we present some of the most million cats spawn ‘purrfect’ eco

Cups, slides, beds, hotels, salons and medical care are creating a huge pet market worth multibillion yuan

A purr-fect world, and loads of money-that’s what cafe chain Starbucks sees at least in its newest merchandise item.

It is a custom-made 199 yuan ($29.66) porcelain cup for pet cats-there are 67 million of them in China!

The new product was necessitated by China’s growing pet economy, where sales of pet-related products and services reached 172.2 billion yuan in 2018.

Consulting firm Frost & Sullivan China said in a recent report that last year’s market size

was three times that of 2013, and forecast it would grow to 472.3 billion yuan by 2023.

The pet cat market segment, worth 60 billion yuan, is the second la

rgest after the pet dog segment (98.5 billion yuan). It is predicted to be the most vibrant one.

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Small wonder, Starbucks thought it fit to launch a special

product aimed at this market. But even it may not have anticipated the tremendous response.

The moment Starbucks launched its limited-edition “cat-paw cup”, it sparked a frenzy among Chinese consumers who own pet cats.

In scenes reminiscent of the pre-launch serpentine queues for snob-value smartphones, cat-owners stayed up all nig

ht in queues in front of Starbucks stores across Chinese cities a day before the cup’s formal sales launch on Feb 26.

Some female pet-owners, exasperated by the seemingly never-ending wait, got into cat-figh

ts, while others indulged in slanging matches on learning the cups were in short supply.

The craze and high demand were attributable to slick videos and images pos

ted on social media by key opinion leaders or KOLs, or influencers, market insiders said.

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On Feb 28, Starbucks organized an online competition

a flash sale, if you will-for the limited-edition cups. Consumers would wait in front of their com

puters for long hours just to click “buy” several times in quick succession over a period of four days to March 3.

Only, millions of their ilk would also do the same thing at the same time. This meant, most of their attempts were destined to prove unsu

ccessful as buyers vastly outnumbered the special cups on sale. The cat-cups were sold out in nanoseconds after the sale opened.

Disappointed consumers accused Starbucks of resorting to “hunger market

ing”, a strategy to drive up demand by deliberately limiting supply, a charge that the cafe chain denied.

The Starbucks cup episode is the latest proof that pets, particularly cats, are stoking big-ticket

spending among affluent consumers in China, an economy that is witnessing consumption upgrade acr

oss all sectors-a topic close to the hearts of the Chinese lawmakers and political advisers who attended the annu

al sessions of the country’ top legislature and top political advisory body this month.

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Reasons abound as to why the cat economy is flourish

ing in China. For one, pet cats are good stress-busters. And in these hectic, stressful times in urban areas, they could prove very useful, experts said.

Agreed Huang Xinyi, 28, a Beijing-based film producer. “Every time my cat purrs at me

, head-butts my face, and rubs against my leg, I want to hug him and kiss him all over.”

Many of her generation, aged 25 to 35, are busy pursuing busy careers in cities, far from their

hometowns. “I get lonely sometimes, but my cat has always been good company,” Huang said.

“Moreover, cats are more independent. I don’t have to walk my cat every day, but I play with him whenever I find some spare time.”

That is important for most young people struggling to find work-life balance in urban areas due to hectic lifestyles.

According to a report from Frost & Sullivan China, keeping cats for pets costs a little less than maintaining dogs.

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Cat-owners spend about 3,117 yuan per cat each year

on average, while the corresponding number for a dog is 4,723 yuan, said the report.

Much of a pet’s expenses are on food. For a cat, it is about 1,340 yuan, with medical care requiring 742 yuan on average.

“About 41 percent of the 99.8 million pet-keeping Chinese households now have cats,

and the number is still growing,” said Neil Wang, president of Frost & Sullivan China.

In addition to 67 million pet cats, there are more, adopted or given by friends and families, the company’s report said.

This has spawned a cat culture of sorts, spanning a variety of business activities.

For instance, specialist apps offer a service called “cloud petting” for those who

do not own a pet cat. The latter can follow “cat celebrities” on social media platforms.

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Palace Museum to get 5G technologyhen visitors to the

When visitors to the gigantic Palace Museum complex in Beijing feel a need to sit down for a cup

of tea or find a bathroom without a long line, they soon will be able to turn to their smartphones for the information they need.

This modern-day solution at the venerable compound comes thanks to an agreement

signed on Friday by the museum and Huawei Co, the telecommunication giant, to build a “sm

art network” using 5G technology, the fifth generation of mobile network communications.

Under the agreement, 5G Wi-Fi signals will cover the 720,000-square

-meter compound, China’s imperial palace from 1420 to 1911 and also known as the For

bidden City, and the branch museum of the institution under construction in northwestern Beijing.

But visitor comfort is not the only benefit of a 5G smart network.

Huawei will also provide the museum with cutting-edge technologie

s for the internet of things-devices or objects linked in a network-cloud computing and a

rtificial intelligence to facilitate such functions as management, security and preservation of cultural relics.

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It’s essential to always stay close to the latest technology t

better serve the public,” said Shan Jixiang, director of the Palace Museum.

Shan said there is still much room for improvement in the handling of a huge number of cultu

ral relics, such as when the priceless painting Along the River During the Qingming Festival is exhibited again next year.

The Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) landscape painting is considered the best-known a

ncient Chinese work of art. When it was last exhibited in 2015, visitors stood in long lines until 3 am to get a

glimpse. The museum ended up preparing instant noodles to serve the hungry visitors.

“I don’t want that scenario to recur,” Shan said. “Our operation can be done in a more scientific way.”

The new system will make use of the more than 3,000 closed-circuit television cameras that

are installed all over the Palace Museum. Shan said facial-recognition technology will determine whi

ch areas are most popular with frequent visitors in order to analyze their preferences.

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We can later, accordingly, provide useful information o

our exhibitions,” he said.

The CCTV cameras also are used to safeguard the museum’s precious relics. More than 1.86 milli

on of them are housed at the museum, which logged 17.5 million visits from the public in 2018, topping all museums worldwide.

“How can we make sure no single visitor who might have evil ideas threatens these treasures?” Shan sa

id. “After adopting the internet of things, we can instantly detect any motion involving the artifacts to prevent such threats.”

Such a networked system also will be used to facilitate management of inventory and closely supervise transportation and exhibition of cultural relics.

New technologies can assist the museum staff in other ways, too, said Wang Tao, a member of Huawei’s board of directors.

The company will use algorithms to more efficiently draft tailored plans for restorin

g cultural relics after information on similar pieces and files on each collection are included in a database.

“We can thus combine old craftsmen’s experience and artificial intelligence,” Wang said.

The 5G network also will be used to improve remote consultation through webcams, which will facilitate conver

sations with overseas scholars to jointly find the best answers for restoration and preservation issues, he said.

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Xi’an to impose traffic restriction on vehicle useighway during

XI’AN – Xi’an, a historical city in Shaanxi Province, will place traffic restrictions on the use of vehicle on weekdays.

The popular tourist city said the restriction would be imposed on weekdays from

7 am to 8 pm starting March 18. Vehicles are restricted in one out of five weekdays based upon the last nu

mbers of their license plates in certain areas in the city, where the number of motor vehicles hit 3 million as of May 2018.

Three bureaux of municipal ecology and environment, public security and transport

said in a circular that the move was taken to ease traffic congestion and reduce air pollution.

Mass transit buses, new energy vehicles, vehicles for people with disabilities, and vehicles for special purp

oses such as fire engines and ambulances, however, will be exempted from the restriction, according to the circular.

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hina to establish first Great Wall restoration center surrounded

BEIJING – China’s first Great Wall restoration center will be established in Beijing, combining academic research, restoration and protection of the ancient wall.

The center will have archaeologists, designers and craftspersons w

orking together to make targeted plans for the restoration of the Jiankou section of the Gr

eat Wall, which is located in the northern Huairou District of Beijing, according to Beijing Daily.

“The new method will effectively tackle unpredictability in excavation and protection

of the Great Wall,” Zhang Tong, an official at the cultural relics administration of Huairou, was quoted as saying.

The center will also regularly check the conditions of the Great Wall for preventive c

onservation. It will keep records of the restoration for future use, the newspaper said.

With a total length of 7,952 meters, the Jiankou Great Wall was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was once neglected and became damaged over time.

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