>China to expand cross-border e-commerce pilot zones
China's Ministry of Commerce on Monday pledged to actively expand integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce to cultivate new competitive edges in foreign trade.
Some cities have submitted applications to the State Council for the establishment of new pilot zones and the MOC will join relevant departments in carrying out related work, Ren Hongbin, assistant minister of commerce, said at a news conference.
The MOC also promised to formulate guidelines for the protection of cross-border e-commerce intellectual property rights, optimize the list of cross-border e-commerce retail imports and facilitate the return and exchange management of cross-border e-commerce imports and exports.
China's cross-border e-commerce has been expanding much faster than overall foreign trade, and its share in overall foreign trade has gone up significantly.
>Domestic vaccine firms to supply 110M doses to COVAX
Two Chinese COVID-19 vaccine producers will immediately begin supplying 110 million doses to COVAX - a global vaccine-sharing initiative - to address critical gaps in vaccine distribution worldwide, the Gavi Vaccine Alliance said in a statement on Monday. By the first half of 2022, the two companies will supply a potential total of 550 million doses to COVAX, according to the statement. Gavi is based in Geneva, Switzerland, and is one of the international organizations leading the COVAX initiative. The alliance announced it had recently signed agreements with State-owned Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech.
Each company has developed an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine that has been authorized for emergency use by the World Health Organization, the first step for a vaccine product to be eligible for COVAX.
>Lunar sample study programs kicked off
China on Monday delivered about 17 grams of lunar samples brought back by the Chang'e-5 probe to 13 institutions, which had applied for research programs to the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of the China National Space Administration.
Speaking at a ceremony to mark the delivery, Liu Jizhong, director of the center, said this is the first batch of lunar samples delivered to research institutions. More samples will be released and delivered in the future as planned. Expressing hopes more research institutions will take part in the lunar sample study in the future, Liu said China is willing to promote international cooperation and invite foreign scientists for joint research on lunar samples.
The next round of application evaluations has been scheduled for September.
>Billionaire Branson soars to space
British billionaire Richard Branson on Sunday soared more than 50 miles above the New Mexico desert aboard his Virgin Galactic rocket plane and safely returned in the vehicle's first fully crewed test flight to space, a symbolic milestone for a venture he started 17 years ago.
Branson, one of six Virgin Galactic Holding Inc employees strapped in for the ride, touted the mission as a precursor to a new era of space tourism, with the company he founded in 2004 poised to begin commercial operations next year.
"Welcome to the dawn of a new space age," an exuberant Branson, 70, said shortly after embracing his grandchildren following the flight.
The success of the flight also gave the flamboyant entrepreneur bragging rights in a highly publicized rivalry with fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos, the Amazon online retail mogul who had hoped to fly into space first aboard his own space company's rocket.
"Congratulations on the flight," Bezos said on Instagram. "Can't wait to join the club!"
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