investment in environment-friendly urban mas

 transit. According to NBS preliminary estimates, the share of consumption of clean energy such as natural gas, hydropo

wer, nuclear power and wind power in total energy consumption in the first quarter was 1.5 percentage points hi

gher than that of the same period last year. Energy consumption per unit of GDP went down by 2.7 percent year-on-year.

Total investment in fixed aassets grew by 6.3 percent, with private invest

ment growing at 6.4 percent, slightly faster than the overall number. This is es

pecially significant in the light of last year’s fears that private investment in the econo

my might collapse. So, the government’s efforts to strengthen the private sector appear to have borne fruit.

Investment in high-tech manufacturing rose by 11.4 percent and investme

nt in high-tech services rose 19.3 percent, both far higher than overall investment gro]

wth. This shows that the shift toward advanced manufacturing and services is well underway.

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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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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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sees stronger ties with Chilectivity with Latin s hig

Interconnectivity with Latin American countries high on bilateral talks agenda

China and Chile should connect their development strategies and promote interconne

ctivity between Chile and other Latin American countries, President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday.

Xi made the remark while meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera in the Great Hall of th

e People in Beijing. Pinera is on a five-day state visit and planned to attend the Second Belt and Road

Forum for International Cooperation. Premier Li Keqiang also met with him on Wednesday.

Xi said Chile is the first South American country to have established diplomatic relation

s with China, and the first Latin American nation to fully acknowledge China’s status as a market-oriented economy.

Xi said that Chile, the first Latin American country to have signed a bilateral free trade agreement with China an

d to have upgraded the agreement, is an important cooperation partner in jointly building the Belt and Road.

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The Belt and Road Initiative, which originated in C

 China but belongs to the world, has become an open and inclusive platform for international cooperation and a well-recog

nized global public good thanks to the concerted efforts of the parties involved, Xi said.

Calling think tanks significant forces for Belt and Road constructi

on, the president said developing think tank exchanges and cooperation helps deepen mu

tual trust, unite consensus and promote the BRI to achieve high-level development.

He expressed the hope that the think tank network would develop in-depth academic exchanges to promote solid coope

ration under the BRI and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Also on Wednesday, a ceremony to mark the release of the English and French editions

of a compilation of remarks by Xi on the Belt and Road was held in Beijing by the State Council Information Office.

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Some facts may be twisted and distorted to sensatio

nal proportions. But nothing can obliterate the tangible benefits the development initiative has brought. In less than six

years, the nascent Belt and Road are already changing development landscapes in multiple places and dime

nsions. Thanks to the initiative, East Africa has seen its first expressway, the Maldives its first cross-sea bridge, Belar

us its own car-manufacturing enterprise, and landlocked Kazakhstan finally has access to the sea.

And while China-Cambodia trade may not look to be in perfect balan

ce at this point, Belt and Road cooperation between the two neighbors is laying a solid fo

undation for the latter’s future progress. Take the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone for instance. An exem

plary project under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, it is expected to host 300 enterprises, create 100,0

00 industrial jobs, and serve as a resident-friendly new community housing 200,000 people.

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Zhang Huoding, one of the most popular Peking Opera

 stars in today’s China, will take the opera makeover to the stage of the Chang

‘an Grand Theater on May 25, as the closing show of this year’s Meet in Beijing inte

rnational arts festival. Celebrated Peking Opera artist Gao Mukun will star as Xiang Yu.

For 48-year-old Zhang, it’s a dream come true.

“It’s always been my dream to play concubine Yu since I was learni

ng Peking Opera in Tianjin in the 1980s, but I didn’t get the chance,” Zhang said at a news conf

erence in Beijing on Tuesday. “I look forward to it very much and I hope the audience will like it.”Zhang is an inh

eritor of the “Cheng School” of Peking Opera, a performing style founded by Cheng Yanqiu (1904-58), one of the great Pe

king Opera masters of the 20th century. While Mei Lanfang’s “Mei School” is fam

ous for his smooth, moderate and poised style in playing elegant female roles, Cheng style is kn

own for interpreting tragic women with frequent changes in sounds and rhythm.

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Though Farewell My Concubine has long been a master

piece of the Mei School, Wan Ruixing, renowned Peking Opera composer and player of the jingh

u (a high-pitched two-stringed fiddle used in Peking Opera), said the Cheng School’s sorrowful tunes a

nd slow rhythm also could be a decent interpretation of concubine Yu’s tragic fate.

“There are more tragedies in the Cheng School’s plays and the characte

r of Yu and her deep sorrow in the legendary story meet very well with the featu

res of the Cheng School,” said Wan, who is also responsible for the new play’s method of singi

ng tunes.A former actress from the China National Peking Opera Company, Zhang has performed in sellout shows acros

s China, including a solo show at the Great Hall of the People in 2007. In 2015, Zhang made her US debut at Lincoln Ce

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