China’s homegrown deep-water jacket ‘Haiji No 2’ to be installed to help offshore oil, gas exploration

China's independently designed and constructed deep-water submarine jacket platform "Haiji No 2", which is believed to the largest of its kind in Asia, has broken multiple Asian records after entering service, China Media Group reported on Tuesday.

Citing the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC), its developer, the report said the deep-water jacket platform will be loaded onto a ship at the Gaolan Port in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong Province, and be transported to the Pearl River Mouth Basin for offshore installation. 

China is ramping up efforts to build mega infrastructure while improving innovation capabilities in a bid to ensure the country's energy security. With "Haiji No 2" installation, the country's offshore marine engineering is expected to achieve high-level technological self-reliance and improvement.

Acting as a "foundation" supporting fixed offshore oil and gas platform where seabed conditions are challenging, the deep-water jacket can provide support for pipelines, subsea structures of an offshore platform. The jacket is a widely used marine oil and gas development equipment in the world, according to the report.

Notably, it has set a record in terms of the height and weight of steel piles in Asia, with a total height of 338.5 meters and a total weight of 37,000 tons, and represents the first case in China's marine engineering to use domestically produced high-strength steel piles to build large-scale offshore oil and gas equipment.

Meanwhile, the construction of "Haiji No 2" has set records for operating at depth, and construction speed of such equipment in Asia reflects that China has become a top player in the world to build large deep-water jacket platforms, the CNOOC told the CMG.

The platform will be used for the development of the Liuhua 11-1 and Liuhua 4-1 offshore oil fields, in the deep waters of the South China Sea, media reported.

China has fast tracked deep-sea oil and gas exploration in the past decade. Its predecessor, "Haiji No 1" platform, which entered operation in 2022, marked the first time that China exploited offshore oil and gas employing such a model. It turned out to significantly bring down engineering cost and boost oil recovery and economic efficiency.

In 2021, the Shenhai Yihao, the world's first 100,000-ton deep-sea semi-submersible oil production and storage platform, was put into operation, signaling that China's offshore oil and gas exploration capacity had entered an advanced level. 

China has favorable conditions for overcoming employment challenges in 2024: minister

China will provide more support to the private sector, small and medium-sized enterprises and other entities with large employment capacity, China's Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Wang Xiaoping said Saturday at a press conference on people's livelihood for the second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing.

Wang said that the fundamentals of China's long-term sound economy remain unchanged and there are many favorable conditions for  meeting challenges facing employment this year. 

"We are confident in maintaining labor market stability," she said.

According to Wang, the job market has started off well this year, with enterprises resuming production, migrant workers returning to work smoothly and orderly, and an increase in job-seeking activities. 

The demand for talent in artificial intelligence and big data is strong, and there is an increase in demand for services such as healthcare, accommodation, catering, and cultural tourism, the minister said. 

Meanwhile, the recruitment demand for small and micro enterprises has significantly increased, and the demand for technical and skilled positions is rapidly rising, Wang noted. 

Over the past year, China's employment situation has continued to improve and remained stable. China created a total of 12.44 million jobs in its urban areas in 2023. The surveyed urban unemployment rate on average in China stood at 5.2 percent in 2023, official data showed. 

Job market data fully demonstrates the consolidation of the current positive trends related to China's economic recovery and the accelerated release of consumption potential. It also reflects the new trends and opportunities in the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries and the rapid development of new quality productive forces, she said.

However, the overall pressure on employment has not decreased, the minister noted. "Structural contradictions on employment still need to be resolved, and some workers face difficulties in employment. Stabilizing employment still requires more efforts," Wang said. 

Wang noted that in 2024, the ministry will continue to implement policies aimed at reducing  unemployment and work-related injury insurance rates. It will also optimize policies such as stabilizing job positions, providing special loans, employment and social security subsidies, and better releasing policy dividends. 

Meanwhile, more efforts will be made to further expand employment channels, and the ministry will provide more support to small and medium-sized enterprises and other entities with large employment capacity.

Furthermore, she said the country will work to unleash employment potential by providing more support through guaranteed loans and tax reductions for start-ups. At the same time, flexible employment service guarantee measures will be improved, fully leveraging the role of over 6,900 gig-worker markets in matching supply and demand. 

The government will carry out large-scale vocational skills training in key areas including advanced manufacturing, modern services and aged care. 

In recent years, the government has provided subsidized vocational skills training to more than 18 million people each year, she noted. 

Though there are over 200 million skilled workers in China, with over 60 million high-skilled talents, providing strong human resources support for high-quality economic development, there is still a shortage of digital, innovative, and composite high-skilled talents who can adapt to the development of new industries, new models, and new driving forces, Wang said. 

Frontline workers, such as fitters, welders, and elderly care nurses, are generally in short supply. Talent cultivation needs to better adapt to market changes and industry demands, she added. 

"Since the beginning of this year, we have organized a total of 32,000 job fairs, an increase of 20 percent year-on-year. A total of 26,000 special buses, trains and chartered planes were dispatched, transporting 880,000 workers from point to point," she said. 

In 2024, China will see 11.79 million college graduates. The government will optimize employment services to job-seekers and guarantee the bottom lines to ensure the employments of special groups, according to the minister. 

China’s trade with India expands 15.8% in first two months, one of the fastest growth rates among major trade partners

China's trade with India in the first two months of 2024 surged by 15.8 percent year-on-year, ranking the country as having one of the fastest growth rates among China's trading partners, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Thursday.

China's trade with India reached $23.2 billion during the period, with Chinese exports growing by 12.8 percent to reach $19.5 billion and China's imports from India rising by 34.7 percent to hit $3.7 billion.

The growth rate of trade with India was one of the fastest among China's trading partners during the two months.

In US dollar terms, China's trade with Vietnam soared by 21.6 percent for the period.

"The robustness of bilateral trade with China, despite a slew of trade restrictive measures imposed by the Indian government, reflects the resilience and complementarity of the two economies at the current stage," Liu Zongyi, secretary-general of the Research Center for China-South Asia Cooperation at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"It also demonstrated India's economic vitality as one of the fastest-growing emerging economies in recent years," Liu said.

Robust imports from China are mainly supported by the country's strong demand for intermediate goods such as active pharmaceutical ingredients, vital ingredients for its drug industry, and electronic components for its smart phone manufacturing industry, Liu noted.

In recent years, India has been trying to replace China as the world's manufacturing powerhouse but Liu noted that the trade figures showed that "India's ambition remains a vision rather than reality at the current stage."

India's soaring exports to China may be the result of exports relaxing measures for iron ore, which is a bulk exports item to China, according to Liu.

Despite New Delhi's trade restrictive measures and its relentless suppression of Chinese companies operating in India, the two-way trade between China and India exceeded $100 billion in recent consecutive years and kept rising annually, showing the resilience and potential of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, analysts noted.

China's trade with other BRICS countries remained robust during the period.

Trade with Russia grew by 9.3 percent year-on-year in US dollar terms while trade with Brazil grew by 33.3 percent. Trade with South Africa edged up by 1 percent.

China posted an overall foreign trade growth of 5.5 percent during the January-February period in US dollar terms.

National unified computing power service market needed for China's digital econo-my, AI innovation: CPPCC member

As China is making rapid progress in computing power, it is necessary to build a national unified computing power service market, a political advisor said at the annual two sessions.

China's computing infrastructure construction has reached the world's advanced level, and the total scale of computing power ranks second in the world, Yu Xiaohui, head of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) and a member of the 14th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), told the Global Times on Tuesday.

In 2023, the total size of China's data center racks reached 8.1 million standard racks and the scale of computing power reached 230 EFLOPS, Yu said.

EFLOPS is a measurement unit used to determine a computer's speed and is vital for technology advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality.

China aims to boost its aggregate computing power by more than 50 percent by 2025, according to an action plan released in October 2023 to promote high-quality development of the country's computing power technology.

According to the Government Work Report released on Tuesday, a push is needed to develop future-oriented digital infrastructure and a nationally unified computational system.

A national unified computing power service market is crucial for China's digital economy and AI innovation, Yu said.

Although China ranked second in the scale of computing power globally, there are challenges such as a lack of accurate matching between supply and demand, and regional disparities in computing power resources, Yu said.

For example, there are currently over 5,000 computing power providers with different technical systems, infrastructure, and interfaces. And while China's eastern regions have strong demand but lack resources, the western regions have resources but low demand and utilization rates.

Yu suggested that it is necessary to give full play to the advantages of the large national market and the successful experience of internet development to build a large service market for computing power.

US bill blocking China from buying oil from Strategic Petroleum Reserve just political stunt: experts

US Congressional leaders on Sunday unveiled budget legislation that would prevent China from purchasing oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), according to Reuters. However, the move will have little to no impact on China and is merely a political stunt, experts said.

Congressional negotiators unveiled the 1,050-page bill that lays out funding for six of the dozen segments of the government that Congress is charged with allocating money, with the next six due by later in the month. The US House will have to vote on the bill first before the Senate can take up the package before Friday, Reuters reported.

Last July, the Senate passed a bill 85 to 14 to ban exports to China of SPR oil. The issue of SPR sales to China heated up after US President Joe Biden announced in 2022 the sale of 180 million barrels of SPR oil to tame gasoline prices that spiked after the Ukraine crisis.

In 2022, the SPR sold 1 million barrels to UNIPEC America, a Houston-based arm of China's Sinopec. In 2017, under former US president Donald Trump, some SPR oil was sold to PetroChina International, a subsidiary of PetroChina, Reuters reported.

The ban is more of a political stunt rather than a substantial action, as speaking harshly about China has become one of the cheapest ways for politicians to quickly attract attention, experts said.

The move will have minimal impact as China's reliance on US imports is very low, let alone oil from the SPR, Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Monday.

"It is akin to saying I won't sell you something when you weren't buying it in the first place," Lin said.

Lin noted that China primarily imports oil from the Middle East and Central Asia due to cost and transportation convenience.

In 2023, China imported 563.99 million tons of crude oil, climbing 11 percent year-on-year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

In response to US Congress' passing a bill to ban the sale of US strategic petroleum reserves to China, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin urged the US to abandon the zero-sum mentality.

"We urge relevant US politicians to abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality and ideological bias, form a right perception of China and China-US relations, and contribute to mutual trust and cooperation between China and the US, not otherwise," Wang told a press conference in January 2023.

China’s central bank to lift foreigners’ single mobile payment cap to $5,000 as part of opening-up measures

The People's Bank of China (PBC), the central bank, will guide Chinese pay-ment platforms to raise the single transaction limit for foreign nationals using mobile payment services from $1,000 to $5,000 and the annual transaction limit from $10,000 to $50,000, amid efforts to improve payment convenience, officials told a press conference on Friday.

The move represents China's latest efforts to optimize foreign investment environment and China's determination to implement high-level opening-up, experts said.

Efforts will also be made to help foreign nationals link their overseas bank cards to domestic payment services more easily, simplifying the identity verification process, and bringing greater convenience, Zhang Qingsong, deputy governor of the PBC said.

"The PBC will guide payment institutions to introduce a series of convenience measures to ensure that foreign friends are satisfied and willing to use China's mobile payment products, which have been quite popular among Chinese people," Zhang said.

The call from the PBC has been met with proactive responses from major Chinese mobile payment institutions.

Weixin Pay, one of China's major payment platforms, has been optimizing payment services for foreign nationals since July 2023 by allowing overseas users to link international bank cards to it. It has recently optimized key areas for overseas users, including the registration process, payment activation process, small amount payment limit without authentication, and simplification of the user experience, the Global Times learned from Tencent, which owns Weixin Pay, on Friday.

For example, foreign users can directly add international bank cards to quickly activate the Weixin payment function. By linking an international card, first-time users of Weixin Pay from abroad can try Weixin Pay within a certain amount without verification.

Weixin Pay's transactions made through international bank cards have maintained steady growth, with the accumulated transaction amount exceeding 1 billion yuan ($138.91 million) and the total number of transactions exceeding 10 million by 2023, according to Tencent.

Ant Group which operates the country's leading payment app Alipay said it has completed some of the cap lifting requirements as of Friday and will complete the remainder in the near future, according to a statement sent by Ant Group to the Global Times on Friday.

Ant Group will continue to improve its services by introducing more features tailored to foreign visitors traveling to China. This includes expanding coverage to more card organizations and overseas electronic wallets, and allowing more international tourists to use electronic wallets from home for scanning and payment in China.

Ant Group's services for international travelers in China have continued to expand. In the fourth quarter of 2023, the average daily number of transactions made by overseas visitors on Alipay was nearly double that of the third quarter, and the daily transaction peak also reached new highs.

The move to optimize mobile payments for foreign nationals in China reflects the country's commitment to creating a more open and convenient business environment and shows China's commitment to financial opening-up, Wang Peng, an associate researcher at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Friday.

In a meeting with a US Chamber of Commerce delegation on Wednesday, Chinese Premier Li Qiang said that China will open its door even wider to the outside world, continue to foster a market-oriented, law-based and internationalized business environment, and provide more support and convenience for US companies and foreign firms from other countries to invest and do business in China.

China has stepped up its efforts in opening-up, including implementing mutual visa exemptions with a number of countries and issuing the 24-point guideline to optimize foreign investment.

China's opening-up measures will not only enhance China's position and influence in the global economy, but also provide more opportunities for development and cooperation for countries around the world, Wang said.

China's 24 pro-foreign investment measures have further strengthened the in-vestment confidence of foreign-funded enterprises, He Yadong, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce told a press conference on Thursday.

Overall, more than 60 percent of the measures have been implemented or made positive progress. For the next step, the ministry will continue to promote the implementation of the 24 specific measures, give full play to the role of the roundtable meeting for foreign-funded enterprises, and continue to optimize the business environment, He said

GT Voice: BYD localization push in Europe shows potential for EV synergy

The news that Chinese electric vehicle (EV) giant BYD Co is in contact with the Italian government about building a second factory in Europe has attracted widespread attention. Despite the growing protectionist climate in Europe, the Chinese and European EV industry chains don't have to resort to confrontation. There's still the potential to strengthen cooperation to bring more opportunities for mutually beneficial development.

In an interview at the Geneva International Motor Show, Michael Shu, managing director of BYD Europe, confirmed the contacts with the Italian government, noting that the need for a second European plant "depends on our sales - now we're making very good progress," Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The move came just months after the Chinese EV giant announced in December its intention to build a new-energy vehicle (NEV) production base in Hungary.

Given the background of the EU probe into state subsidies to Chinese EV makers and their anxiety over substantial Chinese EV exports to Europe, it is not hard to see that BYD's localization push in Europe is part of its efforts to navigate foreign regulatory challenges. Such a business solution may also be of great significance to the cooperation potential in the EV industrial chain between China and Europe.

Chinese EV exports have risen sharply in recent years, especially in 2023. Chinese car exporters shipped more than 1.2 million NEVs last year, up 77 percent from 2022, according to data from the China Association of Auto Manufacturers. That helped China surpass Japan as the world's top vehicle exporter for the first time, according to Chinese media reports. Europe has become a major destination market for Chinese EVs.

In this context, US and Western media outlets have played up the "China threat" theory targeting Chinese manufacturing, depicting Chinese companies as a threat rather than a partner for cooperation. Their purpose of creating the "threat" theory surrounding Chinese EVs is to protect American interests and to influence public opinion in favor of trade barriers and conservative policies. 

What Europeans need to see is that all of this is a US tactic to shift the focus and blame of its own protectionism, and that even Europe is a victim in the face of US trade barriers. Therefore, Europeans should not fall for the "China threat" hype from the US and should see that Chinese manufacturing has never been a threat, but rather a driving force for development and cooperation.

There is no denying that the EU and European car industry may be concerned about rising imports from China and their price competitiveness. But the advantages of Chinese EVs come from mass manufacturing capability, not subsidies or unfair competition means. Blocking trade and investment between the Chinese and European EV industries is not only not conducive to the development of the European auto industry, but also goes against free trade rules.

Take BYD as an example. The Chinese company just overtook Tesla as the world's biggest EV maker in the last quarter of 2023. Its rapid growth doesn't rely on subsidies, but hinges on strong products, technology and supply chain management flexibility. 

Europe's huge demand for EVs during its transition toward a low-carbon economy has also played a role in its growth.

Once BYD produces in Europe, its pricing mechanism may comply with local markets and standards, while its supply chain management could bring new inspiration for local producers in terms of cost efficiency, which could offer more cooperation choices to the European EV industry and facilitate the local transition toward the green economy.

The auto industry in China and Europe has extensive cooperation potential and common interests. It is sincerely hoped that both the Chinese and European governments and companies can work together to strengthen communication, address each other's concerns, properly handle EV-related trade friction, and jointly promote the development of the EV industry to achieve win-win results.

Chinese airlines to increase weekly round-trip flights to US to 50 from current 35, starting March 31

Chinese passenger airlines will be able to increase their weekly round-trip flights to the US from the current 35 to 50, starting from March 31, the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) said on Monday after frequent China-US interactions.

The approval "is a significant step forward in further normalization of the US-China market in anticipation of the Summer 2024 traffic season," the USDOT said.

The shift comes amid increased dialogue between Chinese and US officials this year.

Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao met with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the sidelines of the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Abu Dhabi, on Monday. Wang and Tai engaged in "professional and in-depth" discussions on bilateral and multilateral economic and trade issues of mutual interest, according to the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM).

Wang expressed serious concerns over additional US tariffs imposed on Chinese goods and other trade issues during the talk, MOFCOM said.

In another development, the chief executive of the US Chamber of Commerce, Suzanne Clark, is leading a delegation of former US government officials to Beijing this week, Reuters reported.

The group will meet with senior Chinese government officials and local business leaders, as well as American business executives and foreign diplomats, according to a representative of the chamber.

Earlier this month Chinese and US officials held a third round of talks in Beijing as part of their Economic Working Group set up last year, adding to growing interactions since the beginning of 2024 between officials of the world's two biggest economies.

China’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) said the two sides had in-depth, candid, pragmatic and constructive exchanges on the macroeconomic situation and policies, G20 financial cooperation, debt of developing countries, industrial policies and other issues.

During the meeting, the Chinese side expressed concerns about additional US tariffs imposed on Chinese goods, restrictions against China on two-way investment, and sanctions that suppress Chinese enterprises, the MOF said, adding that the two sides agreed to continue talks.

The US delegation indicated that US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen looked forward to a return visit to China at an "appropriate time," US Department of the Treasury said.

Zong Qinghou, founder of Chinese beverage giant Wahaha Group, passed away on Sunday

Zong Qinghou, the founder and chairman of Chinese beverage giant Wahaha Group, died on Sunday at the age of 79, the company has confirmed.

On Thursday, the company said that Zong was hospitalized but remained in stable condition. The group's business is operating as normal.

In 1987, Zong led two retired teachers to set up a school-run enterprise. With a loan of 140,000 yuan ($19,700 at current rates), they started selling soda and popsicles on a consignment basis. Later through technological and marketing innovation, they created the famous brand Wahaha.

Zong also became a major representative of China's private entrepreneurs after reform and opening-up kicked off in 1978, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

Zong was a deputy to the 10th, 11th and 12th National People's Congresses, and a representative of the 12th, 13th and 14th National Congresses of the Communist Party of China in Zhejiang Province.

He won honors including the National Model Worker, the National May 1 Labor Medal and the "Top 100 outstanding private entrepreneurs at the 40th anniversary of reform and opening-up award."

"For Chinese entrepreneurs, it is essential to be patriotic, to innovate continuously and to care for employees," Zong once said. "Only in this way can private firms thrive."

With regard to personal wealth, Zong topped the list of the richest people in the Chinese mainland on more than one occasion. As of March 23, 2023, Zong ranked No.121 on the Hurun Global Rich List 2023 with wealth of 100 billion yuan.

As a leader in China's beverage industry, Zong created a large number of household beverage brands including Wahaha purified water and AD calcium milk. He was regarded as one of the representatives of the first generation of entrepreneurs in Zhejiang andiconic figure of China's economic reform.

Set up in 1987, the company continued to expand, with output value exceeding 100 million yuan in 1990, climbing to 10 billion yuan in 2003 and reaching 78.28 billion yuan in 2013. In 2022, the group company's sales reached 51.202 billion yuan.

Media reported that Zong had the habit of reading hard copies of major newspapers in China, which his assistants printed out for him - meaning each time he went on a business trip, his team would bring a small printer, A4 paper and ink cartridges.

Although Zong once served as the chairman of Wahaha Group, a successor has long been in place. In December 2021, Wahaha Group officially announced that Zong Fuli, daughter of Zong Qinghou, was installed as vice chairman and general manager of the group. The father did not hide his pride in her daughter, giving her 90 points in a public media interview for her performance in running the group.

In a Dialogue program of CCTV last year, Zong Qinghou addressed succession within the company. He said he would not retire, but would step back and let young people take charge of day-to-day operations.

Boeing 737MAX8 plane meets delivery requirements in China

China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the model of Boeing 737 MAX8 has met delivery requirements set by Chinese regulators.

Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the foreign ministry, said that the model is approved in accordance with Chinese civil aviation regulations on December 8 of 2023.

The comments came after media reported that Boeing delivered one Boeing 737 MAX to China Southern Airlines.

Earlier, Reuters reported that Boeing was set to deliver the first 737 MAX to a Chinese airline since March 2019 on Wednesday, citing flight data. 

The delivery ends a four-year freeze for the US plane maker's most profitable jet.

China suspended most orders and deliveries of Boeing planes in 2019 after the 737 MAX model was grounded globally, following two fatal crashes.

Before the delivery, in December of last year, Boeing said that a 787-9 Dreamliner ordered by Juneyao Airlines had been delivered. 

It is the first time since November 2019 that Boeing has delivered a 787 Dreamliner plane to a Chinese airline.