China, France agree to elevate economic, trade cooperation: MOFCOM

China and France have inked a number of cooperation agreements during the recent state visit by China's top leader to Paris. Moving ahead, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) will work with its French counterpart to elevate bilateral economic and trade cooperation to a new stage, a spokesperson from the ministry said on Thursday.

During the visit, MOFCOM and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on promoting cooperation among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), aiming to enhance the business environment for SME cooperation between the two countries, according to He Yadong, the spokesperson for MOFCOM.

Additionally, the sixth meeting of the China-France Entrepreneur Committee convened successfully in Paris, with over 200 entrepreneurs from both nations attending. Discussions centered on topics like industrial innovation for mutual trust and win-win cooperation, green economy and low-carbon transformation, and fostering new productivity for sustainable development.

Following the meeting, companies from both countries signed 15 cooperation agreements in such areas as finance, nuclear energy development, aviation, manufacturing, and new renewable energies, according to the MOFCOM spokesperson.

"Moving ahead, the Ministry of Commerce will work with relevant French departments to conscientiously implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state, and elevate bilateral economic and trade cooperation to a new stage," He Yadong told a press briefing in Beijing on Thursday, noting rapid development in bilateral economic cooperation during the recent years.

In the 60 years since the two countries formally established diplomatic ties, bilateral trade has skyrocketed nearly 800-fold, hitting $78.9 billion in 2023.

China has become France's primary trading partner outside the EU, while France retains its crucial role as an important trading partner for China within the EU. Total two-way investment has exceeded $26 billion, placing China and France at the forefront of cooperation among EU nations, with over 2,000 French companies now operating in China.

In the context of intensified global economic uncertainty, the importance of strengthening China-France relations in trade, strategic cooperation, and cultural exchange is ever more pronounced, guided by principles of independence, mutual understanding, and mutual gain.

Manila's denial of objective facts hurts its own credibility: FM

The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines released details about the relevant communication between China and the Philippines in terms of managing the situation at Ren'ai Jiao. The facts are clear and backed by hard evidence that cannot be denied, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told a press conference on Wednesday, urging the Philippines to honor its commitment, and stop maritime infringement and provocation at once.

On Tuesday, Bloomberg cited a Chinese official on background, said a transcript of the supposed recording of a phone call with Western Command Commander Vice Admiral Alberto Carlos "may be released to the public within days." In the transcript, Carlos agreed to a "new model" for resupply missions concerning Ren'ai Jiao.

The transcript which documented the phone conversation between the Chinese side and Carlos on January 3 has been confirmed to be true, the Global Times has learned from a source familiar with the affair on Wednesday.   Following the conversation, the Philippine side adhered to the "new mode" in the subsequent resupply mission, only delivering essential daily supplies to the grounded warship, and notified the Chinese side in advance.

Based on the "new model" arrangement and humanitarian principle, the Chinese side permitted the Philippine resupply operation, said the source. 

However, thereafter, the Philippine side reneged on its promise. Not only did it fail to notify the Chinese side in advance of its resupply activities, but it also attempted to transport construction materials to the illegally grounded vessel, deliberately causing trouble and maliciously hyping up the situation. 

The China Coast Guard has firmly restricted the Philippine's illegal resupply activities, according to the source. 

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian said at the Wednesday press conference that the Philippine side has insisted on denying these objective facts and seeks to mislead the international community. This hurts its own credibility and puts peace and stability in the South China Sea in jeopardy.

China urges the Philippines to honor its commitment, stop maritime infringement and provocation at once, and return to the right track of properly handling disputes with China through dialogue and consultation, Lin noted. 

The Philippines' recent denials of the "new model" and the "gentlemen's agreement" reflect the chaos and management confusion as well as multiple conflicting stances within the Philippine government regarding its policies toward China, Ge Hongliang, deputy director of the College of ASEAN Studies at Guangxi University for Nationalities, told the Global Times. 

Manila's repeated violations of the gentlemen's agreement between the two sides, or in other words, consensus reached through consultations over dispute management, weaken its claim of seeking a peaceful resolution to the dispute. Its accusing China of "jeopardizing regional peace and security" doesn't hold water, Ge said. 

Unlike the Philippines, which is becoming a pawn of the US in the latter's competition with China in the region, China does not wish to see further deterioration of the situation in the South China Sea. China will continue to promote the peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes through bilateral channels, Ge said. 

Over 100 Tsinghua alumni fall ill after dinner gathering; 'norovirus infection the cause'

Over 100 of Tsinghua alumni fell ill following an off-campus dinner gathering marking the university's anniversary, with the local disease prevention and control department attributing the cause to norovirus infection. 

A recent social media post titled "Letter to All Alumni and Current Faculty and Students" brought attention to the issue. The letter revealed that during Tsinghua University's 113th anniversary celebration from April 26 to 28, alumni from various locations attended the festivities and some dined at the Zui Ai Restaurant located outside the southeast gate of the campus. 

Over a hundred alumni fell ill with food poisoning , including vomiting, diarrhea, fever, abdominal discomfort, fatigue, and muscle soreness after dining at the restaurant. As of May 1, 102 individuals have reported experiencing these symptoms, the letter wrote.

The Haidian District Disease Prevention and Control Center in Beijing on Monday released an investigation report saying it has conducted comprehensive testing on samples collected from the restaurant staff, environment, and food. The results of the epidemiological investigations revealed that some samples tested positive for norovirus, leading to the conclusion that the incident was caused by acute gastroenteritis due to norovirus infection. 

The district disease control center has instructed the restaurant to cease operations, carrying out terminal disinfection, and providing health awareness guidance.

With summer being a high-risk period for gastrointestinal infectious diseases, the disease control center has advised catering enterprises to increase the frequency of daily environmental sanitation and disinfection, enhance staff education on preventing gastrointestinal infectious diseases, and improve health monitoring to ensure a safe dining environment for customers. 

Residents are urged to prioritize food hygiene, avoid consuming untreated water, practice frequent handwashing, use public chopsticks when dining out, and seek medical attention promptly if experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms.

China successfully launches epic Chang’e-6 lunar probe in first human attempt to retrieve samples from far side of the Moon

China has made another historic stride in its deep space endeavors on Friday, as the Long March-5 Y8 carrier rocket blasted off at 5:27 pm from the Wenchang Space Launch Site in South China’s tropical island of Hainan, sending the Chang’e-6 lunar probe onto its odyssey in the world’s first ever attempt to bring back lunar samples from the far side of the Moon.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) confirmed the success of the launch after two pairs of solar panels of the spacecraft opened smoothly.

The round trip of Chang'e-6 to the moon and back will take about 53 days, more than double the duration of its predecessor Chang’e-5, which returned samples from the near side of the moon in some 23 days, media reported.

The longer duration also indicates more complex flight stages – researchers have designed 11 stages for Chang’e-6, including launch and orbit insertion, lunar transfer, among others, media reported on Friday.

The amount of Moon samples to be returned this time is also expected to be larger than the Chang’e-5 mission. It is expected to retrieve around 2,000 grams of lunar dust and rocks, an increase of some 270 grams than the last time.

The Chang'e-6 mission aims to break new ground in lunar retrograde orbit design and control, intelligent sampling on the moon's far side, and ascent from the lunar surface, according to the CNSA. It will conduct an automated sample return from the moon's far side, along with scientific exploration of the landing area and international collaboration, the agency added.

After flying into orbit, it will head toward the Moon. Upon reaching its vicinity, the probe will brake to enter lunar orbit, and then fly around the orbit, during which time the lander and ascender combination will land on the far side of the moon, a research fellow with CASC revealed on Friday.

After completing the sampling, the ascender carrying the collected lunar soil will take off from the far side of the Moon to rendezvous and dock with the orbiter-returner combination, transfer the lunar samples to the returner, and then head back to Earth. It will re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere in a semi-ballistic skip manner and land in Siziwang Banner, North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Chang'e-6 will adopt the same sampling methods used by Chang'e-5, utilizing drilling and scooping to obtain samples from different layers and depths of the lunar surface, simultaneously conducting scientific exploration on the lunar far side.

The location of the drilling is targeted at the Aitken Basin in the lunar south pole, a crater formed some 4 billion years ago and believed to contain water ice.

The Aitken Basin is one of the three major lunar landforms, and is the oldest and deepest impact crater basin on the moon, with significant scientific research value.

“This is of great significance for humans to have a more comprehensive understanding of the Moon, deepen the study of lunar origin and evolution, planetary evolution, and the origin of the solar system,” said Hu Zhenyu, the chief engineer of the launch site engineering technology group for the mission.

To promote international cooperation, the Chang’e-6 mission will carry a number of international payloads to the Moon, including the European Space Agency's lunar surface ion composition analyzer, France's radon detection instrument, Italy's laser corner reflector, and a CubeSat from Pakistan, the CNSA revealed to the Global Times.

The Chang'e-6 mission is part of the country’s Phase-4 lunar exploration program, which eyes landing taikonauts on the Moon before 2030.

China is also leading the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) project together with Russia in the lunar south pole. The project will see a basic station built by 2035 and an expansion set for completion by 2045, with a moon-orbiting space station as the hub and facilities featuring complete functions.

So far, nearly 20 countries and organizations have joined the ILRS, including US Hawaii-based International Lunar Observatory Association, Swiss company Nano-SPACE for Cooperation, and France's Thales Group.

The mission comes amid increasing efforts by various countries to enhance their lunar programs, driven by a heightened interest in the opportunities for accessing resources and advancing deep space exploration.

Following Russia, the US and China, India successfully landed its first spacecraft on the Moon last year. And in January this year, Japan became the fifth member to join the lunar landing club, but its lander soon faced power issues due to incorrect landing angle.

The US is also pursuing its own schemes to return astronauts to the Moon as soon as 2026 and build a scientific base camp. However, the program, called Artemis, has been facing a number of challenges that put the scheduled date in question.

The Long March-5 carrier rocket, with a total length of nearly 60 meters and a takeoff mass of about 869 tons, is a true “giant” in China’s rocket family.

It is equipped with four boosters and has a payload capacity of 25 tons to low Earth orbit and 14 tons to geostationary transfer orbit, making it the largest launch vehicle in active service in China.

Since the Chang'e-6 probe is 100 kilograms heavier than Chang'e-5, designers have managed to help the rocket to "lose weight" and thus increasing Long March-5’s lunar transfer orbit payload capacity by 100 kilograms to meet the requirements of its “passenger,” the CASC revealed.

Two giant panda cubs set off for their new home in Madrid

The giant pandas "Jin Xi" and "Zhu Yu" on Monday took off from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, bound for Madrid Zoo in Spain to begin a 10-year stay. 

Chinese netizens and panda fans have expressed their hope that the two pandas will be well taken care of in Spain. "While abroad, please let the Spanish fans take over the guardianship and take good care of you two babies!" one netizen wrote.

"As the 20th generation of pandas, you two can fly the highest and farthest, opening a new chapter in your panda lives. Stay safe and healthy in a foreign land, and may you spend these long 10 years happily and joyfully!" said another.

"Jin Xi," a male panda, was born on September 1, 2020. "Zhu Yu," a female giant panda, was born on October 25, 2020.

According to Chinese flight tracking platform Feichangzhun, the China Airlines CA3103 cargo plane is responsible for transporting the pandas. The flight took off at 11:24 am on Monday Beijing time, with an estimated flight time of 13 hours and 53 minutes, arriving at Madrid Barajas Airport at 7:20 pm, local time. This is the first pair of pandas to travel to Europe for residency since the second half of 2019. 

To ensure the smooth arrival of the two pandas in Spain, both China and Spain have made thorough preparations. The Chinese panda base has isolated and quarantined the two pandas ahead of travel, ensuring dedicated care and regular check-ups. 

To ensure comfort and safety during the transportation, the panda base has customized special air transport cages to allow the pandas to move, eat, and rest freely inside the cage. Additionally, the panda base has prepared an ample supply of fresh and high-quality local bamboo and bamboo shoots from Southwest China's Sichuan Province, and arranged for a veterinarian and three specialists to accompany the pandas on the flight to take care of "Jin Xi" and "Zhu Yu's" health and diet. 

After arriving at Madrid Zoo, Chinese experts will stay for about three months to accompany the pandas through the quarantine period, complete stress adaptation and behavioral training, and help them quickly adapt to their new living environment. 

They will also provide technical guidance and operational training on how to take care of pandas to the zookeepers and veterinarians at Madrid Zoo. 

The Madrid Zoo told the Global Times that they will send a press release and videos once the cubs arrive.

Following suggestions of the Chinese expert team, Madrid Zoo has upgraded the panda pavilion in advance, including renovating the cub nursery to meet the needs of panda cub care, and optimized the facility design to cater to the pandas' climbing habits by adding climbing frames, logs, and other play facilities. Those upgraded facilities will be put into use after passing an inspection by the Chinese team.

Spain has achieved the most fruitful results in the cooperative breeding of giant pandas in Europe. Six giant pandas have successfully been given birth in Spain since the cooperation between China and Spain started. The "panda bond" between China and Spain has been maintained for over 40 years.

According to the Madrid Zoo, after arriving in Madrid, the two giant pandas will undergo a one-month quarantine isolation period, and they may meet the public as early as the end of May local time.

China eyes advancing brain-machine interface technology at 2024 ZGC Forum

Officials, scholars, and business representatives agreed to further promote the development of the brain-machine interface (BMI) technology and fully tap into the broad opportunities of frontier sector at the 2024 Zhongguancun Forum (ZGC Forum) on Friday.

Their statements and comments came at the Brain Computer interface Innovation Development Application Forum, a subforum of the ZGC Forum on Friday, one day after China's first high-performance invasive BMI shine the ZGC Forum, among nine other major technological results.

Xie Yuansheng, an official from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), said during the subforum that the development of BMI technology will be prioritized as a major future industry, and vowed to enhance policy guidance to the sector.

The MIIT pledged to further promote opening-up and cooperation linked to the BMI technology sector, in order to tap in potential development prospects, said Xie, adding that the innovation capability, industrial integration and regulation system will be further strengthened.

The Brain Computer Interface Industrial Alliance, unveiled 10 cases of industrial innovation in brain-computer interfaces developed by enterprises at the subforum, including cognitive ability and mental health measurement systems, wireless wearable high-speed brain-computer interaction devices, and portable brain-computer interface driving safety intelligent control systems.

China's self-developed NeuCyber Array BMI System, unveiled on Thursday at the 2024 ZGC Forum, among the 10 cutting-edge technological results, is a high-performance invasive BMI that could be widely applied for medical treatment for patients struggling with neurological and psychiatric brain diseases.

Core high-performance components like high-throughput flexible microelectrodes of the NeuCyber Array BMI System are domestically produced, with performance comparable with the most advanced international levels, Zhao Bing, an engineer with Chinese Institute for Brain Research, said at ZGC Forum.

NeuCyber Array BMI System is China's independently developed and first high-performance invasive BMI, Li Yuan, business development director of NeuCyber NeuroTech (Beijing) Co, the company that developed this BMI brain chip system, told the Global Times on Friday.

The development of BMI technology has broad application prospects, including many with a science fiction flavor, and it is expected that various applications will accelerate landing in near future, contributing to improving the quality of life for the public, Gu Xiaosong, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said at the sideline of the subforum.

In terms of patent transformation and talent cultivation in the field of BMI technology, China is currently leading the world and outpaced the US. In this regard, China's BMI industry has promising prospects, Gu said.

Research teams from Tsinghua University, Beihang University, and other Chinese universities are among the top in international rankings in BMI sector, Gu noted.

Mohamad Sawan, an academician from the Canadian Academy of Engineering and an Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Fellow, told the Global Times on Friday that China can provide a better environment and cooperation ecosystem for BMI research, as China has "an equation doesn't exist outside."

Sawan noted that the BMI research needs to integrate multiple disciplines together, and universities, academies of science and engineering, institutes for medical engineering in China make collaboration more efficient and faster. 

When speaking in which area that BMI technology can benefit more people, Sawan pointed out that some health condition cannot be recovered by drugs or surgery, and it may be applied with BMI equipment for providing economical solution, adding that China has the potential to take the lead in this sector.

Xi calls on Chongqing to promote high-quality development

Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed further efforts to usher in a new stage in the development of China's western region featuring well-coordinated environmental conservation, greater openness and high-quality development, when he chaired a symposium on boosting the development of China's western region in the new era in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. 

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made an inspection tour in Chongqing from Monday to Wednesday. During the visit, he called on Chongqing to further deepen reform and opening up across the board and write its own chapter in advancing Chinese modernization. 

The remarks and the inspection tour highlighted the great importance the top leader attaches to the development of the western region, which covers more than 70 percent of China's land area and is home to nearly 30 percent of the country's population. The region plays a critical role in China's pursuit of high-quality development and Chinese modernization, and holds great potential in various areas, economists said on Wednesday. 

During the symposium on Tuesday, Xi said China's western region has seen significant achievements on eco-environmental conservation and restoration over the past five years, but the region's development is still facing difficulties and challenges, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

The Chinese President said developing industries that leverage local strengths should be the main focus, adding that efforts are needed to adopt a region-specific approach in developing emerging industries and expedite industrial transformation and upgrade in the western region. 

Underscoring the importance attached to greater openness, during the inspection tour of Chongqing, Xi also visited an international logistics hub park to learn about the municipality's efforts in accelerating the development of the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor in west China, according to Xinhua. 

China's western region covers Chongqing, six provinces and five autonomous regions, including Southwest China's Sichuan and Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, accounting for 21.5 percent of China's GDP. Although the region's development has been lagging behind the country's eastern coastal regions, in recent years development has been picking up pace. Between 2019 and 2023, the region's combined GDP expanded form 20.5 trillion yuan ($2.83 trillion) to 26.9 trillion yuan, with an annual average growth rate of 4.9 percent. 

"The development in the western region has improved significantly in recent years in terms of infrastructure, industrial upgrade and people's livelihoods," Hu Qimu, a deputy secretary-general of the digital-real economies integration Forum 50, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

In terms of industrial development, the western region has also seen rapid development in recent years. The region is home to nine national level strategic emerging industry clusters in areas such as new materials and biomedicine, and five national level advanced manufacturing clusters such as electronic information and aviation. The region's industrial added value has jumped from 5.8 trillion yuan in 2019 to 8.1 trillion yuan in 2023, according to official data. 

Critical role, vast potential

The symposium on Tuesday further highlighted the western region's critical role in China's efforts to bolster both security and development, as well as its enormous potential in areas such as advanced manufacturing and high-level opening-up, economists said.

"The region is tasked not only to boost local industrial development with many industries shift from the east to the west and provide support in resources and other areas, but also to play a bigger role in the country's opening-up efforts," Dong Shaopeng, a senior research fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

Dong noted that there is still great room for the western region to expand opening-up by bolstering connectivity with countries and regions through land transport corridors. 

The western region has developed multiple trade routes with countries and regions in Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia in recent years. The New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor, which connects China's western region with Southeast Asian countries, can reach 490 ports in 120 countries and regions as of January 2024, with cargo volume jumping 21 percent year-on-year in 2023, according to official data.

Moreover, the western region also plays a crucial role in the China-Europe Freight Train Express. Over the past five years, 35,000 China-Europe freight trains have been launched in the western region, accounting for 50.5 percent of the national total. Thanks to the greater connectivity, the total import and export volume of the western region reached 3.7 trillion yuan in 2023, an increase of 37 percent from 2019.

Greater connectivity and openness of the western region is of great importance to the country's efforts to expand high-level opening-up and bolster both security and development, economists said. 

"Although the capacity of land transport remains relatively low, it has a very high level of security compared to sea transport," Hu said, noting that land transport corridors in the western region can better cope with geopolitical tensions and offer a steady channel for transport of strategic resources under extreme circumstances.

Apart from its great importance in China's long-term security and development, the western region is also crucial in the country's efforts to tackle downward pressure and consolidate the economic recovery in the short term by boosting domestic investment and consumption, economists said. 

"Whether it is from the perspective of responding to international situation, or overall coordination of development and security, or the current need to stabilize growth, it is imperative to boost the development of the western region," Hu said, pointing to the huge potential in infrastructure investment and consumption in the region.

As the region's economic development accelerated in recent years, infrastructure construction and consumption has also been expanding steadily. For example, in the first quarter of 2024, Chongqing saw a 4.4-percent growth in fixed-asset investment, with a 16.7-percent growth in industries and 8.5 percent in infrastructure. Retail sales in the municipality also grew by 5.5 percent year-on-year, higher than the national growth rate of 4.7 percent, according to official data. 

Winner, runners-up in Beijing Half Marathon stripped of prizes following probe

He Jie, winner of the Beijing Half Marathon, and three African pace setters who appeared to finish as runners-up, have all been stripped of their trophies, medals and prize money, the organizing committee announced on Friday.

The men's champion won the Beijing Half Marathon on April 14 with a time of 1:03:44, just one second ahead of Ethiopian runner Dejene Bikila, and Kenyans Robert Keter and Willy Mnangat, who tied for second place.

The marathon results immediately caused an uproar, as footage showed that He won the race because the three African runners slowed down to let him cross the finish line first.

Amid the ensuing controversy, the organizing committee of the marathon set up an investigation group to find out what happened.

According to the regulations of the event, apart from athletes who apply for the competition by themselves, pace setters can also run in the race but not as competing athletes.

In this event, China Olympic Road Running Company, one of the event organizers, invited a total of 28 Chinese and foreign athletes, including He Jie and four foreign pace setters, at the recommendation of Xtep International Holdings, the sponsor and partner of the sports event.

However, Xtep did not clearly label the pace setters, which led to them being identified as invited athletes who had come to participate in the race.

During the race, the four foreign pace setters wore the same bibs as invited athletes, even though they were supposed to run the marathon as He's pace setters.

One of the four pace setters quit the race soon after it began, but the other three ran all the way ahead of He until the final stretch. They then took the initiative to slow down during the last 2 kilometers. Eventually, He overtook them and won the race.

In accordance with the spirit of fair competition in sports and relevant regulations issued by China's General Administration of Sport, the event organizing committee decided to revoke the competition results for He, Mnangat, Bikila, and Keter, as well as taking back their trophies, medals and prize money. The incident was also reported to the Chinese Athletics Association.

Meanwhile, China Olympic Road Running Company's qualifications for organizing and operating the Beijing Half Marathon have been revoked. It was ordered to issue a public apology and to impose severe punishment on relevant personnel.

In addition, Xtep's partnership with the event has been canceled and it was also ordered to apologize to the public and seriously deal with the personnel held accountable for the incident.

Beijing Sports Competitions Administration and International Exchange Center, the other organizer of the event, was also criticized.

After the punishment decisions were announced, China Olympic Road Running Company apologized in a statement released on Friday, saying that the company expressed deep regret for the negative impact of the incident, and expressed their sincere apology to all the runners and to society.

The punishment decisions were applauded by the public, with many commenting that the individuals and relevant institutions deserve the punishment for profiting through fraudulent means.

Chinese media professional Hu Xijin wrote on Weibo that the relevant individuals and institutions had violated the rules of the competition and deceived the public, going against the spirit of sportsmanship and integrity.

China, US increase exchanges; Washington still 'lacks sincerity'

China and the US have recently engaged in intensive dialogues and communications across multiple fields, involving military, financial and economic aspects. Observers believe the current frequent interactions between the world's two largest economies are positively meaningful and conducive to better managing differences between the two sides, and also beneficial for the US to form correct understanding and judgments about China's actions and policies.

However, the most prominent feature of the current China-US relations is that Washington continuously raises demands with China but lacks sincerity in responding to many of China's reasonable requests. Although bilateral relations have relatively stabilized, whether they can progress further remains to be seen, observers said, who also warned to be vigilant against Washington's "tricks," especially in military sector.

Chinese Defense Minister Dong Jun held a video call with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday. Dong said the heads of state of China and the United States are committed to stabilizing and improving bilateral relations, stressing that both militaries should serve as a cornerstone for maintaining such stability.

He underscored that the Taiwan question is at the core of China's core interests, which brook no compromise. The Chinese People's Liberation Army stands firm against any activities seeking "Taiwan independence" or external support for such separatist actions, Dong said.

Noting the overall stability in the South China Sea situation, Dong urged the United States to recognize China's firm stance and take practical actions to uphold regional peace, as well as the stability of relations between the two countries and militaries.

Meanwhile, the economic and financial working groups of China and the US held their fourth meeting in Washington DC on Tuesday, with the two sides engaging in "in-depth, pragmatic and constructive" dialogue on how to implement the consensus reached earlier by the leaders of both nations, the macroeconomic situations of both countries and the world, how to achieve balanced growth, and other topics.

The fourth meeting came after the US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrapped up a high-stakes six-day visit to China last week, during which the two countries reached new areas of consensuses in economic and financial fields and also agreed on future meeting arrangements.

From the meeting between the leaders of China and the US in San Francisco last November to their phone call in early April this year, there has been effective communication between the two sides in practical areas. Regardless of whether differences still exist, the communication itself is effective and represents a breakthrough, some Chinese experts said.

Analyzing statements released by the US, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, believes US' sincerity in communication and exchanges with China is insufficient.

"The starting point of their communication is not aimed at moving toward China to better manage differences and resolve conflicts. Instead, the US is motivated by the need to bolster its allies' confidence in how it handles relations with China, demonstrating its capability to keep China-US relations under control. This, in turn, assures its allies to more confidently follow the US in its strategic competition with China," Li told the Global Times on Wednesday.

Vigilance against 'tricks'

The latest talk between the defense chiefs of the two countries, which is a major breakthrough in fully resuming the military-to-military communication, is likely to add possibilities for a future face-to-face meeting at Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore later once both sides confirm their attendances, some experts said.

But there are still many uncertainties, which are largely linked to the upcoming actions of the US, or whether the US will challenge and break China's bottom line on its core interests.

A US P-8A anti-submarine patrol aircraft flew through the Taiwan Straits and hyped it up publicly on Wednesday. The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command organized warplanes to follow, monitor and deal with the trespassing US aircraft in accordance with the law and regulations, the command's spokesperson said.

The theater command troops are on high alert at all times, resolutely safeguarding national sovereign security and regional peace and stability, the spokesperson added.

In a readout issued by the Pentagon on Tuesday, it reiterated that the US remains committed to "our longstanding one China policy, which is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act, the Three US-China Joint Communiques, and the Six Assurances, and he reaffirmed the importance of peace and stability across the Strait."

Austin also underscored the importance of respect for high seas freedom of navigation guaranteed under international law, especially in the South China Sea, according to the readout.

Philippine and US forces will simulate retaking enemy-occupied islands during joint military drills starting next week in areas facing Taiwan and the South China Sea, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

While military communication between China and the US can be regarded as having fully restored, it's evident from the readouts of both sides that China is well aware of US' ulterior motives and tricks, observers said.

On Lai Ching-te, who has been elected as Taiwan's regional leader in January and will take office in May, I believe that Chinese side is definitely sounding the alarm to the US, which is that the US must fulfill its promise not to support Taiwan independence, Wu Xinbo, director of the Center for American Studies at Fudan University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

On the South China Sea issue, China's message is also clear that the US should not support the Philippines in its provocations, as such support won't change the overall situation, the expert said. "China and the relevant countries can manage and maintain the overall stability of the South China Sea, and the US' schemes will not succeed," Wu said.

Caution needed

The China-US relationship has not yet fully emerged from its low point, but it is relatively stable, or rather, "there are still pitfalls ahead, but both sides have lights to guide them," Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"Both parties have flashlights in hand, so they are unlikely to fall into a pit. This is the current situation, but there is still the possibility of accidentally stepping into a pit, so both sides should remain cautious," Lü said.

Despite that the economic and financial working groups of China and the US had substantial dialogue in Washington DC, the US Trade Representative Katherine Tai is reportedly going to tell lawmakers that the Biden administration is "taking a serious look" at US trade defense tools to deal with threats posed by China's trade and economic policies, including a review of Trump-era tariffs on Chinese imports.

"The core issue is that the US no longer adheres to or follows its own established rule, arbitrarily causing the current chaos in the global economic and international trade sectors," Gao Lingyun, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

It's also difficult to predict whether tensions in the economic and trade sectors between the two countries will ease following the latest interactions, but the two sides could focus on areas of mutual benefits before moving on to topics where there are greater disagreements.

While interactions between China and the US have increased, whether the relationship between the two countries can progress beyond stability is yet to be seen, observers said.

"It seems the US is more concerned with maintaining stability, ensuring that no major issues arise. In contrast, China hopes to address some mutual concerns while maintaining stability, to promote an improvement in bilateral relations," Wu said.

To improve, issues need to be resolved and progress made. However, the US currently shows little interest in moving forward, including in military relations and it is more focused on preventing any accidents or crises than on engaging in extensive military exchanges, the expert said.

The current dynamic is characterized by Washington continuously pressuring China and raising demands, with a lack of a positive and sincere response to China's legitimate concerns. "In this context, Blinken's upcoming visit to China won't be an easy task, and we should not expect significant outcomes," Wu added.