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China's Hunan sees robust foreign trade growth in Jan******
CHANGSHA, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- The foreign trade volume of central China's Hunan Province exceeded 478.5 billion yuan (about 74.8 billion U.S. dollars) in the first 10 months of 2021, up 27.7 percent year on year, according to local authorities.。
Exports exceeded 331.7 billion yuan and imports hit around 146.8 billion yuan, rising 33.7 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively, compared with the same period last year, customs in the provincial capital Changsha said Wednesday.。
From January to October, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) remained the largest trading partner of Hunan, with trade volume reaching 75.11 billion yuan, up 17.5 percent year on year.。
The inland province saw its trade with countries along the Belt and Road rise 19.8 percent year on year.。
Private enterprises accounted for 77 percent of the province's foreign trade during the period. Exports of mechanical and electrical products and imports of iron ore and soybean reported significant growth. Enditem。
Australia to reopen its borders to tourists******
Australia will reopen its borders to tourists from February 21, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Monday, ending some of the world's strictest and longest-running pandemic travel restrictions.
"It's almost two years since we took the decision to close the borders to Australia," Morrison said after a meeting of the national security Cabinet.
He announced the borders will reopen to all visa holders "on the 21st of February of this year," adding, "if you're double vaccinated, we look forward to welcoming you back to Australia."
Australia's borders slammed shut in March 2020 in the hope of protecting the island continent against a surging global pandemic.
For most of the time since then, Australians have been barred from leaving and only a handful of visitors have been granted exemptions to enter.
The rules have stranded nationals overseas, split families, hammered the country's multi-billion-dollar tourist industry, and prompted often bitter debates about Australia's status as a modern, open and outward-looking nation.
Every month of border closures has cost businesses an estimated US$2.6 billion, according to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In recent months, rules have been gradually relaxed for Australians, long-term residents and students.
The latest decision will see almost all remaining caps lifted.
It comes after the country's long-standing "COVID-zero" policy was abandoned, vaccination rates rose and the once stellar track-and-trace system collapsed under a wave of Omicron cases.
Only a handful of countries remain closed to tourists – among them Japan, China, New Zealand and several Pacific Island nations.
For Australia's travel and tourism sector – which struggled as visitor numbers fell almost 98 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels – the news brought elation.
"We're very excited about being able to reopen," said Tony Walker, managing director of the Quicksilver Group, which operates cruises, diving and resorts across the Great Barrier Reef.
"The last couple of years have been incredibly difficult for us," he told AFP, urging people overseas to "come visit".
During the pandemic the firm went from 650 employees down to the 300 it has today.
Walker said he expected "it will take some time to recover" from the past two years.
Many tourism operators around Australia are experiencing staff shortages, given how few backpackers and working holidaymakers are coming to Australia.
Despite the announcement, travel within Australia will still be restricted.
The vast state of Western Australia remains closed to most non-residents. It is currently easier to travel from Sydney to Paris than Sydney to Perth.
Feature: Adventure of a silver bracelet******
by Xinhua writer Zheng Minghong。
GUIYANG, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- A silver bracelet has made its way across China after traveling from a Miao ethnic town in the southwestern province of Guizhou to northernmost Inner Mongolia.。
The bracelet came from the "silver street" of Kaili city. There are nearly 100 silversmith shops along the street. Ethnic silver ornaments produced there, such as netsukes, necklaces and bracelets, are popular among tourists.。
Zhang Yongfu, a silversmith in his 40s, melted a silver bar and poured it into a mold. When it cooled down, he forged, carved and polished it. About six hours, a glamourous bracelet weighing 80 grams was "created."
Instead of being put on a display window, it was immediately packaged in a gift box and handed to a deliveryman. It will be the farthest distance traveled by any product in Zhang's shop.。
The bracelet's journey actually began in a livestreaming studio a few days back. Zhang, son of a Miao silversmith family, showcased his skills in front of a smartphone screen while his business partner was promoting his products.。
Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and plummeting tourists, silversmiths had to find a way to sell their products. The fast-growing livestreaming e-commerce was a solution.。
Pan Xue, a Miao girl, born in 1997, was his apprentice who was tech-savvy enough to teach him video-filming skills and livestreaming with his traditional ornaments.。
Zhang and Pan sometimes appeared together to present exquisite ornaments during livestreaming or in short videos.。
They received more than 500 orders worth 115,680 yuan (about 18,000 U.S. dollars) within two months in the spring of 2020.。
Other silversmiths were inspired. Zhang even became a fan of livestreaming and started video shooting himself. He has become used to livestreaming consistently almost every day and trying to be creative because he knows his "followers" would drop by his online studio to say hi.。
This September, his income totaled more than 48,000 yuan, equivalent to his income for half a year in the past.。
Not long ago, he took a lease on a new storefront not far from his shop and hired two more silversmiths to deal with online orders.。
Zhang started learning from his uncle at 13 years old. Miao men usually do silverwork to support their families during the slack season in farming in winter. But thanks to e-commerce, there is no slack season for the silver business.。
"Miao people have a long history of wearing silver ornaments. They are not just pretty, but also our cultural symbols. I'm glad to see more and more customers all over the country like our ornaments," Zhang said. Enditem。
Beijing 2022 unveils menu for athletes******
BEIJING, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) -- Organizers of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games have released a menu of 678 dishes that will be served during the Games to athletes from diverse cultural backgrounds.。
The menu, approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), was designed to meet the different dietary needs of athletes, while also taking religious diversity into consideration, said the organizers.。
Those 678 dishes will be provided in turns, and around 200 dishes will be available for athletes each day in the three competition zones of Beijing, Yanqing and Zhangjiakou.。
The 2022 Winter Olympics coincides with China's Spring Festival, and food from different regions of China will enable global athletes to fully experience Chinese cuisine.。
The catering service during the Games will strictly follow the Beijing 2022 Playbook, and masks, gloves and sanitizers will be provided in dining areas. Intelligent disinfection devices, temperature tests and guiding robots will also be used to facilitate COVID-19 prevention and control measures.。
Biodegradable tableware in dining areas will be used in an endeavor to hold a green Olympic Games. Other features to increase accessibility include braille menus and barrier-free access. Enditem。