China opens ten nuclear technology research facilities to the world to enhance international cooperation

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has opened ten of its nuclear technology research facilities and testing platforms, including China's new-generation "artificial sun" Huanliu-3 (HL-3) tokamak, to the world for the first time. The move will further enhance China's influence in nuclear science and technology globally, injecting strong "nuclear power" into promoting win-win cooperation worldwide, the Global Times learned from CNNC at a press conference on March 19 in Beijing during the 17th China International Nuclear Industry Exhibition.

This batch of facilities also include the world's highest-energy compact proton cyclotron accelerator the Beijing Radioactive Ion-beam Facility (BRIF), one of the "world's six major neutron sources" China Advanced Research Reactor, the Beishan Underground Research Laboratory (Beishan URL) located 560 meters underground, and the Minjiang Test Reactor for medical isotope research, among others. Many of these facilities have reached world-class level and even lead the industry globally, showcasing the hard work of Chinese researchers and demonstrating the "hardcore strength" of China's nuclear industry innovation.

The HL-3 tokamak, China's largest and most advanced tokamak, is designed to support the operation of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) and the development of future fusion reactors.

The Beishan URL in Northwest China's Gansu Province, China, is the country's first large underground research facility used for the safe disposal of high-level radioactive waste. It is an important research facility for the International Atomic Energy Agency and the China Atomic Energy Authority, playing a crucial role in China's nuclear fuel closed-loop technology innovation system.

The BRIF, the only operational online isotope separation radioactive ion beam facility in Asia, can produce over 60 stable nuclear beams and 55 radioactive nuclear beams. It fills the technological gap in China's medium-energy high-current proton cyclotron accelerator and high-resolution isotope separator, reaching an advanced level internationally.

The BRIF conducts research in nuclear physics basics, nuclear physics applications, and nuclear data, promoting basic research and application transformation, achieving a number of high-level scientific achievements. Researchers from the facility have cooperated with teams from more than ten countries including Russia, the US, Germany, Japan, and Poland, attracting many top international scientists to come to China to conduct cutting-edge research.

The opening of these research facilities and testing platforms by China to the world is expected to promote the development of nuclear technology worldwide. Sumair N. Khan, Science and Technology Counselor at the Pakistani Embassy in China, told the Global Times that these open research facilities are crucial for developing countries, especially for countries like Pakistan. He highlighted the importance of facilities like China's advanced research reactor, micro-neutron source reactor, and nuclear environmental simulation facilities for Pakistan.

"Developing countries may not have the research conditions similar to China but are eager to utilize Chinese research facilities to train researchers and receive support for their research work," Zhang Libo, vice president of the China Institute of Atomic Energy, under CNNC, told the Global Times. He emphasized the importance of international cooperation in nuclear science and technology for mutual benefit and scientific progress.

Zhang also believes that CNNC's opening of nuclear technology-related research facilities and test platforms to the world will promote high-level international openness. He stated that by attracting international peers to utilize these facilities, China can understand the direction of international research, grasp the dynamics of global economic development, and integrate into the global research environment.

Romantic Lantern Festival brightens people’s lives, start of splendid new year

The Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month marks the final stop of the Spring Festival and is also the first night when a full moon is visible during the lunar new year. 

Since ancient times, lantern viewing has long been a folk custom in celebrating the Lantern Festival. On the day of the festival, streets and alleys are decorated with lights, and families gather together to immerse themselves in the festive atmosphere of the Spring Festival. A series of classic delicacies and celebrations also appear in turn, extending the joy and beautiful wishes for the future that the new year brings. 

In Linghu town, Huzhou city in East China's Zhejiang Province, a Lantern Folk Culture Festival is held around the Lantern Festival. The event features traditional handicraft lantern exhibitions, riddle guessing and firework setting activities, creating a rich festive atmosphere. 

The local area excels in making lanterns, which are often combined with riddle guessing. During the festival, shopkeepers hang riddles on their storefronts for people to guess and distribute prizes, which have become a unique local folk culture, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

Zhengzhou in Central China's Henan Province will hold drone shows for three consecutive days to celebrate the Lantern Festival, presenting various themes to show the splendid culture of China and the Year of the Dragon.

In Beijing, before the Lantern Festival, traditional stores experienced long queues as people followed tradition to buy tangyuan, also called yuanxiao, which are glutinous rice balls stuffed with filling and representing families getting together.

Beijing's famous dim-sum chain Daoxiangcun introduced a dozen of flavors of this snack this year, including black sesame, osmanthus hawthorn, traditional mixed nuts, cream cocoa, and custard, satisfying the popular tastes favored by different people. Moreover, there were two types of tangyuan specially prepared for customers who prefer low-sugar flavors, according to the Beijing News. 

The main store of Huguosi Snacks launched durian-filled Lantern Festival tangyuan

"They basically sold out as soon as they were restocked, with many customers queuing specifically to wait for this durian flavor," said a supervisor of the company. This year, chocolate-flavored tangyuan were also reintroduced. According to one internet sales platform, sugar-free, durian , chocolate, fruit , black sesame, peanut , calcium milk, meat, and matcha varieties of tangyuan have become products of increased interest. Matcha tangyuan has seen the highest surge in attention, with a search volume increase of 253 percent year-on-year. 

After Spring Festival celebrations around the world, the Lantern Festival has also gained ground overseas. New Zealand held Lantern Festival activities on Thursday at the Manukau Sports Bowl in Auckland, with 44 stalls and over 500 lanterns making a splendid appearance. At this year's celebration, a handmade dragon lantern was particularly noteworthy - about 30 meters long (the length of two buses), it was displayed next to the main stage, according to the China News Service.

Insights from anti-graft frontline personnel reveal China’s tough battle against ‘disguised’ corruption

China is intensifying its efforts to crack down on hidden corruption, as it risks undermining already realized national anti-corruption achievements and creating greater systemic financial risks at a larger scope as experts have warned.

"New-type and disguised corruption" was recently included in the list of the top 10 anti-corruption keywords for 2023 released by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), a move that reflects the importance attached by the discipline watchdog to anti-graft efforts in revealing disguised practices.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, urged for the strengthened handling of new and disguised forms of corruption at the third plenary session of the 20th CPC CCDI on January 8, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

"It is imperative to further combat corruption in the sectors of finance, state-owned enterprises, energy, medicine, and infrastructure construction where power is concentrated, capital is intensive, and resources are abundant, and preempt potential risks," Xi said.

Combating corruption in the form of collusion between officials and businesspeople should be the priority, Xi said, urging efforts to crack down resolutely on the profit-driven abuse of power and prevent various interest and power groups from infiltrating the political arena.

China's anti-corruption watchdog detained a record 54 high-ranking officials in 2023, which tops the number in a year since the 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012, with a large number of them being from the financial sector.

The Global Times interviewed a disciplinary inspection frontline personnel at a state-owned enterprise, Chinese anti-graft experts to understand the typical tricks of covert corruption and how the watchdog responds by utilizing big data analysis to track and investigate cases. This reveals how disciplinary inspectors tear off the masks of corruption in a battle between justice and impunity.
Sly, covert tricks

An official documentary on January 9 featuring China's anti-corruption efforts revealed how Fan Yifei, former vice governor of the People's Bank of China, illegally profited by using his brother's investment company as a cover and accepting bribes in the form of shares from companies.

The financial sector is a highly specialized field that can easily turn into a hotbed of surreptitious forms of corruption, said law professor Zhang Lei from Beijing Normal University, noting that financial corruption could bring financial risks, which would further threaten national financial security.

The recent downfall of several high-ranking officials in the financial sector sent a strong signal of China's resolute efforts to eliminate "moles" within the financial sector and continuously deepen anti-corruption work in this field, the expert noted.

Li Xiang (pseudonym), the frontline worker at a provincial disciplinary inspection department, who is stationed in a state-owned enterprise, told the Global Times that corrupt practices of "profiting from stocks" easily occur among high-level financial officials.

Specifically, some exploited the disposal of non-performing assets to exchange shares for personal gain; while some asked others to hold shares by proxy, then transferred the covert shares to relatives, and received dividends. The corrupt process is disguised and appears "clean" on the books, making it difficult to detect.

The CCDI has previously disclosed a corruption case involving Wang Zongcheng, former director of the accounting department at the China Securities Regulatory Commission, who used his power in the IPO review process to take advantage of stock premiums.

He entrusted someone else to purchase the original shares of a company to be listed before its IPO and became a "shadow shareholder." After the company went public, he shared the huge profits from the returns from the "shadow shares" and took back the profits after retirement. He used his power to support the company to go public, evading punishment through various covert and complex operations, and appeared not to have had any visible contact with the company throughout the whole process.

According to the cases revealed by the CCDI, among the senior officials investigated and dealt with since the 20th National Congress of the CPC, suspects who have been found to have "illegally owned shares in non-listed companies," or "engaged in collusion between politics and business, secretly accumulating wealth behind the scenes," or "engaged in power-money transactions under the guise of 'investment' for a long time" are not a minority.

"Many of the cases currently being investigated involve hidden corruption, and direct power-money transactions are becoming less common. This also requires frontline disciplinary inspection personnel to be highly professional, knowledgeable, and capable," Li told the Global Times.

"In non-financial fields, some officials from different regions usually do not explicitly exchange power with money, but instead with the promotion of their relatives or people with close connections to higher positions. Such power swap is also an implicit form of corruption," Li revealed.

State-owned enterprises, with their abundant funds and resources, have always been a key battlefield in anti-corruption efforts. Some corrupt individuals in state-owned enterprises attempt to disguise their illegal exchanges of interests by engaging in market transactions, such as using loan sharks transfer to bribes, to conceal the nature of power-money transactions, he further explained.

Furthermore, as some state-owned enterprises have industrial monopolies and are major tax contributors to local governments, they are always an accessible "honey pot" for local political figures and business sector players. These factors have created potential risks for corruption among the leaders of state-owned enterprises, according to Li.

He noted that one difficulty in combating hidden corruption is that existing measures often lag behind such innovative corruptive practices. Moreover, smart tools and technologies such as big data or AI are also widely used to cover up crimes.

The CCDI has reported a case of an official from the legal system who used technological means to create a fake identity for himself, and repeatedly used the fake identity to open stock and bank accounts for bribery transactions.

Unveiled cases also show some officials engaged in corruption using "digital currency," exploiting regulatory loopholes and accepting illegal card coupons, bitcoin, and digital cash to receive bribes.

"This requires us to carefully study the flow of funds, the interests and other abnormal behaviors of suspected ones, and to employ modern tech to trace the source of funds," said Li.
Systematic, powerful punch

To eliminate the chance of officials becoming corrupt, strict discipline inspection and supervision have expanded to those who offer bribes. In July 2023, the CCDI and the National Commission of Supervision (NCS) first mentioned the number of bribers who had cases filed against them in the first half of the year.

The second plenary session of the 20th CPC CCDI held in December 2023 also emphasized the resolute investigation and punishment of new and hidden forms of corruption, encouraging discipline inspection and supervision organs at all levels to continuously innovate their anti-corruption strategies through systematic and collaborative mechanisms, and the use of modern technology.

Regional governments have also carried out special campaigns against hidden corruption. For example, in East China's Jiangsu Province, special efforts have been made to combat hidden corruption such as "shadow shareholders," by identifying loopholes in the system and supervisory weaknesses, and the urging of reforms in the relevant departments.

Apart from incumbents, investigations have also been launched into retired or resigned officials, including those who attempted to evade investigation by resigning, who exercised the influence they gained from their former posts to benefit others and took bribes in return, and who sought profits for others while in office and have taken bribes since retirement. No corrupt official is to be left out, according to Xinhua.

Meanwhile, big data, AI, and other smart means are increasingly used in exposing disguised corruption problems.

A case at the end of 2022 shows that Zheng, a former assistant to the general manager of a provincial state-owned enterprise in East China's Fujian Province, used his position to profit and transfer embezzled funds during his tenure in multiple important positions.

After the watchdog obtained and analyzed data information such as his bank account transaction details, communication records, and real estate registration, Zheng's acceptance of huge bribes through "white gloves" was finally unveiled.

The term "white gloves" refers to people who run businesses created to cover up corruption by officials. The white glove tactic is a favorite among dirty officials because their direct involvement in commercial activity is illegal.

The investigation found that although Zheng's mother had passed away, her bank account was still active, with dozens of transactions involving funds exceeding 500,000 yuan each. Based on this, the investigators determined that Zheng had accepted bribes of more than 120 million yuan, according to Chinese media Outlook Weekly.

North China's Shanxi Province, as another example, has tried to build professional algorithm AI models based on a large number of case studies to screen out suspected "shadow companies."

Experts believe that the fight against new forms of corruption should continue to gain momentum.

"Cases of invisible corruption and new forms of corruption normally involve large amounts of funds and have spillover effects. Moreover, many of the individuals involved are highly educated and intelligent, making their methods more sophisticated, known as intelligent corruption. We must constantly update our means of tracking and identification, otherwise the achievements we have made in anti-corruption efforts will be challenged," Tang Renwu, dean of the School of Governance at Beijing Normal University, told the Global Times.

"We must maintain current intense anti-corruption efforts to deter these new types of crimes. This is why the Chinese leader has repeatedly emphasized a zero-tolerance attitude toward corruption on various occasions," said Tang.

He called for the use of more intelligent means to combat crime, and keep law and Party discipline protocols updated to include more behaviors that hover on the edge of illegality in the legal framework.

GT on the spot: Locals, outsiders work in Xinjiang for diverse opportunities, jointly promoting economic, social devt

Editor's Note:

The diversified development and opportunities in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have attracted young people from all over the country to settle there.

GT reporters have again traveled to the region. In this fifth installment of a series of articles, GT tells character stories based on ordinary people in Xinjiang who have found opportunities for self-realization and have grasped real happiness.
'My life here is very happy'

Feng Xiaoheng, 40, from Henan, enrolled in Xinjiang University's mechatronics program in 2004.

"When I first came to Urumqi in 2004, the buildings and road conditions here were behind many other cities. At that time, I thought I might not find a suitable job in Xinjiang after graduation," he recalled to the Global Times.

"But after the upgrading of industries and the steady improvement of the economy in Xinjiang, I joined a state-owned enterprise after graduation and have been responsible for project construction in Xinjiang until now."

Now Feng's whole family has settled in Urumqi. "As a 'new Xinjianger,' I have witnessed the tremendous changes that have taken place here. Being able to participate in project construction in Xinjiang is equivalent to contributing to the future development of Xinjiang. Now my family and career are rooted here, and I have realized my life's value here."

Halchem Keram, who is in her 30s, told the Global Times that she used to raise cows and sheep at home while her husband did business elsewhere, but their income was unstable. When their child was 1 year and 8 months old, she decided to go out to work.

Jianying Kangcheng Asset Management Co. provides food production, processing, packaging, distribution, and sales. It is only a few minutes' drive from Halchem's home. Halchem successfully obtained a job opportunity at the company's distribution center, and her son attends kindergarten in the community.

"I work and my child goes to school near our home. I have a stable income every month and can also take care of my family. I think life here is very good now."

Halchem has been working in the company for more than three years. She told the Global Times that the rumors about "forced labor" in Xinjiang from some Western countries are "ridiculous."

"Like everyone else in the world, we voluntarily come out to work for a better life. What's the problem with that? I don't understand why some people would say such things."

Liu Wenbo, the deputy general manager of the company, said in an interview with the Global Times that the company has a total of 248 employees from various ethnic groups, including 143 ethnic minority workers, accounting for about 58 percent, and more than 70 percent are women. Most of them are over 45 years old.

"Local women tend to return to their families after marriage; some work in farming at home, and lack work experience. In order to help them find employment again, we provide labor skills training for them, whether as a pastry chef or a cook. We teach them a skill first and then arrange employment positions for them."
Foreign noises never affect Xinjiang

Chang Jian, director of the Human Rights Research Center at Nankai University, told the Global Times that whether it is the story of Xinjiang locals or outsiders who came to Xinjiang from other parts of the country to study and settle down, it's clear that people of all ethnic groups have achieved prosperity with a sense of unity, cooperation, and promotion of economic and social development.

"This reflects the comprehensive realization of the right to development. Living a good life and improving living standards are the dreams of every household. Every young person wants to make a breakthrough and achieve their longing for a better life through their own efforts," Chang noted.

Due to Xinjiang's unique natural conditions, it faces challenges in improving living conditions, so personal efforts are needed in the process of economic marketization.

In this situation, governments at all levels have taken active measures. For example, they carry out paired assistance, in which many provinces and cities support the construction of various areas in Xinjiang, the Global Times learnt.

For example, Zhongtuo Bio-Technology Co. came to Hami under the background of paired assistance between Henan Province and Hami. The company has established a chain of camel milk acquisition, processing, and sales, which has generated sustainable economic benefits for herders.

Also, for herders who face various uncertainty and risks in camel breeding, the government has formulated and implemented a series of policy subsidies to stabilize their income expectations and stimulate farmers' enthusiasm for breeding.

Chang said that in recent years, there have been many rumors and smears about Xinjiang's social and development situation that seriously deviate from the facts, and what has been seen in reality is that people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang are full of hope in the process of pursuing and realizing a better life.

The sense of gain, security, and happiness can be seen on local faces, and people have not been disturbed by various foreign noises.

"This determination and confidence comes from the improvement they personally feel in their lives every day, from the tangible gains they have made in their hard work, and from the joy and pride they have in growing and realizing their value," Chang said.

Dance inspired by a Song Dynasty painting distills aesthetic values from traditional Chinese culture, resonating with modern perspectives

Editor's Note:

In his report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, proposed promoting national rejuvenation through a Chinese path to modernization - the modernization of a huge population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humanity and nature, and of peaceful development.

Advancing Chinese modernization is a systematic endeavor and also an exploratory undertaking. It is through this framework that we wish to illustrate the process of the Chinese path to modernization through a series of landmark projects, touching stories, and visionary plans.

Global Times reporters visited different key locations across China and detailed their observations in five stories that showcase the diverse aspects of Chinese modernization.

This installment delivers a "softer" and experiential story from an intimate angle gleaned from Global Times reporters joining the cast of a Chinese dance drama- "A Mere Touch of Green"- while on tour in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

At the back stage, we were able to talk to the show's performers and directors, witnessing the interpretation of classical scroll painting aesthetics through body language in real time. The dance serves as a case study of culture's unique role in boosting the country's modernization through sustaining people's spiritual lives.
Choreographed based on a Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) silk scroll paining A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains, "A Mere Touch of Green - A Choregraphed Portrait of A Panorama of Mountains and Rivers" has been staged over 300 times since its debut in 2021.

From stages like the 2022 Spring Festival Gala to performances showcased on social media platforms like Sina Weibo, the show has also won over a large digital audience, with more than 180 million views when it was broadcasted lived on video sharing platform BiliBili, a favorite site for Gen-Z internet users.

Unlike many Western dramas that were designed to maximize expression with the aid of dazzling costumes, the Chinese art is low-key and rooted in the works of Wang Ximeng, a Song Dynasty artist's painting journey.

So why has this dance been so successful?

An observation of backstage activities provides a convincing answer. Some Chengdu audiences were seen dressed in traditional Chinese garments while taking photos on their 5G-enabled phones. The detail not only speaks to people's confidences in the Chinese culture, but also hints at the enduring preservation of time-honored cultural aspects along with China's rapid growth, with such growth seen as a reflection of what the show's director Han Zhen called the "country's spiritual outlook."

"The dance did not bring me back to the Song Dynasty. It is an epitome of the thousands of years of Chinese values that we all carry forward into the future," a netizen posted on Sina Weibo.

Compared to the visible highways and skyscrapers that give the country its robust infrastructural "body," the dance instills the beauty of Chinese culture in people, representing the "soul."

'A Mere Touch of Green'

The story of "A Mere Touch of Green" began in 2017 when Han Zhen and Zhou Liya, the show's two directors first saw the painting A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains in the Palace Museum. "We were stunned by how beautiful and special it was, especially its cyan greenish color," Han told the Global Times.

Seeing the painting in real life was however not the sole motivation behind the two's decision to make a modern adaptation of traditional art. They were among many Chinese cultural workers who started to look for inspirations in traditional culture in recent years.

"We saw value in Chinese culture, so we picked 10 of China's ancient paintings, and finally decided on this one," said Zhou.

By staying true to the painting's aesthetic value through its color profile of the "special green" and indigo blue, Han and Zhou created a "choreographed portrait" that involves Zhang Han, the lead male dancer who plays the "painter" Wang Ximeng. Meng Qingyang, the female lead dancer, dances along with 16 other performers to embody the "rivers and mountains" that came to life under the painter's brush.

Due to the dance's extreme xieyi nature - a Chinese aesthetic style that praises unconstrained expressions - Meng told the Global Times that she was confused when first landed the role until she was able to strike a balance between the "euphemism" and "expressiveness" in her performance.

"Our moves need to be a little reserved but still display Wang Ximeng's artistic passion," Meng noted.
Ancient painter Wang Ximeng is a mysterious figure. It was said that he created the masterpiece at just 18 years old, after which he disappeared. To depict this character, Zhang spent numerous nights alone in the rehearsal room attempting to capture the essence of the painter.

"Wang Ximeng is a complex character. You can see his resilience, loneliness, cultural devotion, innocence, as well as the patriotism in his heart," Zhang noted.

Despite the dance crew having spent a long time polishing the show's aesthetic details, both of the directors said that they did not just want it to "look beautiful." They hope the art can convey ancient Chinese cultural beliefs to today's audiences.

"In a Chinese art piece like this, we hope the audiences can see our cultural mindsets, ethical beliefs, and our approach to things," Zhou said.

Tradition and modernity in coordination

Aside from being the 2021's most eye-catching Chinese dance drama, the cultural influence of the "A Mere Touch of Green" has continued well into 2023. From March to November, a total of 120 performances were staged across the country with the latest show reaching audiences in China's Macao Special Administrative Region.

Xie Suhao, a dancer in the show, told the Global Times he has discovered a shift among audiences, from just focusing on the beauty of the dance to gradually gaining more interest in the literary story behind the art.

"Over the course of our tours, I happened to talk to fans and learned of their efforts in researching the ancient history that inspired the dance," Xie told the Global Times.

Zhang also said that the show was once expected to appeal to the young generation but has since gained an audience that transcends age. He said that he has seen senior citizens in their 80s and 90s also among the audience.

Cultural sociologist Chu Xin told the Global Times that taking the dance IP as an example, the Chinese cultural industry has gradually discovered a new "narrative system" to tell traditional stories catering to people's "modern habits of cultural consumption."

"Only the creative transformation of traditional culture can help us keep up with the country's modernization growth," the expert said.
Beautiful, kind, sincere

China's modernity has supported the continuation of country's traditions. The "Night Banquet in Palace of Tang Dynasty," also a dance performance, went viral after it debuted in 2022 due to its "digital innovation plus history' ingenuity."

The show inspired by the terracotta figures of the Tang Dynasty has realized its best presentation through the country's own 5G and augmented reality (AR) innovation to combine virtual scenes with a real stage. Such a maneuver brings audiences into a virtual museum replete with relics.

China's development has not only helped an art form to be better presented on stage, but also increased its visibility to overseas audiences.

Using the Macao tour of the "A Mere Touch of Green" crew as an example, director Han Zhen said that it was a "successful attempt" before the team can officially stage the show before Western audiences in the near future.

While the dance group is in the process of designing a stage to help Western audiences better understand the art, several of their performances in China have already been uploaded on YouTube, receiving positive feedback from international audiences.

"How can we not fall in love with a country that has such wonderful culture," posted by a netizen in Spanish on YouTube.

"In our art, we endeavor to show the image of China and Chinese people as beautiful, kind, and sincere," Zhou the director remarked.

Prominent Chinese scholar of Australian studies appeals for transparent, non-political academic exchanges, expects normalized bilateral ties after Australian PM's fruitful visit

Editor's Note:

Academic and cultural exchanges have long been an important window of communication, allowing for the exploration of common ground, dispelling misconceptions and building trust, identifying shared challenges, and developing innovative solutions between China and Australia. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's recent visit to China brought fresh expectations that this window could be reopened after diplomatic relations soured between the two trading partners at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Global Times reporters Hu Yuwei and Fan Wei interviewed two outstanding scholars from China and Australia respectively to hear their comments on Albanese's visit and what they anticipate for the future of people-to-people exchanges.

A veteran China hand in Australia, Jocelyn Chey, Australia's first cultural counselor to China, felt encouraged by Albanese's visit to China and said that Australian academics are hopeful that they will be able to engage more with their Chinese counterparts and contribute more to the understanding of China, while a prominent Chinese academic Chen Hong recalled his visa being cancelled on unfounded security grounds in 2020 and underlined his appeal for a more transparent, open, and non-political way of dealing with normal people-to-people and academic exchanges between the two countries.
Looking back on the incident of his visa cancelation on the so-called "national security" grounds in 2020, Chen Hong, a leading Chinese scholar in Australian studies, still feels very shocked at the ludicrous allegation, but said the incident had not at all dampened his commitment to China-Australia relations research and dedication to academic exchanges between the two countries.

With the successful conclusion of Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's visit to China, Chen hopes that such absurdities, which affect innocent scholars from both China and Australia, will be a thing of the past with the warming of China-Australia relations.

"What the visa farce actually harms is the cultural and educational exchanges between China and Australia, rather than my personal interests as I have no assets or property in Australia. I have been engaged in Australian studies for over 30 years, and I have always been committed to promoting bilateral educational exchanges. Australian studies have a history of over 40 years in China, and through our research, teaching and translation as scholars and academics, we are actually promoting mutual understanding and mutual trust between the two sides, thereby bringing clear benefits through cooperation," Chen, a professor of Australian Studies at the East China Normal University in Shanghai, told the Global Times in a recent interview.

"If normal academic and cultural exchanges are obstructed on baseless pretexts or so-called political or ideological factors, it actually breaks an important channel that could promote mutual understanding and trust. This is not conducive to the long-term development between the two countries," he said.

Chen called Albanese's recent visit to China a "remarkable breakthrough" since 2016. He highlighted a tremendous change and a directional shift in the bilateral relationship seen after the bilateral summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022.

The Shanghai-based professor looks forward to the hostile diplomatic stance taken by the former Coalition government toward Beijing to be ditched as he is optimistic about the outcomes of the Albanese government's successful visit to China.

In 2020, Chen Hong, together with another leading Australian studies scholar Li Jianjun, were among the first Chinese scholars and journalists to be targeted by Australian authorities over alleged foreign interference and had their visas cancelled following advice from the Australian Security Intelligence Agency (ASIO).

Chen, who has been the director of the Australian Studies Center at the East China Normal University in Shanghai since 2001 and is a frequent visitor to Australia, told the Global Times that he resolutely rejected ASIO's groundless accusation and wrote back to the Department of Home Affairs in August 2020 for further clarification.

"I told them that I believe a gross mistake had been made regarding my relationship with Australia," he said. "I said I am always available for contact if there are any questions they may need to further clarify. But unfortunately, there has been no response so far. This year I was asked by my university to take part in a delegation to visit our partner institutions in Australia. I lodged an application for a business visitor's visa, but so far it has just gone like a stone dropped into the sea."

"Some anti-China elements in Australia sometimes slander China's judicial system of being 'opaque'. But look who is really being opaque?" he questioned.

"We sincerely hope that the Australian side does not set obstacles to normal academic exchanges based on a narrow ideology. Such obstruction is not only a loss for academia but also hinders mutual understanding between the two peoples. We hope the relevant authorities in Australia will handle the visa-related matter more proactively and constructively," Chen maintained.

The professor noted that there are currently 38 Australian research centers in the Chinese mainland and three on the island of Taiwan, totaling 41 institutions that have been promoting understanding between China and Australia through teaching, translation, research, conferencing and think tank reports.

In recent years, China-Australia relations, drawn to a low ebb, have indeed caused a "chilling effect" in academic exchanges between the two sides. The latest incident is that of a Chinese university scholar whose equipment was seized while he was questioned by Australia's security agency and police in Western Australia, in August.

"In fact, Australia is one of the most popular overseas education destinations for Chinese students. There is a strong foundation for educational cooperation between China and Australia to turn it into an advantage. It is mutually beneficial as Chinese students will bring back a positive impression of Australia after coming back to China, instead of unpleasant experiences, such as being labeled as spies, a talking point hyped up in previous years," Chen warned. "It is costly to repair relations once they are damaged, and sometimes it may even be irreparable."

Chen believes that the meeting between the leaders of the two countries in Bali, Indonesia, in November 2022 has brought about a major turning point in bilateral relations, indicating a top-down push to improve the bilateral relations, setting the direction on a series of issues including trade and economy.

"This visit by Albanese to China also takes place against the backdrop of the US advocating for decoupling between its Western allies and China. However, by visiting China, in particular attending the China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, Albanese has unequivocally indicated his refusal to join this camp," said Chen.

The Australia-US alliance has served as the cornerstone for Australia's foreign policy, and that's not likely to change in the foreseeable future. However, the US is reluctant to see Australia's attempts to improve its relations with China, which can be well reflected in the comments made by Washington, that Australia should trust the US more than China.

Evidently, Albanese's fruitful visit to China demonstrates Australia's independence as a sovereign country, as well as its determination to improve relations with China despite various pressures and interference from anti-China forces at home and abroad, the expert noted. "China never expects the dissolution of the US-Australia alliance, but if US interference touches upon China's core interests, such as sovereignty and territorial integrity, China will resolutely respond to such provocation."

The researcher believes that China and Australia should consider each other as partners, not rivals, let alone adversaries. "China and Australia have a comprehensive strategic partnership, so both countries need to work conjointly with each other with mutual trust in a constructive spirit."

"Policymakers in Canberra need to exercise their political wisdom to approach the relationship with a more positive and practical attitude, and no longer use political labels to create obstacles to the relationship as the previous Morrison cohort did. I am basically an optimist and I am confident that the prospects for cooperation between the two countries will be broader, with greater benefits," he concluded.

ASEAN diplomats explore Quzhou’s successful efforts in modernizing ancient heritage

In his report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, proposed to comprehensively advance the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization - the modernization of a huge population, of common prosperity for all, of material and cultural-ethical advancement, of harmony between humanity and nature, and of peaceful development.

For a long time, the Western perspective has dominated the narrative on modernization. However, China's extraordinary achievements in all aspects demonstrate that there are alternative methods to modernization. The Chinese modernization is a new model for human advancement, and dispels the myth that "modernization is equal to Westernization," presents another picture of modernization, expands the channels for developing countries to achieve modernization, and provides a Chinese solution to aid the exploration of a better social system for humanity.

To understand the Chinese path to modernization, the Global Times is launching a new series that explores how expatriates perceive Chinese modernization through on-site experiences in the country. In this installment, the Global Times follow diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-China Centre (ACC) and ASEAN member states on their to visit Quzhou in East China's Zhejiang Province, to understand how they perceive the practice of Chinese modernization as seen in the city.

Quzhou, located in East China's Zhejiang Province, is the second hometown of the direct descendants of great Chinese philosopher and educator Confucius (551-479 BC). The city not only boasts beautiful natural scenery and profound cultural heritage, but has also made remarkable use of its heritage to boost modernization and, step by step, realize a futuristic vision, with its ancient wisdom as a cultural calling card and culture brand for a modernized Quzhou.

In preparation for the celebration of the ASEAN-China Year of People-to-people Exchanges in 2024, the School of Government and Public Affairs at the Communication University of China (CUC) in Beijing held the Decoding Chinese Path to Modernization Workshop Series, with some diplomats from the ACC and five ASEAN member states in attendance and taking part in a visit to Quzhou from October 26 to 28 to witness local experiences in Chinese modernization and draw inspiration for the development of ASEAN member states.     

As China and ASEAN member states are close neighbors connected geographically and culturally, these successful experiences hold more significance as references for developing countries in Southeast Asia, experts and diplomats hailed.    

Ancient vs Modern 

The first evidence of Quzhou's success in historical culture-modernization integration is the figures and logos of nankong yeye (Grandpa Confucius), a cute and vivid cartoon figure based on Confucius that can be seen everywhere, from the airport and schools to the city's streets and shopping centers. 

The figure is not only a reappearance of the great philosopher, but also a testament to the enduring spirit and legacy of Confucianism is in all aspects of daily life in the city. 

Visiting team diplomats gained a deeper understanding of this after touring Confucius Ancestral Temple, which is one of the only two Confucius family temples left in China, and is known as the Nanzong Confucius Temple (the Southern Temple).

"The main purpose of our visit here is to learn from Quzhou city, especially on how to preserve culture, but at the same time to pursue development and modernization in China. I think we have learned a lot from how Quzhou city preserves its culture and heritage of Confucianism. We also learned how the Confucius family migrated from the northern part of China to the south. It's very interesting and I think we can follow or at least learn how a city preserved its culture while still modernizing," Director Hadi Tjahjono of Education, Culture, and Tourism Division, from the ACC, told the Global Times.

Many diplomats were also impressed by how the people of Quzhou continue to inherit the ancient Confucian spirit while seeking modern prosperity. 

To the delegation, Quzhou serves as a vivid example of how China is making full use of its existing cultural advantages and advancing modernization through rural development.

Such modernization prioritizes green, peaceful, ecological and people-oriented approaches, different from exploitative, militaristic, and invasive Western strategies aimed at the accumulation of wealth, they said.

A diplomat in the visiting delegation took the Yudong village in Kecheng district as an example to explain her understanding of this perspective. At first, it was a few painting enthusiasts who voluntarily gathered to learn and shared their thoughts on painting in the 1970s. When it comes to the new era of modernization, the local governments did not harshly impede the farmers' creative hobbies, but provide them with support and a stage to shine.

After decades of development under the support of local authorities, now 300 among its 800 residents are skilled at painting and the skill has grown into a comprehensive industry. The village was included by the National Rural Revitalization Administration in a list of national typical cases of characteristic culture and art in March this year.

According to media reports, the collective operating income of the Yudong painting village jumped from about 100,000 yuan ($13,666) in 2019 to 1.12 million yuan in 2022, a significant boost to the local economy. The output value of industries related to farmer painting exceeded 20 million yuan in 2022, helping villagers find jobs close to their homes. In 2019, the output value of industries related to farmer painting was about 8 million yuan.  

The diplomat told the Global Times, on condition of anonymity, that she was impressed by a sentence on a Yudong village wall, which says: "Culture is also a source of growth and productivity; it is capable of driving the masses toward prosperity." 

The success of Yudong proves this is true, the diplomat said. 

Deeper social transformation 

Quzhou is just one of the many examples demonstrating that urbanization and modernization in China are not only aimed at promoting material changes in cities, but also a deeper social transformation, including cultural and environmental transitions.

"In 2015, I came to Beijing as a member of a delegation. Now, I am working in China and able to witness the changes happening here. For example, in Sanlitun, I see constant and rapid changes every day. As a citizen of one of the ASEAN member states, I am very pleased to see these developments," Seint Shwe Zin, a diplomat from the Embassy of Myanmar in China, said at a seminar held in Beijing before the Quzhou visit.

When I came to China to study Chinese 10 years ago, they gave me a book called "Modern Chinese." From the development of education, we can see modernization via the changes of the use of technology and scientific methods in teaching or learning, as well as the tools used by teachers, Chindavong Xaiyasin, a diplomat from the Embassy of Laos in China, said at the seminar.  

Now living and working in Beijing, Chindavong showed strong interest in how Beijing developed the Liangma River - a small, dirty river where caravans would cleanse and refresh their horses before entering Beijing in the olden times, building the area into the "Seine of Beijing." 

Laos is also facing similar challenges while in the process of developing the capital. I hope we can take the restoration and development of the Liangma River as an example, Chindavong told the Global Times.

ASEAN member states and China should share and learn more from the latter's successful experiences in modernization as China-ASEAN relations mature further and grow close, experts and diplomats agreed.  

Envoys upbeat about China’s economic growth, seek to benefit from market potential

Editor's Note:
Amid all the chatter about China's economy, a recent meeting in Beijing cut through the noise. Envoys from different countries came together at the Ambassador Round Table Dialogue on "China's Economic Outlook" on Friday talking about China's economic outlook. They said China's economy is strong and full of promise, despite some Western media's slander. The timing of the roundtable just after Chinese policymakers outlined its economic plans at the two sessions. At the roundtable, the Global Times reporter (Yin Yeping) met with some of the envoys who shared their belief in China's potential and expressed their desire to work closely with China to capitalize on its vast market and burgeoning economy.

China's economy stands resilient and is full of promise, bolstered by the vast market potential of its 1.4 billion population and robust governmental policies supporting high-quality development, envoys told Global Times at the Ambassador Round Table Dialogue on "China's Economic Outlook" held in Beijing on Friday, defying slanders made by certain Western media regarding China's economic growth.

Envoys expressed their confidence in China's economy and their expectations for further tapping into the potential of China's market through closer cooperation.

They highlighted the robust economic and trade ties between their countries and China, suggesting how China's strong economy and its significant role as a major trading partner remain crucial for helping their own countries recover economically, especially amid uncertain global situation.


China has made tremendous gains for the last four to five decades. "While every country has its challenges of this and that, but by and large, China's economy has been very successful," Khamis Mussa Omar, Ambassador of Tanzania to China, told the Global Times on Friday.

Omar said that he has reviewed China's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) and its aspirations. Drawing on the experiences of the past two decades, marked by double-digit growth, "I believe that China's target of around 5 percent growth for this year is highly achievable," Omar said.

China is Tanzania's number one trading partner, both in terms of imports and exports, and is also the African country's main source of foreign direct investment. The ambassador said that there's a lot of investment coming from China to Tanzania, and "this trend will definitely continue in the foreseeable future as we are relying on our very warm, friendly diplomatic relations for further economic development."

What the Chinese economy has been through is remarkable, and as the Chinese government has made the strategy to improve the economy, he is confident that Chinese economy will continue to grow well, the Nepalese Ambassador to China Bishnu Pukar Shrestha told the Global Times at the meeting.

"I think China is leveling in terms of not growing as fast as it used to be, but the growth is very healthy, and it will continue that way," Alfredo Ortuno Victory, Ambassador of Costa Rica to China, told the Global Times, noting that the target of around 5-percent growth rate is a lot, especially given the size of the country.

The ambassador also noted China's new quality productive forces, which place the main focus on innovation and technological self-reliance. Victory said that China has opt for the path of high-quality development as the country that has for many years no longer only producing low-tech products and has been doing well in the industry transition.

"The only way that you can meet the rising market's expectations is by adding value and technology," Victory said. The ambassador also noted that the numbers of patents that China owns are now more than any other countries in the world.

Unny Sankar Ravi Sankar, Minister of Economic Affairs of the Embassy of Malaysia in China, told the Global Times that in general, the global economy will slow down, but Chinese market is a bit unique because the government can better manage the economic performance.

"The Chinese market is a huge market. We have noticed that the Chinese leadership has taken the dual circulation approach and more focus will be given to consumption," the Malaysian official said.

Untapped potential

The optimism from the envoys does not come out of the blue. Statistics show that China's manufacturing industry accounts for over 28 percent of total global output, while the US is at about 16 percent. According to data from China's National Bureau of Statistics, China's GDP posted a growth of 5.2 percent year-on-year in 2023, higher than the annual target of around 5 percent, which demonstrates the country's achievements in economic governance in the face of global uncertainty.

China's key economic goals were successfully achieved, with its contribution to global economic growth exceeding 30 percent, surpassing the total of the G7 countries.

Envoys said that there is still potential for greater economic growth and more economic activity, highlighting the increasingly important roles in some very important initiatives and cooperative partnerships including the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which just marked its 10th anniversary last year, and the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which has proved to be a big boost for regional economic development.

As the Nepalese Ambassador to China said that "China-Nepal economic and trade relations have been good in the past but there is potential for further expansion, and this year is going to be a good year for elevating the relations to a new high."

"Costa Rica is a very export-oriented country, and China is our second trading partner, and we have high expectations on new products coming and going from our countries," Victory also said, expressing his anticipation for closer economic ties with the world second largest economy.

China always acts as the strong proponent for free trade

China's foreign trade has maintained double-digit growth for a long period, retaining its position as the world's largest trading nation in goods for seven consecutive years. The rapid expansion of China's trade has made the country a crucial hub for international trade and a primary driving force for global economic growth. 

The rise of China's trade has not only benefited the Chinese people but also people around the world, serving as a model of mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.

The rapid development of China's trade has driven the growth of global trade, providing strong support for a faster recovery of the global economy, while promoting trade diversification and balanced development. China actively participates in global economic governance and trade rule-making, playing an important role in improving the global trading system and promoting the construction of an open world economy.

Since the reform and opening-up about four decades ago, the rapid development of China's foreign trade turns out to be a rare and miraculous phenomenon in the history of global trade. China's foreign trade expanded to 41.76 trillion yuan ($5.8 trillion) in 2023 from 35.5 billion yuan in 1978, a rise of 1,185 times in yuan terms, with an average annual growth rate of 17 percent.

In recent years, against the backdrop of a slowing global economy and a complex and volatile trade environment, China's trade has maintained stable rise, indicating the sector's strong competitiveness and resilience. China has become the world's largest goods trading nation and the second-largest in services trade.

China's export structure continues to be optimized, gradually shifting from traditional labor-intensive products to high-tech, high value-added products. In recent years, the exports of high-tech products such as new-energy gear and electric cars have grown rapidly. 

According to the General Administration of Customs, exports of labor-intensive products last year accounted for 17.3 percent of the total exports. The value of electromechanical exports reached $1.98 trillion, accounting for 58.6 percent of the total, demonstrating significant achievements in China's economic innovation and industrial upgrading, reflecting the transition from "Made in China" to "Innovated in China."

China has been actively expanding trade partners and deepening economic and trade cooperation with other economies. The number of its trade partners increased from more than 40 in 1978 to more than 230 today. This diversification reduces trade risks and offers more market opportunities for Chinese enterprises. 

China is strengthening and consolidating trade relations with traditional partners such as the US, the EU, and ASEAN, and it's also actively establishing close economic and trade cooperation with countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, resolutely promoting trade liberalization and globalization.

China's foreign trade entities are vibrant, with private enterprises excelling. In 2023, the number of foreign trade entities with import and export records in China exceeded 600,000 for the first time. Among them, 556,000 were private enterprises. 

In 2023, the total trade of private enterprises reached $3.19 trillion, accounting for 53.5 percent of the nation's total foreign trade volume.  For the same period, the trade conducted by state-owned enterprises accounted for 16 percent of the total, and that of foreign funded enterprises accounted for 30.2 percent.

Private enterprises have displayed rapid market responses and strong innovation capabilities, injecting new vitality and momentum into China's foreign trade and playing an increasingly important role in China's foreign trade.

Many private enterprises have become the main force driving growth of China's exports, especially in high-tech and high value-added products, where the performance of private enterprises is particularly outstanding.

China's high-level opening-up is steadily advancing, with new platforms and new business formats showing strong impetus. In 2023, the number of China's pilot free trade zones expanded to 22, which generated trade of $1.09 trillion. 

Since the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) came into effect two years ago, the cost of regional trade have been significantly reduced, and links in industry and supply chains have become closer, leading to more closely connected trade among its members. In 2023, China's trade with the 14 other RCEP member countries reached $1.77 trillion, up 5.3 percent from 2021 before the agreement took effect.

The outstanding performance of China's commerce is the result of the combined effects of multiple factors. Strong institutional safeguards and policy support, a complete industrial system and vast industry chains, efforts to build open trade routes and cooperation platforms, the effective implementation of innovation-driven strategies, and the continuous exploration of new growth potential have collectively propelled the rapid growth of China's foreign trade.

As the global economy faces great uncertainties, China's stable performance in foreign trade provides important support for the stability of the world economy. More importantly, in contrast to certain countries' anti-globalization moves, China has always been the steady force supporting free and unfettered trade.

China is willing to share its development opportunities with the world, and is committed to building a global community of a shared future in which all economies thrive. 

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.