China has put a ban on all ivory trade in the country. The ban came into effect on January 1 of this year. 67 official ivory processing factories and shops were closed last year and a remaining 100 were shut down on December 31. A similar ban in the U.S. went into effect in June 2016.
The Chinese decision to stop the ivory trading business has been welcomed by the World Wildlife Fund and other organisations as a major effort in protecting the world’s elephant population. It is estimated that over 30,000 African elephants are killed every year.
Chinese citizens regard ivory as a status symbol. People buy jewellery, chopsticks and other objects made of ivory, leading to the development of one of the world’s largest ivory markets. When trading ivory was officially banned worldwide in 1990, China continued to sell it through shops and factories. The legal trade also brought illegal ivory into the country.
However, there is a majorconcern that the new law does not apply to HongKong, an important ivory trading hub. Authorities in the former British colony are working on a ban of their own, expected to take effect soon. On the other side, customers will probably go to Laos, Vietnam or other Asian countries, where trading laws are not so strict.
In the past year, ivory prices started to go down as more and more Chinese shops were closing. The ban will have a big impact on African countries, especially Kenya and Tanzania, wheremost of the elephant poaching is taking place.
apply = take effect
authorities = government organisations that have the power to make decisions
ban = to forbid something; not allow
citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
concern = feeling of worry about something important
development = growth
effort = try
especially = above all
estimate = to calculate how big something is by the information that you have
former = in the past
however = but
into effect = start to work
illegal = not allowed; against the law
ivory = hard, smooth yellowish-white material from the long teeth of elephants
jewellery = small things that you wear for decoration, like necklaces or rings
legal = allowed by the government
major = important
official = allowed by the government
poaching = to shoot or catch animals illegally
processing = here: when you make an elephant’s tusk into jewellery and other objects
protect = here to keep animals safe
remaining = those that were left
similar = almost the same
status symbol = something that you have that you think shows high social rank or position
strict= here: law that must be obeyed
trading hub = here: a place where ivory is bought and sold
welcome = to be glad that something has happened
worldwide = around the world
World Wildlife Fund = organisation that tries to save and protect endangered animals
For the first time in history, China has overtaken the United States in the number of supercomputers. Currently, China has a total of 202 of the world’s 500 fastest computers, up from 159 half a year ago. The number of US supercomputers has dropped to 144.
The world’s most powerful computer is located in China. The Sunway TaihuLight , at Wuxi can do 93 quadrillioncalculations per second. The fastest UScomputer,the Titan, is ranked fifth while Europe’s speediest computer is Switzerland’s Piz Daint, ranked third.
Supercomputers are machines that occupyentire buildings and use the combined power of thousands of processors. They are used to carry out special tasks that involve a huge number of calculations. Among them are weather forecasts and climate studies, as well as strategic tasks like nuclear weapons simulations.
Chinese supremacy in the world of supercomputing reflects the country’s investment in research and development. One-fifth of the money used on research and development around the world is spent in China.
On the other side, many Chinese systems have been created to earn money. Processing power is rented to other national and international companies.
For years the speed of supercomputers has steadily increased although since 2012 this increase has slowed down.
although = while
calculation = here: a single task
combined = everything put together
create = make
currently = at the moment, now
drop = go down
entire = whole
huge = very big; very many
investment = to use money for special things
involve = need
located = can be found
nuclear weapons simulation = here: software that tries to find out how nuclear bombs will affect the world and its population if they are used
occupy = use up; need
overtake = to be better than
processor = central part fo a computer that deals with commands and the information you give it
quadrillion= the number one followed by 24 zeros
ranked = position in a list
reflect = show, demonstrate
rent = let someone use something for money
research and development = to study special fields and use new ideas to create new things
speediest = fastest
steadily = slowly
strategic = here: about the military
supremacy = being number one or the best in the world
task = piece of work
weather forecast = a description of what the weather will be like in the next few days
Singles Day is the biggest e-commerce day in the world. Organized by China’s Alibaba, shopping sales on November 11 hit a record $25 billion, 40% more than on Singles Day 2016. In contrast, Prime Day, organized by Amazonachieved only $1 billion in sales. During the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend of 2016 American online shoppers spent $5 billion.
Singles Day started out as an informal holiday in China, celebrating people who stayed single. Similiar to Valentine’s Day in the western world Singles Day took place on 11/11 . In 2009, Alibaba turned it into a shopping holiday and in the past 8 years, sales have steadilyincreased.
Although the event targets mostly Chinese customers, shoppers came from 220 countries. Over 80 brands took part in the event, with Nike and Xiaomi Corp. among the biggest winners. Household goods and electrical appliances were the most bought products, but customers soughtbargains for almost everything, ranging from cheap toilet paper to rice.
At its peak Alibaba’s computers handled 250 000 transactions per second, most of them coming in via mobile phones. In the weeks before the event was held, Alibaba had helped 600,000 companies upgrade their computer systems to make them fit for Singles Day.
The event was also turned into a gala in Shanghai where celebrities Nicole Kidman and tennis star Maria Sharapova counted down the seconds until the world’ largest sales event started.
Many critics of the event say that Singles Day is environmentallycontroversial. It creates an enormous amount of waste. According to Greepeace, 1 billion packages were delivered in the days that followed the event.
Alibaba’s Singles Day is a display of Chinese spending power. The company’s owner, Jack Ma, is one of China’s richest men. He has been investing heavily in new technologies includingautomated stores which use facial recognition systems.
according to = … as said by
achieve = here: reach a number of sales
automated = where everything is done automatically, without people helping
although = while
bargain = to buy something cheaply, for less money than usual
billion = a thousand million
brand = type of product made by a company
celebrate = here: in honour of, to show respect for
celebrity = famous person
controversial = here: to cause a lot of disagreement
critic = a person who is against something
customer = a person who buys something
deliver = to bring to a person’s home
display = to show something
e-commerce = buying and selling things with computers over the Internet
electrical appliance = things you use at home and need electricity, like a cooker or washing machine
enormous = very large
environment = nature and the world around us
facial recognition = when a computer image of a person can find out who they are
handle = deal with
heavily = very much
household goods = things that you need in the house and use every day
in contrast = the difference between two things
including = also
increase = to go up
informal = not official
record = highest
sales = buying and selling products
seek – sought = look for
steadily = slowly
target = people who the event aims at; potential customers
transaction = here: the sales of a single product
upgrade = here: to give a computer more power, so that it can do more things
via = by way of, through
waste = unwanted things that you throw away and don’t need any more