Global auto firms expand investment in China market as cooperation is needed to boost global green transition

While US-led Western countries are taking unilateral and protectionist actions against China's booming new-energy vehicle (NEV) sector, the world's leading automakers such as BMW Group have briskly increased their investment in the China market for greater opportunities, expressing their confidence in the world's second-largest economy and consumer market.  

Chinese observers said multinationals' active investment in China's automobile industry, especially in the NEV sector, debunks the US' accusation of "overcapacity" in China's new-energy products. They said that from a global perspective, there is a shortage of production capacity in the new energy industry, blasting Washington's false "overcapacity" narrative and saying it aims to damage China's NEV industry for its own benefits.

German automaker BMW Group announced its plans to invest an additional 20 billion yuan ($3.12 billion) into its production base in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province on Friday, according to a press release.

The investment underlines China's pivotal role in BMW's transition toward intelligent connected vehicles, and shows the group's confidence for years ahead, said Oliver Zipse, chairman of the board of BMW.

BMW's announcement comes amid increasingly fierce competition in China's NEV market. At the ongoing 2024 Beijing International Automotive Exhibition, also known as Auto China, international auto brands are rushing to showcase their electric models to embrace the China market and the global electrification trend.

Buick, one of the fast-growing US car brands, put up two booths to showcase its products. One of the booths, close to that of Chinese new powers in the NEV industry such as Xiaomi and IM Motors, is designed to show its NEVs, according to media reports. 

It indicated Buick's resolve to get a market share in the sector, an auto industry analyst surnamed Feng, who attended this year's Auto China, told the Global Times on Saturday.

In addition, US luxury carmaker Cadillac launched a new electric sport utility vehicle under the IQ series, whose prices and product performance are attractive.

Unlike previously, when many audience members flocked to a booth when a foreign CEO appeared, this year's Auto China is seeing Chinese local NEV brands make a splash, Feng said, noting that Chinese NEV brands' strong innovations and high-growth potential are making them stand out in international competition.

China's vehicle market got off to a good start in the first quarter of 2024, with production and sales each exceeding 6.6 million units, according to latest data released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers. The market share of NEVs remained above 30 percent, the data showed.

US anxiety in excess

However, ignoring China's contribution to global green and low carbon transition, the US is attaching the label of "overcapacity" to China's exports of new-energy products. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claimed that the Biden administration is not taking any options off the table to respond to China's "excess industrial capacity", Reuters reported. 

"The US' unilateral move of labelling 'overcapacity' on Chinese new energy exports is politicizing normal international trade, which will do harm to global carbon neutrality and delay global green transition," Zhang Xiang, director of the Digital Automotive International Cooperation Research Center of the World Digital Economy Forum, told the Global Times on Saturday.

"The US exports 80 percent of its chips, and it is a large exporter of aircraft, automobiles, computers, soybeans and agricultural products to China. Are these 'overcapacity' according to US logic?" Zhang asked. 

Zhang said the proportion of export to production for Chinese new-energy vehicles is far lower than that of Germany, Japan and South Korea. "If these countries haven't seen overcapacity, the US shouldn't put the label on China," he said.

The so-called "overcapacity" claim is not a market-defined conclusion, but a man-made false narrative, and it is also another example of US protectionism and suppression of China's development, Yang Tao, director-general of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs at the Foreign Ministry, said on Friday.

What's "excessive" is not China's capacity, but the US' anxiety, he said when briefing the media on US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to China.

According to a forecast by the International Energy Agency in 2023, the world's total sales volume of electric vehicles is set to reach 45 million in 2030, about 4.5 times the sales volume recorded in 2022, underscoring that global supply of new-energy products is not excessive but insufficient.

Advantages boosted by innovation

In today's world, supply and demand are both global, and the capacity of each country is determined by comparative advantages. Thus, Western countries hyping up so-called "overcapacity" in China's new energy industry will not help the development of their domestic green industries, analysts said.

Technological innovation, globally competitive industrial clusters, full-market competition and agile supply chains make the Chinese NEV industry strongly competitive in the international venue, Li Yong, a senior research fellow at the China Association of International Trade, told the Global Times.

"Compared with some countries that have failed to develop industrial chains or key technologies during the development of the NEV industry, China has achieved a globally leading position in innovations, technology application and interior design, enabling Chinese NEVs to meet the demand of international consumers," he said.

The development of NEVs has given a boost to the development of Chinese car brands globally. Public data has shown that more than 60 percent of NEVs are produced in China, Chinese NEV patents accounted for about 70 percent of global total and over 63 percent of the world's power batteries are supplied by China, which has mastered the core technologies and complete industrial chains of NEVs.

Given the leading position of Chinese NEV makers, what developed economies such as the US and the EU need to do is increase cooperation with China, Zhao Yongsheng, a research fellow of the Institute of Regional and International Studies at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, told the Global Times on Saturday.

"We are willing to conduct cooperation with them in any mode, for example, component manufacturing, investment for facilities or car exports. The key is that they themselves should realize that China is very advanced and they should abandon their decoupling mentality," Zhao said, noting that ordinary people in the West will have to pay the price if they continue their containment of China.

Nation’s first People’s Armed Forces Department in financial institutions established in NW China’s Qinghai

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Qinghai Provincial Branch established a People's Armed Forces Department in Xining, Northwest China's Qinghai Province recently, becoming the first grassroots armed forces department in financial institutions in the country.

The establishment, which took place on Friday, also marks the first grassroots armed forces department in Xining, which plays a leading role in the city, according to media reports on Thursday.

Establishing a People's Armed Forces Department in state-owned enterprises is an objective requirement to implement the militia system in accordance with the law, and also an effort to fulfill national defense obligations, according to Liu Xiang, commander of the Xining garrison.

The Qinghai branch has customized activity venues for enterprise militias, equipped them with high-standard hardware and facilities.

According to the president of the branch, the provincial bank has actively fulfilled its social responsibilities and supported national defense construction by participating in security projects, providing employment opportunities for retired military personnel in recent years.

Wu Qian, a spokesperson for China's Ministry of National Defense, told a press conference in October 2023 that establishing a People's Armed Forces Department in state-owned enterprises is a legal implementation of the militia system, as well as to fulfill national defense obligations, and strengthen national defense construction.

Australia should be bridge, rather than Western spear tip into Asia: historian

Editor’s Note:

In his recent visit to Australia, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China welcomes Australia, an ally of the US, also a partner of China, and more importantly, a sovereign nation, to make policies independently, based on its own fundamental interests. After Wang’s visit, the two countries saw positive signs in the healthy development of bilateral ties. Given the importance of the relations between China and Australia, Global Times reporters Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi (GT) conducted an exclusive interview with John Queripel (Queripel), an Australian historian and author, on bilateral relations, Australia’s foreign policy, how Australia views its role in Asia, as well as its relations with the US.

GT: How do you assess the outcomes of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Australia?

Queripel: Wang Yi’s visit, the most senior Chinese official to visit Australia in seven years, for the seventh Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue, was another important step in re-establishing China-Australia relations after a period in which, under the previous Australian government, they had sunk to great depths.

The Albanese government has spoken of its desire to consolidate and normalize relations between the two countries, and this was a crucial step in achieving that.

Core to the visit was the economic relationship between the two countries. China makes up around one third of Australian exports and imports. The economic relationship ought to be complementary, as it has been in the past, but in recent years has stuttered.

Both sides seem to have been pleased with the talks. Wang called for no hesitation, no yawing, and no backward steps in the bilateral relationship, stating that both sides should strive to make steady, good, and sustained progress as the course forward has been charted.

He expressed his hope that Australia would take measures to uphold the principles of the market economy and provide a non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises in Australia. Canberra screens foreign investment in key sectors for national security, including critical minerals, and has blocked some Chinese deals. He also highlighted the need for independence, likely a reference to China’s view that Australia’s foreign policy is dominated by its strategic alliance with the US.

His Australian counterpart, Penny Wong, stated that Australia desired a mature and productive relationship, though there is more to be done. Dialogue, she maintained, “enables us to manage our differences. We both know it does not eliminate them. Australia will always be Australia and China will always be China.”

GT: What’s the general response of the visit in Australian society?

Queripel: Australian societal attitudes toward China are strongly shaped by the attitudes displayed by the nation’s politicians and media, which are often negative, sometimes virulently so. Polls, however, indicate a gradual warming of attitudes toward Australia’s major trading partner. This visit is likely to continue that warming.

The Australian business community has often found itself at strong odds with the political and media establishment. They are the ones, along with their employees, who suffer from any breakdown in that relationship. It appears that the ever-deepening thaw in relations under the previous government has been reversed, while there also is an increased questioning of the depth of Australian subservience to the US, particularly as represented by AUKUS.

As increased numbers of Australians are now visiting China, and the Chinese are traveling to Australia; understandings and interactions are likely to warm as they increase.

GT: There has been continuous opposition within Australia toward collaboration with China, particularly due to concerns about the so-called “China threat.” How do you perceive this sentiment? In the last two years, is there any reflection now in Australia about the previous policy on China?

Queripel: The so-called “China threat” is played everywhere in Australia. Even previously respectable media, including public broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, get caught up in it. It seems all pervasive. Its worst expression was the infamous “red alert” series, wherein it was argued, with all seriousness, that China was about to “invade” Australia any day now. Of course such inanity stands at total odds with the AUKUS idea of acquiring submarines 15-20 years down the track for the nation’s defense.
While the current government, though still intimately involved in US war planning, is hosing down the extremes of the “China threat” narrative, nearly all of the mainstream media is still enthralled by it. Members of the previous government, now in the opposition, remain rabidly anti-China.
Sad to say, for many there has been little reflection on previous policy toward China. There are some hopeful signs though, with people in general seeing through the lies and duplicity, and gradually again warming toward China. Polls also indicate that the majority of Australians reject the government policy of total subservience to US foreign policy.

GT: From your perspective, is there anything that the current Australian government can learn from former prime minister Paul Keating’s China policy?

Queripel: Under the then prime minister Gough Whitlam, Australia established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China half century ago. Relations deepened through each subsequent government change in Australia, due to both nations understanding their inter-dependence, and how that benefited both. Both sides of Australian politics understood this. Around 2015, feeling under threat due to China’s rise, US policy turned against China. That was associated with former US president Obama’s “pivot to the Indo-Pacific,” something which obviously drew in Australia. From around 2017 intense “Sinophobia” was unleashed in Australia.

Former prime minister Paul Keating has been excoriating in his criticism of it. For that he has worn much opprobrium, but of course he is right. Of former prime ministers, Keating is the only one contributing in a clear-sighted, level-headed manner to the debate.

Current Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, believes the attitude of Australia needs to be one where “we seek to cooperate with China where we can, disagree where we must, and engage in our national interest…It’s Australia’s view that a stable bilateral relationship would enable both countries to pursue respective national interests, if we navigate our differences wisely.” Such an attitude sounds prescient.

GT: This year, 50 prominent figures in Australia released a joint statement, calling on the Albanian government to assume a “constructive middle-power” role in alleviating tensions between Australia’s largest trading partner, China, and its closest ally, the US. Do you believe Australia can effectively fulfill this role?

Queripel: Australia needs to play this role. Former Singaporean diplomat and now international relations scholar Kishore Mahbubani has cast the choices for Australia thus: “Australia’s strategic dilemma in the 21st century is simple: It can choose to be a bridge between East and West in the Asian Century — or the tip of the spear projecting Western power into Asia.”

Too often Australia, hamstrung by its colonial history, has acted as a white outpost in Asia. AUKUS is the latest manifestation of this, and it has a bad look in Asia, being made without any consultation with Australia’s Asian neighbors.
If Australia can accept its geographical location as part of Asia, and bring with that its allied status for some 80 years with the US, it can play a very important part in alleviating tensions between the superpowers.

GT: How do you think Australia should navigate its relationship with China while also balancing its alliances with other countries, such as the US?

Queripel: The world does not, indeed should not be seen in either or, us or them dualities. Indeed, faced with the common problem of climate change, which is presenting itself as an existential threat, it is imperative that nations of the world take a much more co-operative approach.

It is the West which has thought of itself as being separate to others, “carrying the white man’s burden,” needing to bring its “values’ to the world.” That was its reason for building its colonial power, though in reality this provided a good cover for economic exploitation. This type of “exceptionalism” still informs US policy today.

China, on the other hand doesn’t think in this manner. China is exhibiting a much more co-operative style in international relations.

Australia ought to leverage its close relationship with the US to encourage them to move beyond an aggressive hegemonic world view, to one built on cooperation. That will call Australia first of all, to commit itself to such a path. Currently it is far too closely allied to the US, something from which it has gained nothing.

It is time for Australia to step back from backing one side, and instead use its close connections with both China and the US to act as an honest broker. It can choose to be a “bridge” rather than a Western “spear tip” into Asia. That will be to Australia’s great advantage as Asia increasingly becomes the economic hub of the world.

GT: What role do you see Australia playing in promoting regional stability and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in relation to China?

Queripel: Currently, far from playing a stabilizing role, Australia is playing a role of destabilizing the region. Australia needs to change its own practices as well as pressing the US to stop playing a game of brinkmanship in the Asia-Pacific region, with its warships sailing provocatively close to China. Brinkmanship is always dangerous, especially when nations are nuclear armed.

Asia is committed to peace. The ASEAN is a great sign of cooperation between nations, with sometimes very different ideologies and forms of government. Marked by a special summit in Melbourne, Australia has just celebrated 50 years of dialogue partnership with the ASEAN. In that period Asia has been the great success story in dealing with conflict.

There is a role for Australia in promoting regional stability and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. For it to do that, however, will mean a radical reorientation of the current policy, and for it to advocate with its ally, the US to change its policy.

HK DSE first Citizenship and Social Development exam 'sets reassuring precedent'

With over 45,000 candidates registered to sit for the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (DSE)'s first exam of Citizenship and Social Development (CS) subject, replacing the previous controversial Liberal Studies subject, some representatives from the education sector told the Global Times on Thursday that the first CS subject exam sets a reassuring precedent for the future development of the subject. 

Some students who sat for the exam were quoted in media reports as saying that the level of difficulty was moderate, and the test covered a wide range of topics. 

CS has gradually been introduced as a core subject in Hong Kong high schools since the 2021-2022 academic year, replacing Liberal Studies, according to media reports. The subject's first related examination was held on Tuesday, with the assessment criteria being "met standard" and "not met standard." 

In this first exam paper, over two-thirds of the questions were related to topics such as national education and national security. 

After the exam, many students were visibly relieved, feeling that regular class attendance and the general national curriculum had prepared them well to tackle the questions. At the exam center in Concordia Lutheran School in North Point, a student named Tsang commented that the exam mainly required reading comprehension, with only a few harder questions necessitating memorization, expressing confidence in meeting the set standard, according to media reports. 

Another student surnamed Lee said the hardest part during the preparation process was content related to the Basic Law, which led to focused study before the exam.

Wong Chung Wai, vice principal of the school and CS subject teacher said that one of the aims of the subject is to enhance students' national identity. He believes that the exam's level of difficulty was moderate and anticipates that the pass rate for students will exceed 90 percent.

After implementing high school educational reform in Hong Kong in 2009, Liberal Studies became a compulsory subject. After events such as the illegal Occupy Central protest in 2014, the Mong Kok riots in 2016, and the "anti-extradition bill amendment" in 2019, Liberal Studies subject was believed to have indirectly led many young people to radicalism, increasing societal calls in Hong Kong for curriculum reform and enhanced civic literacy through stronger national education.

In June 2020, after the implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong, former chief executive Carrie Lam proposed, in her policy address, the strengthening of national education, and the Education Bureau soon announced the reform of Liberal Studies.

In early April 2021, the much-anticipated reform plan for Hong Kong's Liberal Studies was finally announced, renaming it to "Citizenship and Social Development," and eliminating the Independent Enquiry Study (IES) subject. 

CS is still a compulsory subject, structured around three core themes: Hong Kong, the nation, and the contemporary world, with a compulsory examination, but with reduced class hours of 130-150 hours, and opportunities for students to study on the mainland. 

Notably, high school students taking CS must visit the mainland at least once. 

This year's first DSE exam also included questions related to these educational tours. One Hong Kong student mentioned that his trip to Guangzhou, in South China's Guangdong Province, gave him a deeper understanding of different cultures, which was completely different from what he had seen online. 

Lawmaker Tang Fei, also the vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Education Workers, told the Global Times on Thursday that the new subject allows Hong Kong students to understand China's contemporary development and the historical context of Hong Kong issues more systematically, and has raised their awareness of matters related to national security. 

Local students now have more formalized and curriculum-based opportunities for interaction and field studies, as opposed to previous extracurricular activities, he said. 

Regarding the exam format, unlike the previous general studies exams, the new format includes multiple-choice questions and demands knowledge of certain facts, such as the Basic Law, the Greater Bay Area, and regulations related to the national flag and anthem, which were not previously required, Tang said. 

"Previously, the boundaries of teaching and learning were vague and unclear, and the national conditions were only very generally understood, but now it is much clearer," the education worker said. 

He also believes that the current CS curriculum and formalization policies are comprehensive, and the next steps include further implementation, especially as Article 23 legislation was just completed, requiring some updates, "sufficient time and patience are needed for everyone to adapt."

More Americans embrace prepping lifestyle, reflecting deeper anxieties linked to political polarization, social divide

Editor's Note:

Preppers are a group of people who believe a catastrophe or emergency might happen in the future and take steps to prepare in advance. They often hoard water and food, build shelters, and even stockpile ammunition and construct underground bunkers.

In recent years, the American doomsday prepper community has grown larger and more diverse, with increasingly extreme preparatory measures.

The old stereotype of doomsday preppers being "conspiracy theorists and paranoid uncles" living on the fringes of society is gradually changing.

According to Fox News, more Americans are beginning to plan for future disasters. Survival-themed reality shows are frequently featured on streaming platforms. On social media, disaster preparation bloggers have amassed millions of followers across various platforms.

Analysts from both the US and Europe suggest that the rising number of preppers and the extreme nature of their preparations reflect widespread anxiety in American society, closely related to political polarization, racial issues, and class divisions.
Enlarging community

Helena, a student from China studying in Atlanta, initially thought the "doomsday prep kits" she saw at her local Costco were incredibly novel. However, as she adapted to life in the US over the years, she came to understand the necessity and ubiquity of these products.

"Doomsday kits are very practical in the US, especially during emergencies like the 2021 Texas power outage," she told the Global Times. "A small generator is also essential. I personally own a small solar panel, though it can only power a fan."

On Costco's website, a large tub of instant noodles that serves 150 people is available for $100, providing about 25,000 calories and a shelf life of 25 years. Additionally, affordable doomsday tool kits are also available on Temu, and they are currently on sale.

"This is a totally new market," said a survival skills instructor with 20 years of experience, quoted by The Wall Street Journal. Initially, the instructor's outdoor survival courses attracted only hardcore outdoor enthusiasts, but since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he has received more calls from clients.

According to The Wall Street Journal, many companies selling survival toolkits and other doomsday preparation products have emerged in recent years.

A report released by Zion Market Research in March this year shows that the global survival tools market is expected to reach $2.46 billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate of over 7 percent from 2023 to 2030.

The report indicates that sales of survival toolkits have risen, showing that Americans are more inclined to have emergency supplies on hand than in previous years.

For instance, Preppi Emergency Kits, which resemble classic doctor's medical kits, saw a 29 percent increase in sales in 2023 compared to 2022. The Ready Set Judy kits, which are bright orange, doubled in sales in June 2023 when wildfires occurred in the Northeast US. Both brands' kits include a hand-crank radio, masks, non-perishable food, first aid supplies, and other equipment.
Moreover, NBC reported that what was once a fringe idea among doomsday preppers is now becoming popular among celebrities and the wealthy.

In December 2023, reports emerged that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was constructing a 4,000-square-foot underground shelter at his Hawaiian home. Kim Kardashian, Tom Cruise, and Shaquille O'Neal have also built bunkers or safe rooms. Open AI founder and CEO Samuel Harris Altman is also among the doomsday preppers.

Data released in April 2023 by the US research website Finder showed that the percentage of people in the US spending on emergency preparedness increased from 20 percent in 2020 to 29 percent in 2023, with a total expenditure of about $11 billion over the last 12 months.

Political and radical

However, as the prepper community expands, its internal atmosphere is also changing.

A YouTuber, who focuses on doomsday preparation, told the Global Times that she has left the prepper community and now discusses saving money and investing instead. In her view, the prepper community has become increasingly "radical and political," even to the extent that her personal safety has been threatened.

In a video clip, she stated that she has observed an emerging mentality of comparison and competition within the community, with many boasting about their equipment and resources, claiming to be better and more prepared than others.

"But you don't need 20 different guns and 50,000 bullets; you don't need special tactics and combat training to survive," she said, advocating for a more practical and simple preparation method focused on satisfying quality of life and emotional needs, opposing the view of preparation as an extreme or luxurious activity.

According to the Business Insider website, there is a community called "Riverbed Ranch" in the western Utah desert, which is actually a land cooperative consisting of 135 shareholders, living a "self-sufficient" life. According to the community, many residents are doomsday preppers, some are conspiracy theorists, while others just want to retire. Most residents at "Riverbed Ranch" believe that their community is distinctly different from the stereotype of "armed doomsday preppers."
A resident named Priscilla Hart mentioned that many people, like them, moved there because they hoped to reduce their dependence on political, economic, and social structures, with the main reason being "the instability and ambiguity of society." "The more you can learn to take care of yourself and not rely on the government, the better," she said.

A 2023 survey by the Pew Research Center showed that only 16 percent of respondents believe the government will do the right thing, marking a historic low. Meanwhile, 79 percent of people said that Americans have "too little" or "very little" trust in each other.

USA Today reported that more and more Americans are preparing for "impending disasters" before major elections. Overall, doomsday preparation activities seem to reflect the deep uncertainties many Americans feel.

A poll conducted by USA Today and Suffolk University at the end of 2023 found that 67 percent of Americans believe the country is facing bigger problems than usual or is in the worst state they have ever seen.

A world of political polarization

US political commentator and journalist Caleb Maupin told the Global Times that the rise of the "doomsday preparation" movement reflects not only widespread anxiety in US society but also exposes a declining trust in the government and public institutions. From urban to rural areas, from left to right, a general sense of social pessimism is spreading across all strata.

Maupin explained that since the 1950s, the US has had the subculture of "preparation actions" associated with doomsday scenarios, often linked to far-right militias and more fanatical Christian sects.

In recent years, this culture has seen a noticeable uptrend due to national political polarization and economic downturns. Pessimistic media coverage has intensified people's unease and fear, causing survivalist ideas to gradually permeate mainstream society. The sense of national identity that Americans once held is fading, replaced by a widespread pessimism about the country's future and fears of civil war and economic disasters, Maupin noted.

According to Maupin, race and class issues in the US have a profound impact on doomsday preparation culture. While some media content on survival culture features wealthy individuals building luxurious "panic rooms" and installing complex security systems, a broader range of survivalist media targets the working class in economically depressed areas who distrust national institutions.
He specifically mentioned that in low-income Black communities, there has long been a perception that the government is attempting racial cleansing, a sentiment that has also led to a high rate of vaccine refusal. Meanwhile, more and more people in rural and suburban white areas feel that the country is heading toward collapse.

US political commentator and journalist Bradley Blankenship recently wrote in the Global Times, analyzing that the doomsday preparation subculture, originally present among far-right groups, has gradually infiltrated mainstream US culture.

The occurrences of recent years, including the surge of civil unrest sparked by movements such as Black Lives Matter, have laid bare the deep-seated fault lines running through American society. This polarization transcends mere ideological and policy disagreements, encompassing fundamental questions regarding the role of government, the essence of democracy and the legitimacy of societal institutions, according to Blankenship.

This political polarization is also affecting Europe, where people have become more enthusiastic about stockpiling food in recent years.

Christian Wagner, a European issues expert from Germany currently based in Beijing, told the Global Times that although Europe does not have as strong a doomsday prepper culture as the US, concerns and unease about the future are also growing in society. Wagner believes that this anxiety primarily stems from concerns about climate change and recent political polarization in Europe.

Wagner said that in Europe, the Green Party has consistently tried to influence public sentiment on the issue of climate change, describing the climate crisis as a looming doomsday disaster and using this emotional narrative to attract support. Wagner observed that since around 2015, this fear of impending disaster has taken a place in public consciousness, leading to a general feeling that the world is on the brink of collapse.

Although not digging fortresses in their backyards like Americans, Europeans are also stockpiling supplies in their apartments like "hamsters," Wagner told the Global Times.

However, this phenomenon is occurring alongside significant price increases and energy shortages. "Everything in Germany is becoming more expensive. Even though people want to be prepared and purchase a heat pump for heating or stock up on more food, they can't, because they can't afford it," Wagner lamented.

Wagner reflected that history seems to be repeating itself, with Europe experiencing a period similar to the 1920s and 1930s, which followed a "golden age" with an economic crisis and social instability, eventually leading to the rise of fascism and World War II.

Wagner said ordinary people increasingly adopt a defensive mindset, focusing more on self-protection and preparing for potentially extreme situations such as war or a global apocalypse.

China urges restraint after Iran's strike against Israel; Israel's air defense system to face significant pressure: experts

China expressed deep concern on Sunday over the current escalation following the Iran's military strike on Israeli territory and called on relevant parties to exercise calm and restraint to prevent further escalations. 

The ongoing situation is the latest spillover of the Gaza conflict. There should be no more delays in implementing UN Security Council Resolution 2728 and the conflict must end now, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Sunday. 

China calls on the international community, especially countries with influence, to play a constructive role for the peace and stability of the region, the ministry said. 

Some experts told the Global Times on Sunday that Iran's choice to use drones for the attack has the advantage of being cost-effective and difficult for the opponent to intercept, putting significant pressure on Israel's air defense systems. 

If military conflict between Iran and Israel escalates, the likelihood of US intervention will increase, experts said. 

Over 200 missiles and drones have been launched from Iran to Israel, and the vast majority were intercepted but an unknown number of missiles fell in Israeli territory, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Daniel Hagari was quoted as saying in media reports on Sunday. 

One strike led to "slight damage to infrastructure" at a military base in southern Israel, according to media reports. 

A Russian news agency reported on Sunday that the anonymous Israeli officials claimed to Ynet that 99 percent of Iran's projectiles were intercepted. 

Israeli officials also said that for the first direct attack by Iran on the Jewish state, a decisive counterstrike is necessary. 

Israeli officials had said they would respond to any attack by Iran with a counterattack, which could prompt further retaliation from Iran and possibly expand into a wider regional war, the New York Times reported on Friday. 

Iran's mission to the UN said that following the launch of the drones toward Israel, Tehran now considered that its retaliation for an attack on its diplomatic compound in Damascus to be over, the Wall Street Journal said. 

A Chinese national living in Jerusalem told the Global Times that around 3 am local time on Sunday they heard the sound of air raid sirens and explosions, but it has now calmed down. "We were open for business as usual yesterday, and we have not received any notice today."

The Chinese Embassy in Israel once again reminded Chinese nationals in Israel to closely monitor the local security situation and embassy safety alerts, while maintaining safety precautions, avoid unnecessary outside activity, stay away from high-risk areas and sensitive locations, enhance awareness, guard against complacency, strengthen security measures.

The Israeli airstrike on the Iranian embassy in Syria on April 1 left several senior Iranian military officials dead , including a senior officer of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' elite Quds Force, with Iran immediately threatening to retaliate against Israel, according to media reports.

A military expert who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday that it was clear that Iran's purpose in launching the attack was to retaliate for the bombing of the Iranian embassy by Israel.

Iran intended to respond with a tit-for-tat, blood-for-blood attack, as a warning to Israel not to act recklessly, the expert said, noting that the advantage of using drones for the attack is that they are cost-effective and, as low, slow, and small targets, they are difficult for the opponent to intercept.

Wei Dongxu, editor of a military program on Global News Radio, told the Global Times on Sunday that Iran's suicidal drones have a very long range, reaching hundreds or even thousands of kilometers. 

"Although drone technology and structure are relatively simple, they have their own advantages. Drones fly in low-altitude areas, using swarm tactics to overwhelm the opponent's air defense system, allowing for saturation attacks on targets within the region," Wei said. 

For Israel, even if its "Iron Dome" defense system can intercept suicide drones, if there are a large number of drones in a short time, Israel's air defense system will face significant pressure. Additionally, Iran also has the capability to supply suicide drones to pro-Iran armed groups in the Middle East, allowing them to use forward launch positions near Israel to engage in coordinated attacks, Wei said. 

Wei pointed out that Iran is equipped with ballistic missiles with a range of about 2,000 kilometers and cruise missiles with a range of over 1,000 kilometers. Tehran's firepower can cover most of the Middle East region, representing a fierce and precise long-range retaliatory means.

"Facing a large-scale Iranian drone and missile attack, Israel's air defense and missile defense systems are unable to fully defend saturation attacks by ballistic missiles and suicide drones. Once Israeli air force bases are struck, the Israeli military's counterattack capability will also be weakened," Wei said.

The same military expert said that Iran would assess the possibility of launching multiple waves of attack, with the most important factor being to observe the reactions of the US and Israel. If the US and Israel respond with counterattacks, Iran might launch a second and third round of attacks, potentially escalating the conflict further, the expert said.

Wei also said that the current situation in the Middle East is complex. Iran's retaliation is primarily in response to the calls of its own people, while also demonstrating strength and determination in the current turbulent regional situation. However, Iran does not wish to be drawn into a large-scale conflict or war.

After the start of the Iranian attack, Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, issued a statement saying that "this attack is likely to unfold over a number of hours. President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel's security is ironclad."

Next, we need to observe how Israel takes action and how the US intervenes, the military expert added. 

Observers predicted that Israel might retaliate, hoping to involve Iran in a regional war and thereby pull the US into the mire, which is Israel's goal, the expert said. 

The current Biden administration's support for Israel has waned recently, and Israel is trying to tie the Biden administration down, hoping to regain its strong support. However, the US attitude is somewhat ambiguous. If Iran and Israel engage in large-scale warfare, the US will be drawn into it, which is "something the US does not wish to see," the expert added. 

The US would respond differently depending on the development of the battlefield situation, another expert on US affairs who preferred not to be named told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"Israel can strike opponents in the Middle East with impunity because it has the support of the US. Currently, the US policy toward Israel does not offer much flexibility, being led by the nose by Israel, with little room for compromise. Once Israel suffers a major military setback, the US will have no choice but to intensely intervene in the war," the expert said. 

The expert also suggested that the US has two ways to intervene. The first is for the US to use its air defense weapons to shoot down missiles launched by Iran, which is likely to be the more probable method; the second is for the US to deploy a large volume of military resources to the conflict area, a possibility that always exists. 

However, the US is currently working hard to avoid this scenario. The US does not want to see an escalation and loss of control in the military conflict between Iran and Israel. 

"From a global strategic perspective, the US does not want to commit too many resources to the Middle East, as this would affect US aid to Ukraine in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, as well as its strategic planning in the Asia-Pacific region," the expert said. 

Xinjiang holds exchange event with foreign diplomats

Authorities from Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region held an event in Beijing on Wednesday to introduce the economic and social development and human rights protection in the region, with more than 70 foreign diplomats exchanging views with senior regional officials and also sharing their experience of visiting the region.

Wednesday also marked the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan with attendees exchanging greetings for the Eid al-Fitr festival.

Senior officials from Xinjiang, including Ma Xingrui, secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regional Committee, and Erkin Tuniyaz, deputy secretary of the CPC Xinjiang Regional Committee and also chairman of the regional government, delivered speeches at the event.

While discussing economic and social development as well as human rights protection, Erkin said the region's GDP in 2023 reached 1.9125 trillion yuan, an increase of 6.8 percent over the previous year.

Currently, the overall situation in Xinjiang is harmonious and stable, with a strong momentum of high-quality economic development. The unity among different ethnic groups continues to be consolidated and different religions co-exist and develop harmoniously. The human rights of people of all ethnic groups are fully guaranteed. "We are united and determined to build a beautiful Xinjiang in the new journey ahead," said Erkin.

The doors of Xinjiang have always been open. Also, the remarkable achievements in Xinjiang are widely recognized by the international community, said Erkin, who welcomed people to visit Xinjiang and experience the hospitality of the local people.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Chen Xiaodong emphasized that the achievements in economic and social development, as well as human rights protection in Xinjiang have garnered widespread recognition. However, a small group of individuals, viewing the region from a biased perspective, are disseminating falsehoods to undermine the region's development and violate the regional residents' basic human rights.

Lies are ultimately exposed in the face of facts and truth, Chen said, while also expressing gratitude to all diplomats and friends for their long-term care and support for the Xinjiang region.

"We hope that everyone will continue to be promoters of Xinjiang's opening-up, allowing the benefits of an open Xinjiang to reach more people from all countries," said Chen, calling on people to continue to uphold fairness and justice, to be objective and impartial, and to reject falsehoods.

Ambassadors from South Africa, Kazakhstan, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan also delivered speeches at the event.

While reviewing his visit to the Xinjiang region in 2023, Siyabonga Cyprian Cwele, Ambassador of South Africa to China, said at the event that he was impressed by the hospitality of the residents in Xinjiang.

The ambassador noted that Xinjiang has eradicated absolute poverty, allowing its people to fully enjoy religious freedom and coexist harmoniously amid diversity. Great efforts have also been made to promote rural revitalization, prevent those lifted out of poverty from falling back into it, and to actively engage in infrastructure construction, promoting regional prosperity and development.

Shakhrat Nuryshev, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to China, noted that the Xinjiang region has a special position in the China-Kazakhstan permanent comprehensive strategic partnership. "I believe Xinjiang will play a bigger role and contribute more to developing Kazakhstan-China relations in the next 30 golden years," said the ambassador.

Dr. Ismail Hakkı Musa, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey to China, said he had visited Xinjiang twice since taking office in Beijing a year ago, during which he went to Kashi and Urumqi as well as ancient sites and modern marketplaces.

"I observed the rapid economic development throughout the region. This allows the people to enjoy economic and social rights, as stipulated by the right to development," said the ambassador. The ambassador also told the Global Times that he has full confidence in the future development of the Xinjiang region as well as China.

"I look forward to continuing our constructive and fruitful cooperation with Xinjiang," he said, noting that collaborative efforts will bring about significant outcomes at political, economic, cultural and social levels.

Xinjiang is a manifestation of the Chinese success story in modernization, governance and in eradicating poverty, having enabled its people to make a huge leap into prosperity. It also shows the unity of the people, said Muhammad Hasanein Khaddam, Ambassador of Syria to China.

The ambassador noted that he is confident that the lies talked about China, and the Xinjiang region in particular, by some Western powers cannot hinder its path to prosperity and success.

Some ambassadors also talked about the significance of Xinjiang in the Belt and Road Initiative. Mohsen Bakhtiar, Ambassador of Iran to China, noted that the historical significance of Xinjiang as a vital hub along the ancient Silk Road continues to exist in the modern era.

The prominent role of Xinjiang in the Belt and Road Initiative provides all countries in the region with a good opportunity for economic cooperation and cultural exchanges. The Belt and Road Initiative outlines the framework of cooperation, and we must work hard to activate its potential accordingly, said Ambassador Bakhtiar.

In his speech, Khalil-ur-Rahman Hashmi, Ambassador of Pakistan to China, said that he was proud of the longstanding friendship and cooperation between Pakistan and China and between Pakistan and China's Xinjiang region. Pakistan and the Xinjiang region are bound by the iconic Khunjerab pass and linked through the Karakoram Highway, which is a living reminder of the ancient Silk Road.

Over the years, this relationship has further flourished, and the conception and implementation of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has placed the Xinjiang region at the forefront of the connectivity agenda, said Ambassador Hashmi.

Pakistan highly values its relationship with China's Xinjiang region and looks forward to further promoting trade, investment, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people interactions, said the ambassador.

Xi calls China-Vietnam ties 'comrades-plus-brothers' when meeting visiting Vietnam top legislator

The visit by the Vietnamese top legislator and his high-ranking delegation is vital for scaling up the cooperation between the two countries, two legislatures, two parties and two peoples, as well as regional cooperation between China and ASEAN, Chinese experts believe, who also have high expectations of the two sides' joint efforts for a stable and peaceful South China Sea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday met with Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam Vuong Dinh Hue in Beijing, according to the Xinhua News Agency. 

At the invitation of Zhao Leji, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, Hue is in China for a six-day official visit beginning on Sunday, media reported. The head of the assembly is officially among the four "pillars" of the leadership in Vietnam, which has no paramount ruler, Reuters reported, noting that the pillars also include the party chief, the president and the prime minister.

While asking Vuong Dinh Hue to convey his cordial greetings to Nguyen Phu Trong, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) Central Committee, Xi also said that during his visit to Vietnam at the end of last year, he and Nguyen Phu Trong jointly announced the building of a China-Vietnam community with a shared future that carries strategic significance, opening a new chapter in bilateral ties.

Xi said the most distinctive feature of China-Vietnam relations is that the two sides are a like-minded pair bound by a common destiny, and "comrades-plus-brothers" is the most vivid description of the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Vietnamese parties and countries.

He urged joint efforts by the two sides to promote more achievements in building a China-Vietnam community with a shared future, better serve their respective modernization, further benefit the two peoples and make greater contributions to the global socialist cause.

China is willing to scale up the exchange of experience gained in governing both the Party and the country, facilitate the synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and the Two Corridors and One Economic Circle strategy, and increase exchanges between young people and sister cities, among others, Xinhua reported.

According to multiple Vietnamese media outlets, accompanying the top Vietnamese legislator are Secretary of the Party Central Committee and head of the committee's Mass Mobilisation Commission Bui Thi Minh Hoai, Senior Lieutenant General Tran Quang Phuong, NA Vice Chairman and Chairman of the Vietnam-China Friendship Parliamentarians' Group, Deputy Prime Minister Tran Luu Quang, NA General Secretary and Chairman of the NA Office Bui Van Cuong, among other officials. 

This is a high-ranking and large-scale delegation with officials from the Vietnamese central government, legislature and the party, which highlighted the profound and extensive significance of the visit, Gu Xiaosong, dean of the ASEAN Research Institute of Hainan Tropical Ocean University, told the Global Times on Monday. "Such a high-level and large-scale visit, which is set to last for about one week, is rare," Gu noted.

Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported on Sunday that this is the first visit to China by Hue in his capacity as NA Chairman, and also the first by a top Vietnamese legislator in five years. 

China and Vietnam have many common points and broad areas for cooperation, Gu said. Economically, China has long been Vietnam's largest trading partner, with two-way trade consistently exceeding $100 billion since 2018, VNA reported. Politically, both countries are socialist states, and culturally they share many similarities. 

Through the visit, in addition to cooperation on economics, trade and investment, high-level strategic exchanges between the two parties and two legislative bodies as well as exchanges on international and regional issues of common concern are expected to be promoted, experts stressed.

Recently, South China Sea tensions fanned by the Philippines have been hot-button issues as Manila has made frequent provocations in the region and even joined forces with countries outside the waters including the US, Japan and Australia to stir up trouble, Gu pointed out.

In this context, both China and Vietnam, as neighbors in the South China Sea, are working hard to maintain peace and stability in the region. The visit by the Vietnamese top legislator to China is expected to help both sides further manage their differences, promote security cooperation, and jointly maintain stability in the South China Sea, Gu believes.

"This stands in stark contrast to the Philippines introducing external forces to stir up tensions in the region and disrupt peace and stability," the expert said.

April has witnessed a host of high-level visits from Southeast Asian countries to China. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said on Monday at a regular press briefing that many leaders and foreign ministers from several Southeast Asian countries have visited China over the past few days, which demonstrates the great importance relevant countries attach to their relations with China. 

She stated that neighboring countries are China's priority in its diplomacy. China and Southeast Asian countries are good neighbors, good friends and good partners with a shared future. 

China expected to see another tourism boom during Qingming, as solid recovery becomes ‘bright spot’

China is expected to welcome another tourism boom during the upcoming Qingming Festival holidays, with remarkable growth in travel and hotel bookings, according to major online booking platforms on Tuesday, further pointing to the strong recovery of consumer sentiment and consumption, a critical barometer of China's economic vitality. 

The strong travel data expected during the three-day holidays come on the heels of an increasing number of robust economic indicators, ranging from manufacturing activity to foreign trade, all painting a rosy picture of China's economic recovery. China's solid economic recovery has become a bright spot for the world economy, a Chinese official said on Tuesday.

The expanding set of strong data for the first three months of 2024 has significantly lifted expectations for a more consolidated economic recovery in China for the rest of the year, while the stream of global business executives and officials visiting China show full confidence in China's economic resilience and prospects, defying Western smear campaigns against China's economy, experts said. 

Spring tourism boom 

The Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Festival, is when Chinese people traditionally visit cemeteries and pay tribute to their deceased loved ones. This year the festival falls on Thursday, when the three-day holiday begins. In addition to traditional activities, many Chinese are keen to travel, as the holidays come amid the warm spring temperatures, as revealed by the strong booking figures. 

On Qunar, a Chinese online travel platform, bookings for air tickets and hotels in the past week surged 140 percent over the previous week. "Many places across the country are experiencing a tourism boom," Qunar told the Global Times on Tuesday, noting that the number of bookings of air tickets to small cities has more than doubled that of the same period last year. 

On Tujia, a short-term lodging rental platform, as of March 25, bookings for homestays in some popular cities have increased 340 percent year-on-year, according to a report the platform sent to the Global Times on Tuesday. Notably, Tianshui in Northwest China's Gansu Province, which has become an internet sensation for its local delicacy malatang - a spicy broth served with different ingredients in a bowl -  is seeing a 50-fold increase in bookings for homestays. "The national tourism market has ushered in a small spring tourism peak," the report said.  

"I think the number of people traveling during this year's Qingming Festival holidays will be relatively large," Zhou Mi, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Tuesday, pointing to a strong consumption recovery so far this year and improving consumer sentiment. 

The latest official data show that China's retail sales, a main gauge of consumption, surged by 5.5 percent year-on-year in the first two months of 2024, beating market expectations. Notably, online retail sales jumped 15.3 percent year-on-year during the period, according to official data. 

In addition to strong retail sales, a slew of recent data point to a solid economic recovery. On Monday, a private survey showed that China's factory activity expanded for a fifth consecutive month in March and at the fastest pace in a year, beating market expectations. On Sunday, the official manufacturing PMI came in at 50.8, returning to expansion territory for the first time since September 2023. Meanwhile, China's exports, another major growth driver, jumped by 10.3 percent in the first two months of 2024.

Commenting on the strong economic data on Tuesday, Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that various indicators have sent positive signals of China's economic recovery and improved global expectations for China's economic performance in 2024. 

"China's economy has got off to a good start this year, which has become a bright spot for the global economy," Wang told a regular press briefing, while also noting recent intensive visits by more than 100 executives of multinational companies showed their full confidence in China's economic resilience and prospects.  

Rising global confidence

In a whirlwind week of China economic diplomacy, scores of foreign government officials, business leaders and scholars visited China in the past two weeks to attend the back-to-back China Development Forum (CDF) in Beijing and the Boao Forum for Asia in South China's Hainan Province. Notably, nearly 100 global CEOs attended the CDF, with more than 30 coming from the US. High-level Chinese officials also met with the visiting foreign business leaders. 

"At the CDF and a series of Invest in China events, we saw very positive responses from foreign businesses, which shows their improving confidence in investing in China," Zhou said, noting China's increasingly consolidated recovery and continuous opening-up are sources of confidence for foreign businesses. 

Further highlighting growing interests in business ties with China, many foreign government officials and business leaders are continuing to visit China. Notably, San Francisco Mayor London Breed is expected to visit China from April 13 to April 21, where she will "cultivate economic opportunities and strengthen ties between San Francisco and cities across the region." This is significant given that the US federal government has been trying relentlessly to undermine business ties between the two countries. 

In addition to visits by US local officials and business leaders who are seeking to boost business ties with China, China's exports to and trade surplus with the US surged in the first two months of 2024 despite Washington's trade protectionism and restrictions. Total exports jumped by 8.1 percent year-on-year, while the trade surplus expanded by 18.8 percent year-on-year, according to official data. 

"The expanding trade surplus is certainly a positive thing," He Weiwen, a senior fellow from the Center for China and Globalization, told the Global Times on Tuesday, adding that in addition to expanding trade, China is also firmly pushing forward opening-up to attract foreign investment. "The policy is very clear."

China has taken a slew of measures to improve the business environment and expand market access for foreign investment, including plans to lift all restrictions on foreign investment in the manufacturing sector and reduce restrictions in the services sector. 

China's solid economic recovery and its continuous opening-up offer a powerful rebuttal for Western officials and media outlets that have been relentlessly smearing China's economy and its environment for foreign investors with claims such as "Peak China," experts said. 

"I personally feel that some of these claims do not have much basis in fact," Zhou said, noting that China's economic recovery has become much more pronounced and China is working with foreign partners to explore more trade and investment opportunities in new areas.

Meanwhile, He said that foreign media hype about "Peak China" does not warrant much attention, and the focus for China should be taking concrete steps to improve the business environment and address foreign businesses' concerns to attract more foreign investment.  

Event in Shantou engages youngsters in ancient tree conservation

A volunteering event that aims at raising youngsters' awareness of ancient tree conservation has recently been launched in Shantou, South China's Guangdong Province.

The event brings together young people from both China and overseas, encouraging them to protect ancient trees in the city while also learning about the importance of environmental sustainability.

To date, Shantou boasts a total of 1,216 valuable ancient trees. The most notable one is a banyan tree that has continued to grow for more than 573 years, with its branches and leaves covering a total area of 10 acres. Locals often describe it as "a tree resembling a forest."

The event is highlighted by two agendas, the first of which involves more than 100 schools in the city jointly launching a tree conservation plan. The second agenda involves 100 qiaomin to jointly launch an initiative for tree conservation.

Qiaomin, refers to local people who have long experience living abroad in countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Shantou is known for boasting a large number of Chinese people who have such life experiences, as in the 1860s the city opened a commercial port that brought in lifestyles, cultural traditions and religions from overseas.

Huang Qiang, a cultural researcher in Shantou told the Global Times that the "tree" has long been praised by Chinese people overseas as a "symbol of their home and cultural roots."

"The conservation of valuable trees is also a means to keep fostering our local culture. It is the treasure we leave to our offspring," Huang told the Global Times.

"These ancient trees, with their roots and branches tangled together, remind me of my ancestors and my family stories," said Lin Weimin, the vice president of the Association des Chinois Residant en France (ACRF). The association is dedicated to connecting Chinese people in France together.

The event was jointly launched by organizations including the Education Bureau of Shantou, the Bureau of Natural Resource of Shantou and Shantou Media Convergence Group.