China’s Sui sets early pace at Singapore Ladies Masters

Chinese golfer Sui Xiang set the pace early in the Singapore Ladies Masters on Thursday by carding a flawless six-under-par 66 to grab the first round lead.

Shannon Tan from Singapore also stayed in the hunt for a breakthrough in the China Ladies Professional Golf Association (CLPGA) by returning with a 68 to share second place with China's Cai Danlin, Thailand's Sherman Santiwiwatthanaphong, Kultida Pramphun and Japan's Ayaka Suzuki at the Laguna National Golf Resort Club. 

Despite enjoying a bogey-free round that was highlighted by six birdies on holes five, six, 11, 12, 15 and 18, Sui believes there is still room for improvement as she chases her third CLPGA title.

"Today was probably one of the most comfortable rounds I've played. I was hitting almost every fairway and I also hit my approach shots really close to the hole, which helped me make birdies and go bogey-free. I would give myself a 99 for my performance today, leaving one point out because there's always room for improvement. I don't think too much about my position on the leaderboard during tournaments. I'm just focused on playing good golf," she said. 

Tan had an encouraging start as she charged out with three birdies in her opening six holes. She parred the next two holes before dropping a shot on the par-four nine to reach the turn in 34.

The 19-year-old Texas Tech University undergraduate, who finished joint fourth in the recent NCAA Division 1 regionals, then birdied the 10th hole before marking her card with another birdie on 16 after five straight pars. 

Playing on her home course, the Singaporean reached home comfortably with pars on 17 and 18 to sign for a 68.

"I honestly didn't think it was my best round today but I felt I stuck to my game plan. I missed in the right spots where I could get up and down for par," said Tan. 

"I'm definitely more comfortable now [competing in a professional tournament] as I've had a couple of experiences in the past. And also it's on home ground, so I had a couple of friends who came out to support me, which was really nice."

Sherman, the current CLPGA Order of Merit leader, traded five birdies against one lone bogey on the par-four 14th to trail Sui by two shots. The Thai admitted she will have to improve on her putting as she continues to chase her second victory in the CLPGA following her breakthrough in Shanghai in June.  

The Singapore Ladies Masters is the fifth leg of the 2023 CLPGA season after stops in Tianjin, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong. 

New TV show decodes legends of eight ancient masters of Tang and Song dynasties

The China Media Group has recently launched a cultural variety show, Biographies of Masters: the Eight Great Masters of the Tang and the Song Dynasties. The eight great masters come to life across the passage of thousands of years, allowing audiences to explore their profound and dramatic life stories. Through these compelling stories, incisive cultural interpretations, and innovative visual presentations, audiences can delve into the creation of timeless masterpieces and feel the enduring power of Chinese culture. 

The term "The Eight Great Masters" is widely recognized in Chinese culture. It encompasses two luminaries from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Liu Zongyuan and Han Yu, as well as six notable figures from the Song Dynasty (960-1279): Ouyang Xiu, Wang Anshi, Zeng Gong, Su Xun and his sons Su Shi and Su Zhe.This phrase celebrates their unmatched contributions and prominence in the realms of Chinese art and literature.

The core challenge for cultural variety shows is to use the thoughts of ancient people to address the questions faced by people today and to cause ancient stories to resonate with today's social psyche. As the first variety show to focus on "The Eight Great Masters", it needs to present deep thoughts and life wisdom, encompassing a vast range of ideas. Specifically, it involves exploring artifacts, the heart of literature, and the pulse of culture to find answers that connect the past and present.

The primary narrative thread of the show is artifacts. These artifacts contain the cultural codes for the origins as well as the future of Chinese culture, boasting ancient wisdom which may be converted to contemporary enlightenment. For instance, the show starts with the only extant original calligraphy work of Han Yu, Eulogy to Cao'e, from the Eastern Jin (317-420). Rather than analyzing his calligraphy techniques, the show shifts its focus on the two characters at a corner of the work - Tuizhi. Many know Han Yu's courtesy name was Tuizhi, which means take a step back, but few are aware of its story. Han Yu repeatedly failed the imperial examinations, but his wife told him not to lose heart, saying, to achieve great things, one must first take a step back. Han Yu took his wife's advice to heart and eventually became a renowned figure. 

This simple wisdom derived from life and valuable experiences gained from adversity carries warmth and spirit beyond the confines of words and time. The show takes the audience through a journey which starts with a single artifact. 

How can the words and sentences written in classics resonate with the vivid life of an individual? This is the second aspect the show seeks to explore: the heart of literature. When the heart of literature resonates across ages, thoughts continue to thrive, and culture is passed on. The show not only focuses on showcasing the remarkable achievements of these masters but also how these achievements have influenced history, converse with the present and shape the future. 

In addition to their literary prowess, the show also vividly presents the masters' hobbies and interests. The show employs an immersive approach with hosts dressed in costumes staging the life stories of these masters. The show uses a format combining "immersive live-action interpretation, cinematic filming, and XR (extended reality) innovative presentation." Leveraging the visual, tangible, and immersive characteristics of mass media, the show returns to dramatic traditions, narrating stories of these figures. Meanwhile, through technology like XR, the lives of ancient figures leap to the modern screen.

The show also features a screen that marks the "significant events in the lives of the main figure" in each episode. When the hosts touch the screen, a great master is transformed back into an ordinary person undergoing trials and making choices, with key moments of their life slowly unfolding in the XR space. 

Whenever we look back at history, we always find familiar figures in the continuum of culture, their writings passed down through generations, their stories known to all households. The show elevates this "familiarity" to a level of thoughtful depiction, allowing historical figures to be understood and learned from. By focusing on the broader picture and attending to the finer details, the show marks a shining coordinate on the radiant star map of Chinese culture for these great masters, at the intersection of traditional culture and modern spirit.

The author is deputy director of the TV Research Center at Peking University.

Reply letter from Xi encourages grassroots volunteers to make further efforts in promoting garbage sorting, low-carbon lifestyle

Editor's Note:

Chinese people believe that letters are as valuable as gold. For thousands of years, letters, across mountains and oceans, have been delivering the writers' sentiments and conveying friendship and expectations.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, has managed to find time to reply to some of the letters sent to him from different sectors of the society and different parts of the world despite of his busy work schedule.

Through his letters, Xi has corresponded with people from all walks of life on numerous occasions, part of a series of excellent China stories in the new era.

The Global Times traced and contacted some of the recipients of Xi's letters, to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters and their communications with the Chinese president.

In July 2019, Shanghai became one of the first Chinese cities to integrate waste classification into the rule of law framework. In this installment, we heard from several garbage sorting volunteers in Shanghai who received a reply letter from President Xi. They shared the encouragement they received from the reply, and the efforts they have made and will continue to make in promoting garbage sorting and dissemination of information about a low-carbon lifestyle.

Weeks have passed but Hua Lei is still greatly excited as she recalls the moment when she heard that Chinese President Xi Jinping had replied to her letter.

Hua is a volunteer in garbage sorting at the Jiaxing Road subdistrict in downtown Shanghai. The subdistrict is a township-level administrative division in China's urban areas.

On a seemingly ordinary day in May, Hua received the reply letter from President Xi, and she brought it to the volunteer meeting room at the subdistrict's citizen service station, where she and some of the other garbage sorting volunteers read it and drafted a reply, reveling in the encouragement they had received from Xi's words in the letter.

This scenario reminded Hua of another memorable day nearly five years ago.

On November 6, 2018, when Hua and other volunteers were discussing about garbage classification in the same meeting room, Xi made a sudden appearance and spoke to them, offering encouragement in their efforts to publicize and promote the then relatively unfamiliar garbage sorting system among local residents.

"Garbage sorting is a new concept," Xi said that day.

Five years on, with Xi's encouragement and the joint efforts of the subdistrict's 2,150 garbage sorting volunteers, 98 percent of the garbage at the facility is correctly identified and sorted into categories such as dry, wet, hazardous, and recyclable waste. From residential communities to shops and retail stores, the subdistrict has shown a remarkable improvement in cleanliness. 

The big transformation inspired four local volunteers, including Hua, to write a letter to Xi this March, sharing with the president the details of their work and their achievements in promoting garbage sorting over the last five years. 

On May 21, they received Xi's reply.

"I didn't expect to hear from him so soon," Hua told the Global Times. "I felt so happy and comforted, and I'm so proud and inspired that Xi affirmed our efforts."

Develop a good habit

"When I read your letter, I thought of my conversation with you about garbage sorting five years ago. I was deeply impressed by your enthusiasm for public welfare and your public service spirit," Xi stated in the reply.

Five years ago, in March 2018, Shanghai issued a household waste classification implementation plan, proposing, for the first time, to establish a clear and complete domestic garbage classification system. It soon started pilot programs at several subdistricts across the metropolis.

As one of the first pilot project sites, the Jiaxing Road subdistrict started making headway in the uncharted garbage-sorting territory, an exciting prospect for all concerned. It recruited several local residents as garbage sorting volunteers, who often gathered to acquire basic information on garbage sorting and discuss possible implementation strategies. 

"Before we taught other residents, we also had to have a clear understanding of the garbage classification system," Hua said. She recalled the days when she and other volunteers debated difficult questions like whether reed leaf should be classified as wet or dry trash, and whether batteries recyclable are hazardous waste? The answers to such questions are currently known by heart by almost every Shanghai resident.

The next step was to guide residents to correctly put trash into different bins based on the correct classification. To better sort out and manage the garbage, as well as clean the environment, residential communities at the subdistrict removed trash cans found on every residential building floor, and built new centralized garbage collection sites at communities instead.

For three to four hours a day, the volunteers took turns standing in front of the garbage chambers during breakfast and dinner times, patiently teaching residents to place their trash into different bags and dump it in the corresponding bins.

It was not easy at the beginning. Wu Qingbao, a 67-year-old volunteer living in a big community with more than 1,700 households, recalled the many efforts he had made at the time to persuade his neighbors to adhere to the new garbage-sorting system.

"Some neighbors thought garbage sorting was bothersome and time-consuming, so they were reluctant to do it," Wu said. "A few even tossed the trashes onto the ground."

Wu and other volunteers spent much time teaching community residents the importance and necessity of garbage classification, and helped the elderly and people living with disabilities to classify and appropriately dispose of trash at the designated garbage collection sites. Apart from garbage sorting guidance, they have, time and again, inspected communities, picking up litter.

Thanks to Wu and other volunteers' consistent efforts, at the community, once permeated with the unpleasant smell from numerous trash cans on every residential building floor, now there is hardly a whiff of garbage in the air, let alone the resulting flies and mosquitoes. "The whole neighborhood has turned clean and tidy," Wu told the Global Times.

In his reply letter to the volunteers, Xi said he was gratified to know that after recent years of publicity, the community has made new progress in garbage sorting, its residents' civility has been enhanced, and its environment has become more beautiful.

"I hope that you will continue to play this unique role in grass-roots governance, do a good job in publicity, and encourage more residents to develop the habit of sorting garbage," Xi wrote.

A systematic project

Xi noted in the reply letter that garbage sorting and recycling is a systematic project. It requires concerted and long-term efforts from all parties, precision, and the active participation of both urban and rural residents, he said.

A vivid example showing the result of the five-year joint efforts of grass-roots officials, volunteers, and residents at the Jiaxing Road subdistrict is a garbage chamber in the Aijiahaoting residential community in the subdistrict.

One day in May, a Global Times reporter saw several big garbage bins neatly lined up at the chamber. The chamber was so tidy and clean that there was no hint of a bad smell.

A resident, with a plastic bag of kitchen waste in hand, slowly opened the bag, poured the wastes into a garbage bin marked "wet trash," and then put the empty bag into another garbage bin marked "dry refuse." She washed her hands and left, just as she had done every day over the last five years.

To make the chamber more user-friendly, local officials and volunteers installed a hand-washing basin at the site, as well as deodorization and disinfection facilities, said Zhu Yulian, a volunteer.

"With the improvement of the garbage chambers, and the concept of garbage sorting gradually taking root in residents' minds, now almost all the residents in our community participate in garbage sorting, and 98 percent of them can correctly classify and sort their trash," Zhu told the Global Times.

The efforts already made at residential communities are just a part of the subdistict's systematic garbage sorting work. At the subdistrict, there are also some 850 roadside shops, and the promotion of garbage sorting and classification at the shops is more difficult and complicated, said Ding Jie, who is in charge of city appearance at the subdistrict.

"Unlike community residents, shop owners have relatively high mobility, and we've seen many shops open, close, and reopen during the three-year COVID-19 epidemic," Ding explained. "We have to repeatedly tell the newcomers about garbage sorting and classification."

Each day, Ding and her coworkers in charge of the local city appearance administration patrol the streets, distribute self-produced flyers with garbage sorting and classification information to the shop owners, and correct those who don't follow the laid-out system.

Ding told the Global Times that most shop owners have actively participated in garbage classification. "They even built a 'self-help alliance' on garbage sorting," Ding said. Members of the "alliance" voluntarily teach new shop owners and staffers to classify trash correctly, she noted.

After a few subdistricts, including Jiaxing Road, piloted garbage sorting in March 2018, Shanghai entered a new stage of compulsory garbage classification in July 2019. It implemented a set of regulations on garbage management on July 1 that year, becoming one of the first Chinese cities to integrate waste classification into the rule of law framework.

Four years on, garbage sorting in Shanghai has achieved marked results. The latest official data showed that with the joint efforts of the city's registered 713,800 garbage sorting volunteers, as well as those of city residents, each day Shanghai collects 7,391 tons of recyclable materials from the city's garbage collection sites, and separates 1.76 tons of hazardous waste and 8,843 tons of wet trash. By the end of 2022, 95 percent of all household waste at residential communities across Shanghai had been correctly classified and sorted into different garbage bins before being shipped away.

Nationwide, more cities have followed Shanghai's practice in garbage sorting. To date, all of China's 297 cities at or above the prefecture level have fully implemented household waste classification, and 82.5 percent of residential communities across the country have implemented garbage sorting, the People's Daily reported in May.

A better tomorrow

Implementing garbage sorting is an early step to the development of a low-carbon society. In his reply letter to the volunteers, Xi stated that he hopes the volunteers will "promote garbage classification," until it becomes the "new fashion of low-carbon life."

Qian Jing, a garbage sorting volunteer at the Jiaxing Road subdistrict, who also participated in writing the letter to Xi, said that she was quite impressed by the "low-carbon life" the president mentioned in the reply letter to them.

"Garbage classification is just the beginning, and what we should do now is to work hard in better protecting the environment and living a low-carbon life," Qian told the Global Times.

She shared how she and other volunteers at the subdistrict, apart from promoting garbage sorting, have been publicizing the low-carbon concept and related information to local residents, particularly the young ones. They've held many parent-child activities including planting trees and recycling used clothes, to "spread the low-carbon lifestyle to the next generation," said Qian.

Similarly, at the Aijiahaoting residential community, there is a small "low-carbon house" built at the community's public area, where children can acquire low-carbon related knowledge through interesting interactive activities.

The low-carbon house has a compost bin that can transform wet trash into organic fertilizer, and a rain collecting facility on its roof filters rainwater, turning it into clean water, introduced volunteer Zhu.

"Through observing the composting and rain collecting processes, children can learn about the circular usage of resources in a vivid way," she said.

From communities to business enterprises, in recent years the low-carbon concept has been deeply rooted in the hearts of many people across the country. Compared with 2012, China's energy consumption per unit of GDP dropped by 26.4 percent in 2021, making it one of the fastest countries in cutting energy intensity, according to a white paper on green development released by the State Council Information Office in January.

"From garbage sorting to a low-carbon lifestyle, we're on a promising path to a better tomorrow," Qian, the garbage sorting volunteer, told the Global Times.

Our two countries need to find a way to coexist: China, US scholars

Editor's Note:

As the dialogue between China and the US at the governmental level resumes, an enhanced Track II diplomacy, including the conversation between Chinese and US scholars, shows its particular role in easing the bilateral ties. In a recent webinar, Wang Wen (Wang), professor and executive dean of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China, and Dennis Wilder (Wilder), a senior fellow with the Initiative for US-China Dialogue on Global Issues at Georgetown University and former National Security Council's director for China, answered questions concerning important issues such as China-US ties and the upcoming US election.

Host: As a top Asian affairs expert, you believe that the China-US relations are the most important relationship of the 21st century and we have to get it right. What is driving the tension in China-US relations? How can Washington and Beijing stabilize their relationship? And how do you think we can find a common ground again?

Wilder: I do applaud President Xi and President Biden for their meeting in Bali last year, and for trying to put a floor under what has become a very dangerously deteriorating relationship. The visit by the US secretary of commerce, where meaningful decisions were made on a working group to advance trade, investment and tourism was extremely positive. But I do have real concerns about whether the new floor under the relationship is actually made of hardwood, or if it's made of plywood, which can easily split.

For example, it's worth noting that no senior Chinese official has visited Washington in the seven months since the balloon incident and military-to-military relations are completely frozen with no end in sight to the impasse over the sanctions against the Chinese defense minister.

We have to be honest and say that trust really remains at an all-time low in this relationship. Beijing publicly states that Western countries, led by Washington, are committed to all-around containment and suppression of China. At the same time, the American national security strategy also bluntly asserts that China plans to replace the US as the world's leading power and that China is the only competitor with both the intent and means to reshape the international order.

As hopeless as the current impasse may seem, I would remind you that we have been through tough times before. We have been able to find diplomatic ways to bridge the divide before. What we need today is a similar, quiet, strategic discussion between two interlocutors chosen by the presidents to pursue a new Modus Operandi, an arrangement or agreement allowing conflicting parties to coexist peacefully, either indefinitely or until a final settlement is reached. 

In summary, let me just say that competition between the US and China is not going away. We are the world's leading powers, and this will be a permanent fixture of the international order. Strategic competition can actually be healthy and indeed can make both parties stronger. However, it also could turn into a zero-sum game, leading to a new cold war with disastrous consequences. 

Host: In recent months, we have seen the Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Doctor Henry Kissinger, and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo visit China. What do you think both sides can do to prevent a sort of gray rhino event from happening and rebuild our relations?

Wang: A lot of people often talk about how to reconstruct the China-US relationship. I think for the governments of the two countries, the most realistic idea is how to prevent and manage a crisis. But for scholars like us, we should consider rebuilding China-US relations, which is to find a way for the two countries to coexist.

At present, both China and the US, especially this year, have a very popular and very similar argument that the other side will lose. In recent years, the American media are likely to say, China is weakening and has become a "ticking time bomb." Also, there are many people in China who say the US is weakening, declining or even collapsing.

Now these two types of similar views are deeply influenced by the realist theory in international relations. They believe that the so-called strategic competition between major powers can only be a zero-sum game.

But in fact, in the past few years, there has been a group of institutional liberals in Europe and the US who are studying the possibility of the future of permanent peace. I have three suggestions for the two countries' leadership. First, I think the two countries must break through the circles of the realistic theories. The future of China-US relations is not just a zero-sum game. Quite frankly, China is a country with 5,000 years of history and uninterrupted civilization, and the US has been the most successful country in modernization in the past 200 years. Both parties must acknowledge the other's great greatness, and neither should imagine that the other would collapse. Scholars from both countries must think about how China and the US can coexist and develop together.

The second point I want to share is that the public opinion elites of both countries must really understand each other in the post-pandemic era. After three years of physical isolation, we have become strangers. Finally, we have to maintain mutual communication.

Host: 2026 will mark the 250th anniversary of the founding of the US. Can the US and China establish a long-term sustainable framework for managing bilateral competition in the 21st century?

Wilder: 200 years ago, when we invented the American democratic system, institutions and government, Americans were frankly arrogant about that system. We believe it's the best system we had tried. But at the same time, China has 5,000 years of culture and a system based on Confucianism. That is quite different from the American value system. We have to find a way for these two very different models of governance and society to coexist, and we're struggling with that at this moment. So whoever the president is, in 2026, they have to have a better understanding of China, its history and its cultural strengths.

I think there are some in America who think that we can bring down the government of China, and that's a very dangerous thought. But I do think if a new president can be trained to understand better these cultural differences and how to bridge them, we can find a way to get along.

Host: Considering the US election in 2024, what is the potential for a thaw in relationship?

Wang: I think China and the US now have a major misunderstanding about each other. In my opinion, the two countries have to adapt to build a long-term relationship. 

But even though we have been in tension for a long time, it doesn't mean we can do nothing. I think at least there are four urgent things that could be done at a bilateral level. First, both sides should lift the sanctions imposed on some people of the other side, especially to enhance cultural exchanges at the scholarly level.

Second, in response to the trade war, I think the two sides should cancel some tariffs. The third point is to remove restrictions on high-tech investment, so that the investors on both sides can share the dividends of the technological progress. The fourth is to avoid the further deterioration regarding the Taiwan question. 

In short, it is impossible for China and US relationship to become very good in the foreseeable future. But even if we have to set our expectations low, we can do more on many practical issues.

Wilder: I think that increasing the dialogue in the China-US relationship is very important. But we have to be realistic about the next period and the difficulties that we're going to face. The American election cycle is going to be brutal. It's going to be a highly-fought battle between the Republicans and the Democrats, and the rhetoric is going to be very harsh on China.

I think you're going to find that both Democrats and Republicans are going to use China as a scapegoat, a way to distract from real issues in the US. I'm worried about the relationship and what can happen during this election cycle. So, I think it's going to be up to the professionals, the diplomats, the scholars, to try and keep the relationship stable while getting through a period that may be tough.

S.Korea should not mistake China's goodwill for weakness

Yun Duk-min, the South Korean ambassador to Japan, stated that "high-level" talks are underway for a China-South Korea-Japan summit poised to happen this year, and there may be a "Camp David effect" that prompted China to reach out to its neighbors, Bloomberg reported on Friday. Yun also emphasized that the trilateral meeting among South Korea, Japan and China will not harm the relationship between Seoul and Washington. Given that Yun is not only the South Korean ambassador to Japan but also one of the key foreign policy aides during the election campaign of South Korea President Yoon Suk-yeol, his words reflect a serious misunderstanding of South Korea's own position, and trilateral cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea.

Firstly, South Korea overestimated the impact of the Camp David summit on enhancing Seoul's international status. Yoon has been proactively promoting the improvement of South Korea-Japan relations and participating in strengthening trilateral cooperation with the US and Japan, with the aim of enhancing South Korea's international status. However, in this process, the US once again demonstrated its ability to coerce and entice its allies, obtaining everything Washington wants while South Korea lost what it should not have lost. Apart from making "contributions" to the US-Japan-South Korea alliance, South Korea did not gain any substantial benefits. The Camp David summit did not enhance South Korea's status, but rather the US' status. In fact, for the Chinese people, South Korea did not increase its international status but rather diminished it by further ceding its sovereignty to the US and Japan.

Secondly, South Korea has misinterpreted the status of the trilateral summit among China, Japan and South Korea. Yun has portrayed the trilateral summit as a result of the strengthened cooperation among the US, Japan and South Korea, which is a distortion of the original intention of the China-South Korea-Japan high-level talks. 

The trilateral summit among China, Japan and South Korea began in November 1999, and in December 2008, the leaders of the three countries met for the first time outside the 10+3 framework in Fukuoka, Japan, and decided to build a future-oriented comprehensive cooperative partnership. The three countries also decided to hold separate annual trilateral summit meetings on a rotating basis while keeping the mechanism of trilateral leaders' meeting in the sidelines of the 10+3 Summit.

Thirdly, South Korea intentionally conceals the negative effects of Camp David summit. The so-called "effect" of the Camp David meeting among the leaders of the US, Japan and South Korea did exist, but it did not stimulate China's desire to resume the trilateral meeting among China, Japan and South Korea. Instead, it stimulated neighboring countries to rethink how to respond to the "new cold war" initiated by the US, Japan and South Korea. 

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un recently visited Russia. The US, Japan and South Korea never reflect on who first created the division in Northeast Asia and who has been pushing for the formation of a "new cold war" pattern in Northeast Asia. Instead, they are shifting the blame and claiming that North Korea and Russia's cooperation will lead to a more aggressive response from the US, Japan and South Korea. 

China's stance toward cooperation among China, Japan and South Korea has always been consistent. China attaches importance to such cooperation and believes that trilateral cooperation is in the common interest of the three countries. China also supports South Korea as the chair country for hosting this meeting. However, South Korea should not perceive China's support as a sign of weakness or as a result of Seoul leaning toward the Washington and Tokyo to gain a so-called greater say. It would be very dangerous if South Korea has such thoughts, and we hope that South Korea will wake up to this reality as soon as possible.

China launches four satellites, establishing first wheel-pattern formation in space

China successfully launched four interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) satellites developed by Chinese private satellite developer GalaxySpace using the CZ-2D rocket at the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in North China's Shanxi Province on Thursday, forming the first wheel-pattern satellite formation in the world, GalaxySpace told the Global Times on Thursday.

The four satellites - composed of a master satellite and three assistant satellites - are the world's first X-band InSAR earth imaging system in a four-satellite formation, said the company. The master satellite weighs about 320 kilograms (kg) and each assistant satellite weighs about 270 kg.

These satellites will constitute the first wheel-pattern satellite formation in the world, with the master satellite in the center and the three assistant satellites evenly distributed on the "hub" around it.

Compared with traditional interferometric satellite systems, the wheel-pattern formation has the advantages of relatively stable formation configuration, multiple interference baselines and high mapping efficiency.

The satellites are competent in mapping global non-polar regions at a scale of 1:50,000, which can achieve the high-precision mapping of global continents in a rapid and efficient manner.

The satellites will be a powerful tool for early identification of major geological hazards in complex areas due to their millimeter-level deformation monitoring capability, which can provide data support for exploration and the prevention of land subsidence, collapse, landslides and other disasters.

GalaxySpace has greatly improved the development efficiency for small-scale development of civil SAR satellites through digital simulation, automated testing and process optimization at the stages of satellite scheme design, entire satellite integration and launch site testing, while reducing the development duration by more than 60 percent compared to the conventional development period, the company said.

China, India has vast room for cooperation in lunar exploration under BRICS, SCO mechanisms

The fourth to join the lunar-landing club and the first to land near the moon's south pole, India's Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft notched a historic milestone on Wednesday as it softly touched down on the lunar surface, drawing enthusiastic applause from stargazers across the world. 

Chinese experts hailed the feat as representing the growing significance of developing countries in space and called for India to abandon involving geopolitical schemes in the pursuit of scientific advancement, as the spirit of science transcends national boundaries and should be pursued in collaboration with players worldwide.

A small, solar-powered rover called Pragyan is expected to roll off the lander and spend one lunar day (about 14 Earth days) exploring its new home, with the goal of collecting scientific data about the moon's makeup, CNN reported.

"This success belongs to all of humanity and it will help moon missions by other countries in the future," Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is currently in South Africa for the BRICS Summit, said in a speech on livestream. 

Chinese experts reached by the Global Times expressed their sincere congratulations on Wednesday, saying that given the two countries are both emerging economies and member states of BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, there is vast room for cooperation between the two sides both in deep-space exploration and manned missions, such as data sharing, experience sharing and astronaut training. 

"The spirit of science transcends national boundaries, as it ultimately strives for the well-being and progress of all humanity. We appreciate every effort in this course, regardless of whether it's successful," Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute for South Asian Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said on Thursday. 

Landing on the moon is a challenging endeavor. Only a few days ago, Russia's Luna-25 probe crashed into the moon, ending the country's first such attempt in half a century. India's first attempt at a lunar touchdown also failed in September 2019. 

The lunar south pole has remained a largely uncharted region of immense interest to scientists worldwide, as it is believed to harbor large amounts of water ice, which, if accessible, could be mined for rocket fuel and life support for future crewed missions, according to

China is also eyeing the region as it presses ahead with its lunar exploration project. The Chang'e-7 mission is intended to land on the moon's south pole around 2026 and conduct detailed surveys to explore for traces of water, according to the program's chief designer. 

Around 2028, the basic structure of International Lunar Research Station co-built by China and Russia will be completed at the south pole region with the launch of the Chang'e-8 mission.

Comparing Chinese tech with the Indian side, Pang Zhihao, a Beijing-based senior space expert, told the Global Times on Thursday that China is far more advanced in various aspects. For one thing, China has been capable of sending orbiters and landers directly into Earth-Moon transfer orbit since the launch of Chang'e-2 in 2010, a maneuver that India has yet to deliver given the limited capacity of its launch vehicles. Therefore, China's technology has allowed moon missions to save a significant amount of time and fuel. The engine that China used is also far more advanced, as it can vary its thrust from 1,500 to 7,500 Newtons.

Furthermore, China's lunar rover is much bigger, weighing 140 kilograms compared to India's 26 kilograms, Pang noted. Additionally, India's Pragyan cannot withstand the lunar nights and has a lifespan of only one lunar day. By contrast, China's Yutu-2 rover holds the record for working the longest time on the lunar surface, as it is equipped with nuclear power, allowing for long-duration operations. 

While China has opened its arms to embrace all interested parties to join the country's space program and has received large amounts of applications from across the world, geopolitical factors have emerged to hinder such cooperation. 

In a recent exclusive interview, the Global Times learned from a project manager from India that their project, which was expected to be the first international payload to go to the China Space Station, has hit a roadblock with the key equipment produced by India waiting for export clearance from the Indian Ministry of External Affairs indefinitely.

CO2 shakes up theory of how geysers spout

Monitoring the innards of Yellowstone’s gurgling geysers, scientists report in two new studies that carbonation helps the geysers erupt like shaken cans of soda.

During the buildup to an eruption of Yellowstone’s Spouter Geyser, carbon dioxide accumulates in the geyser water, researchers report online March 7 in Geology. The dissolved gas lowers the water’s boiling point and triggers an eruption. This phenomenon may occur elsewhere in Yellowstone. Several of the park’s other geysers, including Old Faithful, also contain abundant CO2 and other dissolved gases, a separate research team reports in the March Geology.
The findings overturn the 150-year-old explanation that hot water alone fuels geyser eruptions, says Jacob Lowenstern, a volcanologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., who was not involved in either study. “People always assumed that water was the end of the story,” he says. “If CO2 was completely absent, many of these geysers would still erupt. But they erupt more regularly and frequently because of the dissolved CO2 gas.”

Geysers can spew thousands of liters of water tens of meters into the air. For geysers in Yellowstone National Park in the western United States, the heat from underground magma fuels these spritzers (SN: 5/16/15, p. 16). Measurements in the 1970s, however, revealed that many Yellowstone geysers, including Old Faithful, aren’t hot enough to boil pure water.

Uncovering what’s going on inside Yellowstone’s geysers is challenging. The geyser water is scorching hot and often acidic. Hydrogeologists Bethany Ladd and Cathryn Ryan of the University of Calgary in Canada, authors of the March 7 study, lost equipment to these harsh conditions while attempting to monitor several of Yellowstone’s geysers. At the nonacidic Spouter Geyser, the researchers had better luck. Using special glass jars, the researchers sampled the geyser’s water every 10 to 20 minutes from a side vent that branches off the geyser’s main channel. The measurements allowed the researchers to track the amount of dissolved CO2 in the geyser over the course of several eruptions.
The abundance of CO2 in the geyser starts low, the researchers found. During the one- to two-hour interval between eruptions, however, CO2 levels steadily increase as gases from Yellowstone’s magma enter the geyser water through permeable rocks. As CO2 increases, the gas lowers the water’s boiling point. Eventually the boiling point drops below the water’s actual temperature and bubbles of steam and CO2 form. As these bubbles climb the geyser column toward the surface, they expand, displacing water and lowering the pressure inside the geyser. That pressure drop lowers the boiling point even further, causing a runaway reaction that triggers a full-blown eruption similar to that of a shaken soda can. These eruptions can last for hours. When the eruption finally fizzles, CO2 levels have dropped to about half their peak value just before eruption and the cycle begins anew.

“People typically think of geysers as hot-water features that only emit water and steam,” Ladd says. “But there are other things in the water such as CO2 that have huge implications for geyser eruptions.”

In the other study, Shaul Hurwitz, a hydrogeologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, and colleagues discovered CO2 and other dissolved gases such as nitrogen in many of Yellowstone’s other geysers. Understanding the role gas plays in steam eruptions is also important, Hurwitz says, because geysers aren’t the only way water erupts. The rapid boiling of an enclosed underground water reservoir can generate an explosive blast. In September 2014, a steam eruption rocked Japan’s Mount Ontake volcano without warning and killed 57 people. If CO2 helps fuel steam eruptions, then monitoring gas levels in groundwater could provide early warning, Hurwitz says.

Donor mitochondria could influence metabolism, aging

For a “three-parent baby,” getting disease-free mitochondrial DNA from a surrogate may do more than just avert disease: For better or for worse, a donor’s mitochondria could also affect the course of aging, new research shows.

Two strains of mice – genetically identical except for the source of their mitochondria, the energy centers of cells – aged very differently, researchers report online July 6 in Nature. Even though both mouse strains had healthy mitochondrial DNA, the mice with mitochondria that did not come from the same source as the rest of their DNA fared better later in life: After two years, these mice showed fewer signs of aging and had a lower incidence of tumors.
The results don’t necessarily mean that a mitochondria transplant leads to a healthier life. This is just one case, researchers caution. Other DNA mixes and matches could turn out differently. But the study’s finding does point to a larger relationship between mitochondrial DNA and aging and raises new questions about the long-term effects of creating three-parent babies.

What the new results mean for people is still unclear, says Michio Hirano, a neurologist at Columbia University who was not involved in the study. But if the findings do apply to humans, he says, “you can blame your mother for how you age.”

Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mother to child. Three-parent babies are created through an in-vitro fertilization technique that substitutes a mother’s diseased mitochondria for the healthy mitochondria of a surrogate (SN: 11/17/12, p. 5). In the procedure, which is legal in the United Kingdom and deemed ethical by a U.S. panel of experts this year (SN Online: 2/3/16), a baby inherits its nuclear DNA — the majority of its genetic fingerprint — from mom and dad. But a small amount of DNA — just 37 genes — comes from the mitochondria of a second, healthy woman.

Mitochondria do more than just power cells; they also play big roles in cell-to-cell communication and metabolism. Over the last two decades, mitochondria have also been implicated in aging but without conclusive evidence. The new research, Hirano says, “adds fuel to this debate.”

In the study, José Enríquez of the Spanish National Center for Cardiovascular Research in Madrid and colleagues bred two strains of mice. The original strain was called C57/Black 6. A second strain of C57/Black 6 carried mitochondria from another kind of mouse called NZB. This mismatch mimicked the effects of a mitochondrial transplant. Early in life, normal C57 mice bulked up faster than those carrying NZB mitochondria and had 11 percent longer telomeres (protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that get shorter over time, so are used as a proxy for aging). But later in life, the mice with NZB mitochondria had longer telomeres, less fat in their muscles and lower risk of having liver tumors at the end of their lives.
Young C57 mice “tend to be stronger,” Enríquez says, probably because their mitochondrial and nuclear DNA are a good match and make efficient mitochondria. The weaker batteries in the mice with mismatched mitochondria may cause more cellular stress early on, he says, which may toughen up these mice to age more gracefully.

Since the study was done in mice, researchers don’t know how mitochondrial substitution would affect aging in humans. To avoid unforeseen and unwanted consequences, Enríquez urges caution. “Before we understand it better,” a mitochondrial transplant should mimic natural conditions, he says: “Why don’t we match the mitochondrial DNA of the donor and receptor?”

Science News reporters answer your questions about aging

How can aging be delayed? How does the brain age? And what does aging look like in animals, plants or the rest of the natural world? The July 23 issue of Science News tackles these questions and more in a special report called “Aging’s Future.”

On Tuesday, July 26, at 3 p.m. EDT, three Science News reporters will answer questions about aging as part of Reddit’s Ask Me Anything series. Molecular biology reporter Tina Hesman Saey, neuroscience writer Laura Sanders and biology writer Susan Milius will be responding to questions from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern at this link.

Read their in-depth features on aging:

A healthy old age may trump immortality: Despite disagreements about what aging is and isn’t, scientists have reached a radical consensus: It can be delayed. By Tina Hesman Saey

The brain’s blueprint for aging is set early in life: The brain’s decline may mirror its beginning, offering clues to aging. By Laura Sanders

Organisms age in myriad ways — and some might not even bother: There is great variety in how animals and plants deteriorate (or don’t) over time. By Susan Milius