Coming amid the third China-Central Eastern European Countries Culture and Arts Carnival, traditional dances from all over Greece, such as ipirotikos, tsamiko, kalamatiano, sirtaki and ikariotiko, were performed on October 22 in Chaoyang Park, Beijing, by the Cultural Association “Peiros” dance troop from the municipality of Western Achaia.
The performance was aimed at preserving and transmitting cultural traditions and various aspects of Greek cultural heritage from generation to generation.
Along with the performances, videos showcased the beauty of Western Peloponnese, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, and informational materials were made available.
The eight-member dance group of the cultural association “Peiros” performed in Beijing as part of the third China-Central Eastern European Countries Culture and Arts Carnival, hosted by the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism, Chaoyang District People’s Government of Beijing Municipality, and organized by the Beijing Overseas Cultural Exchange Center, Chaoyang District Bureau of Culture and Tourism of Beijing Municipality.
Despite US President Joe Biden’s well-calculated absence from the 43rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings held in Jakarta, Indonesia, some US media outlets wasted no chance to push for US agendas in the region.
On Thursday, VOA Chinese published an article entitled “China showing off its map before ASEAN Summit forces ASEAN and India to get closer.” The article cited so-called observers and claimed that China’s deliberate issue of a controversial new edition of the national map would enhance security and economic ties between India and ASEAN.
Some Chinese analysts reached by the Global Times believe that the US media intentionally stirred up tensions by exploiting the ASEAN Summit and China’s launch of the new map. On August 28, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources released the 2023 edition of the standard national map. China’s claims haven’t changed, and its stance on the South China Sea issue with certain ASEAN member states has been consistent, which is “putting aside disputes and seeking joint development.” It makes no sense to claim that China’s new map is a timed move to provoke ASEAN or other South China Sea claimants.
Nonetheless, the US media took it as a chance to link the issue with the ASEAN Summit, in a bid to stir up the currently peaceful South China Sea situation and incite regional countries to provoke and take a tough stance against China. This was done with the intention of pulling ASEAN into the orbit of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy to contain China.
Ma Bo, an associate professor at the School of International Studies and the assistant director of the Collaborative Innovation Center of South China Sea Studies at Nanjing University, told the Global Times that this is not the first time that the US has taken advantage of regional summits to bring up the South China Sea issue and exploit the disputes between China and its neighboring countries to worsen China’s development environment.
Prior to the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in July, the US began to smear China’s law-enforcement activities, which were aimed at safeguarding China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime order, after Philippine coast guard vessels intruded into the waters off the Ren’ai Reef without Chinese permission on June 30. During the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed unity with Southeast Asian nations against “coercion,” in a thinly veiled reference to China. Nonetheless, ASEAN nations maintained a lukewarm attitude.
What ASEAN countries are dissatisfied with the most is the constant absence of US presidents at ASEAN summits, be it Biden or former presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama. This time, Biden has skipped Indonesia but will visit Vietnam. “This will make ASEAN believe that the US is actually dividing ASEAN and viewing the Philippines and Vietnam as its agents to contain China,” said Ma.
While the US hopes to woo any country possible to achieve this goal, India could be an easy pick. The US often touts its relations with India, and India is a member of the US-led Quad. But will India have the US’ wish fulfilled?
Long Xingchun, a professor at the School of International Relations at Sichuan International Studies University and president of the Chengdu Institute of World Affairs, told the Global Times that compared to China, ASEAN’s economic cooperation with India is very limited in scale, so is India’s influence on ASEAN. India has even withdrawn from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which ASEAN has high hopes for. Long added that ASEAN has taken a negative and even opposing attitude toward Quad, as it believes Quad will not only divide Asia and create confrontation, but also weaken the ASEAN centrality during the process of East Asian integration.
The US media reports are filled with vicious calculations aimed at making countries in the Indo-Pacific region cannon fodder of the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy. The US has long been trying to involve these countries in its agenda, and it continues to do so by exploiting various opportunities. This shows that the US’ previous efforts were not successful. The fundamental reason is that the US only considers its own interests without taking into account the interests of regional countries and their pursuit of strategic autonomy. There is a huge misalignment or even contradiction between US’ goals and the interests of these countries.
US President Joe Biden said at a news conference in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Sunday after upgrading the US-Vietnam relationship, “I don’t want to contain China. I just want to make sure that we have a relationship with China that is on the up and up squared away.” He added, “I am sincere about getting the relationship right.”
Ma Bo, an associate professor at the School of International Studies at Nanjing University, believes that this is Biden’s tailored strategy toward China.
The “China threat” theory peddled by the US and its attempt to win over regional countries to contain China are not supported by these countries. ASEAN countries are unwilling to choose sides between China and the US, but they hope that both sides can manage differences and maintain regional peace and stability. Against this backdrop, Biden realized that it would be better for him to emphasize “the US does not want to contain China” when he was there. His target audience was not only China, but also ASEAN countries, so as to establish a positive image of the US. But once he goes to Europe, Japan or South Korea, he will make no reservation to label China as a threat.
“Be it in technology or trade, the US has not eased its containment of China. The US wants to leave an impression on the region that it does not want to contain China, which is hypocritical,” Ma told the Global Times.
For Vietnam, being involved in great power competition is not in its interests. Even if the relationship between the US and Vietnam upgrades, Vietnam will continue to adopt a balanced strategy. Vietnam does not trust the US and is worried about the US’ interference in its political system. Meanwhile, the US has limited support for Vietnam’s security, and Vietnam still needs to purchase weapons from Russia.
Wang Jiangyu, a professor at the City University of Hong Kong School of Law, told the Global Times that in the eyes of the US, Vietnam is an ideological rival, but now the US is courting Vietnam with a realist attitude because it believes that Vietnam could be part of its efforts to set up a global united front against China. Wang said this is the logic behind the upgraded ties between the US and Vietnam.
Since taking office, the Biden administration on the one hand boasts of “guardrails” in China-US relations, but on the other hand hypes up “decoupling” and the so-called de-risking. Now it talks about “not containing China” and “getting the relationship right.” It can be seen that the China policy within the Biden administration is messy and divisive.
Wang told the Global Times the current China-US relations make the US feel a sense of uncertainty, and such a sense of uncertainty does not help the US craft and implement its China policy, therefore the US wants a relationship that is “on the up and up, squared away.” But partisan consensus and domestic political atmosphere determine that containing China has become unquestionable and irreversible. This is why the US is unlikely to make any compromises in its China strategy.
The US has no plan to let go of its wild ambitions, be it about the trade war, technological blockade, sanctions, the Taiwan question and the various cliques it has formed in China’s surrounding areas to check China’s rise. It should not expect China to sit still. The strength gap between China and the US is narrowing. China is not what it used to be when the US bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade in 1999 or when the Chinese ship Yinhe was detained by the US Navy in international waters in 1993, allegedly containing chemical components headed for Iran, but was eventually cleared after months of inspection.
If the US sincerely wants a right relationship with China, it should learn to respect China’s core interests and view China from an equal footing. However, so far, there is no sign of US sincerity except rhetoric.
Diao Daming, a professor at the Renmin University of China in Beijing, considers such rhetoric “deceptive” and a clap on the US’ own face, as it actually serves the US’ hegemonic agenda and aims to maximize US interests, but at the same time requires China not to respond.
“No mutual respect and ‘only the US benefits’ are not what a right relationship is supposed to be,” Diao said.
The China-US bilateral relationship is one of the most important in the world. The trajectory of this relationship has attracted international attention. Still, the US is stepping up its efforts to suppress China on various fronts such as politics and diplomacy, economy, trade, technology, and military security, showing the true meaning of a cold war. The Global Times invites Chinese and foreign experts to expose the US’ manipulation of the “new cold war” and reveal the damage it may potentially cause to the world.
This is the fifth installment of the series.
The recent visit of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Russia has raised concerns in South Korea, particularly the worry that a new cold war dynamic may be emerging in Northeast Asia, namely the northern triangle of Beijing-Moscow-Pyongyang vs. the southern triangle of Washington-Tokyo-Seoul. The reason why Western media are sparing no effort in hyping up the so-called northern triangle is because the southern triangle is taking shape. Yet it must be pointed out that South Korea still plays a crucial role in preventing the formation of a new cold war in Northeast Asia.
The deconstruction of the Cold War in Northeast Asia is undoubtedly a secondary effect of the end of the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union. However, South Korea had made significant contributions to this process. For instance, in June 1990, then South Korean President Roh Tae-woo held his first summit with then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in San Francisco, and diplomatic relations between the two countries officially began on September 30, 1990. In 1992, China and South Korea established diplomatic ties. It was at this time when negotiations were held between South and North Korea, and the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non-Aggression, and Exchanges and Cooperation between South and North Korea, as well as the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula were signed.
Since then, the relationship between the two countries has gone through fluctuations with both sides even viewing each other as the “archenemy” at one point. However, South Korea’s efforts toward realizing reconciliation with China, Soviet Union and North Korea have contributed to the gradual melting of the Cold War ice in Northeast Asia. These positive changes have been made possible through the joint efforts of China, Soviet Union, and other parties, including the Roh administration’s “Northern Diplomacy.” Roh laid the foundation for South Korea to enjoy more than 30 years of peace dividends and created conditions for further regional integration in Northeast Asia.
Today, the US is once again sounding the horn of a new cold war on the Eurasian continent, seeking to maintain its hegemonic position through strengthening bilateral alliances and building small cliques. However, whether a new cold war dynamic will reemerge in Northeast Asia, and whether there will be a counterflow against regional integration, is not solely determined by the US. It is also influenced to a considerable extent by the choices made by major regional countries, including South Korea. Unfortunately, the current administration of South Korea seems to be going against the tide of peace. Since coming to power, the Yoon Suk-yeol government has pursued a values-based diplomacy, adopting a so-called “strategic clarity” policy that leans toward the US.
The Yoon government has shown it has no principle when it comes to improving ties with Japan, consolidating alliance with the US, and responding to the trilateral military cooperation with the US and Japan. One of its starting points is the belief that a new cold war between China and the US has already begun, and Yoon administration believes that the US, representing so-called freedom and democracy, is bound to win.
Although the ruling power in South Korea refuses to admit it, opposition forces in South Korea and rational elites have long warned that the emerging signs of a new cold war in Northeast Asia are to a considerable extent the result of Seoul’s response to the US’ push for the new cold war. However, some ruling elites in South Korea resolutely refuse to acknowledge that they are accomplices in escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula and instead attempt to use the improved relations between North Korea and Russia as an excuse for their country’s accelerating pace down the path of the new cold war paved by the US and Japan.
The new cold war has not yet taken shape in Northeast Asia, the vast majority of the region’s population does not want to see it coming either. Judging from various concerns within South Korea, it is not in South Korea’s interest to rush to the forefront of confronting China and Russia on behalf of the US, regardless of what kind of subjective intentions and objective reasons. Once a new cold war is ignited in the region, it could not only inflict further damage on South Korea’s economy but also potentially drag the country into an avoidable “hot war.” At that point, South Korea’s destiny will become increasingly beyond its control.
Having gone through the Korean War and the Cold War, the South Korean people understand that a new cold war will only lead to boundless suffering. South Korea should strive for strategic autonomy, work to prevent the emergence of a new cold war in the region, engage and cooperate with China, Russia and North Korea, and avoid following the US and Japan in military and ideological confrontations.
The author is the director and professor of the Center for Korean Peninsula Studies at the Shanghai University of International Business and Economics.
After being postponed due to COVID, the 2022 Asian Games, set in Hangzhou, officially began on Saturday. This multi-sport tournament taking place on the world’s largest continent, as measured by both geographic area and population, will be bigger than the Paris 2024 Olympics in terms of athletes which number over 12,000.
Despite the scope of the Asian Games, few Westerners will even be aware this event is taking place, and fewer will have heard of the hosting city Hangzhou – let alone know how to pronounce it. This is not because the Asian games, which offers qualification to the Olympics, don’t offer a sporting feast – they do.
India and Pakistan will face each other in the non-Olympic sport of cricket, in track and field world champions like Neeraj Chopra of India and Kitaguchi Haruka of Japan will compete in the javelin, and in swimming South Korea’s Hwang Sun-woo is set to battle against China’s Pan Zhanle. Then there are a host of sports such as gymnastics, ping pong and badminton that Asia excels at.
The Asian Games deserves extra attention as they reflect rising Asian culture – they are not just a copy of Western sports transposed onto Asia. You can expand your mind by witnessing the Indian contact sport of kabaddi, the Southeast Asian sport of sepak takraw (kick volleyball), and the martial art.
Reflecting Asian values, the Asian Games also include mind sports such as bridge, chess, and Xiangqi – the Asian version of chess played on the streets in China and Vietnam. Personally, I find this version more engaging as games, though being just as complex as chess, are quicker due to the rapid opening phase and decisive endgame. It is a game that deserves to be more popular globally.
The Asian Games presents the West with an opportunity to learn from Asia. However, the Western press seems to be wilfully ignoring this giant sporting event and even casting the Asian games in a negative light. If you google the games, one of the first news pieces that will come up is an incredulous propaganda piece describing the “glum mood” of the Chinese people toward the Asian Games, which is portrayed as a vanity project wasting resources while the Chinese economy “splutters”!
This is from the same playbook of the lead-up to the Beijing 2008 Olympics which were thoroughly politicized to keep Westerners ignorant of China’s successes. However, I lived in Beijing between 2007 and 2009 and I witnessed the building of the infrastructure up to the games. Yes, it was grand and impressive but in contrast to the poverty alleviation I witnessed, this infrastructure and spending was a drop in the ocean. The very reason China could put on such an impressive 2008 Olympic Games was because it had an immense economic foundation to back up the “glitz.”
From 2008 to 2023 China has made leaps and bounds. Its GDP per capita has almost quadrupled and IMF figures show its real GDP growth for 2023 is around 5.2 percent, much higher than the US at 1.6 percent or the UK at -0.3 percent.
As an example of China’s achievements, we would do well to look at the hosting city of Hangzhou, which I have visited on three occasions. With a population of nearly 12 million, renowned architecture, numerous museums, and set around the splendid natural attraction of the West Lake it warrants greater attention from the world, which these games will deservedly give to this city. When I last visited, in 2012, the city’s subway was not yet in operation. Today, the subway system stretches out over 500 kilometers.
Hangzhou’s success is not a one-off vanity project that has been carefully crafted as a facade for the world to see. Hangzhou’s development pattern is typical throughout China. This is evidenced by it only having the sixth-longest subway system in China – behind Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu.
The build-up to the Hangzhou Asian Games has been spectacular – the impressive drone show which took place 200 days before the start of the games is a sample of what is to come. Beyond the glitz, sports parks have sprung up around the city and infrastructure has been improved to ensure easy access to facilities – I expect that this event, taking long term planning into account, will ultimately enrich the city.
The Asian Games were founded after World War II, when Asian colonies gained their independence from the West. Today, in Hangzhou, they act as an opportunity for the West to drop its negative colonial mindset and learn about Asian culture and economic development from the perspective of equals.
As the Chinese people enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holidays, some Japanese media outlets are hyping up the break. The Japan Times began to intensively talk up news, including “Japanese airlines’ flights from China almost fully booked for holiday” and “Japan tops the list of popular overseas destinations for Chinese travelers during the vacation period,” before the week-long holidays began. They also forcefully connected this with the attitude of the Chinese people toward Japan’s dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the sea, deliberately creating misleading arguments such as that Chinese people are “forgetful” or “do not care about Japan’s dumping.”
Since the beginning of the dumping, Japan has been using various means of public opinion to fool the public. This time, the Japanese media used the “Golden Week” as a pretext to mislead the public. It is necessary to use facts to further dismantle the Japanese media’s public opinion warfare and even false propaganda and make the world realize better the irresponsible practice of Japanese public opinion and even officials on the issue of nuclear-contaminated wastewater dumping.
First, some Japanese media outlets have deliberately blurred the distinction between ideas to confuse the public. Speaking of this “Golden Week,” they linked various reasons behind the surge of Chinese visitors in Japan, including the fact that China resumed Japan-bound group tours, the demands for business trips and visiting family members are growing, and October is when foreign students enroll in Japanese colleges. They generalized “Chinese people traveling to Japan” as “Chinese tourists,” ignoring the fact that the passengers include a large number of business people and students, and even some Japanese citizens are on these so-called “packed” flights to Japan.
Second, these Japanese media outlets are using “tourism public opinion warfare” to muddle through and downplay their country’s responsibility in wastewater dumping, as they link the “Chinese visitors to Japan” with the issue of Japan’s dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the sea. Several media outlets interviewed “Chinese tourists arriving in Japan” at the airport and tried to prove that “Japan’s dumping does not have a great impact on tourism” by hiding the identity and muting the voices of the interviewees. This all aims to deliberately create an impression that “the Chinese people are contradicting themselves” – Chinese people’s condemnation of Japan does not really affect their willingness to travel to Japan.
But in fact, leaving aside the widespread opposition and condemnation of the international community, including China, after Japan began the dumping on August 24, if we only look at the Chinese tourism data before the “Golden Week” holidays, it reveals that many Chinese people did seek to travel abroad, but Japan is not as popular destination as the Japanese media is portraying, with few group tours from China. This has made people suspect that the Japanese media is focusing on part of reality to distort the big picture deliberately, fabricating the “Chinese tourist boom in Japan” to dilute, muddle through, and shirk Japan’s responsibility in dumping nuclear-contaminated wastewater.
Third, what Japanese media outlets wanted to create is the disinformation that “Chinese people do not care about Japan’s nuclear-contaminated wastewater dumping” and that “Chinese people are forgetful.” But it is obviously a baseless argument, because it is far-fetched and very dangerous to anticipate that the recovery of bilateral tourism as well as the growing desire for study, business, and other people-to-people exchanges can justify the country’s wastewater dumping action.
In recent days, quite a number of Japanese media outlets also took advantage of the participation of Japanese Minister for Science and Technology Policy Sanae Takaichi in the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency last week to build up momentum for the dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater to push a narrative that Japan’s move is gaining general understanding and growing support from the international community, except for China’s opposition. But such nonsense cannot hide the fact that Japan’s dumping is not only strongly opposed and criticized by the people of many countries, such as China, South Korea, and Southeast Asian nations, but also raised concerns from other members of the international community, such as Pacific Island countries. Even in Japan, many people, including fisheries organizations, have objections and concerns about Tokyo’s decision.
It must be said that some Japanese media outlets have been doing the same type of thing to provoke certain sentiments or even directly advance reporting based on disinformation. However, the Japanese government’s decision to dump nuclear-contaminated wastewater into the sea has, in fact, led to a rise in marine nuclear pollution level and the occurrence of “broken windows” in international law, and Japanese people are generally worried that this will seriously damage Japan’s international image. At this point, the Japanese media should fulfill the ethical responsibility of a conscientious side and urge Tokyo to face up to and correct its approach to this matter, rather than “helping it to do harm.” After the first round of wastewater dumping, the Japanese government should also take into account the concerns of neighboring countries, face up to its own responsibility, immediately stop the subsequent dumping plan, and remedy the consequences which are already unfolding.
The author is director of the Institute of Northeast Asian Studies at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.
Brunei-based airline GallopAir has signed a deal to buy 30 aircraft from the Chinese aircraft manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), which includes the first overseas order of China’s domestically developed C919 large passenger aircraft.
The deal was disclosed by China-based Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group, an investor in GallopAir, in a WeChat post on September 18.
According to Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group, the order – signed on 15 September on the sidelines of the China-ASEAN Expo – is worth $2 billion and marks a landmark project of cooperation between China’s domestic large aircraft manufacturer and a foreign airline.
The deal will make GallopAir the world’s first overseas airline whose first model is China’s domestic large aircraft and the first overseas user of freighter and medical business jet variants of the ARJ21, according to Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group.
GallopAir airline will adopt a fleet of China-made large aircraft to strengthen aviation connections with China. Nanning and Guilin, both in South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are likely to be the initial launch destinations, according to the group.
It is hoped that that aviation connection will deepen China-ASEAN ties and the construction of the Guangxi-Brunei Economic Corridor, in order to promote regional economic and cultural integration, the group said.
GallopAir is a Brunei based new airline which provides “hybrid flight services,” according to a LinkedIn page under the company’s name.
Based in Brunei, GallopAir is an effective complement to Royal Brunei Airlines and the second flag carrier in Brunei. It will make up for transport capacity of Royal Brunei Airlines and build a Southeast Asian air transport hub with China made aircraft in the medium and long term, according to Shaanxi Tianju Investment Group.
The C919 completed its inaugural commercial flight from Shanghai to Beijing in May. It is China’s first self-developed large jet airliner, and an important demonstration of China’s strength in self-innovation in the high-end manufacturing industry.
Orders for C919 large passenger aircraft have reached 1,061, with two already delivered, He Dongfeng, chairman of COMAC said on September 10.
112 regional aircraft ARJ21 are in service while the number of orders has reached 775. The first overseas user for ARJ21 is Indonesia, according to COMAC.
On September 20th, walking into the rice field painting scenic area of Yong’an Town, in the Kenli District of Dongying City, Shandong Province, the theme of “rural revitalization, agricultural power” and “cultivation of the farmland” came into view. The paddy fields, paths and the colorful rice intertwine and complement each other, creating a scene of good harvest.
The paddy painting landscape creative base reportedly covers an area of 13,000 acres and promotes the integrated development of agriculture and tourism by combining creative agriculture and leisure tourism. At present, during the best viewing period of rice field paintings, the staff of the State Grid Dongying Power Supply Company has strengthened the publicity of safe electricity use in scenic areas, inspected the operation of equipment such as power distribution lines and observation tower lighting facilities in scenic spots, and ensured the safe and reliable electricity consumption for tourists during peak viewing periods. Kenli District of Dongying City is located at the estuary of the Yellow River. In recent years, the region has relied on its rich saline-alkali land resources, developing characteristic industries according to local conditions, and has gone all out to build a “Rice and Crab Symbiotic Planting” within the rural revitalization demonstration area. The State Grid Dongying Power supply company, regularly docks with the governmental development planning and electricity demand according to seasonal planting, periodically provides on-site guidance for enterprises on rice seedlings optimization, processing and electricity consumption plans, and coordinates the construction of supporting power facilities such as line transformation and well electrification to help industrial development. Each year, during the rice field painting exhibition, a tailor-made “one household, one policy” power supply service plan is provided for important customers, with regular inspection of lines and equipment, prompt elimination of safety hazards in electricity facilities, fully meeting the needs of the development of agricultural and industrial tourism integration, and injecting strong momentum for a rural revitalization supplied with sufficient electricity.
Throughout this year, several high-ranking Chinese officials have led delegations to visit Egypt, reaching a high degree of consensus on strengthening bilateral cultural exchange and promoting tourism cooperation. They have put forward several practical measures to deepen exchange and cooperation between the two countries. As exchanges between the two countries deepen, an increasing number of Chinese tourists are choosing to travel to Egypt – this has kept Abbas Sayed Abbas, a Chinese-speaking Egyptian tourist guide, extremely busy.
Over the past two decades, Abbas has witnessed the continuous growth of cultural exchange between China and Egypt, and inspired by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he also wants to do more to foster mutual understanding, people-to-people connections, and cultural integration between the two nations.
‘Chinese culture fever’
“I had excellent grades in high school and could choose any university and study any language, but I told my older brother that I wanted to learn Chinese. That was the first time in my life that I said ‘no’ to my family, and I said it loudly,” said 39-year-old Abbas, who is a China enthusiast and graduated from Ain Shams University in Egypt in 2006. Initially, when he chose to study Chinese, his family did not have high hopes.
After graduating from high school, Abbas and his brother, who was studying Russian, went together to check their exam results. On the way there, Abbas told his brother that he wanted to learn Chinese and work as a tourist guide for Chinese visitors. Abbas recalled that at that moment, his brother gave him a skeptical glance and said, “Chinese is too difficult. Don’t learn Chinese; you should study Russian like me.”
At that time in 2002, there were few Chinese tourists traveling to Egypt, and opportunities for translation work were also fleeting.
Abbas told the Global Times that when he decided to learn Chinese, he didn’t think too much about it and didn’t aim to make a lot of money. He simply wanted to excel in Chinese and prove to his brother and his family that any language can be mastered, just as the Chinese saying goes, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”
In 2022, Egypt launched a pilot project for Chinese language education in secondary schools, marking the official inclusion of Chinese teaching in Egypt’s national education system. Abbas said that Egypt now has 12 public secondary schools offering Chinese education and nearly 30 universities offering Chinese subjects. They have also established four Confucius Institutes, two Confucius Classrooms, and two Luban Workshops. The “Chinese language craze” and “Chinese culture craze” in Egypt are on the rise.
As cultural exchanges between China and Egypt have deepened, Abbas increasingly feels that he made the right choice all those years ago. Starting from his sophomore year, he worked as a local Chinese tourist guide, welcoming Chinese tourists.
Even though there weren’t as many Chinese tourists back then, during the Chinese New Year, Chinese tour groups would visit Egypt, Abbas said, and he would seize the opportunity to work as their guide and translator to make some extra money.
‘Happiest person in the world’
In 2010, Abbas applied and was hired as the assistant director of the China Cultural Center in Cairo. While introducing Chinese culture to the Egyptian people, he also received esteemed guests from China, such as serving as a translator for Chinese director Zhang Yimou in 2012.
Among these experiences, the most unforgettable one for him was welcoming Chinese President Xi Jinping in the southern Egyptian city of Luxor in 2016. Abbas told reporters that he in Egypt felt the energy of “Chinese Dream” put forward by President Xi – the dream to help ordinary people achieve their own dreams. Abbas had only seen President Xi on television before and was very eager to meet him in person. At the Karnak Temple entrance, President Xi invited Abbas for taking a photo with him and shook hands with Abbas, making Abbas felt like the “happiest person in the world.”
Abbas mentioned that following the pandemic, Chinese tourists have started to return, gradually reviving local tourism economy.
BRI brings new vitality
In addition to tourism and cultural exchanges, China and Egypt have cemented partnerships across a number of fields, including industry, energy, telecommunications, and infrastructure construction. The BRI is deeply aligned with Egypt Vision 2030. In addition to projects like the Central Business District in the new administrative capital, major projects like the New Alamein City and Egypt’s first electrified light rail transit system are progressing on schedule.
In Abbas’ view, the BRI is about “connecting” countries. China first successfully “connected” itself and then extended these modern, advanced connections to the world. Abbas said the BRI not only revives the Silk Road but also connects the civilizations of the world, which serve as the greatest achievement of the BRI.
The BRI has brought many benefits to Egypt and has made a significant contribution to the world. In the long run, the great significance of this initiative lies in its embodiment of the precious value of building a community with a shared future for mankind, Abbas told the Global Times.
Four out of the total nine of the first batch international experiments are expected to be sent to the China Space Station in 2023, according to the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) Acting Director Niklas Hedman in a recent interview, who also lauded the space station as “truly international” and one that offers an “absolutely fantastic opportunity for researchers around the world.”
The UNOOSA official’s remarks over the weekend came following China’s completion of the assembly of the country’s first permanent space station and all space launch missions scheduled at the construction stage with the latest Shenzhou-15 manned spaceflight mission.
Chinese space observers said that the country’s genuine openness in sharing the use of its mega space infrastructure greatly contrasts with and offsets the current turbulence around the world, which is result of certain countries’ political games of forcing countries to take a side in bloc confrontation even in space,
According to Hedman, nine projects – including 23 research institutions and universities from a variety of countries across all five regional groups of the world – were selected. Seven of those projects are currently in development and four of those teams could deliver their experiments to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) for launch during 2023.
Headman said that “it [the China Space Station] is there and it will be open to international projects and researchers. It is truly international in that sense…therefore it is an amazing achievement for China’s national space program but also internationally.”
“It is an absolutely fantastic opportunity for researchers around the world to use the China Space Station,” he said.
The Global Times previously reported that the CMSA and the UN Committee on Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS) announced in June 2019 that these nine international projects in aerospace medicine, life sciences and biotechnology, microgravity physics and combustion science, astronomy and other emerging technologies are from 17 countries and 23 research bodies, including Polar-2, a Gamma-ray burst polarimetry project jointly proposed by Switzerland, Poland, Germany and China, and a spectroscopic investigation of nebular gas by India and Russia.
Projects from Italy, Japan, Peru, Mexico and Saudi Arabia were also selected as the first batch of China Space Station awardees under the UNOOSA cooperation project going by the Access to Space for All, the UN office official website shows.
Chinese space observers said that compared with the highly exclusive cooperative mechanism of the International Space Station (ISS), the China Space Station adopts true openness under a UN framework.
For the ISS – a partnership among NASA, Russia, Canada, the European Space Agency and Japan that has been in orbit for more than two decades – laboratory resources are split among the partner nations, which then offer their scientists opportunities to send experiments to the space station. However scientists living in countries that are outside of the partnership are generally shut out of the ISS, the New York Times reported on December 4.
China’s Space Station is the first of its kind to be open to all UN member states. Let us hope that greater success is still to come for China’s manned space program and that China’s space station will soon become a “home in space” for all, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a routine press conference on November 1.
China sends only fair and sincere invitations to the rest of the world to come on board its space station, especially for those developing countries that fail to meet the high threshold yet have great space development ambitions. China cares and hopes that experiments of these countries will yield breakthroughs in terms of livelihood improvement in sectors such as communications and agriculture, Wang Ya’nan, chief editor of Beijing-based Aerospace Knowledge magazine, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The world may be challenged by uncertainties and great turbulence caused by political games staged by the US to force countries to take a side in the camp confrontation, but eventually China’s true openness and inclusiveness will prevail in space cooperation, Wang predicted.
Wang speculated that although the US-led project failed to make it to the first batch of international projects on the China Space Station, the door of future cooperation is still open. “It is a result of scientific consideration, rather than a political decision in the sense that the US has closed the way to invite China to the ISS cooperation.”
Apart from the genuine openness, the technology advantages of the newer China Space Station also greatly attract researchers from around the world, Sun Jianchao, the technology manager with the Chinese team of the POLAR-2, told the Global Times on Sunday.
The China Space Station has a high-volume and high-speed data transmission capability and a powerful in-orbit computing capability provided by the supercomputer on the space station, which facilitates space experiments, Sun explained.
During the primary stage of the selection work, 42 applications were received from scientists of 27 countries and regions in Asia, Europe and North and South America. Seventy-two international cooperation teams and 258 research fellows submitted applications.
Sun recalled that it took the four-nation applicants about one year to attain the approval to come on board in 2019.
The POLAR-2 experiment is expected to be sent to the China Space Station by around 2025, via the Tianzhou cargo spacecraft. It will be then installed outside the cabin of the Wentian lab module with the help of taikonauts and the smart robotic arms, according to Sun.
Data will be shared among project participants in an undifferentiated manner, Sun said.