Visitors take photos of a statue ofMarco Polo at Macro Polo Memorial Hall in Yangzhou, East China’s Jiangsu province. [File photo/VCG]

President answers letter of Rome high schoolers ahead of 6-day European trip

President Xi Jinping encouraged high school students in Rome to be “Marco Polo in the new era” and facilitate cultural exchanges between China and Italy.

Xi wrote a letter in reply to the principal and eight students of Convitto Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele II, a boarding school.

The president said he was pleased to see the students express their thoughts in fluent Chinese in their letter.

In 2009, the school opened an international high school that teaches science-related courses in Chinese.

The students said they got the chance to learn about China through the Confucius Classroom program and to see the vastness of the world and the value of cultural diversity.

The high school has cultivated young people that aspire to friendliness between China and Italy, Xi said.

He said he appreciated that the students are determined to promote the exchanges and dialogue of thought and cultures between the young people of the two countries and friendship between the two peoples.

Xi also welcomed the students to study and work in China, saying that he hoped the country could be one of the places where they realize their dreams.

The students also expressed their eager expectations for Xi’s visit, as Italy will be the first stop of the president’s six-day trip to Europe starting on Thursday. It will also take him to Monaco and France.

It will be the first visit of China’s head of state to Italy in a decade. Xi is scheduled to have talks with Italian President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte.

“We believe this visit will further consolidate the political mutual trust between the two countries and deepen practical cooperation in various areas under the Belt and Road Initiative,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular news conference on Monday.

Xi’s visit to Monaco will be the first to the country by a Chinese head of state, which “bears historic significance for developing the China-Monaco relationship,” Geng said.

“We wish to work with Monaco … and continue to be the example of friendliness and mutually beneficial cooperation between countries of different size,” he said.

In France, Xi will have talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and meet with French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

“China-Europe cooperation is crucial and important for reducing uncertainties in the current international situation and boosting the confidence of the global community,” said Ruan Zongze, executive vice-president of the China Institute of International Studies.

China and Europe are supporters of multilateralism and have achieved many results in cooperation on global issues such as climate change and global governance, and “there is still huge potential for further cooperation”, Ruan said.

China’s newly approved Foreign Investment Law will also provide opportunities for Europe to further strengthen cooperation with China, given that it shows China’s efforts to improve its domestic business environment, he added.

[Photo byMa Xuejing/China Daily]

Vice-minister says China to support development of economic zones

China will step up efforts to build economic and trade cooperation zones in the Belt and Road economies and promote projects that can benefit all parties, the Ministry of Commerce said.

Qian Keming, vice-minister of commerce, said the ministry would support the upgrading or rebuilding of some economic and trade cooperation zones in economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, and construct several new ones to accelerate local development.

To benefit all parties, the ministry will push forward with projects that can improve local infrastructure conditions and people’s livelihoods, and help developing economies better participate in the global division of labor, Qian said on Saturday at a news conference during the two sessions.

Qian said the Belt and Road Initiative fulfills developing nations’ investment needs, rather than increasing their debt pressure. Statistics showed that increased debt in many countries is a result of their long-term debt accumulation, he said, citing the example of Pakistan.

Pakistan has been in the news headlines for its debt problems, yet as much as 42 percent of the country’s foreign debt was borrowed from multilateral institutions, while Chinese debt accounts for only about 10 percent of the total, Qian said.

Qian added that China constructed a large amount of infrastructure such as ports, airports and highways in developing countries, which has encouraged local economic development and brought tangible benefits to their people.

For example, China Railway Construction Corp (International) Ltd recently completed a 52.18-kilometer stretch of a highway in Angola three months ahead of schedule.

The national highway is a key route connecting the Angolan capital of Luanda and Huambo, the southwestern African nation’s second-largest city. The project cuts the traveling time between the two cities by four hours, and stimulates economic development along the route and surrounding areas, the State-owned construction firm said.

Addressing the completion ceremony, Manuel Tavares de Almeida, Angola’s minister of construction and public works, said the quality of the road’s construction met the government’s requirements.

On Saturday, Qian from the commerce ministry also commented on certain countries’ tightened security reviews of foreign investment, which may obstruct Chinese companies’ activities.

Qian said: “We are firmly against protectionism in any form, and do not want to see the abuse of security reviews as a means to obstruct normal investment activities.”

He said the ministry would roll out measures to guide enterprises to rationally invest in overseas markets.

Data from the ministry showed that irrational outbound investment continued to be effectively curbed last year, with no new projects reported in sectors including property, sports and entertainment. ODI rose 4.2 percent year-on-year to around $130 billion in 2018.

A big data exhibition center. [Photo/VCG]

BEIJING – China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee will store normative documents on record on a digital platform to make it easier to review them, according to the legislative work committee of the NPC Standing Committee.

The review work aims to find whether regulations and judicial interpretations are inappropriate conflict with laws.

The platform is being built and will launch later this year, said Shen Chunyao, director of the legislative work committee.

The system provides online review of laws and regulations, data collection and legislative services, helping legislators improve work efficiency and quality, Shen said.

The move is part of the NPC’s effort to streamline its work, as a regulation on standardizing the Standing Committee’s filing and reviewing of normative documents has been drafted.

Amid recently tightened US visa policies for Chinese students and scholars on the grounds of a national security threat, China’s Ministry of Education (MOE) warned on Monday of the risk of applying to study in the US, which was widely seen as another countermeasure against the US following the entity list.

Analysts believe that the warning is also a necessary response to US discrimination against Chinese students since last year and will greatly affect US schools as Chinese students are one of their major revenue streams.

Xu Mei, the ministry’s spokeswoman, said at Monday’s press conference that for some time, visas of some Chinese students studying in the US have been restricted, and the visa review period has been extended. Meanwhile, the validity period has been shortened, and the visa rejection rate has increased, which has affected the studies of Chinese students in the US or the successful completion of their studies.

The ministry also reminded Chinese students and scholars to enhance risk assessment, strengthen awareness of prevention and make corresponding preparations before studying abroad, Xu said.

Xu Yongji, deputy head of the Department of International Cooperation and Exchanges under the ministry, said in 2018, the ministry planned to send 10,313 students to study in the US at public expense, and 331 students were denied visas, or 3.2 percent. From January to March this year, the ministry planned to send 1,353 students to study in the US at public expense, of whom 182 were refused visas, or 13.5 percent.

The US has revoked or re-examined the visas of Chinese nationals going to the US on the grounds of counterespionage. It also has canceled the 10-year visas for a number of scholars specializing in China-US relations, Xu said. He urged the US to correct as soon as possible and “do more things that are conducive to promoting bilateral educational exchanges.”

The US Department of Defense announced on Friday the sale of 34 surveillance drones to four countries in the South China Sea region – Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The sale seemed to be in line with the Pentagon’s newly released Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, details of which show the US’ goal of containing China. Reuters reported on Tuesday that “the drones would afford greater intelligence gathering capabilities potentially curbing Chinese activity in the region.”

However, if we take a second look at the manufacturer of those ScanEagle drones, Boeing Co, we can discern that the US does not necessarily mean to assist those allies in the South China Sea region, where China has been defamed by accusations of “behaving like a ‘bully,'” but to make money.

Due to the deadly crashes of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets, the aviation giant has seen the biggest slump in its share price since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, according to Time magazine. That a US company is suffering in the international market is too inconsistent with US President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy. Amid increasing tensions between China and the US due to the trade war, the Trump administration is happy to let US firms make money, especially if it also provokes China.

In light of this, if we look back at the US’ attempts to hit DJI, China’s leading drone manufacturer, we will not view these attempts as absurd as they first seemed.

Even though Trump has taken office, his business nature doesn’t fade. He will do anything as long as the US can make a profit and not be taken advantage of, despite sacrificing anyone else’s interests.

This is why he has started trade wars around the globe and sells US drones while cracking down on drones made by Chinese companies.

The US has been selling arms to Asia-Pacific countries, to which it is paying more attention. The arms sales will bind these countries to the US, because if you buy US equipment, it comes as a whole package, including support equipment and technical services. The US will make sure its equipment cannot be used in combination with technology from other countries. As a result, the buyers of US arms will eventually face a choice – either meet any demand of the US or have no other option to update their military equipment.

In its Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, the US described China as a “Revisionist Power.” Then on Saturday during the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, acting US Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said the US will not ignore China’s behavior in the South China Sea. By increasing arms sales to China’s neighbors, the US intends to provoke conflicts between China and those countries and jeopardize stability in the Asia-Pacific.

The US is subduing China while simultaneously selling arms in the region and establishing a security framework aimed at China. Asia-Pacific countries should be vigilant in case the US’ moves intensify the regional situation and seriously endanger regional cooperation – what they and China need most.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission is mulling over establishing a national technological security management list system, Xinhua reported. The detailed measures will be unveiled in the near future.

This plan is clearly related to the recent announcement by the Ministry of Commerce of a non-reliable entity list. It not only is an initiative for China to strengthen its long-term institutional construction of economic security, but also has practical significance for countering the US technical restrictions and supply cut-off to some Chinese high-tech enterprises.

Although details have not yet been released, the act can be expected to protect Chinese high-tech enterprises and will provide the legal basis for technology exports management. Since 2018, the US has repeatedly drawn on its domestic law to exert pressure on Chinese high-tech enterprises. China’s countermeasures against the US require more legal weapons.

China has some relevant laws and regulations, such as the National Security Law, but the enforcement was relatively weak in the past. Establishing a national technological security management list system not only helps refine relevant regulations, but also strengthens the implementation.

The industrial structure of today’s world is a complex supply chain system. The US does control high-end technology in many fields, but China is the world’s largest manufacturing base, which has mastered and innovated various practical technologies. The global supply chain cannot operate without China. China is capable of impacting the US supply chain through certain technical controls.

China recently indicated a probable cut-off of rare-earth products to the US. Although the US may take various measures to alleviate such a shock, it will be messy. China not only is the world’s largest producer and exporter of rare earths, but also masters rare-earth refining technology ahead of the world.

The US claims that some foreign-funded enterprises will leave China and move to Southeast Asian countries, an oversimplified view. Making Southeast Asian countries the US barrier to contain China is against the will of those countries. It is not only technically difficult, but will never be allowed by China. China has the sufficient capacity and means to upset such plan of the US. China will establish a non-reliable entity list and a national technological security management list system, but China will not abuse them to arbitrarily suppress cooperative foreign companies. China cherishes the environment provided by reform and opening-up and protects the interests of all enterprises cooperating normally with China. China’s newly established mechanisms will be strictly limited to safeguarding China’s national security. Only foreign companies that have harmed China’s high-tech enterprise security and national security by actual actions will be the targets.

Some may think that such regulations create ambiguity and leave space for “selective law enforcement.” There are vague areas in all regulations, and any country’s judicial machine can selectively enforce laws. But has China “selectively” punished a single foreign company in all these years? It is the US that has been providing the most obvious examples of unfair and selective law enforcement.

It has been observed that US judicial tools are arbitrarily used to maintain its global hegemony and implement various long-arm jurisdictions. The US national security and hegemony are equated. China has neither such ambitions nor the willingness to abuse long-arm jurisdiction. China’s national security is in line with the understanding of all countries. The world should now guard against the US, the country which recklessly disrupts the global supply chain, rather than China, which has to adopt strategic defenses and carry out some key counterattacks.

When the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) offered the public an opportunity to send their names to the Red Planet with its Mars 2020 rover, more than 5.8 million people signed up in just one week.

Using an electron beam, the Microdevices Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California will stencil the submitted names onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair (75 nanometers). At that size, more than 1 million names can be written on a single dime-sized microchip. The chip will ride on the rover under a glass cover, according to the website of NASA.

With NASA’s Mars 2020 rover entering its final test phase before the spacecraft launch, a Chinese couple has participated in the drive to send their names to Mars.

Qi Binying, who is based in Sierra Madre, Southern California, had thought it was just a joke among her friends.

When she keyed in her name in the NASA registration system and generated the boarding pass for download, she felt that outer space was right in front of her, according to a report on Chinese language daily World Journal on Saturday.

Qi’s husband, Robert, an engineer with the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has also registered his name in the system.

Robert said that he had received an official boarding commemorative card and will record approximately 504 million kilometers of flight miles, according to the report.

He also works on a research program for NASA searching for the original location of the Earth.

The rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.

Besides this campaign, NASA also rolled out an activity to collect names for NASA’s InSight spacecraft on Mars. More than 2.4 million people signed up, of whom 260,000 were from China.

The InSight spacecraft touched down safely on Mars on November 26, 2018 kicking off a two-year mission to explore the deep interior of the Red Planet.

The year 2019 is special for China-US ties. On January 1, 1979, China and the US established formal diplomatic ties.

There is an old saying in China that “at 40, one should be no longer confused”. It means at 40, we can figure out many things. However, as US-China relations enter the 40th year, it seems far from being “no longer confused”. Over the past year, bilateral relations have seen crests and troughs. The trade war was like a raging fire. Voices like “decouple”, “new Cold War”, “Thucydides Trap” have become shriller. Both countries are facing a tough moment. Once again, Beijing and Washington need to determine the direction of their bilateral ties.

“Consider the past and you shall know the future” goes another saying in China. Reviewing the past helps us know the future. Looking back at the 40 years’ of China-US relationship, although bilateral ties have been choppy, there has been historic progress.

Forty years ago, the number of visits between the two states was only several thousand annually, but in 2017 it exceeded 5.3 million. Four decades ago, the bilateral trade volume stood at less than $2.5 billion. However, in 2017, it hit over $580 billion. Investment between the two nations increased from nearly zero in 1979 to over $230 billion in 2017. Over the 40 years, Beijing and Washington have cooperated bilaterally, regionally and internationally from solving regional issues to fighting terrorism, from dealing with international financial crisis to promoting global economic issues.

Over time, bilateral relations have also seen setbacks. There have been four incidents that have affected ties over decades. The first one took place between 1989 and 1991, when the US slapped sanctions on China, including the suspension of high-level contact and military communication between the two states. Afterwards, more than 20 nations followed the US to crack down on China. Hence, bilateral relations dropped to the lowest point since 1972. The crisis across the Taiwan Straits from 1995 to 1996 was the second one. In May 1995, the US government approved then Taiwan leader Lee Teng-hui’s visit to Cornell University in the US. To counter Taiwan independence forces, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched military exercises and missile tests near Taiwan waters in July and August 1995 and March 1996. During the second exercise, Washington warships USS Independence and USS Nimitz sailed into Taiwan Straits. The third crisis was a missile attack on the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia by US-led NATO on May 7, 1999, triggering the Chinese people’s fury. China-US aircraft collision in 2001 was the fourth one in which a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane and a PLA Navy F-8 fighter collided killing Chinese pilot Wang Wei. The US plane landed at Lingshui airport on Hainan Island without China’s permission.

The four incidents had a huge impact on bilateral ties, bringing them to a tearing point. However, these crises prompted leaders of both countries to invest plenty of time and energy to address these issues by ramping up communication between the two governments and enhancing mutual understanding, restoring normalcy in ties.

Experience can offer lessons for fluctuating China-US relations.

First, both countries need to seek mutual interest. Positive China-US ties began with common geopolitical requirements. After the Cold War, both nations agreed to strengthen economic and trade cooperation as globalization dawned. Although the two countries are involved in a trade dispute, there is still room to expand economic and trade ties. There is much more to China-US ties than the trade dispute. Additionally, the two have consistently sought common interest in preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, dealing with financial crises and climate change. These have contributed to the development of relations.

Second, as ties are complicated and so are domestic realities, the heads of the two states should play a leading role in dealing with relations.

Third, the two governments are supposed to explore institutional links. China and the US are two great powers with diverse social systems, ideologies, cultures and traditions. It is normal that conflicts and problems between the two exist. The key is how to manage them, so that they do not hurt relations. Effective communication between the two governments is one way of coping with it.

Finally, social communication between the countries should be expanded.

Crises lead to erosion of Washington-Beijing ties, while tackling them not only controls them, but also enables both sides to become more familiar with each other and more aware of the intentions of both sides. With competitive relations, crises and controlling them may be a common course bilateral ties take. Therefore, we need to prepare mentally for such eventualities.

Chen Qicai, the Party secretary of Tanxi Village, is extremely busy during weekends and holidays as he and his fellow villagers have to receive tourists who come to visit the beaches of the Beibu Gulf.

Chen lives in Tanxi village on the coast of Beibu Gulf in southern China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

“The village remained undeveloped for a long time and more than 2,800 villagers lived by fishing,” Tan said.

Construction of the Bailang (White Wave) Beach in this village began in the 1990s and now it has become a 4A-level scenic spot.

“We have seen an increasing number of visitors as tourist infrastructure has developed. The number of visitors to Bailang Beach grows by 15 percent annually,” he said.

Besides Bailang Beach, more than 20 scenic spots have sprung up around Beibu Gulf, where efforts are underway to transform it into an international tourist resort.

Last year, six cities around the gulf, including Fangchenggang, Qinzhou, and Beihai, received 324 million tourists, up 28.1 percent year on year. Total spending reached 344 billion yuan (around 49.9 billion US dollars), up 33.2 percent year on year.

“The outstanding ecological advantage helps this region stand out as an international destination,” said Luo Zhen, a vice mayor of Fangchenggang.

Several years ago, the construction of a large shipyard was planned at the Sanniang Gulf in Qinzhou. The plan was later dropped to protect the habitat of Chinese white dolphins.

According to the long-term observation and calculation by Pan Wenshi, a professor from the School of Life Sciences under Peking University, the number of Chinese white dolphins was on the rise from 2013 to 2016, increasing by four to six dolphins per year.

Environmental protection efforts in Qinzhou have paid off. The number of tourists and total tourism consumption in the city have more than doubled in the last three years.

The neighboring city of Beihai has also taken measures to conserve the coastal environment. At Yin Tan, or the Silver Beach, authorities have expanded planting trees and issued a special regulation on the protection of the beach.

“Construction of non-public welfare permanent buildings within 300 meters from the coast is strictly prohibited. Land reclamation, enclosure of beaches and mangroves are also not allowed,” said Han Yunfei, deputy director of Beihai Tourism, Culture and Sports Bureau.

According to local authorities, a cruise terminal with a capacity of 100,000 tonnes is under construction in Beihai to further boost the tourism sector.

Officials from South China’s Guangdong Province vowed on Monday to further open up its local economy and boost indigenous innovation as the country’s economic powerhouse faces rising challenges amid an industrial upgrade process and the escalating China-US trade war.

Though the escalating trade war has had a “certain degree” of impact on Guangdong, trade has been generally stable and the province is confident in dealing with “all the challenges and risks,” Guangdong Governor Ma Xingrui told a press briefing in Beijing on Monday.

Ma and other provincial officials attended the briefing to highlight Guangdong’s reform and opening-up efforts and achievements, as part of the State Council Information Office’s series of events to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

“Guangdong is the epitome and symbol” of the remarkable development that China has achieved over the past seven decades, Ma said, pointing out that Guangdong’s GDP has grown from a mere 2.03 billion yuan in 1949 to 9.7 trillion yuan ($1.4 trillion) in 2018.

Guangdong is known as a trailblazer of the country’s reform and opening-up policies which began 41 years ago and helped the province become a world-class manufacturing and technology hub. It is home to nearly 5 million companies – the most among all Chinese provinces – including small manufacturing companies and tech giants such as Huawei.

“As the province that benefits from the reform and opening-up policy, Guangdong needs to speed up promoting reform and transformation, and set an example again,” Yuan Fuhua, director of the economic growth office of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Monday, noting that opening-up is the only way to deal with the challenges.

Guangdong’s approach to deal with changes from rising labor and other costs, competition from Southeast Asian countries and the escalating trade war could offer a path for the whole country as it did over the past 40 years, analysts noted.

Given Guangdong’s massive trade, which accounts for one-fifth of China’s trade with the US, the trade war has “inevitably had a certain degree of impact” on Guangdong, Ma said, but “we are confident that we will overcome all challenges and risks.”

The trade war escalated after the US backtracked and slapped tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods and blacklisted Huawei. On Sunday, China issued a white paper on its stance on the trade talks, blaming the US for being unreliable and vowing not to back down on core issues.

Ma said that to ease pressure from the trade war, Guangdong will take measures to further expand opening-up, ease market access, explore foreign markets and boost indigenous innovation.

“We will further expand market opening. This strategy is unwavering,” he said.

Business owners in the province have also expressed overwhelming confidence in overcoming potential difficulties. Some companies have been actively seeking alternative markets, while others are trying to further explore the massive domestic market.

“There’s nothing to be afraid of,” Lin Butian, chairman of Dongguan Electric Motor Co, told the Global Times in a recent interview. “China can count on itself to find a way.”