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.

China-Australia relation not targeted at third party, nor should be influenced by any third party: Chinese FM Wang Yi

Since the relationship between China and Australia is on the right track, we should not hesitate, deviate, or backtrack, and the development of the bilateral ties is not targeted at any third party, nor should it be influenced or interfered with by any third party, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Canberra on Wednesday.

Wang held the seventh China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue with Wong during the former's visit to Australia.

This is our sixth meeting, and each time we meet, mutual trust increases by one point, and the China-Australia relationship advances one step further, Wang told Wong.

The Chinese Foreign Minister said this is an important year that carries on the past and opens up the future. Building on the good momentum of bilateral relations so far, and both China and Australia should "work together to create the future" and, with a more proactive attitude, jointly build a more mature, stable, and fruitful comprehensive strategic partnership.

Over the past 10 years, the ups and downs of China-Australia relations have left us with lessons to learn and experiences to cherish, namely mutual respect, seeking common ground, pursuing mutual benefit, and to uphold independence and autonomy, Wang said.

Wang said China has always pursued an independent foreign policy of peace, and our policy toward Australia has been consistent. The development of China-Australia relations is not directed against any third party, nor should it be influenced or interfered with by any third party.

He noted that since China-Australia relations are on the right track, we should not hesitate, deviate, or backtrack. With a clear direction toward progress, we should strive to move forward steadily, well, and far. This is in the common interest of the two peoples and the general expectation of regional countries.

Wang also said that China is ready to work with Australia to prepare for high-level exchange between two countries and deepen cooperation on traditional field such as mineral, energy and agricultural products; also explore cooperation on new energy, digital economy, green development and coping with climate change.

He urged Australia to take concrete measures to uphold the principles of market economy and fair competition rules, and provide a fair, just, transparent, and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises investing and operating in the country.

Wang elaborated with Wong on China's stance on issues related to island of Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, Xizang, and the South China Sea, emphasizing that there is no historical entanglement or fundamental conflict of interests between China and Australia, and that their common interests far outweigh their differences.

According to a handout related to the dialogue issued by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wong stated that Australia and China have close historical, trade, and cultural ties, and are comprehensive strategic partners. As countries in the same region, differences should not define the relationship between Australia and China.

She said that Australia is pleased to see significant progress in bilateral relations in recent years and is willing to further strengthen dialogue and communication with China on the basis of mutual respect, to manage differences, to leverage complementary advantages, and to deepen cooperation in economic, trade, and cultural fields.

Both sides agreed to resume and establish dialogues in various fields , promote more cooperation across foreign affairs, economic, trade, science and technology, education, and law enforcement departments of the two countries, and actively consider initiating a dialogue on maritime affairs. Both sides agreed to take further measures to facilitate the exchange of people between the two countries.

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.

Confidence

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. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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