China’s State Council, the cabinet, on Friday studied policy measures to develop the “silver economy,” or the elderly care industry, which is widely expected to account for one-third of China’s economy by 2050 given the country’s ageing population.
An executive meeting of the State Council noted that developing the silver economy is a crucial measure to actively respond to the aging population and promote high-quality development, and is beneficial both in the short term and in the long run, according to the Xinhua News Agency.
The meeting noted the need to fulfill the government’s responsibility of ensuring basic needs and to safeguard the bottom line, strengthen basic livelihood protection for the elderly, and increase the supply of basic public services. It also called for giving the market full play to better meet the multi-level and diverse needs of the elderly, and to jointly promote the development and growth of the silver economy.
The meeting noted that relevant policy measures should be continuously improved to tackle urgent problems such as home care and healthcare for the elderly.
China has been stepping up efforts to develop the silver economy in recent years in an effort to handle the aging population, which has become a hot topic in global headlines.
In February 2022, the State Council issued a plan for the development of the country’s elderly care services system during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), which included major goals in various aspects, including expanding the supply of elderly care services and improving the health support mechanism for the elderly.
In May, China released a guideline to build a basic elderly care system by 2025, offering coverage for the entire elderly population, according to Xinhua.
China’s elderly population aged 60 and above reached more than 280 million by the end of 2022, accounting for 19.8 percent of the total population, and by 2050, the elderly could account for one-third of China’s total population, according to a report in the Economic Daily newspaper.
With the rising elderly population also comes vast potential for the “silver economy.” According to the Economic Daily report, the elderly care market could account for one-fifth of China’s GDP by 2030 and one-third of China’s total GDP by 2050.
A previous report from Fudan University in Shanghai said that the “silver economy” could reach 1.9 trillion yuan by 2035, accounting for 9.6 percent of China’s total GDP.
China’s national security agencies have discovered that foreign geographic information system software used in important industries in China has been collecting and transmitting geographic information data with some of the information collected involving state secrets, posing a serious threat to national security, China’s Ministry of State Security said on Monday, noting that national security agencies will establish and improve a collaborative mechanism for data security protection to safeguard the protection of important national data.
Geographic information data are not only an important strategic data resource, but also a new production factor that can be widely applied in various industries, however, some organizations and individuals with ulterior motives have attempted to steal sensitive geographic information data using geographic information system software, according to an article released on the ministry’s WeChat public account on Monday.
Geographic information system software is professional software that has functions such as geographic information data collection, storage, analysis, management, and sharing. Such software has powerful functions and can annotate various types of geographic information collected on maps, and analyze and display them in various formats. Coordinate accuracy can even reach the centimeter level.
However, some foreign organizations, institutions, and individuals have set their sights on the geographic information data, attempting to conduct intelligence espionage activities using geographic information system software, according to the WeChat article.
The methods of these foreign organizations and individuals include automatically connecting to foreign servers during software usage to collect user data without restrictions, and pre-installing backdoors in the software to facilitate network attacks and data theft.
Moreover,a small number of users have limited awareness of data security and mark high-precision geographic coordinates of urban pipelines, military targets, and sensitive units on maps, creating serious risks of leakage and potential irreparable losses, according to the article.
It also noted that geographic data are a high-value intelligence resource and are a key target for foreign intelligence agencies’ espionage activities.
“By stealing high-precision geographic information data from our country, they can reconstruct three-dimensional topographic maps of specific areas in important fields such as transportation, energy, and military, providing crucial support for reconnaissance, surveillance, and military operations, posing a serious threat to our military security,” the ministry said.
Recently, national security agencies have discovered that foreign geographic information system software used in important domestic industries has been collecting and transmitting geographic information data, and some of the data are important and sensitive, even involving state secrets, posing a serious threat to our national security.
In response, national security agencies, together with relevant departments, are conducting special investigations and governance of geographic information data security risks, guiding and assisting relevant units in conducting inspections and rectifications, and promptly eliminating major security risks such as data theft and leakage.
China’s data security law stipulates that data processing activities should be carried out in accordance with the provisions of laws and regulations, establish and improve a comprehensive data security management system, organize data security education and training, adopt corresponding technical measures and other necessary measures to ensure data security.
When units and individuals engage in geographic information data collection and processing activities, they should choose secure and reliable geographic information system software, set strict access permissions based on the importance of the data, and ensure no sensitive information is available on the internet.
National security agencies will establish and improve a collaborative mechanism for data security protection in cooperation with relevant departments to jointly safeguard the protection of important national data, the Ministry of State Security said in the article.
The ministry also warned that the theft, espionage, bribery, or illegal provision of data that arerelated to national security and interests by foreign organizations, institutions, individuals, or collusion with domestic organizations, institutions, individuals constitute espionage under Chinese law.
Citizens who discover such behaviors can report them by calling the 12339 tip-off hotline, logging on to the www.12339.gov.cn , or reporting to the national security agencies through the official WeChat account, the article instructed.
The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) said on Thursday that it resolutely supports the Hong Kong police in arresting five fleeing anti-China figures in accordance with the law, and effectively preventing, stopping and punishing those who have fled to oppose the country and disrupt Hong Kong.
The office said that “we must effectively safeguard the authority of the rule of law and consolidate the hard-won good situation in Hong Kong.”
The Hong Kong Police Force’s National Security Department announced on Thursday to place five more figures in exile into its warrant list, who are suspected of colluding with foreign or external forces including anti-government figures Joey Siu and Simon Cheng.
In July, the police issued a HK$1 million ($128,000) bounty each for eight anti-government figures in exile, including Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Ted Hui Chi-fung.
Cheng and others have long been engaged in anti-China and Hong Kong destabilization activities. After fleeing overseas, they continue to build platforms for disruptive activities in Hong Kong, spreading political rumors and “Hong Kong independence” fallacies about the country and Hong Kong, slandering Hong Kong’s rule of law, and pleading for foreign forces to sanction Hong Kong or interfere in Hong Kong affairs, the office said.
They openly challenge the authority of the National Security Law (NSL) for Hong Kong and undermine Hong Kong’s development. The Hong Kong Police, based on facts and in accordance with the law, have lawfully issued warrants for these fugitives involved in anti-China and Hong Kong destabilization activities. This aligns with the fundamental interests of Hong Kong, reflects the common will of society, and it’s an inevitable requirement for the comprehensive and accurate implementation of the NSL for Hong Kong, a righteous act to safeguard national security in accordance with the law, and a necessary measure to ensure the prosperous and stable development of Hong Kong, the office said.
This issuance of warrant marks another lawful action following the July warrants against anti-government figure Kevin Yam and eight other fugitives for their leading roles in anti-China and Hong Kong destabilization activities. It targets five individuals suspected of committing crimes of inciting secession, inciting subversion of state power, and colluding with foreign or overseas forces to endanger national security, the office said.
This demonstrates the Hong Kong Police’s courageous responsibility, firm commitment to defending the authority of the NSL for Hong Kong, and unwavering determination to safeguard national security. It is believed that the Hong Kong police will take all necessary measures according to the law to hold these fugitives accountable for their crimes.
They will also lawfully deal with those who assist, incite, or fund acts endangering national security, striking at the arrogance of these fugitives involved in anti-China and Hong Kong destabilization activities, the office said.
The 33-year-old Cheng was suspected of inciting secession and colluding with foreign or overseas forces to endanger national security. Since August 2020, he, along with others, established political organizations and frequently advocated for “Hong Kong independence” on social media platforms, calling for foreign sanctions and hostile actions against Hong Kong government officials and judicial personnel.
Cheng, a former employee at the British Consulate-General in Hong Kong, was detained by the mainland police at the West Kowloon high-speed rail station on August 8, 2019. Later, the Luohu public security in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong, revealed that he had been “involved in prostitution activities multiple times,” resulting in a 15-day administrative detention, according to media reports.
The 31st FISU World University Games, after offering exciting competitions and diverse cultural exposure, concluded on Tuesday in Southwest China’s Chengdu with a splendid ceremony that wrapped up shining moments during the Games and delivered wishes for a happier and brighter future.
The Chengdu FISU Games were not only a gathering for sports, but also a gathering to enhance mutual understanding and make friends, and the friendship will pass on among youth from all over the world with their traits of openness, inclusiveness, solidarity and vitality, analysts said.
The appearance of delegations features the process of a dove tree’s growing from root to giant plant with lush branches and leaves. The dove-like flowers, a symbol of peace, then start to bloom.
The dove tree is a species indigenous to China which survived the ice age and its flower resembles a flying dove with two snow-white bracts. The ceremony incorporates the elements of the dove tree and its flowers to stress the resilience of life and the hope for everlasting peace.
Chinese State Councilor Shen Yiqin and FISU acting president Leonz Eder attended the ceremony.
The ceremony stage was designed based on a “cell phone” and captured the concept of livestreaming. Through the camera of a “livestreamer,” young people from all over the world were able to be part of the FISU Games.
The master display presented 3D visual effects with naked-eye 3D technology, offering novel, amazing, special and delicate spectating experience.
After lowering the FISU flag along the playing of the FISU anthem, the flag was handed over to Rhine-Ruhr, host city of next FISU Games in 2025.
The FISU Games ran from July 28 to August 8 and featured 269 events across 18 sports. The Chinese delegation participated in all 18 sports of the games and claimed 103 gold medals, 40 silvers and 35 bronzes in total, ranking on top of the medal tally.
Besides performance on the competition ground, China’s performance in terms of hosting this international event is also well recognized.
“The preparations and setup of the venues are just unbelievable. Everything has been running smoothly and the competitions are going very well. We can only praise the organizing committee for the great work it’s done,” Eder said in an earlier exclusive interview with the Global Times.
For the participants, from athletes and coaches to staff and volunteers, the past weeks have made Chengdu, known for its tasty cuisines, adorable pandas and a leisure lifestyle, an unforgettable place where they’ve shed sweat and tears, challenged themselves and make breakthroughs, and more importantly, make friends beyond borders, analysts said.
One touching moment which can elucidate the sportsmanship of the youth event happened on Friday. When Uganda’s badminton player Amos Muyanja broke his racket without a replacement, his competitor from China Wang Zhengxing offered Muyanja a backup racket.
The FISU Games organizer wrote on Twitter that “we unite to push our limits and inspire each other… We wish all the participants not only to take home victories but also friendship and cherished memories!”
Azerbaijan badminton player Agil Gabilov told the Global Times on Tuesday that Chengdu has been a great experience for him. He made friends with athletes and volunteers and was impressed by the friendliness he received.
Brazilian swimmer Fernanda Gomes Celidonio said that volunteers at the Chengdu Games made her feel “at home.”
Athletes including German volleyball player Yann Bohme got a birthday surprise as after a match, the cheering squad and mascot Rongbao wished him happy birthday and the audience sang in chorus the birthday melody for him.
Athletes also received special gifts, including 3D-printed figurine and local artifacts such as palm fiber weavings and embroidery badges, according to media reports.
The Games also provide a great platform for cultural exchanges other than competition, which Zambian tennis player Esther Sakala appreciated a lot.
Sakala, as a lover of art and an artist herself, was excited to meet those crafty and talented people and see their skills. She had a chance to paint a cup which was later given as a gift and Sakala said she “Loved it so much.”A range of Chinese cultural elements, from handicrafts to musical instruments, have intrigued FISU Game participants at a culture fair held next to the Games Village.
On and off the competition ground, youth across the world are demonstrating the spirit of openness, inclusiveness and solidarity, igniting a world of division and turbulence, analysts noted.
The Chengdu FISU Games were postponed twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and this successful holding marked the resumption of face-to-face communication and exchanges among youth via sports and can leverage more interactions in other fields, such as culture, they said.
Li Haidong, a professor with the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that sport can be an easy bridge to connect people from different countries and regions and help them build friendship.
The FISU World University Games in Chengdu are a precious opportunity for athletes and people from all around the world to deepen mutual understanding and trust, which will also lay the foundation for closer cooperation and solidarity, Li noted.
FISU Universiade was first held during the Cold War in 1959. It not only encourages young people to adopt a healthy lifestyle, but also seeks to promote young people communicating across cultural, political and religious barriers through sports, Ren Hai, a professor at the Olympic Research Center of Beijing Sports University, told the Global Times.
When the world is experiencing uncertainty and turbulence, China hopes to deliver a message of peace, communication and cooperation through this gathering of young people, who represent hope and the future, analysts said.
Eder, the acting president of the FISU, has visited China more than 20 times and observed the country’s fast economic development, as well as its increased confidence and openness. “I can feel the country’s readiness to cooperate with many countries whether they come from the East, West, North, or South,” Eder said.
The Hangzhou Asian Para Games unfolded with a heartwarming opening ceremony that showcased the spirit of “optimism, harmony, perseverance and sharing” in East China’s Zhejiang Province on Sunday.
Themed “Hearts Meet, Dreams Shine,” the 85-minute opening ceremony revolved around the image of the osmanthus, the official city flower of Hangzhou. The Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium, or “Big Lotus,” was turned into a spectacle of golden osmanthus flowers in full blossom thanks to digital technology.
From the 22 massive bouquets of golden osmanthus flowers that highlighted the charm of Hangzhou, the flower transformed into water and then arched bridges and eventually became a giant golden crown in the air over the packed 80,000 capacity stadium to welcome the athletes of the participating countries and regions.
More than 3,000 athletes from over 40 countries and regions across Asia will show their perseverance and pursue their dreams in Hangzhou. They will join hands to write a new chapter of harmony, unity and sharing for the Asian community.
The Chinese delegation, which consists of 723 people with a total of 439 athletes, will compete in 22 sports and 397 events at the Para Games, which are scheduled to run until Saturday.
People with disabilities were invited to participate in the ceremony to demonstrate their indomitable spirit and positive mentality toward life.
China’s national flag was carried into the stadium by four children, two with disabilities and two without. A group of performers gave a rendition of the national anthem using sign language.
A dance show featuring 36 able-bodied dancers and 36 wheelchair dancers displayed the touching scenes of athletes going hand in hand on the journey to realize their dreams, highlighting the spirit of integration of able-bodied people and people with disabilities.
Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang declared the 4th Asian Para Games open.
The flame of hope and love was lit as the last torchbearer, fitted with a robotic arm operated by a brain control system, ignited the cauldron together with the Games mascot Feifei.
Majid Rashed, president of the Asian Paralympic Committee, told the Global Times that the Hangzhou Games are the best ever Para Games and that they offer athletes across Asia the opportunity to present their talents.
“Beyond the competitions, the Games convey the message of inclusiveness and aim to raise people’s awareness about people with disabilities,” said Majid. “Over the next six days of competitions, you will see stories of determination and inspiration.”
“Hangzhou has been a great role model for hosting such a big event. The facilities and the venues are outstanding and will be one of the legacies for people of this beautiful city,” Majid noted.
“I look forward to coming to Hangzhou with my family in the future.”
Sha Xiaolan, general director of the opening ceremony of the Asian Para Games, told the Global Times that the image of the golden osmanthus crown was designed to extend the wishes of “winning laurels” to every athlete.
The Chinese character for osmanthus also means “laurels” in Putonghua (Standard Chinese).
“From a small osmanthus flower to an osmanthus crown, we hope to convey the idea that athletes’ unrelenting efforts in training will accrue accomplishments. Every little effort counts in making their dream come true,” said Sha.
The song “Our Asia,” which was used for the opening ceremony of the Asian Games, was played again to usher the athletes into the stadium.
“Using the same song is to express the notion of the integration of the disabled and able-bodied,” said Sha. The beloved song was penned 33 years ago for the 11th Asian Games in Beijing.
Cui Wei, vice director of the opening ceremony of the Asian Para Games, told the Global Times that the ceremony was dedicated to inviting everyone to Hangzhou as the city is permeated with the aroma of osmanthus in October.
“If the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games was romantic and spectacular, then the ceremony of the Asian Para Games is warm, touching and inspiring,” said Cui.
“We want to take this opportunity to show Hangzhou’s humanistic care for disabled people and reflect the country’s progress and achievements in the cause of disabled people,” Cui said.
Lü Yuan, chief writer of the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Para Games, said the osmanthus was chosen as the main image of the opening ceremony for its touching symbolic meaning in traditional Chinese culture.
“After communicating with many visually impaired people, we thought the aroma of osmanthus can be shared by nearly everyone,” Lü noted.
“We want to convey the power of community, companionship and solidarity. This small osmanthus flower does not bloom alone, but blooms in clusters. None of us walks alone. The power of love and companionship keeps us going forward,” said Lü.
Chen Weiqiang, spokesperson of the Hangzhou Para Games, said that by Sunday, over 320,000 tickets had been sold, going on to note that the Games have helped Hangzhou become a more accessible city for people with disabilities.
The historical drama Qu Yuan will be staged in Shanghai this weekend, telling audiences a story of one of the greatest patriotic poets in ancient China, as well as the splendid early Chinese culture of his time.
The play is based on the life story of Qu Yuan, a statesman and poet of the State of Chu during the Warring States Period (475BC-221BC), today the central and southern areas of China.
Witnessing the fall of Chu’s capital, its people’s displacement as well as the loss of land, Qu refused to align himself with the corrupt officials or yield to oppressive forces. He eventually drowned himself in the Miluo River in Central China’s Hunan Province, completing the magnificent patriotic anthem that he had composed with his own life.
On stage, the story is going to be told using flashbacks, starting with Qu’s last days before he drowned himself in despair. This part will be the biggest highlight of the whole play, said the play’s director Guo Xiaonan.
“Qu had a great affection for saving humanity. His spiritual realm was far beyond that of ordinary people, which brought him a unique sense of spiritual loneliness,” Guo told the Global Times in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
“Qu also had a deep love for his state. When his ideals and ambitions in life were shattered, he chose to end his life, which I think was not a simple suicide, but a sublimation of his soul,” Guo said.
“This spirit has influenced Chinese culture for more than 2,000 years, and also is the strongest part of the play.”
Legend has it that after his death, the Chu people were deeply saddened and flocked to the river to pay their respects. China’s time-honored Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, commemorates Qu.
Qu was listed as one of the world’s four literary celebrities by the World Peace Council in 1953, the other three being Francois Rabelais, Nicolaus Copernicus and William Shakespeare. He left many immortal literary works to later generations, such as Chu Ci, or Songs of Chu, and Jiu Ge, or The Nine Songs.
His famous literary works will be presented in the drama to create a strong emotional resonance with the audience.
Guo said he believes one line from Qu’s poetry will resonate the most with the audience: “Long as the way is, I will keep on searching high and low.”
This well-known line embodies human being’s exploration of the meaning of life, and the great spirit of perseverance and active endeavor, said Guo.
“Qu and his cultural imprint are a precious spiritual wealth not only of the Chinese nation, but also the whole humanity,” he noted.
Apart from Qu’s life and his spiritual world, the play will also highlight the culture of Qu’s homeland Chu, a charming part of early Chinese culture.
According to Guo, the play will showcase lacquerwares and bronze wares of that time through props, lighting and dances, opening a window for the audience to view the representative culture from the 800-year history of Chu.
The play is being produced by the Hubei Changjiang People’s Art Theatre and Hubei Sanxia Performance Arts Group. It is scheduled to be staged at Shanghai’s Majestic Theatre on Saturday and Sunday night, as a part of the ongoing 22nd China Shanghai International Arts Festival.
A chaotic scene unfolded at the Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday afternoon as gunshots rang out near an upscale retail area, resulting in the tragic deaths of at least three people, according to Thai local media. The incident took place around 4.20pm local time.
Local police authorities reported the arrest of a 14-year-old male suspect, apprehended by police on the third floor of the nearby Siam Kempinski Hotel.
Security camera footage captured the suspect shooter, who was seen kneeling with his hands on his head as three police officers closed in on him. In a swift action, one of the officers subdued the suspect on the ground.
Several Chinese tourists near the scene of the shooting incident told the Chinese news outlet Southern Metropolis Daily that they had heard multiple gunshots, and many people were fleeing, as chaos gripped the area.
The incident occurred near a high-end handbag store on the “M” level inside the building, Chinese media learned. A Chinese tourist who was in the vicinity told the South Metropolis Daily that both the Paragon and Siam Center malls were closed in the wake of the incident. They were initially trapped inside Siam Center, but have since been allowed to evacuate.
Another Chinese tourist was quoted as telling reporters that they were shopping inside Siam Paragon when they witnessed many tourists fleeing. Subsequently, while escaping, they heard multiple gunshots.
“If I remember correctly, I heard three gunshots while I was running. I have now exited and am not entirely sure about the situation inside,” the tourist said.
Thailand recently granted visa exemptions for Chinese nationals from September 25 to February 29, 2024 to boost local tourism. The temporary waiver is expected to attract five million additional visitors, according to media reports, citing Tourism Minister Sudawan Wangsuphakijkosol.
Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin also welcomed Chinese tourists at Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, Thailand on September 25.
According to the latest data from the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), from January 1 to September 17, Thailand has hosted over 2.34 million Chinese tourists, approximately 37 percent of the same period in 2019.
One Chinese national was killed and another injured in the shooting incident in Siam Paragon mall in Bangkok, Thailand on Tuesday, the China Central Television reported, citing information from the Chinese Embassy in Thailand.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has not confirmed any details as of Tuesday evening.
A number of Chinese netizens expressed their concern about whether it’s still safe to travel to Thailand, sharing their anxiety on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo platform on Tuesday, with news of the shooting incident attracting more than 32 million views on the platform.
The Asia-Pacific Regional Director of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Alexander Matheous has described the situation of quake-affected people in west Afghanistan’s Herat province as extremely impoverished, and said the body would continue to assist them.
“We will continue to provide relief items in the coming days. Our plan is to work with the Afghan Red Crescent on suitable shelters for the people to live in the short term,” Matheous told Xinhua in a recent exclusive interview.
The IFRC has already provided humanitarian assistance such as blankets, non-food items and hygiene kits, the official said, adding the affected families need more support.
The official who visited the quake-stricken areas in Herat also noted that the quake-affected people need support to rebuild their homes and live in the long term.
Two deadly quakes, each with a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale, followed by several aftershocks, rocked west Afghanistan with an epicenter in the Zanda Jan district of Herat province last Saturday, and left at least 2,053 dead and thousands more injured.
Another tremor measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale jolted Herat on Wednesday, killing one person, injuring more than 150 others, and causing property damages.
“More than 2,000 people and over 2,000 homes are destroyed,” the official said, adding most of the victims are women and children, and the affected families have lost what they had.
“People need food, water, shelter, medical camp…It was a very dramatic and tragic disaster for the people,” the official told Xinhua.
Praising the contribution of the Afghan Red Crescent Society in tackling the problems of the quake-affected people, the official said that it was the first humanitarian organization to be present after the disaster.
“We will support the Afghan Red Crescent to work not just in this relief phase, but also in the months to come to rebuild the houses and people’s livelihoods,” Matheous emphasized.
The Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey held a reception at the Turkish Embassy in Beijing with the aim of boosting investment cooperation with China. The event, as a part of their “Turkish Century Investment Reception” series, saw more than 500 business people and investors from China’s leading companies to attend.
Turkish Ambassador to China Ismail Hakkı Musa, President of the Investment Office of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey Ahmet Burak Daglioglu, and the Silk Road Fund Chairwoman Zhu Jun were also in attendance.
“This year, we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey and the 52nd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between Turkey and China. From e-commerce to telecommunications, from renewable energy to electric vehicles, from cloud technology to the defense industry, we have forged new partnerships with China in a wide range of areas,” the ambassador said.
In addition, the guests sampled sumptuous Turkish cuisine and discussed cooperation and investment opportunities.
Editor’s Note: Some observers believe that China-UK relations are at its lowest point, but Alistair Michie, secretary general of the British East Asia Council and winner of the Chinese Friendship Award Medal in 2013, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview that he does not agree with this assessment. Instead, it would be highly desirable for all nations to have golden eras of understanding with China, Michie said, noting that one of the key issues is that a significant number of UK politicians are heavily influenced by the US. He also said that the UK should consider joining the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as other initiatives that can move both countries in a more positive direction. Global Times reporters Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi (GT) talked with Michie to get his insightful opinions on China-UK relations, the BRI and more.
GT: The Chinese version of the book Consensus or Conflict? China and Globalization in the 21st Century co-edited by you has been published recently and distributed in China. Could you tell us why you wanted to compile such a book? What feedback have you received?
Michie: I was motivated to do the book in 2020. What I felt was that at that time, there was an opportunity for the world to gather together and deal with the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the same way that the world dealt with the global financial crisis in 2008. Back in 2008, the G20 played a particularly crucial role in stabilizing what was a very serious global financial crisis. The way the economic crisis unfolded in 2008 posed extreme danger for the world. So, at the start of 2020, I hoped that the world and nations would gather together in a way that could lead to the development of solutions, where the world would unite toward a common destiny.
I was also greatly influenced by the Chinese leader’s repeated calls over many years for the world to move forward with mutual understanding and mutual respect toward a community of common destiny. I believed that the only way to effectively and efficiently address global challenges, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, was through collective action and a shared purpose.
This motivation laid the foundations for the book. I was pleasantly surprised that we were able to gather over 30 distinguished writers from around the world, who provided their perspectives on why it is crucial for the world to address issues like pandemics through consensus rather than conflict in terms of global matters. This served as the motivation and genesis of the book.
Regarding the feedback, I was particularly pleased that we gathered 10 recommendations from distinguished global leaders, printed in the front of the book. They emphasized the importance of reading this book as it promotes consensus over conflict. These high-level individuals from around the world recognized the crucial theme and message of the book. However, the outcome has been disappointing. Since the English version was published in September 2021, the world has significantly shifted toward conflict and away from consensus.
GT: Are you disappointed with the direction in which the world is progressing?
Michie: I am deeply frustrated because, since publishing the book with hopes of achieving consensus, the world has instead been steadily moving toward conflict. This is a critical issue for humanity, as there are numerous threats such as climate change, future pandemics, nuclear concerns, challenges in biosciences, and artificial intelligence. These issues require nations to act together in the interest of all humanity, but unfortunately, consensus is lacking. The lack of cooperation is deeply concerning as it can lead to misunderstandings, miscalculations, and catastrophic conflicts. It is a dangerous world. While I find some satisfaction in expressing these views and highlighting the dangers, I am still deeply frustrated by the world’s trajectory toward conflict rather than consensus.
By nature, I have always been positive that humanity will find a solution. However, it is also crucial to be realistic. One issue I addressed in my book is the communication crisis our world is facing. Different nations struggle to explain their perspectives, largely due to the fact that we think differently. For instance, China, with nearly 20 percent of the world’s population, has a distinct way of thinking compared to America and Europe.
Therefore, the lack of effective communication is causing a crisis in understanding different perspectives and points of view.
GT: Not long ago, you mentioned that there are many Americans who have closed their minds and turned a blind eye to significant global changes, which is “extremely dangerous” for the world. What specific “significant global changes” do you mean? Could you elaborate on the potential dangers it poses to the world if Americans turned a blind eye to these changes?
Michie: One of the major dangers that the world faces is the way many Americans are thinking today. The US holds a very dominant position in global governance despite only representing 4 percent of the world’s population. This massive influence held by a small number of people is frustrating for the rest of the world. Additionally, it is also frustrating that many Americans tend to look inward.
For example, many Americans do not accept that there is a threat and danger from climate change. They are not actively dealing with other serious global threats like nuclear issues, artificial intelligence, or biosciences. This turning inward is extremely dangerous because these are issues that affect all humanity and the world.
Additionally, we have a situation where the US political system is deeply fractured, and this creates great dangers for the world going forward.
GT: UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly recently paid a visit to China and he said that it would not be “credible” to disengage with China. However, the British parliament referred to Taiwan as an “independent country” in an official document for the first time, coinciding with Cleverly’s visit. What’s your perspective on it? In recent years, the UK’s attitude toward China has undergone major changes. What do you think are the reasons behind this?
Michie: I think what we need to do is to be very careful about making statements that can cause anger between countries like this one. As I mentioned earlier, we are currently facing a communication crisis, and what we truly need is more dialogue and discussion to foster an intelligent conversation among nations. Fortunately, there are many people in the UK who are working toward creating that environment. However, there are also individuals in the UK who are not interested in engaging in an intelligent dialogue; they have their own agendas.
One of the issues we face is that a significant number of UK politicians are heavily influenced by the US, which aims to hinder China’s progress. On the other hand, there are US politicians who are also striving to build an intelligent dialogue. Nonetheless, this situation is extremely dangerous, particularly given the current communication crisis and social media. It is so easy to have many comments that can be misunderstood and create conflicts and misunderstandings on social media. Therefore, it is crucial to engage in as much dialogue as possible to foster an intelligent conversation among nations.
GT: Do you think the current UK policy toward China is too influenced by Washington?
Michie: I believe that one of the root problems is that the US still wishes to be the hegemonic leader of the world, despite comprising only 4 percent of the global population. It has convinced itself that this is the right path to follow. However, due to many Americans focusing inward and ignoring critical global issues such as climate change and other threats, a significant problem arises for the world.
GT: Some observers have said that China-UK relations are at the lowest point. Do you agree with this? Do you think the bilateral relations can get back to a golden era?
Michie: No, I don’t think we’re at the lowest point at all because one of the most important trends in the last two decades is the tens of thousands of Chinese students who have come to the UK to study. I think that we rank second or third in the world in terms of attracting Chinese nationals to come and study in our education system. That is the kind of foundation-laying for intelligent dialogue that I have argued is so important in creating the kind of understanding that will lead to consensus.
I am very hopeful that this student exchange will help to create a more peaceful and sustainable world in the future.
It would be highly desirable for all nations to have golden eras of understanding with China. Unfortunately, at the moment, we are not moving in that direction, but we must do everything in our power to engage in intelligent dialogue and create understanding, so that we can move toward what you describe as a golden era of relationships. This will enable us to address the significant challenges facing humanity.
GT: Many Western politicians have recently been talking about so-called decoupling from China. What’s your take on it? Is it possible for the West to decouple from China?
Michie: I believe that decoupling and de-risking are not the right direction. What we must do is focus much more on creating an intelligent dialogue so that we can understand each other better and avoid moving toward conflict. It is absolutely crucial to move away from de-risking and decoupling, as I argue that the fundamental need is to create a much deeper and better understanding. The only way we can solve the crises facing all of humanity is by coming together in consensus and creating mutual understanding and respect, in order to move toward a community of common destiny. That is the only way, but it poses a huge challenge for the world.
GT: This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). How do you view the development of the BRI over the past decade and its future prospects?
Michie: I think the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been a hugely important initiative by China because it serves as a channel for creating human connection. Communication can take various forms, such as infrastructure development including roads, airports, and harbors, which facilitate the exchange of ideas and foster understanding. This initiative also promotes intelligent dialogue, and China possesses the expertise to extend these infrastructure developments worldwide.
So, I believe it is a hugely important contribution toward improving global governance. At the moment, global governance faces a challenge as it is dominated by just 14 percent of the global population, which includes 4 percent in the US and under 10 percent in Europe. It is understandable that the rest of the world becomes frustrated when such a small percentage of the world’s population holds such a dominant influence. Initiatives like the BRI are a way of striving toward creating a broader form of global governance that can lead us toward international consensus.
I hope that the BRI will continue to evolve, fostering exchanges and understanding that can truly guide us toward a more peaceful and sustainable world.
GT: Do you think that the UK should consider joining the BRI?
Michie: I believe that everything should be considered in any way forward that we can create in dialogue and understanding, in order to create a world that is moving toward a common destiny. We can only solve the incredibly serious and dangerous challenges that the world faces if we move toward consensus. Initiatives like the BRI should be considered, as well as anything that can move us in a more positive direction.