anything other than track you down. Some years ago we moved away from the concept that it's just about numbers."The Athletics Integrity Unit is at the top of its game. No athlete should be seduced into thinking this is some sort of moratorium on our fight against drugs. It is not," he added."If they choose to step beyond the boundaries we have clearly set and the Athletic Integrity Unit and World Athletics is fearless about protecting, they will come undone."The AIU was set up by the sport's governing body in 2017 to oversee integrity issues in athletics including doping.Rescheduling matches"Only two days ago I had 24 athletes from our Athletes Commission on a conference call with me and we discussed all sorts of things."Coe, who welcomed the decision to postpone the Olympics, said it will be difficult to reschedule all the postponed events, including the Eugene world championships, which were set for 2021."We discussed when was it sensible, hopefully, to resurrect our Diamond League and our continental circuit and our One-Day meets, because this is very important for them.""They don't want to go into the winter months without some competition under their belt even though the Games have gone.""We need to make sure we do that at a time that is safe and secure and (we're) not asking athletes to go back into the world that we've just taken them out of.""And again the cities that will be staging these events will have their own stresses and strains and we have to be respectful to municipalities, public authorities and cities that will have a lot of other things to be thinking about."There is also the qualifying issue involved.Whether athletes who had already qualified for the Olympics will have to do so again will also come under the microscope in the coming weeks, with 57 percent of 11,000 or so athletes set to appear in Tokyo having booked their spots."Even when the virus, we hope, has subsided there will still be resource implications. All I'm saying is that this is very complicated and qualification is a part of that and that is what our competition teams are looking at very closely," said Coe in regards to qualifying issues."We're going to have to figure out how we will get these back into our calendar without it causing a massive bottleneck.""Our sport has the added challenge of a world championship next year. I know our headquarter teams have already been in contact with the Oregon organizing committee so this is the knock-on effect."(CGTN&REUTERS)


Science&Militarymore >>

Newly discovered asteroids make close flybys of Earth

An asteroid made a flyby of Earth earlier this week at a distance of about 144,000 kilometers, the closest pass by a minor planet observed through telescopes, a Chinese observatory statement said.The asteroid called 2020 FL2 flew past Earth at 4:38 a.m. Beijing Time on March 23, according to the International Asteroid Warning Network and the Minor Planet Center (MPC) under the International Astronomical Union.Researchers at the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered the asteroid on March 19 and reported it to the MPC. As of March 22, the object had been spotted by 15 international observation stations.The newly discovered minor planet belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids and has an estimated diameter of about 20 meters, also the smallest near-Earth object spotted by telescope, said Zhao Haibin with the observatory on Wednesday.This is the second asteroid discovered by the observatory this month that has flown by Earth.On March 15, another asteroid made its way past Earth at 4:17 a.m. Beijing Time, at a distance of 328,000 kilometers."Given its small size and that it was flying from the direction of the sun, the asteroid was more difficult to observe than others," said Zhao, adding that the object was first spotted on March 17, two days after it flew by Earth.The observatory then reported it to the MPC, which confirmed the discovery and designated it 2020 FD2.According to Zhao, the asteroid has a special orbit, an ellipse with a large eccentricity, which is close to the orbits of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Jupiter.Since the start of this year, Zhao's observatory has achieved fruitful findings of minor planets.On February 26, a telescope at the observatory captured images of an asteroid approaching Earth. With a temporary number 2020 DM4, it attracted considerable attention from scientists and the media when initial calculations indicated it was a potentially hazardous asteroid, which is capable of approaching Earth at a close distance.Zhao attributed these discoveries to a monitoring and warning network of near-Earth objects operated by the observatory, and the use of advanced astronomical telescopes."It cannot be said that asteroid discoveries are more frequent this year than in the past," Zhao told Xinhua. "These findings just come from intensified monitoring efforts as well as good luck."(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Increased plant species composition creates more soil carbon, nitrogen

Chinese researchers have disclosed that soil water content is improved when the plant species community composition is increased.Soil water and nutrient resources are fundamental for the healthy development of agroforestry.They measured the soil water and soil nutrient concentrations including carbon, nitrogen, kalium and calcium at six soil depths in a monoculture rubber plantation, four multi-species rubber agroforestry systems, and a tropical rainforest.They found that the soil carbon and nitrogen increased as the plant species composition increased. And the soil water content also increased with the increased soil carbon and nitrogen.However, the effects of plant species composition on the soil water content gradually changed from positive to negative, especially under the effects of herb species, which could accelerate soil water drainage and hence shorten the soil water residence time.Thus the researchers concluded that the faster water infiltration and potentially higher flow of soil water in complex plant communities increased the risk and magnitude of mineral nutrient leaching.Meanwhile, the increased plant composition decreased the concentration of soil nutrients, especially soil phosphorous, kalium and calcium.The research, recently published in the journalScience of the Total Environment, is expected to be helpful for selecting suitable plant species by keeping the management of agriculture and forestry balanced.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Businessmore >>

WTO chief sees sharp fall in trade, calls for global solutions to COVID-19 crisis

Seeing a very sharp decline in global trade, Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), on Wednesday said a global solution is needed to address the global challenge brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a video message published by the WTO, Azevedo admitted that "this pandemic will inevitably have an enormous impact on the economy, trade, and consequently on jobs and people's well-being." Recalling recent projections on an economic downturn and job losses that are worse than those of the global financial crisis a dozen years ago, Azevedo said WTO would release its trade forecast in a few weeks. He warned that economists would inevitably foresee "a very sharp decline in trade". "Trade is what allows for the efficient production and supply of basic goods and services, medical supplies and equipment, food and energy that we all need", he continued, "keeping trade open and investments flowing will be critical to keep shelves plentiful and prices affordable." He underlined that a global response is needed to tackle a global challenge of this pandemic, saying "no country is self-sufficient, no matter how powerful or advanced, it may be." In a press release, Azevedo stressed the importance of transparency with regard to trade-related measures, arguing that it would be particularly useful for many countries that rely on imports for medical supplies. He set up a task force of experts to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on trade flows and the overall global economy.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


U.S. capital city to close nonessential businesses due to COVID-19: mayor

Washington, D.C., the U.S. capital, will order all nonessential businesses to close so as to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the city's mayor said Tuesday. Muriel Bowser said during a press conference that she is instructing businesses like salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, tanning salons and services not related to emergency responses to shutter during the pandemic. "We have virtually shut down economic activity in our city in an effort to contain the spread of the virus," she said. The city is expected to put out the specific guidance by 5 p.m. local time Tuesday, according to NBC Washington. A precise timeline of when the closure is effective will be detailed at the time as well. Bowser said she does not foresee economic activities to resume anytime soon given the current situation. "I think it would be, based on everything I've read and been advised, premature to go back to normal before we've seen a blunting of the curve in the United States." Confirmed cases in D.C. have reached 141, and there are two deaths caused by the disease in the capital, showed data updated at 12:07 p.m. local time Tuesday by Johns Hopkins University.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


chinamore >>

Chinese bank donates medical supplies to Turkey to fight COVID-19

The Turkish branch of Bank of China has delivered medical supplies to Turkey to support the country's fight against the outbreak of COVID-19, the Chinese consulate general in Istanbul announced on Thursday. A total of 44 packages filled with 20,000 surgical filter masks, 1,000 protective suits, 1,000 pairs of gloves for medical use, and 200 glasses were presented to Istanbul Provincial Health Directorate the previous day, the consulate said. The supplies are worth 30,000 U.S. dollars, it added, noting that the bank has been making similar donations to 61 countries that have been hit by the outbreak. The total number of deaths from the virus in Turkey climbed to 75, and the number of confirmed cases to 3,629 on Thursday. Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday announced that a total of 61,554 people have been under medical surveillance either at home or in hospitals in the country over suspicion of being infected with COVID-19.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


China's COVID-19 database records 4.44 million downloads: official

China's 2019 Novel Coronavirus Resource database has recorded more than 4 million downloads, providing data service to users from 152 countries and regions in the world, a Chinese official said on Thursday. The COVID-19 outbreak presents a challenge for the whole world, requiring joint efforts from the global scientific and technological community as well as the wisdom of the whole society, said Xu Nanping, Vice Minister of Science and Technology, at a press conference. He noted that the achievements China has made must be shared by all mankind, and sharing scientific data and information is China's fundamental attitude to the COVID-19 control. According to Xu, China shared the first completed genome sequence of the novel coronavirus on Jan. 11, providing basic information for virus research, drug screening and vaccine development. China also built two platforms to share its scientific proceedings, namely a novel coronavirus data sharing and analysis platform under the National Microbiology Data Center and the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Resource (2019nCoVR) database under the China National Center for Bioinformation. As of Wednesday, the 2019nCoVR had provided data service to more than 76,000 visitors from 152 countries and regions, and recorded 4.44 million downloads, said Xu. He added that researchers in China and abroad have made use of the database and published high quality research papers on the virus.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


The Belt and Roadmore >>

Belt and Road Initiative paves way for win-win cooperation between China and Czech

By APD Writer He WeiIn July last year, the first China-EU freight train departed from Prague, captial of Czech,to Yiwu, a city in east China’s Zhejang Province. The new cargo train service marked the official launch of “the Belt and Road Initiative” in Czech. Thanks to joint efforts of both sides, the economic and trade ties between China and Czech Republic is heading for a bright future.During the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in May 2017, two months before the opening, China signed the Memorandum of Understanding to Jointly Coordinate and Promote Cooperation and Project Implementation with Czech. According to the memorandum, more efforts will be made to set up a China-Czech Cooperation Center under the Belt and Road initiative, a key project bank and a cooperation platform, integrate domestic and foreign resources, as well as adjoin and implement projects On the sidelines of the The Working Conference of China-Czech Jointly Coordinating and Monitoring Cooperation Plan and Projects under the Framework of the “Belt and Road Initiative”, Liu Jielei, vice chairman of the Czech-China Friendship Association, told the Asia Pacific Daily (APD) that besides geographic advantage, Czech enjoys a sound investment environment because of its stable domestic policies, friendly policy toward China, lower business taxes and labor cost than that of in other European countries.The "Yixin’ou (Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe) cargo train, which began in Yiwu, was hailed as an important bridge linking Asian and European continents and a signficiant achievement in the early stage of the initative by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xu Jie, general manager of Rongsheng Travelling (Czech) Investment Co., Ltd., said because of its important location, they have launched two projects including the Czech-Chinese Technology Business District (CCTBD) project and the South Moravia Chinese Herbal Spa Project in Prague during the past two years, stressing that initial success has been achieved thanks to the initiative.Transalated by Hu Yahui(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)


Work conference held in Yiwu for China, Czech to coordinate their efforts in promoting Belt and Road Initiative cooperation

By APD Writer He Wei The conference, which jointly organized by the western development department of the National Development and Reform Commission and the second foreign policy department of the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade kicked off on June 6, 2018. It is of great significance in implementing the plan for China-Czech cooperation and promoting bilateral communication and cooperation. Both sides took a review on the development of the plan and held a talk over the cooperation prospects on trade, finance, think tank and projects. The priority work of the China and Czech cooperation in the next phase was discussed during the conference.Both sides reached an agreement on enhancing the cooperation on the field of policy coordination, facility connectivity, economic and trade, investment, finance and culture aiming at boosting the economy of both countries and benefiting the people. Almost 100 people from government officials, financial institutions, think tanks  and enterprises of both countries attended the conference.(ASIA PACIFIC DAILY)