China makes progress in the development of ‘plant factories’
Chang Qin, People’s Daily
It’s freezing cold outside in winter, but inside a “plant factory” of an agricultural tech firm in Beijing, it’s as warm as spring.
The “plant factory” which covers 100,000 square meters, looks just like a technology-based “tomato forest” where 39 varieties of tomatoes are grown. The fresh tomatoes produced in the factory are welcomed by the market. The factory has its environment controlled by digital platforms and comes with a water-fertilizer irrigation system. It is a nonstop vegetable-growing operation.
Plant factory is an efficient way of agricultural production realized via high-precision environmental control that offers appropriate lighting, temperature and nutrition needed by the growth of plants. The factory-like facility enables all-year-round production of crops. China has become a major player in the industry and is home to 250 commercial plant factories. Besides, the country is a world leader in the field of energy conservation in the industry.
Plant factory, combining biological technologies, engineering technologies and system management, enjoys abundant advantages and generates multifaceted benefits.
China is currently working to lower the energy consumption in artificial lighting and air conditioning systems and to achieve intelligent management of plant factories, aiming to further promote research and industrialisation of the sector and build a production system that’s low-carbon, smart and efficient. Facility agriculture represented by plant factories has experienced rapid development in China over the past four decades.
The facility horticulture sector alone has reported an output of over 1.4 trillion yuan ($205 billion), accounting for over two-fifths of the total horticultural output and over a quarter of the agricultural output of China. Its economic benefit is 20 times more than that of the field crops and four times more than that of open-field horticulture crops.
The facility horticulture sector has saved over 30 million mu (two million hectares) of quality land. Besides, water consumption by facility vegetable farming is less than half of that by traditional vegetable farming, and 10-million-mu unheated solar greenhouses can save coal consumption by more than 250 million tons each year.
Technology has become a main trend today to assist and vitalize modern agriculture. From developing plant factories and vertical farms to promoting modern cold-arid agriculture, Gobi agriculture and marine farms, China is advancing the three-dimensional utilization of space and constantly expanding agriculture production. It is believed that the continuous development of facility agriculture will inject a stronger impetus into China’s modern agriculture.
China plays a crucial role in wetland restoration
Hu Weishen, Qi Xin
The shrinking area of wetlands and their degrading ecological functions are challenges faced by the entire world.
Since becoming a party of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, or the Ramsar Convention in 1992, China has constantly enhanced its efforts in legislation, monitoring, science popularisation, and international cooperation to fulfill its obligations.
So far, the country has completed over 4,100 projects to advance wetland protection and restoration. It is the only country in the world that has done a national wetland resource investigation three times.
China’s wetland area, covering 56.35 million hectares, ranks first in Asia and fourth in the world. Especially in the recent decade, China has added or restored more than 800,000 hectares of wetlands. It also has 64 wetlands of international importance and 29 wetlands of national importance. The country is home to 13 international wetland cities, the highest in the world.
The total number of wetland-type nature reserves in China has reached more than 2,200, while 11 million hectares of wetlands are included in the country’s national park system with stringent protection management.
Currently, there are 29 national wetland parks and 26 provincial wetland parks in Sichuan province, and east China’s Anhui province has preliminarily established a wetland conservation network that puts 51.8 per cent of its wetlands under protection.
Hangzhou, the capital of east China’s Zhejiang province, is applying for the wetland city accreditation of the Ramsar Convention, and a provincial-level wetland park is expected to be built near the Qiantang River in the city. It is learned that the coverage of the wetland park will be far beyond the Xixi National Wetland Park in the city, which spans 11.5 square kilometers.
In October 2022, the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and the Ministry of Natural Resources jointly released a plan for wetland protection for the 2022-2030 period. The plan aims to increase China’s wetland protection rate to 55 percent by 2025. According to it, by 2030, a new paradigm of high-quality wetland conservation will be preliminarily established, and the ecological functions and biodiversity in wetlands will be prominently improved. Besides, the plan will also strive to enhance the comprehensive service capability of the wetland ecology system, strengthen wetlands’ carbon fixation performance, and build a better legal framework for wetland protection.
China will keep promoting green development and work for new progress in global wetland conservation.
Digital technologies help revitalise ancient city wall in NW China
Yuan Taoxiong, People’s Daily
Digital technology-assisted conservation of ancient city wall in Xi’an, northwest China’s Shaanxi province, was recently listed among the top 10 cases of digital innovation in the Chinese culture and tourism industry of 2022.
The ancient ramparts trace back to more than 1,400 years ago. The conservation of the city wall is about not only the wall itself but also its wooden annexes and the city moat. Today, the digital technologies that are employed to protect the city wall are like sentries that never feel fatigued.
On the path over the Yongning Gate, the south gate of the ancient city wall, there are three small cylinders every few dozen of metres.
“They are vertical in-place inclinometers, which are able to precisely monitor the horizontal displacement of the inner wall of the barbican at the gate,” said Xie Zhiyuan, who works for the management committee of the Xi’an city wall.
According to Xie, devices are installed in all sections of the city wall that stretches 13.74km to monitor the safety of the wall and annexes.
“We have designated 31 underwater monitoring sites along the moat and set up vibration monitoring points at the gates that metro lines cross,” said Gao Heng, head of the cultural relics preservation and tourism department of the Xi’an city wall management committee.
Based on the data collected by the devices, the management committee built a warning system that sets four warning thresholds for the settlement and cracking of the city wall, Gao told People’s Daily, adding that response measures will be taken according to different levels of warning.
At the information center of the Xi’an city wall management committee, there’s a big screen that shows real-time passenger volume, temperature, and other statistics. The center has a big data management platform that is connected to over 1,000 sets of security equipment, which are able to monitor cultural relics preservation, record passenger flow, and perform other monitoring tasks.
Today, the development of online museums is creating opportunities for tourists who cannot make in-person visits.
A relics museum near the Hanguang Gate of the Xi’an city wall has made a digital replica of itself in a mini-program based on 3D data capture. It also developed an H5 game that has aroused the interest of many children in the city wall.
Chinese foreign trade enterprises are looking forward to a promising 2023
Luo Shanshan, People’s Daily
China’s annual foreign trade value topped 40 trillion yuan (about 5.94 trillion US dollars) for the first time in 2022, and the country maintained the status of the world’s largest trading nation in goods for six consecutive years.
As the new year has arrived, foreign trade enterprises are going all out to embrace the overseas market.
At the Zhoushan port in Ningbo, east China’s Zhejiang province, containers were unloaded from two 200,000-ton vessels by 45 bridge cranes and 122 gantry cranes. Such a busy scene at the port was a result of the diligent work of foreign trade enterprises, including Bianfeng Machinery Group based in Jiashan county, Zhejiang province.
“Our new orders have been scheduled for March and April. It’s a bumper year for foreign trade companies,” said Wang Shuangsheng, chairman of the board of the company.
According to Wang, the company plans to join over 10 international exhibitions this year and will invite its foreign clients to have investigation tours of the company.
“Meeting clients is meeting opportunities,” Wang said. “Before the Chinese New Year, we had already stocked up our overseas warehouses, so that commodities could be immediately shipped to foreign consumers,” said Zeng Qiuping, who runs an appliance company in Shunde district, Foshan, south China’s Guangdong province. Though workers were on vacation during the Chinese New Year, the company’s foreign trade business was not suspended, Zeng told People’s Daily.
Compared with the traditional make-to-order strategy, cross-border e-commerce directly faces consumers, and production can be scheduled in advance based on previous sales data.
Zeng said the overseas warehouses of his company make logistics more efficient and thus improve consumers’ experience. “The export volume of our capsule coffee machines is expected to rise by over 25 percent this year,” the man noted.
Because of its advantages, such as online transaction and short transaction chain, cross-border e-commerce is favored by foreign enterprises. New business forms of foreign trade services emerged, including overseas warehouses, constantly improving the quality and efficiency of China’s foreign trade sector.
So far, China has signed 19 free trade agreements with 26 countries and regions, with partners covering Asia, Oceania, Latin America, Europe, and Africa.
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