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China finishes world’s largest telescope

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BEIJING — China has wrapped up the world’s largest radio telescope, which it will use to investigate space and hunt for extraterrestrial life, state media says.

The 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is the size of 30 soccer fields and has been hewn out of a mountain in the south-western province of Guizhou.

Scientists will now start debugging and trials of the telescope, Zheng Xiaonian, deputy head of the National Astronomical Observation under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which built the telescope, told the official Xinhua news agency.

The 1.2-billion yuan ($240 million) radio telescope will be a global leader for the next one to two decades, Mr Zheng added.

The telescope, which has taken about five years to build, is expected to begin operations in September.

Advancing China’s space program is a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power.

China’s ambitions include putting a man on the moon by 2036 and building a space station, work on which has already begun.

China insists its program is for peaceful purposes, but the US Defence Department has highlighted China’s increasing space capabilities, saying it is pursuing activities aimed to prevent adversaries from using space-based assets in a crisis.

Reuters

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2 Nepalis in Lhasa jail for smuggling gold

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RASUWA — Two Nepali youths are reported to be in a jail in Lhasa of China, on the charge of their involvement in gold smuggling.

Gyal Dorje Tamang of Gosaikunda Rural Municipality-5 in Rasuwa and Bikash Waiba of Hakubesi of Aamachhodongmo Rural Municipality were detained in Chinese territory by the customs department informers of the Tibet government around a month ago as they were about to enter Nepal on a truck bearing the Nepali number plate.

The Chinese side confiscated nine pieces of precious yellow metal from the two, Rasuwa District Police Office quoted the Nepal Consulate General Office in Lhasa as saying.

According to Rasuwa DPO’s Inspector of Police Dhruba Silwal, further details regarding the case are awaited.

It may be noted that the Chinese side has already started implementing the proposal floated by the Nepali side during the past border-security meetings to increase its surveillance in such illegal affairs bearing in mind increasing smuggling of gold into Nepali territory via China, as Silwal said.

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