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In ocean’s twilight zone, Maldivian aquanauts witness incredible scenes




Scientist Shafiya Naeem – the current Director General of Maldives Marine Research Institute is all about marine life. She worked at the Ministry of Fisheries since 2000 and researched marine life from 150 meters below. But one thing she never got the chance to do was travel to the deep sea.

On Sunday, September 11, Shafiya finally made it, entering history books with the deep descent into the twilight zone as part of an international science mission, among the first people from the world’s lowest-lying nation to make the journey.

In the expedition which is a joint initiative by UK-based Nekton and the Maldivian government, Shafiya along with research assistant colleague Farah Amjad led an all-female crew of aquanauts on the maiden dive of the Nekton Maldives Mission.

As part of the expedition, they will map, sample, and gather data on ocean health which can inform policymakers both in the Maldives and beyond, as the climate crisis deepens.

During the descend on September 11, 2022, the scientists explored 250 meters below surface level along the east coast of Laamu Atoll. (Photo / Nekton)

Nekton stated that there are almost no images of Maldivian waters below 30 meters, hence travelling to that depth itself was historical.

Speaking to Sun after the dive, Shafiya said that she was incredibly proud of getting this opportunity. She added that more than a self-accomplishment, she sees this as a boost to the knowledge of Maldives and Maldivian waters.

“Being a Maldivian, I am very proud to be one of the people to take part [in such an expedition]. To be able to see areas never seen before in Maldives is just the beginning of a bigger task.”

Shafiya noted that discussions with Nekton on researching deeper waters of Maldives began in 2019. She further said that gathering information on marine life was important for tourism as well.

“While the Maldivian waters are soon deep, we don’t actually know what lives there. We don’t know the connection between surface and deeper waters. Isn’t it important to know what lies in different parts of the ocean, even in managing resorts now?”

In the dive, the researchers explored 250 meters below surface level along the east coast of Laamu Atoll.

Shafiya revealed that they were able to see soft corals and sea urchins from this depth.

The aquanauts kept the submersible at 150 and 60 meters and gathered information. She stated that at those levels they were able to see schools of various fishes.

While there are a total of 40 partners in the expedition, this includes 16 Maldivians. Moreover, there are 10 Maldivian marine scientists on the team that will be descending underwater.

The research will conclude on October 7, and in that duration the scientists will travel from Laamu atoll to the southernmost regions, working on gathering samples from different areas.

Participants hope to get a look at 1,000 meters below the Maldivian waters as well.

Speaking further on their process, Shafiya detailed that once all the work underwater is completed, they will be analyzing all the samples. She added that Maldivian scientists will be part of this as well.

All the data gathered from this research will be shared with Maldives and used to understand the conditions of the Maldivian waters, as well as for conservation work.

Shafiya expressed hope that the information they will gather would enable them to understand the steps to take in maintaining the marine life of Maldives.

“Looking at it that way, for me rather than this being a personal thing, it is an opportunity to gain important information for Maldives, that would increase the capabilities of Maldivians.”

Source: Nafaahath Ibrahim,

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China offers int’l cooperation opportunity via Chang’e lunar missions





The China National Space Administration (CNSA) on Thursday revealed the international payloads that will piggyback on the Chang’e-6 lunar exploration mission, and announced another call for international payload proposals for the Chang’e-7 mission.

The CNSA has announced that it will carry scientific instruments from France, Italy and the European Space Agency/Sweden on the Chang’e-6 mission’s lander, and a Pakistani payload on the orbiter.

At present, these four international payloads are technically feasible to carry, and all of them are on schedule for development work, it added.

Since it announced the cooperation opportunity in April 2019, offering to carry 10 kg of payloads on both the lander and the orbiter of the Chang’e-6 mission, it has received more than 20 piggyback proposals, according to the CNSA.

The Chang’e-6 mission, scheduled for launch between 2024 and 2025, will involve an on-site investigation, the retrieval of samples from the far side of the moon, and systematic and long-term laboratory research on samples collected.

The Chang’e-7 mission, expected to be launched around 2026, aims to explore the environment and resources at the south pole of the moon and lay a foundation for the construction of an international lunar research station, according to the CNSA.

Chang’e-7, which includes a lunar orbiter, a lander, a rover, a flying vehicle and multiple scientific instruments, aims to land at the South Pole-Aitken Basin, the CNSA said.

China has invited scientists around the world to participate in the mission, offering to carry 10 kg of payloads on the lander, and 15 kg of payloads on the orbiter, the CNSA said.

The deadline for submissions of letters of intent is February 1, 2023. The preliminary selection is expected to be completed in early April and the international payloads the Chang’e-7 will carry are expected to be confirmed in early July, it said.

The CNSA unveiled the latest lunar exploration mission updates during the 2022 United Nations/China 2nd Global Partnership Workshop on Space Exploration and Innovation, which opened on Monday in Haikou, the capital city of China’s southern island province of Hainan.


Source: CGTN 

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China urges faster digital, green development among APEC members





The digital economy and green development have become major trends in global economic and social transformation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged on Friday for all APEC members to enhance economic and technical cooperation, speed up coordinated digital and green development.

With a combined population of 2.9 billion, the 21 APEC economies account for over 60 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product (GDP) and about half of its trade. The region’s status is globally significant, and achieving coordinated digital and green development is of vital importance.

Relationship between digital and green economy

Digitalization and green growth are interdependent and mutually reinforcing, Wang Song, an official at the Office of the Cyberspace Administration of China, said at a press conference on November 7.

Wang made the remark when introducing a white paper titled “Jointly Build a Community with a Shared Future in Cyberspace,” which was issued by China’s State Council Information Office. The paper called for “joint efforts to coordinate the transformation towards digitalization and green growth.”

Digital technology plays an increasingly prominent role in promoting the green economy, Wang added. It is estimated that by 2030, industries in China will reduce carbon emissions by 12.1 billion tonnes thanks to advancements in digital technologies, Wang said.

China and other APEC members cooperating on digital economy

China has made the development of the digital economy a national strategy.

The scale of China’s digital economy has ranked second in the world for years, according to the State Council in a report submitted to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for review on November 28.

Steady progress has also been made in cooperation on the digital economy among China and other APEC economies.

China’s Alibaba Group and the Thailand government signed an agreement in April 2018 in Bangkok which saw the two sides cooperate in e-commerce, digital logistics, tourism and personnel training.

The company in May 2022 launched a data center in Thailand to bolster local businesses’ digital innovation capabilities, according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

The Philippines and Australia, have also cooperated with Alibaba in retail and logistics, finance and fintechs, digital entertainment and public enterprise services, said the company.

Cooperation in digital payment has also been strengthened. China Unicom said in November that more than six million UnionPay cards have been issued in Southeast Asia since the beginning of this year, an increase of 40 percent year on year.

So far, over 40 million UnionPay cards have been issued in 10 ASEAN countries, among which seven are APEC members.

China’s green development

Green growth provides a practical and flexible approach for achieving sustainable development of the world economy.

The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China included a call for the country to accelerate the transition to a model of green development, boost green and low-carbon industries, and promote green and low-carbon ways of production and life.

China aims to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

The country’s national carbon market covers about 4.5 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, making it the largest globally after one year’s operation, said Zhao Yingmin, head of the Chinese delegation to the 27th session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on November 8 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

China’s biggest maker of electric and hybrid cars, BYD, signed an agreement in September with Thailand’s industrial estate developer WHA Group to build a new electric vehicle (EV) factory in the country with a planned annual production capacity of 150,000 units.

With an aim to grow its EV market in hope of establishing 30 percent of its auto production as EV based, Thailand has introduced a new round of investment and promotion policies to encourage investment in the whole industrial chain of electric vehicles this year, according to the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade in February.

BYD’s entry into Thailand will help its auto industry move closer to that goal, as well as help the country become a global hub for EV manufacturing, said WHA’s co-founder and chairman Jareeporn Jarukornsakul.

The automaker hoped its EV technology will contribute to the country’s EV industry, said Liu Xueliang, the general manager of BYD Asia-Pacific Auto Sales Division.

China has urged its businesses to integrate green development throughout the overseas investment and cooperation, according to a guideline issued by China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Ecology and Environment in 2021.

Source(s): CGTN

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A glimpse of how China’s digital technology creates better life





HANGZHOU, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) — At an expo of the 2022 World Internet Conference Wuzhen Summit, visitors lined up to have a try on a smart piano. Beginners can play a complete song much more easily with the help of its embedded LED indicator lights, artificial intelligence for intonation recognition and learning software.

“By creating the product, we are determined to lower the consumption threshold of the piano, simplify learning, and help everyone learn to play musical instruments in a better way,” said Ye Bin, CEO of the ONE music group, which created the piano.

Addressing the problems of insufficient professional piano teachers and low teaching efficiency, the company also provides services of building offline classrooms installed with smart pianos and artificial intelligence teaching systems.

So far, more than 3,500 schools and training institutions in China have used the company’s piano classroom services, and there are over 5,000 such classrooms in and outside of China.

Like the ONE music group, innovators in various fields have demonstrated their products and services at the summit held from Nov. 9 to 11 in the river town of Wuzhen in east China’s Zhejiang Province.

Multiple breakthroughs have been displayed at the summit, ranging from smart charging piles and input devices controlled by eye movement to visual reality games and intelligent homes and communities, offering a glimpse of how digital technologies could help people live easier and happier lives.

The demonstration of application scenarios for digital projects at the summit has offered a broader view of the benefits brought by technology in daily life.

Besides education, digital technology has been applied in elderly care, a field with pressing demand in society.

In Tongxiang, east China’s Zhejiang Province, smart products and services have made the lives of senior citizens safer, easier and healthier.

Assisted with service machines at local community centers, the elderly can order meals online and pay through face recognition. They can also have a quick heart and breath check by sitting on an intelligent chair.

While at home, smart devices such as bracelets and gas and smoke detectors are also available to oversee their health conditions and detect safety risks.

“China has a sound environment for innovation in the internet industry, and competition in the field is very fierce,” said Alfonso Araujo, president of the Mexico-China Center. “It is impressive that Chinese people have many creative ideas and can adapt to new concepts and development quickly.”

This photo taken on Nov. 9, 2022 shows the release ceremony for world leading internet scientific and technological achievements at the 2022 World Internet Conference Wuzhen Summit in Wuzhen, east China’s Zhejiang Province. (Xinhua/Jiang Han)

In the field of cultural exchange, the application of digital technology has also played a role.

For instance, through the internet, visitors can view high-definition images and make a panoramic roaming tour of multiple grottoes of the Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site in northwestern China.

So far, users from 78 countries, including China, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Russia, Canada and France, have made such virtual tours more than 16.8 million times, Su Bomin, director of the Dunhuang Academy, said at the summit.

Another eye-catching product is China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System, which has provided services in more than half of the countries and regions globally.

Used in more than 30 countries in Africa, the system has offered support for agricultural production, helped shorten the time for hospital building, and facilitated expressway construction.

In Asia, it has assisted projects in various fields including dam management, crude oil transportation, freight train operation, wildlife protection and urban governance.

“With the system put to use, life is becoming safer and more convenient for many more people,” said Ran Chengqi, director of the China Satellite Navigation Office.

Source(s): Xinhua

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