>National reading campaign for 2021
China will launch a national reading campaign for 2021, according to an official circular.
As this year marks the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the campaign will focus on that theme and promote the reading of key publications on the history of the CPC, the country, reform and opening-up, and socialist development among the general public, says the circular released by the general office of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee.
The document asks authorities to go down to communities, ramp up the supply of quality reading materials and update reading facilities in public spaces.
Efforts are also urged to improve access to reading services among key groups, including rural migrant workers and their children, as well as people with disabilities. Digital reading technologies are also encouraged.
>Wind blows sandstorm back
Due to shifting wind and weather conditions, a massive sand and dust storm will be blown back to northern China, the National Meteorological Center said on Wednesday.
The sandstorm, which had shrouded Beijing in thick brown dust on Monday, moved away from the capital on Tuesday but continued to sweep through many areas, including the Xinjiang Uygur, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions, as well as the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Henan and Hubei.
Most of those regions were to be affected by the sandstorm until Thursday, according to the center, which reminded people in affected areas to be prepared and close windows and doors. "People are advised to wear masks and other protective gear to prevent possible damage to their eyes and respiratory tract," an earlier notice from the center said.
The notice also warned drivers to pay more attention to road safety due to poor visibility.
>Visa rules eased for many foreigners
China will simplify visa applications for many foreign nationals who have been inoculated with Chinese-produced COVID-19 vaccines, the latest step toward normalizing personnel exchanges.
Starting on Monday, Chinese embassies in multiple countries, including Japan, Israel, Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines, will have streamlined visa application procedures in such cases.
The US, Germany, Australia and Greece are also included in the plan.
Those planning to visit for business purposes and who have been inoculated with a Chinese vaccine can prepare their visa application and inoculation materials, and apply for visas according to requirements from pre-epidemic times, according to a notice issued by the Chinese Embassy in the US.
The notice said that vaccinated passengers traveling to China by air are still required to provide negative certificates of nucleic acid tests and IgM antibody tests before boarding and should comply with Chinese regulations on quarantine and observation after arriving.
>Fed keeps interest rates near 0
The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at the record-low level of near zero, as inflation debate heats up, driven by COVID-19 vaccination progress and the latest relief package.
The Fed also said it will continue an asset purchase program, and buy at least $120 billion of bonds a month, increasing its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $80 billion and of agency mortgage-backed securities by at least $40 billion.
Fed officials expect the US economy to grow by 6.5% this year, better than the previous projection of 4.2% in December.
Most Fed officials expected that interest rates would remain near zero at least through 2023, but seven out of the 18 participants looked for a hike in 2023.
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