>China preparing for travel boom
China is gearing up for a surge in domestic tourist trips as the COVID-19 epidemic has been mostly subdued, with high-speed train tickets to many destinations already gone for the first day of the National Day holiday on Oct 1.
According to China's railway ticket-booking website 12306.cn, high-speed train tickets for some train routes - including those from Beijing to Harbin, and Zhengzhou and Changsha - were snapped up only a few hours after the presale period began on Wednesday morning, leaving only a few regular-speed train tickets available.
The robust travel demand is fueled by this year's longer holiday as the Mid-Autumn Festival, which also falls on Oct 1, will overlap with the weeklong National Day holiday, giving people an extended holiday of eight days until Oct 8.
Wu Ruoshan, a researcher at the tourism research center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said since the Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional festival for family reunions, a large number of people who have been cooped up in their workplaces for months due to the coronavirus will not miss the opportunity to return home for a get-together.
>Tsinghua University enters top 20
Tsinghua University has become the first-ever Asian university to enter the top 20 of the Times Higher Education's World University Rankings, after recording a joint 20th place in the latest edition, published on Wednesday.
In the 2021 rankings, Tsinghua University moved up three places from last year's position.
In addition to Tsinghua, other Chinese institutions performing well included Peking University (23rd), Fudan University (joint 70th), the University of Science and Technology of China (87th), Zhejiang University (94th), and Shanghai Jiao Tong University (100th), all of which have improved their positions since last year.
This has resulted in a record number of six Chinese mainland universities being in the top 100 for the first time since the rankings began in 2011, doubling China's representation since last year.
"We have observed the rise of Asian universities in the world rankings for several years now, but this year marks a major milestone, as the Chinese mainland disrupts the traditional domination of Western universities at the top of the table, breaking into the top 20 for the first time, and doubling its representation in the top 100," said Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at the Times Higher Education.
The University of Oxford, in the UK, retained the top spot for the fifth consecutive year.
>US will not pay what it owes WHO
The US said on Wednesday that it will not pay some $80 million it currently owes to the Geneva-based World Health Organization and will instead redirect the money to help pay its United Nations bill in New York.
The US plans to leave the WHO on July 6, 2021.
Under a 1948 joint resolution of the US Congress, US president had to give one-year notice of US withdrawal from the WHO and is required to pay what Washington's owes for the organization's current fiscal year.
Nerissa Cook, State Department Bureau of International Organization Affairs deputy assistant secretary of state, said the US currently owes the WHO some $18 million for financial year 2019 and $62 million for financial year 2020.
"Those together are being reprogrammed to the UN to pay the regular UN assessment," said Cook, referring to money that Washington is required to pay the United Nations in New York.
>Flying car successfully tested
A Japanese company has announced the successful test drive of a flying car.
Sky Drive Inc conducted the public demonstration on Aug 25, the company said in a news release, at the Toyota Test Field, one of the largest in Japan and home to the car company's development base.
It was the first public demonstration for a flying car in Japanese history.
The car, named SD-03, manned with a pilot, took off and circled the field for about four minutes.
The SD-03 is the world's smallest electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicle and takes up the space of about two parked cars, according to the company.
It has eight motors to ensure "safety in emergency situations."
The company hopes to make the flying car a part of normal life and not just a commodity.
More test flights will occur in the future under different conditions to make sure the safety and technology of the vehicle meet industry standards.
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