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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The forum helped countries upgrade their concept

 of cooperation, defined key areas and strengthened the mechanism to seek high-quality development of the BRI, he said.

Leaders reached wide-ranging agreement on high-quality cooperation on the BRI at the leaders’ roundtable on Saturday after an i

n-depth exchange of views on issues such as connectivity, policy integration and sustainable development.

They supported comprehensive infrastructure connectivity as a way to foster economic growth and to build high-q

uality, reliable, resilient and sustainable infrastructure, according to a joint communique issued after the roundtable.

All parties involved supported strengthening synergies in development policies using the principle

of extensive consultations, joint contributions for shared benefits and building even closer partnerships, the joint communique said.

The leaders also upheld green and sustainable growth and agreed to enhance cooperation in areas such as environ

mental protection, circular economy and clean energy, according to the communique.

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They maintained that Belt and Road construction wi

l make positive contributions in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations.

The leaders also pledged to pursue trade and investment liberalization

and facilitation, reject protectionism and unilateralism and uphold the rule-based mul

tilateral system with the World Trade Organization at the center, according to the communique.

Xi told reporters that the consensus reached by the leaders has set the right course for the development of the BRI.

Our shared goal is that we work together to make the interconnectivity among various countries more efficient, foster mo

re robust economic growth, develop even closer international cooperation and enable people to live a better life, he said.

Xi also said BRI cooperation projects will be market-based. To ensure s

ustainable development, the leaders agreed to promote a level playing field for business com

munities and create a nondiscriminatory business environment, he said.

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Pledges at forum draw overseas experts’ praise

The international community has hailed President Xi Jinping’s call on Friday to ease market

access for foreign capital and increase imports so that opening-up reaches a higher level.

Xi said in his keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the S

econd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing that the purpose of buil

ding the Belt and Road is to achieve win-win cooperation and common development.

China will increase its imports of goods and services and will further lower its tariff rates, Xi said.

Francis Chua, chairman emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commer

ce and Industry, noted Xi’s emphasis on quality imports and state-of-the-art products.

“China will keep its commitments,” said Chua, who was attending the forum as a member of the Philippine business delegation.

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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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Yi pledged to use more market-based commercial fund

 He also said improving transparency for projects’ financing is needed, especially for green

financing, and using local currencies in BRI investments to curb exchange rate risks. “The opening of local curr

ency-denominated bond markets will effectively attract long-term funds and reduce risks of currency mismatches,” he said.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fu

nd, said at the forum that China’s increased focus on the long-term success of BRI projects and the

BRI debt sustainability framework “are very welcome steps in the right direction”.

The further opening-up of China’s financial sector, such as the b

ond market, will enable diversification and foster renminbi internationalization, she said.

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President calls on think tanks to boost teamwork, Belt, Roa

President Xi Jinping called on Wednesday for exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign think

tanks for more high-quality research results to push Belt and Road construction to a higher level.

Xi made the remark in a congratulatory letter to the i

naugural meeting of the Belt and Road Studies Network held in Beijing on Wednesday.

The launch of the think tank network took place ahead of the Second Belt and Road Fo

rum for International Cooperation being held from Thursday to Saturday in the capital.

Xi said in the letter that the development of history, the prosper

ity of civilizations and the progress of mankind are closely connected with the guidance of advanced thought.

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The book includes 42 articles drawn from speeches an

 public remarks made by Xi from September 2013 to July 2018.

Since Xi proposed the BRI in 2013, he has spoken about the initiative on many occasions.

The discourses have provided guidance for the country to develop international cooperation, i

mprove global economic governance and promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

Russia – There is no alternative to the peaceful solution of nuclear and

other issues on the Korean Peninsula, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday, follow

ing a meeting with top leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong-un.

Russia, for its part, is ready to continue cooperation to reduce tensions on the peninsu

a, and to strengthen security in Northeast Asia as a whole, said Putin at a reception in honor of Kim.

Putin said he was convinced that with active participation of the international community and all inte

rested states, the goal of ensuring lasting peace, stability and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula can be achieved.

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The reception followed a meeting of Russian and DPRK

delegations, which was preceded by a one-on-one meeting between Putin and Kim.

Kim arrived here in his train on Wednesday for his first meeting with Putin.

The meeting came at a time when tensions were growing between the DPRK and t

he United States.At the end of 2018, Australia became another “surveillance state” with the passing of the T

elecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment Bill or the Assistance and Access Bill 2018.

Last week, the DPRK test-fired a new tactical guided weapon and requested Washi

ngton to exclude U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from future negotiations.

In response, Pompeo swept aside Pyongyang’s demand ab

out replacing him by someone “more careful and mature” to deal with the talks.

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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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