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U.S. Scientist Warns COVID-19 Vaccine May Never Be Found

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A top U.S. scientist behind groundbreaking research in cancer and HIV/AIDS is warning that a vaccine for the coronavirus may never be found, as the number of global COVID-19 infections surged past 5 million on Thursday.

William Haseltine, who has also worked on human genome projects, said that while a COVID-19 vaccine could be developed, “I wouldn’t count on it.” Instead, he told Reuters, countries beginning to reverse lockdown measures need to lean on careful tracing of infections and strict isolation measures to control the spread.

Such an approach has proved successful in some countries that have minimized the spread, but worldwide, the numbers continue to climb. More than 328,000 people have died due to the virus while 5,001,494 have been infected, according to Johns Hopkins University as of Thursday morning.

The United States accounts for 94,083 of those fatalities and more than 1.5 million cases, according to NBC News’ tracking — the highest reported totals for any one country.

A race to develop a vaccine is underway at labs across the globe. Britain’s Oxford University has trials underway that if successful could see a vaccine available by September, while in the U.S., Massachusetts-based firm Moderna announced this week its first round of testing of a vaccine were strong enough to move ahead to a larger second trial.

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China’s New Energy Vehicle Market Embraces Sound Momentum For Development

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“New energy vehicle (NEV) production capacity in April basically reached the level of the same period last year,” said Miao Wei, Chinese Minister of Industry and Information Technology.
Miao made the remarks during an interview after the second plenary meeting of the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress on May 25. The minister also expressed full confidence in the future development of the NEV industry
NEV has always been a hot topic in the “two sessions” every year, as promoting wider use of NEV has been included in the Report on the Work of the Government for three consecutive years.
“The production and sales of both conventional automobiles and NEVs have been severely impacted by the novel coronavirus outbreak,” Miao introduced.
In light of the difficulty, China’s central government has unveiled policies and measures to stimulate the development of the industry. The government has decided to extend subsidies and tax exemptions for NEV purchases, which was due to be removed by the end of this year, by another two years, in a bid to restore NEV production and sales.
Since the beginning of this year, both central and local governments have rolled out a package of policies to support the automobile industry. The development of NEV, in particular, has been supported and encouraged by a series of preferential policies.
An executive meeting of the State Council on March 31 decided to extend subsidies and tax exemptions for NEV purchases to the end of 2022. A few days earlier, NEV charging facilities were included in the country’s “New Infrastructure” projects.
Guangzhou, capital of south China’s Guangdong province, in early March announced that it would grant each individual who buys a new energy vehicle a subsidy of 10,000 yuan ($1,398) from March to December. Besides, Shanghai government is now subsidizing NEV users on charging fees, and has shortened the time for NEV license registration.
These favorable policies resulted in an uptick in NEV sales. More than 100,000 Tesla models were sold across China in March, and the NEV sales of Beijing Electric Vehicle under Chinese automaker BAIC Motor Corp also bounced back to around 6,000 units in the same period. BYD, a leading electric vehicle maker in China, sold more than 20,000 NEVs in the first quarter.
The country would make continuous efforts in the supply, demand, and user sides in the next phase, in a bid to give a further boost to NEV development, according to the minister.
On the supply side, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will intensify efforts on the reform of streamlining administration and delegating power, improving regulation, and upgrading services, and liberalize the original equipment manufacturer production of new energy vehicles in an orderly manner. In addition, brand authorization will be piloted for R&D and innovative NEV enterprises.
On the demand side, apart from implementing relevant preferential fiscal and tax policies, the MIIT will also encourage battery swap programs and the use of NEV in the public services, such as law enforcement, logistics, sanitation, and public transport, so as to expand the demand for NEVs.
For NEV users, the MIIT will make greater efforts to construct charging and battery swap facilities and encourage universal standards of charging facilities. Furthermore, the ministry also encourages local governments to introduce preferential parking and travel policies for the use of NEV.
“In a word, we will always pay high attention to the development of NEVs, and work to ensure a better environment for using them, so that more consumers will be willing to choose it,” Miao concluded.

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China Won’t Slacken Efforts on Ecological, Environmental Protection

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More than one million migratory birds have traveled to Beijing this spring, according to data collected by 88 monitoring stations in the capital city, including swans, oriental storks, Baer’s pochards, reed parrotbills and black storks. In particular, a new high of over 1,000 swans were recorded.
“Birds are indicators of the biodiversity, the ecosystem integrity and ecosystem health in a region,” said Gao Wu, a bird expert and associate professor at the Capital Normal University in Beijing, adding that they will not stop in places that are not suitable and safe during migration.
The increasing bird species in Beijing well explains the continuous improvement in Beijing’s ecological environment. According to data released by Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau, the forest coverage in the city increased by 18,666 hectares last year, and the urban green space by 803 hectares.
Beijing is an epitome of China’s progress in ecological conservation. The country has made key progress in its critical battle against pollution, with further reductions in the discharge of major pollutants and overall improvements in the environment. Seven of nine binding targets in environmental protection set in the 13th Five-Year Plan were met ahead of schedule and were surpassed.
By the end of last year, 74.9 percent of the country’s 1,940 surface water inspection sections were graded in categories I-III, meaning good water quality, an increase of 3.9 percentage points year on year.
“China will not relax its ecological and environmental protection despite new challenges brought by the COVID-19,” said Minister of Ecology and Environment Huang Runqiu on May 25 on the sidelines of the annual session of the national legislature.
In the face of difficulties and challenges, China will not lower its standard on ecological and environmental protection, or loosen environmental supervision and environmental standards for market access, Huang said.
Since May, the ministry has dispatched teams to cities, counties, and enterprises to help local governments identify and resolve prominent ecological and environmental problems and provide technical and policy support, the minister introduced.
Going forward, on the one hand, China would reduce emissions of pollutants at the source, vigorously promote ecological protection and restoration, and boost systematic governance of mountains, forests, farmland, rivers, and lakes.
The minister added that the country would also strengthen supervision over ecological conservation and expand ecological spaces and capacity to safeguard national ecological security.
Meanwhile, China should advance industrial restructuring and transformation in a low-carbon manner, promote green and low-carbon development models and lifestyles, and provide the public with more eco-friendly products, he said.
On the other hand, the country should modernize its environmental governance system, and establish and perfect a sound and comprehensive environmental management system, the minister noted.

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National Security Legislation to Consolidate “One Country, Two Systems” Foundation

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Deputies to the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC) approved the NPC Decision on Establishing and Improving the Legal System and Enforcement Mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to Safeguard National Security at the closing meeting of the NPC annual session on May 28.
By plugging the loopholes in the legal system on safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, the NPC Decision can ensure sound and sustained implementation of “one country, two systems”.
The adoption of the Decision reflects central government’s strong willpower and determination in safeguarding national security, as well as maximum sincerity to care for and protect the interests of the HKSAR and the well-being of Hong Kong compatriots. It is of significant and far-reaching influences.
National security is a basic prerequisite for the survival and development of a country, and it is related to the country’s core interests. Since the return of Hong Kong to the motherland, China has been firmly implementing the principles of “one country, two systems,” “the people of Hong Kong governing Hong Kong,” and a high degree of autonomy. The practice of “one country, two systems” has achieved universally recognized success in Hong Kong.
But the practice also encountered new circumstances and problems, and is facing new risks and challenges. The increasingly notable national security risks in the HKSAR have become a prominent problem.
Since the turbulence over proposed anti-extradition bill amendments last June, China has seen increasingly rampant activities by “Hong Kong independence” organizations and radical localists in Hong Kong, escalating violence and terrorist activities as well as excessive foreign meddling in Hong Kong affairs.
All this has gravely challenged the bottom line of the practice of “one country, two systems”, trampled on rule of law, and put national sovereignty, security, and development interests in serious jeopardy. Under such circumstances, China must take effective measures to prevent, stop, and punish the violations in accordance with law.
The rule of law is a basic principle of national governance. Currently, various activities that endanger national security are intensifying in Hong Kong, and an important reason is that there are obvious legal loopholes and lack of enforcement mechanisms in safeguarding national security in Hong Kong.
For example, national security legislation in Hong Kong stipulated by the Article 23 of the HKSAR Basic Law has been stigmatized and demonized and is yet to materialize until now, which marks a severe deficiency of the HKSAR in terms of maintaining national security.
It is urgent to prevent unscrupulous violent criminal acts and stop various internal and external forces from splitting, subverting, infiltrating, and destroying the country. If such activities continue and measures to maintain national security remain incomplete, the interests and well-being of the vast majority of Hong Kong citizens will be kidnapped, and the future of Hong Kong and “one country, two systems” may be ruined.
The central government of a country has the greatest and ultimate responsibility to safeguard the country’s national security. Legislation on national security is undoubtedly within the purview of the central authorities.
Article 23 of the Basic Law of the HKSAR stipulates that the HKSAR shall enact laws on its own to prohibit seven types of acts that endanger national security.
This is a special arrangement under “one country, two systems”, and it does not affect the central government’s continued construction of a legal system and enforcement mechanism to maintain national security and improve relevant legislation and enforcement systems according to actual conditions and needs.
When national security is threatened and seriously damaged in Hong Kong and when the HKSAR government fails to complete its own legislation on national security, the NPC, as the highest organ of state power, is totally entitled and required to make relevant decisions in accordance with the powers granted by the Constitution, and authorize its Standing Committee to punish acts such as splitting the country, subverting state power, and organizing and carrying out terrorist activities, as well as interfering in the affairs of the HKSAR by external forces.
Without a harmonious and stable environment, how can people live in peace and enjoy their work?
The NPC legislation does not target the ordinary Hong Kong residents but a tiny number of people suspected of endangering national security.
The law-based freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of the press enjoyed by Hong Kong residents will not be disturbed, and their legal rights and freedoms will be better protected in a safe environment of Hong Kong.
As facts have indicated, when a national security loophole is wide open, the entire society will pay a painful price. Only with a solid foundation of national security and a stable overall social situation can the basic rights and freedoms be better protected, deep-rooted contradictions in the economy and people’s livelihood be solved, and the institutional advantages of “one country, two systems” be fully exploited to gain more development room for Hong Kong.
Safeguarding national security is at the core of the “one country, two systems” principle. “One country” is the premise and basis for the implementation of the “two systems” and the “two systems” is subordinated and derived from the “one country” and unified within it.
The most important requirement of “one country” is to safeguard national sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity. It should be pointed out that the HKSAR still has the constitutional responsibility and legal obligation to maintain national security in accordance with Article 23 of the HKSAR Basic Law, and the special administrative region must complete the national security legislation stipulated in Article 23 of the Basic Law at an earlier date. Any legislation to safeguard national security and its implementation must not conflict with the NPC Decision.
A flourishing country and people living in peace and harmony is the most basic and universal aspiration of the people and safeguarding national security has the deepest and broadest foundation of public opinion.
A prosperous and stable Hong Kong meets the expectations of all parties. We believe that with effectively guaranteed national security, Hong Kong will surely become better, and continue to write a new chapter of economic prosperity and happiness for the citizens and make unique and important contributions to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

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