Mutual visits of Chinese, US universities’ Ping Pong teams inject new strength into people-to-people exchanges: FM

The mutual visits of the table tennis teams from Chinese and the US' universities continued the friendly chapter of Ping-Pong Diplomacy and injected new strength into the two countries' people-to-people exchanges, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday when asked to comment on the Peking University students' visit to the US in December 2023, followed by a trip by students from the University of Virginia to China.

53 years ago, young table tennis players from China and the US raised the curtain for the normalization of bilateral relations in Beijing, enabling "the little ball to move the big ball," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning at the Tuesday press conference.

"The more frequent exchanges the two countries' people have, the stronger the public support for developing bilateral relations, the broader the space, and the stronger the driving force there will be," Mao added.

From December 12 to 23, the Peking University table tennis team made up of 15 students and teachers was invited to visit the US to for the US Table Tennis Open in Los Angeles. They also participated in a series of events commemorating the 52nd anniversary of China-US Ping Pong Diplomacy in Washington, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, with close interactions between the young Americans and local residents.

"As the backbone of future society, young people from China and the US should step out of their countries and experience the lifestyle and culture of other countries. Ping Pong, as a medium of communication, has truly brought us closer," Wu Bohan, a student from the Peking University table tennis team told the Global Times.

"What impressed me the most is the huge interest and enthusiasm the American students showed during our visit to the US this time," Zhang Yuwen, a member of the Peking University table tennis team and student from the School of International Studies, told the Global Times. "Every time the Americans saw the name 'China' marked on our jerseys, they would come to ask where in China we come from; which games we play, and even wished us good luck in our games."

In return, 18 table tennis team members from the University of Virginia were invited to visit China, coinciding with the 45th anniversary of diplomatic ties between China and the US. They stayed in Beijing from January 4 to January 8 and participated in the youth table tennis exchange at Tsinghua University.

During their nine-day trip to China from Hong Kong, Beijing to Shanghai the students learnt about the history of Ping-Pong Diplomacy and cultural differences between the two countries.

Mao noted that China is willing to work with the US to implement the important consensus on promoting cultural exchanges reached at the China-US summit in San Francisco, to promote the spirit of "Ping-Pong Diplomacy," and to continue new chapters of friendship between the Chinese and American people.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Xi hears work reports from HK, Macao chief executives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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. 

Hong Kong's top fencer shines at Chengdu Games

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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