The guardians of biodiversity: Protecting the ‘energy station’ for the Asian dowitcher

Editor’s Note: Everyone can be a guardian of biodiversity conservation. In China, these guardians contribute to biodiversity conservation in their own unique ways. Follow “the Guardians of Biodiversity” video series to have a look at these adorable animals and learn about these guardians’ protection efforts.

In this video, we focus on the Asian dowitcher as May 22 marks the 24th International Day for Biological Diversity.

The Asian dowitcher is a shorebird with a long bill just like a bubble tea straw. When feeding, it plunges its long bill into the mud like a sewing machine. Every spring, nearly all the Asian dowitchers worldwide visit Lianyungang, East China’s Jiangsu province, to refuel for their long-distance migration. Click the video to get a closer look at these cuties and see how Friends of Nature, an NGO in China, get involved in species protection.

One-China principle reaffirmed widely across Pacific Island Countries

A bridge built by China Railway 14th Bureau Group Co in Fiji. Photo: Courtesy of the 14th Bureau of China Railway Construction Co

A bridge built by China Railway 14th Bureau Group Co in Fiji. Photo: Courtesy of the 14th Bureau of China Railway Construction Co

In recent weeks, several Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the one-China principle through various diplomatic engagements and public declarations.

From Saturday to Tuesday, Fiji’s largest newspaper, the Fiji Sun, published a series of special editions to introduce and reaffirm the one-China principle. These included an article by Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Zhou Jian, titled “One China is Undeniable Truth,” emphasizing that the one-China principle is the foundation for healthy and stable China-Fiji relations.

The special edition also included commentaries from the Chinese media, highlighting that the island of Taiwan has always been an inseparable part of China, and reaffirming the international consensus established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in Papua New Guinea (PNG) noted that mainstream PNG media reports have also published special sections on the one-China principle. Chinese Ambassador to PNG Zeng Fanhua contributed an article titled “Strengthen Foundation of One-China Principle, Create Brighter Future for China-PNG Relations Together.”

The sections also featured statements from PNG Foreign Ministry Secretary Elias Wohengu and other figures reaffirming their support for the one-China principle. Wohengu stated that PNG firmly adheres to the one-China policy, recognizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legal government representing all of China and opposing “Taiwan independence,” according to the embassy.

On the same day that Taiwan’s regional leader delivered a speech on Monday, the Republic of Nauru issued a statement reiterating its adherence to the one-China principle.

“The resumption of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Nauru and the People’s Republic of China asserts the one-China principle and reunification of China. Nauru reiterates its firm support and adherence to the one-China principle, recognizing that there is but one China in the world, with the government of the PRC as the sole government representing the whole of China,” read the statement.

On Saturday, Chinese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands Cai Weiming met with recently elected Malaita Province Premier Elijah Asilaua, congratulating him on his victory and expressing China’s willingness to deepen cooperation with Malaita based on the one-China principle. Asilaua thanked China for its contributions to Malaita and the Solomon Islands’ economic and social development, reaffirming Malaita’s support for the central government’s one-China policy and the intention to enhance cooperation in infrastructure and agriculture, according to the embassy.

Newly elected Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Jeremiah Manele noted in a recent interview with the Chinese media that the decision to establish diplomatic relations with China in September 2019 is considered the most significant choice made by the country since gaining independence over 45 years ago. Manele also reaffirmed the country’s commitment to the one-China principle, according to CGTN.

On Saturday, the Chinese Embassy in Tonga published an article titled “United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 Brooks No Challenge and Misinterpretation.”

“For quite some time, the separatist forces of China’s Taiwan region and certain major countries have been deliberately distorting and challenging the one-China principle and United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, trumpeting the notion that Taiwan’s status is undetermined, and advocating support for Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations conferences and activities,” the article said.

These moves attempt to invent a whole set of false narratives to mislead international public opinion and trample on international law and basic norms governing international relations. “In view of this, it is more than necessary to comprehensively and systematically explain the origin and facts of Resolution 2758 to our Tongan friends, so as to set the record straight,” the article added.

On May 15, after the opening ceremony of Vanuatu’s mid-year parliamentary session, governmental leaders and officials accepted an invitation from Chinese Ambassador Li Minggang to visit the embassy.

Ambassador Li expressed appreciation for Vanuatu’s consistent adherence to the one-China principle since establishing diplomatic relations, and its support for China’s efforts toward peaceful reunification. “Currently, cross-Straits relations are complicated, with tensions in the Taiwan Straits rooted in the separatist agenda of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party authorities and external interference. Let us remain vigilant and committed to peace in the Taiwan Straits,” Li said.

Seoule Simeon, speaker of the Vanuatu parliament, urged all members of parliament to remember the reality that there is only one China in the world, Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, and the government of the PRC is the only legal government representing the whole of China.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai called on government ministers to maintain unity in adhering to the one-China principle and advancing the comprehensive strategic partnership between Vanuatu and China, according to the embassy’s report on WeChat.

China has sufficient tools to deal with EU’s incessant anti-subsidy probes: social media influencer

Workers complete assembling an electric vehicle (EV) at China's EV start-up Leapmotor in Jinhua, East China's Zhejiang Province on April 1, 2024. The smart EV factory delivered 14,567 new vehicles in March, a yearly increase of 136 percent. Photo: VCG

Workers complete assembling an electric vehicle (EV) at China’s EV start-up Leapmotor in Jinhua, East China’s Zhejiang Province on April 1, 2024. The smart EV factory delivered 14,567 new vehicles in March, a yearly increase of 136 percent. Photo: VCG

Facing incessant anti-subsidy probes against Chinese companies, China actually has sufficient countermeasures, and, if Europe stubbornly continues to take action, China may have to take a series of measures to hit back, Yuyuan Tantian, a social media influencer affiliated with state broadcaster CCTV said in a penned article on Saturday.

The remarks came after two Chinese companies were forced to withdraw from a public procurement bid in a Romanian photovoltaic park project due to the EU’s anti-subsidy investigations. The complexity of the evidence collection required, and the insufficient time provided by the EU led to their withdrawal.

This has been the third investigation under EU’s Foreign Subsidies Regulation (FSR) since its launch last July, all targeting Chinese companies. It comes as certain politicians within the bloc raised so-called concerns regarding “overcapacity” in Chinese emerging industry including electric vehicles (EV).

The EU’s actions and hypes do not align with the interests of EU members, Yuyuan Tantian wrote. 

Some European countries, such as Germany, have expressed opposition to high tariffs on Chinese EVs, stating that EVs from China would drive the innovation of German automobile industry.

Moreover, the EU itself has been providing substantial subsidies in various sectors, including new-energy industries and the agricultural sector.

In response to EU politicians’ efforts to suppress Chinese companies, China has prepared sufficient countermeasures, Yuyuan Tantian wrote in the article.

Shen Qian, a lawyer familiar with trade and commerce issues, told Tanyuan Tantian said that the EU is highly dependent on the Chinese market for exports including wine and dairy, and the EU offered huge subsidy to its agriculture industry. 

Shen said that the EU’s subsidy as well as dumping practices has caused substantial harm to related industries in China, so it is necessary for China to demonstrate its determination to protect the interests of Chinese companies too.

Last September, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced an anti-subsidy ruling on imported potato starch from the EU and decided to keep in place the anti-subsidy tariffs. 

In addition to agricultural products, the EU also relies on the Chinese market in many other sectors such as aviation. Airbus recently released a report predicting that China is expected to surpass the US and Europe to become the world’s largest aviation market.

“Some EU politicians’ attempts to suppress China are undoubtedly shooting themselves in the foot,” Yuyuan Tantian wrote.

Grain buds period begins, the start of the summer harvest is here

This year’s Xiaoman (“Little Ripening”) or Grain Buds Day falls on Monday. It is the eighth solar term in the traditional Chinese calendar. Xiaoman begins when the sun reaches 60 degrees of ecliptic longitude, marking the time when summer gradually becomes the dominant season, and the grains are about to ripen.

Farmers work in a paddy field in Bijie, Southwest China's Guizhou Province, on May 13, 2024. Photo: VCG

Farmers work in a paddy field in Bijie, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, on May 13, 2024. Photo: VCG

According to the “Collective Interpretation of the Seventy-two Phenological Terms,” compiled by Yuan Dynasty scholar Wu Cheng, Xiaoman falls in the middle of the fourth lunar month. A famous saying, “A heavy rainfall makes the river full,” highlights the increased precipitation during this time, filling rivers and providing a bountiful supply of fish and shrimp. It is also a critical period for farmers as crops in northern China begin to mature, while in the south, the rains swell the rivers.

As the sun moves closer to the Tropic of Cancer, days lengthen, temperatures rise, and plants thrive, signaling the onset of early summer. New fruits like plums, apricots, and peaches appear, pomegranate trees bloom, and dragonflies hover over lotus flowers in lakes.

Ancient Chinese divided Xiaoman into three pentads: the first marks the perfect time for vegetables, the second sees weeds withering, and the third signals the imminent wheat harvest. The diet during Xiaoman often includes bitter herbs, such as bitter cabbage, which flourish and are prime for harvesting.

During Xiaoman, the increasing sunlight causes shade-loving weeds to wither, and wheat grains to fill out, though they are not yet ripe. In northern China, crops like winter wheat approach maturity. The name Xiaoman advises farmers to wait a little longer before harvesting to ensure the crops are fully ripe. However, they must not delay too long, as harvesting after the Grain in Ear period (Mangzhong) could lead to overripe wheat shedding its ears. Farmers need to observe their fields closely and harvest during sunny days.

In southern China, Xiaoman involves bustling activities with three types of wheels: water wheels for irrigating rice fields, oil extraction wheels for rapeseed oil, and silk reeling wheels for silk production. The water wheels operate continuously, the oil extraction wheels are in full swing, and silk reeling begins in earnest.

Xiaoman is also a time to celebrate the birthday of the silkworm god. Families pray for a successful silkworm harvest by shaping dough into silkworm cocoons, placing them on straw, and making wishes for good yields. 

In central China, Xiaoman is marked by lively markets and fairs, akin to carnivals. Children enjoy the festivities, indulging in pancakes, fried dough sticks, buns, and spicy soup, creating lasting memories. Adults, preparing for the imminent harvest, take the opportunity to socialize and purchase seeds, tools, livestock, and summer supplies. Local opera performances in larger villages boost morale before the harvest.

Despite modern machinery replacing traditional tools, these gatherings remain a cherished custom, helping communities prepare for the upcoming harvest. Xiaoman symbolizes hope for a fruitful grain harvest.

During Xiaoman, most places in China experience average daily temperatures above 22 C. In this temperature it is important to avoid excessive consumption of raw and cold foods, especially for children and the elderly, who are more vulnerable to the heat.

GT investigates: The ‘Chinese killed Jesus Christ’ post is a farce, but why it was allowed to spread on X is worth a closer look

Photo: VCG

Photo: VCG

Editor’s Note:
“Cognitive Warfare” has become a new form of confrontation between states, and a new security threat. With new technological means, it sets agendas and spreads disinformation, to change people’s perceptions and thus alter their self-identity. Launching cognitive warfare against China is an important means for Western anti-China forces to attack and discredit the country. 

Some politicians and media outlets have publicly smeared China’s image by propagating false narratives in an attempt to incite and provoke dissatisfaction with China among people in certain countries. These means all serve the US strategy to contain China’s rise and maintain its hegemony. The Global Times is publishing a series of articles to reveal the intrigues of the US-led West’s China-targeted cognitive warfare, and expose its lies and vicious intentions. 

In the 14th installment in the series, the Global Times looks into how the US government and major social media platforms connive to spread anti-China slander online, as a non-obvious cognitive warfare trick that incites hostile sentiment toward China among ordinary US people.

People walk on a street in New York City, the US. Photo: VCG

People walk on a street in New York City, the US. Photo: VCG

Seeing unfriendly content toward China on today’s US social media platforms is not uncommon, although some of them have reached the level of laughable absurdity. Dom Lucre, a US political commentator, recently wrote a controversial post on X (formally known as Twitter), in which he inexplicably claimed that the “Chinese killed Jesus Christ.” This inexplicable post soon went viral online. Many X users seemed to have followed suit by fabricating rumors about “the Chinese,” creating a wave of disinformation attacking Chinese people in recent days.

How did this campaign come about? Was it just the innocent dark humor of some individuals online, or a branch of the US’ growing cognitive warfare against China to further deepen misunderstanding and hostility among Americans toward Chinese people? What roles do the US government and social media platforms play in such seemingly unofficially-initiated disinformation campaigns?

Dark humor?
“The Chinese killed Jesus Christ. This isn’t a conspiracy. This isn’t racist. This is history.” The ridiculous post by Lucre on March 16 has since garnered over 3.5 million views and 1,500 forwards, much more than his other daily posts.

This was not the only ridiculous Chinese-themed post by Lucre that month. Earlier on March 9, he posted that “The Chinese control Hollywood. That’s why every show they own can make fun of Jesus Christ and describe it as comedy…The Chinese [have] weaponized the American media against Christians.” 

“China really controls the world,” “China (is) allowed to legally mingle [sic] in American elections,” “FBI caught five Chinese men dancing during 9/11″… Within a week, Lucre had posted several bizarre accusations against China and Chinese people, triggering widespread discussions on X.

So what was the motive behind it?

Some users commented that they guessed the posts were a form of “dark humor” satire by Lucre to “mock” the bans of US social media platforms like X on negative content about Jews as it appears Lucre had simply replaced the word “Jews” with “Chinese” in his post. Sharing personal experiences of Jew-related posts being deleted, they suggested that the platforms usually block or restrict posts attacking certain groups of people like Jews or Muslims, but seemingly allow similar content when directed at Chinese people, if not encourage them.

Superficially, Lucre’s posts were a performance-art-like satire to highlight how different groups are treated on US social media platforms, and Chinese people unfortunately became a tool and the victims of such “satire.”

However, as an increasing number of X users followed suit to fabricate and spread rumors defaming Chinese people, some anti-China forces thus seized on the opportunity to further muddy the waters with fake evidence to “support” the ridiculous claims. This “dark humor” farce has resulted in the inundation of disinformation that demonizes Chinese people.

There were more than 2,000 X posts containing the keywords “Chinese killed Jesus” within a week after Lucre’s original post on March 16, showed online media monitoring company Meltwater. Instead of attaching so-called “background information” to Lucre’s related posts, X seemed to have not blocked or clarified any of the forwarded posts, allowing them to keep going viral and mislead the public.

Obviously, the disinformation was spread under X’s inaction and connivance, said Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University. “X can hardly escape the blame,” he told the Global Times.

Long-term connivance

US social media platforms have long connived with and acquiesced to anti-China misinformation, “a very vicious act” that is backed or promoted by some politicians and government agencies in the US, Li said.

By indulging the false accusations against China online and deliberately elevating a few statements – no matter how absurd they are – to ignite a sort of public hostility toward China and its people, these platforms and politicians attempt to foment unfriendly consensus against Chinese people at the social level, so as to set off an anti-China sentiment among the general US public, noted Li.

The “Chinese virus” smear during the COVID-19 pandemic was a typical cognitive campaign that started on social media and was fueled by the US government and politicians. Meltwater data showed that the terms “Chinese virus” first appeared on social media platforms and in some news coverage around early January 2020, and surged in late March, soon after former US president Donald Trump used similar labels in his X posts

The US government was obviously happy to see these insulting words flooding social media, and actively joined the COVID-19 cognitive campaign that smeared China and obfuscated the facts. 

The so-called “Great Translation Movement” in early 2022, a malicious smear campaign against China on Russia-Ukraine issues on X, was also a vivid instance in which US social media platforms connived to spread rumors and hateful, discriminatory remarks against Chinese people. By translating cherry-picked, niche, and radical content from the Chinese internet into multiple languages, and spreading said translations on overseas social media platforms, participants of the “movement” attempted to portray Chinese people as an arrogant, populist, and cruel group, which maliciously misled the public. 

Disappointingly, during this “movement,” X kept turning a blind eye to the rumors and attacks against Chinese people.

Some politicians are currently trying to take it a step further. On April 11, some members of the US House and Senate introduced the Open Translation Center Act, a bill to establish a federally funded research center that translates documents from countries like China and Russia, so as to “better understand threats” from these countries, they claimed.

One of the main initiators, Mike Gallagher, is infamous for his extreme anti-China attitude. 

Li analyzed that this bill is not to promote mutual understanding between China and the US, but to aggravate the US people’s unfriendly attitude toward China. “The ‘Open Translation Center’ and the ‘Great Translation Movement’ are issues in two different fields, but they are similar in nature,” he told the Global Times.

Sadly, negative content forms the majority of Chinese-related posts found on US social media platforms, with the continued connivance of the platforms and the US government. Meltwater showed that so far this year, among the posts containing “Chinese” on some major platforms including X and Facebook that were released in the US, negative, neutral, and positive sentiment stood at 26.8, 59.3, and 13.8 percent respectively.

A main battlefield

The US’ cognitive warfare against China is evolving from simply distorting information about China to falsifying knowledge about China – in other words, turning misinformation to “common sense” that attempts to change people’s basic knowledge and understanding of China, said Dong Guanpeng, dean of the National Institute of Public Relations and Strategic Communication, Communication University of China.

Falsifying knowledge about China is much nastier than fabricating misinformation, Dong noted. “It may mislead global audiences, particularly the young ones, during their formation of perceptions and judgments about China,” he told the Global Times.

Lucre’s “dark humor” posts have, to some extent, misled a few X users, who forwarded their complaints about the “misdeeds” of Chinese people that Lucre mentioned. Some Chinese observers worry that, for the less knowledgeable young netizens who are unaware of such “ironic narration,” these ridiculous posts may eventually become a part of their initial cognition of China and its people.

Worse still, apart from indulging in the spread of rumors, US politicians and social media platforms have also created fake accounts to proactively make up and spread content discrediting China, and even banned pro-China posts and blocked pro-China accounts.

Earlier in 2019, during the riots in Hong Kong, many users criticized Facebook and X for suppressing their posts that support the central Chinese government.  According to CNN’s report, X blocked more than 900 accounts in that same period, and was followed by Facebook. These accounts were closed for posting content “undermining” the rioters in Hong Kong. 

It is no wonder that social media has become a main battlefield for the US’ cognitive warfare against China, said Li.

And the cognitive warfare has shaped or influenced US people’s view of China to a certain extent. A Gallup poll released in March showed that 41 percent of Americans name China as the US’ greatest enemy today, making it the top perceived US adversary for the fourth straight year. 

Yet the “greatest enemy” was created by the US itself with its meaningless hostility and panic.

 “The US has since (Huawei) spiraled into a full-blown outbreak of Sinophobia – a strong word that I don’t use lightly,” Stephen S. Roach, a faculty member at Yale University and former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, wrote in his article “American Sinophobia” published in March.

 “…Excessive fear of China conveniently masks many of America’s own self-inflicted problems,” Roach wrote. “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he quoted a line from US president Franklin Roosevelt’s 1933 inaugural address, concluding that “amid today’s Sinophobic frenzy, that message is well worth remembering.”

Photo: Global Times

Photo: Global Times

 

Philippines likely to increase illegal resupply activities to grounded warship in Ren’ai Jiao in 2024: report

This photo taken on November 10, 2023 shows Philippine coast guard personnel and journalists sailing onboard a rigid inflatable boat (left) as they head back after filming the BRP Sierra Madre grounded at Renai Jiao in South China Sea. Photo: AFP

This photo taken on November 10, 2023 shows Philippine coast guard personnel and journalists sailing onboard a rigid inflatable boat (left) as they head back after filming the BRP Sierra Madre grounded at Renai Jiao in South China Sea. Photo: AFP

The number of illegal resupply activities to the illegally grounded warship in the South China Sea by the Philippines will continue to increase in 2024, an expert from Chinese think tank Grandview Institution warned based on a report the institution released on Tuesday.

According to the report, in 2022, the Philippine Navy conducted 11 illegal resupply activities to the Ren’ai Jiao (Ren’ai Reef), while in 2023, the number increased to 14 with more disguised approaches. 

On May 9, 1999, the military vessel BRP
Sierra Madre illegally intruded into China’s Ren’ai Jiao, or what the Philippine side calls as the Second Thomas Shoal, running aground due to purported “technical difficulties.”

According to the latest report of the Grandview Institution, the vessel
Sierra Madre has been grounded in the Ren’ai Jiao for a long time with over ten Filipino soldiers stationed and this has constituted actual encroachment of the Ren’ai Jiao. The Philippine military’s Western Command is responsible for commanding the grounded troops and the Philippine Navy sends ships to resupply the grounded troop. 

As for whether the number of supply missions to the Ren’ai Jiao by the Philippines will continue to increase in 2024, Liu Xiaobo, director of the ocean research center of the Grandview Institution, told the Global Times. He noted  before 2023, the Philippine Navy supplied the grounded military vessel once a month, but after that, the number of illegal resupply activities increased. 

The current trend shows that the illegal supply actions in 2024 will continue to increase, according to Liu. “In order to reduce sensitivity, the Philippines has rented civilian ships – instead of sending military vessels – to supply the stranded ship under the escort of coast guard ships, but the Philippines has been reportedly taking advantage of the opportunity of resupplying troops to transport illegal construction materials to the grounded ship and China firmly opposed such attempt.” 

In addition, the Philippines currently invites international media to board transport ships and openly hype up China’s so-called “interception actions” against them in order to gain sympathy and support from the international community. However, images accompanying the report show that compared to before, the main deck of the vessel
Sierra Madre as been partially reinforced and renovated in 2023, indicating that the Philippines had secretly transported building materials long ago. 

The report also points out that the Philippines has enhanced construction on the islands it occupied in the South China Sea. Apart from Ren’ai Jiao, the Philippines has illegally occupied eight islands and reefs in China’s Nansha Islands, namely, Mahuan Dao, Feixin Dao, Zhongye Dao, Nanyao Dao, Beizi Dao, Xiyue Dao, Shuanghuang Shazhou, and Siling Jiao. In June 1978, it unilaterally went beyond its territorial scope to set up the so-called “Kalayaan Island Group,” which violates China’s territorial sovereignty.

Before 2022, the Philippines conducted less construction on the occupied islands and reefs. But in March 2022, the Philippines built a new helicopter landing pad on the Mahuan Dao; and in May of that year, the Philippine Coast Guard established command observation stations on the Mahuan Dao and others. These command observation stations monitor surrounding vessels and report information to the Philippine Coast Guard headquarters, according to the report.   

In January 2024, Manila’s military chief Romeo Brawner told media that the Philippines would develop islands in all the nine islands and reefs in the South China Sea that it considers part of its territory to make them more habitable for troops. 

The Philippines Coast Guard recently claimed that China was attempting to build an “artificial island” in the Ren’ai Jiao. In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a press conference on Monday “the Philippines has repeatedly spread rumors, deliberately vilified China and tried to mislead the international community. None of those attempts will succeed.” 

Wang also urged the Philippines to stop making irresponsible remarks, face up to the facts and return to the right track of properly handling maritime disputes through negotiation and consultation. 

Liu believes the Philippines will continue to advance its confrontational South China Sea policy in 2024. He points out that main factors contributing to the escalation of the disputes between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea include the pro-stance of the Marcos government, the increased assistance from the US and its allies to the Philippines, as well as the joint defense commitment of the US-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty that backs and encourages the Philippines’ provocative actions of encroachment. 

In addition, the Philippines has strengthened its maritime military capabilities in recent years, providing it with confidence, Liu said. But ASEAN countries will continue to be important forces in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea with China as resolving disputes through peaceful means and maintaining regional peace and stability remains a consensus between ASEAN countries and China despite the differences in their concerns and positions on the South China Sea issue, Liu noted.

Upcoming industry investment event highlights new momentum for Central China’s rise

A panoramic view of the Binjiang New City in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province File photo: VCG

A panoramic view of the Binjiang New City in Changsha, Central China’s Hunan Province File photo: VCG

Chinese officials announced on Tuesday that the six provinces in Central China will each host a targeted industry supply chain investment promotion event during the 13th Expo Central China, which will be held in Changsha, the capital of Central China’s Hunan Province, from May 31 to June 2. Experts anticipate the event will inject new momentum for the region’s rise.

The move marks the first innovative endeavor since the critical investment event’s inception in 2006, adding to China’s robust drive to build the region into favorable destinations for industrial transfers from coastal areas amid economic restructuring.

Vice Minister of Commerce Ling Ji introduced the key highlights of the upcoming event during a press conference on Tuesday, which include industrial chain investment promotion sessions led by central provinces, focusing on advanced manufacturing sectors such as modern petrochemicals, new materials, electronic information and new-energy vehicles, aiming to attract foreign investment.

The six localities are Hunan, Hubei and Henan in Central China, Anhui and Jiangxi in East China, and Shanxi in North China.

Experts believe that the innovative sessions will highlight collaborative endeavors across regions aimed at fostering integrated economic development and attracting external investors to strengthen ties with the global economy amid the country’s pursuit of high-quality development and high-level opening-up.

The six central provinces so far have hosted a total of 55 state-level economic and technological development zones, serving as vital platforms for industrial transfer. In 2023, these zones achieved a regional GDP of nearly 3 trillion yuan ($414.65 billion), with total trade exceeding 1 trillion yuan and actual foreign investment reaching $2.4 billion, according to official data that Ling cited.

Ling also unveiled the ministry’s forthcoming measures to accelerate the rise of Central China. Focus areas include strengthening foreign investment and trade, enhancing domestic trade circulation, and expediting the establishment of trade cooperation pilot zones and free trade zones, in a bid to elevate regional integration that is in line with the plan of high-quality development.

The plan aligns with China’s ongoing push for the rise of the central region. China’s leadership at a top-level symposium in March called for solid efforts to further energize the central region at a higher starting point, due to its pivotal role as important bases for grain production, energy and raw materials, modern equipment manufacturing and high-tech industries, and as a comprehensive transportation hub.

The central region holds strategic importance and is an ideal destination for industrial relocation from coastal areas due to its geographical, labor and infrastructure advantages. The phased industrial transfer plan will aid the country’s high-quality development and help avoid industrial relocation to other countries, Tian Yun, a veteran economist based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

“Central provinces such as Hunan and Hubei have unveiled plans to transition toward middle-to-high-end industries, positioning themselves as leaders in industrial upgrades,” Tian added, noting that with the ramping-up of policy support from the central government, the region’s economy will gain new development momentum.

During an investigation and research tour in Anhui on Friday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang called for greater efforts to foster emerging industries and future industries, make breakthroughs in core technologies in key areas, and create new engines for sustained economic growth, which experts said showed the central government’s firm stance in promoting the rise of the region.

The region’s industrial relocation and growth are pivotal for China’s industrial chain security. The central provinces, with their solid manufacturing base and research capabilities, can serve as key nodes in China’s industrial chain development, further promoting the country’s industrial chain security and long-term sustainable development, Bian Yongzu, a senior industry research fellow and visiting scholar at Yale University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Bian stressed that amid the global green economy trend, China has made remarkable accomplishments in a series of high-tech sectors by cultivating leading enterprises and industrial zones, which “offer favorable conditions and set models for the central region’s development in related fields.”

The region is vigorously advancing its high-quality development driven by the new quality productive forces – a key focus of this year’s expo. 

In 2023, the central region’s combined GDP reached nearly 27 trillion yuan, more than one-fifth of the national total, highlighting its crucial role in the economy, according to official data.

Hunan’s high-tech industry investment rose by 7.9 percent, with high-tech manufacturing’s value added up by 14.7 percent and information services up 13.1 percent.

The initiative to promote the rise of the central region was initially introduced two decades ago. Over the past decades, the momentum of the central region’s advance has been robust. Official data indicates that during China’s 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-20), the economy of the region grew at an average annual rate of 8.6 percent.

China-Serbia friendship, shared aspirations

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/GT

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/GT

Upon arriving in Belgrade amid the warm breezes of early May, I was greeted by the cordiality of Serbians and given a glimpse into the “ironclad” friendship of China and Serbia.

The shuttle van driver, after learning that myself and two other reporters were from China, proudly introduced the beautiful landscape and landmark buildings we drove pass. 

Located at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers, Serbia has a European city view with baroque, classicism buildings and grand Orthodox churches, while the socialist period left some commune mansions. Some ruins from war time have not been demolished, yet brand new, glass-wall skyscrapers have been built.

The driver also offered to show us some important places marking the friendship between the two countries such as the Pupin bridge on the Danube, which was built with China’s support and nicknamed the “China bridge,” and the memorial for the Chinese Embassy to Yugoslavia that was bombed by NATO in 1999. When showing us the city, he pointed at billboards of Chinese brands and institutions like Huawei, Xiaomi, the Bank of China, and so forth.

Though I had a general concept of the sound relationship between the two countries, such hospitality was beyond my expectations. 

On the way from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport to the city center, Chinese and Serbian national flags fluttered in the sunny weather, yet I thought they were part of some diplomatic proprieties. However, after I found that the entire capital was ornamented by Five-Star Red Flags and welcome banners of different sizes at every corner, I was convinced of Serbia’s warmhearted embrace for friends from afar. 

This strong sentiment of brotherhood was repeatedly reinforced in the days to follow. 

The newly opened China Cultural Center was the first stop of all my interview locations. Knowing it was Orthodox Easter, I was concerned that students might hesitate to come to the center in the middle of a six-day holiday, May Day and Easter combined. 

I was totally wrong. 

They were more than willing to help. Police officer Danijela Radanovic came off a 12-hour night shift and gave us two hours of her precious rest time, even though she had another 12-hour shift that night. The cultural center stands beside the memorial for the old embassy. Noting that the bilateral friendship was forged with blood at that time, Radanovic said the bombing 25 years ago was a major part of her childhood memories. 

Another student, Vladimir Roglic, who had quite some knowledge of Chinese history, said Chinese people suffered in the 19th to early 20th centuries, and Serbians had also suffered a lot as a result of frequent external conquest due to their nation’s strategic position. 

“But our peoples are tough and can always stand up again from ruin. We have many similarities and we understand each other,” Roglic said.

Yet one does not have to dig into history to understand the friendship between the two countries, as contemporary examples are vivid and abundant. 

When doing street interviews with passersby about how they felt about being called ”
sai tie” in Chinese, which can be translated to “Serbian ironclad friend,” China’s medical aid to Serbia in the early days of COVID pandemic was frequently mentioned. 

Some shared their experiences with Chinese business partners or friends, or visiting China themselves. Big smiles and bursts of laughter fully spoke of the joy and delight China has brought them. 

Roglic, a Tai Chi practitioner for more than 10 years, said he has dreamed of living on the Wudang Mountain and following real masters to improve his techniques. His classmate Jana had visited China, where she felt really supported and safe. 

When a young woman on the street said ”
ganbei” (cheers) when she was asked to say something in Chinese, I realized another similarity between our two countries could be an interest in liquor. 

A young man who did not give his name said China’s help in upgrading Serbia’s roads, highways, high-speed rail links to Hungary and other infrastructure. 

I took a ride on the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the railroad, which has handled 7 million trips over its two years of operation. With a design speed of 200 kilometers per hour, the train is stable, comfortable and cuts the original travel time from one and a half hours down to 36 minutes.  

A one-way ticket costs about six euros ($6.50) while a round trip is eight euros, an “inexpensive fare” one can conveniently pay by app, with a transport card or at the station’s ticket office. 

A high school student on the train told me he studies in Belgrade and was taking the train to visit his parents in Novi Sad. Commuters also take the trains for work, while the low platforms built by the Chinese contractors allow cyclists to easily bring their bikes on the train. 

During the Easter holiday, many locals and tourists take the train to Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbia and which is renowned for art, music and the idyllic stretch of the Danube.  

The high-speed train has brought in more tourists, made two-city life possible for locals and, when the whole 352 kilometers to Budapest are completed in 2026, is sure to further enhance Serbia’s connectivity and boost its economy. 

Aleksandra Milosavljevic, a Serbian engineer, told me that working on the project, she has not only learned engineering and management skills, but also made real friends with her Chinese colleagues. 

It is through the interactions of ordinary people and tangible fruits of cooperation that the China-Serbia friendship has been forged and prospers. 

Exclusive: Latin America open for cooperation with Chinese technology, products in new-energy sector: former Ecuadorian transport minister

China Ecuador Photo: VCG

China Ecuador Photo: VCG

There is huge opportunity for cooperation with China in the new-energy sector in Latin America, and the region is open for corresponding Chinese technology and products, Héctor Villagrán-Cepeda, former minister of transport and public works of Ecuador, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Sunday.

The remarks came amid rising protectionism by the US-led West against China’s new-energy products, with the new-energy vehicle (NEV) sector being a main target, over so-called overcapacity claims.

Despite challenges from third parties, Villagrán-Cepeda said that the relationship and cooperation between China and Latin America “will not be affected due to the strong will and determination of our common regions.”

Héctor Villagrán-Cepeda, former minister of transport and public works of Ecuador Photo: Courtesy of Héctor Villagrán-Cepeda

Héctor Villagrán-Cepeda, former minister of transport and public works of Ecuador Photo: Courtesy of Héctor Villagrán-Cepeda

Villagrán-Cepeda praised the cost-effectiveness of Chinese new-energy sector and called for greater cooperation between China and Latin American countries in the field.

The possibility of cooperation between China and Latin America is a great step toward world peace and understanding, he said.

“Our region for the past 500 years has been on a constant quest to find a scientific path for development. Chinese development policies are a hope for industrial development and a way to start knowledge-based economies in the region,” he said.

“The time is now to deepen the relationship with mutual benefit for both China, with its high-technology development, and Latin America, with its abundant natural resources, in the important task of environmental protection,” Villagrán-Cepeda further noted.

Moreover, as Villagrán-Cepeda noted, Latin America is an important source of the natural resources that are needed for the development of new-energy products with Chinese technology.

He spoke highly of China’s NEV sector for its cost-effectiveness, industrial transformation and contribution to carbon reductions in the region.

The [industrial and green] transformation for Latin America was to adopt Chinese methods of low-energy consumption many years ago, and that transformation has benefited the transportation of passengers and cargo with low unit costs and low pollution, in addition to savings on fuel, Villagrán-Cepeda said.

Villagrán-Cepeda said that cooperation with China in the region’s green transformation is needed for future development because of various factors, including less pollution, lower costs and industrial upgrades.

He noted the need for technology cooperation. “Demand is huge in Latin America, because people trust Chinese technologies,” he said.

The green transformation has additional value since it boosts the industrial transformation that Latin America has been trying to accomplish, according to Villagrán-Cepeda.

Chinese companies have built many factories in Latin America, not only in Ecuador, and this process creates jobs, develops industrial capacity and transfers technology, he said.

Besides of NEVs, there are many other green products that provide opportunities for cooperation between China and Latin American countries, such as solar power, wind power and hydropower, which have proved very successful in the region, according to Villagrán-Cepeda.

In recent years, NEVs, lithium batteries and photovoltaic products have become a fresh calling card for showcasing China’s manufacturing shift toward high-end, intelligent and green development.

This transformation has not just contributed to China’s green transformation but has had an effect worldwide, including in Latin American countries, which have become an increasingly important market for China’s NEV exports.

There is a big, big opportunity for Latin America in the green field, and Latin America is open for Chinese technology and products, Villagrán-Cepeda said.

As the China-Ecuador Free Trade Agreement just took effect on May 1, Ecuador has gained momentum in its green transformation, while helping Chinese companies go global.