Foreign companies bullish on China's opportunities backed by more investment

Foreign companies are not hiding their continuing interest in the Chinese market, as they remain "very bullish" on Chinese opportunities, with some planning more investment, in sharp contrast to the so-called claims of "foreign capital leaving China."

The latest example is Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet, who said in an interview with Bloomberg television on Thursday that the company is very bullish on long-term opportunities within China.

"We've got nice momentum, but when you look at our luxury peers, the penetration of the China business is much higher than that, so I think we have significant runway," Louvet said.

Louvet is aiming to leverage China's vast consumer market, which has been on display globally as the country continues to grow.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed that Chinese retail sales of consumer goods, a major indicator of the country's consumption strength, climbed 4.7 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2024, a clear sign that consumption has become an important driving force for economic growth.

In addition to luxury brands, Shanghai Disney Resort is set to expand with a new attraction backed by an investment of 2.459 billion yuan ($338.15 million), according to bidding information on the website of the Shanghai construction engineering trading platform on Thursday.

The new project will include six amusement facilities on an area of 21,306 square meters. In March this year, Shanghai Disney Resort announced it had begun preparations to open a new attraction next to its Zootopia-themed land.

"China's huge market size cannot be ignored by foreign companies," Chen Fengying, an economist and former director of the Institute of World Economic Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.

China has a very large market with a population of more than 1.4 billion and a middle-class of more than 400 million people. The journey toward modernization will create huge market opportunities, Chinese experts said.

As of December 20, 2023, Shanghai Disneyland had welcomed over 13 million visitors in less than a year, setting another record for attendance since its grand opening in 2016, the company said.

In addition, foreign companies are still eyeing China as an important research and development (R&D) base. On Monday, ZEISS opened its new R&D and manufacturing site in Suzhou Industrial Park in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province.

Covering an area of over 13,000 square meters, the new site marks the group's first land purchase for its self-built project in China.

It aims to become a key R&D and manufacturing center in the country for industrial quality solutions, research microscopes, surgical microscopes, and ophthalmic equipment, the company said.

Chen said the Chinese market is aided by lower operating costs, enhanced local R&D capabilities, and industrial cluster effects, and could see more foreign companies placing core functions from design and R&D, investment and production to operation and sales in China.

Data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) showed that foreign direct investment (FDI) into China from January to May 2024 reached 412.51 billion yuan, with the number of newly established foreign-backed companies reaching 21,764, up 17.4 percent year-on-year.

FDI in the manufacturing sector stood at 117.11 billion yuan, accounting for 28.4 percent of the national total, 2.8 percentage points higher than last year's level, said MOFCOM.

China has continuously stepped up its efforts to attract foreign investment with concrete measures. China's State Council, the country's cabinet, announced on Thursday further opening-up measures in six trial cities across various fields, including tourism, culture and telecoms.

These continued moves demonstrate China's commitment to increasing its pace of opening-up and will further boost foreign investment sentiment in the country, experts said.

China’s manufacturing might, supported by tech innovation, shores up exports

China's exports in June rose by an impressive 8.6 percent from a year earlier to reach $307.85 billion, beating the 7.6 percent increase seen in May, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said on Friday. The improvement in foreign trade is a testament to China's rising comparative advantages in manufacturing across the low-, middle- and high-end segments, as well as the resilience of China's industrial ecosystem, with its strong and globally unrivalled supply chain as its distinctive hallmark. 

However, the US and some of its close allies have been trying to stymie the growth of Chinese exports in their reckless attempt to contain China's rise. After putting in place sweeping sanctioning measures targeting Huawei Technologies and a range of other technology companies, restricting imports of Chinese-made batteries, solar panels, steel and other goods, the US and the EU have lately announced levying extra tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles. 

In addition to imposition of extra import duties, the US has purposefully taken issue with China's new-energy sector "overcapacity" to muddy the waters even further. China's innovative new-energy products are being embraced by the global market, which is clear for all to see. China's electric vehicle exports to Asia alone have witnessed a consistent surge, growing by 68 percent to reach $4.2 billion in the first four months this year compared with a year earlier. The fact is that the EVs are in great demand in many countries, rendering the "overcapacity" talk an untenable hypothesis. 

In the coming months, Chinese-made manufactured high-tech products to the US and some Western countries in Europe will be curtailed by the high tariffs, but the competitiveness of Chinese manufacturers cannot be dented, and the country's exports will continue to be very competitive. 

China's rapid advancement in technology innovation, no matter it is Huawei's 5G gear, CRRC's high-speed rolling stock, BYD and Nio's electric cars, DJI's drones, Jinko's solar panels and Envision's wind turbines, will continue to be embraced by the Global South, as they are adopting inexpensive Chinese technology to develop their own economy and enrich themselves. And, China will always stand behind the Global South countries to support their pursuit for prosperity and get rid of stark poverty. 

By refusing Chinese high-tech goods through levying the exorbitant tariffs, the US and its close allies will gradually feel the pinch. Their anti-China economic policies will inevitably backfire. The ordinary consumers in those countries will have to face much higher EV prices and energy cost because of their government's assault on Chinese products, and these countries' green transition will be significantly weakened. Now, economists say that a country's future and people's welfare are increasingly tethered to the speed of its green transition. 

China is expected to adopt even bolder measures to consolidate a leading global role in phasing out carbon-powered "old energy" and gasoline-fired cars by rapidly adopting new energies, consisting of solar panels, hydropower, wind turbines, EVs and other energy products. China's market size will decide its green transition will be epoch-making, and produce exemplary ripple effect on the globe. 

Domestically, China will continue to accelerate supportive government policies to propel infrastructure, large-scale equipment trade-ins, and property destocking to cut redundancy and sharpen its all-round competitiveness in the world. Externally, the country is expected to open wider to all foreign partners, and align more closely with its neighbors and the Global South countries, assisting them to prosper together with China.

Over the past 20 or so years, China has gradually accumulated an increased range of comparative advantages in productivity of its workforce, the quality of its infrastructure, the integrality of its industrial ecosystem, and the might of its manufacturing size. All this has significantly contributed to the formation of China-centered industry and supply chain. 

And, the tenacity of China's industrial ecosystem will constantly strengthen as the country has just set on a new development paradigm - to shore up new quality productive forces spearheaded by scientific research and technology innovation. 

This policy framework will guide China's development in the next decade and beyond and is expected to fortify and increase the country's industrial capability among major economies. A basket of emerging technologies - 5.5G and 6G internet connection, AI, robotics and quantum computing and the across-the-board technology-manufacturing synergy, plus China's enormous labor pool and globally advanced infrastructure, will ensure the country to stay ahead in the next-stage industrial competition. 

China's future exports will be underpinned by sustained technology innovation and the ongoing manufacturing sector rejuvenation and broad-based upgrade. The goal is to make the country an unshakable source of incremental growth that the world's business conglomerates cannot ignore despite Washington's "de-coupling" bid. As the world's comparative advantages in manufacturing have shifted eastward, the US and its allies will do their utmost to thwart and hold back the shift.

Some analysts claim that China is currently very competitive across the low-value, middle-value and high-value industrial sectors, so it is natural for the country to keep moving up on the global value chain ladder. Although other sectors, such as agriculture and services, are also important and deserve more government inputs, the policy on resolutely beefing up scientific research and new technology innovation, and maintaining a large, strong and modern manufacturing economy should not change, which will put in place the bedrock for the sustainability of the growth of exports in the coming years. 

China's housing market shows signs of recovery as property prices in some megacities begin to stabilize

China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) released new data on Monday indicating a narrowing decline in residential property prices across 70 major cities, with pre-owned secondary homes in Beijing and Shanghai recording price increases for the first time this year.

Experts noted that the latest data indicates a stabilizing trend in Chinese property market, potentially signaling a shift to the beginning of housing market recovery.

In a detailed report, the NBS noted that the contraction in prices for new residential buildings in the first-tier cities slowed, with a 0.2 percentage point decrease to 0.5 percent. Similarly, second-tier cities maintained a consistent drop of 0.7 percent, while third-tier cities saw a 0.2 percentage point reduction in the rate of price declines from the previous month’s 0.8 percent price drop.

The resurgence was more pronounced in the pre-owned secondary property market. In top-tier cities, the drop in resale home prices eased significantly, shrinking 0.8 percentage points to a 0.4 percent decline, with Beijing and Shanghai experiencing price gains for the first time in 2024. 

Smaller cities delivered mixed results, in the second-tier cities, overall pre-owned housing prices recorded a 0.9 percent decline, a slight improvement of 0.1 percentage points from last month. Third-tier cities have matched the previous month's decrease of 0.9 percent.

The NBS’s latest release are being viewed as a very positive indication for the market, the decreased rate of decline in both new and pre-owned properties sends a strong signal, Yan Yuejin, research director at Shanghai-based E-house China R&D Institute, told the Global Times on Monday.

“After a sweeping price drop in June, we are seeing stabilizing indicators which could enhance market confidence in pre-owned properties. The narrowing month-on-month declines in housing prices point to a potential turnaround in the coming months,” Yan said.

In June, among the 70 surveyed cities, 64 cities saw price declines in new residential properties and price decline of pre-owned properties in 66 cities. Notably, mega-cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou, Beijing, and Nanjing have begun showing a rising trend in selling prices, suggesting that largest cities are leading the market recovery.

This upturn in prices follows a series of real estate stimulus policies. On June 26, Beijing announced new round of policy adjustments, including a significant reduction in minimum down payment required for home purchases. The move positioned Beijing among major Chinese cities to relax buying restrictions, with expectations of boosting China's property market soon. 

Companies deny mixed use of tanker trucks for food, chemicals; concerns remain

Several oil companies have denied using tanker trucks to transport both food and chemical liquids, leading netizens to express concern over food safety on social media platforms, with some worried about potential poisoning.

According to a report by The Beijing News, a driver revealed the "open secret" in the tanker truck industry of mixed transportation of food and chemical liquids in the same vehicles, without cleaning in between. In order to cut costs, many operators do not clean the tanks, and edible oil producers do not check the tanks even though it is required by the regulations, resulting in chemical residue and potential contamination of edible oil.

China Grain Reserves Group, or Sinograin, has launched a large-scale inspection following the report, according to a statement the company issued on its official Weibo account on Saturday. Several other oil companies have denied engaging in such behavior, according to media reports on Monday.

The incident has become a trending topic on Weibo, and many Chinese netizens have called for the recall of problematic edible oils, and demanded a thorough investigation and strict punishments for the people responsible.

The revelation of the long-standing "open secret" in the tanker transport industry suggests that the idea that food safety should be paramount remains a mere aspiration, as noted in a commentary by China Central Television on Monday.

Given that tanker trucks often have large capacities, it is common for them to carry a certain quantity of chemical liquids. However, when these are mixed with edible liquids during loading, it transforms from a typical food incident to a form of poisoning, according to CCTV.

While Sinograin is mending its ways, there is still a lot of confusion and consternation among consumers. The incident is completely different from the usual incidents related to gutter oil, according to the CCTV commentary. Consumers can typically avoid poor-quality cooking oil if they choose big brands and well-known manufacturers. However, even a major brand has loopholes of mixing chemical oil with edible oil, which clearly exceeds the understanding of most individuals.

Chinese media professional Hu Xijin wrote on Weibo that the regulator should intervene in the investigation to determine the scope and extent of the harm, and publicly disclose the results of the investigation to provide the public with a comprehensive explanation.

The incident involves a number of subjects of interest, including the fleet of vehicles to which the tanker belongs and the edible oil manufacturer. Food safety is at stake, every subject of interest cannot be silent, but also has no right to silence, according to a commentary from People's Daily Online.

This also calls for the regulator to take a stronger and more focused position on the mixing of food and chemical liquids, as it is obviously impossible to deal with the issue solely by relying on the moral consciousness of the drivers, manufacturers and the companies involved, according to the commentary.

Modi, Putin deepen ties in Moscow, 'frustrating US efforts to contain, isolate Russia'

The US expressed its "concerns" toward India about its relationship with Russia, as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Moscow during which the India-Russia friendship has been highlighted by Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Analysts said that closer relations between Russia and India mean that the US' ceaseless effort of containing and isolating Russia since the Ukraine crisis began is frustrated. Meanwhile, India's balanced diplomacy is not only in line with its own interests but also contributes to a global strategic balance which has long been challenged by US hegemony.

Modi started his two-day visit to Russia on Monday with a warm reception from Putin before the two leaders engaged in official talks at the Kremlin on Tuesday. According to media reports, Putin embraced Modi at his home at Novo-Ogaryovo, offering Modi tea, berries and sweets and took him on a tour of the grounds in a motorized cart.

"To visit a friend's home is a great pleasure," Modi said on Monday, per a report from Russian news agency TASS. Modi also posted pictures in X upon his arrival in Moscow, in both English and Russian, saying that stronger ties between India and Russia "will greatly benefit our people."

In an X post on Tuesday, Modi said talks between two leaders "will surely go a long way in further cementing the bonds of friendship between India and Russia." Modi also shared pictures of himself hugging and shaking hands with Putin.

Despite Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying that "no joint communication with the media is foreseen" in terms of Tuesday's official talks, TASS said the Putin-Modi meeting is expected to focus on trade, the economy and issues of "regional and global significance," which analysts interpreted as energy cooperation and the Ukraine crisis.

In response to Modi's visit, US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said at a press briefing on Monday (local time) that the US government "has made quite clear directly with India our concerns about their relationship with Russia," and hope India would make clear that Russia should respect the UN Charter, should respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity when they engage with Russia.

Modi's Russia visit illustrates India's balancing of foreign policy between major powers, Li Haidong, a professor at China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times.

According to the expert, the biggest challenge in the current geopolitical landscape is US hegemony which enables Washington to act arbitrarily and unrestrained.

The deepening of relations between Russia and India is an important step toward global strategic balance, Li said. "Modi's interaction with Putin in Russia can be regarded as positive as long as it helps ease the Russia-Ukraine conflict, makes stability in Europe more promising, and makes major power relations more balanced," he said.

The visit comes just ahead of the NATO summit in Washington, a gathering widely regarded as targeting Russia.

Despite a lavish reception for Modi in the US during his state visit to US last year, it is clear that India is not falling for America's attempt to coax it into confronting Russia, Li said.

India, a major power with a tradition of strategic autonomy, is well aware of the falsities of US diplomacy, Li said. "The US-India relationship is one that each gets what it needs. India has been pragmatic in contrast to America's wishful wooing," he said.

According to media reports, India has refused to join Western sanctions against Russia after the Ukraine crisis, instead turning to Russia for discounted energy imports, with more than 40 percent of its oil imports from Russia. Meanwhile, Russia is still a key military equipment supplier to India.

"The closer relationship between India and Russia shows the failure of the US' strategy to contain and isolate Russia… it means a deep frustration for the elites in Washington," said Li.

Analysts said that no matter who takes office in the White House a few months later, India's Russia policy will remain consistent, in other words, India is unlikely to completely follow the US and isolate Russia.

China opposes US and its allies accusing China of directing cyberattacks: FM

China opposes US and its allies accusing China of directing cyberattacks, a spokesperson from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday. The spokesperson added that the international community sees clearly who is conducting long-term monitoring and espionage on its allies, carrying out indiscriminate cyberattacks on other countries, and the source of all evil in promoting global cybersecurity threats.

In an Australia-led report published on Tuesday morning, cybersecurity and intelligence agencies for the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and Germany said that advanced persistent threat 40 (also known as APT40) had "repeatedly" targeted governments across the Indo-Pacific. The group was able to steal hundreds of unique user names and passwords in one incident in April 2022, as well as intercepting multi-factor authentication codes, the report said.

"The authoring agencies assess that this group conduct malicious cyber operations for the PRC Ministry of State Security (MSS)," the report said, adding that APT40 more regularly exploited vulnerabilities in public-facing infrastructure rather than using techniques which required user interaction, such as phishing campaigns, Bloomberg reported.

In response, Lin Jian, spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday that the countries behind the report are trying to stir up trouble by accusing China of cyberattacks, using the issue of cyber security to smear and discredit China. A development which China firmly opposes.

In fact, in recent times, Chinese agencies have released multiple analysis reports, including reports on American APT organizations, which have thoroughly exposed how the US has long been spreading false information, hyping up the threat of Chinese cyberattacks, while at the same time using its hegemonic position and technological advantage to engage in global surveillance and espionage.

In January, a cybersecurity report for 2023 released by Antiy Labs, one of China's foremost cybersecurity companies, said that global APT activities remain at a severe level. APT organizations are primarily distributed in countries and regions such as the US and India, with the US continuing to pose the main threat to global cybersecurity.

The report summarized the distribution and activity of global APT organizations and activities in 2023. The US dominates the 556 APT organizations globally, and the highest level of attacks, known as A2PT attacks. APT organizations that pose a threat to China and neighboring countries also operate in India and Taiwan island.

Lin said on Tuesday that it is puzzling that the US has never provided a reasonable explanation for who is the real mastermind behind the long-term surveillance and espionage against its allies, and who is the ultimate source of the global cybersecurity threat. It is believed that the international community sees this very clearly.

Lin said that China had exposed the US for spreading false information about "Volt Typhoon" targeting China on Monday, and today news about China's cyberattacks being hyped up by the Western media. This coincidence leads people to suspect that there may be certain countries manipulating behind the scenes to divert attention.

We advise relevant parties to keep their eyes open, distinguish right from wrong, and not to help other countries at their own expense, ending up with a loss for themselves and others, said Lin.

After China released a report on Volt Typhoon, the US, in order to cover up the evidence, instructed related companies to change the content of report they released previously, completely disregarding the traces left during the operation, the Global Times learned on Sunday. However, the US Embassy in China and company involved stayed silent when contacted by the Global Times comment.

"In the field of international cybersecurity, the US is the least qualified to point fingers because it has no national credibility in this area. Over the past twenty years, the world has witnessed the US fabricate false intelligence to launch wars. Its intelligence agencies recklessly conduct cyber espionage and surveillance on countries, including its allies, deploy cyber weapons, and paralyze critical infrastructure of other countries through actual APT attacks. The US is the primary threat that supports cyberattacks with national power,"Zhuo Hua, an expert on international affairs at the School of International Relations at Beijing Foreign Studies University told the Global Times.

An ordinary workday of a service site shows how Chinese political advisors collect people’s voice, practice whole-process people’s democracy at grass-roots level

Editor's Note:

China's widely watched annual "two sessions" kicked off on Monday this year. The "two sessions" refers to the annual sessions of National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which are known as the country's top legislature and national political advisory body respectively.

The two sessions is a grand occasion that gathers ideas and wisdom of people of all walks of life across the country. It is an important opportunity for the world to better understand China's whole-process people's democracy, in which the people engage in democratic elections, consultations, decision-making, management, and oversight according to the law. Such democracy is not only shown in the votes taking place at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, but also embodied in a motion submitted by a NPC deputy coming from a remote area, or a consultative meeting held among some residents living in a city suburb. It can be felt in many details of Chinese people's daily life.

During this year's two sessions, the Global Times is launching a series of stories to illustrate the whole-process people's democracy from some of such details. The first story is about an ordinary workday of a grass-roots service site of a district-level political advisory body in Shanghai suburb. There, the reporters took a closer look at this consultation site's efforts in fulfilling the Chinese democracy through solving "little things" that matter the daily life of local residents.
The early morning sun shone through the windows into the room. Shanghai resident Ji Huiqi opened the window to enjoy some fresh air. But he frowned. He found his clothes hanging outside the windows covered with a thin layer of dust.

The Yingyuan residential community in Shanghai's suburban Jiading district that Ji lives in is a decades-old community which is currently under renovation. The renovation will bring this somewhat run-down community broader paths, beautiful exterior walls and better public facilitates, but months of renovating work has also caused residents inconveniences, such as noise and dust pollution.

Ji expressed the dust pollution to the Gengzhi consultation site, a grass-roots service site of the CPPCC Jiading District Committee that is responsible for collecting opinions of, and helping solve problems for, local people.

Only days later, Ji was invited to a democratic consultation meeting that specifically focused on how to bother the community residents during the renovation less.

The meeting was organized by, and held at, the Gengzhi consultation site. It kicked off a busy workday of Gengzhi, a platform of local CPPCC to practice the whole-process people's democracy at the most grass-roots level.

Ahead of the two sessions, during one-day visit to the Gengzhi consultation site, the Global Times reporters took a closer look at this consultation site's efforts in fulfilling the whole-process people's democracy through solving "little things" that matter the daily life of local residents.

9 am: a democratic consultation

Around 9 am in the morning, 74-year-old Ji arrived at the Gengzhi consultation site, ready to express his suggestions for "reducing inconveniences for residents during renovation," the topic of today's consultation meeting.

About 20 people attended the meeting. To Ji's surprise, they included almost all the parities related to this topic: resident representatives, renovation project managers, residential property managers and relevant functional departments of local government. Some members of CPPCC Jiading District Committee (also known as political advisors of the district) were also here, busy with taking notes of the residents' voices.

Every party spoke at the meeting. In Ji's small speech, he thanked the efforts the renovation project side had made in trying to bother residents less, such as the requirement of no construction work at weekends and in the early mornings. "It would be better if we could find a way to further reduce the dust pollution," he added.

The consultation meeting lasted 2.5 hours. Some of the problems were initially solved through discussions during the meeting. "We built an online chat group," Ji told the Global Times after the meeting. "From now on, we can directly report small problems from the renovation project side, like noise or dusts."

For the relatively more complicated problems, political advisors on the scene recorded them down, in preparation for further survey and discussion in the near future.

Ji praised this democratic consultation meeting as an efficient and friendly form to explore solutions. "I feel that we residents' opinions and ideas are highly valued. That's nice," he said and left Gengzhi consultation site with a smile.

The Gengzhi consultation site is located at the busy community integrated service center at Xincheng Road sub-district in Jiading. The sub-district is a township-level administrative division in China's urban areas.

Some 60,000 people live in the 5.14-square kilometer Xincheng Road sub-district. To better practice the whole-process people's democracy, the sub-district set up two services sites under guidance of the CPPCC Jiading District Committee - Gengzhi consultation site and Gengshan reading room - where local people can freely express their opinions, complaints and suggestions, especially those regarding to grass-roots governance.

Gengzhi, for instance, listens to and collects people's voices through four main ways, introduced Gengshan and Gengzhi's director Zhang Xiangqun, who is also a political advisor in Jiading district.

The democratic consultation meeting that resident Ji participated in that morning is one of the ways, Zhang said. "The other three include offline letter boxes, survey questionnaires, and a monthly project named 'room for people's voice,'" she told the Global Times. "The last Thursday of every month, local political advisors talk to the residents at this room face to face."

In recent years, the CPPCC Jiading District Committee has set up working stations for its political advisors at all Jiading's 12 sub-districts and towns, said Wang Yan, a staffer with committee who is in charge of the issues related to the working stations.

Based on the current working stations, the committee worked with the Xincheng Road sub-district management and established two front-line service sites Gengzhi and Gengshan in July 2023, so as to get closer to the grass-roots people, Wang said.

"In the past, some people may felt distant from the CPPCC," she told the Global Times at Gengzhi. "But now, we found that more and more residents are willing to go to these service sites that are so close to their homes, and they are pleased to participate in consultations and express their views."
2 pm: vote to make decision

After a lunch break, at around 2 pm , several residents at Canghai residential community waited in a line for a vote.

Witnessed by the Gengzhi staffers and local political advisors, they in turn put a piece of paper into a red box. These voters were resident representatives of the community. Before casting the vote, they had spent days collecting opinions of almost all the community's 4,532 residents in detail.

With Gengzhi's help, they were using the democratic method of voting to decide one of the biggest concerns of the community residents in the past three months: whether to put into use the community's public charging pile for electric motorcycles.

The irregular charging of the e-motorcycles used to be a headache for the community. Instead of charging in a public area, some lower-floor residents liked to charge their e-motorcycles directly through a long wire from their homes, as household electricity costs less.

"You could see many electric wires go through the windows of their homes and fall on the ground, connected with the e-motorcycles they parked downstairs," recalled resident Sun Jianming. "This was a huge fire safety hazard."

Some residents expressed their complaints to Gengzhi, which later discussed with the sub-district and community staffers to find a solution - installing public charging piles.

The community started to prepare for the charging pile installation since December 2023. Local grass-roots officials and some resident volunteers door-to-door publicized fire safety knowledge, and asked for opinions on the payment method of the charging piles.

Discussion, consultation and opinion collection have been the norm of this residential community for the past three months. As the concept of the whole-process people's democracy has been deeply rooted in people's hearts, local residents, particularly the young ones, have a willingness to participate in social and community governance, said Zhou Zhiliang, an official of Xincheng Road sub-district who co-leads Gengzhi and Gengshan.

Also, through months of exploration and practice since Gengzhi and Gengshan were established, "we found that our sub-district officials and residential community staffers have changed their working concepts," Zhou told the Global Times.

In the past, a few of the local grass-roots officials might be afraid to face complaints, Zhou said. But now, they actively listen to the residents, and they truly feel gratified and glad for helping residents solve problems, he noted.

As for the charging pile installation and payment method, at last, the residential community managers planned to spend a part of the community's public revenue (such as parking fee) in buying "charging cards." The cards, each of which contains 120 times of e-motorcycle charging per year, will be sent to the community residents for free, according to Sun.

Will the residents feel satisfied with this plan? That afternoon, some resident representatives organized a democratic vote which includes all their neighbors. They agreed that, the plan would be approved if the approval rate exceeded 50 percent.

Hours later after the vote, Sun told the Global Times that the vote results came out.

"More than 88 percent approved," he said with excitement.
7 pm: a political advisor's notebook

The sky gradually turned dark around 7 pm. Sitting by a table at Gengzhi, Xu Minghua carefully reviewed the notes he took this morning, at the consultation meeting he attended.

Residents' complaints and suggestions about the inconveniences caused by the renovation work were all on X u's notebook. "The residents' opinions were very precious and valuable. I'm thinking about to turn them into a proposal," said Xu, a political advisor of Jiading district.

This proposal will be submitted to the online platform of Jiading district's political advisory body, becoming an important reference for the work of local government and related policy makers, Xu explained.

According to Gengzhi and Gengshan's director Zhang, the two service sites have received some 140 pieces of complaints and suggestions since being established. Among them, about 100 pieces have been solved or adopted by the sub-district-level officials and functional departments. The remaining more complicated 40 pieces are sent to local political advisors, who will report them to the upper levels through proposals.

In response to some western media's smear, which defamed the two sessions as a "stage to put on a show," Xu has many to say. As a private entrepreneur, Xu has been serving as a political advisor in Jiading district for eight years. Each year, Xu writes and submits nearly 10 proposals based on the voices of grass-roots residents. He said that his proposals focus on the matters that residents concern most about, such as the fire-fighting equipment in garages and "many of my proposals have been adopted."

He mentioned a recent proposal he submitted, which was about the unreasonable double yellow lines on the road of a busy street corner. Local transport department adopted the proposal and made a change within a month.

"Very efficient," Xu praised.

Xu's proposals, as well as the people's voices that Gengzhi collects, are windows for the outside world to see how China's whole-process people's democracy is practiced in the grass-roots.

In November 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Chinese people's democracy is a type of "whole-process democracy," during his inspection tour in Shanghai. It was the first time this term was used publicly.

These years, Shanghai has made various efforts in promoting and improving democratic governance and consultation at the grass-roots level, said some local NPC deputies and CPPCC members. The city is trying hard to make it not only the place where the "whole-process people's democracy" was first proposed, but also the place where this concept is best practiced, they noted.

In Jiading district, the local political advisory body is establishing and improving more grass-roots serves sites, to enhance the people's sense of gain and satisfaction.

"We strive to transform the concept of the whole-process people's democracy into the arrangements of the CPPCC that have more complete participation, better developed mechanism and procedure, and richer platforms,"Yang Li, chairman of the CPPCC Jiading District Committee, told the Global Times.

Morocco welcomes Chinese firms to jointly develop electric vehicles in Morocco: Ambassador

Editor's Note:
China and Morocco share a long history of exchanges and a long tradition of friendship. Under the strategic guidance of the heads of the two countries, China and Morocco have established strategic partnership and bilateral relations have achieved leapfrog growth. Morocco was among the first countries in Africa and Arab world to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has yielded fruitful results in bilateral cooperation. Global Times reporter Ma Jingjing (GT) interviewed new Moroccan Ambassador to China Abdelkader El Ansari for China-Morocco economic and trade cooperation.
GT: This year marks the 66th anniversary of the establishment of China-Morocco diplomatic ties. What are your comments on China-Morocco ties over the past decades?

El Ansari: China and Morocco have century-old relations, not only decades, because we are every year celebrating the anniversary of the Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta who visited China already in the 14th century. And there is also a very famous Chinese traveler named Wang Dayuan who visited Morocco in the same century. So, our relations are very old. This year we are celebrating the 66th anniversary of our diplomatic relations, and I know that number six is very important in China, brings joy and hope. So, 66th anniversary double joy and double hope. We have very strong relations built on mutual respect, real friendship, solidarity, and reliability. The future is even more promising for our relations. I am very confident about that.

GT: Morocco is among the very first countries that signed the memorandum of understanding about the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). What achievements have been made under BRI cooperation between China and Morocco?

El Ansari: We have now identified many projects that could be realized under the frame of BRI. We have selected 14 important sectors in which we will implement projects because the opportunities of cooperation and exchange are very big between our two countries. The priority projects are in fields including infrastructure, health, agriculture, industry, renewable energy and technological industry. That means the industries with very high added-value. And we are progressing now very fast in that sense.

We are happy to see that Morocco will be maybe one of the pillars of the implementation of the BRI worldwide. So, this is an important compound of our relations and we hope that in the coming few years we will have a lot of projects completed under the BRI framework.

GT: People-to-people exchange is one of the highlights of China-Morocco relations, especially since the joint building of the BRI. What's the status quo of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries?

El Ansari: The geography makes distance very big between our two countries, but this doesn't prevent that we have quite good people-to-people relations in at least three fields. During His Majesty the King Mohammed VI's visit to Beijing in May 2016, His Majesty decided to lift the visa requirement for the Chinese people to visit Morocco. Since then, we have noticed a big rise of Chinese tourists visiting Morocco. Second, we have a big presence of Moroccan students here in China. Third, we have very good cooperation in the field of culture. Morocco and China are among the few countries in the world with a millenary history. So, there are big interests from Chinese people for Moroccan culture, ancestral culture, and in Morocco, there is also a big interest as well for the Chinese culture. I am convinced that the people-to-people relations and exchanges are the best cement to our friendly relations.

GT: China is one of Morocco's main trading partners. What's your view on the China-Morocco relations in the future? And what areas can the two countries deepen cooperation and promote further development of the China-Morocco strategic partnership?

El Ansari: The potential of China-Morocco economic relations is very big. China is the first economic partner of Morocco in Asia, and its third commercial partner worldwide. In 2016, the two countries decided to establish China-Morocco strategic partnership, opening new chapter in the bilateral relations. In this strategic partnership, there is a very important part of economic relations and partnership relations in economy and trade. We hope that Chinese companies and investors will come to do business in Morocco.

Morocco has a very good geostrategic location, political stability and economic vision, and is a very good platform for developing business for the Chinese companies. Morocco has signed more than 54 free trade agreements with other countries and organizations, which allows to enter from Morocco a market of 1.4 billion consumers. We are now receiving more and more Chinese companies to invest in Morocco in many fields including car industry, renewable energies, infrastructure, textile, agriculture and mining. And now Morocco has opened a lot of very ambitious programs in many fields. Morocco will be hosting the Football World Cup in 2030 with Spain and Portugal, and this can open very big opportunities for investments and for business for the Chinese companies.

GT: Morocco is now Africa's largest car manufacturer with an annual production capacity of nearly one million vehicles. China's new-energy vehicle sector has enjoyed rapid development. What opportunities do you see between the two countries' automobile sector?

El Ansari: We are happy to receive more and more Chinese companies engaged in the field such as car industry, electronic components and tires. We are very confident and ambitious for our relations in this particular sector. The future is the electric vehicles. China is a pioneer and has a very strong industry in that respect. We hope that we will find common interests and common projects to develop these electric vehicles in Morocco with the help and partnership of Chinese companies.

There is a very big interest from Chinese companies in the big ecosystem of car industry, especially the electric car industry, to come to Morocco. We welcome Chinese companies to come to see what are the opportunities of business that are available in Morocco and to have investments in Morocco. Mohammed VI Tangiers Tech City, a Chinese-sponsored manufacturing and technology zone outside Tangiers is already hosting dozens of Chinese companies. We hope to have more Chinese companies make business in Morocco, and beyond Morocco to reach other markets.

GT: The 2024 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) is scheduled to be held in China this autumn. What's your expectations for the forum and how do you think China-Morocco relations can contribute to Africa's development?

El Ansari: Since the start of the FOCAC in 2000, Morocco has always been participating at a high level. We know that China also gives very big importance to relations with Africa, and especially in terms of development and solidarity. The vision of China and that of Morocco toward Africa are the same. We're committed to making the coming summit in September of the FOCAC a very big success, like what was the summit of 2018 in Beijing.

As we are enjoying very good relations, China and Morocco can work together to voice the interests of Africa. We also hope that we can develop trilateral cooperation projects between China, Morocco and our common partners in Africa in various sectors including infrastructure, trade and training. There are now many initiatives that Morocco has taken within the African continent, for example, Nigeria-Morocco Gas Pipeline, the Atlantic Initiative and an initiative to promote the access of Sahel countries to the Atlantic Ocean. We hope that China will also contribute to the implementation of these three big initiatives, because they have the same philosophy and the same objectives as the Chinese vision toward the development of Africa.

The upcoming summit will be a very good opportunity to exchange and to identify big strategic projects in which China, Africa and Morocco can work for peace and security, for economic development and for handling climate change and many challenges we are facing together.

Henan NEV Charging Volume Reaches Record High During May Day Holidays

On May 6, reporters learned from the State Grid Henan Province Electric Power Company that as residents' travel methods shift toward smart and green energy, there has been a surge in the charging volume of new-energy vehicles (NEVs) in Henan Province, setting a new record for daily charging volume on the provincial expressways during the May Day holidays.

According to official data, the total charging volume on the provincial expressway network during the holidays reached 2.4581 million kilowatt-hours, with an average of 491,600 kilowatt-hours per day. This represents an 89.84% increase compared to the May Day holidays in 2023 and a 27.14% increase compared to the Qingming holidays in 2024 (on a daily average basis). The first day of the holiday marked a small peak in travel, with the daily charging volume on the provincial expressways reaching 621,700 kilowatt-hours, which is 3.8 times the usual volume.

"To ensure that NEV owners could travel without worries, we released forecasts for popular service areas, helping users to arrange their charging plans accordingly. Additionally, we meticulously formulated a highway charging travel security plan and deployed mobile energy storage vehicles in heavy-duty service areas. During peak charging times at service stations prone to queuing, we were on duty to guide the charging order and alleviate the queuing situation," said Jiao Shukun, deputy director of the Marketing Center of the State Grid Henan Electric Vehicle Company.

During the holidays, the State Grid Henan Electric Power arranged 483 maintenance and on-duty personnel, completed 563 rounds of inspection (including special inspections), inspected 416 charging stations and 1,713 charging piles, handled 472 fault repair orders, involving 446 charging stations and repaired 976 charging piles. They also provided four instances of on-site emergency charging services dispatching eight agents.

Currently, the State Grid Henan Electric Power has built 243 charging stations and 1,424 charging piles in 124 pairs of highway service areas within the province, initially forming a highway charging network layout that connects north and south and that spans from east to west. This adds further assurance for NEV owners to recharge on the road, promoting green and low-carbon development in Henan.

China's economy embracing future with progress in technology innovation

The third plenary session of the 20th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee will be held in Beijing in July, according to a decision made at a CPC Central Committee Political Bureau meeting on April 30. The announcement of the "third plenum" immediately ignited investor enthusiasm as the Hong Kong stock market surged in the following days. The mainland's stocks closed higher on Monday, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index up 1.16 percent to 3,140.72 points, and Shenzhen Component Index up 2 percent at 9,779.21 points after a five-day holiday break. Investors are waiting for this big news to lead to a bull run.

More pro-growth stimulus measures are expected to come out soon. The CPC Central Committee political bureau meeting said that ultra-long special treasury bonds should be issued at an early stage and put in good use, and it is necessary to flexibly employ policy tools such as interest rate and reserve requirement ratio to increase support for the real economy, while provinces and cities facing high debt risks are urged to unwind their debt burdens. 

Specifically, the meeting asked for assessing and implementing a set of comprehensive reform measures to cut housing inventories and improve the quality of newly-added housing.   

The real estate sector has been in a lull since the outbreak of the pandemic as market demand withered. Now, the property bubble has been deflated, and it is time to rejuvenate the important industry. By all metrics, the new mandate to reduce housing inventories is definitely warranted, and it's broadly deemed supportive of the industry's healthy development. 

China overcame many domestic and external difficulties to achieve an impressive 5.2 percent GDP growth rate in 2023. The State Council, the cabinet, announced in March in its annual Government Work Report to the National People's Congress that China will aim for around 5 percent growth in 2024. That target would be more difficult to attain than in 2023, due to the much higher base effect this year than in 2023. The reckless harassment by the US to stymie China's high-tech industry will make the job even harder. 

However, Chinese policymakers won't sit idle and passively see the 5 percent growth target elude them. As proved by the past four decades, economic difficulties can only be addressed through persistent and brave reforms. It was the "third plenum" in 1978 that kicked off the historic and transformative epoch of China's reform and opening-up drive, which has led to miraculous economic achievements by the country. 

The impending "third plenum" in July will make another important mark in history, by navigating the Chinese economy's path through rough seas. 

The landscape of international economic and technology competition is undergoing critical changes. China should have no illusions that the hegemonic US government will stop its obstructive, callous gimmicks to harm Chinese enterprises and slow China's development. Washington's notorious "small courtyard, high walls" policy to "starve" Chinese companies of American technology will continue, if not accelerate and harden in the coming months.

So, pivoting the Chinese economy to a more self-reliant and sustainable path has taken on greater urgency and significance. Developing and advancing new quality productive forces in the country will be the best and most effective way to offset the ruthless US containment. Domestic tech innovation will act as the biggest variable in the contest of national strengths. 

Provided that China can achieve more indigenous tech innovation, be it high-speed digital transmission methods, high-end electric vehicle batteries and renewable energy exploration, or high-quality artificial intelligence solutions and transformative robotics, this country will surely prevail in the competition. As these cutting-edge technologies can never be bought, China must continue to invest heavily in scientific research and development. 

The new reform measures to be presented and discussed at the "third plenum" in July will have a major impact on China's economic growth for the coming five to 10 years. The political bureau meeting admitted that the Chinese economy faces many challenges, like insufficient domestic demand, and the complexity, severity and uncertainty of the external geopolitical environment. 

At the current stage, it is of great importance for the country to put more energy into resolving domestic issues, which explains the meeting's call to expedite the issuance of the ultra-long special-purpose treasury bonds in order to provide extra support for the economy. 

Last week, the capital city of Beijing ended a curb on multiple home purchases outside of the Fifth Ring Road, following the removal of restrictive housing policies in Chengdu and Suzhou intended to digest inventories. 

The prospects for restructuring and upgrading China's economy, including bolstering technology innovation, shoring up the role of free market competition, expanding opportunities for all types of businesses, allocating capital more efficiently, and improving the balance between domestic consumption and investment, are better than at any point in the past.

The political bureau meeting called for enhanced efforts to develop new quality productive forces and ramp up China's high-quality manufacturing capability as well as strategic future industries. China should actively develop venture capital and shore up patient capital in the course of fostering important technology-based emerging industries, the meeting announced, which again illustrated the creativity and audacity of China's policymaking.