>Economic rebound continues
China's economy continued to recover in the first two months of the year, with major economic indicators surging from last year's low base of comparison, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.
After deducting the base effect, major indicators grew steadily, with the economy performing within a reasonable range, the NBS said.
The country's industrial output rose 35.1 percent year-on-year in the January-February period, compared with 7.3 percent in December, the NBS said.
Retail sales grew by 33.8 percent in the first two months on a yearly basis, compared with 4.6 percent in December, the bureau said.
Fixed-asset investment rose by 35 percent year-on-year in the January-February period, up from 2.9 percent for the whole year of 2020.
The surveyed urban jobless rate came in at 5.4 percent in January and 5.5 percent in February, versus the government's annual control target of 5.5 percent, the bureau said.
>Beijing relaxes COVID-19 curbs
The city of Beijing will relax COVID-19 restrictions starting Tuesday as the Chinese capital has seen no new locally transmitted cases for over a month, the municipal government said Monday.
Those from domestic low-risk areas arriving in Beijing do not have to provide negative nucleic acid test results, and taxi and online car-hailing services between Beijing and other cities will resume, said Xu Hejian, the city government spokesperson.
Temperature checks will also be unnecessary at community and village entrances, while indoor and outdoor cultural and entertainment venues such as parks, scenic spots, libraries, museums and theaters will be allowed to receive visitors up to 75 percent of capacity, Xu said, adding sales promotion activities will also be allowed.
Patients with fevers will have to undergo nucleic acid tests, but antibody tests are no longer required for them.
University students outside Beijing can also return to their campuses with a green health code, according to the municipal government.
>China boosts digital economy
The digital economy will become a key ingredient of national strategy during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), experts in the technology sector said.
Through its newly released outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan, Beijing is expecting the digital economy to account for around 10 percent of its newly added economic output by 2025.
The fact a digital China is singled out as a stand-alone chapter in the latest government directive is a clear indication of the sector's increasing prominence in driving economic growth and empowering all walks of life, said Shao Yu, chief economist at Orient Securities.
"It shows that China regards the transformation and upgrading of the digital economy as a key window of opportunity in the next 10 years, and the digital economy will become the 'core component' fueling economic transformation," Shao said.
>Third COVID wave sweeps EU
A third wave of the COVID pandemic is now advancing swiftly across much of Europe.
As a result, many nations – bogged down by sluggish vaccination campaigns – are witnessing sharp rises in infection rates and case counts.
The infection rate in the EU is now at its highest level since the beginning of February, with the spread of new variants of the COVID-19 virus being blamed for much of the recent increase.
From this week most of Italy will be placed under lockdown and people will only be allowed to leave their homes for essential errands.
Most shops will be closed, along with bars and restaurants.
In France, authorities have reported a similar grim situation, with health minister Olivier Véran describing the situation in the greater Paris region as tense and worrying.
In Germany, 12,674 new infections were reported on Saturday, a rise of 3,117 from the previous week, as the head of the country's infectious disease agency acknowledged the country was now in the grip of a third wave.
Several countries are now set to impose strict new lockdown measures in the next few days – in contrast to the UK, which is beginning to emerge slowly from its current bout of shop and school closures and sports bans.
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