Services are growing rapidly. The value-added of th

 tertiary sector, which is mainly services, grew from 56.7 to 57.3 percent of GDP from the same period last year. The

Index of Services Production increased 7.4 percent year-on-year, higher than the growth rate of overall GDP.

Overall retail sales of consumer goods also grew at 8.3 percent. Sales of upgraded consumer goods witnessed fast gro

wth, with the highest rates concentrated in upgraded products such as cosmetics, phones and computers.

And, high-tech services grew at an astonishing rate of 21.2 percent. In prepa

ring for consumer 5G telecoms next year, the output of mobile communications base stations grew 153.7 percent.

The data also show strong movement toward the government’s goal

of creating an ecological civilization. New energy automobiles and solar cells grew by 48.2 percen

t and 18.2 percent, respectively. Sales of urban rail vehicles grew by 54.1 percent, showing the

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Having watched and researched the Belt and Road

tiative for a very long time, Astle has identified many opportunities provided by the BRI and

some great projects are already successfully being implemented with Chinese partners.

The world’s only medicine treating spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is entering the Chinese market, it was announced Sunday.

The drug is registered under the name Spinraza in the United States and European Union.

Available in more than 40 countries and regions, Spinraza is expected to bring new

hope for those who living with SMA, a genetic disorder that affects muscle control, in China.

SMA affects between one in 6,000 and one in 10,000 in China, a

nd about 95 percent of the patients die 18 months after birth, doctors said.

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Before the drug was available on the Chinese mai

nland, there was little effective therapy for the disease, and patients depended mainly on treat

ment such as respiratory and nutrition supports, said Xiong Hui, Beijing Medical Association rare disease c

ommittee member and Peking University First Hospital deputy director of pediatrics.

Spinraza debuted on the Chinese mainland having been fast-tracked through the marke

t approval process for rare disease drugs, which, available overseas since July, are urgently needed in China.

The drug began the approval process in September and was issued a license in February.

Premier Li Keqiang said in February that the government will step up efforts to gua

rantee more than 20 million rare disease patients have access to required medication.

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Relevant government departments have begun inves

igations into the source of the vaccines to find out whether they were fake vaccines or smuggled in from overseas.

The HPV 9-valent vaccine, only officially available at Boao Super Hospital in the Boao Lech

eng International Medical Tourism Pilot Zone in Hainan since May last year, was developed for women bet

ween the ages of 16 and 26 to deal with diseases like cervical cancer caused by nine types of HPV.

The Boao pilot zone is the first place on the Chinese mainlan

d allowed to import HPV 9-valent vaccines and other drugs without ne

eding central government permission, in line with the nine preferential polices granted to it by the Stat

e in 2013, such as special permissions in importing medical technology, medical equipment and medicine.

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Noting that China has the world’s biggest middle-incom

income population, Xi said that China would open up its market continuously and welcome quality products from around the world.

China does not pursue a trade surplus intentionally, and it would like to import more com

petitive farm products, finished products and services to promote the balance of trade, Xi said.

China will promote greater openness in modern services, manufacturin

g and agriculture, allow foreign capital to hold the controlling share in more areas and buil

d some new free trade pilot zones to further ease market access for foreign capital, he said.

China will speed up making relevant rules and regulat

ions and ensure the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law, Xi said, adding that the cou

ntry will push forward supply-side structural reform through fair competition and international cooperation.

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China welcomes financial institutions around the worl

 to participate in financing Belt and Road projects, Xi said, adding that multiple participants will bring common benefits.

Xi announced that China will support 5,000 people from innovative sectors in Belt and Road

countries in conducting exchanges, training programs and joint research in the next five years.

Xi called for joint efforts to facilitate trade and investment and oppose protectio

nism, saying that the flow of products, funds, technology and people can propel forces for economic growth.

According to Xi, more than 150 countries and internat

ional organizations have signed cooperation documents to jointly build the Belt and Road.

The BRI has opened new space for global economic growth and

built a new platform for international trade and investment, Xi said.

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Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institut

e of International Affairs, noted Xi’s emphasis on high-quality development, free t

rade and people-to-people bonds, “all of which are sorely needed around the world”.

“The shift toward high-quality development is a natural extension of what China has been doing for the past few ye

ars. Now that the BRI is five years old, it’s about time to upgrade quality joint development,” he said.

“China is trying to address the concerns that have been raised sinc

e the last Belt and Road Forum two years ago. One of these concerns is the need for infr

astructure projects to be more responsive to the local circumstances of BRI member countries.”

Duncan Freeman, a research fellow at the EU-China Research Centre at t

he College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium, said infrastructure is important for economic gro

wth, so building infrastructure and building connectivity and efficient infrastructure are important.

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Jon Taylor, a professor of political science at the Uni

versity of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas, in the United States, said Xi

wants to convey a specific message: that China sees the BRI as a method by which it can make

a substantial and permanent contribution to lasting peace, common security and global prosperity.

“While some Westerners may scoff at the impact they think the BRI m

ay have on these issues, Xi genuinely sees the BRI as a global development project and will cont

inue to wholeheartedly put China’s money, resources and energies into this project,” he said.

Chen Weihua in Brussels, Bo Leung in London, Zhao Huanxin in Washington, Edith Muteth

ya in Nairobi and Chen Yingqun in Beijing contributed to this story.The profits of China’s major indu

strial firms surged by 13.9 percent in March, a drastic rebound compared to the 14-percent decline in January-Febru

ary period, official data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed Saturday.

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ent Xi Jinping speaks at the opening ceremony of the

hina will increase imports of goods and services on a larger scale. China will further lower its tariff rates.

China not to adopt beggar-thy-neighbor currency devaluation

China will continue to improve the exchange rate formation mechanism of its curren

cy, the renminbi, and keep the exchange rate generally stable on a reasonable and balanced level.

China establishes mechanism for fulfilling international agreements

China attaches great importance to the establishment of a constrain

t mechanism for the fulfillment and implementation of international agreements, and the modi

fication and improvement of laws and regulations in accordance with the need of further opening-up.

Fair treatment to Chinese enterprises, students, scholars abroad called for

All countries should create a sound investment environment, and treat Chinese e

nterprises, students and scholars abroad as equals. All countries should provide a fair and friendly envir

onment for them to carry out normal international exchanges and cooperation.

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Leveraging private funds prioritized in BRI projects

China’s financial minister and central bank governor vowed to strengthe

n debt management and leverage more private funds for infrastructure construction un

der the Belt and Road Initiative, suggesting a new framework to assess debt risks for partner countries on Thursday.

The Ministry of Finance published a debt-sustainability analysis framework for the BRI’s participating economies at the start of t

he Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, a three-day event in Beijing.

Financial institutions of China and other BRI economies are encouraged to use the “nonmandatory” policy t

ool for rating debt risk before making lending decisions. The analysis method is based on in

ternational standards provided by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, according to the ministry.

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