China-Serbia community with shared future in the new era is promising: Global Times editorial

Children welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping in Belgrade, Serbia, May 7, 2024. Xi arrived in Belgrade on Tuesday to pay a state visit to Serbia. Photo: Xinhua

Children welcome Chinese President Xi Jinping in Belgrade, Serbia, May 7, 2024. Xi arrived in Belgrade on Tuesday to pay a state visit to Serbia. Photo: Xinhua

On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic at the Palace of Serbia in Belgrade. The two leaders decided to deepen and elevate the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Serbia, and build a China-Serbia community with a shared future in the new era. For the two countries and peoples, this is a significant event. Over the past few decades, the two countries have understood, trusted, supported, and helped each other in times of adversity, becoming true friends and close brothers. The upgrading of the two countries’ political relationship has come naturally, opening a new chapter in history.

President Xi visited Serbia again after eight years, receiving a grand and warm welcome. The national flags of China and Serbia flew along the highway from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport all the way to the city center of Belgrade. Banners showing “Welcome President Xi” and “Warm welcome to endeared Chinese friends” were prominently displayed. Thousands of Serbian people shouted “China” and “Serbia” in front of the Palace of Serbia, showing their genuine emotions, which deeply touched and moved the Chinese society.

China and Serbia enjoy “ironclad friendship,” which is extraordinary in the ever-changing international relations. The ironclad friendship between China and Serbia has been tempered by blood and fire. In 1999, NATO bombed the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; in 2008, China experienced a major earthquake in Wenchuan, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province; in 2014, Serbia suffered severe floods; and in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. The two countries and their peoples always extend a helping hand without hesitation when the other is in need, and this true friendship of mutual assistance cannot be eroded by time. The fundamental reason lies in the mutual respect, equal treatment, and high mutual trust between the two countries.

The interaction between China and Serbia is phenomenal and should be a subject of research in international relations. For those obsessed with “great power competition” and “clash of civilizations,” it should especially stimulate their thinking and reflection. Despite the vast distance, different social systems, and diverse cultural backgrounds, China and Serbia are able to resonate and reach consensus on international affairs, national development, and national sentiments. They have formed a close interdependence on the basis of independence, which is a breath of fresh air in the current international community plagued by a “trust deficit,” setting an example for state-to-state relations.

Observing the relationship between China and Serbia, two characteristics can be discerned. First, the interactions and cooperation between the two countries serve the well-being of both nations and their peoples. China and Serbia firmly support each other’s core interests and major concerns. China supports Serbia’s efforts to uphold national sovereignty and territorial integrity, opposing any interference in Serbia’s internal affairs by external forces. Serbia steadfastly adheres to the one-China principle and supports China in safeguarding its own sovereignty and territorial integrity. On the core issue of safeguarding national unity and opposing territorial separatism, the two countries share a high degree of consensus.

Meanwhile, cooperation between the two countries is deeply rooted at the grassroots level. Within just a few months of investment by a Chinese company, the Smederevo Steel Plant has turned losses into profits, ensuring job security for over 5,000 employees and now standing as Serbia’s third-largest exporting enterprise. The municipal sewage treatment project “Clean Serbia,” undertaken by China Road and Bridge Corporation, will benefit 2.3 million Serbian citizens. As a key project under the framework of China’s cooperation with Central and Eastern European countries in building the Belt and Road Initiative, the Belgrade-Novi Sad section of the Hungary-Serbia Railway in Serbia is bringing about “revolutionary changes” in Serbia’s transportation sector. For the people of both countries, the cooperation is not empty talk but tangible win-win outcomes.

Second, China-Serbia cooperation, whether for the region or the globe, is a positive force. As ironclad friends and upholders of world peace, the two countries share similar positions on many significant international and regional issues. In international organizations such as the United Nations and various major multilateral events, they cooperate closely, jointly advocating for a fair and orderly multipolar world, and inclusive and equitable economic globalization. They practice genuine multilateralism. Confronted with the complex and tumultuous international landscape, both nations join hands to oppose hegemonism and power politics, striving to safeguard global peace, stability, and international fairness and justice.

What sustains the development of relations between China and Serbia is a high degree of political mutual trust. Both countries do not allow ideological differences and value systems to create rifts, nor do they engage in “de-risking” or pan-politicization. Instead, they listen to each other’s concerns, respect and support each other’s development paths and national rejuvenation. It is on this foundation that mutual trust can continue to accumulate, mutual understanding can be cultivated, and the space and willingness for cooperation can grow. From politics, economics, to culture and society, the abundant fruits of China-Serbia exchanges are rooted in the political mutual trust.

President Xi Jinping announced six measures to support the building of a China-Serbia community with a shared future, as he jointly met the press with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on Wednesday. This signifies the comprehensive expansion of the long-standing friendly exchanges and mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Serbia. A Chinese axiom goes, “Friends are those who are like-minded”; and Serbians would say, “Friends are the greatest asset in life.” Under the strategic guidance of the two countries’ leaders, the ironclad friendship between China and Serbia will continue to flourish, benefiting the peoples of both nations, promoting world peace and development, and jointly advancing the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.

AIM Congress 2024 kicks off in Abu Dhabi

AIM Congress 2024, a premier global investment platform, kicked off today in Abu Dhabi under the theme “Adapting to a Shifting Investment Landscape: Harnessing New Potential for Global Economic Development”.

Set to take place until 9th May, AIM Congress 2024 boasts an impressive lineup of participants, including over 100 ministers, city mayors and central bank governors; 900 speakers; 11 global stock markets; 50 unicorn companies; and more than 12,000 delegates representing 175 countries worldwide. They will participate in 27 joint events organised in cooperation with more than 330 local, regional, and international partners.

AIM Congress is an initiative of the AIM Global Foundation and is organised with the support of the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

The current edition of the summit, held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), offers numerous opportunities for investors, businessmen, and investment companies from around the world to network and explore specialised investment projects across various sectors, featuring 450 dialogue sessions and seven high-level roundtable meetings.

GAC to promote foreign trade, expand global cooperation

China will deepen its cooperation with all parties concerned to promote the role of Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) agreements in facilitating both domestic and global companies’ efforts to boost their foreign trade activities, said a customs official.

The AEO program is advocated by the World Customs Organization to strengthen international supply chain security and facilitate the movement of goods, said Lin Jiantian, director of the General Administration of Customs’ Department of Enterprise Management and Audit-based Control.

Under its terms, Customs authorities from various regions will establish partnerships with industries to collaboratively cut barriers to Customs procedures and enhance international trade efficiency.

By the end of March of this year, China’s GAC had signed AEO mutual recognition agreements with 26 economies, such as the European Union and South Africa, covering 52 countries and regions.

Falling in love with China’s rural vibrancy

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

Illustration: Liu Xiangya/Global Times

In China’s “Village Super League” (VSL) soccer tournament in Rongjiang county, Southwest China’s Guizhou Province, a soccer team of international students from Guizhou University played against the Jiangxi Rice Noodle team from Shangrao, East China’s Jiangxi Province, attracting numerous spectators who cheered on the young players. 

The Jiangxi team ultimately clinched ­victory with a 4-2 win.

The team, a choir composed of international students from different countries studying in China, performed the song “Road of Our Dreams,” an original piece about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). 

Narrating moving stories of young people from various countries forming deep friendships and growing while studying in China, the song expressed the international youths’ hopeful ­anticipation for the initiative’s ­cultural exchanges and mutual ­learning, ­resonating strongly with the audience.

With Chinese culture’s increasing popularity abroad, an increasing number of young people from overseas are coming to study in China to ­experience the profoundness of the country’s culture and modernization. 

Several students participating in the cultural events told the Global Times that they came to China to learn from the country’s advanced ­experience, which they want to bring back to their home countries to build bridges ­between China and their countries.

For example, the vibrant and joyful VSL, a grassroots soccer league that has gained huge popularity in China, attracted enthusiasts from various ­countries to experience the charm of soccer on Saturday. 

In a display of cultural pride, 118 international students from 37 ­countries and regions brought various ­international dishes and performances, including folk songs and dances, to the event, creating a cultural feast for the audience and players.

Altima Mezui, the 31-year-old goalkeeper from Gabon on Guizhou University’s international student soccer team, described the game as an enjoyable experience at the birthplace of the VSL.

After the match, he candidly stated, “We Africans also have a deep passion for soccer like villagers in Rongjiang. It constantly brings surprises, fosters friendships, and introduces us to new acquaintances. If given the chance, we’ll strive to perform even better in the next season of the VSL.”

In June 2023, long before the friendly match, Guizhou attracted 40 international students from 24 countries and regions studying at 24 universities in China to ­experience rural development and cultural exchange events.

Divided into two groups, they began their journey from Guiyang to Luodian county and the Sandu Shui autonomous county, which is renowned for its rich cultural heritage and diversity.

Yulia Ipatenkova from Russia is a doctoral student in ­comparative education at the ­Faculty of Education, Northeast Normal University. 

She told the Global Times that while she has experience with the rural areas near her university, she still does not have a deep understanding of them. Fortunately, the event in Guizhou helped deepen her understanding of Chinese rural areas. 

The rural schools in Guizhou left a deep impression on her. She immersed herself in singing and dancing with the students and introduced the culture of her own country. In her words, this was the “happiest memory” among all those she gained while participating in this activity. 

“The simplicity and loveliness of the students, as well as their tolerance for different cultures, have deepened the understanding of China among the international students participating in the activity. I hope to share the beauty of Chinese rural culture with more people,” she said.

Visiting landmarks such as Pingtang Bridge in Pingtang county, with a span of 2,135 meters, left a deep impression on South Korean student Shin Moon-sub. 

He told the Global Times that he learned that the mountainous Guizhou was once difficult to access by road, but world-class bridges like the Baling River Bridge and Pingtang Bridge have made transportation far more ­convenient, which has not only promoted local economic development, but also made the life of the people better.

“The bridge is very spectacular. Behind it is the scientific and technological innovation of bridge construction,” he said.

He added that staff introduced during the visit that these world-class bridges have overcome many technical problems, which not only reflects the strength of China’s infrastructure technology, but also shows the achievements of China’s scientific and technological development.

The trips to the Guizhou countryside by international students studying in China is just a microcosm of many similar cultural exchange events. 

These young students travel to various parts of China, get to know local history and culture, experience the new face of the Chinese countryside, and gain a more comprehensive and authentic understanding of China. 

They hope to understand China through these journeys, leverage their strengths to tell Chinese stories, and strengthen ­friendship through education.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. [email protected]

Cutting-edge technologies on display at Haikou expo

A visitor wearing a headset tries the satellite image service products at the fourth China International Consumer Products Expo in Haikou, South China’s Hainan province, on April 14, 2024. [Photo/VCG]

Visitors at the fourth China International Consumer Products Expo can experience cutting-edge technology with a variety of interactive experiences.

Featuring more than 4,000 brands from 71 countries and regions, the six-day expo in Haikou, Hainan province, showcases new and special consumer products, offering high-quality goods and services from domestic and international markets.

ICRC welcomes support from China, to take cooperation in humanitarian areas to new level: ICRC vice president

Editor’s Note:

After seven months of conflict in Gaza, a cease-fire still seems distant. Meanwhile, the Palestine-Israel conflict is causing ripple effects across the region, and has led to major humanitarian crises. The international community, including China, is making efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crises. 

What’s the situation on the ground in Gaza? How does the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) view the humanitarian efforts that China has made on the global stage? Global Times reporters Xie Wenting, Zhao Juecheng, and Liu Caiyu (GT) spoke with ICRC’s vice-president Gilles Carbonnier (Carbonnier) about these issues and more. 

A woman and child walk past tents at a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 14, 2024. Photo: VCG

A woman and child walk past tents at a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on April 14, 2024. Photo: VCG

Gilles Carbonnier, vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross Photo: Zhao Juecheng/Global Times

Gilles Carbonnier, vice-president of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Photo: Zhao Juecheng/Global Times

GT: What’s the work the ICRC has conducted in the Gaza Strip? What are the major challenges facing the ICRC?

Carbonnier: We reminded the parties to the conflict of their obligations under the Geneva Conventions and stressed the importance of adhering to international humanitarian laws. Next to that, we provide assistance in Gaza and we do our utmost to provide food assistance, especially at present. We have set up kitchens in the refugee camps in Gaza to provide food to the most vulnerable people. We also provide water through water tracking and support the water board and water utility in repairing wells, water pumping stations, and restoring water and wastewater treatment to prevent epidemics. Finally, we support hospitals and medical centers with drugs and medicines among others in Gaza. 

The first issue, which we have mentioned again and again, is that it is key to reduce civilian losses and civilian suffering by abiding by and respecting international humanitarian law. Under international humanitarian law, civilians and essential goods and services must be protected. Another priority for us is to bring enough support to help avert major health issues, so that people can access healthcare, injured individuals can be treated, and epidemics can be averted, ensuring sick people have access to medical assistance. 

However, there is a challenge as most of the health system in Gaza is not functioning or has been impaired, making it difficult to bring drugs into Gaza and distribute them to the different health centers that are still operational due to security concerns and logistical hurdles.

Food security is also a major concern. Currently, it is a struggle to bring enough food into Gaza, and the production of vegetables, poultry, and other food items has been partially destroyed.

We welcome the repeated support of China for the respect of the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law. We also welcome China’s support to help provide life-saving assistance, including medicines and other life-saving assistance in Gaza for those most in need. China has a very important role to play, all the way from being a member of the UN Security Council down to the provision of and support for medical assistance.

GT: How do you see the ongoing conflicts affecting the world? And personally do you think there is any solution to these conflicts?

Carbonnier: First, conflicts are becoming increasingly protracted, spanning generations. It is clear that there are no humanitarian solutions to these crises, only political ones. Therefore, we must identify the necessary political steps toward conflict resolution. However, peace and security are becoming more elusive as finding a solution becomes increasingly difficult. 

Interestingly, the initial steps often involve humanitarian efforts, such as attempting to establish a humanitarian cease-fire. The ICRC serves as a neutral intermediary, able to communicate with all parties involved. It is crucial to maintain this space for neutral and impartial humanitarian actors like the ICRC, as they can facilitate dialogue with various parties in conflicts.

Sometimes the parties agree that they want to start a discussion between themselves and they ask us as a neutral intermediary to ensure the safe passage of, for instance, one party to the conflict, to be able to go to a place where they can meet and discuss. We provide this neutral intermediation. Sometimes this neutral intermediation that we do is the first step that provides an enabling environment for peace conversations.

The problem nowadays is that we see a lot of attacks against neutral humanitarian actors. Some people say, if you are not with us, you are against us. We say we are not against anyone, but we have to maintain a neutral role. And we will not publicly denounce this party to the conflict or that party to the conflict because if we publicly denounce different parties to the conflict every day, then we would be kicked out. And the international community would be left without a neutral intermediary on the ground. It is in the interest of major powers and the international community to preserve that space. 

GT: Could you introduce some of the major cooperation between China and the ICRC? 

Carbonnier: We have been present in China and have been cooperating with key stakeholders in China for many years. I believe we want to take this cooperation to a new level following the discussions and visit that President of the ICRC Mirjana Spoljaric had in September, 2023. 

I believe that we can further our cooperation by engaging with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the Chinese government on international humanitarian law, as well as by working more practically with Chinese foreign aid, particularly in the medical sector. 

We had conversations with the National Health Commission recently. We also had a meeting with the China medical teams which have been sent to African countries. We engaged with them to share our expertise and experiences in the humanitarian sector. We have also started conversations with the China International Development Cooperation Agency to explore opportunities for better cooperation in the future. We welcome Chinese humanitarian workers who are interested in working with us. We are currently working closely with the Red Cross Society of China. 

What I see and am really glad about is that our own delegations, present in about 100 situations of conflict, engage with the Chinese embassies on the ground to have a dialogue on the humanitarian situation. This interaction is much more fluid now. We also have regular discussions with foreign affairs officials, where we can share our assessment of the situation in Africa and in approximately 60 countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) where we are active. 

A United Nations team inspects the grounds of Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza's largest hospital, on April 8, 2024. The hospital was reduced to ashes during a two-week Israeli raid. Photo: VCG

A United Nations team inspects the grounds of Al-Shifa hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital, on April 8, 2024. The hospital was reduced to ashes during a two-week Israeli raid. Photo: VCG

GT: What’s your take on the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and the Global Development Initiative (GDI)?

Carbonnier: I think with the GSI and the GDI provides clear guidance and perspectives that are of great interest to us. It also helps us to have a better understanding of foreign policy priorities for China. 

Our understanding is indeed that China recognizes the interactions between security, development, and peace. I see common interests in that we work in protracted conflict situations. We aim to stop providing aid as soon as possible and instead provide sustainable humanitarian solutions. This includes providing people with seed capital and access to tools so they can generate income and regain dignity. We also aim to stop water trucking and repair wells and water pumping stations quickly so that major urban systems can function again, providing services to schools, hospitals, and other essential facilities.

I think we see an interaction between preserving development gains, even in conflict, and restoring them in order to provide people with opportunities as soon as possible. Once they have opportunities and income, the prospects for reconciliation and stability improve. The last point is that by promoting respect for international humanitarian law, we prevent the worst from happening. If we prevent the worst, people will reconcile more easily. If the worst has happened to your family, then hatred can pass from generation to generation. 

The goal of the GSI and GDI is to preserve and promote sustainable development as a way to provide greater stability. In fragile situations, our efforts aim to restore livelihoods, preserve development gains, and prevent distractions and violations of international humanitarian law that could sow the seeds of further conflicts.

GT: I noticed that the ICRC is paying attention to the impact of AI in the military domain. What suggestions do you have to strengthen global governance cooperation on AI?

Carbonnier: For us, it’s important to recognize that in situations of armed conflict, the potential of AI is like a magnifying glass. It can save lives and achieve great things, but the risks are also heightened, as it can lead to tragic humanitarian consequences. Therefore, we believe it is crucial to harness scientific and technological advances to provide a more impactful and effective response.

Currently, humanitarian needs are increasing while funding is decreasing, making it necessary to find ways to be more effective. Utilizing digital transformation through technology is a key part of achieving this impact. 

However, the use of AI, especially in weapons and machine learning, raises significant concerns. We have called for the regulation of autonomous weapon systems to address these concerns swiftly, as technological advancements are outpacing the government’s ability to regulate and govern these developments. We are worried that autonomous weapon systems powered by AI and machine learning could make life and death decisions without human control.

For us, it is critical to maintain human control over these decisions and human responsibility in accountability. We are also concerned about autonomous weapons, which have unpredictable consequences that even the designers and developers of the algorithm and products cannot anticipate. This is something that is unacceptable from an ethical standpoint, a legal standpoint, and a humanitarian standpoint. It is urgent. There are intergovernmental reflections on the global framework to govern AI at large, but also on the specificity of using AI in new warfare means and methods. This is a pressing issue that must be addressed by the international community.

GT: How do you view China’s role in gathering representatives from regional countries and international organizations to promote prosperity and economic development in Asia?

Carbonnier: It is important to recognize the critical importance of China in the region. China has been booming for many years and has greatly contributed to reducing overall poverty rates and addressing development issues. The region has seen significant progress in economic development, science and technology, and diplomacy. It is crucial to have opportunities like the Boao Forum for Asia to engage in diplomatic discussions with political leaders on fundamental issues such as development, security, and stability that have global implications.

I have been coming regularly to China. I hope to come back to Boao certainly in 2025 and the years after that.

Unity for humanity

Unity for humanity