Measures to boost China’s processing trade help create new advantages

The processing trade is one of the sectors most affected by rising labor costs in China. In the eyes of some Westerners, China's labor-intensive processing trade has lost its competitiveness, but the real story of the labor-intensive industry chain is much more complex than the industrial transfer trend as depicted by these pessimists.

Chinese authorities recently rolled out a guideline to improve the development of the processing trade. The guideline, regarded as the most important for the reform of China's processing trade since 2016, put forward 12 measures across six categories, involving efforts to encourage the expansion of Chinese domestic markets for processing trade.

Processing trade refers to the business activity of importing all or parts of raw and auxiliary materials, parts, accessories and packaging materials, and re-exporting finished products after processing or assembly is completed by companies within China. But people's concept of China's processing trade needs to change, as the country promotes sales of finished products in the domestic market and also integrates the development of domestic and foreign trade.

The processing trade is an important aspect of international industrial transfers. Since China launched its epochal reform and opening-up drive in 1978, the country has utilized an organic combination of capital, techniques, management and other advantages of foreign investment with the advantage of low-cost elements in China, such as the labor force, and it has become a globally oriented processing and manufacturing base.

The proportion of processing trade in China's foreign trade peaked at 53 percent in 1998. It plays an important role in the foreign trade and national economic development of China.

The international environment and domestic conditions for the development of the processing trade have undergone material changes. On the one hand, increasing labor costs have put pressure on traditional sectors in the coastal regions. Meanwhile, the rise of trade protectionism in the US-led West, as well as weak external demand, have posed challenges to China's processing trade, especially the development of labor-intensive industries.

On the other hand, China's foreign trade also has new opportunities. The rise of domestic consumer power in China is becoming a new advantage in China's foreign trade. China's economic miracle in the past few decades has led to the rise of its middle class, making China an increasingly important importer in the global industry chain and a consumer market for finished products.

China has strengthened the integration of domestic and foreign trade. Efforts have been made to break down industry barriers, promote the convergence of domestic and international standards, and accelerate the mutual recognition in conformity assessment.

Recently, some Western media outlets have run reports about "industrial transfers," "the withdrawal of foreign investment" and "economic decoupling from China," which constitute a new round of bad-mouthing China's economy with a sinister intention. Some Westerners always like to exaggerate the risks faced by the Chinese economy and deliberately ignore its positive aspects.

The issuance of guidance on the processing trade at this time shows that Chinese policymakers are accelerating the integration of China's foreign trade advantages and consumption advantages. China is the world's largest trading country and the second-largest consumer market.

The power of this fusion will be astonishing. It will create new advantages for the development of China's processing trade, and promote China's transformation from a world factory relying on cheap labor to a trading powerhouse.

The guidance also said China will encourage the processing trade of high value-added products, while supporting the development of advanced manufacturing and strategic emerging industries in the processing trade. It is expected that more favorable policies will be introduced, promoting China's foreign trade reform to create new advantages in the global competition.

From Harbin to Hainan, China’s tourism boom picks up pace, supporting further economic rebound in 2024

China's tourism market boom over the three-day New Year's Day holidays did not end with the holidays. Over the past several days, bustling scenes of tourists enjoying ice and snow activities in Harbin in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province and sunshine in South China's Hainan Province have become hot topics in China and abroad.

The busy, lively scenes are not limited to Harbin and Hainan. Other parts of China, including Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, are also seeing robust growth in the number of tourists and revenues they generate. The tourism boom is expected to last through the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays, which is about a month away, according to travel agencies and experts.

The tourism boom not only illustrates the vitality and potential of China's consumption market, but also paves the way for the overall economic recovery in 2024, experts said, with some predicting solid economic recovery this year, though further policy measures are needed to tackle pressure and challenges.

On Friday, Harbin officially kicked off its annual International Ice and Snow Festival, declaring a public holiday. The festival also opened along with the launch of the China-France Year of Culture and Tourism, according to a statement from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Friday.

The opening of the International Ice and Snow Festival comes as Harbin became a sensation for its winter tourism boom since the New Year's Day holidays, attracting hundreds of millions of views and comments on social media platforms. Video footage of tourists in winter clothes dancing to music in Harbin posted by China Media Group has attracted more than 13.18 million views on Sina Weibo as of Friday afternoon.

While a final tally on attendees at the festival was not yet available on Friday, Harbin has already seen robust numbers. During the three-day New Year's holidays, the city saw about 3.05 million tourist trips and a total tourism revenue of about 5.91 billion yuan ($832 million) - both are historical highs, according to local official data.

Harbin is not alone in seeing a tourism boom. Xinjiang, which has become a top tourist spot in China for its beautiful nature and culture, also saw rapid growth in trips and revenue. During the New Year's Day holidays, Xinjiang received more than 1.66 million trips, up 195 percent year-on-year, and generated about 1.76 billion yuan in tourism revenue, up 424.3 percent year-on-year, according to local data.

Meanwhile, Hainan, which is known for its warm weather in the winter, also saw growth rates of over 60 percent in both trip numbers and tourism revenue over the New Year's Day holidays. More importantly, bookings for Hainan for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year holidays are already picking up pace, according to media reports.
Support for economic recovery

"As the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays approach, it is expected that the tourism market nationwide will continue to see a relatively big boom," 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.

Chen, who was visiting Hainan, said that the tourism market in the province is "very hot" and consumers' willingness to travel is also "relatively high," which "will provide support for China's economic recovery," she said.

The tourism boom means increased spending and businesses activity for companies in a wide range of areas. For example, after Harbin became a sensation, various companies have seen rapid growth in business. Notably, share prices of Changbai Mountain Tourism Co, which is based in Northeast China's Jilin Province, surged more than 51 percent over the past five days.

As the ice-and-snow fever continues to grow after the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, China's winter tourism market is rising rapidly, benefiting areas such as Northeast China and Xinjiang, where ice and snow activities are popular. The China Tourism Academy predicted that during the 2024-2025 ice and snow season, a total of 520 million trips and a revenue of 720 billion yuan are expected.

Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University, said that he has been traveling across the country since the beginning of the year and has seen a robust recovery in the tourism industry.

"The rebound in consumer demand also reflects the development trend of China's economy. The recovery of consumption has a positive impact on consumer confidence and further boosts economic recovery," Cao told the Global Times on Friday.

The tourism boom has also lifted expectations among economists for China's economic recovery in 2024, with many also pointing to ramped up policy measures to boost consumption and other growth drivers.

Yu Yongding, an academic member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and a prominent economist, wrote in an article shared with the Global Times on Friday that China's GDP growth target "should not be lower than 5 percent in 2024."

Yu also noted that to boost consumption, efforts must be taken to first increase residents' incomes, and consumption and investment, the two main growth drivers, should be in a virtuous cycle in which they promote each other. The article was first published on the WeChat account of China Finance 40 Forum.

Cao also said that amid challenges such as insufficient demand, policy support should be further intensified in several areas, including using various monetary policy tools to ensure ample liquidity to boost confidence among businesses and consumers, and support for new technologies and new emerging industries should also be increased.

"If all policies are carried out according to plan, I think it's possible that our GDP growth rate could hit as much as 5.5 percent in 2024," Cao said.

China's top court releases typical cases of disputes over betrothal gifts

A series of typical cases related to bride price and dowry were issued by China’s top court and other departments on Monday as reference and supplement to the stipulations in the Civil Code in dealing with disputes over bride price when couples break up. 

According to China’s Supreme People’s Court, as a traditional Chinese custom, bride price and dowry have a deep social and cultural foundation in the Chinese society. However, the rising amount of bride price and dowry in recent years has led to an increasing number of bride price-related disputes and even serious criminal cases, China Central Television reported on Monday. 

A recent murder case of two victims related to the disputes over bride price happened in Liangshan, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, on November 11. The incident sparked heated discussions online. 

A woman and her relative were killed by the woman’s ex-boyfriend and his father at a local mahjong parlor after the woman refused to return the bride price despite that she decided to break up with the man. The woman received 300,000 yuan ($41,741) in bride price but returned 150,000 yuan to the man after they broke up, according to media reports. 

On Monday, the Supreme People’s Court, together with China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs and All-China Women’s Federation held a press conference to release four cases involving disputes over bride price and dowry, which balanced the interests of the involved parties. The ruling took local economic and social development into account, and gave consideration to factors such as the duration of cohabitation, whether they have registered for marriage legally, and whether they have children. 

According to the Civil Code, there are three situations the bride price should be returned: the couple have not registered legally, they registered but don’t live together, or the payment of betrothal gifts causes financial difficulties for the payer. 

However, in practice, there are many cases in which the couples have not registered legally but have held weddings according to local customs and have lived together. Sometimes the couples have registered their marriage but only live for a short period of time. The Civil Code does not apply to these cases. 

According to the Supreme People’s Court, this batch of representative cases clarifies three principles for handling betrothal disputes: prohibiting soliciting property through marriage; the reasonable betrothal gifts amount based on local practice and customs; and the balance of rights and interests of both parties by considering their duration of cohabitation, marriage registration status and whether they have children.

Two common situations where disputes of betrothal gifts often occur is “flash divorce” and living together without legal registration of marriage. 

The court clarified that in addition to marriage registration, the bride price is usually meant for living together for a long time. Thus, the time of cohabitation should be considered an important factor in determining whether and how much the bride price should be returned. 

Meanwhile, considering that the termination of pregnancy causes harm to a woman’s health, it is appropriate to return only part of the bride price to better balance the interests of both parties.

In one case where the couple did not register their marriage but held a wedding ceremony according to local customs, lived together for three years and had conceived a child, the court did not support the return of the bride price to protect the woman’s legitimate rights and interests. 

Besides, the top court also noted that bride price and dowry are both traditional Chinese marriage customs which share a common purpose and should be subject to the same rules based on local customs. 

China's elderly population aged 60 and over reaches 280m, 19.8% of total

China's elderly population aged 60 and above reached 280.04 million by the end of 2022, accounting for 19.8 percent of the total population, according to the latest report released by the Ministry of Civil Affairs. Demographers say China has paid great attention to addressing challenges brought by the aging population but more can be improved, such as further optimizing China's social security system.

The country's elderly population aged 65 and over reached 209.78 million in 2022, accounting for 14.9 percent of the total population, while the national dependency ratio of the elderly population aged 65 and above hit 21.8 percent, the report titled Communique on the Development of the National Cause for Aging said. 

Since China became an aging society at the end of the 20th century, the number and proportion of the elderly population have continued to grow. From 2000 to 2018, the elderly population aged 60 and above increased from 126 million to 249 million, and in 2022, the number reached 280 million. The proportion of elderly population also increased from 10.2 percent in 2000 to 17.9 percent in 2018, and further to 19.8 percent in 2022. 

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, there have been three birth peaks. It is expected that the size of the elderly population will reach the peak of 520 million in 2054, Yuan Xin, a professor from the Institute of Population and Development at Nankai University's School of Economics, told the Global Times.

"China's aging rate is faster than that of 15 countries with more than 100 million people in the world. One of the reasons is the drop in the fertility rate," Yuan noted. China's fertility rate is estimated to have dropped to a record low of 1.09 in 2022, data from China Population and Development Research Center showed. 

China's pressure in dealing with such a large elderly population is unprecedented, not only in terms of size but also in terms of the rapid increase in growth, Yuan noted. 

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, more than 300 documents and plans for the elderly population have been issued at or above the provincial or ministerial level. 

Wang Jianjun, former executive deputy director of the Office of the National Working Commission on Aging, has said that prioritizing the health of the elderly, China has seen improvements in providing basic insurance care and has built a complete welfare system to support the aging society.

When it comes to the supply of elderly care services, the report is optimistic, saying in this area it is being "continuously enhanced."

In 2022, the compliance rate of supporting elderly care service facilities in newly built residential areas in cities across the country reached 83.2 percent. Improvement of quality and efficiency among special care hospitals and hospitals for the family of martyrs has been seen after the central budget delineated support for them, the report said. 

Data shows that by the end of 2022, there were 387,000 elderly care institutions and facilities of various types across the country, with a total of 8.294 million elderly care beds.

Among them, 41,000 were registered elderly care institutions, an increase of 1.6 percent over the previous year, with 5.183 million beds, an increase of 2.9 percent over the previous year. There are, by the end of 2022, 347,000 community elderly care service institutions and facilities with 3.111 million beds, according to the report.

Additionally, China continues to optimize the establishment of majors related to elderly care services at secondary vocational schools, higher vocational colleges, and higher vocational undergraduate schools.

Also, the National Development and Reform Commission and other departments have introduced several policies and measures to provide relief and support to the elderly care and childcare service industry. 

The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development has guided qualified regions to explore providing vacant public rental housing free of charge to social institutions, so that they can provide meal assistance, day care, rehabilitation care, elderly education and other services for the elderly in the community, according to the report. 

Yuan told the Global Times that if society offers more social participation opportunities for the elderly by raising the retirement age, the income status and consumption willingness of the elderly population would be a huge potential market and new economic growth point. 

The demographer said supporting facilities and systems would have to be established to support the raising of the retirement age, for example, letting the elderly choose whether to extend their retirement flexibly and if they are okay to do part-time work.

Xi hears work reports from HK, Macao chief executives

President Xi Jinping met Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu in Beijing on Monday as Lee is paying a visit to the country's capital city.

Experts said on Monday that the central government has held high expectations for the HKSAR to further advance the governance by patriots, to continue the job of safeguarding national security, to promote economic recovery and people's livelihood, and to enhance governance efficiency following the recent district council elections. 

Also on Monday, Xi met with Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region Ho Iat Seng, who is also on a duty visit to Beijing, and heard a report from Ho on Macao's current situation and the Macao SAR government's work, Xinhua News Agency reported.

During the meeting with Li, Xi heard a report from Lee on Hong Kong's current situation and the HKSAR government's work, Xinhua News Agency reported. 

Lauding Lee's work over the past year, Xi said Lee has led the HKSAR government in shouldering responsibilities and delivering good results.

The HKSAR government has resolutely safeguarded national security, reformed the District Council system in Hong Kong, smoothly completed the District Council Ordinary Election, and brought Hong Kong out of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and toward a comprehensive recovery, Xi said.

The HKSAR government has maintained the region's distinctive status and advantages, bolstered the drivers for development and worked hard to solve the most pressing issues and difficulties of the people, Xi said, adding that all these have consolidated the HKSAR's turning for the better and facilitated its entry into a new stage in which it has restored order and is set to thrive.

Xi said the central authorities fully acknowledged the work of Lee and the HKSAR government.

After listening to Xi's remarks, Lee expressed heartfelt thanks to Xi and the central government for their care and support for Hong Kong, as well as their guidance and encouragement to the HKSAR government, according to the Hong Kong local media.

During the meeting with Ho, Xi also recognized Ho's work over the past year, saying thatHo has led the Macao SAR government in conscientiously performing their duties and achieving practical results. 

The central government will, as always, comprehensively and accurately implement the principle of  One Country, Two Systems with unwavering determination, fully implement the principle of patriots administering Macao, and fully support the CE and the SAR government in uniting all sectors of society, Xi said. 

And the central government will support the SAR to seize the historic opportunities brought by national development, continuously advance the successful practice of  One Country, Two Systems with Macao's characteristics, and welcome the 25th Anniversary of Macao's Return to the Motherland with new developmental achievements, Xi said.

Monday also marks the commencement of Jimmy Lai's trial for violating the National Security Law for Hong Kong, and the initiation of the local legislative process under Article 23 of the Basic Law, making the assurance of national security in Hong Kong a critical component of Lee's work report, Lau Siu-kai, a consultant from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies who is also a senior policy advisor, told the Global Times on Monday.

"President Xi clearly focuses on national security, the perfection of Hong Kong's governance framework under the principle of 'patriots administering Hong Kong,' addressing social and livelihood issues, and Hong Kong's integration into the national development plan. These are also the key aspects of the central government's assessment of the work of the HKSAR government," Lau said.

The background of Chief Executive's report this year is that Hong Kong has gone "from chaos to stability and to prosperity." At this stage, Hong Kong must develop its economy and improve people's livelihoods, former member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Tam Yiu-chung told the Global Times on Monday.  

In terms of economic development, Hong Kong has initially recovered its economy, the number of tourists is increasing, and all aspects are slowly recovering. But there are still challenges. For example, in terms of finance, the stock market remains relatively sluggish, housing problems persists, including falling property prices. In addition, the final district council elections to improve the electoral system have been successfully completed, and we can also report on the relevant work to the main leaders of the central government, Tam said.

Tam said the central government's expectations for Hong Kong mainly include several key points. The first is to continue to do a good job in safeguarding national security. The second is that the legislative work of Article 23 must be correctly implemented. In addition, "we must also develop the economy in a way that finds new economic development factors and directions and new development points. We must continue to do a good job in all aspects of people's livelihood," Tam noted.

Hong Kong's top fencer shines at Chengdu Games

Hong Kong, China's Olympic fencing gold medalist Cheung Ka-long shone at the Chengdu FISU Games on Friday. Putting on a wonderful and steady performance, Cheung triumphed over France's Loisel Pierre with a score of 15-12, winning the gold medal in the men's foil individual bout. 

At the beginning of the match, Cheung was trailing 2-4, but he quickly adjusted and went on to win five consecutive points, gradually taking control of the match. 

In this individual men's foil competition, there were a total of 68 participants divided into 10 groups, with 50 players advancing to the knockout stage. Cheung was well-prepared and successfully advanced from the group stage with a perfect record of six wins. In the knockout stage, he defeated competitors from Chinese Taipei, Hungary, France, and his teammate to advance to the final and ultimately claim the championship.

The 26-year-old stated that this is his first and final participation in the Universiade, and it is also his first time participating in a major multi-sport event since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 

Cheung told the Global Times that he felt a great atmosphere at the scene as the audience erupted with enthusiastic cheers.

Cheung became Hong Kong, China's first Olympic fencing gold medalist, beating the pre-match favorite and defending champion Daniele Garozzo 15-10 in the men's individual foil final on July 26, 2021.

China's Hong Kong SAR has sent its largest delegation in history, with a total of 142 athletes, to the Chengdu Games.

In the fencing event, the Hong Kong team has performed exceptionally well. 

On Wednesday, Hong Kong fencer Hsieh Kaylin Sin-yan impressed everyone by winning the gold medal in the women's sabre individual competition, the first gold medal to be won in the fencing event at the Chengdu Games. 

Cheung's teammate, Lu Jian-ming, also achieved success by winning the bronze medal in the individual foil event. 

Cheung said he is proud of his teammate's outstanding performance. Next, Cheung will participate in the men's foil team event representing the Hong Kong, China team.

On July 30, Cheung led the Hong Kong Fencing Team to a bronze medal in the men's foil team event at the 2023 World Fencing Championships.

He told the Global Times that they will continue to work hard and strive for better results, building on their current momentum.

China’s 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup collapse angers, despairs netizens

With a shocking 75-96 loss to the host nation, the Philippines in the FIBA Basketball World Cup on Saturdays, team China failed to qualify for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, to the despair of the country's of die-hard basketball fans and netizens who regard this dismal performance as the "deepest humiliation."

This was China's first loss to an Asian rival in a major international men's basketball tournament.

Fans and netizens expressed their frustration on Sina Weibo social platform, where a hashtag about their defeats in the tournament racked up 120 million views.  

"Our performances couldn't have been any worse, that's so heartbreaking to see such an outcome, " said one comment on the Sina Weibo.

"The players don't have any hustle. Is this going to be like Chinese football?" quipped one Weibo user.

Others mocked the loss is related to the country's recent social problem. "Basketball and football are the microcosm of our society," wrote another Weibo user.

While the top Chinese performers Li Kai'er and Zhang Zhenlin collected 17 points and 13 points each in this tournament, the Chinese team nailed only five three-pointers out of 22 attempts and fell behind in rebounds (31:46). Jordan Clarkson, the star of the Philippine team, played well in the game, scoring 24 points in the third quarter and collecting 34 points.

In2019 China, was defeated by Nigeria in the FIBA Basketball World Cup, at the time the Chinese team failed to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. In this year's tournament, Chinese men's team failed again to qualify for the Olympic games, making it the first time that the Chinese men's basketball team has missed two consecutive Olympic Games.defeats

After the game, most insiders believe that the Chinese men's basketball team defeat, was wnot due to Clarkson's sudden outburst, but to a decision by head coach Aleksandar Djordjevic's that people cannot understand: abandoning  the use of Wang Zhelin even in the 8 minutes when Zhou Qi was injured and could not continue the game,, which transformed the team's advantage into a liability, according to media reports.

The Chinese famous commentator, Yang Jian, also let his tears flow freely during the post-game interview, "I'm quite upset and I felt aggrieved for our players,".  Former Chinese men's basketball coach Du Feng commented:, "This is not the real level of our men's basketball team". 

After the post-game, Djordjevic noted that "Everyone in the team is responsible for the loss of the game, and as the head coach, I should take the main responsibility, we will gradually improve the level in later training and matches. "

"China still has a lot of young players waiting to be discovered. " he said. 

After the World Cup, the Chinese men's basketball team will rest to solve injury problems to prepare for the Hangzhou Asian Games at the end of September. 

The Naturalized Chinese men's basketball player Li Kai'er is scheduled to return to the United States to prepare for the new NBA season, and he will not participate in the Hangzhou Asian Games according to media reports today.

Commitment to excellence: Xi's footsteps in sports present a genuine way to promote global people-to-people bonds, create a stronger, healthier China

Currently, a great sporting event that is distinctly Chinese, uniquely Asian, and very spectacular is being staged in Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province. 

China has made history by hosting the Asia Games for the third time, bringing the country's eye-catching organizational and sporting capabilities to the world's attention.

Attending the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games and declaring it open, hosting a welcome banquet for the invited international dignitaries gathering in the scenic city, and holding bilateral meetings with leaders of six foreign countries and the heads of two international organizations, Chinese President Xi Jinping spent a period of tightly scheduled time that had witnessed substantive outcomes at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Since his youth, Xi has been an ardent sports fan. As a teenager, he played soccer and practiced skating. After he began to work, he maintained his habit of swimming and hiking, enjoyed the games such as volleyball, basketball, tennis, and wushu, and he would even stay late to watch televised sports programs.

As the leader of a large country, Xi clearly understands the constructive role sports play in global governance. From the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022 to the Chengdu FISU World University Games (Chengdu FISU Games) held from July 28 to August 8, 2023, and now the ongoing Hangzhou Asian Games, under Xi's guidance, China has overcome challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic and presented the world with several splendid sporting events, fulfilling its commitments, demonstrating the confidence of a responsible major country, and also highlighting China's proposition in promoting the building of a global community of shared future.. 

As a sports enthusiast, Xi often takes sports as a bridge to actively promote peace, unity, and inclusivity both domestically and internationally. 

At the same time, the sentiments held by China's national leaders vis-a-vis sports have always carried the dream of national prosperity and rejuvenation. Xi attaches great importance to and care for China's sports development, repeatedly encouraging Chinese athletes to strive for excellence while paying equal attention to promoting national fitness.

Following Xi's footsteps in sports, officials of international sports organizations, his old friends, and athletes who had interacted with Xi, highlighted Xi's sporting aspirations when speaking with the Global Times. According to them, for Xi, sports are not only his personal passion but also the most genuine approach to building a common world, promoting people-to-people connectivity, and creating a stronger and healthier China.

Practitioner of Olympic Spirit

President Xi is an important partner of the global Olympic Movement, International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. said in Hangzhou on the sidelines of the Games on Monday, Xinhua News Agency reported.

"His commitment, his support to sport and the role that sports and Olympics can play for the youth, for the entire society, I think, is what I would take as most important," said Samaranch Jr..

China has always attached great importance to the development of sports, and actively participated in international Olympic affairs, Xi said when meeting with IOC President Thomas Bach in Hangzhou on Friday.

In the face of severe challenges brought by the unprecedented changes unseen in a century and the COVID-19 pandemic, the IOC has stayed true to its original aspirations and played a unique role in safeguarding the world peace and development and promoting unity and progress of the humankind, Xi said.

Raja Randhir Singh, acting president of the Olympic Committee of Asia (OAC), told the Global Times during a news conference on Sunday that he was extremely impressed by the Hangzhou Asian Games, especially with the opening ceremony, the coordination between the OCA and the Games organizers, and the message of peace and inclusiveness conveyed by the Games.

 "Asia is the only continent that can and is ready to host any games, anytime... It's incredible that China has hosted so many sporting events and that a city [Beijing] can host the Winter Olympics after the Summer Olympics," Singh said while answering a question from the Global Times during the news conference. 

The Hangzhou Asian Games is an event of peace and harmony; we have to continue to face the future with our hearts together, and this is a call to the world, the OCA acting president said.    

"China's interpretation and promotion of the new Olympic motto - Faster, Higher, Stronger, Together - is in line with the concept of building a global community of a shared future that Xi has proposed," said Huang Haiyan, a professor at the Shanghai University of Sport and director of the Shanghai Collaborative Innovation Center of Sports and Health Industry. 

Through the decades, China has successfully overcome difficulties and hosted major international sporting events amid some hard times, in which China has also actively shared with the world the fruits of its sports development, noted Huang.

The Hangzhou Games reflects the profound cultural heritage and unique charm of Chinese culture, and further conveys China's genuine expectations for the world. 

While in response to the global expectations upon China amid an era of profound changes witnessed across the world, the support and care of Chinese leaders as well as the hosting concepts of the sporting event also convey the development concept of a city or even the country. 

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics was committed to its mission of hosting a "green, inclusive, open, and clean" Olympic Winter Games. The Chengdu FISU Games had adhered to the concept of being "green, smart, vibrant, and sharing" in its organization. And the concept of being "green, smart, economical, and ethical" has been a key element in the entire process of the preparation and hosting of the Asian Games. 

Experts noted that this series of important sporting events, from the bidding processes to the preparation and hosting stages, have shown the bright prospects of Chinese modernization to the world.

Conveyor of China's friendship and goodwill

"In the letter that President Xi sent to us, he stressed that the Chinese government and people have full confidence in hosting a splendid Asian Games in Hangzhou. When we saw this grand event as promised, we felt immense excitement and pride inside. We also passed on the wonderful moments of the Asian Games to our friends in the US," David Chong, founder and president of the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association, told the Global Times.

"Sport is a bond that promotes friendship among peoples," Xi said in a reply letter to the US-China Youth and Student Exchange Association and friendly personages from all walks of life in the US state of Washington in August 2023.

Over the past decade, on a variety of occasions at home and abroad, Xi has often taken sports, the universal language of all mankind, as a bridge to communicate with locals and convey China's friendship and goodwill to the world.

Chong was still proud that he had witnessed a Ping-Pong table, a gift that Xi sent to the students of Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Washington, during his visit to the US in 2015, on prominent display at the school.

During the stop, while receiving from the students a football and a personalized jersey bearing his name and emblazoned with "No.1" on the back, Xi gave the students gifts in return and kindly invited them to visit China. "Through travel, you will know China better, and hopefully you will like China," Xi said.

"Before President Xi's visit, table tennis was not the most popular sport in Lincoln High School. After that visit, many schools in the US started to organize varsity table tennis teams," Chong said excitedly. "Currently, table tennis is becoming more and more popular in the US, and I believe this momentum will continue."

During his visit to the IOC headquarters in Switzerland in 2017, Xi presented the committee with a stunning piece of Suzhou embroidery artwork. This masterpiece depicted ancient Chinese women engaging in cuju, the earliest form of soccer. The artwork symbolizes the cultural exchange and mutual learning fostered by the universal language of sports.

During that visit, IOC President Bach said, "President Xi is a true champion, and I want to give him a set of medals because he has a clear vision about the important role of sports in society and the importance of sports for education for the young people."

The China Table Tennis College (CTTC) Training Center in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is also another vivid example of China's friendly sports exchanges with other countries as having been supported by the Chinese leadership.

In November 2018, Xi visited the training center during his visit to PNG, where he watched PNG table tennis athletes training with their Chinese coach.

"I felt so honored and appreciative," 23-year-old PNG table tennis player Geoffrey Loi later told the Global Times when recalling Xi's visit to the training centre.
Xi has paid great attention to and support sports projects, including the Ping-Pong training center in PNG, that can promote exchanges between China and other countries, said Ren Jie, executive deputy head of the CTTC. "With the foundation of Ping-Pong, we hope to further promote people-to-people exchanges, especially the exchanges between young people," Ren told the Global Times.

"Sports play a unique role in serving China's overall diplomacy," Huang told the Global Times. "They have injected a lot of new vitality into the major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, and have enriched China's head-of-state diplomacy."

Taking sports as a bond, China has expanded its "circle of friends" and demonstrated its strong sense of responsibility in sports fields as a major country in the world, Huang said.

Driver for building a sporting powerhouse

"Sports set the stage for a stronger and more prosperous country," Xi said during a grand gathering at the 13th National Games in August 2017.

Xi has always cared greatly about the training, growth, and development of China's young athletes. At major sporting events such as the National Games, the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games, and the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, Xi met with athletes from the Chinese delegation face to face, encouraging them to strive for excellence, and to support China's sports endeavors.

At the Chengdu FISU Games that concluded in August, China was at the top of the medal tally. "They deserve it because they prepared not only as an organizer, but all the Chinese student athletes prepared themselves to present the best performance in their home games," Leonz Eder, acting president of the FISU, told the Global Times in an earlier interview.

"I do believe that it's in the policy of China to promote elite sports among students as potential careers along with their conventional studies, but the government also encourages fitness among the larger population to maintain healthy lifestyles," said Eder.

In January 2022, when inspecting the preparatory work for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Beijing, Xi noted that the ultimate goal of building a sporting powerhouse and a healthy China is to enhance the public's health, fitness, and happiness. This aspiration is essential to China's wider endeavor to build a modern socialist country in an all-round manner.

In China, significant efforts have been made in recent years to promote a healthy living environment and to encourage individuals of all ages, including young people, students, and senior citizens, to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

President Xi emphasizes the importance of developing China into a leading sporting power, which covers many aspects, from the improvement of physical fitness and the overall health of people across the country, to the promotion of economic and social development of a region through hosting major sports events there, Huang noted.

By the end of 2022, China had 4.23 million sports venues covering a total area of over 3.7 billion square meters. More than 500 million people in China regularly exercise and over 90 percent of the whole population meets national physical fitness standards.

Currently, as the energetic spirit of the Hangzhou Asian Games continues to sweep across the country, observers believe that China will unleash a new era of sporting excellence following the Asian Games.

With its unwavering commitment to sports and the remarkable achievements thanks to Xi's leadership, China is poised to shine brightly as a formidable sports powerhouse on the global stage. The future of Chinese sports is undoubtedly filled with immense potential and endless possibilities.

Civilizational forum aims to be ‘exchange platform’

The Inter-Civilizational Communication and Global Development Forum kicked off in Beijing on Tuesday, attracting around 150 experts from more than 30 countries. 

The three-day event, hosted by the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), takes "tradition of civilization and paths to modernization" as its theme. Politicians, entrepreneurs, think tank experts, scholars, cultural ambassadors and diplomatic envoys from China and abroad have gathered together to discuss issues concerning communication among civilizations and global development.

 "The purpose of hosting this forum is to establish an international exchange platform for various parties to participate and converse with each other, contributing wisdom and strength to promote the exchange and mutual learning of civilizations among nations and to build a community with shared future for humanity," said Xie Chuntao, vice president of the Party School of the Central Committee of the CPC.

Dilma Rousseff, president of the New Development Bank gave a speech at the opening ceremony, noting that frank and respectful dialogue between different civilizations and countries will promote consensus and cooperation. She added that it is a guiding principle that the world needs to systematically follow.

 "The rich diversity of human civilizations can no longer be dismissive. The different objectives and development models followed by different nations cannot be ignored. It is not possible for a multicultural world to be forced to choose a single path. Often, they are looking with a single view of democracy, which actually leads to the weakening of democracies in many countries," she said, commenting on the significance of the forum.

Herta Daubler-Gmelin, former German justice minister, pointed out that besides cooperation in the economic and political fields, people-to-people cooperation in academic field is also very crucial.

 "We can do more. We can do better. This means information, as well as transparency in communication. And the recognition that every civilization contains dynamic elements. It's not frozen. It can open itself to converse with others," she said.

China's State Council Information Office released a white paper titled A Global Community of Shared Future: China's Proposals and Actions in September. John L. Thornton, chair emeritus of the Brookings Institution and co-chair of the Asia Society, quoted the white paper, pointing out that the most pressing task is to find a guiding beacon for the sustainable development of human civilization.

"There is no more important topic than the one we will be discussing this morning. I think of it as discussing the world we wish to be in, the world we wish to create for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and all future generations," said Thornton.

He also applauded for the Global Civilization Initiative and Global Initiative. "The aspiration China has is admirable. If it can be achieved, it will be a step forward for mankind, for the world," Thornton told the Global Times.

Three sub-forums on civilizational communication between China and Europe, China-Central Asia modernization development and leadership building, and China-Arab civilization exchange and modernization development, as well as a round-table discussion, will be held during this forum.