ation and safety officials Daniel Elwell, Robert

US senators sharply questioned regulatory officials on Wedne

sday about the Federal Aviation Administration’s reliance on Boeing Co’s engineers to cert

ify the safety of the company’s new 737 Max 8 aircraft, which was involved in two fatal crashes in the past five months.

A self-certification procedure called Organization Designation Authorization came under scr

utiny at a hearing of the Senate Commerce Committee’s aviation subcommittee in Washington. Testifying wer

e Daniel Elwell, acting FAA administrator; Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Saf

ety Board; and Calvin Scovel III, Transportation Department inspector general.

For decades, the FAA has delegated some authority for certifying new aircraft to the manufacturers, reducing government costs.

After the crashes of Lion Air in Indonesia in October and Ethiop

ian Airlines this month, which killed a total of 346 passengers and crew members, critics have ci

ted the self-certification process as evidence of an overly cozy relationship between the FAA and the industry.

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Event planned to fete PLA Navy’s 70th anniversary

More than 60 countries will send naval delegations to participate in the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Peo

ple’s Liberation Army Navy in late April, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense said on Thursday.

The celebration will showcase the progress of the PLA Navy and its growing capabili

ty in safeguarding China’s overseas interests as well as regional and world peace, an expert said.

The multinational naval event will take place in Qingdao, Shandong province, in late Ap

ril, said ministry spokesman Senior Colonel Wu Qian. April 23 is the 70th anniversary of the PLA Navy’s founding.

The naval event will include high-level dialogues, an international fleet review, military band performances, cultural and sports e

xchanges as well as other activities, Wu said. Some nations will send military ships to participate in the fleet

review, though details are still in the works and will be announced at a later date, he added.

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Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, director of the Center for Secur

Cooperation at the ministry’s Office for International Military Cooperation, said that comp

ared with other branches of the military, the PLA Navy plays a relatively larger role in protecting China’s overseas inter

ests and maintaining security in key sea lanes such as the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia.

“The PLA Navy is at the forefront of proving that the Chinese milita

ry is an open, cooperative and competent force for peace,” he said, adding that the PLA Navy has f

requently participated in humanitarian rescue missions, naval escorts, joint exercises and exchanges in past years.

“Through these non-war military operations, the Chinese Navy has also improved its capability and operability in dis

tant waters,” Zhou said. “Many security issues around the world require global efforts, and as its capability impr

oves, the PLA Navy can play a bigger part and contribute more to global maritime security.”

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isit shows EU seeks deeper cooperationuropean Commiss

Editor’s Note: President Xi Jinping visited Italy, Monaco and F

rance from March 21 to 26. Why is the visit important for China-European Union rela

tions? Two experts share their views on the issue with China Daily’s Pan Yixuan. Excerpts follow:

Visit sets positive tones for China-EU relations

Xi’s visit to the three European countries has yielded substantial fruits of cooperation, the most significant being the

signing of a memorandum of understanding between China and Italy paving the way for Italy to participate in th

e China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative to promote mutual development.

The cooperation deals in fields such as trade and infrastructure that Italy has signed with

China will help the Italian government to boost the country’s economic recovery. For instance, the exp

ort of Sicily’s red oranges to China by air will be a small but important step toward boosting bilateral trade.

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Finance Minister Liu Kun said at a forum on Sunday tha

t the government plans to accelerate local government bond issuance this year. “We are tryi

ng to complete the issuance of the new bond quota of 3.08 trillion yuan by the end of September.”

“We will urge local governments to inject funds into projects quickl

y in order to stabilize investment and expand domestic demand,” said Liu.

In the first two months, issued local government bonds totaled at 782.1 billion yuan. Among this, 326.1 bil

lion yuan was raised through special purpose bonds, a type just like United States municipal bonds, the ministry said.

hina will further facilitate foreign enterprises’ venture ca

pital investments in Chinese companies, said Premier Li Keqiang at the Boao Forum for Asia on Thursday.

The country will also improve the regulations on foreign investors’ strategic invest

ment in mainland-listed companies as well as on their mergers and acquisitions with domestic enterprises.

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Li, who inspired the boom after winning Asia’s first major

 title at the 2011 French Open, warned that increased funding and exposure for the sport does not guarantee Grand Slam champions will follow.

“After the US Open (in August), players don’t need to travel overseas with tournam

ents held at home one after another,” said Li, who is an ambassador for her hometown Wuhan Open in Hubei province.

“However, for the younger players nowadays they are likely to squander the opportuni

ties that we had to fight hard to earn, because everything comes easier and more frequently.

“They have to focus on the game itself rather than the exposure or expectations off

the court to really improve one event at a time and benefit from the momentum.”

When Li turned pro in 1999 China had only two entry-level tournam

ents. Now the Women’s Tennis Association calendar features nine Chinese tourn

aments, including the premier mandatory China Open in Beijing and year-end WTA Finals in Shenzhen.

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Wang hailed Italian government’s forethought and pragmatis

gmatism over its decision of endorsing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), saying Xi and Mattarella agreed

that China and Italy, which are at the two ends of the ancient Silk Road, are natural partners in constructing the Belt and Road.

Conte, according to Wang, said the BRI will bring great opportunities to Italy. He also agre

ed to attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held in Beijing next month.

France is one of the earliest European countries that have expressed the willingness to take pa

rt in the BRI cooperation. During Xi’s visit to France, the two countries signed agreements on the third round of the BRI-related dem

onstration projects in third-party markets and kicked off a third-party market fund, Wang said.

At the closing session of a global governance forum co-hosted by China and France, Macron

said the BRI is significant and can play an important role in world peace, stability and development, adding that the EU could align

its development strategy with the BRI in an innovative way and jointly promote Eurasian connectivity.

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She said she hoped to hold a third vote on the agreement l

later this week and was working to build support for the deal, which sets out the terms of withdrawing from the EU and the outline of future relations with the bloc.

May warned opponents that continuing to reject the deal could lead to a “slow Brexit” that postpones the country’s departure indefinitely.

With the March 29 Brexit day set almost two years ago days away and the withdr

awaal agreement lacking Parliament’s approval, European leaders agreed to a postponement last week to avoid a ch

aotic cliff-edge departure that would be disruptive for the world’s biggest trading bloc and deeply damaging for Britain.

However, the EU granted a shorter delay than May sought. It said if Parliament approves

the proposed divorce deal, the UK would leave the EU on May 22. If not, the government has until April 12 to tell the

27 remaining EU countries what it plans to do – leave without a deal, cancel Brexit or chart a path to a new option.

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May has come under intense pressure to quit the prime minis

 minister’s post as the price of winning support for the deal.

At a meeting Sunday at the prime minister’s country retreat, Chequers,

prominent Brexiteers told May they might back the deal — if she agreed to step d

own so a new leader could take charge of the next phase of negotiations, which will

settle Britain’s future relations with the EU.

Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who attended the meeting and is likely to be a conten

der in any future Conservative leadership race, accused the government

of lacking “gumption” and chickening out on delivering Brexit.

Britaina’s best-selling newspaper, The Sun, put a call on its front page for the

prime minister to resign under the headline “Time’s up, Theresa.”

May is hanging on, hoping she can persuade Brexit-backing lawmakers that

rejecting her deal means Britain may never leave the EU.

She told lawmakers that Britain would not leave the EU without a deal unless

Parliament — which has already rejected the idea — voted for it.

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Opponents of Brexit feel the political tide may be turnin

 in their favor. Hundreds of thousands of people marched through London on Saturday calling for a new referendum on whether to leave the EU or remain.

But with the deadline for a Brexit decision less than three weeks away, British poli

ticians remain divided, and increasingly despairing about the country’s political gridlock.

“Brexit is like the Death Star of politics,” Conservative legislator George Freeman said. “I always fea

red it would be like this. It’s destroying and soaking up all the prime minister’s room for maneuver and political goodwill.

“I’ve never known this country so divided, so angry and in such a dangerous state,” he said.

France is willing to support the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, with the best way forward

being to work together on a project-by-project basis, former French prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin told China Daily.

In an exclusive interview ahead of the state visit of President Xi Jinping to France

on Monday and Tuesday, Raffarin said it is in France’s national interest to be part of the BRI.

“We also want our companies to propose projects which are good for the BRI, but also go

od for our enterprises,” said Raffarin, who served as prime minister from 2002 to 2005.

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