Under a pilot scheme, the first group of six provinces and cities sold 6.8 billion yuan in bonds

at commercial bank counters to individual buyers between March 22 and early April.

The coupon rates are between 3.01 percent and 3.33 percent, higher than treasury b

onds issued by the central government as well as bank deposits with the same maturity.

Gross local bond issuances hit 1.18 trillion yuan in the first qua

rter, compared with only 219.5 billion yuan in the same period last year.

The total quota for 2019 local government bond issuances is 3.08 trillion yuan, according to the Ministry of Finance.

“About 60 percent of the bonds were issued for ongoing construction, especially

for shantytown renovation projects, railways and roads,” said Hao Lei, head of the ministry’s Budget Department.

While debt financing continues to grow, the government is experiencing sharp declin

es in fiscal revenue growth, especially from tax and land sales, official data showed.

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hina can lend a helping hand in the rebuilding of Paris’s Notre Dam

e Cathedral, whose spire and roof were destroyed by the huge fire that engulfed the 8

50-year-old Gothic building on Monday evening, said a historian from Cambridge University.

Alan Macfarlane, a historian and professor emeritus at King’s College, said that give

n China’s widely acknowledged engineering and construction expertise, “it would be a very appreciated gesture if the pe

ople of China offered their help in whatever way the French thought appropriate to rebuild a symbol for all of our world”.

“The Chinese have built the largest airport in the world, a far larger job than rebuilding

Notre Dame, in less than three years,” Macfarlane said. “They could be of immense help.”

President Xi Jinping sent a message of support to French President E

mmanuel Macron on Tuesday, expressing sincere condolences to all French people.

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tedly part of the French destiny and the project we will have for the coming years … a national subscription will be launched, and well beyon

d our borders we will appeal to the greatest talent, and there are many who will come to contribute and rebuild,” Macron said.

We will rebuild Notre Dame, because that’s what French people e

xpect, because it’s what our history deserves and because it’s our deep destiny,” he added.

Already, two of France’s wealthiest men have pledged large donations. Billionaire Francois-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of the Ke

ring group, which owns fashion brands including Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, pledged 100 m

illion euros ($113 million) toward rebuilding Notre Dame, Agence France-Presse reported.

Bernard Arnault, chief executive of the LVMH group, which owns fa

shion labels including Louis Vuitton and Bulgari, said he would donate 200 million euros.

Built in the 12th and 13th centuries, Notre Dame, which has rece

ived about 13 million visitors each year-more than the Eiffel Tower-is regard

ed as one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and sits at the heart of the nation’s history.

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Premier Li Keqiang called on China and Japan to boost cooperation in innovation to see more pra

gmatic outcomes, and to further work together in areas including finance, third-party markets and tourism.

The two countries should also create a fair and unbiased business environment for each other’s en

terprises, Li said in a meeting with visiting Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono in Beijing on Monday.

The meeting came after a China-Japan high-level economic dialogue,

co-chaired on Sunday by State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Kono. The dia

logue, also attended by ministers of agriculture, industry, commerce and environ

mental protection from both countries, was also the first to be held in China between the two nations since 2010.

Li congratulated attendees on the successful hosting of the dialogue in his opening remarks, noting that bilateral relation

s are back on the right track and have seen new progress thanks to joint efforts of the two sides starting last year.

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 and bilateral issues despite remaining difficulties in bilateral relations, he said.

The thawing of ties between China and Japan was marked by Li’s visit to the country in

May, the first by a Chinese premier in eight years, and the visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to China in October.

The economic dialogue between the two countries was launched in 2007,

and deteriorated relations due to disputes over a number of issues resulted in an eight-ye

ar hiatus until last April, when the two sides restarted with the fourth round of dialogue in Tokyo.

China said on Monday that the Belt and Road Initiative is open to economic cooperation with

other countries and regions, and it does not become involved in territorial disputes of relevant parties.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily news briefing tha

t although the initiative was proposed by China, it is an international project for the public good.

While advancing the initiative, China upholds the principle of equality, openness and transparency and sticks to enter、

prise-oriented market operations as well as market laws and well-accepted international rules, Lu said.

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 International Cooperation two years ago, more countries and inter

national organizations have joined in the construction of the Belt and Road.

So far, 125 countries and 29 international organiz

ations have signed BRI cooperation documents with China, according to Lu.

Among them are 16 Central and Eastern European countries and Gr

eece. Italy and Luxembourg signed cooperation agreements with China last month to join

tly build the Belt and Road. Jamaica also signed similar agreements on Thursday.

During Premier Li Keqiang’s European visit last week, both sides agreed to seek greate

r synergy between the BRI and the European Union’s strategy for connecting with Asia.

Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Comm

unist Party of China Central Committee, said last month that representatives of more than 100 coun

tries, including about 40 foreign leaders, have confirmed their attendance at the Beijing forum.

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Editor’s note: The “996” schedule (working from 9 am to 9 pm, six

days a week) has sparked a heated public debate, because many workers don’t get any ove

rtime pay and, worse, could end up in the “”. The “996” phenomenon is rampant in the high-tech and internet compani

es. Some internet company chiefs have added fuel to the debate by saying they want their workers to “work hard”. T

hree experts share their views on the issue with China Daily’s Yao Yuxin. Excerpts follow:

Labor Law should never be violated

Given the fierce competition in the high-tech sector industries, start-

ups have to take drastic measures to survive, let alone thrive. To develop new products, and pr

oduce and market them, companies need a great deal of resources and ski

lled manpower. Perhaps this is the reason they make their employees work overtime.

But forcing the “996” schedule on the workers is illegal. To p

rotect the rights of workers, the Labor Law stipulates that employers

should not force their workers to work more than eight hours a day, or more than 44 hours a week. If emplo

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Premier Li Keqiang has signed a revised regulation on the disclosure

of government information to better respond to public concerns.

The revision, based on the 2008 version, is aimed at increasing openness of government

affairs and resolving prominent problems in government information disclosure.

It also represents the headway and achievements made in this field over the past years and clarified the scope of governm

ent information disclosure, calling for constantly expanding information disclosure.

Stressing the need to improve the legal rights and interests of the a

pplicants and related parties when applying for information disclosure in accordance with pr

ocedures, the revision also made necessary stipulations on the improper exercise of application rights by a small num

ber of applicants affecting the normal conduct of government information disclosure.

Efforts should be made to improve the effectiveness of government information disclosure by using information techn

ology, to enable government information to play its due role in serving the people, it added.

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, statistics, physics, biology, psychology and sociology, among other disci

plines. It promotes the “AI + X” interdisciplinary approa

ch in universities and aims to set up 100 majors that combine AI and other subjects by 2020.

Many Chinese universities have set their sights on improving AI education and nurturin

g more AI talent and have established new AI departments and research institutes.

Tsinghua University established an AI institute in 2018 as p

art of its efforts to advance AI research and education.

Aiming to become a globally influential AI research institution, the institute focuses on the basic theory of AI and activ

ely promotes cross-disciplinary AI research as well as the integration of academia and industry.

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Croatia, April 13 — China and the Central and Eastern European Count

ries (CEECs) on Friday agreed to enhance connectivity to achieve more development.

The agreement was part of the Dubrovnik Guidelines for Cooperation between China and t

he CEECs, which was released after the eighth China-CEEC leaders’ meeting in the Croatian city of Dubrovnik.

According to the guidelines, China and the CEECs are willing to pro

mote railway projects cooperation in line with respective laws and regulations and through

consultations, in particular by strengthening exchanges and cooperation on railway planning, railway organiza

tion development, management, technology development, logistics and freight terminal construction.

China and the CEECs will jointly explore utilization and construction of logistics hubs, said the guidelines, adding that China is

welcome to participate in joint development of new freight lines in connecting markets in Asia and Europe, u

nder the understanding that it respects the principles of transparency and non-discrimination.

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