Chinese, US researchers jointly develop new type of stable semiconductor graphene with 10 times higher performance than silicon

Researchers from China and the US have jointly created a new type of stable semiconductor graphene, which displays performance 10 times higher than silicon and 20 times larger than that of the other two-dimensional semiconductors. The achievement marks "a leap from silicon chips to carbon chips," Ma Lei, leader of the research from the Tianjin International Center for Nanoparticles and Nanosystems (TICNN) at Tianjin University, who led the research, told the Global Times.

The achievement, jointly made by Ma's team and researchers from School of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology in the US, was published online on the website of the journal "Nature" on January 3, 2024.

With silicon-based chips gradually approaching the physical limit of two nanometers, there is a surge in global demand for chips based on high-quality semiconductor materials. Two-dimensional materials, due to their excellent electronic transport properties and potential for high integration, have become a new frontier that scientists and semiconductor companies around the world are eager to invest in. 

Graphene, as the first discovered two-dimensional material that can exist stably at room temperature, has been the focus of scientists' efforts since its discovery in 2004 to design a new type of chip that consumes less energy and operates faster than existing semiconductors. However, the unique Dirac Cones of graphene leads to its "zero bandgap" characteristic, which has been the biggest obstacle to its application in the semiconductor field. 

By precisely controlling the epitaxial growth process of graphene, Ma's team introduced a bandgap into graphene, creating a new type of stable semiconductor graphene, which exhibits electron mobility far exceeding that of silicon materials. It displays performance 10 times higher than silicon and 20 times larger than that of the other two-dimensional semiconductors.

"We mainly applied a special growth environment and growth conditions to modulate graphene itself using SiC crystals, achieving the opening of a bandgap in graphene. This transforms the originally gapless graphene into a material with a bandgap," Ma said. He noted that what the team created "is a true single-crystal graphene semiconductor."

The development of this semiconductor not only paves the way for high-performance electronic devices surpassing traditional silicon-based technologies but also injects new impetus into the entire semiconductor industry. As the limits predicted by Moore's Law draw closer, the emergence of semiconductor graphene heralds a fundamental shift in the field of electronics. Its breakthrough properties meet the growing demand for higher computing speeds and miniaturized integrated electronic devices, read a report on the Tianjin University's website.  

Once delivered into large scale production, the single-crystal semiconductor graphene will lay an important foundation for the transition from the silicon era to the carbon era. However, whether graphene semiconductors can lead to a breakthrough in the chip industry still needs time to test, Ma noted.

When asked how far the achievement is from industrialization, Ma said he currently cannot predict. "When it can be put into large-scale industrial applications depends on the process from millimeter-scale single crystals to inch-scale single crystals." 

In a related report on January 4 by yicai.com, Ma was quoted as saying that "I estimate that it will take another 10 to 15 years before graphene semiconductors can truly be fully implemented." 

Ma said that now he and his team are working hard to grow larger-sized graphene semiconductor single crystals.

In order to continue to promote the development of semiconductors, countries and regions all over the world are actively seeking new materials and paradigms in addition to two-dimensional materials. In November 2023, Huawei and Harbin Institute of Technology jointly applied for a "hybrid bonding method for three-dimensional integrated chips based on silicon and diamond." In September 2023, Japanese news outlet Nikkei reported that the Japanese startup company OOKUMA plans to commercialize diamond semiconductors, and will start production as early as the fiscal year 2026. 

With the intensification of competition, the US has been increasing its export control measures on chips to China, unreasonably suppressing Chinese semiconductor companies, and attempting to "strangle" China in the semiconductor chip field. 

In this context, the achievement by Chinese and American teams has attracted special attention. According to Ma, the intensification of China-US semiconductor competition has indeed had an impact on the cooperation between the scientific teams of the two countries, such as information exchange and sample exchange. However, overall, the cooperation between the two teams has been fruitful. 

"Healthy competition is an important factor in promoting development, while malicious competition hinders the development of technology. I hope that cooperation is the mainstream and competition is a stimulant. With cooperation as the mainstream, appropriate competition will make scientific development better and better," Ma noted.

Chinese shipbuilders draw growing orders, with deliveries as far-flung as 2028

Chinese shipbuilding enterprises have obtained the most orders from global clients, with their scheduled ship delivering time stretching as far-flung as 2028, China Media Group (CMG) reported on Saturday.

The delivery time for ships to be built by the Guangzhou Shipyard International Co has already been scheduled into 2027 and 2028, as ship owners worldwide are drawn to the company by its strengths in green production and environment protection, said Li Hao, an official from the company, the CMG reported.

More than 60 percent of the company's on-hand orders are methanol powered dual-fuel ships or liquefied natural gas fired dual-fuel models. Comparing with the conventional container ships, ultra-large container ships powered by dual-fuel can reduce 20 percent of carbon emissions, in addition to curbing 85 percent of nitrogen oxide and 99 percent of sulfur emissions.

China's shipbuilding industry has been ramping up efforts to advance the industry's high-quality development through intelligence and green technology, and the nation's shipbuilding completions, new orders and orders on-hand have achieved a marked growth in 2023.

From January to November in 2023, China completed shipbuilding of 38.09 million deadweight tons (dwt), a year-on-year increase of 12.3 percent, according to data from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. New orders recorded an annual growth of 63.8 percent to 68.45 million dwt, and the orders on-hand totaled 134.09 million dwt as of the end of November.

For instance, a mega vessel - with a loading capacity of up to 16,616 standard containers constructed by the company - is one of the largest container ships in tonnage under construction in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area, Li said.

The intelligent transformation has also boosted shipbuilding efficiency, which is traditionally a labor-intensive process. Through intelligent transformation, the entire workshop for building a ro-ro passenger ship with over 20,000 square meters can be reduced from 200 people to 50 people by integrating more automation and robotics technology.

China's first domestically-built large cruise ship, the Adora Magic City, welcomed its first group of more than 3,000 Chinese and foreign passengers at the Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal on the first day of 2024, embarking on its maiden commercial voyage.

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.

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.

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.

Culture Beat: ‘Gravity’ exhibition displayed in CAFA

Gravity, the inaugural exhibition of the second phase of a youth experimental project, recently opened at the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA) Art Museum. 

The exhibition showcases the personal works of Chen ­Mingqiang, a faculty member of the Experimental Art and Science and Technology Art College at CAFA. The exhibition features 14 of Chen's recent works, aiming to present the artist's creative thinking and new artistic imagery.

The inspiration for the exhibition came from a serendipitous event during the artist's creation: A bird flying over a courtyard "left a mark" on a work placed in the courtyard due to the force of gravity, which sparked Chen's creative impulse. 

Gravity is a force that humans experience at all times, and all objects are endowed with mutual gravitational influence. 

The artist's creative orientation and inspiration are no different. Everything perceivable in life guides the artist in his self-creation. 

The "Wide Angle Youth Experimental Project Space" is an experimental field for displaying the curatorial and creative work of young teachers at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. It aims to assist and promote young teachers and students to make positive responses to interdisciplinary linkage, regional cultural research, and traditional Chinese culture through diverse exhibition projects. 

China-Pakistan partnership: Bridging nations, building communities

Editor's Note:

China and Pakistan share a long-standing friendship that dates back to the early 1950s. Over the years, this relationship has evolved into a robust strategic partnership, with the two countries often being referred to as "iron brothers." In an exclusive piece penned ahead of the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, highlights the deep-rooted brotherhood and ironclad relations between China and Pakistan. He not only emphasizes the strength of bilateral ties between both countries, but also commends China's significant contributions to the global community.

By Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar 

The tale of China-Pakistan relations is not an ordinary one. It is an account of brotherhood, friendship, and trust, the foundations of which were laid more than 70 years ago. The vision of the leadership of our two countries at the time laid a solid basis for a relationship, which has subsequently been carefully nurtured into a robust, vibrant, time-tested, all-weather strategic cooperative partnership. Pakistan and its people, with absolute confidence, value the relationship greatly, and proudly call China our "best friend." It is heart-warming that in China, the term "Ba Tie" (Iron Brother) is reserved only for Pakistan. 

The timeless Pakistan-China partnership and deep-rooted friendship serves the interests of both countries, being the historic choice of our people. Pakistan-China relations remain the cornerstone of our foreign policy. The close time-tested friendship with China enjoys the abiding support of the people of Pakistan.

With a time-honored history of brotherhood, our two countries have stood together, rain or shine, building an exemplary iron-clad friendship. Despite the vicissitudes of times and changes in the international landscape, the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership has grown into a towering tree with its deep roots of love in the hearts of the two peoples. The bond of love and affection that the peoples of the two countries have for each other indeed remains higher than the mountains, deeper than the sea, and sweeter than honey. 

Zhou Enlai, China's first premier, once said that "the friendly interactions between the peoples of China and Pakistan date back to the dawn of history." Certainly, Pakistan-China relations are the continuation of ancient civilizational bonds that have existed between our two nations since ancient times. The flow of trade through the ancient Silk Road and geographical proximity brought the two great Asian civilizations together. Monks and thinkers from China made their historical journeys to Taxila and other Buddhist places in Pakistan, painting a beautiful picture of the Gandhara civilization and bringing Buddhist wisdom to China, thus binding the two nations together in an everlasting bond.

The historical evolution of the Pakistan-China relationship, and its growing importance in the wake of evolving regional and global developments, is an exemplary model of inter-state relationship. The unique relationship of more than seven decades, underpinned by the rationale of strong political support, mutual trust, and all-round practical cooperation, has matured into a strong strategic partnership.

I will soon be traveling to Beijing on my first visit after assuming office, to participate in the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation - an event which will mark the completion of a decade of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the iconic and visionary project proposed by President Xi Jinping.

We pay tribute to the vision and statesmanship of President Xi who, 10 years ago, propounded the vision of building a global community of shared future, introducing a novel concept for international development partnership, a new idea for global governance and cooperation, and a fresh approach toward international exchanges, thus drawing up a new blueprint for a better interconnected world.

The core of the visionary concept is built on socio-economic development; with a focus on the elements of inclusivity, common prosperity, and win-win cooperation. It embodies the ideals of an open, interconnected, clean, and beautiful world that enjoys lasting peace and sustainable security. As we delve more into this concept, it becomes clear that it draws upon ancient Chinese philosophy and wisdom. 

The concept of "tianxia datong," translated as "harmony under heaven," refers to the whole world and promotes diversity, while emphasizing harmonious and mutual interdependence as the means to enduring peace. 

As noted by the recent BRI white paper released by the China's State Council, the BRI is a key pillar of the global community of shared future. The subsequent unveiling of the concepts - including the Global Development Initiative (GDI), the Global Security Initiative (GSI), and the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) - have further refined the concept of a global community of shared future.

Pakistan was among the first countries to join the BRI. As the flagship project of the BRI, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) marks a milestone in Pakistan-China relations, by placing economic cooperation and connectivity at the very center of the bilateral agenda, making the two countries more interconnected than ever before. The CPEC remains a shining example of the BRI's promise of economic prosperity and connectivity. It has transformed the socio-economic landscape of Pakistan, upgrading modern infrastructure, enhancing regional connectivity, ensuring energy security, and creating jobs.

This year Pakistan hosted a series of events and activities marking the successful first decade of the CPEC. We were also pleased to welcome Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, the special representative of President Xi, in Pakistan to attend the Decade of CPEC celebration event.

Pakistan remains committed to jointly building the CPEC. We fully endorse China's proposal of developing the CPEC as a corridor of growth, livelihood, innovation, greenness and openness - representing our two countries' preference for a human-centric approach, inclusivity, and green development. 

Pakistan is also a pioneering member of the Group of Friends of the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and has played an active role in giving it a more concrete shape. As the first priority partner under the GDI, and the first one to ink an MoU on the GDI, Pakistan stands ready to benefit from this cooperation in areas of education, healthcare, climate change, and poverty reduction, thus making meaningful contributions to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in a timely manner. 

Pakistan has also supported the Global Security Initiative and its adherence to the UN Charter and principles of multilateralism and non-interference in other countries' internal affairs. Having long suffered due to unresolved disputes, conflicts, and terrorism, we also advocate for dialogue and constructive engagement based on mutual respect, to ensure regional peace in South Asia.

The Global Civilization Initiative is yet another landmark and timely initiative proposed by President Xi, promoting respect for diversity, peaceful co-existence, mutual learning, and inclusiveness. In a world marred with discord and divisiveness, dialogue between civilizations can be a means to peace and reconciliation. 

Pakistan's foreign policy objectives have always been those of "peace within and peace without," as outlined by our founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It was, therefore, all but natural for Pakistan to endorse these key initiatives put forth by President Xi.

In a world marred by multiple challenges like conflicts, economic recessions, food insecurity, social inequalities, and climate change, the salience of the Pakistan-China all-weather strategic cooperative partnership assumes great importance. 

It is a source of pride and comfort for our two peoples and a factor of peace and stability in the region and beyond. Ours is a relationship of the past, present, and future, and nothing can alter this reality. 

As per our long-standing tradition, we support each other on our core issues. We are grateful to China for its support for Pakistan's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and economic security, and its principled support on the issue of Kashmir. We reaffirm our commitment to the one-China principle and our support to China on its core issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xizang (Tibet), Xinjiang, and the South China Sea.

As close friends, strategic partners, and iron brothers, Pakistan and China are moving forward toward a destiny of shared future. I remain confident and convinced that our friendship will further strengthen in the coming days and attain even greater heights in the years to come.

Long live the Pakistan-China friendship!

The author is Prime Minister of Pakistan

Tajik guards rooted in Pamir Plateau safeguard the border, promote borderland development

Editor's Note:

August 1 marks the 96th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). Recently, the Global Times participated in the "Big Country Borderland" project launched by prestigious Renmin University of China, conducting social research along the Kashi line. Together with the teachers and students from university, the Global Times journeyed to Taxkorgan Tajik autonomous county in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. It is the homeland of the hero Laqini Bayika, a Tajik herdsman who devoted his life to patrolling China's northwestern border and sacrificed his lives while trying to rescue a child who had fallen into an ice hole. While there, the Global Times witnessed magnificent sentiments of the border guards rooted in the borderland, safeguarding and promoting its development.
The 314 National Highway is busiest during the summer, and it is a route favored by adventure enthusiasts. Only during this time does the Pamir Plateau temporarily shed its aloof demeanor and welcomes visitors from all directions with its majestic scenery.

Tourists may not be aware that there is a group of people who witness this aloofness all year round, silently guarding the stability of the borderland - they are the Tajik border guards.

Today, they still appreciate and practice their duties of safeguarding and developing the borderland despite the remoteness and harshness present there, as Laqini Bayika once did.

A day with four seasons

Leaving the rich and magnificent night life of Kashi is leaving the civilized world.

But what stands in the way of exploring the strength supporting this prosperity is a long journey ahead toward the west.

The Taxkorgan Tajik autonomous county is located at the eastern foot of the Pamir Plateau, at the junction of the Karakoram Mountains, the Hindu Kush Mountains, and the Alay Mountains, with an average altitude of over 3,600 meters.

It is connected to Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in the northwest, southwest, and south, respectively. The Taxkorgan Tajik autonomous county belongs to the Kashi prefecture, where the prosperity of the city and the glaciers of the plateau converge constitute the vastness and richness of Xinjiang region.

Driving 300 kilometers southwest along the 314 National Highway from Kashi city for nearly a 6-hour-long journey, people will experience a peculiar transition from "summer to winter." As the Baisha Lake and the Muztagh Ata Peak appear one after another, the snack packs bulge like balloons, and people wrap their jackets tight - the research team has entered a high-altitude area.
Rain is not common in the Taxkorgan Tajik autonomous county, but when it greeted the guests from the capital city of China, the temperature suddenly dropped to below 10 C, seemingly to allow the research team to deeply experience the harsh climate faced by the border guards who patrol the area.

Things were not as simple as imagined, when the research team arrived at the Khunjerab Pass at an altitude of 5,100 meters, the rain suddenly turned into swirling snowflakes accompanied by cold winds.

However, this unexpected ice and snow ignited a passion to see and experience more, and in front of the towering national gate, the teachers and students that comprised the research team shouted in unison, "Long live the motherland!"

"It feels like being drunk, but I'm not sure whether it was due to excitement or hypoxia," a student with the research team told the Global Times.

A special family ritual

"Forever following the Communist Party of China (CPC), guarding the country for a lifetime!" On July 28, Longjike Kadeer, a retired soldier, led Afuzi Jiaerman, his newlywed nephew, and other family members to the "Family Motto Stone" located in the border area between China and Tajikistan to make a solemnly oath.

In 1979, at the age of 17, Longjike enlisted in the military encouraged by his father. In 2008, Longjike retired with honors from the position of deputy director of Southern Xinjiang headquarters under the Xinjiang border defense corps of the People's Armed Police.

His selfless dedication earned him the titles of "The Most Beautiful Retired Soldier" and "National Model Retired Soldier." He also served as a torchbearer for the 2022 Beijing Winter Paralympics.

On that morning when Longjike and his family made their way to the sacred spot, it was raining in the Paiyike River area on the Pamir Plateau. Despite the bad weather and the mountain roads often being washed away by rainwater, Longjike insisted on taking the newlyweds to perform a solemn family tradition: Taking an oath to guard the country by the "Family Motto Stone" located at an altitude of 4,200 meters in the border area between China and Tajikistan.
It is a traditional ritual for Longjike's family, who have been guarding the border for four generations.

The family is famous for border defense on the Pamir Plateau. From Longjike's grandfather to his son, the family has been serving the country at the border for more than 70 years. Media sources reported that this border defense family has cultivated 53 Party members, 22 soldiers and police officers, and 84 border guards.

In 2008, after retiring, Longjike gave up the opportunity to live in Urumqi and chose to stay on the plateau to assist in border defense, becoming a volunteer border guard in the Kashi Border Management Detachment.

He told the Global Times that his father was the prototype of the soldier Amir in the classic movie "Visitors on the Ice Mountain."

Afuzi Jiaerman is the fourth generation of soldiers in this border defense family. He served in the army in Xizang (Tibet) Autonomous Region and became a special police officer in the town police station's special operations team in the Taxkorgan Tajik autonomous county after retiring in 2020. Just a week ago, he and his fiancee tied the knot.

Longjike's family "Family Motto Stone" is oval-shaped, with the emblem of the PLA and a paragraph etched in ethnic script which reads: "Guarding the border and loving the country is the most glorious. I hope my descendants will guard the border and love the country for a lifetime…"

According to Longjike, this "Family Motto Stone" was set up according to the wishes of his grandfather, Abulikemu, a Tajik militia border guard, and was established by himself and his father Kadeer.

"Grandfather, please rest assured that I have inherited your aspirations. After graduating from university, I will proudly join the PLA and, after retiring, I will proudly join the People's Police," Afuzi vowed, "I have some good news for you - I am married now, and your grandson will continue to inherit the red gene. Please rest assured!"

Afuzi told the Global Times that before joining the army, he also came to the "Family Motto Stone" to take an oath. Whenever there are important events in the family, they always come here to report to their ancestors and take oaths. This has become a traditional ritual for this four-generation Tajik border defense family.

The vow of fearlessly sacrificing

It was already 3 pm in the afternoon when the research team returned to Paiyikegoukou guard station located at the foot of the mountain. Longjike asked his family members to serve hot yak meat to warm everyone. The house was simply decorated, with iron bunk beds arranged in a circle around a central stove.

"This is a house built by the government for the border guards. We have access to electricity and water and new roads were also built here. The border guards also receive a monthly subsidy of 2,600 yuan ($363)," Longjike told the Global Times.

He often takes other border guards on rounds. For him, the most important tradition for the border guards is patriotism which he wants to pass down to the younger guards. Moreover, during the mountain patrols, which are often in remote areas, they frequently encounter sudden dangerous situations. "So hands-on teaching is necessary," he said.
According to him, in the border areas, the main force of the border defense consists of the PLA officers and soldiers, and the border police. The border guards are responsible for assisting in the work. Border guards at the patrol points are rotated every 15 days, and those who are replaced return home to take care of farming and herding. In this way, one patrol point can cover an area of at least 40 to 50 kilometers in the mountains.

The next day, Longjike invited the research team to visit his home. He told the students and teachers in the research group that "in my opinion, whether the motherland is strong in defense on Xinjiang region and whether Xinjiang is strong in defense on the Taxkorgan Tajik autonomous county, the county needs intellectuals like you, and I hope you can visit often and work together to build our beautiful Xinjiang!"

Zhou Xiaohui, a teacher from the Renmin University of China, said "Border guards demonstrate year after year what patriotism means. Today, as we have gotten closer to them, we have a deeper understanding that individual pursuits should align with the country's needs, and individual ideals should merge with the country's destiny."

Longjike was in high spirits that day and performed a traditional Tajik eagle dance in his "blue house" (a Tajik traditional civil structure house) to entertain everyone. The atmosphere was warm and contagious, and everyone joined in.

In the small county, there are, in fact, many people like Longjike who protect the country. The Global Times noticed that every household displays the honors they have received prominently.

After leaving Longjike's home, the Global Times went to Bandier village near the Taxkorgan Khunjerab Airport. Kezilikeli Daximaimaiti, who won the title of "The Most Beautiful Family in the Country" in 2019, is a female border guard who lives in the village with her three daughters.

Similar to Longjike's home, Kezilikeli's house is clean and spacious. The gratitude wall at the entrance is adorned with various posters, such as the "one household, one policy for poverty alleviation." The poster details the time of house construction, housing level, insurance status, and water usage in Kezilikeli's home. Under the "employment" section, it is noted "Maintaining stable employment for three people, with an annual wage income of 72,300 yuan." Additionally, there are agricultural income and policy forms of income, which brought Kezilikeli's family's a per capita net income of 35,473 yuan in 2022.

He Jinming, the first secretary of Bandier village, told the Global Times that there are 118 households in the village with a total of 428 people, of which 110 are border guards, and female border guards like Kezilikeli account for approximately 30 percent of the total.

Mula Abifu, deputy director of the education bureau of the Taxkorgan Tajik autonomous county, told the Global Times that "the Tajik border guards are very loyal to the country. Back then, when they were carrying out construction in the border area at an altitude of 5,200 meters, the ground was covered with permafrost. First, they had to use a blowtorch to soften the ground. People from other parts of the country would not come here even if they were offered 5,000 yuan, but our border guards volunteered to participate in the construction, and the women would make nang (a toasted wheat flatbread) at home and send it up."
"Patriotic border protection is what our ancestors have been doing for generations. Our elders have personally experienced the development and changes here, and witnessed the country's fast development from scratch," Mula Abifu said.

"Now many people in other countries are envious of us. Some people here do business with neighboring countries, and the people from neighboring countries often tell them 'Your country is really a great country.' After the reopening of the port, they came in large numbers. Even the most common rock sugar is precious to them. This is why our confidence in guarding the border is stronger, and why we can sacrifice a small family for the greater good," he stressed.

The Global Times learned that in order to ensure a new crop of border guard recruits, all parts of the Taxkorgan Tajik autonomous county have their own methods. Taking Bositebandier village as an example, where the village party branch implemented the "training border guards into party members," a system by which border guards who are Party members are trained to become village-level reserve forces.

Grassroots party organizations lead the border guards to make continuous progress, and the border guards drive the masses to develop together.

Through these measures, the border guards not only become loyal defenders of guarding the border, but also grow into practitioners and promoters of grassroots Party organizations in the new era to connect with and serve the people.