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Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, director of the Center for Secur

Cooperation at the ministry’s Office for International Military Cooperation, said that comp

ared with other branches of the military, the PLA Navy plays a relatively larger role in protecting China’s overseas inter

ests and maintaining security in key sea lanes such as the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia.

“The PLA Navy is at the forefront of proving that the Chinese milita

ry is an open, cooperative and competent force for peace,” he said, adding that the PLA Navy has f

requently participated in humanitarian rescue missions, naval escorts, joint exercises and exchanges in past years.

“Through these non-war military operations, the Chinese Navy has also improved its capability and operability in dis

tant waters,” Zhou said. “Many security issues around the world require global efforts, and as its capability impr

oves, the PLA Navy can play a bigger part and contribute more to global maritime security.”

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She would also become the fourth Conservative prime min

ister in a row to have fallen foul of divisions over Europe within her centuries-old party, following David Cameron, John Major and Margaret Thatcher.

Most voters think the Brexit negotiation has been handled badly and there may now be a slight majority for staying in the EU, rec

ent polls suggest. Many Conservative MPs say May herself has caused the chaos by not negotiating harder with the EU.

“It was inevitable and I just feel she’s made the right decision. She has actually read the m

ood of the party, which was a surprise,” said Conservative lawmaker Pauline Latham.

Over two decades since her debut appearance at Wimbledon, Chinese legend Li

Na still remembers her awkward introduction to the iconic London tournament.

Li first competed there in the girls’ singles in 1998, and was tripped up by the switch f

rom hard courts to grass, not to mention the All England Club’s famous sartorial etiquette.

“I had no clue at all on how to play on grass,” Li recalled at Tuesday’s The Road to Wimbledon junior training camp in Beijing.

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Five Chinese women are ranked in the world’s top 50, spear

headed by No 18 Wang Qiang, who this week reached the Miami Open quarterfinals to

become the first Chinese to go that far at the premier mandatory event since Li’s run to the final in 2014.

Li is delighted to see her compatriots mixing it with the world’s best, but said she expects more.

“It’s good to have a group of girls in the top 50, but the resources they enjoy today make me believe they could do better,” she said.

With more advanced coaching and training methods, WTA

CEO Steve Simon reckons China will unearth the next Li sooner rather than later.

“The chances of finding the next Li Na are very bright; it’s just a matter of time,” he said earlier this month in Shenzhen.

The return of The Road to Wimbledon, a tailor-made tournament for under-14 players, f

or its fourth year in China is part of the latest effort to deepen the domestic talent pool.

It began on Monday with a weeklong trial camp overseen by Dan Blox

ham, head coach of the All England Club. The best performers will be picked to compete at a nat

ional tournament in Nanjing in May, which will decide China’s representatives at the global final at Wimbledon from Aug 11-17.

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spoke of the things that remain unchanged in the face

found changes in the international situation and bilateral relations.

He said the importance China attaches to its relations with France has not changed. China has always regar

ded France as a priority partner of cooperation, and the two peoples keep a special friendship, he added.

“This is a valuable asset that we must inherit and carry forward to keep China-France relations at the forefront of the times,” Xi said.

 went on to say that the common pursuit for peace, development, fairness and justice has not changed.

He said both China and France uphold the basic norms governing international relations underpinned by the purposes and

principles of the UN Charter while practicing multilateralism and opposing protectionism and unilateralism in international affairs.

Both countries are committed to building an open world economy and working together to meet th

e common challenges facing humanity, Xi said, adding that China and France have cooperated su

ccessfully on many occasions in the field of climate change, playing a positive leading role in the world.

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The mutually beneficial and win-win nature of China

France cooperation has not changed, Xi said.

“The history of China-France cooperation shows that bilateral ties are not ‘a zero-sum game.’ The strong com

plementarities between the two economies will remain for a long time,” Xi said, adding that China’s sustained devel

opment and further opening-up will create a host of new opportunities as well as broader space for bilateral cooperation.

Xi called on the two countries to constantly explore new fields of cooperation, nurture new growth areas for cooper

ation, and speed up the implementation of the Belt and Road and third-party cooperation projects that have been agreed upon.

“China staands ready to strengthen strategic communication and coordination with France on major issues including the UN aff

airs, the reform of the World Trade Organization and climate change,” Xi said, adding that China always supports European inte

gration and hopes France can play a more active role in leading and promoting China-Europe relations.

Hailing his successful visit to China last year, Macron said that the two countries have been implementing the important con

sensus reached by him and Xi over the past year, strengthening cooperation on economy, trade, technology and culture.

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New cross-border bridge to boost China-Vietnam trade

The Second Beilun River Bridge opened to traffic on March 19. It connects the Chinese city of Dongxing with the Vietn

amese city of Mong Cai, two important trade cities along the border between the two countries.

The new bridge spans 549 meters across the border river between China and Vietnam and is built to the first-class high

way standard. Construction started in 2014 and was completed in late 2017, costing a total of 220 million yuan ($33 million).

The bridge will greatly alleviate traffic burden on the First Beilun River Bridge three kilometers away, whi

ch was previously the only means of shipping personnel and cargo to or from Dongxing Checkpoint.

Statistics from immigration authorities show that 12.19 million people and 47,05

6 vehicles passed over the old bridge in 2018, far beyond its maximum capacity.

The new bridge is now designated for freight vehicles, while the First Be

ilun River Bridge is reserved for personnel. This could save 30 minutes or more in custo

ms clearance time for each consignment, according to Huang Xiong, deputy chief of Dongxing Customs.

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A total of 36 IC-related companies received funding, up

percent from the first half of 2018, and three of them each obtained more than $100 million in investment. Cloud computi

ng, artificial intelligence, robotics, and virtual reality also were hot spots that lured investment during the period,” Ni said.

Ni added although the technology industry is rapidly expanding under favorable polic

es, internet and mobile internet are still the attractive sectors in the TMT industry. Internet finance, ian

ternet-based education, fragmented entertainment and content sharing were hotly pursued by investors.

“The setup of the science and technology innovation board will improv

e the inclusiveness of the domestic capital market towards emerging enterprises, and o

pen a new financing and exit channel. The board offers a new platform for high-tech emerging enterprises, and tech

nology companies are expected to kick off a new wave of IPOs,” Janson Yang, PwC China assurance partner, said.

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After decades of rapid GDP growth, China’s economy has en

entered a new era of moderately slowing expansion and a transition to a high-quality grow

h model. That has pushed economists to reconsider some long-term issues, such as whether the economy wo

uld cool down sharply before a considerable rise in wealth, especially after a period of fast growth.

“The key method to ensure China’s role as a high-income cou

ntry is to adjust industrial structures and promote productivity,” said Zhu Min, an inf

luential Chinese economist and former deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund.

High-tech manufacturing, the service industry and the digital economy will be the new engines

for the economy, while some traditional driving forces, such as injecting funds into the market, are losing momentum, Zhu said.

China’s total GDP exceeded 90 trillion yuan ($13.4 trillion) in 2018, and the per cap

ita GDP was about $9,700. Economists predict that if the country maintains growth of at least 6 percent th

is year, which is likely given the current momentum, its per capita GDP this year would surpass $10,000.

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The Italian Senate warmly welcomes Xi for his visit, Casell

llati said, noting that the Italian and Chinese peoples have always trusted each other and

maintained profound friendship, with close ties in such fields as economy and trade, and culture.

The Senate speaker said she agrees with Xi on his remarks about the traditional friendly exchanges between the two cou

ntries dating back over 2,000 years, published in leading Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera ahead of his visit.

China and Italy are major countries that boast a rich culture, she said, adding that Italy is willing to boost communication and c

ooperation with the Chinese side in such fields as culture, art, language, heritage protection, tourism, science and tec

hnology, and innovation, and encourage their youths to increase exchanges and mutual understanding.

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The 10 percent deduction rate, which applies to buyers of ag

ricultural goods, will be cut to 9 percent, said the statement.

“The VAT reform is not simply lowering the tax rate, but focusing on the integration with the overall tax reform. It has continued to ma

ke progress toward the long-term goal of establishing a modern VAT system, and it also leaves room for cutting the number of VAT brac

kets from three to two in the future,” said Wang Jianfan, director of the department of taxation under the Ministry of Finance.

To implement the statutory taxation principle, China will also accelerate legislation to deepen VAT reform, Wang said.

The joint statement came after Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday that China will imp

lement a series of measures to cut VAT rates and ease the tax burden in almost all industries.

Earlier this month, Li said in his 2019 Government Work Repo

rt that VAT reform was key to improving the tax system and achieving better income distribution.

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