China’s retirement age to be gradually lifted

Beijing, Nov 21 (IANS) The Chinese government has planned a progressive approach to raise the retirement age, a media report said on Saturday.

Li Zhong, spokesperson for the human resources and social security ministry, said on Friday that raising the retirement age would be carried out “step by step,” which means that Chinese people’s retirement age would be lifted by only “several months” each year, the Global Times reported.

He also said that the government would inform the public in advance about the longer working age so as to help people “psychologically prepare” for the programme.

The current retirement age is 60 for men, 55 for female white-collar workers and 50 for female blue-collar workers.

China has 210 million people aged 60 or above, accounting for 15.5 percent of the population.

It is estimated that by 2020, over-60s will make up 19.3 percent of the population, and the figure will reach 38.6 percent in 2050, according to the civil affairs ministry.

China displays biggest drone

China has displayed its latest and biggest military unmanned aircraft at an industry expo in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, in an attempt to attract more buyers for its combat drones, the media reported on Saturday.

The CH-5 combat/reconnaissance drone, developed by China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, made its first flight in August, becoming the heaviest and strongest military drone in China, the People’s Daily reported.

It was displayed at the expo on Friday.

Considering the rule that China’s defence sector never publicly displays advanced weapons solely designed for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the public debut of CH-5 at the China (Shenzhen) International Unmanned Vehicle Systems Trade Fair has an unmistakable indication: China is eager to sell it.

“We have sold the CH-3 to several foreign nations and now we plan to launch the export version of the CH-5 to the international market. It can perform air-to-ground strike, reconnaissance and transport operations,” said Shi Wen, chief designer of the CH series at China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics.

Shi did not disclose which countries have introduced the CH series, but earlier reports quoted Vasily Kashin, a senior analyst with the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, as saying Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq have deployed drones from the CH family.

Iraq is the newest buyer of the CH series drones as it released a video clip in mid-October showing the take-off of a CH-4B military drone at an airbase.

Designers said CH-5 is made of composite materials and has a wingspan of 20 metres. With a size twice as big as its previously developed counterparts, the drone can stay in the air for as long as about 40 hours and operate at an altitude of up to 10 km.

Compared with other military drones that usually have a maximum take-off weight of less than 1,500 kg, the CH-5 is much more powerful-it is able to fly with a weight of 3,000 kg and carry 900 kg of equipment and weapons.

China proposes new cross-border rail route

China has proposed a Silk Road high-speed rail route connecting the country’s northwest region to West Asia via Central Asia, aimed at overcoming the cross-border connectivity problem.

He Huawu, chief engineer of China Railway Corp, put forward the proposal at forum on the One Belt, One Road Initiative hosted by China Civil Engineering Society, the People’s Daily reported on Saturday.

The proposed route starts from China’s Urumqi and Yining to Almaty in Kazakhstan, then to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan, Tashkent and Samarkand in Uzbekistan, Ashgabat in Turkmenistan and finally Teheran, Iran.

The northeast-southwest line would be complementary to the existing railway network in central Asian nations, which mostly run southeast to northwest toward Moscow, He said.

Changing gauges at the border takes days for cargo and significantly cuts railway transport’s competitiveness against shipping by sea.

“The Khorgos station bordering Kazakhstan last year handled less than 17 million metric tonnes of cargo running at full capacity, but beyond the station, the east-west annual cargo transportation capacity is 100 million tons,” He said.

“Increased container traffic and sea container traffic moved by land instead could justify the cost of building the line.”

According to He, container trains and passenger trains could run on the same route. The only difference would be speed. A passenger train could run at 250 to 300 km/hour, while a container train could run at 120 km/h.

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