Silk Road International Film Festival, Xi’an, China

Islamabad, May 17: Young filmmakers from Pakistan came out brilliant at the 5th Silk Road International Film Festival and 2018 International Young Directors’ Festival held from October 8 to 13, 2018, in China’s Xi’an city, the starting point of ancient Silk Road.

With the theme of “New Era, New Silk Road and New Vision,” a total of 565 movies from 68 countries and regions competed for Golden Silk Road Media Awards and Trophies.

Silk Road Film Festival 2018

Pakistan’s delegation led by Jamal Shah, Jamal Sohail, Shamoon Kiani, Zafeer Butt, Farhad Riaz, M. Akram Jalla and Jawad Sharif, showcased  their cinematic works to the local and foreign cinemagoers attending the festival.

Jamal Sohail’s Taking Direction was about filmmaking where a film director goes through ups and downs of his film career. His second film Alif was about a child with special needs. Jamal Sohail’s third film Pentagram took us to a motel for eleven minutes where horror is born and breeds (the horror genre is favourite among young). Jawad Sharif’s fifty-four minute journey K2-The Invisible takes us to the snowy mountains, our precious treasure and pride up in the Northern Circuit. Shamoon Kiani was seen with two films: Let the Sun Rise which took us on the road with two innocent boys who collect trash and rags from the streets all day long and earn fifty rupees for their poor mother in the slums. Shamoon Kiani’s second short Forage is a meaningful commentary on how terrorism and violence has torn our society in bits and pieces with evil of dowry playing in the backdrop. Andkaar from Farhad Riaz, Sedentary from Akram Jalla and Loug from Zafeer Butt also received good response. Jamal Shah of Hunerkada Chief and Director General of the Pakistan National Council of the Arts, lead the Pakistani delegation comprising of Rabiia Amin ,Jamal Sohail and Aijaz Gul. Jamal Shah who was wearing several caps on the occasion as distinguished actor, painter of repute, film producer, director, screenwriter and composer, was star of the night when his film Badal: Revenge of the Worthless premiered on October 10 to capacity audiences. In the post-screening session, Jamal Shah spoke of the severe challenges he had to go through filming with budget constraint as a major hassle. He advised the upcoming young film makers to open their mind to out- of- the- box options and solutions with new horizons.

Silk Road News 2019

Films from China, India, Australia, Nepal, Iran, Mongolia, Nederland, South Korea, Sri Lanka and United States also received enthusiastic response. The opening ceremony took place at the newly opened seven-star W Hotel which mesmerized the visitors with its amazing architecture and dazzling ambiance.

The 5th Silk Road International Film Festival included signing ceremony of Pakistan-China co production film venture Road to Heaven. Jamal Shah was one of the main speakers who spoke on the close relations between Pakistan and China. He spoke on how films can bind the two countries covering intimate relations of mankind and surroundings. This is the biggest gift mankind can give. Art brings this relationship to life covering our past, present and hope for the future. Film Road to Heaven revolves around a man who contributes to the society enormously with his love and understanding for humanity and life. The hero embarked upon journey on Silk Road with a purpose. The film may be based on the life of an individual but it covers more than just an individual. It is, in a way, a tribute to what CPEC holds for the future. Road to Heaven would open the gates to Pakistan-China film collaboration with warmth, sincerity and energy.

Silk Road News Film

The festival concluded with a closing ceremony in which everyone was bid farewell and was thanked for their participation and for coming to China. Jamal Sohail and Aijaz Gul also presented a copy of their book Journey Through Lens: Pakistani Cinema at the closing ceremony as a cultural gift to Mr. Ma Dong, Dean School of Media, Xi’an Polytechnic University.

Briefing on the film festival, Lu Kelun, deputy director of the Shaanxi Press, Publication, Radio and Television Bureau, pointed out that the Silk Road Film Festival has new features and highlights compared with the previous four sessions. First, introduce the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. The second is to highlight the new image of Xi’an in Shaanxi in the new era. The third is to prosper and develop the Chinese film industry. The fourth is to implement more Huimin activities. This year’s film festival will be a film culture event that will lead the industry development, newcomers, new generations, and wonderful sharing.

It has added special activities such as “Young Director Exchange Forum”, “The Movie Debate World”, “Master Carnival” and “Showing Carnival”. During the festival, 147 outstanding films from home and abroad will be screened in 23 theaters, 30 colleges and universities, 10 comprehensive plazas and 100 demonstration communities in Xi’an, he added.

The festival used movies as a medium, which helped China to build a cultural bridge connecting countries along the Silk Road, promote cultural exchange and increase cultural recognition, to boost the Belt and Road construction, said the organizer.

 

By Jamal Sohail: Film Director

Iraq, PetroChina Sign 1.07-bln-USD Deal to Process Gas in Halfaya Oilfield

Baghdad, May  16: Iraq government and a Chinese company have signed a 1.07-billion-U.S. dollar agreement to process associated gas extracted from Iraq's southern giant Halfaya oilfield, paving way for the Chinese companies to boost cooperation with the Middle Eastern partners in the energy sector under the Belt and Road Initiative .

In the signing ceremony at the Iraqi Oil Ministry in Baghdad, PetroChina, which is the listed arm of state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation, signed a contract for gas processing plant (GPP) project with China Petroleum Engineering and Construction Corporation (CPECC).

The contract aims to process associated gas with capacity of around 300 million cubic feet of standard gas per day from Halfaya oilfield.

Also in the ceremony, Maysan Oil Company, the owner of Halfaya oilfield, signed a memorandum of understanding with PetroChina, which is the main operator of Halfaya oilfield, to ensure the implementation of the required specifications included in the contract with CPECC.

GPP project will contribute to reducing gas flare pollution to environment, and will also contribute significantly to resolving power shortage problem by providing dry gas to power stations in Maysan province.

Iraqi Oil Minister Thamir al-Ghadhban said in the ceremony that "the GPP project signed today between PetroChina and CPECC, is one of the important and strategic projects for developing the gas industry in Iraq."

"The contract will stop the burning and waste of gas and will provide jobs for many Iraqis," al-Ghadhban said.

For his part, China's Ambassador to Iraq Zhang Tao said in the ceremony that "the relations between China and Iraq have seen a significant progress in all fields, particularly in oil and gas field."

"We have many companies working in cooperation with Iraq's oil ministry," he said, adding that "cooperation in the field of oil and energy is an important part of the cooperation between the two countries, as China is the biggest importer of the Iraqi oil."

Liu Haijun, president of CPECC, said that "the project of processing gas in Halfaya is of great importance for the development of Iraq's economy, and will contribute to providing sufficient dry gas for power stations."

He said that one of the priorities of CPECC is providing job opportunities for Iraqis in the project as well as transferring modern technology to Iraq.

GPP project is scheduled to complete after 30 months, making Halfaya the first oilfield eliminating gas flaring in Iraq.

Halfaya is located in east of the Maysan's provincial capital Amarah, and it is the largest oilfield of Maysan oil company, producing about 400,000 barrel per day

CPEC : PM Imran Khan’s Visit to China at a Crucial Moment

Beijing, Nov. 3: Geopolitics is changing rapidly. Friends yesterday may not be friends today. Especially this part of the world is under immense focus and may play a pivotal role in geopolitics of tomorrow. India formerly a close ally of the USSR is in the American Bloc, Turkey a long time NATO ally is getting closer to Russia. Middle East is under tense situation, either Yemen, Qatar, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, all have certain degree of political instability. Iran may face trade sanctions imposed by the US from 5th November 2018. Russia, India and China are major importer of energy from Iran, and may not accept US imposed sanctions. What situation may emerge, no one can guess yet. The US trade war on China and opposition to BRI are all efforts to curtail China. US’s supremacy is being challenged and may not sustain forever. Over-all the situation is quite tense& hostile and reminds us of the cold war era.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, is on a 4 days official visit to China from 2-5 November 2018. He is scheduled to meet President Xi Jinping on 2nd November. This will be first time that two strong leaders will meet and it is expected that both would reach a long lasting understanding. It is worth mentioning that, both leaders have so many things in common, like both are honest and visionary leaders, both are against corruption and both have their peoples service to their heart. Both have a common agenda to serve their people and develop their country they enjoy popular support of their masses and rule over the hearts and souls of their own people.

On 3rd November, Imran Khan is planned to visit the Monument of the people’s heroes at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, paying his symbolic respect to heroes who sacrificed their lives during war of liberation, and later afternoon will meet Chairman of National People’s Congress, the highest legislative platform in China. On 4th November, he will speak at Central Party School, the source of Chinese party leadership, as a nursery, which trains and provides leadership to the Communist Party of China.
Prime Minister, Imran Khan, will also attend the first-ever Shanghai Import Expo on 5th of November, as the guest of honor at the opening ceremony. Import Expo is a unique concept, innovated by China only. He will be accompanied by a 75- member strong delegation of Pakistanis businessmen. Business-delegation is consisting of leaders of various businesses in Pakistan. They will have the opportunity to interact with Chinese entrepreneurs and I believe, it will open avenues of future collaboration.
Pakistan’s import from China stands at 14.5 Billion US Dollars, while export to China is only 2 Billion US Dollars only. The trade gap is rather huge. The Shanghai Import Expo will bring this gap to narrow down to some extent. Shanghai Import Expo is a very positive step and a clear message that China promotes globalization. It is expected, the rest of the world may also appreciate it and be beneficiary of Chinese free and fair trade practices.

It is expected that both leaders will consider the geopolitical challenges faced by two nations, and may formulate a joint strategy. China is under severe criticism of BRI and facing trade war challenges. US is openly curtailing Chinese influence and BRI development. Pakistan is passing through the worst economic crisis and foreign debt burden. All such issues will be on top of the agenda during this visit. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is the flagship project under BRI, will also be under discussion. Pakistan understands CPEC is vital for economic take-off of Pakistan and pays due importance to CPEC. Pakistan wants to speed it up and widen its scope too. Saudi Arabia has shown interest to join CPEC and China has agreed. It may open options for any other country to join CPEC and it is expected that Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan, and many other countries may be involved in CPEC in the very near future. All these are important issues and need close consultation with China.

The most important is to create harmony between the two leaders and joint strategy to face the challenges of the coming days. They may design roadmap of future cooperation. Pakistan and China are always on the same page and support and protect each other’s interests. It is not something new, it was our standard practice in the past and will remain unchanged in the future too. We both nations are synchronized so well that no other nation can tear us apart. Our friendship is so deep-rooted and based on such a strong foundation that any effort to create any misunderstanding between us would go to the drain.

The visit will be a message of “Peace, Harmony, Security, Stability, Development and Prosperity” not only for Pakistan and China but for the whole region. World may appreciate this role model.

Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed AwanProf. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Sinologist (ex-Diplomate), Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad, Pakistan.

Source: www.moderndiplomacy.eu

103 Myanmar Outstanding Students to Study in China under Scholarship Program to Boost Educational Ties

Naypyidaw,Aug. 31: China’s southwestern neighbour Myanmar is sending 103 outstanding students to study in China under a scholarship and stipend program to boost educational ties and promote development in Myanmar.The scholarship winning Myanmar students were bid farewell on Wednesday.  Speaking at a ceremony, Chinese Ambassador Hong Liang noted that China has actively participated in promoting the development of Myanmar's education sector, donating friendship school buildings and introducing a program of China-Myanmar friendship scholarship and stipend as part of promoting "Pauk-Phaw" friendship. 

The program was introduced in 2016 to support the education development of Myanmar.

Thanking China, U Sein Win Aung, chairman of China-Myanmar Friendship Association urged students to study hard in China and take a vital role in Myanmar's educational reforms.

China and Myanmar share a geopolitically strategic 2185-kilometre (1358-mile) border and have established cooperative, closer and warmer ties.

China announced scholarships for 3,000 freshmen from nations and regions along the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road each year, to make studying more attractive in China, according to the international cooperation and exchange department of China’s Ministry of Education.

China has signed agreements on the mutual recognition of academic degrees with 46 countries and regions around the world, according to Ministry.

Scientists Agree for Cooperation to Tackle Disasters along BRI Countries

Beijing, May 12: More than 700 scientists from around 40 countries, regions and international organizations have agreed to support a declaration issued after a two-day International Conference on Silk-road Disaster Risk Reduction and Development, which concluded in Beijing on Sunday.

The theme of conference was: Towards Safe, Green, and Resilient Silk Roads.

The declaration recommended actions including data-sharing, investing in disaster risk reduction technologies and infrastructure, and jointly enhancing disaster preparedness and response protocols.

Scientists from China and other countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative agreed to work together to enhance scientific and technological cooperation in disaster prevention and mitigation, according to a joint declaration.

This new collaboration platform aims to make areas along the initiative safer, more sustainable and disaster-proof, according to the declaration published during the event  on Sunday, which also marked China's 11th National Disaster Prevention and Reduction Day, an annual campaign which began in 2009 after a devastating earthquake hit Sichuan and neighboring provinces on May 12, 2008, l

The conference also saw the launch of a scientific alliance on international disaster risk reduction, which included around 30 institutions and universities from countries including Italy, Belgium, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

The organizers of conference said this alliance will serve as a new platform for international coordination and provide scientific support for disaster relief and sustainable development.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Association for Science and Technology, United Nations Environment Programme, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and international scientific partners jointly hosted the International Conference on Silk-roads Disaster Risk Reduction and Sustainable Development (SiDRR Conference 2019)

Speakers from various countries discussed issues such as hazard information detection and data sharing mechanisms and physical process, risk analysis and management, monitoring and early warning, disaster prevention and mitigation, emergency management and post-disaster reconstruction, cross-border disasters, sustainable development, milestones

Commenting on climate change effect, Bai Chunli, president of the academy, said in the conference's opening ceremony on Saturday that areas along the Silk Road are prone to various natural disasters that have resulted in massive loss of life and economic damage.

"As a result, it is paramount to use new technologies and international cooperation to jointly tackle these natural disaster risks, protect ecological security and achieve sustainable development," he said.

The academy will continue to collaborate with foreign partners to create new platforms and mechanisms to improve disaster management and ecological protection, he further added.

Mami Mizutori, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, in his remarks said in a video speech that the scale and reach of the world's largest infrastructure initiative will impact billions of people and reshape the physical world, and countries should be mindful of these projects' impact on the environment and inhabitants.

"It is encouraging that the government of China is taking proac­tive measures to ensure that the development of the Belt and Road Initiative is risk-informed and sustainable," she also added.

"Disaster-proofing the world's largest infrastructure initiative is a challenge, but achievable," she said, adding that at the heart of this challenge lies great potential for innovation and creativity, such as new disaster risk prediction and analysis, and disaster-resilient infrastructures.

Huang Runqiu, vice-minister of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, in his comments said disaster risk reduction of natural hazards along the initiative is crucial for its success and sustainability.

Regions at the heart of the initiative, such as the Tianshan-Pamir Plateau, the Himalayas, eastern parts of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and South Asia, are facing serious disaster threats due to tectonic movements, fragile ecosystems and extreme weather, he said.

Henrik Slotte, a senior disaster management expert from the UN Environment Program, in his remarks said poorly managed infrastructure projects can damage the ecosystem.

He further said it is key for scientists to communicate with government officials to create better planning and new solutions, and more interdisciplinary research into natural disasters and risk management is also helpful.

Background:

The Silk Road, beginning in the Han Dynasty (207 BC-220 AD), crosses more than 70 countries and affects some 4.4 billion people (63% of the world). For centuries, the Silk Road has played an essential role in connecting the East and the West, through the exchange of the trade, science, technology and civilization. However, due to active underlying geological structures, including rapid tectonic uplift, climate change, and natural hazards (e.g., earthquakes, landslides, floods, typhoons, tsunamis, etc.) that occur frequently, these conditions place threats on both social development and livelihoods along the Silk Road.

Challenges of disaster management in BRI region

Furthermore, numerous challenges related to disaster risk reduction exist in this area, including a lack of background information and data sharing mechanism, as well as an absence of a scientific risk assessment method, and mitigation countermeasures etc. As a result of this serious situation and integrated with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, there is an urgent need.

China’s initiative for international cooperation in disaster risk reduction along Silk Road

China has taken new initiatives to promote international cooperation in disaster risk reduction and sustainable development along the Silk Road. The action will boost resilience against natural hazards must be improved and an international platform for joint research and information sharing of the field is needed.

Therefore, an international research program for the disaster risk reduction along the Silk Roads is being implemented under the umbrella of SiDRR (Silk-roads Disaster Risk Reduction) by Chinese Academy of Sciences. The implementation of this program will enhance disaster prevention and will contribute to our ability to guarantee the security of livelihood of the affected countries.

By Muhammad Arif

China’s Alibaba to Sell Fresh Milk of New Zealand to Millions of Chinese consumers via Tmall

Beijing, Aug. 31: China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba will start selling fresh milk of New Zealand to potentially millions of customers on Alibaba's Tmall platform from the end of next week. Alibaba Group has signed a deal with Milk New Zealand, according to NZHERALD. Now Chinese consumers will soon be able to order fresh New Zealand milk through e-commerce platform Alibaba, but at a cost.

The platform is selling two 1L bottles of milk for 79RMB or $16.50 after it signed a deal with Milk New Zealand.

The trade agreement means the milk will be available to potentially millions of customers on Alibaba's Tmall platform from the end of next week.

The launch in Hamilton will be live webcast to Alibaba customers - a first, according to Milk New Zealand managing director Terry Lee.

"This is the first time Alibaba will promote fresh product directly via live webcast to its VVIP members and, as such, this collaboration has created a new model of how to promote New Zealand fresh products directly to Chinese consumers," he said.

Theland Farm Fresh Milk is produced by Green Valley Dairy Ltd and air-freighted to China in one litre bottles, with support from China Eastern Airline Cargo.

The milk has a shelf life of 16 days.

Lee said the partnership was a significant opportunity in a growing market.

"It's an exciting prospect not only because it promotes the collaboration we have with Alibaba, but also provides Chinese consumers with insight to where and how the milk is produced."

"Traceability - from pasture to plate - is very strong in China. Consumers want to know that the product they are consuming has been produced with the highest animal welfare, environmental and quality processes."

Lee said by September 8, about 35,000 bottles would have been shipped. The company plans the production of about 20,000 bottles a month until the end of this year when it would be increased to about 80,000 bottles a month.

"Demand for fresh milk is growing in China, particularly for product which has been grown and processed in New Zealand," Lee said.

"Theland Fresh Milk is 100 per cent New Zealand made."

As well as Minister of Food and Safety David Bennett, executives from Alibaba and several Chinese social media influencers would be at the launch in Hamilton next week.

Alibaba is one of the world's largest retailers and has operations in more than 200 countries.

It has more than 529 million monthly active mobile users across its platforms.

China's Trade Volume with BRICS Countries Reaches $174.7 billion in first seven months of 2017

Beijing, Aug. 30: China's trade volume with BRICS countries reached 1.15 trillion yuan (174.7 billion US dollars) in the first seven months of 2017, a 32.9-percent increase in the same period last year, customs data released on Tuesday showed, CGTN reported. That rate is higher than the 18.5-percent growth rate China posted in foreign trade during the same period, according to the General Administration of Customs.

China's total import turnover with the other four BRICS members in the first seven months of this year hit 561.88 billion yuan, up 37.7 percent from a year ago, while exports were at 586.58 billion yuan, up 28.7 percent.

As a result, China's trade surplus with the BRICS bloc stands at 24.7 billion yuan, down 48.5 percent compared to the same period last year.

The trade statistics come just days before the BRICS Summit, which opens in China's southeastern coastal city of Xiamen in Fujian Province on Sunday.
"There is enormous potential for cooperation in trade, investment, finance and infrastructure among the five countries," said Jiang Zengwei, head of the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade.

Trade is one of the four topics slated to be discussed at the BRICS Business Forum, a major side-event of the summit.

Themed "BRICS: Stronger Partnership for a Brighter Future", the forum is expected to bring together a record 1,200 attendees, including executives from more than 50 Fortune 500 multinationals.

They will discuss and exchange ideas on topics such as trade and investment, connectivity, financial cooperation and development and “Blue Economy.”

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