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Xi Focus-Closeup: Looking to the stars

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (R, front ), also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), waves to journalists and staff members at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China’s Gansu Province, June 11, 2013. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)

Eight years ago, during a live-stream, Wang Yaping was playing with her food. Millions of viewers tuned in to watch the Chinese taikonaut as she reached out to spin a floating “zongzi,” a leaf-wrapped rice dumpling, in zero gravity whilst on board the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft. The idea to include this snack on the space mission’s menu came directly from President Xi Jinping.

Zongzi is traditionally eaten during Duanwu Jie (Dragon Boat Festival), which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2013, the festival coincided with the Shenzhou-10 manned space mission. Before the launch, Xi said that the taikonauts should be able to celebrate the festival, too, and requested that zongzi be added to the spaceship pantry.

Every time Xi has held video calls with the country’s orbiting taikonauts, their well-being has been his priority. He discusses their health, work and living conditions, and is sure to tell them, “We all care about you very much.”

On June 11, 2013, not long after entering office as the Chinese president, Xi visited Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, to see off the Shenzhou-10 mission taikonauts. Three years later, despite being overseas on official business, Xi sent congratulations after the successful launch of the Shenzhou-11 mission.

Xi may have his feet firmly on the ground, but he has his eyes on the stars. In a letter replying to veteran scientists in 2020, he recalled the day 50 years ago China launched its first man-made satellite Dongfanghong-1. He wrote: “I was thrilled when the news reached me in Liangjiahe,” referring to the small, rural village in northwestern China, where he spent part of his formative years.

“The space dream is part of the dream to make China stronger,” Xi said eight years ago during his first video call to orbiting taikonauts. “With the development of space programs, the Chinese people will take bigger strides to explore further into space.”

In the years since this statement, China now has its own global navigation satellite network; its moon probe brought back lunar samples; it landed a rover on Mars, and its taikonauts are currently constructing a Chinese space station.

“You [taikonauts] represent all those who are striving to make China a strong aerospace nation,” Xi has told orbiting taikonauts.

This respect and passion is shared by millions who, when they look to the skies every night, see that their dreams are in reach.

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England lifts COVID-19 pandemic restriction-Omicron marks end of the pandemic.

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England has lifted its restrictions implemented in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Speaking at a press conference at Downing Street, Health Secretary Sajid Javad stated that the England will be lifting the restrictions implemented in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic but the legal requirement to self-isolate if tested positive for the virus will continue.

While Health Secretary Sajid Javad stated that it was a major milestone, he also stated that “It’s not the end of the road and we shouldn’t see this as the finish line because we cannot eradicate this virus and its future variants. Instead we must learn to live with Covid in the same way we have to live with flu”.

This has also meant that the work-from-home guidance would be ending with the majority of the nation’s workforce reverting to pre-pandemic work schedules. Additionally, students will also be no longer required to wear masks at schools.

Moreover, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also confirmed that the Government plans to end the legal requirement for positive cases to isolate by late March, but may move the date forward.

The U.S. has also hinted that the pandemic may be heading towards an end. Chief Medical Advisor to the President of the United States, Dr. Anthony Fauci has stated that the Omicron variant may mark the end of the pandemic.

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New Japanese Ambassador Takeuchi Midori presents her credentials to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

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The new Japanese ambassador to the Maldives, Takeuchi Midori has presented her credentials to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.

Ambassador Takeuchi Midori presented her credentials to President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih at a special ceremony held earlier today at the President’s Office.

Speaking at the ceremony President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih noted on the Ambassador Takeuchi Midori’s predecessor Keiko Yanai’s work in enhancing bilateral relations between the two nations. President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih expressed hope in continuing to further strengthen the bilateral relations between the two nations under Ambassador Takeuchi Midori tenure.

Ambassador Takeuchi Midori also spoke at the ceremony, noting that this year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the Maldives and Japan. She expressed hope that the two nations would work together on regional and global issues.

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China’s homemade C919 passenger plane to be delivered this year

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China’s self-developed C919 large passenger aircraft will be delivered within this year, The Paper reported on Wednesday, citing its developer.

Wu Yongliang, deputy general manager of the Shanghai-based Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), said the pandemic’s impact on the C919 project has been controllable, and the work is progressing in an orderly manner.

American aerospace manufacturer Boeing and France-based Airbus have long been the so-called duopoly in the commercial airline market worth trillions of U.S. dollars.

The C919, as part of China’s goal to develop homemade civil airplanes, is trying to rival with medium-range aircraft from the two global giants, such as Airbus’s A320 and Boeing’s 737 MAX.

C919 has 158 to 168 seats, a standard range of 4,075 kilometers and a maximum range of 5,555 kilometers. It had its successful maiden flight in 2017.

China Eastern Airlines, one of the country’s largest airlines also headquartered in Shanghai, signed a contract to buy five C919 jetliners from COMAC in March 2021.

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