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From The Asian Reporter, V33, #8 (August 7, 2023), page 2.

Giant panda gives birth to squirming, squealing healthy twin girls at South Korean theme park

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A giant panda last month gave birth to squirming, squealing healthy twin girls at a South Korean theme park. Ai Bao gave birth to her cubs at the Everland theme park near Seoul, according to the park’s operator. It released video of the birth and the mother caring for her newborns, as well as veterinarians examining the tiny cubs. They are the first panda twins born in South Korea, Samsung C&T Resort Group said. Both Ai Bao and her newborns are in good health, the resort group said in the statement. Decades of conservation efforts in the wild and study in captivity saved the panda species native to China from extinction, increasing its population from fewer than 1,000 at one time to more than 1,800 in the wild and captivity. The life expectancy of a giant panda in the wild is about 15 years, but in captivity they have lived to be as old as 38. The South Korean resort group said it will observe the cubs’ health and growth to determine when to unveil them to the public. Meanwhile, the group said it will use social media to show off the cubs. Ai Bao and a male panda, Le Bao, came to the park in 2016 from China on a 15-year lease. In 2020, Ai Bao gave birth to a female cub named Fu Bao. Ai Bao, Le Bao, and Fu Bao had been the only pandas in South Korea. Everland’s Panda World, which houses the three pandas, has received 14 million visitors, according to the resort group.

Zoo says bears are real, denies they’re "humans in disguise"

BEIJING (AP) — A zoo in eastern China is denying suggestions some of its bears might be people in costumes after photos of the animals standing like humans circulated online. The sun bears from Malaysia are smaller than other bears and look different but are the real thing, the Hangzhou Zoo said on its social media account. "Some people think I stand like a person," said the posting, written from the bear’s point of view. "It seems you don’t understand me very well." An employee who answered the phone at the zoo declined to talk about the bears but said visits were being arranged for reporters to see them. Internet users questioned whether the zoo’s bears were real after photos circulated showing one standing upright on slender hind legs. "Because of the way they stand, some people online question whether they are ‘humans in disguise,’" the Hangzhou Daily newspaper said. Sun bears are the size of large dogs, standing at most 50 inches tall on their hind legs, compared with up to 9 feet for grizzlies and other species, according to the zoo. Other Chinese zoos have been accused of trying to pass off dogs dyed to look like wolves or African cats, and donkeys painted to look like zebras.

Heads of Indonesia, China discuss joint projects, politics

BEIJING (AP) — Indonesian President Joko Widodo met Chinese President Xi Jinping last month in southwestern China for talks about joint projects that include Indonesia’s development of a new capital. Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi said the governments of China and Indonesia signed several agreements, including to exchange knowledge and experience for the capital project. Indonesia plans to move its capital from the congested and polluted city of Jakarta on its main island of Java to Nusantara on Borneo island next year. During the meeting in Chengdu, the two leaders also discussed investments, cooperation in areas such as health, research, and technology, and regional issues, including China’s relations with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to a statement from Widodo. "The Indo-Pacific is a strategic area that we must protect as a peaceful and stable area," said Indonesia’s president, whose country holds the chairmanship of ASEAN this year. Widodo was on a three-day visit to China and also met with Chinese businesspeople to discuss possible investments in Indonesia, especially in the petrochemical, renewable energy, and health sectors, the statement added. Indonesia and China are members of the Group of 20 major developed and emerging economies. China is Indonesia’s largest trade and investment partner. Indonesia wants a bigger role as a supplier of nickel and other raw materials to China’s fast-growing electric car brands.

Volkswagen takes steps to boost China business

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Volkswagen (VW) saw after-tax earnings fall by 20% in the first half of the year, to 8.5 billion euros ($9.45 billion), as the automaker tries to engineer a rebound in China. The decline from the same period last year was due in part to a 2.5 billion euro non-cash loss on raw materials hedging in financial markets. Companies use such market strategies to offset risk and insure themselves against rapid changes in the prices of raw materials. VW said operating earnings, excluding the hedging effect, rose 13% to 13.9 billion. The company said its business in Western Europe was strong, given an order book of 1.65 million vehicles, including 200,000 battery-only electric cars, "demonstrating stable customer demand." VW reaffirmed its financial outlook for the year and said it was taking steps to strengthen its business in China, where it has seen sales decline in the face of stronger local competition. Sales revenue increased 18.2% as the company stemmed some of its losses in China, where sales were down 1.2%. The Wolfsburg, Germany-based company has announced partnerships between its Volkswagen brand and local electric carmaker Xpeng as well as the expansion of cooperation between its Audi luxury brand and local partners FAW and SAIC. The partnerships are aimed at developing new models for promising markets in China, the world’s largest car market. While affirming its earnings outlook for the year, the company lowered its outlook for deliveries between 9 million and 9.5 million vehicles, from 9.5 million earlier. The company sold 4.4 million cars during the first six months of the year, up 13% on strong performance outside China. Non-China sales rose 21%.

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