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BEIJING , Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- As more Chinese cities impose bans on fireworks ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays, a number of people have come up with a creative and often hilarious response: mimicking firecrackers.

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The smoke-free firecracker show was the brainchild of the newly-weds, who tried to create the same celebratory atmosphere while not breaking local regulations.

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UNITED NATIONS, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Stronger partnerships between the United Nations and African regional and sub-regional organizations are necessary to sustain the momentum for peacebuilding in Africa and prevent a lapse into violent conflict, a senior UN official said here Thursday.

"Today's global realities -- the changing nature of violent conflicts, the deepening refugee crisis and rising violent extremism -- underline the necessity to focus on preventing crises and addressing root causes," UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said at the opening of a high-level meeting on sustaining peace in Africa at UN Headquarters in New York.

The meeting also featured a thematic discussion on the topic that was co-moderated by Maged Abdelaziz, the UN under-secretary-general and UN special adviser on Africa, and Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, UN assistant secretary-general for peacebuilding support.

"Formulating global responses from purely security and humanitarian perspectives is insufficient," Eliasson said. "We must avoid vicious cycles of military response and continued conflict and suffering."

The deputy UN chief noted the timeliness of the meeting, which was jointly organized by the UN Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, the Peacebuilding Support Office and the African Union (AU) under the theme "Sustaining Peace: Mechanisms, partnerships and the future of peacebuilding in Africa," following the April 27 adoption of substantially identical resolutions by the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly on the review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture.

"These ground-breaking texts place 'sustaining peace' at the core of national, regional and international peacebuilding and conflict prevention," he said.

Eliasson highlighted that through the two resolutions, member states had stressed the importance of stronger partnerships, especially with regional and sub-regional organizations.

Emphasizing that the AU is a "vital strategic partner" of the United Nations, he noted that over the past decade, the UN's partnership with the AU and the continent's sub-regional organizations had grown significantly.

"This meeting is an opportunity to take further steps together to prevent the lapse and relapse into violent conflict," he said, adding that peacebuilding in Africa has been a "top priority" for the United Nations.

Citing Guinea-Bissau, Burundi and Somalia as examples of cooperation between the UN and AU, Eliasson also noted that the Security Council and General Assembly resolutions encourage regular exchanges of views, joint initiatives and information-sharing between the UN peacebuilding family and regional and sub-regional organizations, not least the AU Commission.

"We should institutionalize such interactions, with a renewed focus on sustaining peace," he said.

"As we develop our responses along those lines, we must recognize that sustaining peace is a core task derived from the UN Charter," he said. "It sets the direction for all UN activities, from conflict prevention and peacekeeping to work on human rights, reconstruction and development."

Eliasson said that such work requires a shared responsibility and commitment between the UN and its Member States, including on financing.

"Given the serious funding shortfall of Peacebuilding Fund, I appeal to you to provide predictable and sustainable financing," he said.

Eliasson also stressed the need to strengthen the links between peacebuilding efforts and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, approved by world leaders in September 2015 to serve as the blueprint for the global development efforts over the next 15 years.

"The 2030 Agenda has a great potential to address the various factors which drive violent conflicts, including socio-economic and gender inequalities, lack of jobs, poor natural resource management, climate change, as well as corruption and the absence of the rule of law and well-functioning institutions," he said.

VIENTIANE, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Laos' surge in human development of almost 50 percent since 1990 continues on a positive trajectory even as inequalities are rising both in-country and globally, UNDP said in a press release on Wednesday.

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