>Consumption grows during holiday
The consumer spending during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday surged noticeably, according to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Commerce (MOC).
The combined sales of retail and catering enterprises in China rose 28.7% year-on-year to 821 billion yuan during the Spring Festival golden week, data from the MOC showed.
China's online sales exceeded 122 billion yuan during the same period, with online catering sales surging 135% compared with the Spring Festival holiday last year as more Chinese ordered ready-to-eat meals through e-commerce or online food delivery platforms. Sales of products related to Lunar New Year's Eve dinners increased by 54.9% year-on-year during the holiday, said the MOC.
>Unis told to stagger opening dates
The Ministry of Education has asked universities to stagger their spring semester opening dates and make preparations for online schooling. In a recent notice, the ministry said universities should make early plans for the spring semester after fully considering the COVID-19 epidemic situation and their teaching schedule.
They should prepare enough equipment, conduct emergency drills and strictly implement epidemic prevention and control measures, the ministry said, adding that all people and items entering universities must be checked. Universities should also conduct routine nucleic acid tests on key groups of people and the environment and frequently sterilize and disinfect important venues, it added.
At least 16 universities in Beijing have announced that they will postpone the start of spring semester activities on campus for several weeks and resort to online teaching in the meantime.
>Holiday box office 7.822b yuan
The total box office earnings on the Chinese mainland during the weeklong Spring Festival holiday have reached a record high of 7.822 billion yuan, according to data released by the China Film Administration on Thursday.
Top contributors include action comedy "Detective Chinatown 3" and time-travel comedy "Hi, Mom."
The Spring Festival is a lucrative movie season in China as moviegoing has become an increasingly prominent pastime for Chinese people during this holiday.
>US to pay over $200M to WHO
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday that the US intends to pay over $200 million in assessed and current obligations to the World Health Organization (WHO) by the end of this month.
"This is a key step forward in fulfilling our financial obligations as a WHO member," Blinken said in his remarks to a virtual UN Security Council briefing on COVID-19. "
It reflects our renewed commitment to ensuring the WHO has the support it needs to lead the global response to the pandemic," he added.
Accusing the WHO of mishandling the pandemic, the previous Donald Trump administration last year announced US withdrawal from the organization, which led to criticisms at home and abroad.
President Joe Biden, on his first day in office, reversed his predecessor's decision of withdrawing from the WHO.
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